I’m back. It’s been a lovely two weeks in which I’ve simply let my soul breathe. I’ve spent little time online, and much time in the very present moment with my family. I feel refreshed, excited, and inspired.
I didn’t know how much I needed the time away.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the creative process in our two weeks on the road. Instead of creating, I’ve thought about the simple art of creating – the act of writing, of photographing, of painting and singing. I’ve watched it and seen it and felt the power of the creative arts.
I stood at the top of the Smoky Mountains, and I marveled at the Creator’s brush strokes – the Hand that carved each path, shaped each height.
I’ve watched my children laugh and play. I’ve listened to their delight as they discovered the thrill of shooting a sling shot, exploring a creek bed, walking beneath a waterfall. I’ve gasped in motherly fear when one got too close to the edge, and tried to be cool though images of them plummeting over the side gave me more than a few heart attacks.
We spent a week in Nashville catching up with friends, both new and old. The laughter and shared life gave way to gratefulness. And not once or twice, but more times than I can count, the conversation of creativity came up. It’s not hard to find yourself amidst a group of creatives in a place like Nashville.
The town is teeming with creativity.
For those of us with a bent toward the creative arts, every day has new potential. We wake up with the longing to build, to shape and mold something out of nothing.
It’s very real, this life of the creative. We don’t always know how to describe it, but we feel it deeply. We know that we were made to create. Some days that creative power flows freely, while other days it tends to bottle up. Life responsibilities sometimes hinder the creative process, but still it sits, waiting for us to tap in and unleash.
I used to think I was alone in this creative life. It made me feel strange, this need to sit down and write, to pen stories for no reason at all. I wondered if my passion for the written word was frivolous. It doesn’t make me much money, so what’s the point?
The point, I’m realizing more and more, is that this art of creating is my act of worship. When I write, I am in communion with my God. The rhythm of the keyboard is my praise offering to Him.
And for you, my fellow creatives, it is very much the same.
That thing you do? It’s an act of worship. You were created with a love for your art, and it is legitimate and real. What you do is a valid form of worship, so give it back freely and joyfully. Don’t be ashamed of your art, and don’t fight the urge to create. Your creative brain holds purpose in this world.
You are a mirror of the Creator Himself. So create.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Steve Jobs
For people prone to creative outbursts, the world can be a wildly glorious place. It’s colorful and exciting, lit with life in a way that those more prone to thoughtfulness and analytical considerations may have a hard time understanding.
Creatives can also be frustrating people.
They process the world differently, and this can making working alongside them sometimes harder to tolerate. There are different levels of creativity that people can express as well, and this works to makes each person act and react differently.
Some creatives are shy, quietly mulling each step inwardly until all the pent up energy releases in their art, be that writing, music, drawing/painting, building, and so on. These brooding creatives make us nervous. We don’t understand what they’re thinking because the thoughts all tangle tight inside, and so we watch them from afar, admire their work, and comment on their inability to hold a decent conversation.
Some of the greatest innovations of all time, the greatest works of art, have come from these brooding creatives.
Other creative types are much more engaged in the world around them. They live in it, fully and completely, abandoning themselves to the little moments. These people are usually quick-witted, funny, engaging, and can be the life of the party.
Or the center of attention.
All of us are creatives on some level. Created in the image of the Ultimate Creator, we have no choice but to give in to the creative impulses unique to each one of us.
Here are 3 Keys to Tapping into Your Inner Creativity.
1.) Learn how you individually are most creative.
Make no mistake, you are in some way a creative. Even mathematicians have a perspective that flows out of the creative nature of man’s soul. Perhaps there is more formula involved in the problem solving, but the fact remains they still had to tap into the inner mind to decipher the solution.
And you can’t tell me that the likes of Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Albert Einstein (recognizing that he would probably be identified more as a physicist than a mathematician), and Galileo Galilei, who famously wrote, “Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe,” were not all deeply creative and inventive men.
2.) Learn when you feel most creative.
Do you thrive in the quiet? Are you most thoughtful, productive and sure of yourself when you withdraw from a crowd and quiet your soul?
Perhaps it is quite the opposite. Maybe you’re the type who energizes only in a room full of people. Do you feel most alive in front of a crowd, and is laughter and raucous talk your muse?
Most deeply creative types are going to spend more time alone than in a group. There’s something about the quiet that recharges the brain. However, while some would happily spend all their time alone with only their thoughts to keep them company, there are many who need a group setting to further fuel their creative prowess. Extroverts, we would call them, as creativity comes in sound bites of conversation and entertainment.
3.) Embrace Your Creative Bent
There is power in knowing who you are and how you were created. Entertainers keep us laughing (and thinking) through their actions. Musicians feed our souls with melodies and lyrics. Artists show us the world on canvas. Writers take us into a different time and place, introducing us to new concepts, new characters, new ideas, and new ways of thinking.
Scientists take us inside the molecular space in which we reside. Mathematicians show us there is order to life and space. Inventors give us new tools. Designers help us see the space we live in in a whole new way. Businessmen (and women) link ideas and innovation in such a way that gives us structure in this world.
Parents foster a creative spirit inside the walls of their homes. Grandparents take that a step further, creating memories and filling their grandchildren with unmerited love (and perhaps a little bit of candy for good measure).
I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point, with the point being this:
You are creative. It’s just a matter of looking in the right place to understand exactly how you were wired to tap into the creative energy with which you were designed.
This is the fourth year I’ve gathered with my group of like-minded, creative friends, and every year I find myself more blessed by our time together. Each person here is so uniquely gifted and blessed, and I learn so much from them. My soul is nourished, and I find myself lost in my craft.
Today I finished my e-book. Stay tuned, because my hope is to have it published within the next few weeks.
This year, each one of us has new ventures that we are developing, and during the quiet hours of the day, we’re deepening our skills, supporting one another in our respective crafts, and sharing delicious meals filled with conversation and laughter.
It’s truly inspiring to be here, and I find myself more and more wanting to pull other women into this fold. It’s a dream that’s turning into a goal, and this weekend is fanning the flame.
As I go back to my work, I’ll leave you with a few photos of our days here. I’ve been so focused on my book that I haven’t spent much time photographing our amazing, Southern California surroundings, nor have I been overly drawn to blogging. My brain has been fully engaged in this one project, and I’m so thrilled to have finished it today.
So without further ado, I give you Scenes from a Creative Retreat
Not really, but it certainly feels like I blinked my eyes and went from wide-eyed dreamer to coffee slogging Mama, and the years in between sometimes blend together in a humorous reel of days-gone-by.
I remember sixteen well. It was all angst and Alanis Morisette. It was simultaneously knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life while having no clue what I would do with my life. Sixteen was ripped jeans and boys – toe rings and too much make up. Sixteen was the world at my fingertips without a care in the world, and stress at all the unknowns that seemed to loom before me.
Sixteen was the first time I dreamed of becoming a writer.
The pages of my journal fluttered as I poured out stories, heartache, disappointment and hope. I wrote poems and songs (bad ones, all of them). I wrote short stories and devotionals. I wanted my life to mean something. I wanted to leave a legacy, but at sixteen I didn’t really know what a legacy was.
I thought it meant fame, and maybe a little fortune thrown in for good measure. Legacy sounded like my name in glittering lights. It sparkled with possibility, flashed with grandeur.
This is what I thought it meant: To be inspired, I would have to be an inspiration. I would become someone that others (the world, perhaps?) would look to and think, “Wow. She’s got it going on.”
Then I grew up, and somehow growing up seemed to take a longer time than it should have. I quit looking for confirmation of my gifts in whether or not people knew my name, and I started simply living the life that stood before me in the day to day. I quit looking for the approval of the world, and accepted the approval of One.
I quit seeking to be an inspiration. Instead, I simply looked to be inspired.
Inspired: outstanding or brilliant in a way or to a degree suggestive of divine inspiration.
The word “inspired” can be a bit ambiguous. I mean, what does it actually mean to live an inspired life? The sixteen-year-old me thought for sure she knew – that girl with the Sun-In blonde hair, torn hippie jeans, and clunky Doc Martens. She knew – knew – that her life would be inspired, and thus an inspiration.
The thirty-six-year-old version of me is less sure of the meaning behind living inspired, but I have some thoughts. I’ve traded my hippie jeans for a pair of yoga pants, and my Doc Martens for a more practical pair of flip flops, and I’ve traded my over-confidence in the area of living inspired for a more humble approach to seeking inspiration.
I do still enjoy a little Alanis Morisette, though. For old time’s sake…
– God, the Master Creator, has painted this world with inspiration beyond anything that we, in our human capabilities could ever hope to create, and yet in His goodness, He’s given each of us the ability to tap into His creative powers. It is because of His inspiration that we are able to live inspired. Inspiration is divine.
– We are each created with an innate ability to draw inspiration from our daily surroundings. Yesterday I got my hair done (no more Sun-In for me, thankyouverymuch), and as my friend, and hair stylist, colored my hair I marveled at her ability to create.
“Hair stylists are artists,” I said as she literally painted strokes in my hair. “You’re just using a different canvas.”
Inspiration comes in all forms, not just in the arts. The greatest inventors in history were inspired to create. Advances in medicine are inspired by the great minds of science. All people are inspired – the canvas on which we create is just different.
– Inspiration is innate. You can’t force someone to live a life inspired because “it is suggestive of divine inspiration.” As a mother, I find that my job is not to inspire my children, but to point them toward inspiration. Through the act of creating, of reading, of playing, of laughing, of living, of exploring, of loving, my children will see and feel the inspiration of the Creator.
It will be divine, this inspiration, not manufactured by me, but presented in the world around them.
My job is simply to get out of the way, and let them live inspired.
How do you seek, and find, inspiration on a day to day basis? Is it through nature, through reading, through study…through Alanis Morisette? You can be honest – I won’t judge.
I learned early on in my motherhood journey that I am not good at working with my children around. I am easily distracted, have a difficult time stepping away long enough to concentrate, and feel the general, nagging feeling of guilt contract my heart when I have to shoo them away so I can work while they play quietly in other parts of the house.
So summer is a hard time for me to be effective in my profession of creativity.
There is still inspiration to be found, though. Especially now as my children are older and I get to soak in their ability to create something from nothing. I watch them play, write stories, paint with water colors, and read good books, and I remember what it’s like to be a kid and relish the gloriously long, unscheduled days of summer.
This morning, I sipped my coffee slowly and watched them learn. We drilled multiplication tables, discussed verbs and nouns, and read books. The kids swam while I cleaned up the house, and I relished in the blissful quiet of a lazy morning.
By the time 10:00 rolled around, we all felt refreshed and ready to tackle the day, and I felt inspired.
I’m inspired by my kids imaginations. I’m inspired by the down time. I’m inspired by the forced slow down, the reading and learning, the just being together.
Will it always be this idyllic? No. They will grow bored with the morning routine at some point, and we will have to sludge through the boredom. Some mornings we will be up and out early to enjoy Florida life (hello water parks and beaches and all the things that make Florida awesome!).
We will be traveling for a few weeks, and time will go by too quickly. Before we know it, summer will end and routine will crank life up a notch again. So while we have this time, I want to relish it – even the whiney moments of boredom.
There is inspiration to find in everything, in every moment of the day. I will get less done this summer, and I’m working to adjust my expectations accordingly, but I have this feeling that if I am willing go with the flow, to embrace the slow, and to soak in the quiet, then I could find that this becomes a summer loaded with inspiration.
What about you? How do you find time to create, and to soak in inspiration in the long summer days when the kids are around all day? How do you fill your time…and theirs?