How to Survive the Winter of our Discontent

I’m tired. How about you? 

It’s winter.
It’s cold. It’s dark. I’m bored, restless, and unhappy–with myself, the world, my art, everything. At this point, I always wonder why I bother. I feel like quitting. I used to get super bummed out in these phases. But now I know them better. And I know why they happen.

I’m not making any art. I’m just crawling from day to day, putting out fires–but not building anything new. This is the real problem. I don’t have anything going on that excites me or gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I mean, yeah, there’s always coffee, but that’s not going to carry me through the entire day.

The most important thing is art. I come back to this over and over. It is my bottom line. So why is it so hard to do any? Well, I have learned an annoying truth about art.

It’s not hard; it’s habit. Habit. When you have an art habit, you just do it because that’s what you do. When you don’t have a habit, Resistance takes every opportunity to get in the way. I’m too tired, I don’t feel like it, blah blah blah. That’s where I’m at. I let my art habits slide–over the holidays, the dark, the fatigue, etc, etc. And some of them slid much longer ago than that…

It’s time to get my habits on track. Every time I think about this, I want to invite you to join me, and I devise all kinds of accountability strategies–Facebook groups, daily video, yadda yadda. But all of them require a lot of work on my part. I don’t need to make more work for myself. I just need to make art.

I favor They have a great program, and it really works. Here’s how: The habit must only take 30 seconds to do. It must have a anchor (something you normally do after which you do your new habit. So you attach the new habit onto the existing habit. For example, one that is sticking and working is, After I start the toaster, I open my vitamins. I only commit to opening them. But once I’m there, I’m going to take them.

The vitamin habit has stuck. So has my reading habit–which swaps with my writing habit: After I sit down with my coffee and toast, I open my book. The ones that didn’t stick need better anchors. Like dancing my 20 minutes. That needs a better anchor.


What’s your dance anchor? Email me or post on the blog.


PS Want to make some art–and get some accountability? Create Dance Art starts Feb 8. You’ll make art every day for three months–and get personal feedback every day. Pretty cool, huh? Good for improv or choreo, any style. Check it out:


Lots and lots of love,

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  1. Hi Alia,

    I dance along short bellydance drill tutorials that I find on U-tube when I don’t have the mental energy to do a more active and mindful dance practice. At the very least,, it is a doable daily practice habit that helps to ensure that I don’t go for days without dancing at all and encourages me to open up more space in my day for bellydance.

    Thank you for your great newsletters and I love your artwork.

    All my best, Diane Swanson

    • Thanks, Diane! I like your focus on small doses of dance. Good strategy!

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