Is Your Creativity Constrained?

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

Have you ever uttered the phrase “I’m not creative?”  I know many women who have, and I may have found a possible solution.

On the eve of The Spirited Woman’s 2014 Sharefest theme, “I Am Creative Bliss,” I ran across an article extolling the many virtues of caffeine, as well as one big downside – it seems there’s scientific evidence that it cramps creativity. Caffeine apparently stifles the thing on which creativity depends: a wandering, unfocused mind.

While I don’t generally overdo caffeine, this “four cities in four days” week is putting me to the test. My usual two cups of coffee in the morning have expanded to an afternoon pick-me-up, and then some.

This is a week for focus and clarity, so it’s reassuring to know that caffeine is a support, not a hindrance. But here’s the interesting thing. This week, and in similar busy times, I long for a creative respite. While I’m doing the work I love, today I was looking forward to finishing my “real” work to write this post, even though I had no idea what I would write about. And now I believe that was the very thing I longed for – the opportunity to let my mind meander among the possibilities.

In his article, How to be Creative, Jonas Lehrer says creativity is not magic bestowed on us by angels, but rather a skill all can learn. He outlines many methods, including play, “with the abandon of a child.”

Those of you who know how much I enjoy hiking with my dogs, present to the sights and sounds of the outdoors, can appreciate that these walks provide me the opportunity to think and feel in an unstructured and playful way.

For me, a glass of wine helps too, though not while hiking of course. Lehrer also suggests that caffeine has a counter effect on creativity, preferring a beer to a Red Bull. His advice reminded me of an adage a writer friend shared some years ago, “Write drunk but edit sober.”

Humor aside, the insight I received from these articles is not about avoiding caffeine or consuming alcohol, but rather about the requirement for creativity – unstructured time.

I know you’re busy. You have significant responsibilities and people depend upon you. But can you give your mind a respite, even for a bit? There can be a beautiful payoff.

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The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

Harmony

Harmony, California, Andrea Chilcote

What if you could go on vacation in your mind, even just for a moment? And what if that resulted in a more harmonious day? I just tried it, and I hope you will too, after you read the post I wrote on vacation last summer.

by Andrea Chilcote

I’m on vacation this week, a vacation that I anticipated and now savor. I am graced by rest, beauty and pleasant activities.

When my pace slows enough, I’m able to hold a perspective which seems inaccessible on the usual busy days of life. Oh, even on vacation I feel moments of stress, due to anything from a minor work request to misplacing the rental car keys. But the difference is that on vacation, I almost always observe it and decide if it’s worth the emotional energy. Even when it is, there are energetic bookends of peace that keep stress in its proper place.

There’s a very small town near where we are in California, called Harmony. We’ve visited there three times this week, as it’s the home of one of our favorite wineries. We picnic on their lawns with our dogs, enjoying cool breezes, gorgeous scenery and the scent of lavender growing in the gardens. (And yes, good wine, of course). Early this week, I decided that “harmony” was my intended state of being.

As I began to write this post, I assessed my performance in that harmonious state. At first, I felt a touch of self-judgment, as I knew I have not been what I previously defined as “harmonious,” 24-7.

Then I googled the word. Amazingly, harmony results from the balance between tense and relaxed moments. You musicians know this of course. But for me, and for the rest of you, this information is powerful. Harmony exists when there is wholeness and acceptance of the human experience.

There’s no doubt that I will again lose my car keys, as well as experience many other so-called stressful moments. My intention is to bring harmony home with me and weather them to the sound of beautiful music. How about you?

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This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!