My apologies on skipping February; one might say it was a dry month, or a short one, or a challenging one, and they would be right on all counts. Mostly it was just the latter–I tend to fall into dark moods occasionally, and have been in one since the Tuesday or Wednesday before Valentine’s Day, and just slid out of it this week. (I assure you, it had nothing to do with the holiday.) Sometimes it helps during these times not to publicly write but just drop a picture or two on Instagram occasionally to let folks know the pulse is still there (if you’re interested, the handle at Instagram is jostraveler and I don’t self-censor much, so…you’ve been warned).
Meantime, art does it while I’m out; a lot of: movies, music, reading, coloring, and journaling. Cleese is long due some thanks in this; three years ago I came upon his You Tube video on creativity (and if you like Slow Readings you will enjoy the video, or if you’re a Cleese fan you will enjoy the video, because it’s quite long and very, very Cleese), and, recently remembering it, I loaded it on my favorites in YouTube and watch it about once a week. Sometimes artists need someone to grant them permission, and Cleese is my blackboard eraser walking through the unforgiving halls of folks who don’t understand creatives and don’t understand dark moods. Oh, sure, there are a number of folks in my life who apply either the, “Cheer up!” Or “Relax!” Approaches to problems, and Cleese helps with smiling and nodding to those “remedies” as well. If you struggle with being understood as a creative, I highly recommend the video, and following it’s advice.
Another tonic is in finding the books, music, and movies that are relatable and understanding. A recent read was “The Great Kitchens of the Midwest,” a book that made all of my California peeps chuckle at me since the “fly-over” states are featured in it, and their cuisine. The strength in the book was that it saw nothing as sacred and nothing as profane, so a reader could find humor and empathy in both “foodie” stuff and tuna hotdish, in equal measure, provided the reader was either previous Midwestern turned coastal and/or open-minded. A movie that lent that teaching was a recent viewing of “Blended,” in which the mass market culture is kind of snarkily shamed until a set of characters realizes that life and love and poetry can be found anywhere if you’re open-minded. And in music I relaxed into the musical stylings of a former junkyard girl in the lead vocal of Alabama Shakes, both in her music and in a Fresh Air interview; the former farm girl in me got her points of view too well.