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  • Writer's pictureSue Bulmer

Embracing the Ebbs of a (Creative) Life

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ebbs of life, the exhale or expiration, the night, darkness, winter, emptiness, periods of inactivity, valleys and troughs and the descent - the opposites of flow, the inhale, inspiration, daytime and sunlight, summer and fullness or expression, activity or action, peaks and ascent.

Life isn’t a flat line. It is full of natural cycles, daily, weekly, monthly, annually. Life itself is a cycle, full of ups and downs. Without one there isn’t the other - both are needed. Each phase offers its own unique gifts and lessons, despite our society's tendency to prioritize constant activity and progress. We just don’t seem to talk about the downs as much as the ups as in modern western society we like to think about the highs of life, productivity, doing, action, making, success etc etc etc. You don’t see as much about the times of stillness, rest, rejuvenation or even the lows of life. I want to redress this a little today.

You know me, I love a metaphor, give me a circle and I can relate to it on so many levels. I’ve been thinking cycles and circles a LOT lately. As you know I’ve been trying to live in a more seasonally aligned way for several years and I really try to lean into the winter now rather than pushing it away and rejecting it.

So why do I still find the down times so challenging to navigate?

I’ve been embracing this cyclical lifestyle for several years, you would think I had it all sussed out by now. I’m just coming out of a period of ‘ebbing’ myself. I must admit it was quite a bumpy ride. I had just completed my online course and had put the finishing touches to it and I noticed my mood and energy take a significant dip. I began to feel tired, irritable, lethargic, completely out of empathy and wondering what I was even trying to do. I really don’t like feeling this way and I was trying to do everything in my power to snap myself out of it. Exercise, good food, plenty of sleep, getting out into the morning sunshine – but none of it seemed to work. The self-critic gremlins came out in force and they really knocked me sideways, making me wonder what I thought I was playing at trying to make a go of building a successful creative business. Who was I kidding, blah blah blah. And so it goes.

Does this sounds familiar?

Why am I even sharing this with you? It’s to let you know that this happens to everyone.

Then I read a quote on Instagram. It was by Eckhart Tolle and this is what it said ‘Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’. The penny dropped. I was feeling a little burnt out and tired and I was rebelling against it, wanting to be in the place of higher energy and mood rather than where I was. After all, high energy, motivation, getting things done – it feels great doesn’t it? (well it does to me). So why on earth wouldn’t I want to be feeling that way.

And then I had a conversation with a colleague at work and it all came out. Saying the words just made such a difference. Admitting I felt sad and naming what was going on also very helpful. I think it was a mash-up of quite a few different things but just naming them and saying the words out loud felt like a relief. I can’t say I immediately felt everything disappear but I did feel better. I slept more soundly that I had done all week and felt like a weight had been lifted. Maybe I just accepted where I was and stopped wanting to be somewhere else?

And as a very good friend said to me recently ‘it is ok to be not ok’ and she kindly forwarded me the lyrics to this song. I’ve listened to it quite a few times. It may be my new mantra for those days when things aren’t ok - 'Breathe in deep, just a day at a time'

I'm feeling so much better now and I even wondered whether this blog post was still relevant for me to share now. But it really is. Even though Spring is trying to burst through the cold here in the UK and things are starting to grow, knowing about the ups and the downs is still so relevant. Just because it's spring and the energy is rising, there are still ebbs where we need to take stock and rest. For me, taking time away from work, making time with friends, going to see the bluebells before they fade, all of these things help. And accepting where I am.... that's the biggie!!

Make sure you join me in my next blog post where I talk about my strategies for ‘being’ in these darker times and coping with what comes up.

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1 Comment

Michelle Ruthenberg
Michelle Ruthenberg
May 05

WELL SAID. VERY TRUE. Thank you for sharing.

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