Overthinking and Creativity

My daughter shared this article on Facebook and dedicated it to all her 6s.

Apparently research shows that people who tend to be anxious and overthink are more creative. They don’t say than who. People who underthink and are too calm I guess.

I am just enough of a contrarian to be suspicious of this conclusion. (But not so much that I didn’t take a moment to bask self-congratulation.) I am leery of people who say “This is creativity. This is what it is like and what it takes to get it.” I cringe when anyone talks about this or that group being more creative that another group. I have stood, tired and sweaty, over a problem I solved after days of trial and error only to be told I didn’t understand what it was like to be creative. I have had people gush over my creativity when what I had just done seemed dull and mundane to me. I am beginning to think creativity is wild and wooly and way bigger than we usually think.

Having said that, I am interested in the idea that worry is the mother of invention. I like the idea that the constant whirring that is my brain is serving a useful purpose. Sometimes it is, granted. Often it just seems like a wild creature pacing the cage – frantically treading the same worn paths and occasionally gnawing at the bars.

Last year, in an enneagram discussion group I led for 6s, someone said he used his anxiety as rocket fuel. That might be a little extreme, but it makes sense. There is energy in fear and anxiety. Creativity requires energy. Sixes have a choice. We can let that energy send us into a spiral of anxiety, anger and reactivity or we can put it to use.

In a letter of reference, someone once wrote about me: “Beth is detailed-oriented, but can also see the Big Picture. If you want someone to help you create a vision and then figure out how to put it into action, you can’t do better.” It was one of the best things anyone has ever said about me. That’s the six in me. I can feel where that comes from. I need to know where I am going and how I am going to get there and what the road blocks might be and how I will get around them or over them or through them. And every step of that takes creativity.

If you are a six, I would love to know what you think about the article I shared and how you see creativity showing up in your life. If you’re not a six, what the heck, go on and share. Let us know your type and how it effects your creativity.

Want to know more about the enneagram? Check out this post I wrote a few years back.

It’s What We Do

This past weekend, I set my alarm for Too Early on A Saturday O’clock, showered, dressed up and then grumpily drove for two hours into the heart of Minnesota farm land. I had a funeral to attend. The father of a friend of mine had passed peacefully at 92 years old and, well, I guess we needed to bear witness. It was not my first choice of weekend activities, to be honest. But it need to be done.

So we gathered in the church, heard and said all the right things. Then we ate the ritual ham sandwiches on white buns and drank the instant lemonade. We made the required small talk. We toasted Leonard’s memory with the traditional weak, lukewarm coffee. Such are the Middle American Christian funeral rites. Continue reading

Book Review: God Rest Ye Stressed Communicators

stressed communicatorsThe Center for Church Communicators  has another book out. This one just in time for Christmas planning. I wrote a review for Amazon, so I won’t go into much detail here. (My review shouldn’t be hard to find, since at this writing it’s still the only one there.)

Like most of the books created and published by CCC, it’s a collection of small articles written by the folks who actual did the thing the article is about. It’s a way for people to share and learn from each other. Very skim-able. The articles tend to be light on logistics and details, maybe too light for some. Sometimes it’s too light on details for me. But it’s a GREAT idea generator and conversation starter. In fact I had trouble finishing it, because every third article had me dropping the book to send someone an email or make a note to talk to someone else.

Highly recommended for anyone in any aspect of making Christmas go well in a church setting.

At the moment only the Kindle Edition is available, but I have it on good authority the print version is on the way.

UPDATE: The print edition is now available as well.

Trust Falling

I am beginning to think I learned one of my biggest lessons about trust in high school.* I was a dumpy, clumsy girl. At least that’s how I felt. I was heavier than most girls and was always, always aware of that. I walked through life half wincing, so that when everyone started laughing at me, I was prepared.

Our school was hosting a gathering of kids – including foreign exchange students – from other schools in the area. We played team games and getting-to-know-you games. Then came the dreaded trust exercises. Continue reading

My Spiritual Practice of Asking for Help

I can tell anyone the universe has their back. I will try to convince anyone and everyone it will work out, the world is a benevolent place and whatever Gods they care to believe in are on their side. I have been called a “terminal optimist” and I’ll take it. I really DO believe it will all turn out all right.

For everyone except for me.

Welcome to the inner world of an enneatype six. Continue reading

What Other People Say

Years ago, one of the leaders of the company I was working for harshly criticized me and left me feeling incompetent and stupid. I shared my feelings with the owner of the company. Instead of empathizing or assuring me I was not an idiot, she said “When people say things about you it has very little to do with you. It has more to do with them. The sooner you realize that, the easier life will be.”

It blew me away.

I didn’t need to take to heart everything people said about me. I didn’t even need to push back against it. It simply didn’t apply. It wasn’t my business. It was an interior monologue that had had slipped out through the speaker’s mouth.

Continue reading


Keys and I have always had a complicated relationship. I grew up in a small town and my folks grew up in an even smaller town. I don’t know about no one ever locking their doors, but we rarely did. Keys were a thing grown-ups did. I rarely locked the house I raised my daughter in. I rarely lock my car. But I love the look and sound of keys, especially old ones. I have trouble throwing them away, even if the building or car they open doesn’t exist anymore.

They still signal doing grown up right
The problem with keys is they don’t follow me everywhere like a besotted puppy. They stay behind – usually right where I left them, dammit—instead of being where I need them. I have become adept at breaking (or weaseling) my way into places – apartments, theaters, churches, schools – without my keys. I have climbed piles of old tires, boosted myself off car hoods, dropped to basement floors, jimmied locks and woken caretakers.

But keys and I had a particularly rough morning today.

Continue reading