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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

And I’m back! Dreaming bigger again, only this time my focus is on joy. Kind of appropriate since the subtitle of my book is Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease!

I’m writing a new blog now at Jules for Joy. It’s my journey toward joy, through creativity, play and beauty. I’m exploring what brings joy into my life, and then sharing it.

I’d love to hear where you find joy. Perhaps we can inspire each other!

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The town of Cateura, Paraguay, is built on a landfill. Residents sort through the garbage to find items that can be sold. One day an orchestra director and music teacher came to town to teach children how to play violins and flutes. But they didn’t bring enough instruments for all those who wanted to play.

The town’s scrap dealers found a creative solution to the challenge. They built violins, violas, guitars and horns out of junk found in the landfill. The music that emerges from these recycled instruments rivals the greatest orchestras in the world.

As the orchestra director points out in a video about the project, it’s a valuable lesson in recognizing the potential value in much of what we consider to be “garbage”. It’s also about recognizing the value of every human being, the potential for growth and passion that exists in each one of us, regardless of where we live and the circumstances in which we live.

May you and your family enjoy the blessings of  good health, shared joy, and beauty this holiday season.

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I’ve heard people say that dreams are only for those who have extra time, energy and money. They suggest that the rest of the world is stuck with the “reality” of finding enough work to earn enough income to pay the bills. I believe that everything is possible. It’s just a question of starting somewhere and believing that there are no limitations to what you can accomplish.

Take the story of the red paper clip. Perhaps you’ve heard it before.

In 2005, Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian blogger, decided to play a childhood game to see where it might lead. The game called “Bigger, Better” involves trading something you have for something that’s bigger and better. You keep on going until you have what you want, however big that might be.

In Kyle’s case, he didn’t have a particular goal in mind. He just wanted to surprise his girlfriend.

He started with one red paperclip. And Craigslist.

Within a year, one trade at a time, he went from owning one red paperclip to owning a two-storey farmhouse in Saskatchewan. Along the way, his trades included a camp stove, a snowmobile, a recording contract, an afternoon with Alice Cooper, and a role in a movie. Each time that he traded up, he travelled to meet with the trader. His travels and trades took him across Canada to the western and southern United States and back to Canada again.

You can read more about his bartering adventures on his blog.

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Since I made joy, ease and fun my focal points for 2012, it’s amazing how many opportunities I’ve been given to practice my new approach.

Today, for example. You see, my condo is for sale. This means that, in addition to having to keep it clean and tidy all the time, I have to vacate for at least an hour every time someone wants to see it. There are only so many walks around the block that I can take!

Rather than leave the building during today’s showing, I decided to sit in the library instead. My building has a beautiful wood-paneled library in the foyer. In it, there’s a fireplace, a comfy couch, a couple of armchairs and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined with intriguing books. In the past, I’ve just walked by it. Not today.

I curled up on the couch with a good book and some crocheting and settled in for the hour. There was classical music playing softly in the foyer and I felt like I was in a fancy hotel lobby.

As I crocheted, my mind relaxed. I started to watch residents as they passed the library doors on their way to or from school or work. There was an older French-speaking couple picking up their mail. Then a number of Chinese students came and went in a hurry. There was a young girl clutching her music book, on her way up to the 3rd floor for her piano lesson. And a young couple heading down the side hall to take their dogs out for a walk in the afternoon sunshine.

I glanced down at the scarf I’m crocheting for my daughter’s boyfriend. The two of them will be arriving in a few weeks for a holiday. He’s Australian and to arrive in the depth of a Canadian winter will be a bit of a shock for him. So I’m making the scarf to help keep him warm (and hopefully give him a positive feeling about our country!) I’m getting a lot of pleasure out of crocheting again, something I haven’t done for many years. My joy is magnified as I imagine the look on his face when I give it to him (with a hug, of course).

For a change of pace, I picked up my book. It’s a new one, lent to me by a dear friend. I’m loving every minute of reading it because the author has a fresh perspective on life that makes me reflect on my own.

Soon the prospective buyers came through the lobby and went into my condo. I kept reading until long after they’d gone, so immersed was I in the book. When I finally put it down, I realized how much I’d enjoyed my “banishment” to the library. Instead of being a chore to be endured, tapping my fingers impatiently and worrying about all the work that I wasn’t getting done, it became an opportunity to relax, and focus for a whole hour on activities that bring me joy and pleasure.

And I had fun!

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I sat down to write this blog today and realized I had nothing to work with. No ideas, no inspiration. Zilch. Nada. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the forecast storm hadn’t materialized. I’d seen the hummingbird at the feeder (so delicate and ethereal), and some of the flowers in the balcony pots had opened overnight. There was lots of reason to feel good about the day, yet I was low. And when I’m low, creativity is nowhere to be found.

So I sat on the couch for a while, willing the Muse to bless me with a theme for today’s blog. Nothing.

I walked over to the sliding doors and looked out on the beautiful scene – trees swaying in the wind, baby ducks playing hide and seek among tall grasses, the pond sparkling in the sunlight. Big sigh. What should I do about this heavy layer of despair?

I decided it was time to get out of my apartment. When I’m feeling down, the best solution is some form of exercise and being with people, although all I really want to do is curl up alone and mope. The hardest part is getting myself out the door, so I resolve that by giving myself a task or goal. I needed to go to the bank, so that meant a walk to a nearby mall.

As I walked, I began to notice all the activity going on around me. Road construction (in summer, that’s a given!) on neighbouring streets, mothers pushing baby buggies, cars coming and going (where are they heading?), students on bikes or walking, listening to music on ear pieces. The world was vibrant and alive.

I took a short cut through a townhouse community, past gardens growing beside front steps. I noticed bright orange tiger lilies blooming along with deep yellow day lilies. I saw a few lingering roses beside spirea bushes with rich pink flower heads. A tiny chipmunk scurried up some stairs and disappeared into a hole in the ground.

Even the mall was a beehive of activity with sidewalk sales, people sitting on benches licking ice cream cones, or at outdoor cafes sipping coffee and tea.

With every step, I took a deep breath, bringing more oxygen into my lungs. To do so, I had to stand taller and as my posture shifted, so did my mood. I liked the feeling of my feet and legs working hard to propel me forward, and the power of the wind blowing in my face. The sun felt warm on my back, and I noticed the gentle relief of the cool shade offered by trees along the sidewalk.

Each movement, breath and experience along the way made me realize that I belong to a bigger world. I’m not alone, unless I choose to be. And I have the power to change the quality of my day simply by stepping outside my door, and outside my self.

And, would you look at that? I’ve just written today’s blog!

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I’ve been reading and watching the entries in the Dream BIGGER Reinvention Challenge today. The range of creativity in the dreams is awe-inspiring. From wanting to build a healing community or live off the land to creating children’s television, studying the Art Masters, or taking a book from paper to big screen to name just a few. Each contestant has taken the time to put their vision into words and, in so doing, is sharing their passion with the world.

There’s a saying attributed to Howard Thurman that goes, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go and do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

As I go through the contest entries, there is no question that each of these people has found what makes them “come alive”. It’s that sense of aliveness, that leap in the heart, the spring in the step, the excitement in the eyes that tells the world you’re passionate about what you’re doing. The dreams of these contestants may not be reality yet, but they already know what it will feel like and look like when it happens.  Note that I said when it happens, because their dreams will come true. They’re already on their way. They’ve already taken two important steps in that direction – getting clear on what their dream is and committing to it by sharing it with others through the contest website.

I’m am sure that most, if not all of them, have been taking more steps ever since entering the contest. That’s key too. Once the voice of a dream has been heard, it doesn’t go away. It keeps nudging you during the day and calling to you at night. It offers you signs and connections, points you toward resources and information, and finds ways to keep the momentum going. You can, of course, always choose to ignore it. But would you really want to? After all, it’s giving you the opportunity to create or do something special and unique, something that will bring joy into your life and into the lives of those around you.

The Dream BIGGER contest ends on November 29.  Regardless of who wins the grand prize, everyone who enters, votes, or who simply enjoys hearing about the various dreams benefits because of the commitment and passion that’s found in the stories and videos. It’s contagious, isn’t it?

If you haven’t already done so, do visit the contest site and discover for yourself the power sparked by creativity and passion in the form of dreams.

And now it’s your turn to dream … bigger!

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Inspiration. Where does it come from? As I write this blog today, that’s the question in my mind. Creative people often talk about the rituals they go through to prime the pump. I’ve heard of going for a brisk walk to clear the mind, sitting and meditating for a half hour, or letting the hands “play” with crayons, clay or words before getting down to the actual painting, sculpting or writing.

I know from experience that there’s no point in priming the pump if the well has run dry. You can pump as hard as you like and nothing will happen although you might mess up the inner mechanisms.  The same applies to our bodies and lives. When our inner reservoir runs dry, we feel stressed and exhausted as if we’re running on empty all the time. If we keep pushing ourselves, we’re likely to mess up – not just the projects we’re working on, but our relationships and our own physical well being.

It’s hard to acknowledge that we need a break, and then even harder to find a way to take it. We’re all living busy lives with demands that never seem to end. If we keep waiting for the perfect opportunity, or for someone else to give us permission, we’ll be waiting a very long time!

When we’re feeling burned out, our dreams definitely seem out of reach. We barely have the energy to function and get through the day. Making a dream come true is certainly not a priority.

Or is it?

One of the reasons we become exhausted is that we’re not replenishing our own inner well. And the best way to do that is to feed our dreams.  By honoring our dreams and taking steps toward them, we begin to nourish a starving part of our being. It’s that little voice deep inside you that has shrunk to a whisper in the last few years, but it’s still there, begging to be heard. “Remember how much you love to … ?”

What’s your inner voice saying to you? Take some time to listen. Carve out 30 minutes every day (maybe in two 15-minute stretches if needed) to be alone and still so you can find peace and quiet. Relax your breathing, empty out your mind as best you can during this time, and just be.

Creating this ritual for yourself on a daily basis will bring stillness to your whole being and give you a chance to rest, recover and rekindle your inner spark. You’ll be surprised by the ideas that emerge to guide you to a life that’s more satisfying and fulfilling.

The life of your dreams.

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