Creativity and Inspiration

Sometimes you need a little boost.

For me, that is rarely a “rah rah” inspirational talk.  I’ve seen and heard too many of them.  Far too often they ring hollow for me.  I know what I have to do.  It’s actually doing it that is the problem.

creativity-illo-2What usually does it for me is other people, leading by example.  Being around creative people makes me want to get started myself.  It can even be inspiration at a distance.  Right now I’m reading a great book about one of my all time favorite musical groups, Crosby, Stills and Nash.  (The book is Crosby, Stills and Nash – The Biography by Dave Zimmer).  It not only inspired me to go back to listen to some of their incredible music but it made me want to dig back into my own playing again (and again and again and again, lol).

But that’s not the only inspiration I’ve been getting recently.  I have some family and friends who are doing creative things that are giving me that push to head back to all the things I’m trying to do.

My sister-in-law Janet Hallaran has been working in fused glass for a while now.  I keep looking at her stuff in total awe.  I have no idea how she does it but they’re really cool.  Check it out at Art Glass Fusion.

I’m also being inspired by a new co-worker, Mary Kate Deal.  Mary Kate is our Parish Administrator.  Turns out she is also a talented quilt maker, knitter and bow tie maker.  Check out Patchwork Pastor.

Last, but absolutely not least is The Kid, my daughter.  A couple of months ago fate decided to crap all over her.  After absorbing the pain of that, she decided to bounce back by creating jewelry.  That’s on top of her incredible gifts as a writer and the creativity she express that way.  Her shop is AzazelandPenemue.

These aren’t the only ones inspiring me.  I listen to buskers on the sidewalks of Richmond.  There are friends who stretching their wings writing, or trying other things.  Plus I have friends who have been creative for most of their lives.  I’m inspired by my friend Tara Eastman who uses her creativity within her ministry, just the way I’m trying to do.  I’m inspired by an artist that I only know through Facebook, Liz Laribee.  She not only creates but has helped create a place in Harrisburg, PA to help people be creative.  She does a lot of different things but her work in cardboard has always blown me away (check out her work at LizLaribee.com).  Whenever I pick up my guitar I think of my friend and guitar mentor Pete Avery.  I can see the big guy with one of his guitars strapped on, eyes closed and finger flying.  They inspire me, one and all.

Here’s the bottom line – I need to take the next step.  It’s not all the job of all these people to inspire me, that’s just a side effect of their creativity.  What happens next is entirely on me.  I have all kinds of tools to be creative.  I need to pick them up.  I need to try.  I need to learn from the less than successful attempts (any attempt at creativity is never a failure).  I need to make sure I keep going.

Like I said, creativity is a process of trial and error.

 

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Time to Get Real – Week of April 10

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Just so you know.

I have not quit, collapsed or been abducted by aliens.

My computer has died.

This makes update much more difficult since my “backup” systems are less than ideal.  New computer on the way.

In the meantime I have been continuing to work.  Had a small positive on the scale.  It was Easter week so I consider ANY positive motion to be good.  Plus the following day I went 15,000+ steps as we enjoyed the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.

So my posts will be short and sweet till I get a better platform to post from (soon, I hope!)

Truly stunning, thousands of blossoms

Truly stunning, thousands of blossoms

The Goal

 

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

 

The next milestone is getting back below 195.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

196.4 pounds

Weight Change this week – -0.4 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 8.4 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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Time to Get Real – Week of April 3

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Much better.

MUCH, much better.

Last week I talked about feeling that my body was adjusting.  That feeling continued this week.  My endurance was better during my workouts.  More running breaks and longer.  My body feels tighter, less flabby.  I was prepared to be happy with just those changes because I knew they were precursors to getting where I want to be.

Then I got a surprise.

Eventually I knew that the changes would show up on the scale.  It’s what happens.  Regular workouts and food discipline.  I worked out every day except Sunday.  That’s my off day.  Just seems like a logical one for me.  LOL.  Workouts are 30 minute treadmill sessions.  Walking at 3.2 mph with breaks of running at 5.0.  Eventually I know I’ll be able to run the entire workout.  With the weather warming, the bicycle will be on the road starting next week.  Plus more walking as I continue to explore Richmond.  I clocked over 13,000 steps on Wednesday!

So that next objective is in sight.  I can not slip up at this point.  I can not get comfortable and lazy.

It can’t happen.

The Goal

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

 

The next milestone is getting back below 195.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

196.8 pounds

Weight Change this week – -2.4 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 8.2 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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Creativity and Prayer

It’s always been a joy for me that my jobs usually afforded me the opportunity to be creative.  I began by studying theater.  When I left college I moved into radio (long story) and discovered that my ability to tell stories, express meaning and emotion just with my voice made me successful as an on air personality.  I could do more than just read the news or update the weather.  By approaching all those routine items with a little creativity it helped me connect with my audience.  That turned into an almost 20 year career as a radio personality (the top of the pyramid in those circles.  At least the way I look at it.  Another topic for another day.)

creativity-illo-2For the last 15 years I’ve paid the bills by “taking my talents” into the church.  My role there is as teacher, mentor and minister to young people.  The ability to tell stories well, to communicate concepts in a manner that is interesting and engaging is a huge gift here.  Having great core material to work from doesn’t hurt either!  Creativity is something that can help me here as well.

Let me drop something in at this point.  It’s something that any creative person already knows but a lot of us had to learn the hard way.  Creativity is a trial and error process.  Sometimes thing work out beautifully the first time (somewhere, for someone) but very often it is a process filled with discarded ideas and attempts.  Learning to deal with that can be a huge hurdle.  Again, another topic for another day.

So here’s my latest attempt at bringing a little creativity into my work with the Gospel, young people and the church.  It’s actually based on something I did before (I posted a photo on Facebook, HERE).  Let me give you a brief overview.

In the Episcopal Church we recognize seven principal kinds of prayer.  (You can find them on page 856 of any Book of Common Prayer)  Unfortunately, from a teaching point of view, most of them have names that are church jargon (Penitence, Oblation, Intercession, Petition) which creates a stumbling block.  It’s tough to have to learn a whole new language before you can learn the concepts.  But those are the names I’m stuck with, so how can I ease the way to learn them?  I decided to create image based “tokens” to help people connect.  I created the ones linked above (which are slightly larger than quarters) last year while I was unemployed.  They’re really designed more for personal prayer use than teaching.  So this year I moved up to three inch wooden discs and fiddled with some of the images I’m using.  Here is what I’ve created this time: (Click on the image for a larger version)

PetitionwPetition: the prayer where we ask God about our own needs.  Two hands raised, palms up.

 

 

IntercessionwIntercession: Asking for the needs of others, even the whole world.  Yes, I’m a little optimistic about the ice pack at the North Pole.  I’m hoping humanity comes to its senses in time.

 

Adorationw

 

Adoration : Lifting our hearts and minds to God with no request other than to enjoy the divine presence.  That always strikes me as basking in the warmth of the sun.

 

Praisew

Praise : Our understanding is that God is pretty awesome.  Creator of the Universe, the whole deal.  We don’t praise him to try and suck up and get something but because God is worthy of praise.  Pretty straight forward here, hands raised in praise.

 

ThanksgivingwThanksgiving : I was raised to say thank you.  We say prayers of thanks for all the gifts we have received, for anything that draws us closer to the divine goal.  We are given things out of God’s love for us and we say thank you out of our love for God.

 

OblationwOblation : Prayers and actions of giving back what God has given us to the work God wants done in this world.  Traditionally, we are asked to give the first fruits of our labor, “off the top” as it were.  The image of grapes as those fruits is traditional and appeals to me.

 

PenitancewPenitence – This was the image that I changed for this set.  Originally it was an eye and a tear but that felt like I wasn’t getting the whole concept.  Penitence isn’t just about feeling sorry for doing something wrong.  It’s confessing that we screwed up, doing what is possible to fix the problem and working towards not doing it again.  So the image here is a torn piece of cloth and the needle and thread of penitence mending what was broken.  I like it a lot better.

Creating these tokens has a special meaning for me.  To do them properly means I need to put myself into a quiet, creative, dare I say it, even prayerful place.  I need to slow down and focus on what is being created.  It doesn’t always happen.  Take a look at the left arm on “Praise”.  That was the first one I did on this project and I wasn’t in the right “head space” for it.

Like I said, creativity is a process of trial and error.

 

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Time to Get Real – Week of March 27

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I don’t remember it being this hard last time.

Of course, I’m 7 years older than last time.

But I made the changes I wanted to make.  I worked out six times in five days.  I worked out every single day of the week.  Including this morning.  I charted my food and stayed on track all week.

My pants are looser now than they were at the beginning of the week.

But the number this morning didn’t budge.  Actually it moved slightly but it wasn’t significant and it was in the wrong direction.

Sigh.

It’s tough when so many positives get colored by a single item that doesn’t work.

My body is making adjustments.  I just need to keep working in the direction I’m moving.  The weather is getting better so I can get outside and moving more often.  The bike will be coming out next week.

I’m not done.  I’m not giving up.  I will make this change.

The Goal

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

 

The next milestone is getting back below 195.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

199.2 pounds

Weight Change this week – +0.6 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 5.8 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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Time to Get Real – Week of March 20

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Several things went wrong last week.

I’m late posting because I spent three days last week without Internet services.  Also it makes tracking steps with my Fitbit difficult.  Not a good week.

Plus my weight went back up.

Incredibly frustrated.  Just beyond expression.

The difference between this time and the time that worked was the exercise.  So it’s time to stop kidding myself.

New gym routine plus the weather is better so I can get outside.

Just frustrated.

And angry.

Gotta change.

Will change.

That’s a promise.

The Goal

My resolution remains :

I want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

 

The next milestone is getting back below 195.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

198.6 pounds

Weight Change this week – +1.2 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date – 6.4 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/30

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Creativity and Myths

Without thinking about it till I was well into adulthood I have always had a creative side.  Acting out stories, making them up to amuse myself, singing, acting, a little sketching now and then were all ways that I was expressing that creative desire in myself.

I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of creative people in my life who have inspired me and encouraged me in my own efforts.

Creativity

Along the way I’ve run into two things that my experience says are common to creative people.

The first are those folks who look at what I do and say “Oh, I wish I could do that/be creative”, and those days when it seems like I’m just missing some small part that will finally let me be creative.  What I’ve learned over the years is that both of those are myths.

A couple weeks back I came across this article on one of my favorite blogs, Lifehacker, “Demystifying the Muse: Five Creativity Myths You Should Stop Believing”  by Jory MacKay.  I thought it crystalized a lot of what I believe about creativity even as it pointed out myths I still haven’t quite gotten left behind yet.

Points 1 and 3 go primarily to the wishful folk, that you have to be born creative and that creativity can not be learned.  Genius may be inborn but most of the rest is technique.  Look at virtually any child and watch them create with abandon.  That creative impulse tends to ground down in us but I believe it is always there.  We also want to believe that somehow creativity is effortless.  I’ll pause now while most creative people laugh hysterically.

The other points, You can’t control inspiration, the Lone Creator, and Creativity is only for those with Time and Means, address myths that insist on trying to stop those of us who have decided to give it a go.   MacKay offers some very sound basis for the points made and I mean to keep reading this article till the points all sink in.

In the meantime, I’m going to get about the work of being creative.

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