The snow has melted but yesterday's snowmen parade is still on my mind. Creativity changes everything.
We have had a series of car break-ins in our neighborhood and a few more disturbing incidents. The neighbors have rallied and there have been no further incidents for several weeks. Community camaraderie and yesterday morning's surprise have given me renewed hope.
Yesterday's gift has prompted me to repost a section of something I wrote previously about creativity.
My most valuable aha in regard to the power of creative thinking occurred in Washington D.C. when we attended Colin Powell's celebration of the 100 Best Communities to raise young people in the country. Harrisburg, PA was proud to be included - we won twice - and the highlight of one trip was listening to the stories about other winning communities across the nation.
The one that most impressed me was a group of young people from a town in West Virginia in economic decline. Coal mining had been their main source of revenue, but it was no longer lucrative and the young people were leaving their families and friends to find work in other areas. There was a sense of hopelessness as more and more people left, having given up on revitalizing the town. Their paradigm was the only way to make a living there was through coal mining.
Could anything be done in a coal mine other than mining coal? They began to consider the characteristics of the mines and a young man in junior high discovered that the temperature in a coal mine was ideal for raising fish. A new industry was born and the town began to thrive. Families were able to stay together and the quality of life improved by quantum leaps.
We underestimate the value. Had you considered one creative thought from a middle school student could have the capacity to impact the economy of an entire town for generations to come? I hadn't, until I heard their story.
Creativity goes far beyond arts and crafts, music, and our traditional limited associations. It can change economics, improve our perceptions about the value of a community, and guide us to health focused - iinstead of illness and medical focused - lives, We can learn to see the world and ourselves differently. And through those perceptions, if we take action, even in seemingly simple ways, we can make the world a better place.
One of my favorite creative thinkers is Roger von Oech. His books have been around for decades but his suggestions have yet to be incorporated into most of our daily lives. If you haven't had the pleasure, I think you'll be delighted.
An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness
Recently a dear friend honored and surprised me by including me on a list of people who had blessed her life. She challenged others to list and acknowledge people who had blessed their lives. Tanya is such a beautiful light in a world that has been filled with too much darkness. She is a perfect example of how we decide at any given moment whether to focus on things that bring us joy and gratitude or those that bring frustration and malcontent. Her gift of appreciation reached me at a time when I was feeling down. She lifted me up and gave me a more positive perspective,
I'm accepting her challenge and have already begun my list! I won't be making a video as Tanya did, but will be in touch with cherished friends over the holidays to thank them for how they have blessed me. I'd love to see Tanya's idea light up other people's lives as it has mine.
- Respect my health as a precious gift. Use exercise and nutrition to be healthy - not to look good. Have a health-based, not-ego based, life style.
- Take the time to stay in tune with my spiritual self through meditation, journaling, yoga, gratitude lists.
- Use my energy level as a barometer to gauge the value of my relationships. Spend time with those who increase my energy, avoid those who drain it.
- Enhance the quality of life by using creativity to have more FUN! Schedule fun and adventure!!!
- Continue to spend time in, and learn lessons from nature.
- Actively embrace education and learning by taking courses, reading, research, teaching, coaching and training.
- Use my unique gifts and passion in all aspects of my life's work through paid and volunteer positions.
- Keep clutter to a minimum. Give away at least one item for every new one that comes into my home.
- Incorporate systems to simplify housework, business, finances, etc.
- If it isn't good for my soul, I don't think it, watch it, read it, talk to it, buy it, wear it, eat it . . .
Many have grown detached from nature. I know people who don't know the phase of the moon or whether it is waxing or waning. Sadly, their are those who don't even know what that means. But the eclipse on August 21st has captured the attention of nation and beyond, and people are paying attention! Some merely see the eclipse as an amusing spectacle, but it is so much more. It isn't so much about how to view it, but how to use the momentum for months ahead. This is an ideal time to consider how to prepare.
The August eclipses are in Leo and Aquarius, providing a bridge to move us from the status quo to a new and more meaningful way of life. if we take time for self reflection and take action.
Eclipse season is two fold. It began on August 9 with a full moon partial lunar eclipse and received little attention. Those who watch the sky, however, were well aware of the power of this eclipse to consider letting go of what isn't serving us well, and we have been using that energy to embrace tomorrow's event.
People are traveling across the country to get a better view of the August 21 eclipse. Viewing it an exciting part of the experience, but the real opportunity is in using it for self reflection and progressive movement towards a more fulfilling life.
Each month brings a new moon, an ideal time for new beginnings. If I'm starting a new project, exercise routine or on line class, I coordinate with the new moon to bolster the odds of momentum and success. This new moon solar eclipse has the power of three new moons and it is the ideal time to move toward new challenges!
Those of you who follow my blog ( I get an average of 4,000 hits a day so I know you're out there!), know that I occasionally review and update my manifesto. I'll be posting it tomorrow. I encourage you to join me in considering your values, core beliefs and what you will and won't settle for in life. If you don't have a manifesto, you might want to consider creating one to provide a strong base for daily living. You can use mine as a guide, but I strongly encourage you to create your own based on your personal values. Copying mine will be significantly diluted compared to creating your own.
The power of this eclipse will support you most strongly at the beginning, but will continue to be powerful for months ahead. Use this time to find closure and release the people. places, projects and things that aren't working in your life. Put aside unhealthy relationships to open doors for new ones. Leave or avoid places that drain your energy. If you won't, or feel you can't leave, use creative thinking to do all you can to improve them. Complete, delegate, or abandon projects that are unfulfilling. Get rid of clutter. I recently did a post on the beatifying and healing aspects of clearing space.
As the moon moves across the face of the sun, consider what you want to 'eclipse out' of your life. Do you have negative mental clutter that would best be replaced with positive affirmations and a focus on gratitude instead of fear? Do you comfort yourself with the three white powders - salt, sugar and flour - when you know your body deserves food that provides vitamins and nutrients instead of white fluff? We look like what we eat, by the way. Do you surround yourself with beauty to honor the beauty inside, or do you deny yourself because you feel you are underserving? Do you share your time and energy with people who cherish you and lift you up, or are you being continually drained by people with opposing values, in a continues depletion of energy and joy?
Use the gentle movement of the moon's shadow across the sun to reconsider, reevaluate and release. As the sun reappears, welcome new love, light, self understanding and self acceptance.
The sun is the creator of all energy in our universe. It is the energy, the shakti, that enables all growth. Use this boundless energy force to redirect your life focus towards things that bring you joy! Namaste!
Habits create a valuable structure for accomplishing more in less time. My mornings are spent journaling, meditating, and creating a to do list highlighting the three most important things to accomplish based on my values. Creativity is a value I actively weave into projects, problem solving and time with family and friends. The last habitual morning task is walking Zippy. If I took time to decide daily if I really wanted to do those things, it would take much more time and effort than moving quickly through the steps on automatic pilot!
Yet Isabella Cabrera raises an excellent point - could there be more? Are there areas where we are settling? Could we be happier? Undoubtedly.
When I was in junior high a girl in the class ahead of me won an essay contest with a composition called Variety is the Spice of Life. I never read the actual paper but the title, which I had heard before (in William Cowper's quote, "Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all it's flavor") captured my attention in a new way!
Years later I was reminded of the essay during a speech about making memorable moments by using a variety of senses. The speaker shared stories about surprising loved ones with creative gift giving from small tokens to grand gestures, all based on incorporating imagination and variety.
In both approaches, creativity is the key. Erin, from the award winning blog Daisies and Bruises, credits SARK for the quote "The opposite of depression is expression." That may seem simplistic, and there have been times I've been depressed in the midst of expressing, but ultimately we are all here to share our gifts. There is satisfaction and value when we are expressing our life's purpose; as close as we'll get to Dharma.
Day to day, there are questions we can ask that can lead us away from settling. These are some of mine, framed around my values, and hopefully they will inspire you to consider your own.
1. Are there ways to enhance the way I exercise? Ballet or belly dancing instead of calisthenics? Finding new places to walk Zippy?
2. Can nutrition be more interesting? Could I create a stained glass mandala fruit salad or a vegetable pin wheel? Make my own vinaigrettes and marinades to have on hand to give my daily intake of raw fruits and vegetables more vibrance and flavor without the artificial colors, syrups, sugars and preservatives in commercial brands?
3.Relationships. Am I surrounding myself with caring, positive, compassionate people who share my values? Do they have warmth and empathy for people from all cultures, education and socio-economic backgrounds Do they solve problems instead of blaming people? Are they joyful and do we laugh together often? Do they share some of my interests in art, music, travel, education, nature, sports? Are we open to learning from each other? Do the people in my life understand that thoughts become things and give their attention to assets rather than deficits? Compassion instead judgement? One of the best gauges for relationships it our energy level. If your energy is depleted, ask why.
4. Creativity - Do I weave creativity in all aspects of my daily life from how i garnish a plate, wrap a present, arrange an herbal bouquet, write a blog or sympathy card or solve a problem? Am I actively seeking ways inspiration? Making artist's dates to refill the well?
5. Learning/Education - Am I always taking at least one on line course? Do I have an ongoing list of topics that truly excite me that I'd like to take or research to teach? Do I keep pen and paper with me to capture ideas and inspiration that will slip away if not captured? Do I do further research on things that interest me? Am I capturing ideas in my illustrated journals?
6. Beauty/Order - We have long known that beauty soothes the soul, through nature, music, art, architecture, for example.Thomas Moore's book Care of the Soul is an eloquent testimonial. Clutter, lack of order, and tarnish can detract. Hoarding represents a lack of faith. Do I have enough space around things I love to highlight them? Do I see cleaning and polishing a gift?
Asking questions can lead us in the right direction. There are so many ways to add gratitude, variety and memorable moments as antidotes to settling.
During the course I frequently wanted to interrupt to say, “Oh, I know what herb would work to keep a ghost in the grave!” or “This herb will keep the poltergeists under control.” So as the course progressed through the weeks I began to take notes and eventually created a little book for her that hopefully contained everything she would ever need to know about how to repel, or, if she preferred, attract ghosts.
Creating that mini-book was the inspiration to illustrate a larger e-book on herbs, called Haunting Herbs, free below.
Dorothy left this world over the weekend, but I'm certain her kindness, spiritual approach and open heart will lead her to a better place.
Today, the first day back in classes after Dorothy's passing, the halls were filled with stories of her teaching, guiding, inspiring and encouraging, from both students and instructors. She was well loved and deeply appreciated. Her impact was boundless. She will live on in all who knew her as well as those who continue to share and teach as a result of her example. I'm certain Dorothy is smiling down on us, pleased to know that her spirit is living on in these halls she loved so dearly.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Do The Write Thing
Fashion And Fabrics
Lessons From Nature
Pay It Forward
Take The Rose Instead
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!