Creative Juice

We all know someone who is incredibly creative, a Martha Stewart wannabe. The woman who can cook like a French chef, decorate and dress like a top designer, throw a party like a rock star or scrapbook like nobody's business. Or the mom who makes veggies and PB&J look like adorable mini animals. Or the auntie who sews fantastical Halloween costumes for her sister's kids every year. Or the grandfather who builds and paints a wooden Santa and Rudolf to hang up and fly over the rooftop for Christmas. Or the grandmother who knits the most gorgeous sweaters and blankets ever. As someone who is surrounded by creative people on a regular basis, I can tell you that creativity is inside all of us; it's not as mysterious and difficult as you might think. In fact, I will assert right here, right now that all you need to do is find your outlet and add a little juice.

Juice? you exclaim, What do you mean, juice??

Back up a moment, first we need to talk about your outlet. And come to think of it, before that we really need to talk about creativity.

What is creativity, anyway? Wikipedia defines it such:

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art, a novel, a joke, etc.) that has some kind of value.

Lots of wiggle room in that definition, don't you think? I mean, who defines "value" anyway?

Newsflash: YOU do.

So, if you're the one defining value, then your definition of practicing creativity might include:

Cooking dinner. Reading your kids a story (character voices optional). Baking cookies. Writing a report at work. Writing an email. Teaching a classroom full of kids. Wrapping a gift. Getting a toddler to eat vegetables. Decorating the tree or the table. Shooting a video of your dog eating an ice cream cone for widespread (hopefully viral) distribution on YouTube.

You get the picture.

Whenever you create something or make something new, you are practicing your creativity.

At this time of year, many of us practice creativity with our budgets, right?? We've all experienced "getting creative" with our cash flow in order to buy the maximum amount of gifts while avoiding massive debt. The result is irrelevant to this discussion -- it's the practice, or the "creative process".

Here's another example: Two of my friends are named Tony and another Tony is my grandfather. All of them are super creative, talented, smart guys.

1) Papa Tony has filled up his 91 year long life with creative project after creative project. He has owned and operated several small businesses. He has taught himself how to be a great photographer. He has taught himself how to use countless electronic items, including the computer. Right now, he is spearheading his own initiative to have our hometown of Mansfield, MA erect a monument to the Italian business people like himself who helped build the town and made it strong. Plus, he has taught himself how to bake -- and let me tell you, his blueberry pie is fantabulous!

2) Friend Tony C. is an incredible scenic designer who has worked all over the country, including NYC, Boston and Washington, DC. His work is so meticulous and so inspired that he has been tapped to help design and direct the renovation project of a landmark theater. His work ethic is solid and his energy is completely contagious. And you should see him dance!!!

3) Friend Tony S. has been a successful business consultant for many years, using laser-sharp strategies to help people and organizations improve their processes and results. I can't even list all the projects he has worked on because he is so prolific. He has worked all over the globe in both the military and private sectors. This guy gets more done before breakfast than most of us do in a week.

So what do all of these Tonys have in common? Let me hear you say it: Creativity.

Do they all create? Absolutely.

Their processes? All different.

Their results? All different.

The point is, they are all making stuff and making stuff happen. By practicing creativity, making stuff and making stuff happen, they are learning new things, sharpening their skills, creating things of value, reinforcing positive energy, improving their productivity and boosting their self-esteem. Each of them provides us with a terrific example of successful, productive creativity.

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Now that we've discussed the what, how about the how? How do you find your own creative outlet?

For me, my own creative outlets have always been clear since I was a kid: Writing and dancing. I write stuff and I make up dances. Then I teach people how to do my stuff. (I've added the teaching bit as an adult.) And right now, I am learning to re-create myself as a RUNNER! =)

For you, it might be making jewelry, or organizing volunteers, or pulling weeds in the garden, or making your own greeting cards, or compiling playlists, or tinkering with old cars, or clearing out clutter, or playing all-star basketball, or writing a blog... This list could stretch for miles.

The point is, creating = producing something new. New things bring us energy. When we are the ones doing the creating, we feel strong and confident that we are able to make something out of nothing, that we are able to achieve something, that we have learned and applied new skills.

Here is my challenge for you: Find your outlet. Try something new. Let your heart guide you. Don't judge yourself. DO NOT listent to Negative Self-Talk Nellie (she will say, You can't do THAT!) or to Lizard Brain Liz (she'll yawn and suggest you wait a few days before starting). Just start, just do it. What have you always wanted to learn or achieve or even just attempt?

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NOW we can talk about the juice.

Creative juice = imagination or ideas.

Is this the hard part? I can hear you asking... But I say NO! This is actually the easy part.

In order to get your creative juices flowing, all you have to do is look around. Pay attention to the world around you. Look at paintings and sculptures in a gallery or online. Watch professional athletes improvise during a game or a match. See a live performance at a theater. Read books and magazines and blogs. Watch commercials. Watch YouTube. Listen to kids talk about anything at all -- kids have TONS of juice.

Your mission, should you choose to accept:

1) Find your outlet. 2) Get some juice. 3) Make stuff or make stuff happen. 4) Send me an email and tell me all about it!

What's the point of all this? I know you are wondering. Well, if you've read this far, you already know the answer: Change is gonna do you good.

=) Change Coach Pam