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Filling the Well in 2020

I’ve said it many, many times, maybe you’ve heard it and maybe you haven’t: You have to fill the well. But what does that mean? In her book, “The Artist’s Way” Julia Cameron describes the phrase as your pool of creativity, your dreams, ideas, inspirations, etc.

 “This inner well is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We've got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish-- an abundance of artistic fish to fry. We must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem.

If we don't give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked.

We must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our resources as we draw on them-- to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well.” – Julia Cameron

However, filling the well is not just about creativity, dreaming, and ideas, but well-being in general. You must fill the well in order to do your best work and to operate as your best self.

How are you able to do this when you are exhausted, stressed, burnt out, or even feeling defeated?

You can’t.

That is why this topic is vital.

There are many ways to say it: Filling the well; You can’t pour from an empty cup; You can’t give what you don’t have. But it all means the same thing: Take care of yourself!


What can you do?

The short answer is: Whatever makes you feel good or renewed. Maybe for you that’s a massage. Maybe it’s a facial. Or a mani/pedi. Maybe it’s 30 minutes in a hot bath with the door locked so you can’t be disturbed. There is no wrong answer.

There is, however, a vital thing to consider: Intention.

The intention behind whatever you’re doing should always be to re-set, re-fill, or revitalize.

For example: Zumba is a way for me to fill the well. I love to dance. It makes me happy. I also happen to burn 600 calories during a class. But my intention is not to get a work out in. My intention is to fill the well. My intention is to let it all out, be in my body, feel good, feel happy. Getting a work out in is a side effect. I’m not thinking about making my movements bigger or more intense to burn more calories (which is something I think of when it’s Zumba for a work out). I’m more apt to listen to my body and slow down when I’m feeling tired versus pushing myself. The intention is very different.


The same is true for two of my other ways of filling the well: Going for a hike and Reading.

On a hike, being out in nature, taking in the fresh air, and seeing the beauty is a wonderful way for me to feel gratitude (which is another effective yet very simple way to fill the well) that also happens to be a fantastic work out. But work out is not the intention.

As for reading: I read different types of books based on my intention. I love “self-help” books. It’s literally part of my job to read and implement and discover new approaches and tools to apply in Coaching world. I get to learn and grow. It’s great. It’s something I love. But it doesn’t necessarily fill the well. Same thing for reading scripts: I learn, I study. Can it be entertaining? Sure! But I’m usually reading to learn. For me, filling the well is reading fiction. At night. Before bed. I’m currently addicted to James Patterson’s, “Women’s Murder Club”. I am not learning or growing by reading this book. I am simply turning my brain off and reading for funsies. I’m filling the well.

One of the most common ways to fill the well: Travel.

You know that feeling of excitement when you’re going on a trip? You know how everything feels ‘easier’? That doesn’t mean peaceful and stress free all the time! But that ideal vacation: it’s smooth, it’s relaxing, it’s fun, it connects you to each other or a new place or even a new culture. Be it a Disney vacation, the all-inclusive resort, the cruise, the cabin in the woods, or the apartment in Paris. Thatis what filling the well should feel like. It can be new and exciting or it can be comfortable and familiar – whichever one replenishes you and helps you feel re-set.

Now, filling the well does not have to cost money. Sure, I’d love to travel every month to help re-set. But right now, that’s no realistic. (But that doesn’t mean I’m not giving up on the idea!) Filling the well does not mean spending money on massages and spa days or brunch and weekend getaways. It can be as simple as a movie night at home and a long soak in the tub.

Either way, if you’re spending money or not, there is one vital thing that must occur:

You Must Make Space In The Schedule.

Remember that thing about intention?

You must be intentional about filling the well. It doesn’t just happen.

We have to give ourselves the space to settle down, quiet the mind, and restore ourselves to our factory settings so that we can operate at our best.

And who doesn’t want to operate at their best?!

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