January 16, 2012

Getting Your Juices Flowing

Every one of us has the ability to creatively solve a problem or learn a new craft. We can come up with all sorts of ways to make something better or more productive. Like any other skill, creativity can be developed. Here are 5 ways I have used to get my creative juices flowing and make my satisfying retirement a daily adventure. Maybe one or more of them will help you feed your creative spirit and supercharge your internal idea machine.

A) Stretch Your Horizons. Stimulate your mind by doing things out of your comfort zone. Go to a museum you usually avoid. Listen to a type of music that normally isn't on your iPod. Visit web sites that present a point of view you don’t agree with. Pick up a magazine that covers a subject you are unfamiliar with. Stepping outside your usual behavior will energize your thought process.

For me, I respond best to the written word. So, on a regular basis I go to the bookstore and pick up two magazines from subjects I know little or nothing about, or ones presenting a different political perspective than mine. Also, I hunt out new blogs that are in subjects that have nothing to do with retirement. More often than you might think something I read on a random blog will spur a fresh thought for this blog or a way to spark up my life.

Betty and I became members of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. At least once a month we spend an afternoon strolling among the cactus plants or trees, sitting by a fountain, having lunch, and people watching. Those few hours are just enough break in routine to make the rest of the day feel fresh.

B) Expand Social Interactions. Leave the iPad or smart phone for a while and go meet real people. The skills required to engage in small talk force you to think more deeply, listen more intently, and consider your response more thoroughly. People are highly unpredictable and often full of ideas you don’t have. Tap into that flow and see where it may take you.

This is a tougher one for me. Luckily at our new church I have become involved in several groups that have introduced me to new people. Every one has a fresh story to tell or insight on life, religion, and family that enrich me. I will freely admit, though, my social interaction isn't as open as I would like it to be. Maybe 2012 will be the year I take more risks in this regard.

C) Visit Web Sites Designed To Provoke. I have noted above I will visit web sites and blogs that present a different take on politics and our country's direction. But  provoke also means to excite to some action or feeling. Sites like TED or iTunes offer hundreds of free video and lectures specifically designed to make you think. In TED's case many are under 10 minutes on almost any subject you can imagine. Again, I will choose a subject in which my knowledge is rudimentary at best. I may not like the talk, but all it costs me is 6 or 7 minutes. By forcing myself to do it I have accomplished one of the goals of creativity: taking a risk.

One of the new items I am adding to this blog are videos at the end of an occasional blog. Many will be from TED. I hope they add a little different feel to the posts and give you the chance to go a bit deeper into the subject I have chosen to write about.

D) Keep A Journal. When I wrote about journaling very early in this blog's life, the response was underwhelming. In further conversations with folks in my life journaling isn't even considered by many people for two reasons: few of use actually use pen and paper to write anything anymore, and the time required for introspection isn't available. Every one is just too busy.

I urge you to abandon the "common wisdom" and try it. I've kept journals on and off for decades. They aren't the diary-like "here’s what I did today” recap. They may be during a vacation, or often during a Bible study. When I found myself becoming kind of negative toward the state of the world or my place in it I have kept Gratitude Journals. Writing down two or three things I am thankful for that day goes a long way toward keeping my focus on the positive.

I guess it isn't technically a journal, but anything that stimulates an idea for this blog goes into a notebook. If I thought about the need to write close to 2,500 words a week with no outside inspiration I might freeze up! For me adding to a journal or notebook on a regular basis works my mind. Have you ever thought of giving it a try?

When you learn something new, or tackle a difficult problem, you feel alive. What you are feeling is the power of creativity.  How do you stoke your creative fires? What are you doing to stay excited and engaged? Are you looking for something to give you that "I can't wait to get out of bed this morning" feeling? After all, retirement is only the beginning.

The Link Between Music and Passion


  1. I was never very good about keeping a journal, although I tried multiple time. Sketchbooks I can handle so I do keep many of those. My blog is my journal I guess.

  2. Roberta,

    I'd suggest your sketchbook is your journal. You probably wouldn't be able to produce such interesting jewelry without it. And your blog, with the photos of the finished products, is like a living journal.

    Anything that helps stimulate and support your creativity is for the good.

  3. My husband and I had science oriented careers and have little knowledge of Art or Art History. So this year we are designating Art History 101. Each month we have an artist that we read about and become acquainted with their work. This month we are learning about Giotto (never heard of him) and his work. And our big trip this year will be to NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art. Who knows--I may even take up a brush myself.LOL!!

  4. I have kept a journal for many years. It helps me clarify my thoughts and goals. I believe that if you write down your goals you are more likely to take action to attain them. Also, if you are angry at someone you can scream and yell at them on paper-sometimes that's enough and you realize it was just a minor thing anyway. The journal has been a great help to me through the years.

  5. Great idea, Florence. That sounds like a lot of fun and may open up all sorts of doors for you and hubby.

    A few times a year I will go into the library stacks in a section that I know little or nothing about. I pick 2 or 3 books and see if there is anything that sparks a further interest in that subject matter.

  6. Donna,

    I agree with the value of venting one's feelings on paper. It gives you a cleansing feeling to write something down and then throw it away.

    I am most likely to keep a journal while on vacation. Fresh thoughts always pop up when my routine is changed.

  7. I have recently discovered TED talks. Besides the talks themselves, I'm so intrigued that someone came up with the idea to do them! There are lot of interesting people out there!

  8. Yes, Galen, TED is an amzing resource, and all for free. The site posts fresh talks every week and the archives go back years so it is impossible not to find something that is inspiring or funny or thought-provoking.

  9. Hey Bob, I really like your blog. I always get something from it or have a thought enhanced. Today it was enhanced. My husband is always talking about how good stimulation is for the older mind so this article goes right along with what I hear from him. I'll be sharing it with him. Also I have been thinking a lot about doing new things lately because we may be buying a house that need a total makeover. We will be doing a lot of changing, building, and redoing if we get it. A good stimulation project for us in our retirement. But it will also be new in other ways like the new neighbors and getting used to a new neighborhood and living in a city and county we never thought we'd live in. We are looking forward to it and the stimulation was one of the most important factor in making this decision even though I don't think we knew it at the time.

  10. Oh and I wanted to add. I journal all the time. I got into it from a group at church. I love and in my journal I don't just write about the day but I write prayers about my daily life to God. I love going back over a year or so back to see what I wrote and how many blessed answers to prayer I have. Keep up the good work you are doing here and thanks for all the great suggestions today.

  11. Sue,

    Thank you very much for the kind comments. I welcome your husband to our family.

    A move can be a huge shot of energy in your life. Coupled with a remodel and a new environment, you and hubby are in for an exciting ride. Every day will come with fresh challenges and new experiences. If your attitude is positive you will prosper.

    Like you I have journals that I write in each day as I go through my Bible studies. I find it meaningful to write down key verses and impressions.

    BTW, I can relate to your post from last Friday. I have to be so careful what I say within earshot of my grandson. He repeats everything and wants to know what it means.

  12. very interesting article! I will follow your themes.
    Can I subscribe to your posts on Twitter or on your Facebook profile?

  13. Anonymous,

    You can easily subscribe to post updates by e-mail or RSS feeds. Look near the top of the righthand column on this page.

    You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook by clicking the appropriate box near the bottom of the righthand sidebar.

    Thank you for your interest.

  14. I noticed something too about this topic on another blog.Amazingly, your linear perspective onto it is diametrically opposite to what I just read before. May I post part of this on my page if I post a mention of the this site?

  15. Anonymous,

    I have no problem with others using posts from here with appropriate credit....but only if I know the site.

    Since you have signed in anonymously and have not given me your name or a chance to see what site you are referring to, I'm afraid the answer is no until those 2 basic pieces of inforamtion are provided.

    I trust you understand.


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