How do I recover and rekindle my inner fire in 2017?
January 3, 2017 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Help me navigate the healing and rejuvenating process that precedes getting my inner flame burning again in mid-life.

Approaching 40, I have a stable career doing meaningful work, a healthy child, and I am satisfied with my friendships and romantic prospects.
Here I am with the ideal scenario: I have the wisdom of (some) maturity and the rest of my life to live by my own rules. I know what lights me up, so I know what will be the kindling of this new flame, but I feel a hesitancy in my heart based on how worn down I feel from life itself.

As with most of us, life has not played out the way I dreamed as a child. My career is quite different from my childhood passions, and my creative energies have slowly wasted away.

How do I overcome this mid-life fatigue and defeatism so I can build up my inner light again? As a single parent with a full time career I am limited in my ability to get involved in group activities, but I can devote lots of home time to self care and solo work.

How have you rebuilt your flame in the face of life's absurd and arbitrary resistance?
posted by Dr_Janeway to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I can only speak for myself, but two things have done a lot to improve my outlook in my 40s. They are:

(a) Shifting focus from work to family and community. I've been pretty ruthless in my 40s in making sure my work/life balance is tilted in the 'life' direction. Work exists as a means to live, and it ends when I clock off for the day. My work doesn't provide the creative fulfillment I need, so I find things in my community that bring me the satisfaction I need to be happy.

(b) Getting plenty of good sleep.
posted by pipeski at 6:56 AM on January 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

This may not be applicable but when I drastically minimize my screen time (moving to a dumb phone and only using laptop for essential tasks) I find myself interacting with my environment in a much more meaningful way. This leads to me discovering interests, opinions, subtle likes/dislikes I didn't know I had. I really recommend it.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:00 AM on January 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I love timed challenges for this sort of thing, just to force myself to finish something without getting dragged down by perfectionism. Like completing a drawing a week, or (more passively) listening to a new album a week. I prefer to document it somewhere like a blog or journal to stay accountable. If you need ideas or want to join others doing the same thing, I've seen a ton of daily creativity / art challenges and prompts on social media (example). If you search for your medium of choice you will probably find more relevant examples and hashtags.

Speaking of social media, saying goodbye to my Facebook account has given me more mental space for creativity. But I don't think social media is bad as long as you're connected to a community of people who energize and inspire you.
posted by beyond_pink at 7:37 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I got into cooking, I mean, learning how to expand my skills and cook something other than Hamburger Helper and traditional American foods, and that's something you can teach and share with your child.

I also look at things that I like on Etsy, and try to reverse engineer them by watching YouTube tutorials. This has led to some Pinterest-type fail things, but I did finally manage to make a Tree of Life pendant, which I'd been wanting to accomplish for a while. Something like this, but mine doesn't look as good, but good enough to wear in public, and I did get some compliments on it!

I also went through a period of checking out art books at the library, because I find those inspirational.

Maybe decide that the next few months, or even this year, will be your time to explore what you might like to do, what medium you'd like to explore. Crafts, fiber arts, painting, writing (memoir style, fiction, poetry?), soap carving, etc. I have a friend who started out making rings, then got into lucite, then got into welding, and probably a few other things, but just kept going along, and she is mainly self-taught, except for the welding part.

I also enjoy photography, and while I don't have a great camera right now, I know folks who have gotten a nice DSLR and then evolved into various types of photography, night photography, etc.

I recently invested in a crafting desk, found relatively cheaply on Amazon, still yet to be put together, but it makes it a little more official, creating my own space for my various projects, instead of having plastic tubs and shoeboxes full of stuff, now I will have drawers and cubbies, oh my!

I have various books, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, On Writing, by Stephen King, other books of that genre. It's nice to go to the library and go through the stacks, or in your case, you could browse on Amazon if time is a constraint.

For me, creativity comes and goes in spurts, and a large part of it is gestation, and then I will get down to doing something. I don't have kids at home anymore, but recently moved into a very small space, so still getting organized, hence the crafting table/desk. So I take out my frustrations by dreaming up cooking projects, which I will maybe do a few times a week (as I am at home), while waiting for help to put this desk together (a weekend project). Good luck!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:12 AM on January 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

The best advice I heard for this is, "When down, help someone else."
posted by Capri at 9:54 AM on January 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am someone who gets lots of "screen time" in terms of being on the computer/internet a lot. But I gave up my car years ago and I have mostly not had a TV since divorcing. So, I am not constantly inundated with TV, radio, and other endless noise and chatter.

The point: There are lots of different ways to limit how bombarded you feel by sound, information, etc. Pick one or more and implement a "diet" of sorts. Conserve your energy for things you care about. Don't let the world impose endlessly and fritter away your limited time and energy.

Improve your diet. Eat better and nourish your body so you grow physically stronger.

Seconding to get enough good quality sleep.

Start a sand box that you have control over and that you can put as little or as much time into as you feel like, when you feel like it. Start collecting things related to your interest there. This is a low pressure way to see your thing grow over time.

Consider making this sandbox a free blog or a twitter account or similar. As it grows, it may attract interaction with others who are interested in the same thing. This can be a form of feedback that can be helpful.
posted by Michele in California at 1:48 PM on January 3, 2017

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