The most powerful word in the world

I love words. I tried to read the dictionary when I was 9 (yes, I was a big geek then too. I made it through the B’s.). My favorite board game, the only board game I will ever play, is Scrabble. I love how the right words strung together sounds like shimmering, cascading rhythms. And when those words move people to think or act? As MasterCard would say, Priceless!

So you can imagine that choosing the one, most powerful word was a challenging task indeed. It’s not “no.” It’s not “think,” or “me,” or “butt” as my kids had hoped. The most powerful word in the world is… Continue reading “The most powerful word in the world”

Would your life be easier if you weren’t creative?

My ten-year-old son has always had what I call “big feelings.” It’s more than being sensitive–he feels things more intensely and deeply than others do. It’s a blessing and a curse: while his “big feelings” makes him the sweet, loyal and creative person that he is, this intensity also makes it hard for him to shake off things that others don’t think twice about.

Recently, a really smart person explained to him that people who have such deep feelings are special because they experience the world in a way that some people never do–but if you’re not careful, if you don’t find a way to manage those deep feelings, they can overwhelm you.

And it hit me: this is what it’s like to be creative. Continue reading “Would your life be easier if you weren’t creative?”

Adoptee, writer: how adoption can shape a creative life

I had an epiphany when I answered this question on Yahoo Answers recently: “Did you feel selfish meeting your birth parents?” I was surprised that my answer was chosen as the best, but I was thrilled that the question was posed in the first place. People don’t ask enough questions about adoption; it’s incredulous to me that in this day and age there is still a shroud of mystery around it. Adoption is one of the last taboos, spoken of with the same hushed tone that people used to reserve for cancer. How can we clarify, educate and share the experience if no one asks the big questions?

I’ve been working Continue reading “Adoptee, writer: how adoption can shape a creative life”

Need a creative spark? Make a change.

Change is in the air. Actually, change is stalking me. It began with a colleague at work denouncing proposed changes to a project with a rant that ended with the declaration: “Change is not good!” A few days later, one of my LinkedIn professional groups came out with this topic: “Why do you think people resist change and what steps would you recommend to reduce this resistance?” On the heels of that, Hubby’ called: “I’ve been reorganized. The good news is, I still have a job.” And as if all that talk about change wasn’t enough, there was this excellent blog post by Fast Company: Make Change Work for You.

OK, universe. I hear you.

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen our share of change these past two years: economic, housing, employment, financial, healthcare. That’s why Fast Company’s post resonated with me, especially the very first line: “One of the chief reasons that so many people are uncomfortable with change is because it happens to them not for them.”

Knowing that change is inevitable, how can you better handle change and make it happen for you rather than to you? Continue reading “Need a creative spark? Make a change.”

The upside of insomnia: creative time in disguise

It started at 2am, when I bolted awake, heart racing and pounding like a man on fire inside my chest. I immediately took action, launching into my trusty Insomnia Routine, which consists of a series of mind games I use to try and trick myself into feeling very very sleepy:

2:09am: I am on a beach. Hear the waves. Feel the hot sand. Smell the coconut tanning oil. Hear the sea gulls cawing in lazy circles in blue sky. Caw caw. My running to-do list from work runs across the beach.

2:17am I am submerged in quick sand. Each part of my body floats down, down, down. I am melting into the quick sand. My arms, shoulders, neck, even my hair. That reminds me, my daughter needs a haircut, my client didn’t seem thrilled with my pitch, and I have no idea how to find my way in to that video project, let alone get it done in time.

2:34am I contemplate counting sheep. Dogs. Cats. Cigars. I have to pee. I’m hot. Hubby starts snoring. The dog (who is more like a horse at 70 pounds  and has no business being in my bed) is kicking me in the kidneys.

2:51am: I get up, grab my journal, and head for my office.

This used to go on for two or three hours, so I’ve made progress. I’ve had insomnia off and on since I was a child, so I’ve had time to fine tune. (I once went for a week without sleeping. I was afraid of me that week.) I used to squeeze my eyes shut tight and will myself to sleep, anything to stop watching the clock, counting down the minutes until my alarm went off and my day started, a day that I anticipated to be long, excruciating and exhausting. which made me angry so I squeezed my eyes shut even tighter and clenched my jaws too. SLEEP DAMMIT!

But I’m older now. Not necessarily wiser, but definitely mellower. Have you ever heard of found time? I don’t recall where I first heard of the concept, but it’s the perspective that any unexpected down time, such as waiting in a long line at the grocery store or post office, is extra time you can use however you wish. Warning: too much found time can make you just as angry as not being able to sleep (I am thinking of several long flight delays), but I usually carry a book, notebook, even my laptop wherever I go because you never know when a pocket of found time will pop up. You have to seize it when it pops.

Right now I’m sitting on my couch wrapped in a white blanket and black night and delicious silence with the freedom to write and work for as long as I am awake. No phone, no email, no interruptions. I can actually do and think about one thing at a time, rather than worry about 17 things at once while simultaneously helping one kid with fractions homework (ugh) and helping the other kid make his lunch while simultaneously feeding the dogs, paying bills and putting laundry away while simultaneously ordering a pizza and having a complete mental block when the girl asks for my phone number. (Sorry Mom for making fun of you when you used to say five other names–including the dog’s–before finally spitting out mine back in the day.)

No wonder I can’t sleep.

But multi-tasking challenges aside, I like to look at my insomnia as my pocket of uninterrupted, found reflective time in the middle of the night for writing, journaling, thinking, reading. It’s like a creative trigger, popping up when life is too busy and crazy and the world feels out of control, reminding me–forcing me–to take my little slice of creative time wherever I can get it.

Get Creative: Make found time in your day today for your creative project.