Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

It really bugs me when I hear someone say, “I’m not creative,” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” It bugs me because not only is it probably not true, I used to be one of those people and it took me years to realize how wrong I was. I had confused “creative” with “artistic,” and because I had internalized something said by an insensitive grade school teacher, I believed that I could “not do art.” My youthful attempts at art were not as representational and as proportional as were those of some of my classmates, therefore, I couldn’t draw. Which in the mind of a child equal “can’t do art.”

And if you can’t do art, you aren’t creative, right?

I believed that misstatement and internalized it to the point that I gave up trying to be creative. I allowed one person’s ignorance of art to create barriers and limits to my self-expression. In doing so, I was actually creating something; it just wasn’t something I should have created.   In truth, realistic, representational art is one tiny piece of the whole creative thing, yet that is the one aspect of artistic/creative expression that we expect all “creatives” to be able to do.

How ridiculous is that?

Not only does it limit the range of those who seek to define themselves as “creative,” it limits all of us as well. It would be like saying that orange is the only color that counts. All the other colors are there, of course, but they aren’t really colors, just pale shadows compared to orange.

There are lots of ways in which to be creative. LOTS of ways. You can be creative with food or paint or words or beads or car designs or architecture or methods of teaching or ad campaigns or ways to communicate with the world. I finally realized that I was a very creative person, just like you, and I found the best ways for me to express that creativity. In the external world, I do that with words and abstract color and beadwork. In the internal world, I create myself anew each day. When I realize that I have been repeating a mindless pattern of thoughts or beliefs that hold me back, I get creative with my inner self and find the words I need to shift me out of that space. My external creations are not always for the benefit of others. Sometimes I just have to slap some paint on a canvas in order to feel right with the world and I don’t really care what it looks like at the end of the day. But my internal creativity always impacts the external world. When I create a more compassionate me, the world is a little better place.

If you are one of those people who say, “I’m not creative,” it’s time to challenge that statement. Take the time to explore your thoughts and feelings: how do you want to be creative, and how can you support your creative shift away from limitation to expression? The only person to answer that question is you, and I’m positive you’ll find a creative way to do it.



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Originally posted at TheIlluminatedLife.com.

I went to a memorial service this weekend and it got me to thinking about how much I dislike traditional funerals and memorial services.  This one was quite nice, actually, although two hours is a bit long to sit in multi-purpose room chairs.  But the venue was lovely, with lots of windows to look out onto green growing things in all directions.  I like being surrounded by abundant life while celebrating the life of someone who is no longer with us.  It feels much more healing and organic than being lined up in rows, sitting on hard seats, cut off from the world around us.

As I drove home, I decided that I should let the people who care about me know what I would like, should they feel compelled to gather and mark my passing with some sort of shindig.  So of course I decide to do this as a blog post.  It somehow feels less threatening and more generic that way, whereas sending this to everyone in a personal letter might feel like I expect to go any day now (I really don’t).

I know that whatever form of ritual is used to honor the deceased is really designed for the living and not the dead, but I would like to think the wishes of the dearly departed matter to someone.  I fully expect to die after some of you and before others, so at least one of you reading this should still be breathing after I no longer am.  That being said, here are my thoughts:

1. If you do feel compelled to gather, do not call it a funeral or a memorial service.  I suppose I could live with (wink) calling it a celebration of life, but I know so many creative people that I would hope you could come up with something a little more festive.

2. Weather permitting, gather outside.  Do not cut yourselves off from the living world to honor my life.  That just feels wrong.  If the weather sucks, gather someplace fun, like a museum or an indoor labyrinth or a roller skating rink.  Again, be creative, but don’t create a burden for yourselves.  That would make me very unhappy.

3. No organ music.  Well, there are two, and ONLY two exceptions to this request.  If you hold the party in a roller skating rink, then organ music would be not only acceptable but appropriate (keep it light – no heavy dirge-y kind of music).  The other exception would be if some enterprising organist out there gets the urge to play “In The Garden of Eden,” by I. Ron Butterfly, in which case you should all flick your Bic at the end.

4. No straight lines.  Holy Hera, how I hate straight lines.  You know me, I like curvy, flowy kinds of things.  So no pews, no chairs lined up, NO STRAIGHT LINES.  Sit in a circle so no one has to stand up and walk to the front in order to share whatever story they want to share.  I fully expect to die an old woman, which means my friends will all be old (and, not surprisingly, mostly women), and I don’t want anyone to break a hip walking up to a podium.  By the way, the age of the probable participants should also be taken into consideration if you want to hold the party at a roller rink.  I’m just sayin’.

5. Play music people can sing to and, if they are able, dance to.  Bring drums and tambourines and maracas and let it all out.  Play “Dust in the Wind,” by Kansas.  Black should only be worn if it makes you look smokin’ hot, in which case, do it up right.  Otherwise, wear vibrant colors, hats and jewelry, sandals and flip-flips, or whatever else you feel most yourself in.  Don’t worry about what other people will think about your attire.  This is a party, remember?  Come as you really are.

6. Skip the biography.  You know how at traditional funerals, there is the biography, the music, the tearful poetry and then everyone adjourns to someone’s house where they tell the fun stories, they laugh and cry and relate to each other as human beings who are connected by the deceased?  Well, skip the first part and go straight to the laughter and the stories.  Nobody cares where I was born, only that I was.  Bring your favorite photo and tell the story of that photo, as that is much more interesting that the fact that I went to an elementary school that no longer exists.

7. Do not put yourself out.  It would annoy me to no end to think that my friends did something that they felt compelled to do (out of tradition or social pressure) or something that put an undue burden on them, simply to mark my passing.  If cooking helps you deal with loss, go for it.  If organizing a party helps you feel closer to me, groovy.  But screw tradition and tell social norms to take a hike, okay?

8. If I die before the majority of my friends, I’ve decided that there should be no single party, but rather a round-robin type celebration.  I’m going to be cremated, so anyone who wants/needs to see the urn can let my husband (or my executor) know, and the ashes will be sent from one group to another.  Let the Tucson people gather in Tucson, let my friend in NY do what she needs to do without traveling across country, etc.  If you don’t want or need to see the urn, that’s fine by me.  But don’t expect my grieving spouse to put together any kind of gathering.  That is simply not going to happen.  He also won’t want anyone to come visit, as he will not be in a good space for entertaining.  Send him a card, let him know you are thinking of him, but don’t come up here unless he asks.  I’m serious (and this includes you, mom).  Do not poke the bear, you won’t like it.  If you think I hate funerals, you should talk to him about them some day.

9. The main thing is this: if you care about me and want to do something to honor my life and our connection, then just be the best, truest, most authentic you that you can be.  Today, tomorrow, before I die, and after.  Nothing would make me happier, and it’s all I ever want for, or from, any of you.

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Man, look at all the spiders out here – I really need to get out here and clean this studio up one of these days.

I need to write. But what about?

I am surrounded by stories but I don’t know the words. I am enmeshed in wonders not yet seen and entranced by the hint of something more going on just beneath the surface.

Do I write a fantasy? A tale of beauty trapped in a bower, awaiting salvation by the prince?

No. Done to death and not my favorite theme, anyway. I prefer that the damsel save herself, or at least that they work as a team. What about the poisoned fruit, the talking fish (no frogs in my pond, sorry), or the magical cat?

Well, all cats are magical, aren’t they, so what’s new about that?

Ah, here is the rain they promise. Soft and gentle, enough to splash its liquid life into the pond but not enough to preclude my needing to water the grass later, I’m sure.

Have I written so many research papers that my pen has forgotten how to fly? My writing partner is far away – I moved, she stayed – and our few attempts at long distance writing “dates” were less than successful. Is that it? Am I only able to create flights of fancy when inspired by another writer? Or am I simply adrift in a sea of words, trapped in a dense web of nouns, verbs and adjectives, unable to string them together and find my way home?

The garden is wildly overgrown. Roses twelve feet high, bending back down to earth by the weight of their blossoms; the lavender is chest high (I’m allergic, thank you), some kind of mint has taken over the small patch in the back, and butterfly bush exploding everywhere in sagey green and shades of lilac. Not to mention the sneaky blackberry tendrils that weave unbidden through the densest stand of branches.

You can’t kill them, you know. They spring up everywhere here, invasive little suckers. They aren’t native, either, and like the trumpet vine and the passionflower vine, they’ll take over everything if you let them. One season is all it would take and you’d need a flamethrower to get more than two feet into the garden.

And there are spiders everywhere. I see four little mamas in their webs just from where I’m sitting and it looks like three different types of spiders (don’t ask me which kind). Brown house spiders, wolf spiders, crab spiders, hobo spiders (same as brown recluse, ‘cept different), black widows – so many types that only Arachne herself would know for sure.

The rain has stopped (see I told you it wouldn’t amount to much) and I can’t even enjoy the reflection of droplets suspended on silken webs. The sky is leaden and grey and no brave beams break through to illuminate.

Do I write of memories long since dead, locked away in musty old houses filled with scurrying feet and muted wings? No, I think I’ll not go down that path today. Maybe when I’m old (and not just gray), when the memories seem as if they belong to someone else. Besides, I’m no good with ghost stories, I scare too easily.

Shoo, little spider, I’m trying to write.

The rain is back: steady, small drops. Maybe I was wrong after all. Maybe it will be enough. Enough to feed, to renew, to refresh. Maybe it will wash the cobwebs from my mind, replacing their dense weavings with something lighter, airier, brighter – like Indra’s Net.

Do I write of brown eyes that light up as he speaks my name? Of a quirky smile and a love that has lasted through thick and thin, pain and joy? No. That isn’t just my tale, it is his, too, and I have no right to tell it alone.

Do I write of floppy-eared dogs with crooked smiles and gigantic hearts? No, I wouldn’t know how to write it without it becoming cloying, maudlin, nauseatingly sweet. Living everyday with such a beast is joy enough, no need to put it in writing.

Geez, that’s the biggest daddy long-legs I’ve ever seen. You can get off my desk now, thank you.

Do I write of giants and trolls, wizards and dragons, treachery, betrayal, honor, glory, and “ever after”? Of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, rescues, trials, victories and defeats?

Nah. I think I’ll just make a cup of tea and stare out the window for a while. Let the world write itself today – I’d rather watch the spiders dance in the rain.

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