It’s the Year of the Rooster – I was born under the Chinese sign of the Rooster. Always thought it to be a curse I was born under a sign that wasn’t fertile enough to lay an egg or two.
According to my friend Sharon Bonin-Pratt (whose last post inspired this post) People born under the sign of the Rooster are hardworking, funny, trustworthy and talented.
I’m not hardworking, at times am funny, almost always trustworthy, and have latent talents that get laid but never hatched.
This Rooster year started off with a cold virus that delights roaming the cozy recesses of my sinus passages. It’s day 11 (but who’s counting). I’ve been a total slug – no energy, no resolve which gives me a perfect excuse for not making New Years’ resolutions.
(The truth be told, I never make resolutions for the New Year – learned long ago that when I inevitably fail to keep a resolution it leads to feeling badly.)
What energy I have has been directed toward resolving to be more creative this year.
In preparation I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can find on how to break my creative block and stop procrastinating.
Most everything I read about procrastination indicates that we procrastinate when we don’t want to do something that is not enjoyable. Being a master procrastinator I also procrastinate with things that bring me enjoyment.
For inspiration, I read blogs of people who write, read or draw daily – all things which bring me enjoyment. I feel badly I’m not like them which leads me to read articles on procrastination and meeting goals (I know how to set them, just not meet them).
Finally the article below has liberated me! I know what to blame:
My dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is lazy . . . not me.
“What is it exactly that helps us be creative? What fuels us when we get into an especially productive work flow? What makes the hours disappear when our brains focus on a task?”
“What, in other words, is happening in our brains when we’re being creative?”
“Cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says we know a little bit about what’s going on. Berlin studies the neuroscience of imagination, creativity and improvisation. And for those people who might be facing writer’s block? “There’s really no prescribed medication,” Berlin says. “There is no real magic pill.”’
Instead, she says, creativity depends on which part of the brain you might be using.
“When [people] are improvising, there tends to be a pattern of activation where they have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” Berlin says. “And that part of the brain has to do with your sense of self, your sort of inner critic, making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”
“Translation? When you’re at your most creative, “basically you lose your sense of self,” Berlin says. “You kind of release your inhibition. The second you become too self-aware that comes back online and you lose that flow state.”’
“In addition to losing inhibitions, people who are in a creative state have increased activation in a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, which has to do with the internal generation of ideas. In other words, the ideas are coming from within.”
“Some people, when they’re in the flow state … a lot of people say ‘It feels like it’s flowing through me. It’s coming from someplace else,’ you know, ‘It’s coming so naturally I don’t even have to think about it,’” Berlin says. “It’s called liberation without attention. You can only keep a certain number of variables in mind when you’re thinking about something consciously. But if you let it go, you actually can come to a greater understanding because the unconscious can do much more complex processing.”
“For those suffering from creative block, Berlin has some practical advice:”
“You have to take in all the information and then go for a walk,” Berlin says. “Go out, do something else. Because those people who sit there and just obsess over thinking about it too much, using your prefrontal cortex you’re actually limiting yourself. So letting it go can actually help you get over, let’s say a writer’s block or a creative block.”
I’d go for a walk but I have a cold. Maybe some other time . . .
The theme for July is “Journey”. Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday. The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.
People could share as much or as little as they chose. It was a wonderful group of women. (All you men, where are you?!!!!)
Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!
To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!
“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith
People have me confused. You can read that in several ways but for now let’s just take it as most people think I am something I’m not.
I was painfully shy in grade school. So much so that my parents worried about my socialization skills. They pushed me, encouraged me to put myself “out there” which being the obedient, wanting to please child that I was I complied. I joined clubs, ran for office, went to dances all the while feeling like I didn’t really belong and was a bit of an imposter.
All that practice in school – putting myself “out there” has been helpful as an adult. Most people would describe me as extroverted. But in the privacy of my own heart I’d rather be by myself. It’s simple – I NEED to be alone to regenerate my physical energy and stimulate my thinking.
I’m an introvert. Susan Cain will explain it in this excellent TedTalk:
Watch it even if you are an extrovert it will help explain most of your friends or family members!
I’d forgotten how I’d lay on a blanket on the front lawn when I was a child finding images in the passing clouds . . . until I saw this:
“You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.”
“. . . The art class I am taking is taught by a . . . woman . . . who is sucking the life and joy out of her students. She has already separated me from a nice woman I met there. No one is allowed to talk . . . I once, shall we say, talked back to her and I felt like I was Norma Rae. Hence, I will be sent to the principal soon, I’m sure. I hate going to the class but I want to stick it out for myself. She is always tense, tells stories, LONG, boring stories (multiple times) about herself and even the barrette that she wears on the side of her hair is annoying.
She is a good artist but as a teacher, HORRIBLE. I am sticking it out . . . [because] it took me years to sign up, to push myself and I am proud of me doing it.”
My heart simply went out to Laurie. She’s landed in a creativity-killer-class. I say she should ask for a refund with added reimbursement for creativity abuse.
Every serious artist I’ve met who went to art school tells tales of how stressful it was. Teacher critiques were at the best uncomfortable and at the least brutal. Now I’m not down on art school – wish I had the opportunity to attend one. I am down on teaching methods that take the joy out of creativity.
Famous MAJOR artists play! – splashing paint (Jackson Pollock), abstracting images until they were “childlike” (Picasso), put together surreal elements (Joan Miro) and all explored and experimented outside the “technique of their time”.
Art should be fun, art should be pushing your own limits with curiosity and adventure not with the goal of doing it “right” or for someone elses approval. Creativity is “PURE PLAY – ” no thought to outcome, function or future” Eric Anderson
P.S. I’m proud of you too Laurie!
Nature or nurture?
Psychosis or neurosis?
Best to never know
Crazy is as crazy does
Just comes naturally
Dopamine System in Highly Creative People
Similar to That Seen in Schizophrenics
“New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institute have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.”
“High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family. Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
“Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people. And now the correlation between creativity and mental health has scientific backing.”
“We have studied the brain and the dopamine D2 receptors, and have shown that the dopamine system of healthy, highly creative people is similar to that found in people with schizophrenia,” says associate professor Fredrik Ullén from Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, co-author of the study that appears in the journal PLoS ONE.”
“Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” says Dr Ullén about his new findings.”
“I’m not creative. I can’t paint. I can’t draw”. Words I hear all the time.
“Yes, You CAN! Creative expression is not about making something look like a photograph. It’s about using color and smushes and dabs and globs to symbolically represent anything you want”. Words I repeat all the time
Take a look at this portrait and poem by Therese Lydia Josef.
Therese shares her world with wonderful color both in paint and words. She teaches children’s classes too. Take a look at some of the kid’s work here. It’s inspiring.
I Want What She’s Having by therese-joseph
gone blurry, my focus gone weak
all I can see:
her savour the flavor – no sharing with me
closed barely, no sense in my cheek
all I can fate:
is fiction aroma of what she just ate
Try it with crayons! They’re not intimidating. They’re cheap.
Life is short. Just have fun.
Take a look at the Tutorial Page for some prompts, ideas, inspirations
While I spent one-on-one time with each participant processing the series of paintings they did (over the four weeks) for meanings, messages and the relationship to his/her life the others made prayer beads and prayer sticks. (whew!, long sentence!). There are a few pictures from the homework using the 3-spiral labyrinth in any way they wanted.
Take a look at the creativity and variety!:
Here’s two “feedbacks”. The other participants, and YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, are still writing them and will send them to me QUICKLY! Right? RIGHT!
Every workshop I do is testimony to the power of THERAPEUTIC CREATIVE EXPRESSION!
“This workshop truly helped me to reconnect with own personal sense of spirituality. I liked the way we addressed spirituality in an open and affirming way with respect for everyone’s individual take on spirituality.
I love the way I learned how to use art to connect with and express my creative and spiritual self. I also learned a lot about how to do art and become an artist . . . and I’m exited – very excited – about taking the next class!” Sandhya Larsen
“Overall – loved it! I’ve needed a creative outlet (expression) for sooo long. In so many ways, this class has really permitted me to develop confidence in myself and acceptance of my process. And the sharing and support of the group was really terrific! Thank you, thank you, thank you! “ Nancie K.
It’s a problem for me to come up with resolutions every year. I lead a pretty good life, I re-cycle paper products & plastic. I exercise fairly regularly. I’m kind to most people and all animals.
2012 I’m resolving to bring more creativity into my daily life. SO! I registered for Journal Art & Memory Keeping with Effy Wild to create a visual journal page daily. NO FEE, NO pressure. I am not holding myself to HAVING to do it every day.
First step: You are to pick one word to focus on as the “theme” for the daily pages. I’ve picked LOVE.
Second step: Find an old book or journal and create the cover.
I decided to re-cycle an old partially used journal for this project. That way I didn’t have to take time to create a journal cover. Although the picture didn’t photo very well you can see it’s generic enough for love.
I did pretty good at keeping my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. It’s good to look back and feel a sense of accomplishment.
2011 I resolved to:
- Loose weight. I lost weight several times.
- Take better care of myself. I got my hair cut regularly and took showers.
- Stay on top of my billing and expense accounts. I got on top of the first 7 months last month and my expense records are neatly thrown in a box and maybe other places.
- Eat healthier. Everytime I ate candy or cookies or ice cream I’ve washed it down with nuts (protein)
- Keep my desk organized. I’ve organized it several times a month (well, maybe every other month . . . or so
- Make How -To -Videos for this blog. I’ve thought about them A LOT.
- Re-cycle and cut down on waste. I put ALL paper & plastic into the re-cycle bin, composted, and turned off the water when I brushed my teeth.
All in all 2011 was a pretty good year for resolutions, wouldn’t you say?
I think I will keep these same 7 resolutions all over again for 2012.
Maybe instead of “love” I should pick “re-cycle”?
Check out Wendy’s new blog! Here’s what she’s doing in her own words and a few of her scribble pictures. She explains the exercises that YOU can try too!
Been getting questions about this on-line activity so here’s more information:
This is NOT my challenge. A group of 16 artist have gotten together and beginning Jan 1st a new theme will be announced each month. Throughout the month the artists will be showing images from their sketchbooks and talking about the intention and inspiration behind them.
Here’s a cut ‘n paste from The sketchbook Challenge Blog:
“Along the way we’ll be sharing tips, techniques and tutorials. We hope that by giving you a peek inside our sketchbooks and showing you how different they all are that we’ll inspire you to start keeping a sketchbook of your own.
Thanks to the generosity of some terrific sponsors we’ll be doing some givewaways and special shopping offers too! “
If you want to experiment with your own sketch book send me photos and I’ll share them (with or without your name) so that
others can be inspired to try it too!
I think this is a fun opportunity to tweak your own CREATIVITYTOTHEMAX whether you periodically just take a look at the artists pages or try it out for yourself.
You don’t have to share/show your pictures, you don’t have to be an artist, you don’t have to have any artistic experience! Just bring your curiosity to see the creative PROCESS in action.
AND IT”S FREE!
I’ll periodically post my SketchBook sketches so you can see it’s NOT about making beautiful pictures. It’s about having fun, experimenting, lowering your blood pressure, reducing your stress and stretching yourself to explore your world!
I’ve put their badge link on the sidebar you can click on to access their blog.