Yes! You are Creative.

“But I’m just not creative.”

Sad words, filled with regret, uttered as an apology, sometimes in a whisper. I hear them from people in my classes, from people in bookstores and art galleries who are mentally comparing themselves to the featured writers and artists.

It’s a common belief. Creativity is for THEM, not for ME.

The problem is, IT IS NOT TRUE.

Creativity is as natural as the desire to communicate, to be safe, to be part of a community, to learn, grow and love. It’s our nature, written into our genes.

Every day, we create:

  • Our reactions to the events of life
  • Ways to spend our time
  • Where we live
  • Our job or career
  • How to spend our leisure time
  • Ways of being of service
  • How to have fun

With our intelligence and intuition, we are constantly choosing. This or that. Am I happy or sad about what just happened? Do I argue with my neighbor about his barking dog or try to understand his point of view?

We have more choices than we give ourselves credit for. Most of the time we create unconsciously, using patterns of thought and beliefs that are familiar. We learned them in the past and use them so often they become habits.

If your thought is, I don’t have time for creative work, then daily tasks will multiply. You’ll get so busy you’ll be grateful you didn’t start that painting, song, or story.

If you think, I can start my creative work even though I’m busy, you’ll notice how to change your schedule, what activities to scale back, resources that can help.

By noticing our habitual patterns, we can change outmoded beliefs into new and positive ones that support health, happiness, and creativity.

First, comes the thought

Do you have a thought or an image about a creative project you’d like to work on?

Thought is the first step in the creative process. Say YES to the thought.

Second, comes the act.

We take steps to transform the thought into physical reality.

Write, draw, design, sculpt, sing, dance, paint. All the physical acts of an artist are accomplished with human hands, voices, and bodies. We start small and learn as we go.

The creative drive is inborn. We learn how to make our visions physical.

All creative acts have one thing in common: the first attempt to bring alive a thought or vision will fall short. The finished product will not match the perfection of the imagination.

If that happens, congratulate yourself! Just like every other creator, you have made a start! Now you have something to work with. To shape, form, edit, and revise so each iteration comes closer to the image in your mind.

Creative Expression Feeds the Soul

Not everyone can write a best seller or paint a breathtaking landscape, but everyone—including you!—can express themselves. People who express themselves creatively are happier, healthier, and more satisfied. It doesn’t matter if their efforts bring financial success or recognition. Simply exercising the creative muscle makes the difference.

Taking a break from the hectic demands of daily life allows us to slow down and refresh ourselves. The imagination exists to be used, for our pleasure, and for the benefit of others. If you don’t have time for your creative pursuits, consider how you can gain some time.

Think about it for a moment.

The obstacles in your way are not immovable. Your Creative Self already knows how to improve your life. Why not take a few minutes and listen to what it has to say?

 

 

Winners and More Winners

My new book, When Spirit Whispers: a journey of awakening, is a winner in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards! I am excited and gratified to be honored by this excellent organization.

The book was a labor of love, my small offering of aid and inspiration to those traveling the path of personal discovery. Writing and publishing it was a lot of work and the award got me thinking about what being a winner means.

Awards and recognition are great, of course, but not the whole story. I haven’t entered many contests, partly because the submission fees can be considerable and the wait times long. I decided to go straight for publication and focused on getting short stories published while I was finishing my first novel.

After struggling to learn how to write publishable work, my first published short story was a huge win! My work was in print! And accompanied by beautiful art! It encouraged me to learn more about the market and how to hone my stories so they would be interesting to editors and publishers.

In the last twelve years, I have published many short stories, personal essays, and three novels. I also self-published a collection of short stories, The Way Home, several short pieces of fiction, and now, two nonfiction books, When Spirit Whispers and the When Spirit Whispers Workbook.

I appreciate being recognized by industry professionals, but even with the fancy sticker I get to paste on my book, it’s the reaction of my readers that warms my heart. When readers tell me how they react to my book, some finding validation and inspiration in its pages, all the struggle to write and publish is worthwhile.

So what is a win?

Awards, yes, of course. And getting your words in print, yes, is fun and validating.

But, wins take many forms, like:

  • Finishing a book/story/screenplay/poem
  • Expressing yourself in writing, art, dance, song
  • Enjoying a career you love
  • Creating a loving family
  • Surviving difficult life events
  • Surviving loss in any form
  • Getting through and adjusting to any difficult medical diagnosis
  • Healing old trauma
  • Thriving anew from the lessons of trauma
  • Finding the friends, healers, and playmates who see us for who we are
  • Speaking our truth
  • Allowing love to guide us, even when the world is careening off its axis
  • Learning to forgive
  • Finding joy in work, play, nature, animals, and all the wonderful people who are standing in the light of love

How do you feel about winning? What gives you pleasure? What is joyful? What are you proud of?

If you can name even one thing, then you’re already a winner.

How Healthy is Your Brain?

About 50 million people worldwide are suffering from dementia in 2021, but the total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and a staggering 152 million in 2050

For Kate Kunkel, the tragedy of this disease struck three times. Both grandmothers and her mother passed away with dementia, inspiring Kate to embark on a mission to understand why this ruthless disease was haunting her family.  During this process, Kate made some startling discoveries and has devoted her life to sharing them with as many people as possible, in the hopes that she can spare others this terrible fate.

Kate’s book, Don’t Let the Memories Fade, is for anyone looking for ways to improve their health and stave off the dreaded diagnosis of dementia. No matter your age, the information and suggestions in this book will help you live a healthier life and feel better!

I particularly like two things about this book:

One, it’s written for the general reader in clear, simple language and from the perspective of someone who has lived through the heartbreak of assisting a family member with Alzheimer’s.

Second, the suggestions it offers—on diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and creativity apply to anyone who wants to live healthy—especially at and after midlife.

Following the suggestions offered in this book will reduce your chances of developing not only dementia but the other diseases of older age—heart problems, cancer, arthritis–any condition where inflammation is a factor.

Research on the microbiome points to the detrimental effects of the typical American diet, stress, and environmental factors. But simple lifestyle changes can reduce the inflammation in our bodies and give us new hope.

We affect the level of health we experience. It isn’t always easy to change our ways, but the benefits are enormous. Even if you have dementia or other inflammatory diseases in your genetic line, you can change your future and beat the odds! People are doing it every day. This book is a great place to start investigating how to live healthier and preserve your memories.

We know now that cognitive growth can occur at any age. Neurogenesis is the study of how new nerve cells develop. We can learn new tasks and make new memories well into our nineties if we work on exercising our brains! Learn something new. Learn something new that’s hard and you’ll notice how much more alert you feel!

Each chapter has a “checkup” so readers can assess themselves on the topic discussed. Included are practical steps to improve health. Kunkel ends the book with an 8-week program for improving brain health. It includes suggestions for diet and nutrition, exercise, and lots of yummy recipes. A list of resources is included for those who want to know more.  Check it out! You have nothing to lose but your old habits!

Kate consults with people to improve their brain health. You can see her podcast at Brain Health Matters.

 

 

 

 

Reconciliation: Shake Hands With Yourself

Shaking hands with ourselves can calm our emotions and reduce stress, but how do we do that?

Last week I talked about Themis, the ancient goddess of reconciliation. When she was a member of the Greek pantheon, there were two words for soul.

Psyche, the soul of the breath, has come down to us in the concept of spirit. Thymos is the second soul, of the body, the blood, the emotions.

In the west, we have lost the concept of the body having soul. When we think of intelligence, we focus on the upper realms of mind. But for the Greeks, wisdom also emanated from the emotions or instincts. It is called the “blood-soul,” the mind of the body and is associated with the heart. We experience how our body speaks to us differently than the voice of transcendence from above.

The idea of two souls was known in Egypt, the individual ba and the ka or universal soul. The Chinese have the concept of yin and yang. Western antiquity had the Eros and Logos.  These traditions honored the balance of complementary energies, male and female, electric and magnetic.

In the west, though, body and spirit became antagonists. (The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.) As reason dominated emotion, we lost the intelligence of the body. We disregarded messages from our bodies as “unscientific,” “illogical,” and the purview of fringe thinkers. Many suffer a mind/body split which contributes to the depression, anxiety, and stress illnesses so prevalent today.

Current physiological research is bridging the gap. Neurocardiology reveals that the heart is a vital organ of sensation. It codes and processes information within the autonomic nervous system. And it’s not alone.

There are many “little brains” in the body, clusters of neurons that regulate the functioning of the liver, stomach, kidneys, and intestines. Many correspond to the ancient eastern knowledge of the chakras, the energy centers of the light body.

When we express emotions, the heart has clear, rhythmic patterns. The experience of anger, frustration, and anxiety produces heart rhythms that are erratic and disordered. With emotions like appreciation, joy, love, compassion, the heart expresses an orderly or coherent pattern.

We experience subjective coherence when we are in positive emotional states. We feel “together,” “in the flow,” “integrated.” This could be the working of Themis energy.

From this research, I learned that if we can appreciate the “negative” emotions and listen to their messages, the act of appreciation helps heal the mind/body split and allows the heart to serve its natural function of reconciliation.

In my life, I noticed that even though I accept the information my body offers, I often feel annoyed. Here we go again, is the thought that streaks through my mind.

With appreciation, I can release my judgment of emotions that are inconvenient or unpleasant and bring myself into a state of greater coherence, which feels a lot better.

So, the next time, you’re upset, angry, or frightened:

  • Sit down in a quiet place
  • Calm your mind
  • Focus on your physical heart
  • Gently breathe in and out as if the air is moving through your chest
  • Imagine something you appreciate having—a person, an object, a state of being
  • For a few minutes, breathe through your heart, staying focused on what you appreciate

This simple exercise will calm you, help you come out of judgment, and bring your disparate parts into resonance. From that place, you can decide what action, if any, is appropriate.

It’s simple.  Shake hands with yourself in your heart.

Accessing our heart’s natural intelligence can create an energetic field of unconditional love and harmonious interactions – helping humanity to realize we are one Earth, one yard, one people.

Doc Childre, HeartMath Founder