Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creativity in Business...

When I first began this adventure just over 6 months ago, I had visions of setting out a clear pattern to each day, imposing my Creativity on the world around me.  Instead of being the teacher, I became the student.  Creativity gently and persistently reminded me that I learned best when I kept myself open to possibilities, looked for opportunities instead of answers and just kept walking this journey to see where it would lead me.

Right after my last post, I received a call from an ad agency here in town who wanted to meet with me to look over my portfolio and quote on a job for a possible colouring book for one of their clients.  I stayed up printing things out, reorganizing my portfolio and booked the day off from supply teaching so that I could meet with them first thing in the morning.

Once I arrived at the agency, I discovered that most of the staff was French, so I just switched languages and did the rest of the interview “en français”.  To my slight disappointment, they’d received permission to use the Nova Scotia version of the colouring book and just needed me to redraw some items that were different between our two provinces on 4 inner pages and the cover.  It would have been easy to match the existing style of the book, but it wouldn’t have been something I would have wanted to show off.

Then the little voice of Creativity whispered in my ear as the person interviewing me went off to make me photocopies.  When she returned, I told her that I would be happy to quote on the 5 pages needed, but that for $200, I would also offer to redraw all of the pages and make it something unique to our province.  

I returned home and quickly spent the next hour redrawing one of the sample pages in my own style, scanned it in and sent it off to the agency so that she could submit it to their client along with the quote.

Today, I found out that I not only got the job, but they will get me to draw the whole book and I meet with them on Monday.

It pays to listen to that little whisper and not ignore it. It may have taken me half a year into this adventure, but I am learning.  Oh Boy... am I learning!  They’ve also asked me to quote on 2 other jobs...

INHALE:  Life has cycles and opportunities.  This past week has been a reminder of how much we need to respect that cycle instead of just expecting to impose our will on the world around us so that every day proceeds according to some inner plan.  The unexpected Snow Day yesterday was another reminder that plans sometimes have to change.  Substitute teaching at a new school today where I ended up jumping in to help a student teacher with her lesson instead of just sitting back and twiddling my thumbs was a reminder that there can be Creativity in unexpected opportunities.  The students were learning about travel vocabulary in French at a very basic level, so I drew a huge suitcase on the white board and asked them what they would take on a trip.  If they didn’t know the word in French, they had to look it up in the dictionary before I would draw it in.

EXHALE:  What possibilities and opportunities might have you overlooked in the past few days because they didn’t fit in to the little plan or template that you were carrying around in your head?  When our lives become too scheduled, then we miss out on unexpected moments and Creative opportunities.  So many business experts proclaim that when you find your passion, it can also become a business or a way to bring income into your life.  While I know that when a hobby become a source of income, it does take on a more businesslike edge to it and lose some of the fun, there is also something very powerful about loving what you do.

Never lose sight of opportunities to be Creative at play and at work.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Be Creative In Your Failure...

It was a rough week.  I filled in for a resource teacher at my daughter’s high school again this week which meant that I was not only filling the new SEP information (Specialized Education Plan) into the computer systems for the new terms that just started, I could also be pulled out for any emergency supply work in the building.

Part of that included shepherding a group of 14 students down to a conference at a downtown hotel where they were fed lunch and then became test subjects for a new pilot program to help Grade 10 students determine their career paths, their dreams, their goals and their FOCUS.

As someone who has tried to live my focus for 33 years now, I found this both inspiring and incredibly depressing.  

Inspiring, because there are so many more choices for young people than there were in my day going through high school and anything that helps them figure out where their gifts, talents and passions lie is a good thing.

Depressing because I have tried to be true to myself throughout my whole career path in all the ways I have juggled Creativity with other work, motherhood and daily tasks... but I watched my income from something I had built up over 16 years crumble to almost nothing thanks to the Internet and people who felt no guilt about scanning in my cross stitch patterns to share illegally with others. 

Sometimes, in the darkest moments of the night, I wonder if I have somehow let my family down by not having a “regular” job that would have built up more job security, benefits and pension over the years and just done my art as a “hobby”.

Then I take a deep breath and remember that working from home gave me time with my children that no money could ever buy back.  I see the proof of those years in the young women they are becoming.

I exhale and remember that I have had the joy of seeing my name in print in magazines and on bookshelves.

I inhale and realize that I have tried more often than I have failed...

and that is what being Creative every day as a way of life is all about.  It is supposed to be as easy as breathing. It is supposed to be something we just do without thinking.  It will probably take me the rest of my life to learn how to do this without my own daily worries, frustrations, criticisms or failures getting in the way.

So be Creative in everything you do... even the moments you think of as failures.  If you look at them from another angle, you’ll probably discover a new perspective.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

INHALE:  Remember not to judge yourself by the current world standards.  I see kids who think that they have to be “discovered”, become as famous as Miley Cyrus or as wealthy as the Olsen Twins before they become adults.  They dream of being on television, in movies and of taking You Tube by storm.  Adults think that they must live in huge homes, drive flashy vehicles and have all the outward trappings of SUCCESS... in order to prove that they have lived their lives right.  They need all the right things and logos in their lives or  need to become brands in their own right for the world to stand up and take notice.  The recent disaster in Haiti and other world events keep reminding us that we need far less than that to stay alive, far more basic things to truly be happy and that the basic human, creative spirit is a powerful, creative force in its own right.  Take a deep breath and just take each day at a time.

EXHALE:  Today’s exhalation is in honour of the Olympics underway right now in Vancouver and the overwhelming Creativity displayed last night during the Opening Ceremonies.  Find a quiet corner and take some time to think about areas in your life that you are truly satisfied with.  Not all successes can be measured in monetary means or by the world’s standards.  With Fimo, tinfoil, glitter, ribbon, Photoshop or anything else that inspires you, make a medal or a trophy to celebrate at least one achievement that you are proud of and tuck it into your keepsake box, sketchbook or put it out on display.  Be proud of the ways in which you’ve been true to yourself, your beliefs and your Creativity!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Creativity In How We Share Our Faith...

I wish I’d brought my camera to church today!! 

It was a snowy Sunday and our Annual Meeting right after church, so some members of our congregation stayed home today, but we began a new unit in our BLAST rotation (Bible Learning Adventure STations) downstairs for the kids during church.

After they chose whether to put their offering in the “Helping Here At Home” or “Helping Around the World” boxes, we sat in a circle and introduced the passages from Matthew and Mark where Jesus said “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” 

We talked about what it would be like to leave everything you know behind and start over.

We talked about what it must have been like for the people of Haiti who had to race from their homes into the streets.  My best friend and her son described what it was like to run from their house while it was burning to the ground and starting over from scratch.

Then, we went into the kitchen and made huge fish shaped pizzas.  We spread sauce on flat bread that had been cut in the shapes of fish, sprinkles the cheese on our fish, used pepperoni to make scales on 3 out of the 4 fish and used sliced black olives for the eyes.

Not only was it a creative way to share the stories of our faith... it was DELICIOUS!

INHALE:  How do you pass on your faith to those around you, especially the next generation.  However you celebrate what you believe and where you draw strength from, fewer people are attending services in many different faiths around the world.  Worship is becoming an increasingly personal and private thing for many people, yet we cannot ignore the importance of gathering together to celebrate that there IS more to life than just the number of our days.

EXHALE: This week, as the world focusses on Valentine’s Day and LOVE, remember to find time for yourself as well.  How can you be Creative in celebrating what you believe?  Can you set up a space for yourself in which to meditate or pray? Can you hunt for books, prayers or music that inspires you?  Can you share your faith journey’s story with someone who has never heard the adventure before? Can you write a prayer of love for a planet that needs it?  Can you celebrate the blessings that you have by sharing your time and talents with others?  Be Creative as you follow in the footsteps of the One who sculpted the Universe.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting The Whole Family to Exercise...

As anyone knows, getting everyone to cooperate when it comes to being healthy and moving  more can sometimes be a challenge.  Last night, however, it was fun and easy.

The City of Moncton organized a “Zumba For Haiti ” night in our Coliseum's Agrena complex.  On the cement floor where trade shows are usually held, a huge stage and sound system were set up, waivers signed and each person attending paid $5.00 to dance/exercise to music for an hour and a half.

For those of you who have never done Zumba (which up until last night included my 2 daughters) it is hard to describe this new form of exercise.  Yes, there are routines that you can follow, but if you need to make things lower impact (like I do) or you lose track of where you are (like everyone does their first time) or the spirit moves you otherwise, you can just dance around to the great music.

Now picture over 500 people dancing around to routines in front of a rock concert like stage.

Now picture how much fun we had as a family.

The event raised over $3400 as well as our target heart rates.  It was a BLAST!

Yup, you can be Creative in how you get your kids to move more... it just really helps when someone else makes it for a good cause!  

INHALE:  Until I discovered Zumba and Wii Fit Plus, I will admit I’d fallen into a bit of an exercise rut.  Yes, I was still moving, but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I am now.  The sense of play that both these forms of exercise offer, as well as the ability to customize my workout to suit the health challenges of degenerative disk disease, have made staying in shape FUN.  When something is fun, you want to do it more and more.  There is the creativity we need to pass on to the next generation.

EXHALE:  Having fun together is the best way to encourage those you love to join you in moving more.  It doesn’t have to be as vigorous a workout as Zumba.  This time last year, after a heavy snowfall, our family went for a walk in the woods near our house for almost an hour through the deep snow, leaping for snow laden branches to drop down on each other and pitching snowballs around tree trunks.  Leaving seeds for birds, exploring new walking trails, doing housework as a family to rocking tunes.  This week, be creative and find a way to get everyone in your family moving, for their health and yours!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Passing Creativity On...

Yes... I did break down and buy some new wool in Geneva!

I took today “off” from teaching since Erin’s exam had been rescheduled to this morning after Friday’s snowstorm.  It was great to be in my own home, download photos and finally get to show off the results of knitting in airports.

Here are the socks I’d been meaning to finish for ages.  Getting stuck for ages in airports is a wonderful incentive, great conversation starter and even had one “lapsed knitter” thinking about checking out some of the new yarns...

I also found the circular needles for this project easy to pack.  Here is a peek at the last of several baby blankets I’ve been working  on for staff members at schools I work in who are expecting babies soon.  It is basically just a larger version of my favourite dishcloth patterns but using baby yarn instead.  It was great to work on when the kids were watching a video or while I was talking to people.

When we see someone being Creative, it can inspire us to try something ourselves.  This is how so many people learned crafts and other creative trades over the years, by watching someone else practice in front of them.

I bought a craft book about sewing for Bethany as a Christmas present that has fascinated her for weeks.  While I was away, she started one of the projects with her grandmother, but yesterday showed me a picture of some felt hearts and asked if I could help her make one.

Ah the memories!  My mom had a huge stash of felt and used to let us play with the scraps to sew into all kinds of shapes.  I took Bethany down to my felt stash and we pulled out a few colours that she liked and cut out the shapes together.  Step by step, I walked her through things as I knit beside her on the couch.  As I showed her how to do the blanket stitch about the outside edge, I had a sudden flashback to my own childhood and all of the times my mother or grandmother had shown me how to do something.

Here’s to those who help to pass Creativity on!

INHALE: The wonderful thing about the Internet is that you can find all kinds of helpful clips out there on YouTube or other websites to help you learn how to do something, but there is still something unique about sitting down with another person, especially someone more skilled in an area that you want to improve in, and learning from them.  Being shown how to do something is a very powerful way of learning that stays with us in a different way from book knowledge.  To “learn by doing” makes a skill or Creative act your own.

EXHALE: There are many skills that are becoming “lost arts” these days.  So many children don’t know how to sew a button on when it falls off clothing, sand or carve a piece of wood into a shape, cook a meal from scratch, knit, nail, crochet, saw, fix or sew.  What used to be learned from family or through earning badges is being replaced by gaming and computer skills.  There needs to be room for both in our lives.  What skills do you have, what Creative passions can you share with someone from a younger generation?  If you don’t have anyone to share with right now, think back to some of the earliest crafts you enjoyed and revisit them.  Get out some felt or popsicle sticks and just see what you can put together as you rediscover that sense of Creative Play from your childhood.