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. Continue reading

Inner Critic Doll

Inner Critic DollSometimes you get a nudge from the universe. And sometimes that message comes in the form of a cute, squishy doll.

The past few weeks, I have been wrestling with my Inner Critic. I used to think of the Inner Critic in terms of something that got in the way of my writing by stifling my creativity. But creativity is more than just producing a story or a painting or a song. I’ve always believed that – or at least said I believed that – but I lately I have been developing a deeper appreciation of how living life and moving through the world is a creative act. And how my Inner Critic effects the way I do that every day.

I think of my Inner Critic as the part of me that is working overtime to keep me “safe.” And not in a good way. It’s almost like the Inner Critic was once burned on the stove and is now determined to keep me away from all stoves – ever, for the rest of me life – oh my god watch out for the stove! – using whatever means possible. The Inner Critic is heavily invested in what others think, winning favor, scoring points, gathering things, meeting expectations and being in control.

The Inner Critic isn’t all bad; its job is to keep us in check. Continue reading

Dancing with Resistance and Getting my House in Order

It’s Halloween. I woke to a Facebook picture of a friend in green translucent makeup. I got my morning coffee from a guy dressed like Waldo. If this year is like the past several I will again and again wonder why a big bearded guy dressed as a ballerina is buying cold medicine, or the teller at the bank is doing Elvis impressions. It’s not that I don’t like Halloween, I do. I guess I just have a short attention span.

It’s good weather for Halloween today. It’s foggy and dark and even now, at ten in the morning, I can imagine spirits emerging from behind the parked cars and making their way through the strip mall parking lot toward me. The space between this world and whatever world lies just out of sight seems very narrow today.

It is a good day to get ready for an adventure.

November is National Novel Writing Month. If you know about it, you know the drill. 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1667 words a day. Every day. For 30 days. There is only one way to do it, realistically: no edits, not questions, no doubts. Chris Baty, the founder compares it to snapping the rearview mirrors off your car and driving as fast as you can. Continue reading

Everyone Has One and They All Smell

It happened again this week. Multiple times in fact. Someone had a Great Idea*. Some of them were pretty good ideas, I have to admit. I am not sure I personally would have called any of them Great, but to each their own. But to be honest, I am growing tired of Great Ideas. They bring out the cranky old woman in me. Oh, you’ve got a Great Idea? Stand in line. I’ve had more Great Ideas than you’ve had hot dinners. I’ve got Great Ideas that are older than your shoes.

…or something.

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Book Review: Steal Like An Artist

Steal this book. No not that book. This one.

Well, you should probably buy a copy. Just because I stole the copy I am currently reading doesn’t mean you should follow me down this felonious path. In all honesty, I will be giving Anne back her copy, although it is totally her fault I stole it. When you give someone the keys to your house and then leave a book called Steal Like An Artist on your coffee table, what do you expect that person to do? Feed your dogs or something?

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On Ghosts, Coffee Shops and Ruts

I am spending my afternoon in a coffee chop nearly 30 miles from my house.  Several things had to line up just so to bring me here.

First and foremost, I skipped out on my plans for the morning. I was supposed to go to a morning prayer retreat. Well, I say “supposed” but what I really mean was planned. I didn’t have to register or pay. A few people were expecting to see me, but only because I told them I would be there. The alarm went off this morning – the only morning in two weeks when I can sleep in – and I decided I needed a “me day.” And more sleep.

The second thing is that I have been feeling restless lately. I know myself well enough to know this feeling creeps up on me, often get this way in the spring and fall. Something about the equinox makes me want to hit the road, get away, be someone else, be in a new place. Migrate. I have a theory I evolved from Canada Geese. Adding to that restlessness is my ghosts. My ghosts have been active lately. This too happens occasionally, but not as regularly. I find myself thinking of people I have not thought of for years. Distant relatives, deceased family members, long-lost friends, old loves, that weird guy in college.

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What Do You Practice?

That was my question to the room of 7th and 8th graders.

I got the expected answers: hockey, piano, skiing, French, multiplication tables, juggling, lines in a play. Then, without me even have to nudge them, they started going deeper. Good manners. Patience. Tolerance.

The plan was to teach this group of kids about spiritual practices. It’s difficult topic for adults to get their heads wrapped around. I figured it would be even harder for a group of kids that would rather be playing foosball. But – and if you have ever watched a sappy movie you know where this paragraph is going – they ended up teaching me more.

Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say they helped me discover new ways to think and talk about the Art of Practice.

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