Saturday, October 30, 2010

How Seeds Get Planted

As a Creativity Life Coach, I often have the opportunity to assist my clients to "plant seeds".  These "seeds" are bits of ideas that when focused on and tended to, grow into something pretty wonderful for them.  I like this idea of "planting seeds".  I think we do this all the time with or without knowledge that that is what we are doing.
This week, as I was working on the project of the week, I was thinking about perhaps the first time I experienced how creating something can shift a person's mood to the positive.
I grew up in what I can only call an overly creative and dramatic household.  Both of my parents, may they rest in peace, were creative and sometimes that creativity was used to create drama and lots of it.  My mother longed to be a "normal" housewife and mother of the post WWII era.  This really wasn't in her wiring, and it was something that cause a lot of conflict in her for I think most of her life.  She did the best she could to come to terms with this conflict. Most of the time she wasn't too successful in her struggle, but when she was, she was a superstar.  I say all this as a preface to my story. At one point in her life, my mother decided to be a Bluebird leader. Bluebirds were the not ready to be a real Campfire Girl sub-group for 6 and 7 year olds.  At the time, I thought it was cool for my mother to be the leader, mainly because for a couple of hours once a week there were at least 15 girls my age at my house. Over the years I use to think. "Why did she do that?"  Now I know, it was my mother's way of creating something for herself.  We would do some pretty amazing craft projects each week.  I really don't remember my mother being more in her element than at the Bluebird meetings each week.  For her, it was a rare Superstar moment in her life.
This was never more apparent than the day President John F. Kennedy was shot.  For kids of my generation, that was a critical shocking day.  It was also the afternoon of a Bluebird meeting.  My mother loved JFK.  I could see the look of shock and sadness on her face as I walked into the house with some of my fellow Bluebirds.  At seven years old we didn't really fully understand what had happened.  Some of us didn't even know what had happened.  My mother bravely turned off the TV and wiped her eyes.  She announced to the group that we would be celebrating Fall today, by collecting leaves and putting them into a project.  It was November and there were tons of leaves to be found.  We then put them on wax paper with colored crayons and melted them with an iron.  The effects were like a stain glass window with nature.  My mother was the strongest and the most focused I ever remember. She even was laughing and smiling at the end of the meeting.  I didn't have many of these days or moments with my mother as I was growing up, yet I think that day a seed was planted and it's growing strong in the present in my life.  I witnessed my mother use her creativity to shift her mood, and all of our moods to one of a celebration of Fall..more importantly life. I realize,  I've been doing this all my life. Now I'm encouraging others to do the same.

These were difficult to get a photo on as they are best seen with light behind them.

In creating this week's project...I'm celebrating Fall and appreciation for all the wonderful people I have in my life.  I celebrated a great birthday a couple of weeks ago with the help of so many wonderful friends.
I collected leaves and used old crayons and melted them in wax paper.  Taking it one step further, I created a thank you card.  Inserted a note. Put them in the mail, without postage, but that's another story for another time. As they come back to me...I'm resending them.  I guess that's a what is called a senior moment. Sigh.

We all "plant seeds" everyday of our lives.  Can you think back to a time when you think someone "planted a seed" and it is growing for your good?  When was the last time you feel you "planted a seed" for your good or the good of others?
Until next week...create to feel great!  Plant a seed and watch it grow into something wonderful!
2 projects complete! 50 to go!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So Ugly It Is Cute

My much beloved, Mickeygirl cat, turned 15 years old this past week.  She's amazingly healthy (after her one long illness), round and sassy and ever so loving.  It's a joy to have her sleep and snore next to me on the futon sofa, as I craft or write or hang out.
Now, 15 is a milestone in a cat's life, she's roughly the same age as Betty White.  I wanted to make her something that would bring her comfort as well as some fun.  So, I decided on making her a cat nip Ugly Doll. Ugly Dolls are a current pop culture thing.  I don't get it.  When I was a kid, anything ugly was, well, in a word, ugly.  No one I knew wanted an ugly doll or anything with ugly as part of it's name. I have say, however I had a huge troll doll collection, but I didn't think of them as ugly.  They just had a different body shape than Barbie and her friends.  Trolls could bring you good luck. An ugly doll filled with cat nip as a gift for a cat seemed sort cool to me.  Perhaps it would bring Mickeygirl some good luck in the coming year. At the very least, it would make her feel good.
I started by looking for a pattern for an Ugly Doll.  They really don't exist, because they are sort of free form. Upon realizing this "free form" idea, I created my own pattern.  I found something liberating in making something that was not perfect. Not pretty.  That was ugly.  That didn't mean that it had to be crappy looking either.
I discovered a big difference between crappy looking and ugly looking.  Crappy looking, looks like you really don't care.  It's throw together with no thought, no concept, and love.  Making something that was ugly looking, I had to give it thought, I had to have a concept of what I thought was ugly and I made this with a lot of love.  That last word "love" is key.  Things made with love usually look better (even when the idea is to make ugly), or taste better (yum! home cooking), or sound better (people singing from their heart).
For me, love is key in all things I do.  Coming from a place of love, makes creative expression so much easier.  Coming from a place of love of others makes life easier.  I find when there is that ease in life and love in life, life is wonderful and there isn't much place of negativity and all it's trappings.
So, I look at this Ugly Doll filled with catnip as it lies on my floor waiting for the next cat attack (Mickeygirl loved it so much, she had trouble attacking it for the first couple of days.  Gus took care of that.) I think it's sort of cute, because I can see the love I put into to give to my girl.  That girl cat has taught me more lessons about love over the years and what it means and looks like, it is only fitting that she gets a gift of love for her birthday and everyday.
When was the last time you created something out of love?
Until next week...create to feel great!
1 project complete! 51 to go! Whee Year 2!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

53- A Campaign Recap

Today marks week 53 of The Campaign For Creativity To Banish Negativity.  It's my week off from "project of the week."  It's also, my last day at age 53 (I was born at 11:35 pm on October 16th).  Since my last post, I've been receiving a lot of acknowledgement from the people in my life.  Thank you all!  Folks in general are amazed and inspired that I was able to complete 52 projects and that I'm willing to write about it.
A great friend asked me what are some of the things you learned doing this challenge over the past year?  I've been reflecting on this question, let me see if I can recap.
This past year, I've sewn, knitted, painted, quilted,crafted.  I've discovered a wide wide world of crafters who love to share their ideas on the Internet.  It's vast and huge.  So, many creative people out there.  Thank you for all your ideas and tutorials.
I've pushed myself to learn and try to create new things.  I learn to needle felt.  I created a cook book.  I'm now crocheting again. I'm talking about creativity and encouraging others to be more creatively expressive.  I'm taking more creativity coach training, in order to get more cred and certification.  I'm writing again after giving it up years ago.
I've pushed myself to talk about my creative process, my thoughts on life and how I think it works.  I've fearlessly talked about about myself, Broadside, my Grandma and Granny, some of my struggles, and of course my love of cats.  I've proved to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to do.
Most importantly, I've banished a lot of negativity in my life.  I finding myself laughing more.  Expressing myself in a positive manner as I interact with people in my life.  Some people have commented that they've seen a difference in me. (Thank you!) I'm living more in the present, worrying less about what will happen in the future and creating a fulfilling life and enjoying it.  I can say I'm always looking on the bright side of life (apologies to Eric Idle- I just had to use the reference).
I feel, all this allows me to contribute to others more fully, and thus doing my part to banish negativity.

I'm on a roll here.  I don't think 52 (or 53) weeks is enough. So, starting next week I will be going for year two...Project of the week will return.  The Mickeygirl and Gus saga will continue (More cat stories. Hope you can handle it).  I thinking year two is going to be a butt kicker!  I hope you will join me here.

Until next week...create to feel great!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Year Of Creating Joyfully!

"There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something."~ Henry Ford

A year ago, I came up this idea for a Campaign to Banish, what I thought was, the overwhelming negativity I saw everywhere I looked.  I knew that it would have to engage creativity.  So, I in a moment of flash- The Campaign For Creativity To Banish Negativity was born.  At least in name.  I thought my self clever for coming up with such a name, but that was all it was, a name.  A long one.  A name folks had trouble remembering all of it at once.  "Oh, you know..that creativity thing you are doing." Or "That banishing thing."  When I talked about it, well, announced the name of the Campaign.  Folks would ask me what it was.  Until this week a year ago, I didn't know what it was either.  I just knew that there was some connection between using one's creativity (once again, we are all creative) to shift negative thoughts and feelings.  I just knew it, but I didn't know what it would look like.  As I was mulling this all around in my mind, I had the opportunity to see the movie Julie and Julia. I had read small portions of Julie Powell's book. It was okay, it didn't stir anything in me, I got bored reading it after a couple of chapters (a little too whiney for me). Yet there was something in seeing the process on the big screen that hit me.  The friend I'd seen the movie with asked me if I did a year long challenge, what would it be?  Before I could answer she did it for me.  "I think you would do something around creativity."  I had to quickly agree.  Driving home that night, I had another amazing flash.  I what if I were to do a project a month and blog about it. Wait a minute!  A project  a month!???? Who are you kidding here? What sort of challenge would that be? How about a project a week?  That scared me ( I had thought about a project a day, but I almost stopped breathing and drove the car into a ditch).  What scared me was 52 projects.  That would interest me.  And talking about the projects. I didn't even know how to blog or if I could write again.  How would this shift a negative mind set?  I set up lots and lots of blocks. Finally, I decided that the one thing that scared me the most is the one thing that most people who consider themselves creative dread and need the most...S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E!  If I publicly proclaim that I going to challenge myself with 52 projects and a blog post a week for a year, and do it cheerfully and with a positive mind set, I'm going to have to structure my time and my mind.  That was the thing I was unsure of.  That was the challenge.
Fast forward, to today.  I have completed 52 projects and more than 52 blog posts.  The year went by fast.
Has negativity been banished? Well, no.  I still see tons and tons of work to do. I will say this, it has changed me. It has affected my responses to life. I have created more and learned more than I ever thought possible.
Old Henry Ford is right.  There is happiness in realizing that we (I) have accomplished something.
This week's project is a reminder and celebration for me.  I created a framed image charm bracelet.  So simple.  I took a visit to one of my favorite stores, Collage on Woodstock.  I gathered up images that I felt were key to my year.  Frame one- NOW. That's because I really learned the importance of staying present and in the here and NOW. Frame two- bird.  For Bird by Bird.  Taking things as a small piece or step at a time. Frame three- Mickeygirl.  Because she is an important part of my life. It's amazing what I've learned listening to her purr. Frame four- a cartoon of what I think looks like me.  Because I'm an important part of my life, and I now know can do whatever I set my mind to. Frame five- Gus.  Need I say more.  It's Gus. The happiest boy cat in the planet.
Every time I look at this bracelet I smile.  I smile at the images as they remind me I did something pretty big here with my time.  I know I had supporters and cheerleaders with me this year, I want to thank all of you. I hope it has been an interesting year for you as well (hint- would love to hear about it!)
I've had some folks ask me if this is the end? Well... I'm going to take a week off. Not from being positive, but from the project of the week. Time to celebrate, reflect, regroup, and enjoy! Stay tuned.

"Life is about enjoying yourself and having a good time." ~Cher
Is there a challenge in your life you are backing away from, but deep in your heart, you know it's completion would bring you joy? What's stopping you from accepting the challenge?

In is my hope that all folks reading this will continue to create to feel great and encourage others to do the same!
52 projects complete! 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Habit Forming

In my quest to better understand my creative process (and others as well), and to get more coaching certification, I'm reading Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit.   I have loved Ms. Tharp's dancing and choreography for years.  I remember first experiencing her dancing in my mid-twenties.  A full evening's program.  I was moved to tears.  When her last tour, where she would dance, was announced I saw her dance in Portland, Seattle and San Fransico.  I would have followed her more, but I was out of money and had to get back to the job I had at the time. 
I was over the moon when I discovered her book on the creative process.  I've just started reading, but I'm already thrilled with what she is presenting.
The first idea is about rituals.  What gets us started on our creative path.  What do we have to do in order to get the juices flowing and growing?  She stresses that these are so important to creating. 
It got me thinking about my rituals.  I have many.  I have a different one of the type of creative endeavor I'm engaging in.  I didn't realize I had a ritual for The Campaign.  I do.  Every Sunday morning, the first question I ask myself is: What would I like to create this week?  I do this while listening to ABBA (okay, I just outted myself) and walking to coffee. Sometimes I find the answer right away.  Sometimes, it takes a couple of days, but I got the wheels moving on Sunday morning.  Friday afternoons are my time to write the blog. Before I start, I sit with Mickeygirl for ten minutes.  She's purring away and I'm in her energy.  Usually after ten minutes, Gus wants to horn in and I'm ready to write.
For costuming, whatever project I'm about to start, I have spend ten minutes looking for whatever on Ebay.  It doesn't have to be for the show.  I usually don't bid or buy.  I just "window shop" on Ebay. Oh, I have to be in my PJs. 
In my daily life, just to get started on my day, I walk.  I have coffee and I text a friend.  That starts my day.

Rituals.  Important to get things going.  I think they are an anchor for us.  A sense of security in a world that doesn't promise much security.
This week's project is a cork board trivit.  I was walking through the Goodwill and discovered a huge bag of corks and a tray with a wood frame.  All half price.         
I had a great time sorting through the corks and looking at all the "art", Amazing stuff.  Then figuring out how they all fit in.  And gluing them down.  So, easy to make.  I'm thinking a great gift idea.

One last thought about rituals.  This Campaign has become my creative habit, my weekly ritual, my sense of security.  I'm interested in discovering what else Ms. Tharp has to say about The Creative Habit.  It's so great to know that Twyla Tharp still has the ability to inspire me.

What are your rituals?  What is that one little thing that you have to do every time you start a project, you know will get the juices flowin' and growin'?
Until next week...create to feel great! 
51 projects complete! 1 more to go!  For real.