Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Are you starving your creativity? June 24, 2014

Child's Drawing2

I can’t go without eating, none of us can. It is one of those fundamentals that all living organisms must satisfy in one way or another or perish without it. No surprises here. But what about our other urges, needs, drives and desires – and specifically, what about creativity? Do we need it? Will we perish without it? And beyond our own personal needs to express and utilize this aspect of our selves, do others need it from us? I say, yes. While we may not wither away in our physical form – without creativity our lives can become, bland, unfulfilling and stagnant. And the impact goes beyond our own well-being – without creativity how do we move forward as a species, where will our society be without new and innovative thoughts, ideas, objects of beauty and personal expression? No place that I want to go, I can tell you.

Why is creativity important?
Let’s pull it back a bit here – while the impact of a world without creative expression may evoke visions of bleak, grey automation – what I really want to talk about here is how it affects us in a personal way. There are those of us who identify ourselves as “Creatives” and our form of expression might manifest itself in ways that are easily recognized for their creativity: music, the arts, writing, etc. While for others the expression of their creative inclinations might take shape in how they dress, what they cook, how they approach confounding questions that arise during the work day, or the “hobbies” they engage in, be it knitting, model building or gardening. In different ways each of these activities, actions and approaches to life, involve that part of us that is “creative”. And to leave it out, to not have a place or a way to express it would not only make our lives less colorful, but on a basic fundamental level – it would be less satisfying, less enjoyable and more fulfilling.

Creativity: luxury or necessity?
That said, for many of us, unless we are fortunate enough to have occupations that require us to flex our creative muscles on a regular basis, we find ourselves left wanting. Wanting to find the time to pursue a creative activity; wanting to take that guitar lesson, to write that story, to paint that picture we have in our mind. It’s a luxury. Something we can’t afford the time or energy to commit to amidst the responsibilities of our daily living. Recently, in a writing group I was running, the members of the group discussed that though finding the time and commitment to create a space for writing is an on-going challenge – to not do it – to let it go, simply doesn’t work. And, why not? Because the “need” to do something creative, never goes away. It remains, like a nagging brain worm, turning and turning over in your mind, vying for your attention and simply not giving up. Expressing your creativity – is not a luxury, it is a necessity – and without it you can never quench the thirst that its absence creates.

So, what are you going to do?
Why deny yourself something that is so meaningful? Why keep putting off, that project for another day? As with all goals, if we refuse to commit to taking action, it will never happen and in this case that desire may get quieter if you continue to ignore it (though in many cases, it often actually just gets louder and louder) it’s simply not going to go away. So do it! Get out there, get started, create the space, make a mess, and allow for the “ugly”, but just do it anyway. It’s fundamental and without it – life just isn’t as satisfying, exciting, interesting or beautiful.

There’s strength in numbers!
If you are ready to start exploring and expressing your creative side, consider joining me and other creative folks who are ready to commit to making it happen in an interactive for this interactive virtual group! Where we will explore ways to: foster, hone, support and create opportunities to enhance our creative expression in whatever form that may take. Registration deadline is only a week away, so don’t put it off. For more information: http://conta.cc/1iBRmnH

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“Where I am From” June 11, 2014

Sorting through a file of miscellaneous notes and assorted paperwork this morning prepping for a newSitting group I am planning on accessing the creative inside of us – I came across this… Below is my first pass at my “Where I am From” poem, see – http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html. What a great project and a wonderful exercise – might just have to incorporate this in to my group.

I am from Binney Park, baccala and bicycles.
From Aunts Emma and Violet
From head scarves and rubber bands.

I am from delicatessens and mansions.
From soft hearts and strict rules
From bocce and “BINGO” on Independence Day.
From wet snow pants and 45 records.

I am from the “rattle” of the utensil drawer and
the “kerchunk”of the library card.
From stories of WWII and Sunday visits.

From neighborhood hide and seek and whistles for dinner.
From dress-up and tadpoles.
From innocence and cigarette smoke.

I am from knowing too much and not understanding.
I am from the outside, looking in.
From train rides to “THE city” and walks to the beach,
From Friday nights and Barbie dolls.

All wrapped tightly in a bunch,
In a ball, a basket.
Buried deep and bubbling to the surface
All that came before and all here now.

If you haven’t tried it – I suggest you do. Offers an interesting way of thinking about your childhood – where you came from and who you are.
Be well… Lisa
http://firebirdlifecoaching.com/

 

Romancing the Muse August 7, 2012

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It is six o’clock in the morning, the household is quiet and I tiptoe out to the porch, hot coffee in hand. My laptop, is there waiting for me, brought out moments earlier as part of my preparations. I sit down, sign in and wait. I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and wait some more. She’s here, I know she is – I just can’t see her yet. I wait some more, still, quiet, listening, deeply, inwardly, patiently. Where are you?

My muse is an elusive phantom who cannot be pushed into making an appearance. I cannot force a visitation. Gentle enticements are the bait for this ethereal creature. Like the hummingbird who visits the flowers in my garden, she comes when she wants to, and any sudden aggressive movements will surely frighten her away.

But I know the steps to this dance now. I have practiced my part and I am ready. My job is to create the space. If it is writing that I am after – timing is of crucial significance. Early mornings are always best – but not if there is other activity around me. Interruptions are my enemy. Though I often enjoy music in the background, or the simple sounds of songbirds – conversation is the death knell. Chaos – is just that. Calm is the key. I can have an idea in mind, in fact I often have several swimming around in there, but it is not until I feel the gentle touch of my muse that the words begin to flow, down from brain, flowing quietly, smoothly like the waters of a stream, down over my shoulders, through my arms and out through my fingertips like individual droplets of water. The writing simply flows, and I never know where exactly it will take me until I am done.

If it art that I am after – a different ritual takes place. Again, I enjoy music that fits my energy level. Though honestly, this is a constant for me – rarely am I without music – it is my constant companion. But like with writing, my first step is about creating the space to create a piece of art. Depending on what feels right – I select my paper and set it up – on the wall over plastic sheets, on the easel set-up in my studio/office space or sometimes outside, in the grass. I gather my tools; pastels, paper towels, smudge sticks, ink, brushes and an occasional kneaded eraser. I change into my “art clothes” the oversized, stained and comfortable shirts that free me from worry. And then when I am all ready – I close my eyes and wait as mind and muse merge. I see the colors, feel the gestures, and let go of my controlled thought in favor of the moment and the state of flow which washes over me. Trading colors, blue for green, red for purple – making lines, blending colors, feeling shapes, seeing and not seeing, feeling and flowing.

There are times when the desire to write or to draw is a force that I cannot ignore. I can feel the pressure building inside of me. There is a drawing waiting to be created, a story needing to be told – sometimes other demands take precedence. And that can hard, as days, weeks and even months can pass. And when this happens I can often feel unsettled, dissatisfied and even physically unwell. But I know it will break. It always does – the muse will visit again. I know this because we are interconnected – my muse and me.  I need her for inspiration and she needs me for manifestation.

It is my job to create the space,

–      my job to find the time,

–      my job to gather the tools,

–      and my job to collect the ideas.

But it is the muse – that magical goddess of inspiration who takes these elements and creates the art. Like the honored guest at a precious banquet – she enters, strikes the match, lighting the candles and signaling that it is time for the feast to begin.

(Drawing by Arthur Rackham)

 

What’s for Dessert? September 24, 2011

Yesterday I baked a delicious peach and blueberry pie for my boys and I and “wow – was it good”. My neighbors had brought us over a half a dozen extra peaches that they had picked at a local orchard, and combined with a few I had purchased at the store last week and a pint of wild Maine blueberries that I acquired at the farmstand – I had all the inspiration I needed to pull it together. Baking pies reminds me of my two aunts who were never married, have lived together their entire lives and who were an extremely significant  fixture in my life from childhood to the present day. Emma (96) was the cook of the two, but Violet (94) had one skill in the kitchen – and that was baking pies. Actually, the combination of peaches and blueberries was inspired by my favorite of possible fillings from a pie I remember her making when I was little. Though I am a damn good cook, having grown up in a family where cooking delicious homemade food was the norm that my parents excelled in and having worked as a cook and chef for many years when I was younger – I am not a baker. But pie, is the one exception to this rule. It’s simple really and with pies as with regular cooking you can “wing it” as opposed to other types of baking which require recipes in order to turn out correctly. I hate following recipes – as it takes some of the joy out of cooking for me. The requirements of having the ingredients on someone else’s list, and specific instructions for the “how to” portion of the process – by their very nature leave out the spontaneity and creativity in the process which apparently, I don’t just prefer – in some ways I require.

Maybe that’s how Aunt Violet did it, maybe not and in fact it doesn’t really matter. If you enjoy the experience and the end result comes out to your liking it doesn’t really matter what your process was. Of course, the “what is in the fridge that I can turn into dinner” method that I most often employ – can make it a little tricky when you are trying to re-create something that you enjoyed before – but that doesn’t mean the final product will be a disappointment. I wouldn’t be a good executive chef – developing menus for my staff to create consistently and effectively night after night from the same menu – but ask me to develop some daily specials – and I’m your gal!

There is a time and place for order and repetition and a time and place for creative experimentation. Figuring out what works best for you in any given circumstance is the key. Trusting in yourself to stray from the directions a bit knowing that you will still produce excellent results is a perfectly good choice to make. Not every experiment produces a five-star creation but neither does every recipe. Determining which technique is right for you and when to apply which method, is the trick. So, that said – whatcha got in your oven?

 

A Test of Strength/s April 27, 2010

A while back I wrote a couple of blogs about the VIA Survey of Character Strengths and one of those strengths in particular, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. (See blog posts 1/19/10, “The Strength of Strengths” and 1/20/10, “Beauty and Excellence – Ignition”) I have been thinking a lot recently about another of my top five Signature Strengths (See: http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx) which is “Creativity, Ingenuity and Originality”. For purposes of this entry, this strength is defined by the folks at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center as-“Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.”

It is true; I do value originality and creativity (both in myself and in others) and constantly strive to envision new possibilities and perspectives.  I think part of it is that I am inspired by the challenge of new ideas. I like it when something challenges me to think in a new way and I appreciate people’s ability to put things together in new and innovative ways. Convention has its usefulness, I am at times comforted by familiarity and the quiet ease it affords but for the most part I prefer the disquiet that a new idea affords. In actuality I guess I prefer a balanced mix – tradition is non-threatening, safe, easy and familiar while ingenuity is energizing and inspiring for me.

There most certainly is a value and a merit to each side of the coin and how one determines how much of each they need in their lives really depends on their own personal style, preference and needs. The main idea here being that the choice is individual and the most important piece here is about doing what is “true” for you. I have come to appreciate how valuable it is to work from our strengths whatever they may be. For me, this strength, “Creativity, Originality and Ingenuity – informs many things about my character and lifestyle, from the choices I make for recreation, to the people I seek out as friends, to how I dress, how I think and what inspires me. It is mine, I own it and I live it. But for you the these pieces may not factor significantly into your days. Your strengths may lie in your compassion for others, your zest for life or your courage. Each one of us has a different compliment and they are not truly fixed in time, but rather fluid with some rising to the top at some times in your life more than others.

When I work with clients, I always ask them to take the “VIA Survey of Character Strengths” located on the website listed above. It doesn’t take very long maybe 30 minutes, to answer all the questions and the results may (or may not) surprise you. All the same, knowing your strengths can be a valuable tool in creating the life you want – because the more aware you are of what they are, the more easily you can draw upon them in enhancing your life. So, if I may, I’d like to suggest that you go to the website and give it a whirl, if nothing else, it may be an affirming experience.

 

Go with “The Flow”… January 5, 2010

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Do you know what it’s like to be “in the flow”? It’s that feeling you get when something is just clicking along and you don’t have to think about it or work for it – it’s just happenin’. Those in the arts; musicians, artists, writers, dancers, chefs, etc. experience this feeling (if they are fortunate) when they are creating their work. There are times when I am working on a piece of artwork and the moment just feels right. My mind is alert and awake yet quiet, and my hands are moving over the paper as if compelled by an energy that is moving through me. I am aware of the texture and sensation of the pastels as they glide onto the paper. My voice tells me, “Put some blue here, move the green over there” and I just go with it – without really consciously thinking about what comes next. When I am done, I feel both calm and energized – it is a wonderful experience. Often I find that these are some of my most favorite pieces. Though I can’t always count on having that experience when I do my artwork – I am still grateful when I do.

I think that there are moments in all things when you have the sense that you are doing your best work and it is effortless and smooth and synchronous. I believe people can experience it in other ways as well. I think that a gardener who is slowly and methodically weeding a garden can feel that calm, the experience of being fully present in the moment, engaged and attuned with the simple task at hand. It is acute focus without controlling thought. And though it may have some qualitative differences, I believe it is still a type of “flow”.

In coaching it is called “Dancing in the Moment” – those times when you are working with a client and it feels effortless and inspiring. The “creative juices are flowing” and you are being propelled forward together doing good work, having meaningful insights and connecting on a powerful level. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, you know it. The focus is on the client’s agenda in coaching and the purpose is not to advise clients on what you think they should do but rather to assist them in planning their own strategies for moving forward and achieving their goals. The more you are able to be in the moment and to connect with the client, on as many levels as possible, the more likely you are to hit that sense of flow, where both client and coach can do their best work. When I lead with my intuition rather than my intellect I am more likely to move “into flow”.

Let it flow…