Why I write: Find or reignite your creative fire

creativityThis is for anyone who creates, used to create, wants to be more creative, or wants to start creating something new or different. We all create things. Some of us make art, new recipes, or clothing. Some of us build businesses. Raise children. Creativity takes many forms. But life and time takes its toll. Our creative pursuits often fall to the wayside or we get burnt out, especially if we have to be creative for a living.

I once worked with a group of senior citizens in an assisted living center as a volunteer to help them write their stories. In the first session, there was a lot of silence until one woman finally said, the only thing I’ve ever written is a grocery list! The others laughed. I said – that counts! Because it does. (And yes, we got to their stories.) The ways we share our words and stories may have changed with social media. But any effort to capture our ideas, thoughts, plans and vision matter. That’s why we should do everything we can to make time to create and stay fired up about our creative passions.

One way to do this is Continue reading “Why I write: Find or reignite your creative fire”

Burnt out? Get your vision back!

georgewashingtoncarver158551We all have those moments – I hate my job, I’m burnt out, I can’t take anymore, I’m stuck, I give up, why bother, it’s hopeless! Whatever “it” is that is driving us to feel this way (jobs, crowds, living arrangements, parenting, you name it), the worst part is that we feel hopeless to change anything. So – nothing changes.

We can’t always change jobs. Although sometimes we do and we find that the negative feelings pack up their suitcases and come right along with us. 🙂 We can’t always change our friends, families, etc. But these are all external factors. We don’t have control over those things and that’s frustrating. But there is one thing you can change: how you think.

I believe this starts with thinking about you, instead of everyone and everything else around you that is driving your crazy. Hit pause on all of that for a moment and think about you instead. Build a vision for you and your life that will become your purpose and direction. I know about this because I help companies craft their mission, vision and values – and this becomes the purpose and direction that guides everything from employee motivation to acquisition decisions. But you know who my first customer was? Me!

When I was 9 years old, I created my vision for my life and it was this: I want to write things that make people think. In a speaking engagement on this topic last year in Dublin, Ireland, I only changed one word of that vision: I want to write things that make people think differently. Whenever I am feeling stuck, burnt out or worn down, I return to my vision. And it helps bring me out of that funk and move forward with renewed inspiration. I almost always find one little thing I can do to execute against my vision – and before I know it, I’m back on track.

Want to build your vision? Start with these six questions:

  1. What did you want to be or do when you were a kid? No crossing things off because it’s impossible. Just write it all down. If you don’t remember, dream a little. See what you come up with. Write it down.
  2. What are you really good at? Maybe it’s cooking. Debating. Care giving. Mowing the lawn. Researching data. Whatever it is, put it on the list. Make it a really long list!
  3. What do you believe in? It could be a value – loyalty, kindness, integrity. It could be connection with others; giving back; spirituality. Sky’s the limit here. Once you have a few, rank order them. Pick  your top three.
  4. What do you need? Do you need lots of introspective time alone or do you get your energy from being around people?
  5. What do you miss? Think about your current situation. What’s lacking? Are you getting enough connection with people? Has your job changed so you don’t get as much collaboration as you like?
  6. What brings meaning to your life? Think about the times in your life where you felt like you were really doing your thing, what you were meant to do. What did that look like? Feel like? Where were you? When was it? Who were you with? Try to capture as much as you can about the context.

See what emerges from this. What insights do you see? What connections can you make between the answers on your list? What can you change? How can you be more ‘you’ and do more of your ‘thing’ in your current situation? What would you need to change – and are you willing to do it? Is it practical and financially feasible? Is there a way to make small changes in your current situation – and how you think about it – that would make a difference?

Ultimately, you want to come up with a short vision statement for your life. It looks like this: I want to “fill in the blank.” What you fill in should be high level – short and crisp, memorable, easy to remember. It should be a big, hairy, audacious goal that feels a little nebulous, a little scary, a little like – how the hell do I do THAT? Be idealistic. Esoteric. Go for it! This is your vision. Make it BIG.

Your vision should feel like a stretch to get there. Something you can work toward and build upon for a long time. You won’t know at first how to get there. But you’ll have that vision and it become the guiding principle for your next steps into the future you deserve. It works for me – every time I feel like I’ve lost my way, my vision reminds me that I have a purpose and it drives me to find ways to execute against that purpose in my everyday life. More importantly, it brings me back to the real, authentic me, and the story I want to tell myself and to others. And that’s the only thing that any of can really control.

Go for it! 🙂

on the road: biking to a new and better place

I have a confession to make: I’ve never taken bikes seriously. They were always more of a vehicle for getting around when I didn’t feel like driving, didn’t have a car, or just wanted to take a leisurely day off from running and take in the scenery. I rode my bike to the gym to go running on the treadmill.

Then a friend convinced me to try a ‘fun’ bike club. I thought, why not? After years of being a runner, I am ready for a new sport. After much coaxing and cajoling (“It’s for fun! You’ll be fine…we all ride 50, 100 miles on other rides, but THIS club is for fun!! Come on, just try it! “), I showed up one recent Monday night in my yoga pants and tank top, my water bottles in my son’s drawstring pack on my back. I was on my ancient mountain bike with the broken gears that I had used since my kids were…very little (they are teens now).

Needless to say, I was intimidated when I approached the group… Continue reading “on the road: biking to a new and better place”

the greatest holiday gift: the power of choice

holiday lightsLike most people this time of year, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to balance real life and the expectations of the holidays. There is a lot of pressure to be merry and bright amidst the realities of work, family, financial struggles, medical challenges, caregiving, you name it. Real life doesn’t go away just because we put up a cheerful Christmas tree, get the wreath hung just right, and mail out the festive cards. But I realized something this holiday season that has changed everything for me and it was just too good not to share.

We can give ourselves the gift of knowing that we have the power of choice.

This is not a new concept, I know. It’s simple, on the surface. But when you finally grasp this concept in your mind, heart and soul – it changes everything. Continue reading “the greatest holiday gift: the power of choice”

facebook is life – what do you see?

002I have been simmering on this article about Facebook and what people post for quite a while and I think I finally have a thought worthy to share. The article features a funny yet sad video that compares/contrasts what people post on Facebook vs. reality. Like any good piece of writing designed to make you think, this video makes you think about how what people post on social media actually reflects their truth. With the recent passing of Robin Williams, I think we are all taking a second look at…everything we thought we knew about who people are. About everything we thought we knew.

Watch it, if you haven’t already.

Then I want to know what you think. I’ll start: I think that what I see on Facebook – I’ll pick this one social media outlet to make it easier – reflects human nature. Here is what I see:

Continue reading “facebook is life – what do you see?”

5 questions to a happier you in the new year

013I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately with people about selfishness vs. selflessness. When I asked one friend why we surround ourselves with selfish people, she said, “Because the planet might implode if you and I act like that. Or not.” When I told another friend about changes I was making in my life, she said, “Hmm. That sounds…selfish.” Another friend in a bad situation tells me that she has come to a solution: she will just be completely selfless and then everyone will be happy.

Here’s what counseling has taught me: a person can only be completely selfless for so long before they implode and go to the dark (selfish) side. And do something they will regret because they are so NOT selfish people at heart. The problem is, you don’t realize the price you pay when you give up your own needs and wants for someone else’s. So what to do?

Someone I used to trust once told me that you have to know what you want. I spent a year trying to figure that out and always came up against a brick wall. I couldn’t figure out why. Until now.

How can you know what you want if you don’t know who you are?

It’s not just about what you want. That is starting in the wrong place.

Continue reading “5 questions to a happier you in the new year”

5 simple ways to make a change

I read once that all it takes is one person – one person to believe in you and it can make the difference between becoming a heroin addict on the street vs. becoming a happy, successful person. I agree, but seriously? It takes way more to make real, lasting change in your life. I have always embraced change because I know that while it is tough, good things happen on the other side. It’s the only way to move forward! That’s why change management is one of the best parts of my work. I get to listen to people share their concerns and help them get to the other side. It’s very satisfying to see people get there and know that I played a small part in that journey.

There are a few things I’ve learned along the way that you might find useful. Now, bear in mind, I am not a counselor. I am not a psychologist. I am just a person like you who’s had to navigate my share of change. Here’s what helped me and I hope it helps you too:

change1. Hold the intention. Whether your goal is to lose weight, advance in your career, get back to your creative work, or anything else, you must hold the intention to focus on that goal. Block time out on your calendar each week that is dedicated to achieving your goal and plan for that time. Set out your workout clothes the night before your workout. Cook your healthy food for the week every Sunday. Get your creative space ready with all the materials you need the day before. Think about your dedicated time and plan for it. Hold the intention to do the thing that you want to do. The thing that you think you cannot do, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt.  You not only can do it. You will. Your stuff is already out and ready, after all. 🙂 I used this technique to lose 40 pounds and keep it off for 2.5 years. I’m nothing special – if I can do it, you can too!

Continue reading “5 simple ways to make a change”