Tag Archives: creativity

Are You Where the Wild Things Are?


Can you still hear the wild things?

“Thou strange piece of wild nature!” Colley Cibber

Lions, four-leaf clovers, and hairs all have wild tendencies.  Though I love to hunt for them, I’m not in their category.

Wild I’m not, but my thoughts are a different story.

These last few weeks, I’ve been reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  If you haven’t read it in a while, you may remember that the little boy was mischievous.  “I will eat you up!” were the words that sent him to his room without supper.  Wild.

My coffee hadn’t kicked in, but later I truly connected with the author.  The wild monsters tell the boy, “We’ll eat you up.  We love you so!”  Of course, the little boy remembers that he loves his mother so much; he wants to eat her up.  The story is also about needing food.  It’s about a hunger for  love and attention, which we all experience when we’re wild.

A young, wild man found himself in the detention center.  He tried to help people, but soon gave up.  He tried to kill himself, and sat in front of us–a mess–still wild, but hopeless.

I admire some parts of the wild, yet I’m happy most of the time to just watch and shake my head.  Wild.  The animal in the woods that crouches down in pursuit of its prey.  Wild.  The person who quits a job to follow a dream.  Wild.  The broadway actress who pours her life on the stage for her supper.  Wild.  The dancer who choreographs her soul.  Wild.  The little girl running around in my head.  Wild.

Sometimes, I’m wild.  Though I conform and listen quietly, I’m wildly screaming out, “You’re boring us all to death!”  To let it out would devastate.  I’d surely be sent to my room.  I’m baring my teeth when I’m given a job that wastes my time.  It’s funny that when I was younger, I didn’t feel bothered by busy work, but now, my time is short.  I’m limited.  Sowing my wild oats has to be done quickly, within some parameters, but with wild intensity.

There are things about which I’m wildly passionate.  I’m wild to free those who limit themselves with their own thinking.  I’m wild to open a cage to set a prisoner free.  I’m wild to balance the lack of opportunity for the poor.  Wild.  It comes in spurts, but can produce more with consistency.

Like the little boy, I used to dream of being in the wild places.  Can I still, or have I been tamed?  When will I dream the visions of God?  He’s ready, but am I Where the Wild Things Are?

“The more wild and incredible your desire, the more willing and prompt God is in fulfilling it, if you will have it so.” Coventry Patmore

Nooks, Holes, Cracks, and Crannies


The cracks define the path.

“Sculpture is the art of the hole and the lump.”  Auguste Rodin

Last night I found myself at a funeral, where a thick carpet of grass lay on the platform under the casket.  Tempted to take off my shoes and enjoy the grass between my toes, I actually felt the casket inviting me to visit.

When life is too busy, I walk past the outlines that form the beauty of the day.  I fail to notice the cracks and crevices filled with their carefully selected grout.  I’ve grown accustomed to the beggar needing a piece of bread and the downcast face of a colleague.  The things in life that invite me to experience real joy go unnoticed.

Jesus shows me a life of real contrast.  Even when pressed in by the crowds, he noticed the touch of a woman with great faith.  He stopped to converse with a small man sitting in a tree.  He heard the cry of a blind man begging for sight.  Of all people who could have been too busy to notice, his example calls me to a different kind of lifestyle.

Today, I hope to consider the nooks, holes, cracks, and crannies.  I hope to notice those things put in front of me rather than passing them by.  I hope I’m reminded that life is brief and that a layer of grass is inviting me home.

Like the grass under the casket, it’s the small details in life that create the big picture.  What’s in the cracks and crevices outlines the events that invite me to involve myself more deeply in life.  As Rodin shapes the clay with its holes and lumps, my life should be the same–a work of art shaped by the master artist.

Day 355: 7 Kinds of Patterns That Spur Us To Create


A beautiful pattern, even with its flaws, can inspire.

“A palindrome is a word or pattern that instead of developing in different directions it folds in on itself so that the beginning and end mirror each other, that they are the same.” Todd Solondz

The word ISUZU irritates me every time I get stuck behind it in a traffic jam.  I’m sure it has a memorable meaning for its market, but I see it as a word falling short of its potential.   You see that the S and the Z can be written backwards, and the U in the middle is fine.  However, the I and the U are not balanced.  Had the owners looked artistically at the potential of the word, they might have called it ISUZI  or USUZU or something that could potentially be flipped forming a palindrome.  Instead, it simply annoys me.

Creative people don’t like to follow patterns, but they do look for patterns that inspire.  We are often spurred onward when we are not bound.

While working through my new resolutions, I’ve been looking at patterns to inspire me for 2012.  Here are a few pattern types that motivate me to create.

1. Patterns that puzzle – Tessellations, made famous by the artist M.C. Eschler, are interesting creations.  Like puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly, making a nice tessellation requires a creative jolt in the brain. When forced to find a new way to make a repeating pattern, we might come up with amazing combinations.  Check out the tessellations.org website and start creating your own tessellation today.

2. Patterns that work – My relative is obsessed with football.  When he watches it, he believes that the way he holds his head, the position of his arm, and various other superstitions has some sort of impact on the game’s outcome.  It’s a bit funny to watch except for the scary fact that he seems to believe it is real.  On the positive side, though, I find that when a certain pattern causes a positive end result, we should probably give it some attention.  For example, last year, I was able to complete two of my New Year resolutions for 365 days (almost there).  Now, I’m focusing on what pattern made those resolutions work and how to repeat the pattern for my new resolutions.

3. Patterns that guide – I find that I often want to create something but simply have no idea how to start.  This is a time when a pattern really helps guide me.  Had I never used a clothes pattern, I may have never been able to produce things when they come into my head.  Those basic patterns give my brain some structure and guidance.  These basics allow me to build ideas and to create beyond the guides.

4. Patterns that limit – I like a project that limits me by time or by resource.  Honestly, when lots of ideas are floating around in my head, it’s hard to  pin one down and focus.  Sometimes I love a contest that gives specific parameters.  Within these limits, I can create let my brain go wild.  Here’s an example where a basic pattern can explode into creative genius.

5. Patterns that break – Last night, I found that one of our nice dishes had broken.  Here’s an opportunity to make something interesting.  I wouldn’t want to break the dish on purpose, but now that it’s broken, I’ll be able to try a mosaic. Sometimes, we find a break in a pattern that draws our attention.  That’s where our creative juices start to flow.

6. Patterns that continue – I’m a science lover because since is so often about looking for patterns.  It interests me to no end that we can find a huge model like the universe and see its repetition in a tiny model like an atom.  It’s amazing how nature mimics us and how we mimic nature.  Patterns that continue can give us the “stuff” we need to start a new creation.

7. Patterns that are memorable – A good thing about patterns is that they often help our memory.  Think of a great poem from childhood.  We likely remember it because the pattern was predictable enough that our brain enjoyed keeping it around.  Of course we often have to take the time to store it in our brains and then bring it out to rehearse it from time to time, but the joy of its pattern often keeps it there.  Good advertising seems to base its plan around a memorable pattern.  Connecting creations with a positive and memorable experience can spur us onward.

What are some new creations you are cooking up for this new year?  I’d love to know.  Are there patterns you’d like to use to encourage your creative juices to flow?

“I like rhyme because it is memorable, I like form because having to work to a pattern gives me original ideas.” Anne Stevenson

Day 353: Resolving 2012 – Making A Good Plan


The plan didn't go as we expected.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso

My husband and I thought we had a great plan.  We went early to the wedding which was several hours away.  We stopped and successfully found supplies that have been missing in Bangkok since the flood.  What could pass the remaining time more perfectly than a relaxing meal on the beach?  The food arrived and was made with some old crab.  Having experience to draw on, we knew that we needed to pay and leave.  Though it was an expensive mistake, at least we didn’t add to it a trip to the hospital with food poisoning.

With 2012 right around the corner, I’m trying to make a new plan.  This year, I had several resolutions, two of which I’ve kept.  This PostaDay 2011 was one of the challenges I kept, and now I’d like something new and exciting to start 2012.

Here are some things I hope to consider when making my plan.

1. Something that stretches me: A plan I consider good is one that I know will be good for me.  This PostaDay challenge was perfect, and I took it on because writing is not my forte.  It forced me to be vulnerable and stretched me in many other ways too.  (I’ll share more about this in my final post this year.)

2. Something that’s doable: A good plan will be one that I know I can do if I set my mind to it.  The PostaDay challenge was measurable, and WordPress gave us good support.  Having other people doing the challenge gave me courage to continue.

3. Something that allows me to create: I find I’m happiest when I’m making something new.  This year, I was able to make a new post every day.  Some days I was very unhappy with my entry, but I was able to be creative in a different way than ever before.

4. Something that helps me learn:  Besides creating, my plan should include learning something new.  I’m thinking of getting back to my computer languages.  My plans aren’t complete, but I know they’ll include learning.

The time is ticking, and I could start the year without a plan. I know, however, that I tend to accomplish what I plan to do.  What kind of plans are you making for the new year?

Day 341: Cleaning Up Wild Kisses–The Very Idea


How about a trip to Paris for a "Wilde" kiss?

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” Oscar Wilde

Today, I read an article about Oscar Wilde’s grave.  An Irish man buried in France, he was passionate.  His tombstone has been washed clean of the pink and red lipstick stains left by fans.  As of December 1, the tomb is now cased in glass to avoid the mad kisses coming Wilde’s way for years.  In essence, his stone was being kissed to death.

Kissing a tombstone might not be considered dangerous, but Oscar Wilde believed that ideas should be.  How are ideas like a kiss?

Prepare for a wild kiss.  We all know to grab some breath mints, put on the right lipstick, and freshen ourselves when romance is in order.  Ideas also come when we prepare for them.  By gathering new materials, we are able to allow our creative juices to play around with new thoughts.  When we give ourselves reflecting and resting time, we set our environment right for creativity.

Kiss with passion.  If an idea is not memorable, it’s not likely to last.  Like a passionate kiss, the idea should be familiar, yet different enough to allure.

Know when to stop.  The best ideas are like a great kiss.  It is not overdone.  It keeps the mind dazzled, and it leaves the receiver wanting more.  A few companies seem to get this right.  IKEA has just come to Bangkok, and I believe they have got the concept right.  They introduce the right amount of new ideas that keep us going back for more.

The next time you think of wiping off that wild kiss, think again.  Ideas and wild kisses are not so very different.

What kinds of passionate ideas do you have in mind?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting


Waiting allows time to consider the plan of action...

“To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter

After ten days of waiting, I found myself slightly frustrated.  An innocent bystander kindly asked when my baby was due, and I remember giving her a special look while answering, “Ten days ago.”  Waiting for an overdue baby is a frustrating event understood by those who have experienced it.  Yet, when our baby arrived happy and healthy, we knew that the wait was certainly worthwhile.

Waiting can be difficult but sometimes strategic.  Many of the best things in life come when we are waiting.

We can be productive while we wait.

1. Look for opportunities.  We had the privilege of knowing a wonderful couple.  Because of health reasons, they were delayed in our city.  They didn’t let it frustrate them.  Instead, they looked for opportunities to help those around them.  Watching this couple taught me so much about looking for ways to bless other people.  Waiting can be a perfect time to serve those in need.  

2. Work toward another goal.  When we know we have some time to kill, it’s best to learn a new craft or skill.  Usually, there are things we’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the time for it.  A new challenge can encourage us as we wait.

3. Appreciate the present.  So many times in life, I’ve let the present pass me by because I was pining away about something in the future.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the short time and moments we have to enjoy our family and our friends.  Life is more fun when we give attention to each person God sends our way.

Most of the time, I find that wait time decreases if I’m enjoying myself.  How do you spend your waiting time?

Day 327: Five Reasons Why We Waste Our Talents


Are you producing fruit?

“The fruit derived from labor is the sweetest of pleasures.” Luc de Clapier

I told myself I  hated singing in the old people’s choir growing up.  My mom had no patience with it because she knew that my voice was needed.  “If you don’t use your talent, you’ll lose it.”  I generally rolled my eyes and decided to sing with them and usually found myself enjoying it.

Fruit comes in seasons and likewise our ability to produce it.  I’ve been in seasons where I knew I was using many of my talents all at once.  In other seasons, I’ve felt quite unproductive.   Still, I feel annoyed when I’m with people who seem to be wasting their talents.  Maybe it’s that I see too much potential in people, but I don’t think that’s the case.

What keeps us from wasting our talents?

1. We can’t get started.  In my case, the most difficult part of producing something is getting it started.  I’ll tell you about my couch experience at another time.  It often comes down to someone who nags us until we get up there and use that talent.

2. We don’t know how to get involved.  Perhaps we are unaware of how we can use our talents.  The fun part about putting together a huge project is looking for those who have the potential to do it.  I love imagining different people using their talents to achieve a big goal.  At my university, I often found myself walking around the music department.   There were many practice rooms where I could hear a plethora of sounds including voices, pianos, and various instruments.  It’s fun to think of how to put all of that potential to use.  Sometimes, it just takes the right person coming to us and asking us to be involved.

3. We are afraid to risk.  If we’re not using our talents, there’s really no risk involved.  Yet, we somehow conjure up some imaginary risk that keeps us from trying something we’ve always wanted to do.  What’s that all about?

4. We don’t have a muse.  Some grow up in an environment where they are held back, put down, or simply not encouraged.  Fortunately, in my home, learning and trying out new things were the norm.  Maybe we should consider it our job to go around pushing people toward their gifting.  Do we  need a muse?  If so, we should get out there and look for the people who are doing what we want to be doing.

5. We’re too involved with other things.  Here’s the big one.  We never seem to get to the thing we want to do.  We keep finding other things to do instead.  Well, time is ticking.  It’s not stopping for us to use our talents.  We’ve got to use them or lose the opportunity to use them.  That’s the bottom line.

It’s all about our decision to produce the fruit we envision.  We can no longer blame it on others or on our circumstances.  Life is short, let’s live it well.

Is this your season to produce some fruit?

Day 323: Have You Used A Crayon Lately?


Let your true colors come shining through!

“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” Marc Chagall

We knew my dog had been into someone’s crayons when he expelled something purple and green.  Green can come from various sources but purple was surely the work of a crayon.

Even dogs know the value of vivid colors.  You can buy another brand, but it’s hard to beat Crayola crayons. They even hold the smell of childhood.

A good way to refresh your creativity is to take a trip back in time.  Grab a coloring book and some crayons and have fun coloring alongside your favorite child.  When I was a child, I was shocked to see how “good” an adult could color.  The lines were even, the texture seemed flawless, and I wanted to color that way too.

If you want to get in touch with your creative side today, stop by for a pack of Crayola crayons (not the off brand) today.

Day 320: No Free Art, So Keep Painting


The brushstrokes give it character.

“It is not your paintings I like, it is your painting.” Albert Camus

There were no art classes in the school where I grew up.  Once, a lady came to town and offered classes open to those who could pay for them.  I watched and listened when students came back from those classes. I remember hearing that they had 60 seconds to draw figures without lifting a pencil.  It sounded exciting.

Being resourceful is a side-effect of growing up in a small town.  Two key factors allow creativity–time to think and limited supplies. When opportunities are limited, people become creative using what they have to make what they need.  This was my situation.

Not having an art class might seem sad to those who had them, but for us, it was normal.  Resources were limited, and essentials were emphasized.  Yet, as I’ve gotten older, I can see the benefits of a brain that aches to create without a formal instructor.  Just as I ran home and tried to draw without lifting my pencil, I can see that experimentation improves creativity.

There are times to experiment for our own growth and not for others.  The process is the important thing and not the product.  Yet, we often find that products improve because we play with resources.

My problem is getting started.  Because I’ve never learned to paint, my mind thinks that I’ve got to come up with a masterpiece in order to dirty the canvas.  That’s not how children go about it, though.  Their creative side flows easily.  I don’t think that most of them have any idea what they’re going to paint when they pick up the brush, but still they do it.

So, I have a dilemma.  A brush, paper, and paints have been sitting in front of me for days.  How will I start?  I’m open to suggestions.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder


One can wonder if he doesn't lose that sense.

“An empty canvas is a living wonder… far lovelier than certain pictures.” Wassily Kandinsky

The boat rolled from behind a curtain and with it the coolness of dry ice that hovered over the audience.  You could say I was in a state of wonder when I first saw a professional stage production.  At an early age, I was absolutely hooked.

As a college student, I attended most productions on campus.  I once embarrassed myself snickering uncontrollably in the show Our Town, which was both serious and about death.  Otherwise, I’ve never moved from the wonder of the stage.

As an adult, I sometimes walk onto the stage just to smell it.  I’m still hooked.  “You can take the girl out of the play, but you can’t take the play out of the girl.” (mine)

Sometimes we forget to stop and allow ourselves the experience of wonder.  Did you stop and enjoy a sense of wonder at something you saw or felt today?