Monthly Archives: November 2009
Somedays we are lacking a certain spark. Turkey and Pie overdoses. Black Friday Shopping Hangovers. A shift on a Saturday. You gotta look hard for what turns you on. What turns your crank. What lights a fire in your soul. Only then can balance be sought. Today, I thought of the many things I drive past and never stop. I thought about them before even leaving the house. Lucky, me. On M-35 in Negaunee Township the moment was right on the way home from work to pull over and visit this old tractor.
I love that feeling of openness. The little voice in my head said quick turn here and I pulled into the parking lot near Viosport and walked to the back up a parking ramp. There I was surprised by my reflection. I am still getting used to this “me.”
When you have been overweight for over 2 decades. You are shocked looking at photos of the heavy you. I liked to think of myself as the Young Kim at her ideal weight and was always shocked at photos of the Heavy Kim.
Now, I am shocked at the Skinny Kim, cause she is not that teenager at her ideal weight. I am a mature woman, a grandmother, and fit. It is all a bit surreal.
This week I’ve been suffering with muscle spasms, misalignment, and terrible pain. That does not mean I sit still easily. It meant I had to cut back o my training for the Turkey Trot, where I am hoping to still compete in my first 10k run. I have turned to medication coupled with chiropractic care and physical therapy. As I do this I have turned to walking. I walk whenever I can. This morning Mike and I walked the Noque–a route I normally run. But this took us off path from time to time. I learned to pause with camera in stillness at the sights I normally run past. I even climbed an out-crop of rock I have affectionately called the Dino or Steggie. My photos today show curves. I find this new.
Buff Up Your Creativity: 10 Creative Capabilities Enhanced by Travel
Guest Writer: Cynthia Morris
Creativity is a combination of skills, qualities and perspectives that allows someone to bring ideas into form. Identifying and cultivating those capabilities allows you to be more effective in life and work.
It’s no surprise that the rigors of travel build our creative capacity. Both endeavors push us to our physical, mental and sometimes emotional limits. Travel and creativity (in art making, business or life) aren’t for pansies.
Fresh from the road, I’ve charted ten ways that travel cultivates creative aptitude. Check my list to see how travel has contributed to your creative capabilities. (Psst…you can travel without leaving home; see how these aptitudes can be sharpened from your home turf.)
1. The wrong! capacity is strengthened. When you travel, you find yourself off target at least five times per day. You have an inaccurate address, incorrect opening hours for the museum, you say something inappropriate, you pay too much…it’s endless. Creative pursuits involve a lot of wrong turns and dead ends. The wise creative person knows that being off course has nothing to do with intelligence. You’re not an idiot but you’re going to be wrong a lot.
2. Willingness to be uncomfortable. Travel and creativity both require a person to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, or better yet, to even forget the notion of a comfort zone. We travel and create to surpass our known world, and we might as well embrace discomfort rather than try to contrive environments where we feel too ‘safe’. Shrug off your attachment to your comfort zone.
3. Ability to process and decide easily. While traveling, you amass thousands of new impressions daily. You have to make decisions based on limited information. Travel forces you to sort, filter and critically assess information easily so you can simplify decision making. I use my creative travel tools to jot lists, capture names, and render in quick sketches what I was experiencing around me. Strengthen your ability to sort and process new information to keep what’s useful and discard what’s not.
4. Resiliency. When things are go wrong, how do you respond? Travel shows you that you are more resilient than you think because, well, when you’re out there trying to find food or lodging you have no choice but to keep going. You find you’re able to bear greater challenges, and perhaps even rub your hands with glee when facing difficulty creating. Suck it up: you can do and be more than you think.
5. Flexibility. If you’re not flexible while traveling, you’re going to be frustrated a lot. So you missed that train in Florence. Do something unplanned; it won’t kill you to veer off schedule. The ability to quickly shift from one approach to another is a sign of a developed creative mind. So the structure of your book isn’t what it was when you started; adjust your expectations. Be nimble – but not flaky — in your creative process or you’ll be very miserable.
6. Surrealism. Experiencing life in another place can provide fresh solutions for problems you’re facing at home. Creative people are adept at taking one thing and pairing it with another for a fresh new idea. The surrealists have a penchant for pairing disparate items for the sake of jolting the mind out of its predictable path. Cultivate new associations based on what you’ve seen elsewhere.
7. Ability to relax dualistic thinking. We’re naturally prone to comparisons that lead to judgments. But that can hinder insights. If you’re caught up in thinking that it’s better in the US because shops are open on Sunday, you’re missing the opportunity to see what could result from doing things differently. Your willingness to set aside a comparative or competitive mindset makes life richer. Creative thinking goes beyond black/white or reductive thinking. Compare for the sake of opening your mind rather than solidifying an entrenched mindset.
8. Ability to adjust your pace. Perhaps the places you’re swim upstream, defending your own pace, or you’ll adapt and enter the flow. Creativity has its own timing and pace, and being able to adjust according to the ebb or flow makes things much easier. Be responsive to the flow of life around you.
9. Randomness. I call this juju – when unexpected connections surprise me. Juju appears most often when exploring with little or no plan, or as the French say, flaner. I always encounter something remarkable that sparks a new idea for my work or art. Random or unplanned occurrences are gold for the creative process. Don’t try to control your circumstances or projects too much; leave room for creative juju.
10. Physical fitness. Travel is tough on the body. Hauling luggage over cobblestones, eating too much strange food, and sleeping poorly can take a big toll. When your body is strong and resilient, you’re able to think beyond your basic physical needs. The same is true for creative work. If you’re not taking good care of yourself, chances are you’re not able to produce your best work. Build a strong physical foundation so you have energy to create and explore.
11. Bonus: Math smarts. Travel calls for all kinds of quotidian math. Calculating currency conversions, estimating costs, and juggling timetables all build your numeric literacy. Any creative project – writing a book, launching a business, or publishing a blog calls for a nimble numbers mind. Don’t leave math behind; make it work for you and your projects.
The next time you embark on a trip, know that your journey will build your creative capacity. You don’t have to do much other than hit the road and be open to the world’s gifts.
Copyright 2009 Cynthia Morris. Cynthia coaches creative people to confidence and completion and inspires life as a creative adventure. Visit http://www.originalimpulse.com to get an infusion of inspiration for your art, writing and life.
You can view this images (full size) and more of my Art Every Day set at Flickr.
This morning the frost on the coal piles at the Shiras Steam Plant looked like snow. Could the frost really be that thick?
“People ask where do you live. I bet it’s beautiful,” they say.
I Live in South Marquette up the hill from Lake Superior. I have an almost romantic view if you hold up your right hand, squint and block out the power plant.
When students realize I walked to school in order to sub-teach they ask, “Where do you live?
Less than 10 minutes away.
They ask, “In the rich area?”
This was about 2 weeks ago and we were having some class discussion on the lack of sidewalks in this neighborhood. How walking in the dark before school is dangerous and how people are in such a hurry with cars they don’t even bother to look for skateboarders, walkers, and people on bikes.
But we do value our bikes in Marquette.
And I’m glad for the paths I walked on this morning as I hoofed to Michigan Works and a training recertification.
But I arrive and find out I was sent to a training that happens next week and I am out 8 hours of pay for today. So I make lemonade, or applesauce, it is fall. I sit my butt in a chair, wait for my boss to pick-up her phone and start looking for that next job.
I think me like unsweetened applesauce, chucky, with cinnamon and that apple orchard taste of the cider mills in northern Oakland County. I am thinking Yates. I am thinking hayrides. I am thinking of crisp walks and the crunch of leaves. But this is the Upper Peninsula and here we have no cider mills, just corn mazes and it’s no wonder I look for work so often.
I’ve renewed my commitment to walking and reducing my carbon footprint. It’s a commitment that fuels my art in such green ways. It is awesome to be blooming when the leaves get crunchy. Juxtapositioned, I am.
Pockets empty and light –abundance can fill me up—I’m ready.
Apples still hang from every tree even though the limbs are bare. Orbs. Rotting. Shrinking. Waiting for the bear on his journey to winter. We all have our journeys and the trip isn’t cold if you jog the path. I am speeding toward my next stop. I am sure with all this walking and running I will arrive breathless and with rose-apple cheeks.
I was on the run yesterday, Monday. Literally, running with early morning appointments, a run after work, a meeting to 9pm and running cross-town home. I never took the clothes off the line on Sunday. I hung them at 2pm on a day, cooling fast. But the dryer was not cooperating.
These photos were taken Tuesday morning. Chill. Somewhere around 28 degrees. I left them to thaw and arrived home tonight after dark. Yes, they are off the line. Still damp.
Fall leaves me short on time too often.
You can view these images (full size) and more of my Art Every Day set at Flickr.
While on the trail I feel reverent especially on my Sunday Runs. Today, due to a headache I did not do my usual long run. I ran only 2 miles before returning to car for my camera and then I walked/hiked for over an hour. This is a photo is part of a memorial on the cliffs of Presque Isle. We gather around the cross for support, for healing, for a place to lean when we feel weak. Today, I was thankful for my abilities and observant of my limitations.