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Write on Wednesday – ah geez, it’s saturday!

August 2, 2008

Thanks to Becca and Write on Wednesday for the prompt:

How do you cultivate creativity in your life? Have you found the things that make you come alive? Are you doing them?

I don’t lose track of the things that make me come alive, nor do I have to track them; they are just there. The amount of time to be creative varies with the time of year, but the inspiration is never gone. It starts when I take my first walk of the day, with the dog, early in the morning. Very few people are out at that time, so I can be alone and as introspective as I desire to be. After a few minutes, a little jolt of endorphins starts pumping into my bloodstream, and I feel that gentle high. I walk under the trees in the park. Often, the wind is making the leaves whisper. The light clattering always reminds me of my grandparents, and the time I spent with them during the summer. Sometimes I feel sad, to think I cannot go back to that. They are both gone, the house on the lake belongs to someone else, I will never be twelve years old again. And then I think, but I can live in the memory whenever I want. Is that a sign of age? Maybe. I don’t dwell in the past, I just visit. Maybe that is what our memory is for. So I visit, and a hundred ideas for stories I could write come to me in those few moments. Descriptions of the moist air in the woods, how green the sunlight can be, how you can almost squeeze the green out of the air, into your hand. The dog stops to sniff at a tree, and I am back home, looking at a day stretched out in front of me with so many possibilities. I can do anything I want. I don’t mean in the sense that I can skip going to work, or putting gas in the car, or making dinner for my family. I mean, hey, maybe I should take a tai chi class. Or, maybe I should call that friend I haven’t spoken with in six months. I can do anything I want. It is so wonderful, I am so lucky, to live where I do, when I do.

When we get home, the dog is happy for the walk, and tired. She is ready for a nap, and I am free from that first responsibilty of the day. Coffee is next. I sip the foam off the top of the cappucino, and think how delightful it is. It is just foam, so there is no fat, but it is sweet and creamy, soft and rich on my tongue. How lucky I am, to enjoy this treat. It reminds me of a cappucino I drank, earlier in the summer. I was in Dublin with my children, and I always rose before them. Dressed, I would walk around the corner to the coffee shop I espied in our neighborhood as soon as we had dumped the suitcases in our apartment. I sat down with my coffee that morning, and watched the people walking by, and noticed their shoes. The shoes in Dublin were different than the shoes in Milwaukee. The shoes made me wonder about what kind of day was in store for the person wearing them. I luxuriated in the foam of the cappucino on my tongue and made up stories about the people as they waited for the tram to arrive, depending on what kind of shoes they were wearing.

Then the phone rings, and I am home. It is a toll free call, so I sure don’t answer it. It is time for the day’s errands. I don’t mind driving wherever I have to go, because I have a really good book on tape in the car. As I am driving, I pass the Tai Chi Center, and decide I will call when I get home and sign up for a class. It is so exciting to learn something new. I will meet a whole new group of people. I will become stronger, and more relaxed. It feels good to treat myself well.

So the simple answer is yes, yes and yes.

Hail Mary, full of grace. Found in a niche of an abandoned abbey in Galway.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2008 9:30 pm

    “Squeeze the green out of the air…” Geez, what an excellent image/line. Thanks for taking us on your walk. And in the first picture, that blue picket fence…yours? great color.

  2. August 2, 2008 9:48 pm

    What a delightful, picturesque post! And, is that your garden? Gorgeous! I am contemplating a yoga class, so I’ll be interested to hear about your Tai Chi classes. It is wonderful to have choices, no?

  3. August 2, 2008 10:38 pm

    Oh, thank you for reminding me of all the wonderful ways to come alive right in my own backyard 🙂

    I loved going along on your morning with you – it reminded me a lot of my days 🙂

  4. August 3, 2008 4:10 am

    I truly enjoyed this post. My mom loves gardening. And I know how that feels.

    Creativity

  5. August 3, 2008 7:34 am

    Oh! yes, my fence. I love blue in the garden. That is McGregor’s Garden behind the fence, but I have to keep the gate open because the dog loves it back there (and since she is pure carnivore, I don’t have to worry about the veg).

    Hi Pamela. I should post some ‘before’ pictures. This was a lot where the house was pulled down and the basement hole filled in with junk. We had to get a whole truck load of dirt and build up the flower beds with bricks. The garden is only three years old – the trees went in the first year. It is coming along very nicely!

    Thank you, Becca, for the great writing inspiration. Your prompts always make me think of how lucky I am.

    Thanks Gautami. My mom and sister both love gardening. We have a lot of fun doing “flower” things together.

  6. August 4, 2008 10:00 pm

    I deleted the post you pointed out very astutely was “blanket” and replaced it. I sincerely appreciate your honest feedback. I love this post because unlike my deleted one that was full of vague generalizations and the very rants I abhor, this one is full of specific sensual imagery, the fullness of life, love, fond memories, connection to the earth, and inspiration. My own answers to those questions are no, no and no, so someone like me really needs a blogger like you around to see the glass as half full. For starters, I think I need a dog. Cats aren’t very inspirational or cooperative on leashes. I am not particularly fond of having to climb trees.

  7. August 4, 2008 10:32 pm

    Hi WR, I was slightly confused and answered this post on your blog! Oh well. Thank you for the kind words, regardless. I like your blog (and you, obviously) because you are so very honest, and it is very easy to be honest with you. Thanks!
    As far as the glass half-full, my kids think sometimes it is overflowing and making a mess everywhere. I just get out the mop, then; no big deal. I strongly recommend the dog. She doesn’t call me a punk, like my daughter just did! I am going to take the dog to the ice cream stand tonight, and not the child. hahahahahahaha

  8. August 5, 2008 4:36 am

    What a beautiful post! And I agree. Inspiration is all around us. The trick for me is to remember to open my eyes and look at it, rather than being ordered around by the mental to do list I make for myself every day.

  9. August 5, 2008 5:46 am

    Hi Becky. Those lists are bossy, aren’t they? On the other hand, if I didn’t have a list to cross stuff off of, I wouldn’t remember half of what I was supposed to do – I definitely have to write my list down. I made a list for myself this morning before I left the house, went on my merry way, and realized at my first destination that I left the list at home.
    Pamela had a lovely post on inspiration today – http://fromthehouseofedward.blogspot.com/
    I think you would like it.

  10. August 6, 2008 9:01 pm

    “How do you cultivate creativity in your life? Have you found the things that make you come alive? Are you doing them?”

    Wow, what an excellent albeit, for me, one that also shames me when I see it. I cultivate my creativity to a degree and I certainly have found the things that make me ‘come alive’. I find inspiration in so many of the artists and authors that I admire. I am constantly coming across ‘average joe’s’ for lack of a better description (people who are not wildly famous or financially successful…yet) who are just creating art for the love of doing so. Those people inspire me so much and at the same time I constantly struggle with the combination of my own fears, such as they are, and a great deal of I don’t know what…laziness? Procrastination? Those are probably two good words but they don’t cover it all because part of what interferes with my pursuit of my own creativity is that I fill my life with so many ‘things’, things that I enjoy a lot…reading, computer gaming (although this has become more and more rare), watching movies, spending time with friends and family, doing one of the MANY projects that need to be done around the house (for example my recent basement move).

    I keep telling myself that once I get a bit more organized I’ll be more likely to have/take time to make art, to be creative. But I also know in my heart that that is an excuse for not having the courage to put some of my interests aside…to sacrifice some of my time…to lay on the altar of creativity. I often feel close to bursting with the desire to be creative and it is at those points that fear of one form or another puts up an almost tangible wall between my desire to do something and actually doing it. I probably sound mentally ill in describing this although that certainly isn’t the case. If anything maybe I am spiritually ill when it comes to pursuing this part of myself. I don’t know.

    Either way, this is a lovely post that has also inspired me and has given me a lot to think about. Thank you! 🙂

  11. August 7, 2008 1:33 am

    Okay Carl, pull up a chair, sit down, and relax. We have to talk.

    Now, you have to take a look at yourself from someone else’s point of view. I guess we’ll use my point of view, since I’m here, but I am sure there are many folks who would agree with me.
    You use your creativity all the time at Stainless Steel Droppings. You have a huge fan base (and don’t say aw shucks) that enjoys your blog. You inspire people to read, to watch movies, to be interested in new things they might not have otherwise tried. You speak coherently about stuff. You have background knowledge and you are not afraid to share your opinion. Well, I don’t want to embarrass you too much. You are creative, and you inspire others. Enough said on that.

    I think what you are saying you really want to do is create physical things, right? Well, all I can say is, just do it. Don’t be afraid, don’t be lazy. I know you are not mentally ill, I don’t think you are spiritually ill. I think maybe now is the time you have to decide to change focus. You have nothing to lose, but maybe a little game time (I don’t play games, ever. Big waste of time. Want to argue about it?) So set aside a little time, some supplies, and start a project. Start with fifteen minutes a day. That doesn’t take much away from other things. Come on. We want to see what you create. I challenge you.

  12. August 8, 2008 1:32 am

    Thanks for the wonderful compliments and I do agree with you…I exercise my creativity well with my blog, I really do and I though I sometimes take it for granted that it is an outlet for my creativity I do notice it most of the time and put conscious effort into it being an outlet for me.

    Changing focus is definitely a better definition for my ‘illness’. My focus is generally all over the place. Not in an ADHD way, more in an “I want to do that, and that, and THAT, AND THAT!!!” kind of way that ends up shutting me down to where I only do the things that are easy for me to do.

    I can certainly argue with you about games being a big waste of time, bring it on! Setting aside the subjective argument that I believe watching a little tv, playing games, and like activities are therapeutic if only to let one disengage a bit and de-stress, the majority of games I play allow me to get a similar kind of engagement that I get reading fantasy novels etc. Many of today’s games have really immersive gameplay experiences, especially games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion which plays like an extra long episode of The Lord of the Rings. I do believe games that eat up every second of one’s life…like online massively multiplayer games that people play endlessly…are not the best, even those games I truly believe can be just as beneficial from an entertainment and social perspective as reading can be. It really all depends on the person. I also believe that the type of person who can become addicted to online games and lose perspective will do that with something else if they aren’t doing it with gaming.

    So there’s the beginning of my argument. 😉

  13. August 8, 2008 7:34 pm

    Well, I guess I was the one who issued a challenge, so I must defend my position. After thinking about it, defending my non-game stance was not easy to do. I had to reflect on the game playing I did as a kid: not much. The only game I really enjoyed was Clue. Since I was into reading mysteries and WANTED DESPERATELY to be Nancy Drew, this was kind of the fantasy extension/role-play you talked about with Elder Scrolls.

    The only other time-taking activity I indulge in that doesn’t have some kind of physical/tangible/object as result is reading (and the occasional movie). I would definitely argue that when you read, you are learning something – so it is not a waste of time. I firmly believe that no matter what you read, you are learning. I don’t imagine you would argue with that……

    There are simply not enough hours in the day, and there are so many things out there I would like to do. Rather than de-stressing me, it makes me nervous and fidgety, thinking about all I could be accomplishing, if I wasn’t playing the stupid game (that is partly the German working class influence – one does not go up the steps without at least one thing in each hand, much less empty handed). So maybe that’s where my argument lays. Instead of playing a game for an hour to de-stress, you could create a collage/painting/piece of furniture/whatever, to de-stress. There is nothing like that sense of accomplishment one has when stepping back and saying, “Wow. I made that.”

    Or maybe I just don’t like to lose?!

  14. August 8, 2008 8:01 pm

    “I firmly believe that no matter what you read, you are learning. I don’t imagine you would argue with that……”

    Not at all. I completely despise ‘those people’ who belittle reading of any kind and say it is a passive activity. I don’t agree with that. I get things out of everything I read, even the most pedestrian stuff…it means an emotional need as well as an inspirational need.

    “There are simply not enough hours in the day, and there are so many things out there I would like to do.”

    Agreed, which is why gaming is probably the one ‘hobby’ that I have that I spend the least time with. I’ll go through periods where I want to play a lot and then for months won’t touch a computer game at all. It is something I really enjoy, especially picking up a new game and letting the ‘story’ of it unfold around me as I play. But it, like reading and movies and anything else can certainly be a distraction.

    In the end I think embracing one’s hobbies and interests should be about balance and right now my balance is between that and work and spending time with family and friends and it is incumbent upon me to look at areas in my ‘hobbies and interests’ that I can make sacrifices in to work on some projects.

    And I’m not lying when I say ‘make sacrifices’. I truly LOVE my hobbies and interests. I am not a person who gets bored so I’m not filling time. I really enjoy the things I spend time on. But, as you said, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

  15. August 8, 2008 8:13 pm

    We are back to focus. It is a matter of setting priorities and giving the right (for you) amount of time to each thing you want to do. If you want to “create” it will have to move up the list. After this talk, it sounds like you don’t really need to create something. I think if you needed to, you would.

    It was hard for me to let my garden go this summer. I have always had a beautiful, well-maintained garden. My mother is going to be disappointed in me this weekend when she visits and sees the weeds. But something had to go. I needed to finish the story I was working on, so that had to move up the list. Oh well. As you said, sacrifices have to be made. I wish I didn’t have to sleep.

  16. August 8, 2008 8:55 pm

    I’m not sure that I don’t ‘need’ to create, I think I’ve just become pretty good at stifling the desires that would actually involve me making an effort rather than doing the easy things that I enjoy. It is much easier to bask in the glory of someone else’s creations rather than making an effort ones self. After this talk I just realize even more that I have ‘issues’. Ha!

    I would be pretty thrilled if I didn’t require sleep either!!!

    Sorry about your garden, but unlike me it sounds like you are making wise choices. I’ve found that it is not always easy for parents to understand why the things that have always been a priority for them are not for you. I think my dad has finally gotten over the fact that I am never going to make my yard the work of art that his is…and it really is. I figure if I can keep up with mowing and trim the trees and bushes occasionally then that is all I want to give to that area of my life. I do think it is something I would enjoy spending more time on when I retire, but for now working in the yard is not something I can stand to do after working 50+ hours a week.

    Come to think of it, I think I’ll keep the sleep and give up work! 🙂

  17. August 8, 2008 9:08 pm

    This is such a splendid post. I feel as though I am right there with you, sharing your day (and the cappuccino, too! For me, you really nailed it when you said you don’t lose track of the things that make you come alive, nor do you have to track them; they are always there. That is so perfect. I, too, believe that inspiration is always there in even the most routine movements of our day. The trick is allowing it to sink in, savor it, treasure it, and — if it’s the right inspiration — carry it with us and let it grow into something beyond expectations. Your post strikes me as the words of one who is gloriously empowered, and I love it!

  18. August 8, 2008 11:33 pm

    Thank you, Jeanie. You, too, nailed it! “…carry it with us and let it grow into something beyond expectations.” That is the trick, isn’t it? – you need the time and the energy, while carrying that lovely inspiration around with you here and there.

    Although I would love to be 27 again, I find that the older I get, the happier I get. Well, maybe if just my hands and feet could be 27, that would be perfect. It took some work for me to reach the point of being “gloriously empowered,” but I do feel I am. I am very lucky.

  19. August 11, 2008 6:25 am

    You nailed it, Qugrainne, the older I get the happier I get as well. I have really grown into myself, if that makes sense. The person I am now so accurately reflects my true likes and interests and inspirations. I wish I had the insight and sense of myself when I was in my 20’s that I have now, approaching 40.

  20. August 14, 2008 10:50 pm

    Hindsight is incredible! I was talking about it with a friend the other day. When you are young, you have the physical but not the mental, and when you are old you have the mental and not the physical. Can’t have it all, I guess.

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