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Living a Creative Life

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Living a Creative Life
What does it mean to live a creative life? It means looking for new and better ways to live from day to day and year to year, rather than going along on automatic or doing what everyone else around you is doing. It means applying that brainpower to more than just paying the bills and winning those video games - and more than even creative thinking or writing.

For example, the usual approach to the problem of survival in a modern economy is to get a job. One's creative impulses are usually limited to finding the "right" job and doing the things necessary or helpful to getting hired. But a person that is living a more creative life would approach this in an entirely different way. How? That depends on the person, and we can't call it creativity if it is just a formula. But an example might give us an idea of a different way to think about this part of life.
Instead of looking for a job, a truly creative person could ask the question, "Do I really need a job?" or even the more fundamental question, "Do I really need money to survive?" Both of these questions will inspire different ideas about how to pay the bills and live in society - if they are pursued with an open mind.

There are many ways to make money that don't require employment by a company. I have met people who pay the rent collecting returnable cans off the streets and from the garbage around the town they live in. I have had friends who made a living just working for individuals in whatever capacity they needed help, without ever having to fill out a job application. Others sell their handicrafts in parks and on street corners in major cities. I read a book by a man who started investing in real estate straight out of high school (and even while in it), and never worked a job in his life. Day traders and artists and prospectors have all found ways to make money - sometimes more than a job would have paid.

So there are options that can be explored. And as for the question about whether a person needs money to live in society, it doesn't have to suggest that money is unimportant. It can lead one to question how much money is really necessary, or rather how little is necessary if a person makes managing it and using it appropriately a higher priority than making more of it. Some people can make less than $10,000 annually in the United States - poverty by normal measures - and still pay all the bills - and travel the world once in a while. I have known some of them.

There are many ways to live. A friend once lived in a tent. Others I've met lived in a school bus in the desert. I have known people who take care of other people's homes as a way to live without rent. Some people build their own homes and cabins. Others get jobs that include a place to live as part of the deal. Still others travel and work when they can, living in any way that they can as they go.

This challenging of common cultural assumptions doesn't mean that to be creative you have to live under a bridge and perform with trained raccoons in the streets for tips. This kind of questioning is just a start. Many very creative and unconventional people live in normal homes and have normal jobs. But they are not there just because that's how it's "supposed to be." It just happens to work well for them at the time. Many of these same people spent some part of their life traveling or volunteering in other countries or living on a boat perhaps. But if they live a creative life, they actually explore all the options they have for jobs, homes, relationships, politics, and for every other aspect of their lives.

Creative Success: Defining Your Personal Vision For YOUR Creative Life

Monday, July 8, 2013

The pressure to "be a success" is possibly greater these days than in any time previously in human society.

And it's not just success in one particular field or area of our lives. There's an expectation for us to achieve in all things - to be a wonderful parent, a supportive friend, a good son or daughter, a groundbreaking artist AND a community minded member of our society to name just a few.

This expectation and pressure appears to come from a wide range of sources - our peers, parents, media and society at large.

But ultimately, there is only one person who can define what "success" is for any of us. That person is ourselves.

A Vision for your Creative Life

Let's focus for now just on your creative life.

Think about the different ways in which you want to be creative, the different projects and areas, the different mediums you want to be creating with.

Begin with the creative discipline that you're most close to you, the one you keep returning to, whether it be writing, fashion design, painting, scrapbooking, photography, film-making or anything else.

Imagine you could have all the success you wanted in that major area of your creativity tomorrow. What would that mean to you, what would it look like, what would it feel like, what would it sound like?

Take some time to colour in the details as vividly as possible. Write out exactly what you'll be doing, how often, where you'll be, what will be happening around you, who you'll be mixing with. Make it as descriptive and full a vision as possible.

Rather than writing this out just with words, you could create this vision in the form of a picture or collage. Cut out images from magazines that you connect with as part of your vision of creative success and arrange them together on a large sheet of paper with a picture of yourself at the centre.

Bear in mind too that this vision may be describing an ongoing state, rather than a fixed point.

For example rather than writing - "I have written a best selling novel", for you a vision of success for your writing may be something like - "I continue to experiment with my writing and publish 3 articles a month in wide range of different publications" or "I write the most beautiful and honest prose I'm capable of at any one time".

Who REALLY owns the vision?

Once you have this strong vision of your creative life as a success, ask this crucial question -

Is this really YOUR vision?

Is this what YOU truly want? Do you really connect with it? Does it belong to you, is it what will make you happy?

Or has this vision of creative success come from someone or somewhere else?

Will achieving this will make YOU happy and proud, or just other people around you?

This is such an important question, and if you find, as many of us do, that you've been pursuing a certain vision or goal to please or satisfy someone else, it's time to stop and redefine.

And before your inner critic chimes in with comments like "You're SO selfish, just pursuing what YOU want", remember that the happier and more meaningful our lives are, the more we're able to contribute to the happiness of others, the more we're naturally and easily able to spread that creativity and joy amongst those close to us.

So what's your personal vision for YOUR creative success? And, in the coming days, months and years, how can you stay connected to it and ensure it remains your vision and not someone else's?

How to Live a Creative Life

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people."
Leo Burnett
When my 86 year old father belts out an old big band classic tune like Tommy Dorsey's, "I'll Be Seeing You," his vocal instrument still sends a chill down the spine. And when my son pulls from his back pack a well worn sketch pad, casually showing me his latest pencil and ink drawing a similar feeling arises. I am in awe of their talent and artistry. Often, I've wondered why I did not receive that particular creative gene.

How to Live a Creative Life

Too, I am blessed with students and clients that paint museum quality masterpieces, write life changing books, make profound documentary films, and dance like angels. Creativity such as the like is both tangible and inspiring.

But what if we don't possess that seemingly substantial "thing"? What if the best we can do is draw a stick figure and appreciate a great piece of music? Does that reduce us to non-creative beings?
Does that mean we have nothing to offer in the way of art? Should we ignore the impulse of the heart and pretend that this inarticulate, elusive longing begging to burst wide open is unworthy of creation?
Much like all art forms creativity expresses itself in a myriad of ways, and she never walks alone. Flanked on either side, creativity walks hand in hand with courage and vulnerability. To live a creative life we must first have the courage to look deeply into the cavern of our hearts, or we will never know what treasures lie hidden within.

When we do shine the light of awareness into the dark place, and expose the uncut diamond we often feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. So, for many, thinking ourselves non-creative is easier than doing the solitary work of unearthing and polishing the gem.

Creativity may not always be expressed by a strong powerful baritone, but perhaps through a strong inner voice that powerfully advocates for the well-being of the soul. And though we may never pick up an artist's sable brush to apply paint to canvas, perhaps we may paint ourselves a bold and beautiful life.

One valuable and innate gift of every human being is creativity. Yet, if the impulse of creativity is to break through its barriers, and chance a life of wonder, we must cultivate an abiding curiosity of what lies within our inner landscape by sitting within the Silence.

As a singer must daily practice the scales, we too must daily practice being open to receiving the calling of the heart. So sit, sit within the Silence, that we may invite our heart's song to surface.

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