Determination to Find Solutions

It's been a tough week, readers. And not necessarily because of any one thing. I've been struggling to get a good sleep pattern going thanks to a toddler who is transitioning from a daily afternoon nap to no nap. Which essentially boils down to when he's up past ten or eleven (because he crashed for a three hour nap at three), I'm up past ten or eleven. On top of the lack of sleep, it's been a gray and dreary week. As much as I love the fuzzy blankets, cozy sweaters, and quiet peace of winter, I miss the sunshine of spring and summer.

Image from
If you look at my house based on the original design, my office is put in what used to be a bedroom, but was converted into a walk in closet and essentially hallway into the master bedroom when it was added on. There are no windows, and the windows in the master bedroom are north and west facing. The west facing window is blocked by the garage. Yeah, I know, not the best or smartest design in the world by any means. And I can happily say that I didn't design it that way. In any case, my office has no real access to natural light. And this past week, with limited light coming into the master bedroom to begin with, the office has felt extremely dark and cold.

The cold I can work with. An extra sweatshirt, a pair of cozy socks, a blanket on my lap, special gloves that allow me to stay warm and work at the same time. That's doable. It's the darkness that is harder to work with. It's draining, creatively and emotionally. And unfortunately, short of the major renovation we want to do, but can't currently afford, there aren't a whole lot of immediate options that would really brighten the room the way I need. I have a lamp, a string of twinkle lights with stars, and my overhead light. You would think that would help, but this past week it just hasn't been enough.

My writing office
So, what do I do? It's easy on paper to say, "Just get up and work anyway. Fight through the tired, ignore the dark, and just do your thing." But in practice, it's so much harder. Creating these stories in many ways just comes naturally. I love words and I love writing. And not to pat myself on the back too much, it's something I'm quite good at.

But I've learned that creativity isn't something to just be practiced. It's something that needs nurtured. I've discovered in recent months that I can't focus my creative energy into working when there's clutter around me. I have to have a clean work environment, which is why I spent the last week of December decluttering my office space (and honestly the rest of my house), organizing my space saver, and most recently putting in a bookcase to show off the print copies of my books. While the space isn't perfect, it works for what I need right now. And I've worked hard to maintain a reasonably clean desk.

The other thing I'm discovering that really curbs my creativity is a sense of darkness. The permanent solution I desperately want just isn't in the cards right now. But, for the sake of my craft, I can't just stick with how things are. I might be able to push through for a few days, or even a week, but it's going to make writing feel like something I have to do rather than something I love to do. Instead of the story flowing easily, it's going to come slowly, and in small bursts rather than full chapters at a time.

So, again, what do I do?

Well, I make a plan. Long term plan: my husband and I will do a complete renovation of our house, at which point we'll make some changes to the layout, including adding an upstairs workroom with tons of shelves for books, an amazing desk, and more windows than are probably practical. At least, that's how I envision it. But that solution is going to be several years down the road when it's financially feasible. Which means working with a short term plan:

First thing, I need to replace the dark shade on my lamp with a white one. The current shade just absorbs so much of the available light from that lamp. I might also play with that lamp's location. I use it primarily during my early morning writing session as it gives enough light to work with, but is not so bright that it wakes my husband or the toddler who 9 out of 10 is stealing the bed from us.

Next thing is to see about replacing the single bulb light fixture on the ceiling with either a wide, LED medallion style light or a two to three bulb light fixture which will bring in much needed light to the room. That one is going to be dependent not only on budget but also what can realistically be put in that space. The last thing I want is to order a light fixture I can't use.

And during the spring when things outside have warmed up and my budget is a little easier, I plan to buy the paint needed to give the office a lighter, far prettier tone. At the moment, I haven't even looked at colors to consider what I would put in, but I can promise you that it's going to be better than the funky tan I've got going on.

John 8:12
Now you might be wondering, "Jess, why are you telling us all this?"

Because I know I'm not the only one who has found that certain conditions make it hard to work. Having the determination to find solutions, even if they're temporary or are short-term rather than long-term, is key to maintaining a healthy attitude toward whatever work you do. It's also essential to your own personal health and well-being. While there are absolutely times we need to just put on our big-girl panties and get the job done no matter what our attitude might be, I personally feel it is better to evaluate what is causing the poor attitude. In cases such as clinical depression, you might not be able to pinpoint one specific thing. Even without it, there are days each of us wake up and would love nothing more than to roll over and go right back to sleep for the rest of the day. But I think for the most part, we can find things that trigger our bad attitudes. It might be something as simple as not having the right music playing. Or not being warm or cool enough. There might be a really simple solution.

Or, it might be more complex. It might mean changing habits such as sleep patterns, food choices, work hours, or a combination of things. Having the determination to take a challenge and find solutions takes work. And often, it will require trial and error. But keep striving. Keep trying. And never give up. You can do this. And so can I.

How have you found solutions to challenges you've faced recently?


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