Creativity Burst: Painting

Painting

Not sure if it is the pandemic or something else or both, but I look around and see a lot of people painting.

They are painting houses, walls, furniture, rooms, paintings, and more. People have found a color and a brush and are putting both to task freshening up their décor with a fresh coat of paint. It seems like one of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to change the mood of a room a home or a piece of furniture.

Paint it.

Also, the process calls for a creative heart. You get to choose your color. Let’s say your room was dark – now you paint it white. Hello! The whole mood of the room has changed – and vice versa too. 

Painting also often has you taking down your pictures and covering your furniture and that also often gets a creative refresh when you have to choose what goes back up on the walls. Also, you may add other decorative elements to match your new painted walls – pillows, accent rugs, and more.

And don’t think you have to get fancy. White walls are also amazing. Did you know there are warm and cool tones of white that can really change the look of your room. White is anything but boring and will also need some attention to choose how you would like your white to look.

And, if you dare, how about a deep, bold color like red or purple? How about pairing the two together? Sometimes taking a bold step with colors we choose to paint with can be a prelude to other bold steps in our lives.

If it is painting a picture, how expressive. I hear that Paint By Numbers has become fashionable once again. The idea of painting almost feels meditative. One can safely be in one’s space alone or with one’s family and undertake a creative task that is full of color and transformation. Once you are in your new rooms of color, who knows what may alight upon you.

Stay Open and Paint!

Creativity Burst: Fun Clothes

Fun Clothes

I always loved this T-shirt. A friend gave it to my husband years ago and it gave us both a good laugh. It’s summer. The living is easy. It may just be fun to find some fun, happy clothes to don and share a good laugh.

Even better? Make your own fun (and/or funny) clothes. T-shirts where you use fabric markers to make your own would be a great way to get the creative juices flowing. All you need is some plain white T-shirts (or another solid color) and fabric markers — and, of course, some of your own inspiration to make it a fun activity.

Now another part of this project is finding out what makes it fun. Is it the color? Is it the saying? Is it a combination? I remember when tie dye was all the rage. There were no words, just psychedelic colors that you could use to turn your t-shirt into a wild print. Fun! The process of tie dye was really fun – especially with friends.

Your kids could outfit their dogs and cats too. Finding funny sayings and creating an animal shirt to put on the family cat and dog would also be a fun way to create something new. I think the laughs you may get from your family and others when your pet walks around in his funny T-shirt may also boost creative fun. Whether or not your pet will find it funny is another story.

If creating fun clothes is not exciting for you, then how about heading to your closet and shopping it to create fun new outfits. Perhaps the colors clash or two pieces simplyy don’t go together. Now is the time to try and see what new combinations you come up with that are fun, not necessarily ones that you would wear out in all seriousness. Being outrageous with your wardrobe can spark new ideas and ways to use them. Be open and create some fun fashion statements.

Whether creating funny T-shirts for you or your pets or reimagining your clothes into new outfits that may be outrageous, you are leaning into a creative exercise that will spark more ideas of bringing the new to the old and actually lightening up and having fun. It doesn’t take much to get a creative burst of energy.

Creativity Burst: Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds – not that exciting by themselves, as are most seeds. However, think of this creative idea as planting sunshine.

We are limited in what we can do these days, but here is a quick and fun idea to do with your family. Head to your local nursery and purchase some packets of sunflower seeds.

From there, take a drive and sprinkle the seeds as you drive along. This would be best to do on a rural or country road near to where you live. Sprinkle away. If you have kids this could be quite entertaining.

That’s all! Now you have to wait for your sunshine to grow. Whether it be later in the season or next year, take a drive and take in the view of the sunshine you planted long ago. The seeds will take hold and grow. Almost a miracle.

You could also do this in your own back yard or neighborhood if you want to see your results closer to home, but I think a refreshing drive out to the country where you scatter sunflower seeds and then get to see them later is such a quaint idea. It’s one that takes both hope and patience. Whenever we plant, it is an act of not knowing if something will bloom – or not.

Just like in our lives we plant many seeds, but then we often don’t know what is going to take hold and bloom. But we plant and scatter seeds and live in hope that what we put our attention to will bloom. It’s all an act of faith.

Plant some sunshine this summer and wait. What bloomed? Perhaps you.

Creativity Burst: Balloon Parade

Balloon Parade

Ever think of hosting a Balloon Parade?

Today is my Birthday, and I have always dreamed of a Balloon Parade. What does this idea entail? To be completely honest, I am not sure as I have never hosted one before, even as I’ve always yearned for one. As a former kids’ party planner, my mind turns toward inviting friends over and blowing up balloons — or, more likely, having balloons already blown up that each person can grab…and GO!

Go where? Off to a Balloon Parade of our own making. Basically line everyone up and march around my neighborhood or my city with balloons in hand together. Ah, how fun! Although I have a fantasy around my Balloon Parade, I have never made it happen as I don’t want to plan something like this for myself. I resist!

So, I yearn for this celebration and yet I don’t make it happen for myself — and who has time to plan a Balloon Parade? By this time in my life, I think I am more excited by the idea and the dream of it than actually doing it. Have you ever wanted something for so long that your mind builds it up in a way that reality can never meet your expectations?

In that case, I would say just do it — to myself and to anyone else who has a “Balloon Parade” of their own in their mind. Reality is actually always better than fantasy. I doubt I will get around to it this year — I think this is another year where my mind will float over the idea, but, with any luck, I will be here for the next Birthday and perhaps that year I will have the courage to host a Balloon Parade of my own.

To all the Balloon Parades in our minds — Cheers!

Creativity Burst: A Positive List for a Negative Habit

A Positive List for a Negative Habit

How can a positive list change any type of negative habit?

Well, it’s a creative exercise indeed to flip something we criticize ourselves for on its head and see the positive side, i.e. what may be the part of the habit we deemed as negative as something that is giving us something we are missing, longing for, and enacting that feels good.

Usually the way we interact with our bad habits and patterns is to criticize ourselves for having formed and maintained the habits. I often have found the more negative, critical talk about these habits, the more they take hold. Which is the exact opposite of what we want in our heads as we often seek to not do these very things again and again. However, what else to do, but to talk negatively to one’s self and keep up the habit of the negative behavior.

So, it may take a little effort to do this, but if you look at this idea as a creative exercise then it may not feel difficult at all. Also, it will allow for a break from the negativity toward self. In concept, the idea is simple. Take a few moments with yourself and sit down with a pen and paper in hand. From there, write at the top of the page — or wherever on the page — your bad habit or pattern.

Now, instead of thinking about all the bad you think you are for doing this habit and also how you judge the habit to be bad in and of itself — flip it! — and think about all of the good things that you get from doing this habit from the little to the big things. My guess is there is something positive that far outweighs the negative of engaging the pattern or habit that keeps it active for you.

After you see all that is positive in this negative habit, treat yourself compassionately. There are reasons that are valid that drive us to take on “bad” habits and behaviors. By allowing yourself to be compassionate and extending loving kindness may help you get more in touch with how this may be a way for you to express your anger, handle your anxiety, regulate your stress and more. No one action or thing is all bad. Opening up space to look at the positive part of whatever it is may help you tolerate the habit and it may also loosen some of the grip it has on your life.

This is a creative way to approach a bad habit or pattern. Give it a try and see what alights upon you. I hope compassion and kindness above all to yourself.

Creativity Burst: Create Art

Create Art

Sometimes art can be the best way to process and think through how we are feeling about events unfolding as well as our shared history that has brought us to this moment. We often feel that we must process and come to understand via language and words. However, I have found that sometimes the mind can make connections, enter sad, scary, angry feelings and emotions through the medium of art.

Art allows our right and left hemispheres of our brain connect in a way that often is interrupted by words. Instead of trying to put down in words one’s thoughts and feelings, it may be helpful to pick up a crayon, marker, paint, and any other art medium that you may have and create.

Create what? Well, a mural would be interesting. A mural can often be large in scope and that space can allow for multiple people to work on the piece together. This may also be helpful to engage as a collective. You can also create a mini mural where each person creates a small scale piece and then you come together as a community and put them together to see what arises from everyone’s different artistic expressions.

There is so much street art unfolding across America right now. As places are boarded up, people are taking to create art right on the chip board in their communities or in certain designated areas that are public. Creating a piece on site or bringing a piece to a place like this and hanging it is yet another way to engage with processing the movement that is unfolding through creative expression.

Once our minds can connect and make meaning of the collective pain in America, there may arise new ideas for how to continue to disrupt the systemic racism that has always been present in the country. Creative art making rather than speaking offer a golden key to creating something new. Perhaps it can create a new idea for this world too.

Creativity Burst: Forest Shapes

Forest Shapes

Do you see any Forest Shapes in the picture above? Let your mind wander…

Last week, I was encouraging you to take a Forest Walk. Well, I took my own advice and went for one myself this past weekend and all of a sudden I started playing a creative game with myself — what forest shapes could I see and name?

Although it sounds simple, it takes intention to look at a forest of trees and create shapes, images, and other ideas in your mind. However, if you allow your mind to roam, nature can really delight one with all sorts of surprising images. It is sort of akin to clouds — when you look up at random clouds and all of a sudden images of all sorts of things pop into your mind.

It often takes a state of reverie and receptivity to be able to allow your mind to wander and be free to see shapes other than their concrete forms. Sure, the tree trunk above is a tree trunk — but I immediately saw the letter “L” for my name and was terribly fond of this tree spelling out my initial in such a beautiful way.

I immediately snapped this picture and it inspired me to keep looking for more shapes. More and more creative thoughts came to my mind — I was no longer just taking in nature, but I was imagining and creating as I went along. It was fun to let go of my cares for a little bit of time and immerse myself in such a creative enterprise.

Reverie, imagination, freedom of thought, presence to one’s environment — all of these are important for this creative burst of energy. I invite you to tell me what you see.

Creativity Burst: Forest Walk

Forest Walk
Time for a Forest Walk

A forest walk. For me, this conjures up the lovely surroundings around the Emerald City, the very one I live in these days, Seattle. In the Pacific Northwest in America, we are fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful forests of evergreen trees that seem to breathe in and out their beauty throughout the entire year. They never lose their leaves but seem to form an eternal canopy that visitors to our nearby forests can enjoy year-round.

It was Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial kick-off to the summer season. It has not been much of a spring with pretty strict shelter in place orders in place this spring, but a few weeks ago our Governor opened up the trails and parks for all of us to get out and explore once again. Although it felt like a very long time since I had been out there, it was still all there waiting for me when I returned.

I want to encourage you to take your own forest walk in the woods that surround you sometime soon. And when you do take that walk, get creative and be there in that moment. Really see the green on the trees, the moss too, and the leaves. Have your kids count as many leaves as they can.

Breathe in green. That’s right — once you are on your forest walk, shut your eyes and call to mind the glorious color of green and mark in your mind all the green you have taken in so far on your walk. Breathe in and out slow and deep as you recall the green living energy that surrounds you. The trees are living, breathing creatures. Seek to attune to their breath in their space. My guess is a sense of expansiveness will fill you.

It is a wonderful time to get back to the forest, to nature, to spend these long days, which still feel somewhat curtailed, in their beauty. Allow nature to give you her own creative burst of energy to charge your day and self to a place of calm but also growth like the green forests surrounding yourself.

Another thought is to revisit this same spot over the next few months. Do you notice any changes in the surroundings? How about in yourself? Is it easier to breathe green? Marking time by returning to the same forest spot a few times can not only track time, but also yourself in nature and its time and rhythm.

In the Pacific Northwest, most of our emerald gems will not shed their leaves, but if I attune myself to my forest, I believe I will find subtle shifts as time moves forward from here. A wonderful way to welcome summer and keep track of her passing by during this fleeting season.

Creativity Burst: Old Recipes

Old Recipes Box

Old Recipes? What’s the difference between them and any other recipe? A great deal in fact.

I was reminded of this when my brother reached out to me asking for my Grandmother’s old recipes as he wanted to try a few. Years ago, my Mother gave me all of my Grandparents’ recipes, which are truly a walk back in time. How so?

First off, many of their recipes are typed up – with a typewriter and all. Can you imagine a time when people would put an index card into their typewriter and type up a recipe? How novel. So, many of these recipes are easy to read.

Second, the types of recipes give me some insight into what they enjoyed eating during their own hey day. For my Grandparents, they loved Texas Chili, Dill Pickles, Buttered Noodles, Tomato Pudding, and other old fashioned recipes that people used to make and not just buy for convenience as they do now.

Third, these recipes, in addition to being typed up, are written on all sorts of slips of papers that give some insight into their lives and how they spent their time. One of my favorites is the Holiday Inn hotel bill that had them spend one night for $15. On the back of the receipt is my Grandmother’s handwriting scribbling down some recipe she heard from whomever she was visiting.

What does all of this have to do with creativity? For me, it gives me a burst to see how others who have gone before me enjoyed their food. Back in those days, people made it from scratch and that feels important to this time. People are back to baking bread and making their own delicious recipes, those that will mark this time as part of our own personal history.

If you have a collection of recipes somewhere in your family it may be the perfect time to give them a review. You may learn what they enjoyed, how they recorded it, as well as some history along the way depending on where they wrote down their recipes. One’s mind can wander back to that time and find reassurance that older generations made their way through, through both good and challenging times, and what they were eating as they did so.

The continuity of care provided by these recipes gives me a creative burst of energy to try one of their recipes or even one of my own. It also inspires me to write my own recipes down on sheets of paper that feel so modern now, but in 50 years will seem vintage, like scraps of paper.

Given this time when people are cooking up a storm as they did many years ago, use it as a space to learn more about people and how they cooked before you and find ways to record your own experience as it is sure to be treasured by the future people who read you and your recipes.

Creativity Burst: Puzzle Time

Puzzle Time
Pandemic Puzzle Time!

Pandemic Puzzle Time!

It seems that these days all things old are new again. And this is true when it comes to puzzles. Remember the big jumbo 1000 piece puzzles you would do as a kid with other kids or your family. The pieces would be laid out on a large flat surface. There the puzzle pieces would sit beckoning to be put together.

It would often take hours to get it done over several days. Of course, starting at the corners, building the outside edge of the puzzle, and then filling it in — often by figuring out smaller puzzles that then fit into the big puzzle. It was quite something to see 1000 puzzle pieces be pieced together to find the picture on the front of the box.

With time on our hands and people in the house, puzzles offer us a place to ground ourselves in pieces that we can touch, creating a picture that is worth a 1000 pieces. There is something very satisfying to working a puzzle. I have seen puzzles in waiting rooms of therapy offices and often someone is in front of it working a piece of the puzzle. There are no apps, no screens, nothing bright and glitzy – just little pieces to put together. In this respect it feels really old fashioned.

It can also lead one to a sense of creativity as you are building picture of some sort as you work to solve the puzzle. Something that may be fun to do with your kids is to have them create their own puzzle. This doesn’t have to be 1000 pieces, but, using a thick piece of cardboard type paper, have them cut out different shapes that they seek to fit together to create their own picture. The can color in the picture once all of the blank pieces are pieced together. From there, pull it apart and solve their puzzle. Everyone in the family could do one and then hand it off to another family member to solve.

Puzzle time is back and in full force. I don’t think they ever went away — they just took our attention again when we had some time to solve them.