The most damaging restrictions on a creative person's freedom are self-imposed. What may have started out as a new idea, a new methodology, becomes routine, a habit, after awhile. Habits are the comfort zone. Once snuggled into a comfort zone there is a tendency to stay. However, this is not what a creator is here to do. Staying in a comfort zone habitually creating the same kind of thing over and over again does not feed the artist's soul. Comfort zones are safe. Comfort zones bore creative people literally to tears. Stagnation goes flies in the face of an artist's passionate desire to expand and express their full creative potential. Habits are not limited to craft. The greatest crippler of the creative spirit is habitual thinking. Habitual thinking turns the innovator into the academician; passion into melancholy; fulfillment into despair. "A ship in the harbor is safe. But that's not what ships are built for." - Anon It is said that an artist of any kind brings a lot of himself into the work. The artist isn't as interested in the subject of his creation as in his own reaction to that subject. When you change your habitual thought patterns you also change your habitual reactions. You literally have new eyes with which to see and observe the experiences in your life and your world. Newer expanded vision births newer expanded creation. "Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there." -Susanne K. Langer When an artist is stuck, dug-in, in the mire of rigid or habitual ways of creating he literally puts a cap on the availability of his own intuition, his inner muse. Those magical "in the zone" moments of full creative energy and accomplishment are fleeting because very little inspiration is allowed. Inspiration is limited to what fits into a self-limiting set of possibilities. The artist has unknowingly handcuffed his soul. If an artist isn't personally evolving; stretching, growing, moving beyond comfort zones, then her art isn't evolving. Stagnation suffocates the potential creative expression that is the artist's birthright. Treading water in life, not moving in any direction, is exhausting! Swimming against the stream, holding back your full creative potential, is exhausting. Let go of tired old ways of being, thinking and doing. Rediscover the playful child in you. Approach your art with the wide-eyed wonder and awe of a child at an amusement park where everything is new, exciting, waiting to be experienced. Fear and judgment is left behind. Play is what turns the utilitarian into the discoverer of new interpretation, new invention. Play is the vital heartbeat of the creative spirit. If you think you might be treading water in life or your artistic endeavors, give yourself permission to play. Play with your craft, indulge your passions, do a silly dance. Shake up your stagnated energy. Fully alive and present, be open and available for whatever comes next. That glorious state of being is the ultimate freedom.