Advent Calendar of 24 “Painless Creativity” Prompts

img_5403

Recently at a family reunion we handed out Advent calendars for the kids in our family. You know the kind, where you open a little window and get a candy treat or special item each day, counting down the days ’til Christmas?  Afterward,  I started thinking about how the grownups were left out of the ritual. And you know what? That’s not fair. Instead, we grownups get the countdown of x number of shopping days ’til Christmas. Bah humbug!

Do you need a little something to help you through this holiday season? A special treat for your sweet spot of creativity? An easy-to-do, short, daily prompt for your creative self during this crazy time of give, give, giving to others?

Starting December 1 you’ll receive a prompt-a-day to tickle your creative brain. There will be 24 “painless” prompts leading up to December 25. Depending on your engagement, each creative exercise can take 5-15 minutes and will be stress free since you can skip a day when needed or quit anytime. The prompts are not religion-based, not tied to Advent except in borrowing a traditional form.

I can’t give you a little chocolate each day, but I can help you rediscover the simple pleasure of creative time for yourself each day. And that is a sweet gift in itself.

The only supplies you’ll need are:

  • 3×5 cards, notepad, sketchbook or journal  (anything on which to draw or paint)
  • pens, watercolors, pastels, pencils (anything with which to draw or paint)
  • willingness to let go of your inner critic

Using 3×5 cards is easy–when you’re done you have a nice collection and can pin your favorites on your bulletin board.

Or send a photo to #unstuckcreativeprompts on Instagram. Remember, these are creative exercises, not finished works of art.



1 comment

Are You A Warrior In The War of Art?

 

Do you want to study war or be a warrior?

“It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior’s life.”                                  -Steven Pressfield

Why a quote about war in a blog post about art and creativity? Because this quote sums up the difference between one who studies a thing and one who lives it. One who studies art and one who creates.

In my first post for this blog I was becoming the warrior. I had reached that point where I questioned myself and asked  myself if I was willing to make art no matter what? Well yes, yes I am. I am doing this. And this is war. The War of Art.

Another warrior, Lang, has fought some battles and had some victories. But she will tell you the war is still on. She recently spoke about her experiences, her war stories if you will. Listen as she speaks–can you catch the joy of the process when she talks about the characters in her book, how they come alive for her, speaking through her?

If you are itching for a fight with the “Resistance” (Pressfield) and to finally get your game on, get your combat gear ready. Put on your flak jacket and follow us, the unstuck creatives, as we create. You’re welcome to join us for a meetup if you are local or keep in touch here on the blog. We are an extremely welcoming group, for a bunch of warriors.

 

Because warriors are action-oriented, here are 3 Action Steps To Refresh Your Creativity.

Lang is one of our unstuck creatives featured on the creative living page.

0 comments

California, A Leadfoot and a V-8 Engine

Leadfoot

?Your lips taste like sangria…your lips taste like sangreeee..eee..yuhhhh?

There’s something about the open road that nurtures an open mind. As I was blasting, uh, make that driving sensibly through the beauty of Central California recently, in a car with no satellite radio and no Bluetooth, I dialed through to an FM country radio station. With a great Bose sound system and no other cars in sight, I was in highway heaven. That song on full volume made me realize how long I’ve been disconnected from music.

Driving in California is a stimulant. Not the driving in commute traffic around congested cities. I’m talking about the driving where you’re reminded that cars and freeways were made for each other. Smooth, fast, glorious.

On previous driving trips I devoured the scenery as I listened to some of my favorites: Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite VII (Shaker melody) as the rising sun slowly illuminated the fields of Steinbeck Country…Joshua Bell, YoYo Ma, Invisible by Black Violin… the Highwaymen through King City… Gracias a la Vida as the coast burst into view near Pismo Beach.

On this road trip I noticed the make of cars change through the miles; from the latest models of Tesla, Mercedes, Lexus—other upscale cars I don’t even recognize—to practical models, then to pickups and trucks hauling farm equipment. Then closer to home they changed to Prius.  Each geographical area seemed to reflect the mindset of the drivers.

Recently my mindset has been blocked and sluggish.  But on this road trip Blake Shelton’s voice drove straight to my heart as I drove straight through the golden hills and miles of vineyards. His song helped reopen my mind.

I realized lately I’ve been listening to too many business or self-improvement audios. This trip reminded me to reconnect with music. To appreciate the magic trio of music, an awesome car, and the stunning visuals of California scenery.

Do you have a song that connects you to driving in California? Let me know in the comments and I’ll give it a listen and add it to my driving playlist.

3 comments

Introducing Rosey, A Very Nosey Mouse

rosey peeping circle

Meet the newest member of my family – Rosey. One of the reasons I’ve been missing lo these summer months is my struggle to bring her and her story to life.

Many months ago, approximately 18, which is twice as long as a human gestation, Sonja–a fellow unstuck creative–encouraged me to consider writing a book. I never wanted to be an author, even though I enjoy writing and love word work.  But Sonja is a published author and worked in the publishing industry. She knows these things.

Even though I had not wanted to be an author, I saw a need for a book, a certain type of book enjoyed by little ones in my family. A scratch ’n sniff book to be exact.  There didn’t seem to be any new ones on the market and none covering the subjects I was interested in buying.

So being the true creative who sees a way to make something that doesn’t yet exist, I took the challenge. And lo and behold, Rosey comes into being.

As in a regular birth process, there are periods of confusion, morning sickness / night sickness / motion sickness…bloat, weight gain, discomfort and distrust. Apprehension and, through these labor pains, anticipation.

After numerous attempts to confine the illustrations of Rosey to the page margins of Amazon’s Createspace, I finally had to turn my baby Rosey over to a professional in the printing industry who promises he can help her take form. Now I’m going through separation anxiety.

So I’m writing about her to introduce her to you and prepare the way for her eventual coming out. Rosey will be here soon.  There are still problems to overcome but I am determined.  Watch for an announcement!

Expectantly yours,

Cynthia

p.s. Thanks Sonja. Here’s to many more! 7fd631c70bf302d122247c69fb137881

10 comments

Summer In the Garden of Eden

Fireflies At Dusk

I love to reminisce. It makes me want to write and explore the memory that just popped into my head. It’s like having my own personal, private holodeck where I can escape and spend time. This is what it’s like inside…

I can feel the air now, oven-warm and thick. Moist and still. Not a hint of a breeze. The light sky is fading into evening and we are waiting. Anticipating. We, my husband and I, rushed over to this special place we discovered, I’ve forgotten how or when we discovered it. But it is the best place, maybe in the world, at least in our world, to be rewarded for patience.

Soon the din of crickets becomes louder, more noticeable. It started earlier I’m sure, but I was not ready to hear it. Now, as we settle in for what’s to come, all my senses are on tingle mode and I hear, see and feel in a special way.

We wait, no other people or cars are near. Not far away people drive by the turn-off to this spot and no one seems to care that in a moment, a glorious resurrection will occur. From the old, very old musty ground of this place, hundreds of fireflies will rise, slowly, and leave their calligraphy in the night sky. It is such a pleasure to our eyes. Like a feast laid before the hungry. Slow moving glitter, they leave sparkles across the dark.

We sit and watch. We don’t speak, no dialog needed, I only ooo and ahhh. I take a video in my mind so I can replay it at will, since I know our time living here is growing shorter.

We moved from that part of the world and our new home has no fireflies at night. Growing up we called them lightning bugs. We ran around trying to catch them, like chasing slow-moving stars, and we ended our nights covered with chigger and mosquito bites. The fireflies were a visual treat for us, and we were a feast for the nocturnal blood suckers.

Many things I don’t miss about that geographical region with the black blue skies lit by insects and distant electrical storms. But a few things come back to visit in my happy memories. Memories where a midnight blue sky rimmed by old-growth trees and carpeted with ancient mossy grasses, comes alive with floating sparks of light. In my mind’s eye it’s a primordial Garden of Eden, but at night, while Adam and Eve are dozing and tiny bugs are scripting the night sky.

Have you ever seen fireflies? Did you chase them when you were a child? Do you remember the smell left on your cupped hands if you captured one?






4 comments

Dying of Boredom

not boring logo2May you live in interesting times. That can be a curse or an affirmation. For some of us, it’s a necessity.

Do you remember a time in your life when you were bored and disillusioned? And you couldn’t see your way out? Hopefully you got through that phase, or maybe you are in it now. It’s hard to get ourselves out of the rut of life sometimes. That’s where creativity comes into play.

Our world is awash with creativity. Even though technology can be a curse, it can make our lives creatively richer. I’ve tried but I can’t live without tech. How about you? You might give up Facebook for a month, but can you give up your phone? You may want to throw the laptop in the trash when you have to call support yet again. But you will claw your way through last week’s pizza to get it back out of the trash can.

Face it. We are dependent. But that’s okay as far as I’m concerned. Instead of lamenting, take control. Find ways to use your tech to enhance your life to a greater degree. There are brilliant minds working in tech industries–using tech to discover new things or generate new ideas. Join them, be curious, explore. It keeps boredom at bay.

If you are local, join us: unstuck creatives on meetup

We’ll share our favorite tech for creative inspiration or productivity.

Two creatives who keep me inspired are people I found online. Sometimes I don’t recall how I  found them or how I landed on their pages (wandering during procrastination?) but they helped take me to new levels:

Shea Hembrey

A guy named Kurt

0 comments

Terra Firma Is So Last Century – Rising Oceans and Wet Toes

Do you feel the rumble through your life? Do you sense a change or a transformation? Or are you stuck in a placid life? Even if you try to maintain a peaceful, stable existence, the universe may not go along with your program. Something may happen to you or around you that will affect you. Something will intrude no matter your careful plan or preference.

At the turn of the century (you remember Y2K right?) we were ready for change but had no idea what that change would look like or entail. Not an inkling of the places we would go or things we would go through.  It’s probably better that way.  For if you had told me, I likely wouldn’t have chosen to start the journey, saving myself from angst, anger and major adjustment challenges. But I would have missed out on amazing experiences, and vivid, valuable life lessons.

Why do we challenge ourselves this way? What’s in our DNA that calls us to rattle the foundation of our lives? Generations have worked hard to give us a country, an economic system and a political system in which to thrive.  But we take that and try to twist it into something new. To redefine what a life in this place, in this century, should look like.  That’s the true freedom, to be a creative rearranger of your own life, attempting to make it into a life that’s worth living on your own terms.

Our terms included a life on the beach– a life we envisioned while still at the daily grind and that vision kept us striving. Beach living was chaotic. We lived on the edge, in liminality. We left an old world behind and dove into a new.

Red Ring - Hockney

We sacrificed our stable and predictable lives. We embraced chaos and did a daily tango with the tides. The tides. The tides that erode the land can erode a sense of security. Nightly dreams of water splashing our toes sounds exciting (it was) but those dreams can turn into nightmares.

Do you long for the forces of the sea in your life? For the transformational power and magic of the tides ? Are you willing to endure life on the edge?

This is the terrible beauty of  The Force of the Sea.

 

 

2 comments

Violets and Violence – Flower Children and The Language of Flowers

sunflower with butterfly copy

Do you have a favorite flower that stops you in your tracks when you see it? The flower for which you give a little thank you to the universe for its lovely creation? Is it the color, the perfect symmetry, the smell, the texture that lights you up?

It’s usually a sunflower that stirs my soul. There are many other flowers I enjoy, yet the grand presence of a sunflower affects me in a certain way. But one day a small purple bloom  took on a new meaning for me as I walked in a lonely field. The field was the Antietam Battleground.

At first I was taken aback by the peacefulness of the area. Green, lush, spooky quiet. A gentle wind, a bright sun. It took a while for me to notice the precious little blossoms scattered around my feet. A thought occurred to me that on the day of the battle, the ground would have been covered in streams of blood, fragments of shrapnel, fragments of humans and horses. The unfortunates who were not to feel the ‘glorious joy of heroes‘.

In a remembrance of the Battle of Shiloh, a young Henry Morton Stanley (of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” fame) wrote:

“Day broke with every promise of a fine day. Next to me, on my right, was a boy of seventeen, Henry Parker. I remember it because, while we stood-at-ease, he drew my attention to some violets at his feet, and said, ‘It would be a good idea to put a few into my cap. Perhaps the Yanks won’t shoot me if they see me wearing such flowers, for they are a sign of peace.’ ‘Capital,’ said I, ‘I will do the same.’ We plucked a bunch, and arranged the violets in our caps. The men in the ranks laughed at our proceedings, and had not the enemy been so near, their merry mood might have been communicated to the army.” –The Battle of Shiloh, 1862″ EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2004)

Stanley takes in the “holy calm of the woods”, for it was a Sunday. And he thought what a grand place for a picnic.

It’s hard to comprehend and appreciate the tragic beauty of a battlefield. Picasso created a work of art to express the cruel chaos of war: Guernica.

After the battles, Nature reclaims her own. The bodies are buried, the vines and grasses grow over, strip malls are constructed. The “raining death” of cannonball explosions is forgotten.

copy violet antietem

A small purple flower lives on. Perhaps the last beautiful thing a dying rebel boy or union soldier saw as he lay his head down for the last time on this violent earth.

Update: It’s the season for thinking of flowers–tilling the soil and planting the seeds. Even the astronauts high above the earth struggle with planting and nurturing their garden: Zinnias in Space

0 comments

Give Us This Day Our Daily Wave

 

wave still for post

What gets you up in the morning? Is it bringing up the sunrise? Is it greeting your sweet child? How about that loving and needy pet? What makes you happy to see another day? For us, right now in this time of life, it’s the beach. And the early morning sun on the water.

It’s a privilege to enjoy the beach early, when there are few, a hardy few, who make it out and about so early. Early birds and early dogs and their people move along, silent, as if in slow motion, before the crowds emerge.

It’s a great way to greet the day. Even on foggy and wet days, there’s a beauty about it. A rhythm and a rhyme. In. out. The steady breathing of the salt water pulled by the mysteries of the moon and movement of the earth. We breathe along with it. Inhale. exhale. The breath of life.

The beauty of mornings on the beach makes me want to write. Makes me want to paint. What ways do you find to express your gratitude for the beauty around you?

 

 

 

 

4 comments

Attachment and the Lingering Sun

Have you come up with your word or motto for 2016 yet? Many of the social media groups and coaches groups want us to proclaim one. Mine is: attachment.

My problems with attachment keep popping into my mind whenever I think about things that need to be discarded to make room for all our new “stuff”. Or when I think about things that are lost, or when we nearly lost a loved one recently.

I admit I have a problem with attachment, and non-attachment, letting go. I still miss our dog who has been gone for years. I miss certain houses and parents and kids and …you name it. If they’re not right here next to me, I’m missing them.

One of my favorite poems by James Kavanaugh captures that melancholy:

His imagery of watching the sun set over the ocean, remembering those he loves, rings true of the pull of attachment. He writes of wanting to gather his loved ones in his arms all at once. I love that image. A big group hug of everyone I love, all squashed together. That could be what heaven is like–everyone together laughing while our old dogs come running like pups, tails wagging, so happy to see us.

I first heard his poem read by someone with a lovely lilting Irish accent. When I read it, that is the voice I hear. Do you have a poem that has stayed with you, that you hear in your head? One that captures what you feel in your heart?

3 comments
Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software
%d bloggers like this: