How long is each creative session?

After receiving 123 responses, the one word that is most common in the answers to this question on my survey is, depends. Some common derivatives:

  • depends on time
  • depends on the project
  • depends on other obligations

The next group of popular responses are to give an amount of time, but that varies from minutes to hours.

There are many people who didn’t answer this question, presumably because they didn’t feel they spent a discernible amount of time doing creative things.

My favourite answers can be best be summarized by saying that “creativity is my life“. There is no separation between time spent creatively or time spent on anything else. If I was taking the survey, I’m not sure I would have answered that way. I don’t know if I feel confident enough in saying “creativity is me, all the time”. Although I aspire to that.

Maybe ‘creativity’ will be my word for 2017. That thought brings a smile to my face!

In reference to creativity, I have written a book called, “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power“. Check out Daily Creatives and consider leaving your email. I would love to send you updates on my creative journey!

Happy Creating!

I am this…

On the Sunday of May long weekend, seven of us girls piled into my SUV and headed over to Black Bond Book Warehouse. I’m not sure what other families do, but we are readers. In no time we all had piles of books. My sister decided that another person could add a book to your pile, giving you a reading challenge. That puts an interesting twist into things!

I had to admit that I was a reading baby. Even a book a month was a challenge. My Aunt was astonished. I think she reads one a week. Which is why she makes good use of the library. I often have to renew a novel from the library, once or twice!

But this day we were on a mission. Grab an armful of books and get back to the sunny patio. Not only could we more carefully look at our own purchases, but we had the added bonus of looking through the balance of the loot.

I am a sucker for books which are part self-help, part productivity, part management, maybe slanted toward business. That is why I came to own the latest addition to my collection titled, “Do More Great Work“, by Michael Bungay Stanier. What I didn’t realize when I bought this book is, it’s a workbook. Which is a huge added bonus for me. There are so few of these kind of books on the market, it was almost like finding treasure. In fact, the activities are called “maps”. Who doesn’t love to pour over a good map?

The first map was easy. I breezed through it so quickly, I thought I might just make it through the whole book in a weekend. (Given my track record, who knows why I thought that!) Anyway, turn the page to map two and that is where I came to a dead halt. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to complete the assignment. 6 days later, I dug down and pulled out the wisdom I needed.

That was today. Things were going so well, I went on to map three. This was equally tough to complete. These exercises require some serious soul searching. But the results are so worth it. OK, now I am gong to be very vulnerable and share this map. So be kind.

The first word describes what I am when I am doing great work. The kind of work that I love. The place where I loose track of time and when I’m in the zone. The second word is not necessarily bad, or the opposite, but it represents, at best good work, at worst bad work.

  • Visionary not task master
  • Analytical not routine
  • Earnest not complacent
  • Comprehensive not lists of half formed ideas
  • Organized not winging it
  • Knowledge seeking not taking it at face value
  • Engrossed not simply covering the bases
  • At ease not cautious
  • Mindful not quiet
  • Dedication not just 9 to 5

I think this is a pretty powerful list of words. The book advises you to keep a copy near your desk and have a laminated version to travel with. I’ll admit, before I completed this map, I immediately dismissed the notion of laminating. But, now that it is done, and I see it here in print, maybe I’ll pop over to Staples and create that hard copy.

The idea behind this list is to steer to the left. Staying on the left is where great work can occur. Tendency is to veer right. Although good work is still good, it is with great work that I feel most alive and vital.

 

Call Your Girlfriend

I’m not sure how I found them, but I’m sure glad I did. The reference is to a podcast, “Call Your Girlfriend“, for long distance besties everywhere. If you are a girlfriend to someone and/or have girlfriends, I don’t need to explain the appeal of this any further. But maybe you are a little out of touch, as I was. So let me fill you in.

A long, long time ago, I was in school and I had some besties. Then, I left school and embarked on my journey in the workforce. What I realize now is, at the moment I started that first job, I kind of left my girlfriend world behind and fully entered into the world of men. Because, let’s face it, that’s how it was then, (arguably still is). And I felt this overwhelming desire to “fit into” this world of men. So I made the switch willingly.

At the same time, I met my husband. So I had a lot to learn about being in a couple. My girlfriend relationships began to morph into couple relationships. And then the moves. My career started to build into something above minimum wage pay and I was offered promotions/moves to another country, etc. My husband went along with all that chaos. And in the midst of all that, we grew extremely close. My very best friend became my husband. But, he was/is a man.

I developed some close friendships along the way, but it was so very difficult with all the moving. People who don’t live that kind of life, do not understand a nomadic spirit. And couples understand it even less. We were a rare breed. Then came our children.

Somehow, we managed to stay put at that point. For the last 13 years we have not left the neighbourhood, we even live in the same house. Our children have known a joy of home and connection to one place. They have been attending the same school for all of the elementary grades. But somehow I’ve held my breath.

And in this time, the world has changed. I’ve discovered there are people just like me. Those travelling sisters. We have a wandering past, we’ve done things. We’ve been places. And we want more. Just because we are middle aged, doesn’t mean we are finished anything. We are just getting going.

So it comes full circle. I’m at the point now where I want to go home to my girl-power. I want to connect to the strong and wonderful women around me. I seek them out. Some of these friends turn into besties and others build an amazing network. I draw strength and courage from them everyday in every way. I’ve arrived at the next phase of my life. And it is wonderful.

Every Decision Counts

I’ve just started into week 5 of the “6 weeks to a new body” fitness program. Just when the exercises are starting to become easy, the routine kicks up a notch again. And I’ve added another complexity to the situation, I’m on holidays. So making smart choices around eating is a bit of a challenge. 

I have a notion, or a routine around what I usually like to eat and drink on holidays. That means eating = a lot and drinking = beer. But I’m not going to reach my goals by eating a lot and drinking beer. So I’ve had to make adjustments. (At least for these 6 weeks).

I’ve been reading through my book, (also known as my coach, mentor and friend) and I came across the phrase, “every decision counts”. It was meant in reference to all the little things that keep you moving in the direction you want to go. In that one idea, I take comfort. I may not be doing everything perfectly every day, but I can keep moving towards my goals, one decision at a time.

I used to think that once a bad choice had been made, might as well – “throw the canary another seed”. What was the point of continuing to try and make a change when I had just eaten a huge hamburger? Might as well have another beer and eat all those fries as well. And show me the desert menu, please. Forget a workout, I’m too tired. That was how I lived for the better part of my adult life. 

Lucky for me, I am “all-in” on this 6 week experiment and I have given myself the grace to do this, one decision at a time. I will not be perfect. Rather, “every day in every way, things are getting better”. (Lovely saying my mother-in-law used to tell my husband as a child).

Monday Musings

It is amazing to see how many pieces a pyrex container will break into when you pour water in whilst it is in the oven roasting a pork tenderloin. What a mess. However this prompts an oven cleaning. And who does not love a clean oven? My children had no idea that was the proper color of the inside of the oven. They also did not realize how well you were supposed to be see through the window in front.

A friend of mine sent me a few radio call in stories around the theme of first world problems.

  • i’m going on holidays to Mexico and i can’t find my Tiffany sunglasses, so i will have to take my special order Raybans.
  • when i got to the bottom of my $5 coffee, it was too sweet because the starbucks person didn’t stir it for me
  • I’m feeling kind of tired – and i want to sneak out of the office early today to go home and take a nap, but my cleaning lady is there today

Laughed out loud on the last one.

If you should want some further inspiration along the line of gratitude and giving back, check out the “Secret Billionaire: The Chuck Feeney Story”. It is just under 60 minutes running time, but worth every one.

The Stages of Change

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
-Reinhold Niebuhr

Dr. James Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island identified 5 stages of change. Until I read about them in Maureen Hagan’s, “6 Weeks to a New Body”, I didn’t realize there are formal labels associated to some of the struggles I have been going through. As it relates to fitness, I have been stuck in stage one and two for an extremely long time. And feeling quite bad about myself.

Stage one: pre-contemplation, (not ready)
This was were I spent about 20 years, give or take. Here, you have little knowledge of the consequences of your behavior. As my fitness level declined, it happened slowly. So every year it got a bit worse. Then I spent many years being pregnant and recovering, (no small feat). Then I was in a kind of denial. Things were OK with my health in general and I hated exercise.

Stage two: contemplation, (getting ready)
I have been here for about 5 years. I was constantly evaluating the costs and benefits of changing. This produced profound ambivalence that caused me to remain in this stage. This phenomenon is often characterized as chronic contemplation or behavioral procrastination. Seems a little funny to look at this stage from where I am now. I was negotiating action or inaction with myself on both sides of the debate.

Stage three: preparation, (ready)
This is where I am now. I’ve selected a fitness program – “6 Weeks to a New Body”, with Maureen Hagan. The book is very detailed in goal setting, journal writing, exercises, eating plans, schedule planning, etc. I’ve picked a start day – February 21, 2015.

Stage four: action
In stage 3, everything will be sorted so that I’m ready to hit the ground running on my start date. Maureen has laid out excellent advise for each day of the entire 6 weeks. Nothing is really left to chance. Her words of encouragement are sprinkled throughout the pages of the book. I’m even excited to start! Which is more than I can say for any other program I have ever tried.

Stage five: maintenance
For about 5 years it is advised to remain on guard and to continuously monitor progress. Up until this time the chances of slipping back into old patterns are high. This will take me to age 50, which is a great milestone. A fantastic age to be set with a healthy way of living.

Stage six: termination
After 5 years, it is considered that a new habit is formed. There is very little chance of slipping back into old ways. This seems very exciting to me. A new stage of life, with a strong and healthy body at my core.

I have learned so much already, which has made this part of the journey very interesting. I’m not leaving things to chance anymore. I picked “brave” as my word this year. It is all falling into place. While I don’t anticipate this life changing program to be easy, I feel the strength to see it through. (At least from where I sit tonight!)

I’m going to post about this program regularly and maybe even include some before and after pics, (maybe just after). Will see how brave I feel about sharing that much detail!

Forgiveness

This morning I practiced a guided meditation called “forgiveness” lead by Tara Brach. 11 minutes is something I can do. Thirty is too long. I’ll get there someday. At the end of the session, Tara read this poem:

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

-Rumi

What a great way to start the day. Unlike another morning last week when I attempted a similar session. Our cat, (mine when he is an angel, ours when he is not), decided he needed attention as soon I was nicely settled on the sofa. While I tried my best to be “present” in the moment and focus my awareness on the breath, our cat was climbing all over me. Would make for a pretty funny video, of which my husband wants to very much create!

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