Stay Creative!

Stay Creative!

Eight cool things about creativity

You Can Write it: All things are Possible

My hubby got me a bike for my birthday. I was thrilled because now I could actually make exercising fun. Also, he’d recently gotten one and now we could ride together.  The thing is Tennessee is hilly (now I know where they get the term hillbilly). You don’t think about it so much until you are walking it—or riding it. There are so many inclines in our subdivision trying to divert them is like trying to ride between rain drops.

Untold Story_Maya Angelo

When he and I started out on our first ride I was a little apprehensive and purposely avoided some streets because the inclines were much too steep. But after riding a while they all became steep and finally I came to the foot of a hill I knew would bring my ultimate demise.

I am not a chicken or faint at heart by any means but I looked at that hill and turned back to hubby and announced, “I can’t do it. I’m pushing the bike up the hill. I’ll meet you at the top.”

He smiled and calmly said, “You can do it.”

“No. I can’t. And I’m not going to try.”

Was he kidding?

“Nope. There’s no way.”

“You can do it.” He said.  “Take your time. Just take your time.”

Take my time? That’s not the way I’d done it in the past. I’d always gunned it. Maybe that’s why my legs felt like Jello when I got to the top. But aren’t you supposed to feel that way after a great feat? Completely spent?

I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of girl. Sometimes that has worked for me and sometimes not. Creating unrealistic expectations will leave you frazzled and beyond exhaustion and dreading what should be a somewhat pleasant experience. Obstacles in any situation where there is great accomplishment is assured; but should satisfaction only come at the end? No. The experience itself adds to the satisfaction of the end result. As we are tackling that novel or short story or biography we can make the journey pleasant but we can only do so when we take our time to embrace the worth of it. Go at a pace which will allow you to observe and learn and grow and stretch. This is the worth. Too many valuable life lessons get lost on the journey.

When hubby said, take your time it triggered something in me. I suddenly had faith in his method. He’d taken this ride before. He knew the way. So I looked at the hill and slowly ascended. I could feel the pull and stretching of my legs. I steadied my breathing. Several times I looked up at the hill and decided he was wrong; I was not going to make it.

And then another revelation came to me—don’t look at the top, you are focused on how far you have to go. So I concentrated my efforts on the road in front of me and suddenly the obstacle, the impossibility was only in my mind. But the more I focused on the immediacy of the road directly in front of me (and I could not deny that I was moving forward)  that impossibility left too. Why? Because I was doing it and my mind couldn’t argue with that fact that I was actually moving forward.

When I finally looked up again I was halfway up the steep and now it was just a matter of seeing it through. My results had silenced the voices.

As you move through your story, the voices of inadequacy, failure and confusion will be silenced. They cannot argue with the words you have written. You are doing it.

And then new voices will emerge telling you that what you have written is crap. They will mock that you are not a writer! But you will silence them too reminding them of what you have already accomplished. What you have done will be a testament to what you can do. And you will do it and no one will be able to argue the results.

 

Moving with Purpose: Reaching goals in the new year

Moving with Purpose: Reaching goals in the new year

As a kid I had a best friend that was the complete opposite of me. She was the six- o’clock-in- the morning kind of perky; she would swing her arms around me as an every time greeting (which, as a shy kid made my palms sweat) and looked at everyday things as adventures. As a nine-year-old growing up in a Pentecostal household where there were rules for everything from the way we ate to the way we wore our hair, she was a cool breeze. She was unshackled and unpredictable and perfect in small doses. With her the day could bring…anything. As we grew, I did the proper thing and went to school, eventually married and had children. For the most part I had goals and some plans and accomplished many of them. I don’t think she ever had any long term goals or plans; her life shifted often, she moved from state to state on a whim and had more phone numbers and addresses than I could possibly keep up with(Growing up we only had one and I still remember the number.). Even as I write this, her life is a series of blunders and missteps. No definitive purpose in her movements. No structure.

 

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On the other hand, the children’s church leader at my church has the kids’ schedule down to increments of five minutes. I get this feeling of being forced under water even as I think about it.

Flying freely and without a compass may make you sound brash and spirited when exchanging stories with your bestie who has one kiddo propped on her hip and the other smearing chocolate frosting on her shoes but the reality is life is a succession of moments carefully strung together by time and left unfettered we may one day look back and wonder how we used it all. On the other hand structuring our life down to the very minute is not only unrealistic but almost guarantees failure.

There is a middle ground. As you walk into 2015 look back not only on where you’ve come but where you want to go. Think about those goals. Now write them out–every one of them. No matter how ridiculous they may sound to others. Write them out. Then write out your objectives—how will you accomplish those goals? If you don’t have all of the specifics as of yet, that’s OK. Get something down. This will be a working document. It will become clearer or more focus as you move towards it. Be as specific as you can. What do you plan to accomplish by spring? Summer? Or before the next cold spell hits? Moving with purpose is essential.

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Now print it out and post it. Post it somewhere conspicuous for yourself—perhaps your home office or closet door. It is not for the whole world to see. Ensure it is somewhere you will be forced to look at every day. Write small goals, large ones and lofty ones. The small ones can be accomplished with ease and will keep you motivated. And then visit them often. Don’t be afraid if months into the year you haven’t achieved them, but make it a point to do something to work towards them every day. Take small steps. Move with purpose. And if you find you are off course—re-evaluate and figure out why. You may find you need help. Perhaps ask someone who knows you well and is not afraid to be honest with you. Ask them how they see you. Don’t be offended by what you hear. Pray. Pray daily and seek God. And then listen for his voice. When he speaks, listen and obey. You’ll be surprised at how far you get from listening to the divine One who had your life planned out well in advance. His plan is complete and always purposeful.

The Relevancy of your Faith

The Relevancy of your Faith

disappointments

Note: This post was originally posted in December of 2013, but I felt impressed to repost. Feel free to share!

I’ve watched one or two of those reality shows that gather some of the brightest and gifted minds in the entertainment industry for a game of show; those who have fallen by fame’s wayside for one reason or another and are now attempting to make their second or third resurgence via reality TV. (The genre is a forgiving haven for those cast from the spotlight.) We are always asking, whatever happened to…

After a few painful episodes of this show and that one, I came to this realization: mere talent is not the main variable to success. Being the smartest or most gifted person in the room is become less and less a deciding indication of your escalation to fame. Do such things give you an advantage? Yes, sometimes. But often they are the greatest hindrance.

Those people that believe they are particularly bright, gifted or beautiful or have some kind of peculiar and intriguing talent usually rest in that very talent. They rely on it like an eagle does its wings. And when it fails, the fear settles in as they flutter around seeking Plan B. And no I’m not seething with jealousy or any kind of envy. I am just an observer.

Most of us have to confess our fears and insecurities upfront before we experience any kind of success. Our fears are daunting and undeniable and have to be dealt with head on. For that group of exceptional they can hide it for years behind the glossy beauty of talent and gifts. This is not to say that the rest of do not possess some kind of gift. I believe we all do. But for the majority no one hears us flawlessly playing Beethoven’s Fifth at six years of age, most of us aren’t 6’2 at 12, dunking shots off of grown men. No, for most of us we have to seek and find that place where we fit.  We have to work hard and face so much failure we threaten to quit every day.

It is here that our faith becomes the most relevant factor. It becomes the single most undeniable force; this is the fulcrum for our success. It is the Plan B for the most talented but necessary for us all.

Consider this: more than 300,000 books are published in the U.S. each year; and that is not including e-books. To sit for days, weeks, months and sometimes years at a keyboard with the sincere hope and belief that within that haystack someone besides our parents, siblings and spouse will find us takes some kind of faith. There will be many times where this feeling of ridiculousness will overwhelm you and you will question the validity of your project. And you will press through. Writer’s block will leave you stumped and confused. And you will not give up. Sometimes, you will count time vested as time wasted. You will blow this off.

And when the work is done, they will tell you that the real work hasn’t even begun. You’ve got to market that baby, they will say. You will sigh and roll your eyes and huff. Then you will get to work. You will read; how to publish a book in 30 days; 21 ways to double your Twitter followers in a week; Five thousand Fabulous Facebook Followers. A tiny voice will whisper that it is all gibberish and worthless. And you will initially be convinced to believe it (some of it will be), but quickly realize that doing nothing will result in eminent death of your project. And then your faith will push you, prod and demand from you.

And finally when you have done all that you can do your faith will compel you to release the reins. It is then you will see it clearer. Your marketing will make sense. Those who are needful to you will become more apparent. And most importantly, your faith has moved the hand of God. And He my friend is the most relevant factor of all.

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.

Yep, six years old with these characters that seemed to come from nowhere. They were my creation, my friends and once they were out on paper they were no longer imaginary, they were real people.amazing_silhouette_photograph_14

I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.

After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?

By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.

When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.

When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.

Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.

My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?

Well, I went to college and graduated with honors.  I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.

I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.

When dreams die, they usually die young.

They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to  make sure the roots are strong.  They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.

Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten.  Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.

Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.

Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.