Friday, April 11, 2014

You Are Your Own Creative Solution

john cleese quote
There's only one thing that gets in the way of creativity.

You!

Yes, creative "blocks" are normal. Some days we show up to our medium of choice to express ourselves, ready to create, and then...nothing. Ugh.

We stare at the blank space in front of us, waiting, thinking, and waiting some more. We fidget. Our minds wander. We pace. We sigh. We get frustrated. We spin ourselves in circles in our swivel chair (well, I do). Anything to get the creative juices flowing again.

Creative "blocks" are temporary. I like to think of them not as blocks but as incubation periods when things are happening invisibly under the surface as our senses are perceiving the world. Even though we are not creating visibly, we are still creating underneath it all. A block implies impeded flow. The more you focus on being blocked, the more blocked you will feel. However, imagining that ideas are incubating conjures images of growth. Just that shift in thinking will begin to open the channels.

But to create consistently, rather than focus on the block, you must see yourself as the creative solution.

In my last post ("The Secret To Creativity?"), I mentioned that the secret to creativity is showing up. Creativity is work, plain and simple, only it's the kind of work that comes effortlessly when you enjoy the process. We are creative beings who are designed to create, only we fall short of creating what we want when we get in our own way.

So...get out of your own way.

Reckon with your own character.

Understand that creativity requires us to be curious. Without curiosity, there's no exploration. Being curious about things opens us up to questions, which opens up our minds, frees our thinking, and allows us to see things from new angles.

Creativity requires us to take risks. If we never attempt anything creative, we will never know where our talents lie. If you feel drawn toward a specific creative endeavor, take the chance. Explore it. Cultivate it. Experiment with it. Grow with it. You don't have to be a Picasso to paint or a Hemingway to write. This doesn't mean that you will always create high-quality or finished content every day, and that's okay. It means to show up, take a risk, push yourself to try new things and experiment with your form. Jump in and enjoy the process.

Creativity requires our energy. That's because creativity is energy, and this energy wants to move. Without our energy, creativity stagnates...and so do we.

Creativity requires us to be patient. It requires time and it doesn't like to be rushed. It wants your full attention not your frustration. The attribute of patience is learned through the discipline of waiting, yet in this culture of immediate gratification, many of us are not very amenable to waiting. If you find yourself in a waiting period, then it may be time to back off a bit or do something totally unrelated while your ideas incubate. Just trust the process.

During the incubation period, you can do a number of things, creative or otherwise, that may not be related to your current project. For example, stash away anything that inspires you (photos, thoughts, quotations, films...the medium doesn't matter as long as it inspires you). When things are incubating, go to your stash file with an open mind.

You can also grab a book (I like to open to a random page, choose the third sentence, and then use that as a sentence starter to generate ideas), meditate, clear your mind, or try different disciplines. The trick is to do something else, switch up the neural pathways in the brain, practice patience, and know that all is working out beneath the surface.

And while you're at it, strengthen your thinking by getting a better grip on your mind. If negative thoughts creep in, replace them with positive affirmations. You are creative by design.

Use that creativity and you will find that you have been the solution all along.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Secret To Creativity?

creativity
Courtesy Google Images
You don't have to be a Picasso to paint.

You don't have to be a Hemingway to write.

When it comes to creativity, it's not about how "good" you are at it. It's about expressing it in your own unique style.

We are creative beings. We are designed to create. It's not something that can be taught; it can only be nurtured.

When people ask me about what they can do to be creative, I tell them to show up and work at it. Creativity is not about painting a masterpiece that will one day hang in a museum. It's not about writing a bestseller.

Creativity is what happens when you are trying to solve a problem. That "problem" could be writing a poem, composing a song, designing a website, or landscaping your backyard. You come to an empty space and then fill it with life.

If you look at Einstein, Picasso, Hemingway, or whomever you deem creative, you'll find that they spent hours upon hours in front of their instruments of choice, applying their minds and souls to specific things. Sketch after sketch, draft after draft, they made attempt after attempt to get it right. They did the grunt work to master their skills to do more sophisticated work. They learned how to develop their ideas. They delivered finished work by showing up and working. Each day. Every day.

They didn't give up.

So, if you want to be more creative, pick up something you care about or are interested in doing and then get to work at it. If you start things and give up, then your problem isn't a lack of creativity; it's a lack of discipline and dedication.

Whether your creative attempts or endeavors turn out "good" or "bad" is inconsequential; things can always be improved upon as your skill set improves. Being creative is not about perfection. It's about showing up every day and letting it flow in whatever direction it flows.

When you reach a skill level at which you feel comfortable, you can either stick with it, or you can choose to develop it further, so long as you remain detached from the outcome. Instead, enjoy the process. Learn from it. Appreciate it for what it is and celebrate the discipline of it. It's a gift that can be sustained and enhanced with the right mindset, a favorable routine, and without putting too much pressure on yourself.

There is no substitute for showing up. It may not solve every problem, but it will allow your creative juices to flow toward an outcome, whatever it may be.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Inspiration vs. Motivation

Many people use the terms "inspiration" and "motivation" interchangeably.

But is there a difference? I think so.

When I try to motivate myself, more often than not I'm pushing myself to do something that I may not want to do or may not care about. I have to psyche myself up, pound on my chest like a gorilla, and release some guttural sounds before plunging into whatever it is I need to do.

It's not always fun.

Inspiration comes from a completely different place. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. When I'm inspired, I'm tuned into and aligned with spirit. I find myself in an effortless flow and naturally drawn to whatever feels best. I find myself feeling fulfilled.

It's always fun.

Motivation, on the other hand, helps us to complete tasks that we think we should do or that we're supposed to do. It doesn't lead to much growth inside of us because it's not a passionate, burning desire that emanates from our core of being. When the task is done, it's done, and that's it.

Inspiration, however, is about being called to act because you are in direct harmonious alignment with your Source Energy.

How do you know when you're in spirit? You won't feel pushed to do something; you will feel pulled toward it. You will feel called to do it because it comes from your core. Life will feel effortless. Your passion will burn steady, and you will feel energized and more alive than ever.

In a nutshell, motivation is the push, and inspiration is the pull.

Motivation is external, while inspiration is internal.

How do you define inspiration and motivation?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Expecting The Unexpected -- Embracing Unpredictability

The Boy Scouts have a mantra: Be prepared.

While much of the beauty of life lies in the unexpected -- finding $20 on the street or meeting someone who turns out to be the love of your life -- there are some things you just can't prepare for -- like going through a break-up, losing your job, or being diagnosed with cancer.

We go from feeling elated to feeling deflated.
Photo Courtesy Google Images
Photo Courtesy Google Images

This is what happens when life throws us a curveball. When it hits, it can be a challenge to face. Turns of fortune, both positive and negative, require us to be flexible and to reconsider our plans and priorities, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

The ability to accept what is happening and let go of our original expectations is key when dealing with these unexpected turns.

We have a tendency to get stuck in our own heads. We cling to ideas of how we think life should go, and when things don't go as planned, we find it difficult accepting anything that does not comply with those ideas.

Curveballs are the Universe's way of keeping us on our toes; it doesn't want our lives to stagnate or to lose purpose and meaning.

What can be done?

Expect the unexpected. Things will happen out of the blue and we can't predict when they will happen. Life is unpredictable, and no one is immune. This does not mean to live in a state of fear or dread. Things happen, and it is up to us to create a context for meaning, if we so choose. We can fear it, or we can embrace it.

This too shall pass. It's okay not to be okay...for now. Feelings of despair are natural when difficult situations unexpectedly occur. Know that these feelings are temporary as is the situation you're in. Give yourself time to grieve and process.

You're not alone. Tough times affect people from all walks of life. We all find ourselves in situations we did not expect and are unsure of how to deal with them. Talk with others who have faced similar situations. Having a support system and coping mechanisms in place will help you grow through this.

Drop back and punt. This is a time-out from what was originally expected or planned. Take this time to reassess the situation. This is not a time to cry, "Why me?" No one is exempt from life's unpredictability. Reevaluate your expectations. Many times we allow our expectations to interfere with the joy a natural flow offers.

Change your course of thinking and you change your course of action. So, your party wasn't the success you had expected. Do you fret over those who did not show? Or do you enjoy quality time with those few who did show?

Acknowledge what happened and keep on living. Take each day at a time, and in that day, take it hour by hour, moment by moment. Time is the best healer, especially in a situation you wish were different. What happened, happened, and you can't change what happened. You can only move forward. Remember that you are in control of your life, and you can choose how to live in the aftermath.

Look for the "blesson." Some would call this the silver lining in those clouds that sometimes overshadow our days. As a friend of mine says, "There's a blesson in it -- a lesson with a blessin' -- and it's for your highest good. Learn from it and then use it to bless others who are hurting."

Curveballs are not seemingly random events in our lives. Something led up to it. There is an order to the Universe of which we are a part, whether we realize it or not. We may not always understand the reason for certain unexpected things happening, but we can draw strength from knowing that there is a greater plan in play. Things happen for our highest good, and when we align our thinking to this, then there really is nothing to fear. The "good" will be revealed, if not on our timetable, on the Divine's.

We always get (attract) what is best or right for us. Sometimes we may need to duck or dodge or alter our game plan when a curveball comes into our lives. The rules change and so do our expectations. We get to see and approach things differently. The next time one comes your way, take a deep breath, say thank you, and open your mind to a new opportunity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let Your Gut Be Your Guide: Guest Blogger Milla Milunovich

Our bodies are amazing. They feel. They grow. They move. They create.

But when the body is out of sync, it hurts, it bleeds, it oozes, it limps, it bloats, it aches, and so on. When this happens, it needs to heal to get back into its harmonious rhythm and alignment.

Guest blogger and author Milla Milunovich, a practicing naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist, shares her thoughts about digestive health and what you can do to reboot your body’s natural rhythms. Her new book Natural Remedies For Common Digestive Problems is now available.

digestive health
Photo Courtesy Google Images
milla - edited version
Here's Milla:

Let’s face it. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than feeling sluggish, tired, and bloated from an improper diet. It limits what we can do and cramps our lifestyle, literally.

It takes the joy out of living.

There are so many digestive health problems that it is not possible to list them all. While individual symptoms can be similar, each case is unique.

A common and sometimes embarrassing issue that many suffer is constipation. Technically, constipation is not a digestive problem; rather, it is an elimination problem. But in the context of all digestive problems, constipation is only one part of it, but it is a very important part.

Without proper elimination, the body quickly starts to exhibit “ill” symptoms: weakening digestion due to gut toxicity, improper absorption of nutrients, imbalance of gut flora, and stagnation of vital forces in the body. The body’s natural rhythms get interrupted and do not work efficiently or effectively. Such misalignment invites a host of other disorders and diseases.

The other day I read a mother’s story about her two-year-old child, who suffered from a severe case of constipation. Her daughter developed this condition from the time she started solid foods and did not suffer from constipation while being breast-fed. The surgeon suggested that her daughter undergo surgery for constipation. He said he’d remove her whole gut, feed her through tubes for six months, and then return it. How extreme!

What this girl needs is a change in diet, not surgery. She had developed a severe case after going on solid foods that were not natural. Food devoid of fibre and natural enzymes (enzymes break down 60 - 70% of ingested food) and loaded with sugar, salt, preservatives and additives leads to constipation and kills probiotics (good bacteria) that live in our gut. Without these we can not lead a healthy life or survive.
The body has been designed to eat, digest, and utilise nutrients in order to keep us healthy. Likewise, it has been designed to eliminate the remnants of food that we do not need. If we eat highly processed foods instead of raw or lightly steamed vegetables and fruit, if we do not support friendly bacteria (probiotics), constipation occurs. Left untreated, it can lead to other physical, mental, and emotional disorders. Sufferers can grow irritable, intolerant, and fatigued. They may lack endurance and are frequently ill. Some may start to fear evacuating what is meant to be evacuated.

To keep our natural rhythms flowing on a daily basis, it is important to:

  • Eat vegetables and fruits
  • Prepare healthy, home-cooked meals
  • Eat digestive protein and fibre
  • Eliminate preservatives, sugar, additives, and food enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and hydrolised vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Avoid processed, pre-made foods

Living consciously means making healthy choices for our bodies. If our bodies are out of alignment, our lives will be out of alignment, and we will miss out on the joy of living. Let your gut be your guide.

More about this and other digestive problems can be found in Milla’s book Natural Remedies For Common Digestive Problems.

Please comment, share, or leave any questions for Milla in the comment section below.

Milla Milunovich is a Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Usui Reiki Master. Her practice allows her to work one-on-one with clients. She also employs iridology and flower essences in her consultations. She is especially interested in digestive health. "I think the old saying 'Death sits in the gut' is very true -- if the gut has problems, it will affect the whole body." As an alternative practitioner, Milla says she respects science while also respecting spirituality and its effect on humanity as a whole. "I believe that alternative health has its place with spirituality and conventional medicine to ensure a holistic approach when it comes to physical and mental healing and well being. In her spare time, Milla likes to paint. Milla works in Sydney, Australia.  You can e-mail Milla at milla.milunovich@gmail.com.
Milla's book is a practical guide to natural remedies for common and sometimes embarrassing digestive health issues using modern and traditional treatments. Suggested remedies rely on a holistic approach utilizing herbs, vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and other ingredients to not only treat the observed symptoms but also resolve the underlying health problem. Order it here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Two Words To Stop Saying

I marvel at my neighbors who compete with one another when it comes to who has the greenest lawn, the best landscaped beds, or the most beautiful curbside appeal.

While it’s a precisely manicured neighborhood, it is high maintenance for its owners who spend a lot of their free time working at keeping their yards in pristine condition.

Thank God I live on a dead end street. I have a nice lawn; it’s not fancy, but I maintain it with the help of a lawn service. I keep it simple because I like low maintenance.

On my walks through the neighborhood, I watch how many of these neighbors covet the lawns of others. Of course, the old adage, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” comes to mind.

For some, there will always be the other side of the fence, where things look better.

How many times have we said to ourselves that we would feel better if only…if only we had a different job, a different car, more money; if only we were smarter, thinner, faster; if only I had said this or done that…if we were anything other than what we are, we would feel better.

But if we can’t be happy as we are, where we are, chances are we won’t be happy anywhere else.

Our answers and satisfaction are not somewhere “over there.” Wholeness, perfection, happiness…call it what you will…is not something to be chased after. It’s something to be claimed.

If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it’s because it only appears that way to us when we have lost our ability to recognize and appreciate the beauty and the blessing of what’s right in front of us (or directly beneath our own feet).

Just as untended weeds can overtake a lawn, “if only” statements can wreak havoc on your emotions and your life. These statements crowd your mental space, piling on all sorts of unwanted emotions. The more you let them take root in your mind, the more they will spread into other areas of your life. What an exhausting way to live, always comparing and competing and wishing for the better. No wonder there’s no room for happiness. . .there’s no place for it to grow!

Those two tiny words have dire consequences. STOP. SAYING. THEM.

Invoking the power of “if only” is a trick of the ego, causing you to look outside of yourself rather than within. Behind these two words are either procrastination or over-competitiveness, envy, and a fear of not measuring up.

What you think, what you speak, what story you tell about yourself to yourself — those words become your reality. The more you whine or complain about your state of unhappiness, the more you doom yourself to attract more things to whine and complain about. It’s how the universe works; there’s no way around that. Rather than have it work against you with your whining and complaining, make it work for you by choosing better words.

If you want to change your reality, then you must change your story, and if you’re going to tell a better story, then you must change your wording. Start cultivating a better self-talk vocabulary.

Stop looking over the fence and start appreciating the blessings that are already present in your life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get Lucky!

four leaf clover

With St. Patty's Day approaching, our minds fill with leprechauns, pots of gold, shamrocks, and everything green. We also think about the luck of the Irish.

But luck is not reserved only for the Irish.

Luck is available to everyone. It is an abundance mindset. And it's waiting to be claimed by you.

Can people really enhance the amount of luck they encounter in life?

Of course. It begins with attitude.

How do you define luck? Is it something that is out of your control? Do you expect something or someone to magically appear from the heavens to instantly improve your life?

Luck is not a passive thing; it's something we create for ourselves. Sitting around waiting for luck to happen to you instead of creating it can generate negativity and resentment, forcing you to see other people's good fortune as the result of luck rather than good choices. Change your thinking on this! See luck as an emotion. Just as you can decide to be happy, you can decide to be lucky. Rather than waiting for changes to happen, take action to bring about a more positive change. Expect luck. When you have a mindset that expects luck to happen, you will begin to attract luck, and this creates a sense of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Take advantage of opportunities. A lucky mindset attracts and maximizes opportunities. If you're too busy waiting for things to be perfect, you're going to be waiting a very long time. Recognize opportunities when they arise. When you embrace these opportunities, you improve your chances of having more fortuitous opportunities come your way.

Be open to change. When things seem less than ideal, look for the positives. Do what you can to turn them around. Making changes, even small ones, will keep you receptive to opportunities and luck that presents itself. Embrace these changes as "wins." Enjoying these "wins" will keep you positive, motivated, and happy.

Surround yourself with "lucky" items. Every culture has items that are considered "lucky." Four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, the number seven, and dreamcatchers are often used as symbols of good luck. Surrounding yourself with lucky totems is a common way of keeping yourself feeling prosperous.

Listen to your intuition. Your intuition is the tuning fork of truth. When something feels right or wrong, your intuition will let you know which direction to take. Trust it. You can boost this ability through meditation and quiet time.

Luck, like happiness, is not some elusive state reserved for certain individuals. It's yours to have. When you tune your mind into luck (abundance), that luck will begin to flow.

If you think you are lucky, then you are. If you think you are not, then you're not. It's up to you.