In the Image of My Father

By Gerard Kelly

Made in the image of my father:
Breath-filled:
His will to live
Kindling my life,
His call to be
Driving my being.
My heart is sparked
By his heart;
My mind is fired
By his imagination
My animation
Is his declaration:
Because he is
I am.

Made in the image of my father:
Able
Artful
Articulate
Created to create
Pulsing with potential
Designed to design
Invented for invention
Made to make.
Through His eyes
I see possibilities
Through His ears
I hear harmonies
In His heart beat
I feel life’s dancing rhythms.
Because he can
I will

Made in the image of my father:
Dependent
Rooted in relationship
Commissioned for companionship
A free individual
Made free in community
Distinct
Yet needing devotion
Complete
But needing completion
Unique
I seek the company of others
A part
I seek my meaning in the whole.
Because of Him
I need to be needed.
Because I am loved
I love.

Made in the image of my father
Human
His word of command
Shaping flesh
His loving intention
Sculpting the soil of Earth Into life.
His voice
Causing
Calling
Claiming me
Naming me
Framing my future
Fashioning me.
Because of his dreams
I have promise.
Because of his promise
I have dreams

Ushered into extravagant existence;
Tumbling into time
Fumbling
Falling
Free
I am human
I am dependent
I am able
I am breath-filled
I am made
In the image of my Father.

Creativity Under Pressure: The Weight of Insecurity

As creatives, most likely the toughest critic we have to deal with is ourselves.  We’re our own worst enemies. Because, truth is: we’re broken and wounded people. Broken and wounded people who are birthing creative things into the world, that to us, embody our highest joys and deepest fears…and our most awkward, ugly, painful, misery-making insecurities.


We write a witty blog post, and pray that people find us incredibly clever…clever enough to retweet on Twitter.
We put paint onto brush and brush onto canvas, and hope that the world approves of our amazing artistry.
We combine words with melodies, and wait in agonizing silence for the world to deliver their verdict and somehow validate what came from our very soul.
We speak into the microphone and feel empowered and important…and we obsess over whether what we said had purpose and meaning.
We move to rhythm and music, defying gravity and invisibility, and we long for the world to truly see us…in all our transcendent beauty.
We write books to validate our perspectives, our opinions…and sometimes our very existence, blurring the lines between what we think and who we are.
We embody characters with honesty and transparency in an attempt to connect with the audience…and oh, the audience with their timely laughs and gasps and cheers…legitimizing all our hard work, sacrifice and glorious talent.
We craft words into feelings and feelings into visual form, and we crave the commendaton for having done so in ways that no one has ever achieved before…ever…on the face of the earth…or in the universe, for that matter.

We dream and we create.  We create and we fret.  We don’t just create for the beauty of what’s created.  We create to say something about ourselves.  We create to be noticed, seen and heard. We create for the response from the crowd.  We create to draw a crowd. We create and it defines us.  It not only tells us who we are, it conveys whether we are valued, loved and accepted…or not.  It can be delightful or devastating.

But imagine if we didn’t have that inner pull for validation, that itchy question of whether we are loved, that fear of being rejected.  What would our creativity look like without the pressure of public scrutiny?  If we were painting for our eyes only, what would we do differently?  If we were playing an instrument in the privacy of our own space, what would it sound like?  If we were singing in the shower or dancing in the rain what would it feel like?

You see, when we create toward the end product, we cheat ourselves out of the breathtaking beauty of true abandon.  Creative Abandonment is fresh, vibrant, and risky.   It takes chances and isn’t afraid to experiment.  It peruses and discovers and explores and questions and wonders.  It makes mistakes without fear of consequence!  It isn’t concerned about marketability and return-on-investment ratios.  It is investment in the sweetness of the moment.  Those moments when you create without anyone watching or any end product in sight, are at the top of God’s favorites list. That’s what He has on His iPod!  It’s not the project that’s produced to perfection.  It’s the one birthed in the innocence of who He created you to be.

And to be honest, if we aren’t able to get to that place of simple abandon, then our creativity will become contrived, stale and predictable.  When we start creating with the public response in mind, we defile the purity of the process.

So, you might ask,

“How do I find that state of abandon in my craft?”

You might not like the answer:  STOP making identity withdrawals from your creativity account!  You were created to only draft love, value and acceptance from one account, and that account has all of the funding you’ll ever need for an entire lifetime.  If you keep trying to pull creativity funds from your identity account…Baby, those checks are going to bounce!  Write enough bad checks, and one day you’ll be creatively bankrupt!  You’ll be stumped and befuddled that all of your fantastic ideas have suddenly vanished into thin air.  But the problem isn’t your creativity…it’s just a misappropriation of funds!  Your creative gift was never designed to shoulder up under that much pressure!  Your creativity was never meant to define you!

If you’re not sure if you’re loved…if you’re questioning what your life is worth…if you’re feeling lost and alone, there is only one place you can go to find those answers.  Lean into the Creator, not the creativity as your source of satisfaction.  Look to God and God alone to define your identity.  He’s more than willing to tell you how He sees you!  Work those issues out with your Maker, and you’ll find a renewed sense of freedom in your creativity that you’ve never experienced before.  Find your security in him, and I guarantee you, you’ll find joy in your artform again!

So what about you?

  • What insecurity pulls at you when you create?
  • What is your mind fretting over (will they like me?  will they think I’m smart?  will they need me?)
  • When was the last time you simply created to create?

Scared of Your Imagination?

“The imagination does frighten many people. Too many of us think of it as a specialized skill or talent, the gift of the literary imagination, for example, something for which we need expert training as we do to paint or to design a dress. Even those who are specialists, such as people in religion, can be markedly scared of the imagination. It is not exactly in vogue in church, synagogue, or temple. It promises to take us far outside what religion defines as allowed; our imaginings may compete with scripture.”

– Ann and Barry Ulanov, The Healing Imagination

Think of your favorite company, organization, band, or artist. We are in love with them because they make things that amaze and delight us. They dream of new worlds and then, here’s the catch, they go and create them. This is why we love them.

You imagine new worlds I assume, yet you do not create them.

Why is that? Perhaps what you’ve imagined is just too risky to pull off. Perhaps you’re afraid that what you might dream up will actually require something of you, so you stop before you begin.

Seth Godin, in his new book, Poke The Box says,

“Risk to some, is a bad thing, because risk brings with it the possibility of failure. It might be only a temporary failure, but that doesn’t matter if the very thought of it shuts you down.”

It must be the mystic/prophet in me that believes that nothing new, or good, or special ever gets made without significant risk and a great imagination; both have the potential take you well outside of your comfort zone, mind you.

However, if you allow yourself to be taken away – to dream of new worlds and then to attempt to create them – you just might give us courage to do so as well.

~ By Blaine Hogan
www.blainehogan.com

The Weight of What’s Undone

You’re creative, right? You’ve got great ideas. You’re doing great work and gaining traction. Then suddenly, it seems like you can’t get moving on your work. Ideas aren’t flowing like they once were, and there is little movement on your projects. Have you just “lost it”? Probably not – there is likely something else going on.

One of the challenges of doing creative work – working with your mind – is that you are largely responsible for not only conceiving of new opportunities, but also making your concepts real, tangible and preferably effective, through whatever means necessary. After all, you’re getting paid to produce results, not to dream all day.

YOU bear the weight of this. YOU are responsible for moving the ball forward. Even as a part of a team, you feel the pressure of each idea you introduce because you know it’s going to mean more work for you, and possibly for others. In fact, you probably begin to calculate the weight of the work involved in making something happen pretty early in the process. It’s a snap judgment, but sometimes it’s sufficient to get you to nix an idea before it even takes its first breath.

And then there’s the work you’re charged with, but are still looking for insights on. After a while, the weight of all that’s left undone can become oppressive. It can cause you to limit the number of ideas you introduce. (After all, you have plenty on your plate as it is, right?)

How can you deal with the weight of what’s undone while still being realistic and pragmatic?

First, it’s important to recognize this “weight bearing” dynamic so that you can diffuse any unnecessary pressure and begin to look objectively at your work. Ideas have no power to harm until they are implemented, so there is no need to self-limit too early in the process.

Second, it can be helpful to give yourself dedicated “dream time” for your projects without the accompanying pressure of executing any of the ideas. While this may seem inefficient on the surface, what you’re actually doing is giving yourself permission to get your big, potentially ridiculous, potentially impossible ideas out so that they aren’t hovering just beneath the surface of your thoughts and clouding your critical thinking. Simply recognize that this twenty minutes has little to do with pragmatics and everything to do with possibility.

Finally, list out all that’s left undone on your most important work with a special emphasis on needed creative insights. Sometimes the weight of needed ideas can impose unnecessary pressure on your creative process. Listing these “question mark” areas helps you gain an accurate assessment of all of your true outstanding issues.

Don’t become paralyzed by “the undone”. Stay engaged and aware of how these pressures affect your creating.

Do you feel this pressure too? Any other thoughts or tips for how to deal with it?

~ By Todd Henry, The Accidental Creative
http://www.accidentalcreative.com/

White Men Can’t Jump

Last week my nephew, Aaron Cave, did the unimaginable.  He broke not one, but TWO standing Guiness Book Of World Records.  Say, whaaat?!  That’s right.  It seems that after all of these years of believin’ the lie, white men CAN jump…like gazelles!

Since doing the cyber “happy dance” for him days ago, I’ve been thinking about the principle of overcoming the obstacles of “can’ts”, and I’ve been having Lost-inspired flashbacks of John Locke’s subversive assertion, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

It’s an intense process for sure, and it requires a level of honesty and dedication to which few of us are willing to commit. Because, the truth be told, defying the odds doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s the perseverance of trying it, and trying it, and trying it again…and again…and again.  And many of us just hate the thought of having to try that hard.  There’s the vulnerability of being willing to stumble and fall…and to get back up again.  And many of us avoid failure at all costs.  And yet, there it lies, that nagging idea in the pit of our souls: the crazy conviction that we’ve got this thing in spades.

Here’s a great visual of exactly what that process looks like in human form:

So, we go a little crazy.  We prepare and we train.  When we feel like we need support, we get a trainer…and we buy special shoes that are lighter, so that we can jump higher.  And we jump, then we measure.  And we jump some more, and we compare measurements. And we have custom boxes built so that we can jump stronger.  And we get a video guy to film us, ‘cuz we feel like we’re on the edge of something transcendent.  We jump higher and higher and higher…eventually leaving those that started the journey with us in the dust.  And we’re jumping higher than we’ve ever jumped before…higher than we ever knew we could jump.

Then someone says,

“Wow!  That’s high!”

And someone else says,

“That could be the highest EVER!”

And suddenly out of nowhere, there’s born a challenge and a goal with laser beam focus. Everything in the universe somehow feeds into our determination to jump higher than anyone in the world ever has.  No one we know has ever tried it…and quite frankly, WHY WOULDN’T WE at least try it?  It’s within our grasp.  Why NOT go for it?!

Clearly, it’s one thing to look at realistic limitations and accept our inability to change them.  Like knowing that my 5-foot-10-inch frame will never know what it’s like to be “petite”.  I wasn’t petite in my mother’s womb!  So no matter how bad I want it, or how much I try, my feet will never fit into size 5 shoes, I’ll never have extra leg room on an airline flight of any kind, and I will never dance on the front row in a ballet.  Petiteness is just not in my attainable future.

HOWEVER,  on the flip side of that same coin, I’ve got to wonder how many of our “perceived” limitations aren’t really limitations at all.  How many things have we allowed to hold us back, confine and immobilize us?  How many times have we heard or told ourselves that it can’t be done?  How many lies are we believing, like: “White.men.can’t.jump?”

To all the naysayers out there, I’d like to shout a big fat, “Oh really?!”  Take a look at this:

…and this:

You see, truth be told, white men CAN jump.  They can jump really, really high.  They can break world records.  It just takes courage mixed with commitment and hard work…and a dash of attitude for flavor.

It takes not allowing the lies to hold you back any longer.

 

21 Ways You’re Killing Your Creativity Without Even Realizing It!

Usually if we want to be more creative, we look at the new things we can do to help us. But what is equally, if not MORE important, is to be aware of your current ways of thinking and acting that actually sabotage your creativity.

Here are 21 of the most common ways you may be slowly killing your creativity:

image: Michael Pickard

Which ones do you recognise most?

1. You don’t actually believe you’re very creative. Answer this honestly: How creative do you REALLY think you are? If your answer is less than an emphatic declaration of your endless ability to be creative, then these beliefs aren’t going to support your creativity as well as they could. The first step is to notice these kind of thoughts. Then turn each of them around to their positive opposite. Retrain yourself to believe only the thoughts that will serve your creativity best.

2. You don’t think being a creative artist is worthwhile. What do think about other people who are creative artists? Do you admire them, respect them, hold them in high esteem? Or think of them as temperamental or anti-social or society dropouts? How you feel about artists in general has a big influence over how easily you let yourself freely be a creative artist. Examine your beliefs, and adjust them if you need to, so you’re proud to be an artist yourself.

3. You never capture your ideas. Many of us don’t think we have enough creative ideas. The reality is we all have all the ideas we’ll ever need, we just let them slip through our fingers, forgetting we even had them, let alone what they actually were. Every time you have an idea, capture it in some way, in a notebook, camera or voice recorder. Then it’s ready for you to develop at any time, instead of being lost forever. Develop the habit, and you’ll have an abundance of brilliant ideas.

4. You don’t believe you deserve to be successful. If you find that whatever you try to help you be more creative ends up not working, there may well be a deeper belief that keeps you grounded and held back. Do you actually feel you deserve to have creative success, to create art that’s rewarding and fulfilling, and gains the praise and respect of others? If not, then this will always cap the amount of “success” you allow yourself. Get to the truth, the root of those beliefs.

5. You prejudge, belittle and dismiss your creative ideas before they’ve had a chance to flourish. Maybe you have plenty of ideas come to you, but most of them you think of as too silly, or unrealistic, or incomplete to bother capturing and developing. Ideas never arrive fully formed and perfect, they all need different degrees of incubation and nurturing. Write down EVERY idea you have. You never know which ideas will evolve into the most incredible projects and artworks.


image: naraekim0801

6. You try to go it alone without any support. Our best creative work is always done in isolation, when we can get most in touch with our deepest creativity. But if we spend our whole time disconnected from the world, we deprive ourselves of all the wonderful support that’s out there, support from other creative people who want us to be happy and creative, and willingly give their encouragement. Look up a few creative groups, either locally or online, and get yourself some support.

7. You don’t prioritise creative time. I don’t have time to create” actually means “I’m choosing not to give creativity priority in my life”. You have a choice in how you spend your time, and all of us have little pockets of time where we’re doing something fairly meaningless, or simply waiting around. Identify this “dead time” and find ways to be creative instead. A great way to encourage this is to always have a notebook handy, so even if you have a few minutes here and there, you can jot down or sketch some new ideas.

8. You’re not fully experiencing life through your senses. To be creative, you need stimulation and inspiration. This comes via your five senses, so it follows thatif you don’t make full use of them, you won’t be at your most creative. A simply activity you can do is to go to a park or woodland, or even somewhere in the middle of a city, and just sit and listen. Forget about all your other senses, and hear every last detail of the sounds around you for five minutes. Then try the same for your other senses.

9. You don’t ever celebrate your achievements. “I’ve hardly created anything this year” is a common cry amongst creative people, whether it’s New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve. When you stop to actually catalogue all you’ve created, you’ll always remember more than you thought you would. We create in so many different ways each hour of each day, and the more you notice all these ways, and the projects you’ve been working on, the more creative you’ll realise you’ve been. Which will inspire you further.

10. You don’t create regularly. Creativity needs constant exercise and nurturing, like a muscle, or any other part of our minds. You can’t expect to create nothing for weeks then instantly produce some masterpiece. By creating regularly, ideally every day, or a few times a day, you build up this underlying creative strength and agility. This will make it so much easier to be at your most creative when you have those longer undisturbed sessions, rather than starting from completely cold.

11. You try to work on seventeen projects at once. We simply cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, with any degree of success. Just try painting and dancing and writing all at once! It’s ok to have a number of projects at different stages, but keep it to a few, not dozens. And whichever project you’re working on, give it a fair chance, devote your full, undivided attention to it, and you’ll make so much greater progress than dipping in and out of numerous projects and not really get anywhere with any of them.


image: Tim_Norris

12. You believe that if you don’t finish every creative project you’re a failure.Not all creative projects will be finished. This is all part of creating, it’s ok! Sometimes the ones you start with most enthusiasm and hope are the ones that don’t turn out like you wanted. Conversely, some that start with little promise turn into your best work. The secret is to trust the work, let it evolve as it needs to. And don’t be afraid of putting a project to one side if you’re stuck, and focusing your creativity elsewhere.

13. You believe spending time creating is selfish. When you create, it gives you something that nothing else can. We need to create, it’s not an option. The great thing is when we do, we feel better about ourselves, more energised, more positive and a host of other good feelings. This can’t help but rub off on others around us. The opposite is going around being frustrated, cranky and bad tempered because you’re not creating. And that WOULD be selfish. Create more, see the selfless side!

14. You’ve forgotten how important creativity is in your life. When we lose touch of how vital it is for us to create, we forget to give it priority. Think about what your life would be like without any creativity. What a dull, soulless, barren existence it would be. Think of all the things you feel when you’re lost in the flow of creating, and how proud you feel afterwards. The kind of feelings that you simply can’t get in any other way. Remember this and give your creativity the time and space it deserves.

15. You overlook what an inspiration you are to others. If you’re not creating, you’re not inspiring anyone else. And that’s just selfish. It’s not only the art itself that inspires other people, but the way you create, and the fact that you show up and create at all. Just by creating publicly and visibly, you have no idea how many people you give encouragement, and how much this sends out a message to others that it’s ok to create. Don’t deny others that chance to be motivated to greater creativity in their own lives.


image: jjjohn

16. You try to make everything perfect. I know this sounds an obvious one, but it’s amazing how often we’re crippled by perfectionism and don’t even realise. It’s not just about trying to make our art perfect in every way, it can begin way before that, as we wait for the perfect time, the perfect mood, the perfect weather conditions, to begin creating. These are all excuses and “if onlys”, there will never be a perfect time. Actually, that’s a lie. The perfect time for you to create is now. It’s always now. Go!

17. You never seek new inspiration, yet expect to be constantly inspired. We all need new stimulation to stay creative, so if you never go anywhere new, or try anything different, you’re not going to give yourself a chance to be at your most creative. Just visiting new places and observing a different pace of life and different surroundings can give your creativity a major boost of energy. You can do this without leaving home, just by reading books and articles and browsing artwork new to you. Feed your creativity!

18. You’re a slave to procrastination and you don’t even know it. This, like perfectionism, is one of the biggest creativity killers there is. And it works because it’s so devious. Be honest with yourself about the times you’re avoiding creating, and procrastinating. Everyone does it to some extent, however creative they are, so give yourself a break. Identify the three biggest procrastination habits you have, and this step alone will help you start to beat procrastination.

19. You tell yourself your best creative days are behind you. We’ve all had creativity highlights in the past that we’re proud of and would love to repeat. The danger is though to always look back at those “glory days” with a nostalgic focus, and conclude that we’ll never be that creative again. You have the same capacity to be creative today as you did then. In fact now you’re even more experienced. The other point is we continually evolve as artists, and people. Create from the you of today, not the you of yesteryear.

20. You let your inner critic dictate how much you create. If you listen to all the negative, defeatist voices within, you’ll never even get out bed in the morning. The key to overcoming your inner critic is to actually embrace it, to understand that it’s not the evil, terrifying ogre you think it is, and in fact everything it does and says to hold you back comes from a positive intention. So rather than trying to kill your inner critic and be locked in a bloody battle, learn to love it as part of you instead.

21. You’re afraid of unleashing your full creative powers. Sometimes it’s not failure we’re afraid of, but success. What would happen if you actually were as creative as you could be? It’s likely you’d be really happy and fulfilled and want to preserve it as long as possible. And because you’d be happier, it’d mean people around you would benefit from that too. Really, is that so much to be afraid of?

Which of these sound most familiar to you?

What other ways do you sabotage your creativity?

~ by Dan Goodwin, www.coachcreative.com

Chasing “The Thing”

Do you remember the old episodes of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote? When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to tear out of bed on Saturday morning, pour a giant bowl of cereal and watch in anticipation of the coyote actually catching him.

Then it happened.

One Saturday, as we were watching our usual cartoon fare, there was an announcement that in a TV special the following week the coyote would actually catch the road runner. Oh joy! We counted the days, and as the episode began we could hardly hold back our anticipation.

Then it happened. Wile E. Coyote actually caught the Road Runner. Only it wasn’t at all like he (or we) thought it would be. You see, due to some cause I can’t remember (do you?), he had shrunk to the size of an insect, so when he grabbed the Road Runner’s foot he was much too small to do any harm.

We were crestfallen. We felt like our hopes had been shattered, and our trust betrayed. Big on promise, short on delivery.

Big on promise, short on delivery. It sounds a lot like what often happens when we finally get “the thing” we’ve been chasing after, whether it’s the job, the relationship, the big deal, or whatever. We spend a lot of time and energy chasing after the promise of “the thing”, but once we get it we realize that “the thing” wasn’t really what we wanted at all. (I recently wrote another post about this called Chasing Vapor.)

While there’s nothing wrong with chasing “the thing”, (we should have big goals and plans and dreams!), we need to fall in love with the process, and not the end product of our work. A writer writes regardless of whether they get accolades. A designer creates order and meaning from chaos regardless of whether she is recognized. And an artist – of any capacity – makes their art whether or not they ever get the raise or the corner office or the bigger platform to share their work.

So while you’re chasing “the thing” make sure that you’re nurturing your process. It’s the only thing you can truly control, and it’s the thing you’ll alwayshave regardless of where you end up. Otherwise, you might find yourself a little speck of a coyote standing on a giant road runner’s foot wondering what to do next.

~ by Todd Henry of The Accidental Creative (www.accidentalcreative.com)