It ended before it started …

Since late 2019 I have been preparing to deliver a Course for our local University of the Third Age called “Unleash Your Creative Spirit”. I put myself through the course for the second time and allowed all sorts of creative ideas to flourish. In some ways I turned my house upside down in the process. I have already shared some of those experiences in previous blogs.

Eighteen people enrolled and I divided them into two groups – morning and afternoon. It was due to start this Thursday 26 March and run for eight weeks (2 hours per fortnight).

I don’t think I need to tell you the cause of the cancellation! We can never predict what is going to happen from one day to the next. I am sure that is a lesson we are all coming to terms with in the time of this pandemic. It is really challenging my expectations of how I would like the world to be. I am trying to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. I have taken comfort in the Stoic philosophers and the following quote in particular:

THE BEST RETREAT IS IN HERE, NOT OUT THERE!

The Daily Stoic message for 21 March says:

“People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things. But this is entirely the trait of a base person, when you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul – especially if on close inspection it is filled with ease, which I say is nothing more than being well ordered. Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.’

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

Former Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher.

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

Going back in order to go forward

Barbara Mallon (A Year of Creativity) says that:

Sometimes in order to go forward you have to go back to earlier times when the path you were starting out on was still covered in virgin snow.

She poses the following questions and suggests you write your responses in your Creative Year Journal. I will include my answers to the questions in this blog.

My favourite childhood game was…. “let’s pretend.” This included dress-ups, shop keepers, TV characters …

The best TV program I saw as a child was … Lassie Come Home or Black Velvet or Mr Ed. I also loved Popeye cartoons …

My earliest memory of school was … my very first day! I did not want to stay there and I got stuck into Sister Kevin by kicking and screaming – much to my mother’s horror!

The toy I loved most was … paper dolls that you could dress in paper dresses (anyone remember them?), dolls & teddy bears, musical jewelry box and wind-up toys.

If I had the perfect childhood I would have grown up to be … the person I am now but maybe would have got there a bit quicker in a more favorable environment.

The best gift anyone could have given me as a child would have been … their full and undivided attention.

NB My answers included multiple items whereas the questions mostly asked for one thing. I couldn’t decide so included those strongest in my memory.

Even if you don’t want to blog your answers you may enjoy giving some thought to what your answers might be. My answers were a surprise to me!

Favourite Colours

What are your favourite colours? Do you have them liberally spread throughout your home?

The book, A Year of Creativity by Brenda Mallon asks:

Are you sensitive to colours (colors) that go together or colours that clash?

Brenda Mallon

That got me thinking about my home and the colours I have chosen throughout. I took some pics to give a sample of what appeals to me. None of these choices came from logic – they were all from the heart!

So there is blue, yellow, orange and white background. A long time ago someone told me that yellow or gold are positive, happy colours and I believe that is true. Mixing the golds with blue and orange, to me at least, is striking! When our gold curtains were installed I was rather shocked at their bold statement but I have never regretted getting them!

Trusting creative ideas? Mmm …

I have been revamping my room (formerly called ‘my office’) to be a more creative space. Recently I bought a lovely new mat and was concerned the wheels on my ‘office’ chair might damage it.

I started looking for a swivel chair without wheels. I looked at hundreds of sites but found very few. I found one that is quite unusual but discovered it would cost me over $200 to have it delivered. Then the company had 48 hours free transport. I made the decision to choose the unusual one and get it delivered.

It arrived today and needed some putting together but now I am wondering if I was too impulsive.

Should I have been more sensible? I have found a spot for the bears at least! This could end up being a bigger project with me totally reoganising my room to suit the chair. I think I will sleep on it (not the chair)!

Translating Creative Ideas into Action

If you get an idea that inspires you to do something creative, what is your first response? “A Year of Creativity by Brenda Mallon”

I would be interested to hear your responses to the above question. I sat down and wrote a reply straight away. My computer is almost always where I head first to do some research and then some more research!

Next I will print out what information or images are most relevant to what I want. If that is a bundle of paper I will put it in a file and give it a name. What happens next may well be the more important question! Sometimes I will get discouraged but other times I may leave the ideas to incubate for some time.

It seems that this year (2020) is the time I will get these folders out and dust them off and come up with some action plans. One idea in particular comes to mind, and that is drawing ground images of rivers as viewed from above – bird’s eye view.

Photo by Svanur Gabriele on Pexels.com

PS Confession here – I shared my ideas with a friend who is an accomplished artist and she showed me several of her paintings she had done on this topic. I became discouraged – but I haven’t written it off!

Creativity can involve hard work!

Some time ago I found some letters my mother wrote to me in the early 1980’s. We didn’t have phone access as we were living in a remote community in North West Australia so we tended to write to each other regularly instead.

Over time I have collated the letters, numbered the pages of the 38 letters and then scanned them last week with a photo scanning app. It took me ages but now I have captured them electronically it feels great.

My plan is to include these letters on another blog I have started (Stories from Letters) but it is not public yet and may not be for quite a while. The purpose is to capture some family memories in a space other family members can visit. It will help with my overall idea of some sort of memoir. I am open to however it may develop.

Below is a sample – just the first page, of one of the letters. My Mum passed away in 2005 but as I read the letters I can see her so clearly!

to be continued …

Progress on the Creative Space

Recently I wrote about enhancing our environment to best support creativity. I am gradually making changes to my “office” (might need to change what I call the space!) to encourage me to be more creative.

This week I made a simple change and it has made all the difference. I have three desks in my room and I set up one with various creative projects that I started (and not completed). The space didn’t feel right until I moved my files for the two committees I do volunteer ‘work’ for. Once I moved them it felt so much better!

I also purchased a new mat for the floor. I was going to replace the carpet but the mat seemed so much easier and I got instant gratification without all the hassle of moving furniture etc.

I love my new mat!

Once the space felt right I spent some time there looking through my past projects. About four years ago I attempted to make a start on a memoir. I got as far as writing two pages of information for each decade of my life up until then. It made it seem manageable to do it that way. I printed out the pages I had written and put them in a nice new file. I found other bits and pieces (journal writing bits and pieces) that I was able to add to it. Who know where it may lead!

The two bears are there to remind me to have fun but also I don’t know where else to put them! I have been known for collecting teddy bears :).

Finding Balance & Creativity

I have two elements in mind with this post: psychological and physical.

One of the things that has scares me a bit about creativity is getting caught up in it! I remember as a teenager making my own clothes. I would get so carried away I could not stop until I finished the job! Sound familiar to anyone? I think it is being “in the flow” where nothing else matters except what is in front of you. Not such a bad thing in a world full of distractions.

The other element being physical – in this case, in creating an environment that is pleasant and comfortable to work/create in I am faced with the dilemma of having too many books. Some may say we can never have too many books! Books that I am unlikely to read again. I look at them and think, “That was a great book. I may want to share it with someone one day and I will get annoyed that I disposed of it.” Can you relate to that? I could pass them on to our Village Library but I don’t. Is it selfish to hang onto them when others might get pleasure from reading them? I don’t know!

Creative Enhancement

A little book called “A Year of Creativity” by Brenda Mallon (Andrews McMeel Publishing) sits on my desk. A friend has lent it to me for ideas for the course I will be leading this term. It is rich with ideas and suggestions to explore. It is divided into twelve chapters and I thought I would share Chapter 5 (or Month 5 as the book calls it) titled Creative Enhancement.

There is a little questionnaire below (with my responses) from the chapter:

  • Have you got fresh flowers in your home? NO
  • Have you got any pictures hanging on your walls? YES
  • Have you got any photographs in your room? YES
  • Are you wearing clothes that delight you? NO but they are okay!
  • Can you smell your favourite perfume? NO
  • Have you got an inspirational book by your bed? NO but does a book on Stoicism count?
  • Have you listened to any special music in the last 24 hours? NO
  • How long is it since you went for a walk in the countryside or by the sea? TOO LONG since I live in the country and close to the beach.
  • When was the last time your prepared yourself some special food? TODAY (some lovely fresh fish).
  • Are the clothes you are wearing comfortable and pleasing to you? YES they are okay.

The writer goes on to say if we are not cherishing these things then our lives may be diminished. I need to take note and work on the areas where I didn’t fare too well.

A Creativity Challenge

Do you fancy joining me in a 30 Day Creativity Challenge?

First, let’s jump ahead to the back story – next year (late March) I will be leading a small group of seniors (through our local University of the Third Age) in a course titled, Unleashing Your Creative Spirit. I thought it would be good to get my creativity muscles toned in the lead up to it.

If you are interested in joining me in the Challenge you can read about it in the following website and documents:

Inspired by Melissa Harfiel’s Tips for Undertaking a Daily Creativity Challenge: click HERE

Have a read of the documents and see if it appeals to you. The Writing Prompts documents is about 8 pages so you may want to just keep an electronic copy handy.

Day One of the Challenge will be on Monday 9 December for me but you can start when you are ready. We can share our activities on our blogs using the 30 Day Creativity Challenge tag.

If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a comment in the space provided below.