What has creativity got to do with bullfrogs? Nothing directly but everything if you look at it as an allegory. After all, this piece is about holding on to your creativity as you navigate this deadly pandemic. 

And no, this is not another productivity shaming piece. Why? Let me tell you something – SPARE TIME in today’s day and age is an oxymoron. As we inch towards a sketchy version of the normal we once knew (albeit without a concrete plan), there’s a radical difference between before pandemic (B.P.) and now. If you think you were doing it all B.P. then think about how much more you’re doing now – meals, kids, the endless loop called the house! Oh and the thing called work.

Not to mention the brazen mask-less who may just undo all of your quarantined months. Day cares are gradually opening up and summer camps are virtual. Plans are all up in the air and it’s a full house with little respite in sight. Please let us be guided by common sense and science as our North Star.

The solve? You create pockets of time and creativity as needed. Mine involve writing (for work and ‘stream of consciousness), nature walks and a brief meditation. During these quiet times, I have an internal press conference with all my demons (I already wrote about one such – self-doubt). I do this to keep them in check so that I monitor my “mind diet” as I call it. 

Otherwise, they cause havoc, panic and block my creative thinking abilities. In one of these journaling odysseys of mine borrowed from the Morning Pages, I imagined my detractors as creatures. One of them particularly stood out – The Bullfrog, a “higher up” from a distant past life. 

Before I delve into this creativity killer, here are some bio facts about this creature: Picture this: a murky brown / greenish hue with sporadic blotches, webbed feet and dead pan eyes. Now that you have a clear mental image that you can’t shake off, here are three other things to remember:

  1. Bullfrogs eat everything: Insects, worms, fish larvae, snakes, bats (yes!) and even their own young. 
  2. Size doesn’t matter: Mammals LARGER than them are not off the table either, these dangerous guys can chomp at the bits and clasp their catch to the point of no escape.
  3. Sit and wait: Bullfrogs have a singular strategy of sitting really still and waiting for their next unsuspecting victim. And then CHOMP at the bits, quite literally. 

Shifting gears back to my creativity sapper—to be SUPER clear, I didn’t name my gremlin type because of any physical characteristic or where it lives at all.

In fact, it’s the three characteristics above that helped me draw a parallel –

  • I have been subject to the “eating anything” – meaning not being nearly wise about how the bullfrog in my case received information or feedback.
  • Size doesn’t matter – translated into regardless of the prize of the accomplishment it never made a difference (to them).
  • Lastly, the deadliest one—sit and wait. Typically, a bullfrog type will almost never offer any kind of constructive feedback. Instead it will create the perfect conditions to ambush and attack when you think they’re doing nothing. 

I had some PTSD when I found out about the conniving level of cannibalistic behavior of the bullfrog in question, but thanks to a decent exit strategy at that time in place, I was back on my feet in no time. 

In other words, I did not and will not allow bullfrog types to live rent free in my head. I will instead, continue creating an environment that is not conducive to bullfrogs. Research tells me that they don’t do well in cold environments. Freeze all of that dead, unproductive energy and convert it into creating, forging new paths and moving ahead in full speed. Let me tell you it’s hard and a constant work in progress.

Do not give into the chase. Change the game instead. Lastly, be grateful for all the non-bullfrogs. I sure am. Treasure those who continue to bet on you and your creativity and pass it forward. After all, creativity is a joy multiplier so keep making space for it. Banish that bullfrog NOW!

PS:  In case you were wondering, Lithobates catesbeianus is the bullfrog’s official name. Did you know bullfrogs are cannibalistic? They’re also one of the worst invasive species on the planet!