Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iowa Writing Coach: For Creative Energy, Get Moving

I’m guessing I’m not the only one right now who struggles this time of year with shorter days, lack of sunlight, and the impending cold. Every year I have to remind myself that to keep my creative spirit alive in November, I have to face the bogeyman. I’m talking about literally facing the monster by getting out into the cold, rain, and slush.

I’m talking about getting outside and moving around – vigorously, as in a half-hour jog or fast hike. And not just once in awhile. I’m talking six days a week. Getting outdoors, year round but especially in the winter, is my best protection against creative doldrums and the self-doubt that can accompany them.

For me, it’s not if I’ll exercise today; it’s when. Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD, argue in Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond that as we hit middle age, our bodies will start to decay. Basically, our bodies start to go into hibernation unless we signal to them to keep growing. The signal? Vigorous exercise, six days a week. Exercising tells our bodies to keep repairing and renewing. It also releases chemicals that bathe our brains in positive feelings.

“Being sedentary is the most important signal for decay,” say Crowley and Lodge. Thus, “Decay is optional.” And since aging is largely about decaying, we can slow our aging process by being physically active. That’s why, as they say, “Exercise is magic.”

And as I have discovered, going outdoors for exercise is part of the magic – even in the cold, rain, slush, and snow. Getting out into the elements causes nature’s beauty to trump the cold, taming the face of the winter monster and minimizing self-doubt about creativity in the process. Plus there’s all that Vitamin D to soak up during the daylight.

“Exercise is the opposite of crazy. It is the thing you use to drive craziness away,” write Crowley and Lodge. I agree. And for extra protection from the creativity crazies, bundle up and get outside while you move your beautiful body.

Need extra motivation to get moving outdoors? Try listening to music on an Ipod. And check out my essay, "Running through Life," about the joys of jogging to music.

As a writing coach, writer, editor, and visual artist from Eastern Iowa, Suzanne Kelsey tries to inspire people to live their passions and find miracles even in the mundane. She blogs about the freelancing life, Midwest Bohemia, nature, creativity, visual journaling, and living large in a small town. Check out her web site at Visit her blog at Email her at

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