The title of this photograph is “Opposing Forces”.  I took it during my recent vacation.  It intrigued me because of the juxtaposition of the brilliant beauty of nature and the dirty darkness of industry. In the photograph the opposite colors heighten both the design and the meaning of the photograph. In our creative lives, we can use opposites to heighten our creative energy.

For example, I am a creature of habit, yet I also like change. I habitually show up in my studio every morning about 9 o'clock, leave at 11:00 for a brief break and return until I stop at 1 o'clock. If I have the time and creative energy, I go back to my studio in the afternoon. Some people call that rigid. For me it feels like a ritual and an extremely important part of my creative process.

My studio is a sacred space. As soon as I walk into the studio, I experience an emotional and energetic shift. It is similar to what I have experienced walking into a meditation hall, or what people describe feeling upon entering a church sanctuary or synagogue. In these sacred spaces I feel surrounded by a strong kinesthetic, emotional and spiritual energy.

Consistently showing up at the same time and place every day of the week – – even Saturdays and Sundays – – becomes a commitment to my Self and my creative process. (Although some would say this is being self-centered, I believe that when we make, and then follow through with commitments to ourselves, we can be more energetically present for others.)

However, there are times when I need to change my routine -- when I crave a different scene to re-invigorate my creative self. This has been the case for the last two weeks when my husband and I took a trip down to an island we love. We stayed two blocks from the ocean, and while enjoying the sunny warmer climate and quality of light, I experienced an extreme shift in awareness, energy and mood.  

Although I have a small room that I call my mini studio, and still do a lot of creative work, I do not experience the same strong adherence to my daily ritual as when I'm at home.  Opening to the contrasting use of time and space is creatively liberating. 

When I bring opposite forms of energy into my life, each form heightens the other.  In turn a third form of enhanced energy is created. This was the case during my vacation, when I experienced heightened creativity.  During the two week break from my typical routine my creative vision became clearer and I could more easily decide on my creative priorities, as well as specific ideas to begin with. New ideas were created and were resting in the back of my mind, ready to spring forth. Now that I am back home, and have returned to my usual routine, I am ready to pursue these ideas with fresh creative energy.

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash. French poet, Louis Aragon

Before you can break a routine with its opposite, you need to have a routine to begin with. I encourage you to start your new year with a creative routine. It does not have to be anything major.

Try this exercise:

v    Decide on one form of creativity, i.e. writing in a journal, ripping paper and pasting it in a collage, designing an herb garden, deciding on a small remodeling project for your home.

v    Set aside a specific time in the day, as many days in the week as you can, i.e. 8 o'clock at night for one hour or 6:30 in the morning for 1/2 hour (before the kids get up).

v    Designate a place to be your creative space and set out the materials you will need. (A small corner somewhere, or space on the dining room table, a kitchen counter is totally fine.)  

v    Show up in your creative space, at your appointed time, for one month.

v    At the end of that one month write, or share with someone, what you discovered about your Self and your process.  

Opposites generally create intense chemistry. There are more chances of fireworks when different people are together than similar personalities. Indian actress, Sonam Kapoor