Connecting the Dots

 

“I’m not creative at all.” How many times have I heard friends say that? Most recently it was at a fun and engaging youth event in which one of the volunteers, a friend of mind, had put together a program for a group of young people. It was a weekend of activities, all of which were interconnected by the theme of looking to others for our identity. No, I’m not kidding. This clearly talented woman could not see that she had created an experience of diverse and meaningful opportunities for expression and had literally made something big and powerful where there had previously been nothing. With only a general theme and a handful of guidelines offered her, she birthed something purposeful, something that evolved over three days into a narrative of self for a hundred young people. If only I were that creative, I thought.

The jury is still out (sort of) on exactly what creativity is. There are plenty of ideas about it, and some are more sinuous, while others are more restrained. In a completely subjective way, I do believe we all are creative. We all have the ability to create something where there was once nothing, and we do it every day. You can’t make a sandwich without it. Some of us are gifted at it, while others have to work a bit harder. Some of us like to color in the lines, and some of us need to be messy. Some of us are impassioned with these activities, while some feel frustrated by the effort, and others are completely indifferent. But I argue that most of those distinctions do not matter much, in terms of defining creativity, and the real issue for me is that those who are invigorated by the act of creating—ought to be doing it. And doing it often.

One of my favorite notions of creativity is expressed in the now famous statements made by the late Steve Jobs, who mused that “creativity is just connecting things.” I don’t know about that “just” part, which implies a simplicity too basic in my opinion, but I think for me and those I have mentored, the connections are a key foundation of creating. It is also in part about rejecting the traditional in lieu of the unusual. We all have it inside us to see the unusual. It has just been stifled by our routines and dulled by our habitual ways of living. But to see with new eyes is to be creative. To connect those nebulous dots and give them form—that is how we make things new. And isn’t that what my friend did? She took an idea: identity-self-other, and she connected the dots in a way that was new and meaningful for a bunch of 16-year-olds. Pretty impressive.

I know some of you are doing impressive things, too, and probably not giving yourself enough credit. I encourage you to spend some time exploring what creativity means to you: the definition, but also how it manifests for you. I hope you’ll share those insights with me here or email them to me at alinda@scribewoman.net.

In truth and love…

Worth It

blog photo #15 advice for saleThe best things in life are free…

This is one of those sayings that we have heard many times, and we just accept it as truth. And the Beatles helped convinced us, didn’t they?

I, however, live in the “everything has a cost” camp, which at a glance, appears to be where all the cynical kids play. I am here to argue that we are indeed the hopeful campers. Everything that matters in life has cost me something. That’s in part why it matters to me. To prove my point, I’ll illuminate my top three.

My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. I know that we Christians like to say it costs us nothing, and I agree that God’s grace is a free gift. But I’m talking about the choice, every day, to put my spiritual life at the forefront. To really examine what God/dess would have me do, and align my behaviors accordingly. It’s painful, friends. And costly. There are plenty of times I would prefer to shout at someone in anger or (this one is the biggie for me) keep score and seek revenge. Choosing not to engage in those behaviors is a challenge for people like me.

My children come just after God, and anyone with kids will tell you that parenthood isn’t free from struggle and sacrifice. Need I go on?

And my number three is the development of my nonprofit organization and my writing life–because they are intertwined. I’ve been writing since I could spell “writing,” and it is my saving grace. I can say this without fear of sacrilege because for me, the Divine is born in me through my words. When I set out to be a writer,  as you can imagine, I got nods and smiles and pats on the head. While some of my peers earned business degrees and went on to celebrate with gargantuan salaries,  and others followed a different bliss, maybe one similar to mine in teaching or social services (which I did for a while, too), I was fighting to find MY bliss and live MY truth, as I felt the Universe had asked me to do. I’m not suggesting that my friends aren’t living authentic lives; I’m saying that the predictable schedules and income and the safety those things offer are the things I had to give up to BE a writer–to step into my truest self and honor who I was created to become. I had to risk not making rent. I had to skip the summer trips to the beach. At one time I was working FIVE part-time jobs! I had to piece together a living that would keep us fed and also feed my soul. I had to eschew romance and instead choose the quiet solitude wherein I could hear the voice of God/dess whispering to me. My children paid for it too, which was at times painful to watch–its images full of triggers for guilt, questions, and self-doubt (the mommy’s Holy Trinity).

These are things I value most. And they were not free. I love my relationship with God. It is a highly personal one, and it is my compass in all earthly matters. My children are my heart. They have brought me greater joy than any other experience in life. And my time at the keyboard or notebook is filled with moments during which I am most fully alive. The price tag for all three was crazy high. But totally worth it.

What are your top three, and how much are you willing to pay for them?