You know that thing where you want to get inspired and motivated to do something kinda important, but your Instagram feed, disorganized sock drawer, and re-runs of The Golden Girls seem to have taken hold of this section of your brain? Or maybe you've done everything you could possibly do, down to the last detail... and now you just have to let the rest fall into place? Maddening, I know.
Sometimes you gotta shake things up, try a different angle, step away from the screen and change out of your pj's before 1pm.
I've been through a couple creative or productive halts in my day, so I thought I'd share this fun exercise for sparking some inspiration and creative problem solving when you’re feeling confused, bored, or impatient with a process.
We shall call it poetry dipping…
Try this user-friendly poetry exercise now!
Who it’s for:
Anyone! You do not need to be a poetry buff or English major. You just need to have a question and be open to learning more about yourself and the bigger picture, while devoting some time to sifting through poems.
How it works:
- Fire up your computer, tablet or smartphone… or dust off those old poetry books of years gone by.
- Close your eyes to focus on a question or situation.
- Ask yourself, what is the theme—or flavor—of my problem/issue?
- Begin a simple internet search (ex: "poems about X"), or leaf through the index or glossary of your poetry anthology. Begin sifting through them all, scanning for anything that jumps out at you.
- Let the right poem speak to you directly. This is an intuitive exercise that has no right or wrong answers. You’ll know you’ve stumbled upon the right poem when you feel it in your gut, get goosebumps, want to cry, or laugh out loud.
Now, deepen into it:
- Ask the poem why it found you.
- Make a quick collage about the poem, or draw about it… make an abstract image of how it makes you feel or what change it inspires in you.
- Write a response piece… You can take on the identity of a character within the poem and transform or expand upon the experience, write directly to the poet, or write your own poem that explores the opposite emotions or contents of the original.
What’s in it for you:
This poem has a message for you. It’s a big old spoon full of medicine for your soul. It can be serious and profound, and it can be playful too.
How one poem changed my entire outlook:
When I came up with this exercise I had just made big changes in my personal and professional lives. But the How's, When's, Where's and What-if's were driving me cuckoo. I wanted to skip ahead past all the hard parts (the waiting, the doubting, the adjustment phase) and just get on with it.
In an effort to find some comfort and inspiration, I Googled "poems about patience" and eventually landed on "How to See Deer" by Philip Booth. Read it!
Finding this poem was like receiving a secret message from the Universe. I know, sounds a little out-there.
But, clear as day, the memo was: Let go and have fun in the process.
It was everything I needed in the moment, and I knew it was for me when the line “wait without waiting” jumped off the screen and into my heart. Like so much medicine.
Shortly thereafter, I reinvented ways to enjoy and presence myself while navigating the unfamiliar territory. I use the poem often to remind myself that there is, after all, no final ending or arrival point in life.
Give it a try. Remember, there is no right or wrong way. Let it be fun, and trust in the process!
PS- This exercise does not constitute medical, mental health or therapeutic service and is not intended as such. If you would like to learn more about using expressive arts (such as journaling, expressive writing, and art therapy) in therapy, please contact me here.