What is your creative superpower?

If a child was asked what their superpower was, they would wonder why they had to pick just one? This child could easily convey their strengths, listing them off one by one. They would not feel too boastful. They wouldn’t worry what the person who asked the question thought about their unique superpowers. This child might even think it ridiculous to worry about such things.

At what age did we loose the ability to easily identify what makes us feel special? Why is naming our valuable contributions to the world such a vulnerable process?

I think a world where we knew what we were good at and what we struggled with would be a special place, maybe a utopia of sorts. Just think of what could be gained from this kind of honesty and co-operation. Instead of putting others down for admitting a weakness, we could match that characteristic up to another’s strength. We could act as if we cared for one another and that solving problems together, was of utmost importance.

Since it is a bit of a leap to think of a single superpower, let alone what a creative one might be, I’ve shared mine. You might wonder what this list of qualities has to do with creativity. I think these things are the foundation of my creativity. Without them, I would not know where to start. It is by knowing where to begin that I can eventually get into the flow state, where the magic might happen.

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As I look over the words on the left and compare them with the words on the right, an interesting pattern appears. If I practice a healthy measure of being ‘curious’, I am in a good place. It is when that goes too far with ‘too many questions’ that I get into trouble. Knowing when to draw the line seems to be the key, a skill I am always working on.

I have many other things I am working on. Ideas and practices that have become quite important to me as I move into this midlife phase. I have discovered, by accident that this is a highly creative time, probably more than any other time before. What a wonderful surprise to find that being more creative has empowered me in all areas of my life.

Join me for the unveiling of my creative journey so far. Here are the ways we can connect:

  • Sign up for my email list at Daily Creatives, the mail chimp sign up form is on the left side of the screen
  • Send me an email with your superpowers! Christine@dailycreatives.com
  • Share this post with like minded creative folks or anyone in your network, I have been surprised to see where creativity is hiding in some people
  • Take my survey – What does creativity mean to you?

If you have done all those things already, thank-you. I am deeply touched by the honesty of the comments and feelings being expressed about creativity. It is such a passionate topic to be discussing.

One final note – my book has launched! Join me at Daily Creatives and get your copy of Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power. (Yes, I almost did change the title to superpower!)

More information about Who is CW can be found at Daily Creatives, along with a bunch of other great content.

Happy Creating!

Great fun

“Childhood is a short season.”    ~Helen Hayes

“When we protect children from every possible source of danger, we also prevent them from having the kinds of experiences that develop their sense of self-reliance, their ability to assess and mitigate risk, and their sense of accomplishment.”    ~Gever Tulley

My sisters and I shared wonderful experiences in the 1970’s. This was a decade where children could be free. When the sounds, tastes and smells were wonderful with a heightened sense of joy. We did not have parents or grand parents running after us, urging caution. We were not fearful or worried. We skipped and jumped for the pure delight of it.

Maybe I was lucky to have an unusual family. Perhaps bordering on being hippies? Maybe my parents were too young to know better. But somehow, by luck or by sheer cleverness, we managed through without any serious injuries. In fact, we thrived.

I can remember, so often, being told to “go play”. Which, (I now know from being a Mother), was also code for “leave me alone for 5 minutes”.  But, we didn’t know that then. We took the directive to heart. Go play, have fun, be children. Do what kids do best, live in the moment.

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Imagine the joy of riding on a plastic duck?

Children_fire_marshmallowsChildren_camp chairs

Standing free and clear on those old school camp chairs? Cooking your own marshmallows over a fire?

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Have you ever cracked open peanuts with the back of a hatchet?

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Planting your feet to keep from sliding off the merry-go-round?

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Trampolines with no cages around them?

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A slide that was 4 times as big as you?

I guess we weren’t the only family who experienced the 1970’s in this way:

Creative soul

After a very hectic couple of months, this weekend was my time to settle back into my groove. That means turning my focus to what matters most. Seems logical enough, and probably easily done for most. But I really have to practice turning off the world for a bit.

Started on Friday. We wanted to surprise the kids with the family pet, we had discussed, but not confirmed we would get. So we hoped over to the local animal shelter and had our new, old cat, Lynch unleashed into our life by surprise to our children. My daughter was so over joyed, she almost cried. That reaction was unexpected. Clearly she had listened when we had firmly told her, no promises.

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Saturday I started my knit along. Yarn, needles and pattern in hand, the first post also indicated I needed to create a space for my knitting. Well, that meant I needed to transform the chair in the corner into something a little more special. For that, I needed to do a little second-hand shopping. And this day turned out wonderfully.

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Sunday was about Annie Sloan paint. My newly found, old treasures needed some chalk paint love. So in between coats drying, I knitted rounds in my temporary digs. I’ll have to carve out time over the course of the week to get the wax on. Then there is the beret, which is the reason all of this started. Only half done the ribbing.

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So little time, so many creative things to do.

Private School

2 weeks ago, our son started grade 8 in a private school. As they say, “timing is everything”. We had actually made this decision over a year ago. Today it seems like the most amazing thing we could be doing for a number of reasons. But a year ago, we were scared.

I have been a huge believer in public education. Like life itself, I thought your school experience is what you make it. You get out of it what you put into it. This philosophy works great for a certain number of students, but not for everyone. When I was in school, I had no perspective or tolerance for the struggles of the wide array of different learning styles and needs.

As I grew older and then had children of my own, I started listening to stories. Heart breaking tales of people who did not find public education so rewarding. My position started to soften and shift. Maybe, in its current state, public education cannot serve everyone. But I was still concerned about completely turning away from it.

Then the research began. When you start looking for information, or learn the first point of a new topic, it is amazing how the world opens up. I listened to lectures and watched videos. I read and read. What I have discovered is a paradigm shift in education is underway. The old rules simply need not apply.

But, still, as I dropped off our first-born for his first day of school this year, it was with some trepidation. Was this going to be that different from public school? He was already missing his friends. His typical day was going to be extremely different. Would he adapt?

Over the course of these first days, the answers are clear.

  • A weight has been lifted from our son’s shoulders. He comes home each night sounding strong and confident. Everyday we ask, “how did it go”? He answers, “great”.
  • Every week we get a detailed summary of what has been accomplished and goals yet to be achieved. There is a sense that these things will happen. There is hope.
  • The communication from the teacher has been focused only on our son. No comparisons to other students. No shame. Confidence is what we hear. Our son will get there, it is process along a winding path.
  • The faculty and other parents are very excited to meet us and share stories. The level of support is something I have not experienced before. (There is even a parent book club!)

We are realistic, though. There will be tough days ahead. Not all goals will be easily achieved. Mastery comes with intent practice and determination. What is worthwhile does not come easy. We will be tested in the weeks and months ahead. But with this level of support, I am so confident we will overcome the obstacles, eventually. I am more engaged in this school environment than I have ever been before. The future seems so bright for us.

A footnote – private school is extremely expensive. But I look at this as an investment. Over the past 8 years, since level K, our son has struggled with a learning disability in math and been unchallenged with his gifted classification in language. His unbalanced learning profile does not fit the mold in the public education system. We tried every type of learning support and amendment, nothing made a significant difference. So instead of continuing to do the same and hoping for a different outcome, we decided to make a change.

Education hacking

“In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”   ~Paul Harvey

There is a measure of comfort in knowing there are many others who have come through a situation like this before. In fact, there are 10’s of thousands of parents dealing with similar circumstances in rather uncharted waters.

The situation I am talking about is the BCTF job action with their employer the BC Provincial government. The bottom line is the school aged children of British Columbia are not attending class and have not done so since early June. My daughter thinks she has won the lottery.

What has been kind of interesting, as a result of all this, is our own education hacking program. First week of September, my daughter attended full days at her mixed martial arts club where she played games, watched movies and hung out with a bunch of much younger children, most of the time. As we headed into week #2, (actually week #4.5 if you count June), the realization became clear. Time to create her own education plan.

My daughter is only entering grade 6, so she has a limited perspective of how to create a proper plan, but she is taking guidance and following through. She is determined and fairly receptive to new ways of working. We are having a little bit of discussion about novel study. She wants to have all the questions ready to go for any novel of her choice, for example. With my schedule and my husbands to consider, we are barely holding on to help her with her planning, let alone create a novel study of her preference. So we are hacking it. I’ve grabbed a template online and we are working through a new way to novel study, which is mostly self-directed. She remains skeptical, “it is not the way my teacher does it,” she grumbles.

To show flexibility and keep engagement high, we decided on a block of self-study. In class last year, this was called “genius hour”. My daughter asked if she could study, “anything“? I said sure. It matters how one studies and the quality of the research, analysis and writing. So she picked – Superwoman. No, not Marvel comics. Someone far closer to her heart and her generation’s pop culture.

Breaking it down, here are the 4 blocks she is working on:

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I think my daughter will learn a number of lessons as the days pass on. Probably, quite a few of them are not in the prescribed learning outcomes from the BC Provincial government. Valuable they will be in life, though. For that, this exercise will be worthwhile. And I am learning some things too. I am watching a young person adapt and change and blossom. She has impressed me with her enthusiasm and passion. I almost didn’t realize she had all that gusto inside of her.

 

 

The Good Beach Life

Just like the seaside, a lifestyle is not always calm. There are moments of quiet reflection, even meditation. But as the wind picks up and the atmospheric pressure changes, so will the internal storm rise. This kind of ebb and flow is how I enjoy my beach life most. For it is with fortitude we trudge through the low points making the highs so sweet.

I have to admit, we had mostly high points this past week. But, maybe my graph for this kind of chart is changing. The lows lifting up to more of a medium point and my highs becoming incredibly tall. Could be. That is my story and I’m sticking to it.

There were so many moments to be thankful for this week. I’m picking a few:

  • Weather – pleasantly warm, enough to work on our tan, (even a little sunburnt children who swore they had sunscreen on), but cool in the evenings
  • Food – excellent wherever we turned. Taco’s on the beach for lunch, cookout for dinner. Fresh seafood in Stanley Park, dockside in Steveston and on the rooftop patio of the Boathouse
  • Exercise – the kids sprinted after their skim boards we walked dozens of miles, up and down the 300′ hill to the beach
  • Space – we had enough for everyone. That is a luxury we often don’t have on a family vacation, but something not to be overlooked, particularly as the kids are teens and tweens
  • Activities – new and old. The kids kicked their skimming skills up a notch. My sister and I learned to add beads into a knitting project
  • Shopping – books, everyone got something, beach reading and beyond

We had a little bit of clouds and rain yesterday. Some might view that as a low point. My mood can sink low when the sun doesn’t shine, but we made the most of it. We combed the beach at Lighthouse Park and my nephew packed out quite a haul of beach glass.

I think we managed fun for the whole family this week. But, most important, I had a great time.

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Related posts:

 

Appreciate

Probably the same as gratitude, which I have written about many times before. But somehow, last night, when I was deep into the witching hour, I could not summon the tiniest bit of appreciation or gratitude. (The witching hour is what we call 5pm to about 7:30pm – the dinner hour when the whole day can seem to unravel at your feet. Leaves one in charge of children feeling very frustrated and hopeless).

So I’ve come up with a few things to appreciate on this fine morning.

  • The sound of the rain, heavy and nourishing to my garden. A rhythmic pitter – patter that has been absent for some time. Warm, summer rain, nice.
  • A break in the heat. While I love the summer and prefer it to any season by far, but we needed to take a breath. The dog days were at the height and everything was drooping.
  • My coffee cup. Small thing, I know. It is a signal that the day will at least start with a predictable pace. A beacon of hope.
  • These few minutes to myself. Making the coffee, preparing my morning smoothie, sitting for a bit. Waking up early to allow for this can set such a great tone for the day ahead.
  • My husband telling me he has my back. Even though I may have over reacted with the kids last night, (hormones may be a little to blame), he supported me and helped bring me back up.

Some people may wake up and see gloomy rain. I might have done the same thing, in a different mood. But not today. Your mood is 100% in your control. I know this. But it took a lot of comedy movie trailers to lift my spirits last night. A huge waste of time, but necessary therapy.

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Teenager in the house

“Keep true to the dreams of your youth.”   ~Friedrich Schiller

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Yesterday my son stepped over from being a tween, solidly joining the ranks of teens. So far so good. It has only been a day. But we have been watching him change over the months and years. There have been little signs and clues. Nothing is happening in the flash of a birthday passing by the calendar.

The articles on the internet, (probably a bad place to look for information on this topic), describe a list of horrors which await parents. Luckily life doesn’t unfold for one person in the same manner as another. We don’t know the trials waiting for our family as our son grows into a man, but something about his character will be at his core to guide him.

I am looking at a document I wrote 12 1/2 years ago. It was titled – “Long term vision”, where I detailed hopes and dreams for my family, 10 years hence. I wrote an interesting paragraph about my son. Keeping in mind he was only 6 months old at the time, I was seriously projected my wishes, rather than having knowledge of him.

he is 10 now….11 in August he keeps reminding me whenever he asks to do something I think he isn’t ready for yet. He is so confident and big for his age. Sometimes he bites off more than he can chew and no-one is the wiser because he has the stride of someone who knows what he is doing. Under it all though, he has a lot of fun. He understands very clearly, at the end of the day, you only live once. He is content to still play and enjoy the age he is at.

Of course, not every detail of this vision is accurate. But the essence is spot on. Maybe that is what I find interesting as I review this and compare to the young man he is becoming. He is confident and self-assured. He still enjoys life.

Maybe all that will change as he wades deeper into adolescence. The hormones will rage and cause all number of problems and confusion for him, I’m sure of that. What I think will help unravel the confusion for him is at his very core – his dreams. From the beginning he had an active imagination, something which has served him well. He speaks of his dreams, he plans for the future.

Now I think it is our job, as his parents to help keep these dreams alive. Prop him up and remind him when life seems overwhelming. And maybe we need to lead by example. It might be time to reach back into our young minds and remember. Sort though what is there and act on the good stuff we find.

Personal Space

How much space do we really need anyway? We packed everything we need, (and probably more), for 5 days of vacation. All that gear, stuffed into the Honda Pilot. Then we unloaded it all into a little cottage. Gradually we found all the little nooks and crannies where things could be stored away for our visit. Yet, stuff is strewn around, taking up most available surfaces. The treasures of comfort we brought from home.

It makes me wonder if it would be possible to reduce our possessions and square feet of living space down into a much smaller footprint. There is a movement towards these tiny houses, which accomplish that. But as I sent the kids out to the patio to eat their breakfast this morning, they insisted it was too cold. They did not think to throw on warmer clothes and enjoy the amazing view of the water. They huddled over the sink instead.

I can’t blame them. My children have grown accustomed to a certain level of comfort, which requires space. But I wonder if we would be better off as a family to live with a little less? Be a little closer together. Evidently it fosters a sense of politeness that is not so common in North America today. When you live in close quarters you are brushing past each other, touching and being close, which forces you to respond in kindness and mutual respect.

On the other hand, after this 5 day experiment, my family will be extremely glad to be home. Privacy will be restored. Personal space expanded back up to normal.

The upside is that when my children complain about the small size of our house back home, I can now talk about a cottage – and they will be aware that we could live in an even smaller space. Grateful they will be! (I’m not so sure).

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Technology break

My kids balked at the thought. They were filled with panic….and then questions. How does one go without technology for a whole long weekend? And, why?

I think my kids are like most of their age. Access to computers at home, and in the case of my son, takes one to school. They both have iPhones, sans SIM cards, so basically iPods. But they run IOS version 4, which allows for robust parental controls. Yet, still – they manage to navigate into territory we had not imagined or intended.

But that is not the reason for the ban, I mean break. I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Give it a try before our children became so entrenched that a weekend break would not be possible.

For two and a half weeks in Mexico last year, we had no computers for the kids. The compromise was iPhones. They stared at those little blue screens everywhere but the beach. The devices are like pacifiers. In an effort to well-behaved children, the technology is a big help. But I miss something about spending time together. The interaction is not the same.

For this weekend, I asked the kids to imagine we were living in the 1980’s. The reaction to what life was like then is interesting.

  • They both had visions of Pac Man. Yeah, only if you got on your bike and rode to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters, which your parents likely wouldn’t allow.
  • How do they talk to their friends without texting? The telephone is not how kids communicate these days.
  • I allowed Netflix and movies from iTunes, (we don’t really have regular cable TV and video stores are not available anymore). Last night, we watched “Saving Mr. Banks” and my children are so fixed on knowing what happens next, (immediately), they drown out the onscreen action with – “what happens next?” Effectively, their attention span has dwindled with their increasing need for immediate gratification.
  • My husband loathes board games, but has agreed to play “21”, which is really blackjack, which is really endorsing poker. But, I was raised on this card game, it was a staple in my 1980’s home.
  • Settlers of CatanI agreed to purchase a new board game – Catan. That was the kind of thing that would have captured my imagination as a child, not surprising my Son is very interested. But, not until Saturday. No stores are open in our community on Good Friday!

 

We’ve got a break in the rain today, sunny skies and an adventure into the world before technology as my children have grown accustomed to.

Deluxe for dinner

My son claims to be a foodie. It is true that he loves to eat, at least whatever I make at home. But twelve years old is probably a little young to be trying to join the club of people who “live to eat”. Of course, for anyone that knows me, this situation does not sound strange at all. As soon as I’m done breakfast, (maybe even while still eating), it is time to plan lunch and for sure dinner.

My husband is not a foodie. He likes to eat certain things. While he is trying to expand his palette, (that involves forcing himself to eat things he does not like, over and over), he admits to food being mainly fuel for him. While he enjoys certain things, it is not going to make his day at breakfast to know what dinner will be.

Despite these differences, or maybe because of them, we have carved out a nice selection of restaurants in our local area where my husband will look forward to eating out. I get a full dose of well prepared dishes which always leave me feeling great that we went out. Portions need to be small and so tasty. This leaves you wanting more, but temporarily satisfied. There has to be some mystery. A reason to come back.

On our list and located at East Beach on Marine Drive is “Deluxe“. What a great name for a restaurant. Our time here has always been an adult affair. Lately we have thought our son would enjoy it, but could he handle the elevated level of manners required for fine dining?

Friday night we decided to give it a go. He did great and was such a pleasure to have with us. Great conversation, deep appreciation for the menu items, perfect manners. It was not a big deal at the time, but as I think back, another shift has occurred. He is not our little boy anymore. If we gave him a credit card, he could probably host a group, just like a pro.

Deluxe 6 shots

Speed

When did my little baby turn into the young man who could confidently launch himself into a 40 degree pitch of knee deep snow and accelerate to 70km per hour? Then sustain that intensity for the better part of 6 kilometers? And hike for 475 steps along a ridge to get there in the first place. Enjoying every bit of it.

As a parent it is amazing to watch how he has transformed. As predicted, it happened so fast. Like the speeds he was reaching in the Tayton Bowl, time has sped by just the same. We have these little snap shots to record the moments – the go pro video, some iPhone photo’s, the app which gives us the stats, the facts. It is the feeling of being there, present in the moment, burning it into my memory. The taste of poutine, classic rock and exposed wooden beams in the chalet will always be associated with skiing, my family, my children, the most important people in my life.

My son has years of skiing adventures ahead of him. His path will twist and turn along the highs and lows. His passion and dedication will carry him along. I’ll be waiting at the bottom of the run to hear the stories of adventure from his journey.

Secret Santa

My husband bought me a gift for Christmas that we have hidden from the kids. I know what you are thinking, and no – it is not x-rated.

It is very strange to be hiding presents from the children which are not meant for them. Usually we are waiting until the last-minute to buy, or hiding presents in cars, at work, wherever. My husband and I must have been devious children, because on many occasions we had discovered the hiding place of Santa. For anyone who has done this, you know what a huge let down that was. But it was an addiction and we kept on hunting each year. So we expect our children to be the same and strangely they are not.

It could be that our children are smarter than we were, (are). Why ruin the fun of Christmas morning by snooping around in closets when your parents will be furious if they found out what you had done or were trying to do? Or they are too lazy to bother. Or they have everything they could ever want.

In an effort to simplify our Christmas gift giving this year, I came up with a new scheme. We pick a mall, (Oakridge) we pick a day, (Saturday Dec 7) we have a limit, ($33 per person) we make a list. The idea is to enjoy a day shopping together, although we are all suspicious of what fun can be had in a mall fighting crowds. We only spend one day on shopping, which makes my life so much better. We have a low limit so we target less expensive gifts which foster creativity on the side of the list maker and the shopper, (kids are completely disappointed as the super expensive things they want are not getting bought. I guess that is like finding Santa’s stash and realizing not much of what you wanted was in there.)

The plan for this day sounded good, but my husband was dismayed. “What about my gift for you?” (I think he already bought it). Oh that is exempt from this scheme. We are teaching the kids a lesson. What we didn’t learn already is not going to be gleaned by this exercise. We are grown ups, do as I say, not as I do!

And that is how I come to be in possession of a new iPad. Can’t very well put it under the tree. The kids will immediately call us out. No, better to be a bit discreet. If they ask, this new one is a replacement for the old one that died. Which is partially true, old one is not dead yet, but on its last legs.

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Ultimately, we are the parents, making up our own rules as we go. Someday they can too!

The tree

I bought our first Christmas tree from The Bay in 1992. We were living in an apartment that didn’t allow real trees, something about a fire hazard. The model that adorns our living room now, was so popular, the floor display was available to staff in early December. 21 years on, this faux Douglas fir is looking a little worse for wear. She drops as many needles as if she were real.

The Bay_web

We had no money, so we made most of the decorations. The store-bought items still bear the markings of discounts in years gone by. I have not acquired anything new in a very long time. Unless you count the myriad of class-made presents my children have presented over the years. I can’t bear to throw them away. So my “style” of decoration has become home-made chic. The very thing I vowed never to accept in my life, back when I was younger and maybe more hip.

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I do have a few standards. The lights have to go on first and they need to be done in a certain way. Truth be told, I realized today, I have paid so little attention to decorations in recent years, I almost didn’t have enough lights for the whole tree. I remembered when I was running out, that I need to buy a new string every year to account for the one that dies. So I’m down at least one this year.

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As it turns out, my daughter doesn’t have the stamina for decorating a Christmas tree. She refused to put all the bows on. That was after I let her clump everything of the same style all in one spot. She begrudgingly put all the bows on after I had to start counting her. Really. That is not in the spirit, for either one of us.

However, my husband has carols playing in the kitchen and is making dinner. My son is greatly relieved after realizing that he did not mistakenly ruin his iPod. He is almost singing for joy! Not the most traditional way to start the season, but we walk to the beat of our own drum.