Monday, August 30, 2010

Everyday Creative: Connecting

I am not sure that this theme could have come at a better time for me. This month was all about connecting. I'd been thinking for some time about most of the issues covered in this chapter, so it was nice to actually have a space to explore them.

Connecting is something that I tend to do in spurts. I think it has something to do with being an introvert. Usually, I'll go on a spree where I am out and networking all the time and then I will retreat for a couple of months and then I'm back again. I am in the retreat mode now, so the first exercise was a little daunting. It required  me to try and create in public. Yes, I have taken art classes, but no, I haven't sat in the middle of an open area and created. Maybe, I'll try this one at a later date.

The second week seemed much easier for me to fathom to accomplish. This exercise asks you to find an art buddy. But first, you need to figure our your strengths and weaknesses and also the pros and cons of having and being an art buddy. It got me to thinking how isolated I am in my creating, so if anyone wants to art buddy up (or even create a group) and support one another then drop me a message!

By the third week, I was really catching on to this idea of connecting with other creatives. The exercise this time though required you to connect with a tradition, which I found fascinating. Yes, because I am an introvert and could retreat once again! But really, the concept was useful.
Try it yourself by looking through an art history text book or listening to a historical collection of music. Choose the images and or melodies that resonate with you. Once the list is compiled, see how they can inform your current work or inspire new work.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Five {5} Creative Questions with Michelle James

I am so honored to introduce Michelle James. I met Michelle over 5 years ago, shortly after I started exploring my own creativity while living in DC. Meeting her was a transformational experience for me in many ways, and I am grateful that we have stayed in contact since then.

Michelle James has been pioneering Applied Creativity and Applied Improvisation in business in the Washington, DC area since 1994. She is CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence and founder of the Capitol Creativity Network. Recently she was recognized for Visionary Leadership in Fast Company’s blog, Leading Change, for “her commitment to bring creative expression into the work environment in a very deep and meaningful way.” Michelle is a business creativity consultant, facilitator and coach who has designed and delivered hundreds of programs for entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations. Her original programs have been featured on TV, the radio and in print. Michelle performs full-length improvised plays with Precipice Improv, is an abstract painting artist, and is a CoreSomatics Master Practitioner. In 2009, she put on DC’s first Creativity in Business Conference.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
Life, aliveness, life energy, life trajectory, the core, the source, the natural way of being, the driving force, the unique self, the essence of all living being and systems. It is that energy within all of us and all living things which animates, liberates, and generates. It is the same force that paradoxically expresses our absolute individual uniqueness and connects us in community. It unites things, people, ideas, frameworks, concepts that were previously divided. It is there, ever-flowing, for us all to engage it, shape it, form it, express it and apply it to anything - from expression to solution finding to new structure creating. For me, it is like asking someone to define the essence of life - there are as many different ways to define it as there are people. That is uncomfortable for people who like to think there is one right way. Creativity is not about the one right way.

In my work, I find that I use the definition that resonates most with a particular client or organization to meet them where they are. Once they experience the power of re-igniting their own creative wellspring, they will always be able to come up with their own definitions that are more relevant for them than anything I could come up with - because while creativity is ubiquitous and universal, is is also uniquely personal.

Creativity is living paradox. It contains a balance of left and right brain, cultivating and emergence, thinking and being, reflection and action, receptivity and generativity, improvisation and planning, heart and head, analysis and intuition, and structure and flow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Play like a Kid

I've written before about the importance of play for kids. But it wasn't until recently (after writing more about creativity and kids!) that I realized how integral play is for adults.

Reflecting on my own busy summer, I noticed how little of it I spent just playing. Remember when you were in school and you couldn't wait for summer so you could play outside all day and into the evening?

Then you grew up and your life became over scheduled and there was little time left for play, even in the summer!

There is still time to add a little play time into your life. Even as summer comes to an end, find ways to look at life like a child:

Get sidewalk chalk and color to your heart's content
Find a swing and soar to new heights
Spend an afternoon blowing bubbles
  • What will you do to play like a kid? 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Everyday Creative: Using Yourself

Of all the months so far doing this challenge, this one was the most difficult. The task was to "use yourself" and dig deep emotionally. I am the type that relies on research and expert opinions to motivate me, so using myself instead as a resource proved a daunting task!

The first week asked me to hire myself as a consultant. I tried and tried to think of all the the skills I possessed to help myself. Because I tend to wear many hats, it took awhile. It turned out to be a fun, almost existential experiment. By the end of the week, I was really getting into this concept and appreciated Maisel's suggestion of opening up a savings account. Of course, I already have a savings account at the bank, but this one was intended for use to pay yourself. It was such an obvious and brilliant suggestion. You pay experts to work for you so why shouldn't you pay yourself?

By the second week, I was asked to get passionate and ravenous, but because I was suffering from a mid-summer slump, I just couldn't find anything that exciting to get ravenous about. I'll have to come back to this exercise. The second part of the week was filled with a depression treatment plan, since Maisel seems to be convinced that all creatives also suffer emotional issues. The plan would be helpful to even people that haven't suffered depression because it contained practical solutions like challenge your negative thinking and focus on your positive achievements.

One of the most powerful exercises of the month was "Kill Maybe" in the third week. How often have you said, "maybe I'll start my masterpiece tomorrow.?" And how often have you actually started tomorrow or even the day after or the day after that? I know this is were my weak spot lies. I often put off until tomorrow what should have been done today. So with that, I told 'maybe' to die, and of course still planned to start that masterpiece tomorrow. Someday, I'll learn...