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.

Creativity Burst: Collective Dreaming

Woman Dreaming
Are you capturing your dreams?

Can you imagine the phenomena of Collective Dreaming? What does this even mean?

If you are curious about the whole idea, you are not alone. I wanted to know more myself when I saw a headline in the Seattle Times about the recent pandemic affecting our dreams on a global scale. If you have not been sleeping well and/or having nightmares, anxious dreams, worried dreams about loved ones, you are not alone.

Collectively, people across the globe are dreaming in these ways – together we are sharing similar dreams, but we are apart. Our dream state is now mirroring our wake state. There is even a term given for all of us dreaming during this time: COVID Dreamers. Are you one of the millions dreaming like this at night?

Now that we are on the subject, how are you sleeping generally? Are you able to fall asleep, i.e. let go into your unconscious world, are you awake until the wee hours vigilant that nothing should happen to you or your loved ones, are you remembering your dreams, when you wake do you feel well-rested? One creative idea is to bring your attention to these questions and check in to see how sleep is going for you.

From there, I recommend having a little journal beside your bed. This can be used in a myriad of ways that may prove helpful to you before, during, and after you sleep. Some ideas include:

  1. Making a list of all that is on your mind that is making you worried or anxious. Taking time to write these things down can help you externalize them from yourself. Make note to tell yourself afterwards, they are all there safely written down. You will pick them up when you wake again.
  2. To help promote intentional dreaming, ask yourself a question that is on your mind several times before you sleep. You can add this question to your notebook as well. Do this for several nights in a row and look for answers from your unconscious as you sleep.
  3. If you happen to wake up to a dream, nightmare, or a thought on your mind, grab your notebook and write down what you recall immediately. It will most likely be lost within minutes of waking, so having the notebook and pen will make it convenient to record.
  4. Same thing when you wake, whatever you recall from your dreams, how you feel, how you slept can all be recorded to track your sleep cycle and keep track of what is unfolding at night in your mind.

Sharing dreams, engaging dreams, looking up the meaning of dreams can all serve as fodder for what is going on with ourselves that we may not be aware of when we are awake. A mystery unfolds each night for ourselves to uncover and learn more about ourselves.

The idea of collective dreaming about this pandemic and the many ways it is a nightmare for all of us is a unique shared experience of our dream life. Sharing your dreams and inviting others to do the same with you can lead to new ideas and thoughts about self that can not only drive further understanding of self, but a creative way to tap into you.

A journal and pen or pencil is all you need. Also, the will and interest to know about yourself through dreaming.

Creativity Burst: Backyard Photography

Backyard Photography Humingbird
Are you a budding photographer?

Backyard Photography? Say what?

These days, while we all are sheltering in place, provides a time to take our interests and elevate them. How to do this when our world, that is our supposed oyster, is within the confines of our home and yard can be a challenge — until you give it a little more thought.

If you like to take photos on your trips – even with only your phone – this is a time to dig in and get creative with your photography skills at home. Luckily this time is happening during spring when everything is coming into full bloom. The flowers are blooming, the leaves on the trees are bursting forth, the birds are at their feeders, the bunnies are hopping, and more.

A simple walk around your neighborhood will bring this all alive for you, but so too will a walk around your own yard. Don’t forget your camera when you head out the next time to take it in. Here is where a creative challenge can arise for you that may help you look at the world in a way that you really see the season in action.

Head out to your bird feeder and wait for the birds and then try to capture them eating or drinking the nectar. See a bunny in someone’s yard – or your own- can you focus on his cotton tail and capture it? How about the blossoms – can you get up close and pick up the texture of the petals via your photography skills? Even an amateur can take time right now to try a new angle, a new lens, a new way of taking a photo – this experimentation can lead to a burst forth of creative energy.

Even better? Involve the entire family and encourage them to take photos on your walks and around your home. Then, afterwards, review the photos together to see how people saw their subjects and why they decided to capture the flower, bunny, or bird in the way they did. Even better? Print off your photos and create a collage of them as a memory to hold on to — how you and your family saw the world during this unique time.

I am not a professional photographer by any means, but when I travel, I love to capture the scenes I take in as I go along. This is a reminder that we can capture them at home as well. There is magic and life happening where we call home. Opening our minds and grabbing our cameras are the two keys we need for this creative exercise.

Creativity Burst: A City Stroll

A City Stroll
Missing a City Stroll?

Do you miss a city stroll?

In this time of sheltering in place, where one is encouraged to only wander in one’s neighborhood and keep 6 feet distance from people, the days of going to a city — either your own or that of another city you have traveled to – feels long ago and far off from ever being able to do again.

Strolling a city leads me to new ideas, thoughts, smiles from strangers, a spring in my step as I take in new sites and sounds, unusual smells, and more. o stroll is to take in everything through all of one’s senses. It is invigorating and reinvigorating and often leads to a creative burst of energy. I don’t mind walking my neighborhood, but it is difficult to miss one’s city strolls.

Imagine my excitement when I found the blog and found a post where they literally offer you city strolls to take. Ah, these are perfect. Up to an hour of your time can be spent taking a stroll of a new city, such as a neighborhood stroll in Paris, Lithuania, a Floating Market in Bangkok, and more. Actually, not too many more, but these may be enough.

There is very little narration of these walks. Really, it is literally fifty minutes or so of strolling the area with all of the various sites, sounds, people, and more that one takes in in any good city stroll. It’s life in these areas which is all abuzz. I find I don’t even need to be looking at the city scene, but can just keep it on as background noise on my computer to keep me company. It is so novel to listen to a buzzing street vibe. I haven’t heard such a scene in so long, and yet it is so comfortable.

I will admit it right here. I miss it. Listening to the scene, make me feel this acutely. I worry will I ever have the opportunity again to move so freely in my world and take in a simple city stroll in Seattle, where I live, or in some far flung destination? I used to take such a thing and scene completely for granted. Perhaps that is one of the “up” sides of this time. To really cherish all that we had and to appreciate it once we engage again. Somewhere, I hold a hope that all of us will engage in the world as these scenes show.

Given my days are mainly spent indoors, it is wonderful to bring a city stroll inside for a little bit of time. I certainly feel more creative and energized from engaging my senses in this way. Perhaps I will plan my next trip or become motivated to learn more about a certain area. Perhaps it will motivate me to get up and walk my neighborhood and take it in as fully as possible.

Try a city stroll and remember what it was like and have hope we will all stroll together in marvelous spots soon.

Creativity Burst: PostCrossing

PostCrossing Postcards
Interested in receiving a postcard from a stranger?

I have just come across the site PostCrossing!

Are you one who loves to write and receive real mail? For me, there is nothing more creative than writing a hand-written letter and also receiving one back. The art of letter writing is almost nearly forgotten today, but isn’t it just such a bright creative burst when you do receive something handwritten in the mail today amid the bills and catalogues? An utter delight for me.

If the idea of letter writing is lost, I think the art of the far-away postcard is almost also of a by-gone era. There is nothing I like more than sending posts from far off places to dear family and friends, but my past few trips none of them even arrived. Not only are people not writing them, the mail is not delivering them. Oh what to do?

You can imagine how my creative spirits were buoyed by learning about PostCrossing – a service that invites you to write a postcard to a stranger, the service generates the address for you to write to, and then, in turn, you will also receive a postcard from a stranger. What a delight. For the cost of a stamp, mind you it will be international, you can send a wish, thought, or idea to a stranger in a strange land and anticipate receiving one in return.

I remember many years ago, I was taking tea at a hotel in London. Ah, it was a grand moment. I was sitting there having my tea, writing out postcards, and listening to a grand pianist. All of a sudden, a young woman ran over to my table – a complete stranger – and told me what we could do. She would take a picture of me and I would take a picture of her. Then, we were to exchange home addresses with one another. From there, she said, “One day, it will most likely be dreary and cold, you will receive the picture I just snapped of you here and it will bring it all back in a moment. Promise you will do the same for me.”

PostCrossing feels like a service in the same spirit. We were strangers, real correspondence would arrive, and our days would be brightened. I immediately signed up for the service, pulled out a postcard, dashed off a note, stamped it, and mailed it the very next day. It really gave me such a creative burst of energy to think of a stranger holding my postcard.

Now, I wait for one to arrive for me. Who it will be from, I have no idea. What type of postcard remains a mystery for now. There are far too few mysteries in our lives. Check out CrossPosting to perhaps discover one of your own.

Creativity Burst: Dyeing Easter Eggs

Dyeing Eggs
A Spring Tradition

Happy Spring. For many people, this is Easter week in the Christian church. It feels a little strange this year given most are unable to gather for worship services or a big Easter Brunch. I had plans to celebrate, but the holiday and the week will be far less grand as I continue — like you – to “shelter in place.”

However, we can still keep some of our traditions that are creative, colorful, and fun. For me, this has to be dyeing Easter eggs for the holiday. Whether as a child or an adult, I always look forward to the PAAS Kit that gives you the little tablets that get all fizzy in vinegar, the clear crayon to write names on the eggs, and stickers and other fun decorative elements for the eggs. As an adult, dyeing Easter eggs takes me back to my childhood and fun, simple, family memories that I appreciate keeping alive for myself all these many years later.

Of course, there are many ways to dye Easter eggs that have nothing to do with PAAS. I remember the year that I lived in Australia and went to the grocery store at Easter time to find my PAAS kit. After scouring the store for what seemed like forever, I ended up asking a store manager where the kit was. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. I was in complete disbelief to learn he had never even heard of the PAAS kit. Now, Australia celebrates Easter in a big way, how could they not dye eggs there? “Oh,” he answered, “you want to color your eggs? Check out the food coloring in aisle 8!” That’s right coloring eggs is old school there.

So, I know there are many ways to dye Easter eggs that are much more natural and innovative. In fact, here are ideas for how to make your colors naturally. During these times, when we have a lot more time on our hands, it may be the year to go natural.

For me, I do find this project to be a creative one. To take regular eggs, hardboil them, and color them using a commercial product like PAAS or natural vegetables to make your own dyes, this is a wonderful project to welcome in spring and do something fun to celebrate the season.

Of course, the next thing to do is to hide the eggs and hunt for them. Always fun for the kids, but even adults may have fun hiding and go seeking eggs this year. If this hunt is for adults, make sure to be creative with your hiding places.

Sometimes creativity is sparked by going “old school” and doing something that you did when you were much younger to reconnect with that earlier time in life that was full of simple pleasures. This would be a great week to dye some eggs, hide some eggs, and get in touch with your inner child and how she wants a spark of creativity in her world.

Creativity Burst: Tune Translation for the Times

Girl listens to tunes to translate for the times

What can get all of us through a particularly stressful time? Listening to favorite music seems to be a way to not only relax, but also take our minds to other times and places that are pleasurable. I am amazed when a song comes on that was popular back when I was 14 and I can remember a specific memory from that time as though it was a moment ago, Music transports us, uplifts us, and can cause a happy affect.

Now, how to use music during a time like this? I tried something this past week that really not only got me thinking about my favorite songs, but how to spoof them to fit the times. I made a series of very brief video clips with me singing a refrain from the song that I changed to meet these pandemic times.

One of the songs I sang to was the catchy tune,”Can’t Touch This.” I danced like a crazy bird and just snag the refrain a few times and then said, “Pandemic, Can’t touch me!” Completely silly and fun. Putting it up on social media took some guts, but I figured others could use some hilarity to their days.

I decided to record a few more. First, I had to think of some favorite tunes that matched the times and have the chance to change a word or two, record it, and post it. My mind really got excited to take on this little project for a few days in a row. It lead me to have a burst of creativity to be sure.

Like,”I’m not leaving on a jet plane, Don’t know when I will go again, Oh, Babe, I wish I could go.”

Ha! The proper translation of this song during these times. I think it would be so fun for people to come up with their song lines that match these times, sing it, record, and post. All of us not only would give ourselves a good laugh, but a burst of creativity too.

Give it a try and “Don’t hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself!” (Another creative song adaptation for good measure!)

Creativity Burst: An Intention Capsule Necklace

Intention Capsule Necklace

An intention Capsule Necklace — one of my very favorite things. I stumbled upon this idea during one of my own Birthday celebrations. I love all of the little knick knacks that can make up a Birthday — balloons, horns, flying wish paper, surprise balls — and one year I stumbled upon this necklace.

It’s a pretty cool idea. It’s a little capsule that is on a cloth chain necklace. A small piece of paper is also included. You are to write your intention on the pice of paper, roll it up tight, place it into the capsule, and wear it around your neck in an effort to keep it close to you.

With all of this energy and spirit around your intention and the reminder of what you intend is with you being worn around your neck and close to your heart, it is a creative way to bring to life what you truly intend for yourself. Each day.

If you don’t want to buy one of these, you can easily make one for yourself. Take a tiny piece of paper and write your intention down on it. From there, roll it up and secure with a rubber band or a tight string bow. Again, you can carry this with you in your purse or wallet or in a pocket on you. You don’t need the capsule to hold it.

This is a way to merge creativity with intention to help you pursue what you intend.

Maybe this is just a little birthday knick knack for kids, but I have found them to be a place to not only hold some good intention for myself, but also to extend this to others. Whether you make one or buy one, bring your intention forth by writing it down and wearing it as you interact with your day.

Creativity Burst: A Four Leaf Clover Walk

A Four Leaf Clover Walk for St. Patrick's Day
May the Luck O’ the Irish Be With You

May the luck o’ the Irish be with you today! Celebrate with a Four Leaf Clover Walk.

Even if you aren’t Irish, this is the one day that we all feel a little Irish as we celebrate the day together. Traditionally, I think of this day as one where people gather in pubs for a green beer, kids eat green cupcakes, gold chocolate coins jingle in pockets, and we lookout for little leprechauns of luck. OK, maybe that last one is only in our dreams. Yet, it is a day to remember the Irish and to bring a little luck into one’s life.

Today’s holiday is a bit different given we are asked to not gather together. No school, no work, no meeting at the pub — however, we are encouraged to get out into nature, as long as we keep our distance from one another. In that light, today is a perfect day for a four leaf clover walk.

It takes us out into nature. If you have children at home, what better way to spend part of the school day with them today? Bundle up and head to a park. When you arrive, give them the guideline that you are the hunt for four leaf clovers. If they have not seen them before, show them a few examples on line before you head out.

Now, these are not always the easiest to find. So, expand the hunt and let them find any items in nature that look like a four leaf clover, are just green, or any other item that remind them of Ireland. Afterwards, when you gather together, it will be a great opportunity to share what was found and why they picked up the items they chose. It is an opportunity to get creative and use one’s imagination in nature using this lucky Irish day as inspiration.

When you arrive home, pull out heavy card stock, glue, and any other art supplies you may have on hand and let your children create a lucky collage for the day. Not only will you have gotten out on an excursion for the day, but also had a chance to be creative on this special day.

Even without kids, take your own lucky break in nature and let your mind wander as to what reminds you of the Irish on this day. Pick up a few things and place them on your desk – or anywhere else in your home – to remind you of the beauty of nature and your own imagination to connect a holiday to the natural world.

It’s a lucky day! Get out into nature and find some four leaf clovers today!

Creativity Burst: Art Mobiles

An art mobile hangs and moves in the wind

Are you drawn to art that may not be traditional? If so, you may want to think about hanging up an art mobile – one that you have bought or made yourself. Given I am not very artsy, I wonder how an art mobile would turn out if I actually tried to make one. I am so fascinated with art mobiles, I may just give it a shot.

There is something about delicate pieces of paper, fabric, or other materials (mix and matched even) hanging off of the ceiling, perhaps twirling, perhaps shining (depending on the material) that not only captures my attention, but also gives me a moment to pause and appreciate how something simple and delicate can capture my mind for a little bit of time.

A little bit of time that may refresh me, have me think of something new, help me see the light of the day through a different filter. If there is an art mobile around, I always remind myself to look up and appreciate it hanging there. To better appreciate and see the space I am in in this present moment.

If I were to create an art mobile, it could be as simple as gathering paper, crayons or colored pencils, scissors, string, and a piece of wire to suspend my creative, colorful pieces of paper from. If you were to add a hook to your ceiling, you would have an interesting art piece made by you. Children love little art projects like this, but adults can also enjoy creating an art mobile for themselves too.

Art mobiles provide an outlet to take one’s mind away from whatever is going on and take in the world in a new way. I may just try making one this spring. Butterflies come to mind — along with the bees, of course.