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Nourishing Dreams: We are not our paychecks

A co-worker of mine once said, If we all had more spa treatments and access to talk therapy the world would be a better place. I agree with this assessment and would like to add one more item to the mix: creativity.

For the past couple of weeks my writing has been forced and my passion for the things I enjoy has been missing. I thought something was wrong with me but when I took a step back to assess my life, I realized I was trying to squeeze water out of rocks and get joy from the wrong things.

When I was unemployed, I made time to nurture my creativity by going on artist’s dates, writing in my journal and seeking out new ideas and ways keep my creative juices flowing. I took a lot of photographs back then and e-mailed them to people who liked them and gave good feedback. Now I’m employed again my creativity field trips have been replaced with a commute. Because of this, my growth as a writer is being hampered.

Why? Because I’ve been labeling myself wrong. For the past month I’ve been defining myself by my job rather than what I aspire to be. My day job isn’t exactly a creative outlet for me but rather a place spend hours a day doing a good job which in turn provides me with enough money to pay the mortgage and have health insurance. I enjoy my co-workers and I like working in an environment which promotes healthy lifestyles but I don’t want to be a person who works at an athletic club. I’d much rather be a writer, producer and editor. And I can be.

We Americans define ourselves by what we do for a living rather than our passions. You may work as a janitor at a university but have a passion for painting and art. I may work at a health club but I also enjoy writing, hiking, reading and going on adventures. I’d much rather be defined as a writer or voracious reader and explorer than a person who checks people in and out for their spa treatments.

Last week on A Closer Look, Pam interviewed psychologist Manzar Lari about how to avoid these creative slumps by determining what we value most and what truly motivates us. I took his advice and have been bouncing his ideas around in my head. In the few hours I’ve been thinking about this, I feel more creative and motivated and ready to pursue my passions.

So in the next few months while we’re all going crazy buying gifts and getting sick and worrying about not having enough, I encourage you to think about how you define yourself and what truly motivates you. What would it take to start introducing yourself as a writer, sculptor or mathematician? Don’t laugh. Anything is possible.

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About Anna Alexander

I am a freelance writer and producer living in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I live with our cat Grendel who lets us pay his mortgage.

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