A few weeks ago in a couple of the online homeschool groups I’m in, moms started posting a very similar request: “Help! I’m a first year homeschooling mom and suddenly nothing is going right. Continue reading → Creative Februarys
Twas the night before Christmas
The topic was stress
Two bloggers were writing
Their posts still a mess…
Hey Karin. Merry Christmas! Can I stop by and bring you some breakfast?
Thanks, but I’m on a deadline. #toobusy #nostresseating
So, if you’re on FB at all, there is a meme going around where someone is assigned a number and must share that many things about them that people may not know. When someone else likes the status, they get a number from the person who shared and so and so on and so on. Yesterday a friend was assigned the ridiculous number 35, so she broke up her sharing into three posts over two days. By the third post, I sort of forgot the rules and she had shared some really cool things so I made the mistake of commenting on the final post and was assigned the number 29. Since I had to write a post anyway today, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. I hope you don’t mind indulging me.
Without further ado, here are 29 Things You May Not Know About Me:
1. I stopped celebrating my birthday many years ago. Instead I celebrate the anniversary of my 29th (coincidence?) birthday. Consequently, I’m sometimes a little fuzzy about exactly how old I am.
2. I make some of the best french fries in the world – and they are baked not fried.
3. I totally kick-ass at air hockey.
4. I sang in a rock band in high school.
5. I am named after my grandfather (Reginald).
6. I don’t have a middle name.
7. My favorite author is Anne Lamott. My younger daughter’s middle name is Annie after her.
8. I collect children’s books- particularly picture books.
9. I worked for The Jim Henson Company in Los Angeles. Some people work for the man, I worked for the frog.
10. Growing up I collected puppets and wanted to work for Jim Henson. I was not a puppeteer when I worked for the company.
11. I love snow. I particularly love walking on snowy streets at night.
12. My undergraduate degree is in Anthropology and my Master’s is in Film and Video.
13. During college I spent three summers working as an archaeologist.
14. My least favorite subject was always history.
15. I wanted to be a marine biologist and study dolphins when I was growing up.
16. I once managed a NASCAR store.
17. I am afraid, seriously afraid to fly. I do it anyway.
18. I’ve been a full vegetarian since 1998. I gave up red meat in 1991.
19. I’m a Unitarian Universalist. I grew up Catholic, but being a UU feels like it’s where I’ve always been meant to be.
20. I have Buddhist leanings but wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist.
21. I miss living in a city where I could walk everywhere.
22. Macklemore’s Same Love makes me cry every time I hear it. “No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it.”
23. I backpacked through Europe for a couple of weeks after graduation. The most life-changing part of that trip was visiting the Berlin Wall.
24. When I was a child, I loved John Schneider (from The Dukes of Hazzard). In high school my boyfriend arranged for me to meet him after a concert. John was charming and kind and I was enthralled even though my crush on him had long passed.
25. I’d love to be in a Broadway musical.
26. One of my dogs was written into a NY Times Best Seller novel. I had no idea until I read the book.
27. I can change a tire and drive a stick-shift.
28. I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. Every. Year.
29. I love to eat popcorn with butter and M&M’s.
This is day 21 of the National Blog Posting Challenge.
“I wrote sixty-three songs this year. They’re all about Joe, and I’m going to play every single one of them tonight.”
She then launches into several terrible, but passionate songs about the man who broke her heart. I bet at least half of you have this moment now stuck in your head (but if you don’t want an earworm burrowing into your skull for the rest of the night, don’t click the link. You’ve been warned.)
Lots of creative-types will tell you their creativity is at it’s best when they experience sadness. The more melancholy they are, the more they create and the higher the quality of their output. There are lots of really talented writers, painters, musicians out there known not only for the heights of their creativity but for their depths of despair as well. Think Hemingway, Picasso and Plath, just to name a few. A few small studies seem to show that unhappy people create more artistically interesting projects.
Then there are those creatives who work best when they are happy and fulfilled. Some studies show that when people have to creatively figure out the solution to a complex problem, the people who feel happier find a solution faster and get more satisfaction out of solving the problem in the first place.
So which is it? Are people more creative when they are happy or sad? Is it pleasure or pain that helps us reach our creative potential? My guess is that it’s both.
Generally speaking, I’m much more productive, creatively and otherwise, when I am happy. And, I also know, I’ve been amazed at some of the ideas I’ve generated when I have been devastated.
I think, maybe, what it’s really all about is that when life jars us out of complacency in either direction, we stop and pay attention. We see and experience things differently at the height of our joy and the depths of our despair. The view is different from when we hang out somewhere in the middle. It’s like driving a different way home. You’re much more likely to notice your surroundings than when you drive the same route you have for the past five years.
If you’re a person who usually creates when life has pounded on you, try seeing what happens the next time you’re beside yourself with joy. If you create in moments of intense joy, remind yourself in those inevitable moments of pain there is something to draw from there too.
I think Neil Gaiman says it well in his young adult novel, The Graveyard Book :
“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
This is day 20 in the 30-day National Blog Posting Month Challenge. Thanks for stopping by.
Today marks a perfect storm of creative inspiration for me. I’ve got a road trip, live music by my favorite band and lots of laughter with great friends. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way talks a lot about filling the well. You can’t draw from your creativity over and over again without also having a consistent way to refill the well. So, I get to do that today, a lot. It’s fantastic.
Filling the well doesn’t have to be time-consuming, expensive or exotic. Sometimes, just a simple walk or time in my garden works wonders for me. As does getting lost in a bookstore, wandering through a yarn store or playing my guitar. Lots of options to fit my mood or how much time or energy I have to devote to it. I always encourage my clients to keep a list of what fills them up. It’s important to have it handy otherwise we end up trying to fill our well with things like Candy Crush or Facebook or the Lifetime Christmas movie marathon. Not that any of those things are bad in and of themselves (I’m currently stuck on level 197 though…), but they are not going to refill your well. They may provide a distraction or a bit of respite from a long day but they won’t sustain you through the last hundred pages of your novel, a new business venture or your first major gallery show.
Figure out what fills your well and then do it – a lot. Funny, I wrote a blog recently about being happy – same advice. So, being one who is trying to learn to take her own recommendations, I’m going to go fill my well. I hope you get to do the same today.
Today marks Day 15 in the National Blog Posting Month Challenge. My goal is to post every day during the month of November. Check back frequently and see how I am doing.
I’m sitting at my dining room table writing this post, mug of hot tea beside me. The house is quiet – older child already off to school, younger engaged in an activity downstairs. I have sleeping houseguests and a tiny house so the impetus is to stay quiet and unrushed. Don’t get the day started in full-court-press mode yet, that’s just inhospitable.
This is, truthfully, my favorite time of day and my favorite way to write. The dining room has two large windows that overlook my yard and some woods – it’s an expansive view I never tire of. When I remember to fill the bird feeders, I love to get distracted by the antics playing out on the porch.
We all have rhythms to our creativity, times that just feel more right than others to engage in our work. And while it’s not always possible to line up with the ideal schedule (most mornings my day has been at full-tilt for two hours by now), it’s really important to know when those most productive hours (or minutes or even moments) are so that you can tap into them whenever possible.
Sometimes we just have to push through our work. There are chapters to be completed for our editors, music that has to be recorded for the release date, or even cupcakes that have to be baked for a class party. In those moments we can be proud of our work, happy that we made it across the finish line. But those times when we get to create under our most enjoyable circumstances, those are the times we savor and often times, the reason why we keep doing what we’re doing. Think of it as the runner’s high of creativity. It’s that place where process passes productivity and it can be as intoxicating as anything.
As for me, the house is starting to wake up and my day will soon fill with activity and business and lots of fun and laughter – all great things. AND, the fact that I got the opportunity to write during my best time frame is such a bonus. The creative high I got from this will last all day. May your day be as creatively inspired.
This is blog post #14 of the 30-day National Blog Posting Month challenge.
I said I was going to post every day for 30 days and so here I am. This isn’t much of a post – It’s 11:50 at night. But I am showing up and writing anyway. I was tempted to let it go, cut myself some slack. I have friends who arrived in town today and it’s been a whirlwind. In fact, we just now arrived home.
But there is something important to the muse about showing up when you said you would. So here I am, if only briefly. I’m counting it as a win. My instinct would be to let it go, complain that I couldn’t make it perfect or even good so why bother? But here’s the thing: showing up is always better than not showing up, great or not. In fact, showing up and allowing yourself to do it badly can be freeing and can ultimately open up your creativity to bigger and better things.
On another occasion, I could write more about this – but with only minutes to go to get this posting online, I’ll just say:
Show up – it matters.