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  • Writer's pictureGretchen Klinedinst Furst

Slay. Breathe.

Today is dark and damp and January. I’m in what my dad calls a “blue funk.” Ever been there? It’s a mix of anxious frustration and a feeling of being stuck in the mud. And all the while, our inner critics, those vampires, swoop in with their fangs and try to suck the life-blood out of our intentions. It is a day to cry, “die, vampire, die!” Indeed, it is a day to slay!

I wrote DIE, VAMPIRE, DIE on the back of my ticket after seeing the musical {title of show} (yes, that’s the name of it), a play about the creative process by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell. “Die, Vampire, Die” is the title of a song from the show, and it hangs in my inspiration station. It turns out to be a powerful weapon on days like today. It’s a song all about killing the thoughts in our minds that keep us from moving forward in our work, in our creative process. It’s a mantra for a day like today.

Slaying vampires takes a lot of focus and determination. They whisper thoughts in our heads with the desire to stop us from completing our work whether it’s cleaning out the basement or working on a painting. They are most certainly in cahoots with the Ego and we alone must fight them. Instead, we try to distract ourselves and run away in a scramble and, more often than not, find ourselves binge-shopping at Marshall’s for things we don’t need, hiding out in our cars eating fast food, licking a tub of cake icing till its dry…basically doing anything we can to avoid dealing with ourselves and the vampires.

But to no avail. We must face them head on. Our job lies in doing the work; we must drive a pointy stake through these demons. And that's the trick, because the pointy stakes are the work we're trying to do!

If today involved teaching, or being immersed in other people, or some sort of volunteer job, these vampires wouldn't stand a chance in my world. Even writing this blog fights them off and puts them in their place. Here are some other pointy stakes to use.

Making affirmations, choosing to act, and breathing deeply are all antidotes to the blood-suckers and can stop them in their tracks. Eric Maisel, Creativity Coach and author, writes about this topic and includes this pretty awesome centering and breathing technique in his book: Coaching the Artist Within (2005). And it goes like this:

1. Come to a complete stop.

2. Empty yourself of expectations.

3. Name your work.

4. Trust your resources.

5. Embrace the present moment.

6. Return to strength.

Notice the first letter of each word on the list spells the word CENTER vertically. Eric explains how to use this centering list with breathing. In the example below, the parentheses indicate how to break up the affirmations and use the inhale and exhale of a deep breath as “containers for thoughts”. For example, the words in the first set of parentheses are thoughts contained on the inhale and the words in the second set of parentheses are thoughts contained on the exhale of one deep breath. Eric also explains the one part of this exercise we determine for ourselves is #3, the “name your work” (the task at hand). See the example below:

1. (I am completely) (stopping)

2. (I expect) (nothing)

3. ( ) ( )—"name your work”. Example, (I will clean out) (my closet) or (I will slay) (a vampire)

4. (I trust) (my resources)

5. (I embrace) (this moment)

6. (I return) (with strength)

This is basic cognitive therapy in action because it stops the vampire thoughts in their tracks and refocuses the mind and spirit on the intention at hand while relaxing the body. Vampires can’t handle that. This is a wonderful action to take in the midst of a vampire attack. It’s probably much more effective than a gallon of ice cream or five new pairs shoes.

But it certainly doesn’t hurt to run around like a crazy person yelling “die, vampire, die!” at the top of your lungs. Before the centering, of course. Because that’s just fun. Good luck with those vampires. Now, get going and get to work!

If you like the centering technique outlined above, check out Eric's books at

A very special thank you to The Civic Theatre of Allentown for producing {title of show} as it certainly touched the hearts and souls of we creatives in the audience on a very deep level. Plus, it was hilarious. If you ever get the chance to see it, GO!

Gretchen Klinedinst Furst is a teacher, writer, actress, and mom. She’s the co-author of Made from Scratch: Tales of Women Who Take the Cake and the owner of Studio G. Allentown, LLC. Check out the website at , follow her: Instagram @studiogallentown, Facebook at To comment in the comment section just below, log-in (top right hand corner of this page) with your Google of Facebook account. If you don’t have either of those accounts, you can comment in the comment box further down the page. I’d love feedback. You can also subscribe below. Thanks! Copyright 2018.

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