Category Archives: Creativity

How to Win Friends

As much as I love my husband, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s not girlfriend material. We have a lot of common interests and we love spending our free time together, but when it comes to girl talk, he’s clueless. He hasn’t mastered the technique of listening without trying to fix things and when I tell him about my latest find at Sephora or at the consignment store, his eyes glaze over. Whether the subject is family or fashion, vocations or vacations, there’s something about a conversation with a female friend that keeps me from feeling alone in the world.

I’m still in touch with some of my high school and college friends thanks to Facebook and e-mail, but we live so far apart that we can’t meet for coffee or a drink after work. My shy nature combined with five relocations in 17 years of marriage equals a friend deficit. I muddled along as best I could and I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful women through work and classes. I’ve volunteered and joined organizations. I often felt awkward and silly, like a five-year-old in a playground asking someone to play with me, but every place we’ve lived, I’ve found lifelong friends. The kind it hurt to leave behind each time we moved.

This time, I think we’re finally putting down roots. I’ve made friends of neighbors, met other friends in dance class, writing groups and book clubs. As an added bonus, I live in a place that my old friends like to visit. It feels like a winning situation to me, but it was a long journey.

Rachel Bertsche, author of the blog and book MWF seeking BFF, was much more deliberate in her quest for female friends. When she relocated from New York City to Chicago to marry her fiance, she made it her mission to find new girl friends. I’ve followed her blog as she went on 52 “girl dates” in a year, trying to find a new BFF. She reported back to her readers on the good, the bad and the ridiculous.

Maybe that was a little crazy, but it was a reminder to me that finding new friends does take effort and creativity. MWF seeking BFF comes out on Tuesday, December 20th and I’m looking forward to reading more about Rachel’s search. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you had more close pals, you might just learn how to win them thanks to Rachel’s experience.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, Friendship, Reading

Creativity and Happiness: a guest post by Lola

My person is happiest when she’s doing something creative. She smiles and laughs more when she’s able to express her creativity through movement in dance, with words in her writing, or with color and texture when she plants flowers in the garden.

Lately, she’s been making a few special presents which she says is a lot more fun than buying them. I know she likes what she’s doing because she’s singing all the time. Sometimes she’s a little loud, but except for that, it sounds nice to me. The most fun is when she sings and dances at the same time. I love to join in and we boogie around the house together. She skips and twirls and I leap around her. We’ve got quite a routine.

Other than dancing, my creative endeavors lean toward excavation (I love to dig trenches in the back yard) and persuasion (I can find a million ways to coax my people to play with me). I’ve enjoyed my foray into writing, though, and I was honored when my pal Bongo gave me an award to celebrate my creative efforts. Thank you, Bongo, for giving my person and me the Kreativ Blogger award.

I met Bongo online after I visited his hometown and I love to read about his wonderful hikes. There are always great photos of the places he goes.  You can read about his adventures at Bongo Dog Blog.

In celebration of creativity, my task is to share a few things about myself. I’ll try to be as creative as I can without resorting to the fiction that my person likes to write.

  1. I love to dance with my person, whether it’s canine freestyle or just dancing around the living room.
  2. I’m good at catching rats.
  3. I am very, very, very fast, which is why I’m good at catching rats.
  4. I am an expert snuggler.
  5. My favorite place to sleep is on my other person’s side of the bed with my head resting on his pillow.

Since this award is for both my person and for me, I asked her who she wanted to pass it to. She chose  Quilting Under the Sun. Colleen shares photos of her beautiful quilting projects and stories about her family which includes two dogs and a cat. Sounds like a happy place to me. I’m sure you’ll enjoy a visit to Colleen’s blog.

And now, as a special holiday treat, I’d like to share a unique canine freestyle performance. Take a look at this trailer for the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe’s version of the Nutcracker. These are some creative canines.

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Filed under Creativity, Lola, Writing

Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit

There are plenty of opportunities to see great dance and theater performances in San Diego. I miss a lot due to inattention and lack of planning, but I managed to get tickets for Come Fly Away, the Broadway musical choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp. A live big band performs onstage with one vocalist and the voice of Frank Sinatra while a cast of dancers tell the story through the choreography. Sounds like heaven to me.

I’ve long admired Tharp’s work and I loved Movin’ Out, the 2003 Tony winner for Best Choreography, also directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Movin’ Out was a similar format, with a singer/pianist and a band performing the music of Billy Joel on a raised platform while dancers performed onstage.

Tharp also wrote one of my favorite books on creativity, The Creative Habit.

There are twelve chapters densely packed with practical advice based on her more than forty years of creative productivity. She shares what she’s learned, how she figured it out, and offers thirty-two exercises to help artists of every genre build their own creative rituals and habits.

Two of my favorite chapters are Spine, about finding the central idea, the meaning behind your story; and Skill, the reminder that talent does exist, but that hard work, study and practicing to build the skills we lack give us the foundation for our creativity.

Tharp says that “the best creativity is a result of good work habits.” I’ve found that I’m happiest with my work when I stick with the habits I’ve built for myself. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned from her book and delighted that I’ll have another chance to see the result of her creative habits when I watch Come Fly Away.

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Filed under Art, Books, Creativity, Dance, Writing

Derailed

I have a writing routine that works for me… most of the time. Usually, my free writing warm-ups followed by kitchen timer sessions keep me on track. I even have a workable plan in place to keep a light writing schedule while I travel. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way, and all of my routines are derailed.

My biggest obstacle to a productive day is illness. Whether I’m recovering from surgery or simply have the flu, when I’m sick, I can’t write.

Insomnia isn’t my friend either. If I can’t sleep at night, I nod off during the day when I’m trying to work. There’s nothing like a full page of the letter S to make me feel like a ninny.

I’m blessed with an easygoing husband and wonderful friends, but the occasional argument can throw me for a loop. I replay conversations in my head, wondering what went wrong, and most of the time, I wind up feeling guilty. I find it very hard to concentrate on anything until I feel steady in the relationship again.

Lately, though, my problem has been the house. Unexpected repairs and issues have kept me so busy that I haven’t had the time or energy to write. I got so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t find the motivation to write a To Do list, much less work on a short story or my novel.

Then I realized that it’s almost November, which is National Novel Writing Month.

I’m going to be busy this year and I hadn’t planned to participate in NaNoWriMo this time around. I need a jump-start, though, and I need it now. If I wait for a quieter time, it will be spring before I pick up the threads of my routine. So I signed up.

That means I have the rest of October to finish plotting and planning my project. Then on November first, I’ll dive into the first draft of my new novel. The goal is to write 50,000 words by November 30th. It’s not an easy challenge, but I’ve done it before and I know I can do it this year. Finally, I’m excited about writing again.

Have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? Are you planning to join the fun?

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Filed under Creativity, free writing, NaNoWriMo, Writing