August 14, 2019

Sometimes Creativity Just Appears


Several years ago I featured a post from Angelita Williams. She wrote about the importance of creativity during all stages of our life, but especially during retirement. For whatever reason, recently I have experienced a burst of fresh creative energy that is opening up some new experiences and areas of growth. So, it seemed logical to revisit a sampling of her thoughts and see how they fit what I am going through.
After years of tedious and difficult work in the same career  or job field, our capacity for creativity can diminish. This is not to say that doing the same type of work throughout your whole life ruins your creative edge, it's just likely that your creativity becomes narrowed and specialized to your specific area of work and thinking.
In my case, absolutely. I was so focused on building and growing my business, then maintaining it for as long as possible, that creativity was  limited to business-oriented thoughts. That wasn't bad, but too small a box for what might have been possible.
Creativity is one of the most powerful tools we as human beings possess. The power to think and create beyond our own immediate knowledge and existence is a very useful and invigorating thing. One of the luxuries that retirement can offer is the time and inspiration needed to rekindle your creative state of mind. While it can be a challenge to step into the world and mindset of creativity again, it can also be one of the most rewarding activities you have. 
Again, Yes. Angelita has described what happened within a few years of leaving full time employment.  In my case, I took my consulting experience and applied it to other teaching-type activities: lay minister, prison ministry, and teaching Junior Achievement classes. After years in radio, becoming involved in ham radio seemed a natural. Then, blogging allowed my need to write to be expressed.

However, as Ms. Williams points out in her next section, I wasn't trying new things or reaching for new parts of me. Teaching is what I had done for several decades. Was there any other way to push my creativity in new directions?
It is only through experiencing new things that we can engage in new avenues of creative thinking. Take on new experiences, visit new places, try things you've never done before—these things can help to spark some new line of thought that only that new sensation can inspire.
If coming up with new things to do is a challenge, going back to things and places from your past can be a good place to start. Revisit things that used to inspire and motivate you that you lost the time or place for in the working world. By revisiting these old interests and passions, you can rediscover why those things inspired your creative energy. 
I have been starting and stopping guitar for quite some time. I'd get to a certain point, then stop. Music has always been an important part of my life but I couldn't break through this barrier.

Then, a friend told me about an online guitar course he had discovered two years earlier that really excited him. Besides being free, the lessons are all available on both this fellow's web site and Youtube. Each takes a bite-sized step forward until you are feeling definite progress and playing songs.

I am about 5 weeks into Justin's (justinguitar.com) course and making more progress in feeling confident in my chord playing than I have in years. 

Next, the author suggested observing creativity in others. I had marveled at my wife's creativity vin the visual arts for all our married life, but assumed that was a type of creative outlet that was not on my horizon.
Submerging yourself in their world of creativity is bound to arouse some creative juices of your own. Spend time  with creative people—writers, artists, musicians—and take in their work and their spirit. While this may sound a bit hard to accomplish, it really is a great way to awaken your creativity.
What many people fail to realize (or at least fail to reveal) is that much of our creativity comes from seeing the creativity of others and mimicking it. Finding inspiration from the creative masters is just another method for tapping into your own more original ideas.
I was cleaning out some attic space and uncovered some of the paintings my father had produced in the last decade of his life. He had never shown any interest or artistic bent before, but something made him pick up brushes and a canvas. Now, I had a motivation. Betty had shown me how an artist worked, and my dad showed me what was possible.
I found years of Bob Ross videos (his happy clouds and powerful palette knife!) on YouTube. Betty convinced me to give it a try. Bob Ross made it seem doable. So, I bought some paints, brushes, canvas and other tools of the trade. Covering the dinette table in drop cloth, one morning a few weeks ago I gave painting a whirl. 


Well, my sky is greenish, my trees an unnatural shade of red, and water has never looked less wet. Even so, I enjoyed it! Betty gave me ideas to practice my color blending and how to use the palette knife. On video, Bob Ross continued to believe that a true artist is hidden (apparently very deeply) inside me.

The point of these examples is not to pass myself off as a Renaissance man, giving da Vinci a run for his money. Rather, I hope it gives you some encouragement to try something new, something that you don't believe you have the ability to pull off. 

My painting "career" might last only as long as my $150 worth of oil paints and canvas. I may find the experience interesting, but not my thing. Then, again, my dad might have passed on something to me that just needed a chance to blossom. Betty has promised I can put one of my paintings in the living room if I am comfortable with it (it won't be the one above).

Then, as I am gazing at my landscape, maybe I'll break into an extended guitar jam with my new-found ability to change chords without looking at my fingers!

Retirement is a journey that can take us down unexpected paths to uncharted destinations. We only have to have the little bit of courage it takes to try something new. If we fail, we are exactly where we were before we tried. If we succeed, we will have to explain that big smile on our face to everyone we meet.

19 comments:

  1. Music and art are good activities that use a part of our brains that aren't exercised as much at most of us are capable of doing. I've explored both extensive when I was young but left music behind a long time ago.

    When I get threw with my major downsizing project (going from 1,600 square foot house, full basement and 3 stall garage to move into 1,000 square feet) I want to tackle learning a foreign language. I can barely hear the difference English words like pen/pin so I suspect my brain will get a real workout trying to learn Spanish or Italian...can't decide which.

    My mom, by the way, was a fan of Bob Ross's methods in her retirement.

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    1. Learning a foreign language is good stimulation for the brain, but it is something I struggled with even as a young man. I wish you the very best!

      Bob Ross's voice is so soothing there is even a business selling the audio tapes of his painting lessons as sleep aids!

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  2. Wokring two jobs most of my adulthood, I rarely made time for creative pursuits. A friend took me to a greeting card making class and that sparked a new hobby of making cards,altered journals and other paper crafts. After retirement, I took some free classes at Gila Comunity college (all classes free for anyone over 55 up there!!!!!!)and found I love watercolors! When we moved back to the Valley I took another class and got a little better.I am still not an accomplished artist by any manas but I am improving all the time and having SO MUCH FUN! Yes,creativity lights up different parts of the brain/Soul that have been dormant! Love hearing that you’re progressing with guitar..and the painting venture is exciting!!!!!

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    1. Let Ken know my Justin lessons are going well. Painting is a wild stab in the dark, but any supplies I don't use I am sure Betty will find a use for them.

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  3. Getting pushed out of my banking job after 38 years put me into retirement shock for about a year. My wake up call occurred during a visit to Disney with the family. Suddenly I felt like a kid again. The fear was gone and I was filled with creativity and imagination something I had not felt for many years. I'm trying all kinds of new things tossing the ones I don't like and keeping the good ones. How can you ever know if you will like something if you don't give it a honesttry?

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    1. Absolutely...if you don't try you might miss something quite special.

      BTW, my whole family is Disney-crazy. Being inspired by a trip to Disneyland or World makes perfect sense.

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  4. Thank you so much for the link to Justin's YouTube site for learning the guitar! I can't wait to dust my guitar off and get busy learning!

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    1. He has an amazing amount of material on his web site and You Tube channel...all free. Enjoy.

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  5. Betty could start her own YouTube channel about creativity! Isn't that a great idea?! And good for you for trying out some things. You've inspired and motivated me to try some new things too.

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    1. Betty is my ultimate motivator in trying new things. She is in a bit of a creative dip at the moment. I hope some of my attempts will kickstart her back to what she does so well...making something special out of the everyday.

      You always wow me with what you learn and try..keep it up.

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  6. I've been retired a little over three years, but this is the first year we haven't had a major construction project going. For now, I'm just getting back into activities I love but haven't had much time for. Your post gives me hope that, if I tire of my favorites, many new delights await.

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    1. Glad I could inspire you to try something new. That is one of the joys of retirement.

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  7. I was asked by a mentor if I thought of myself as creative. I replied, "No," equating creativity with artistic. She asked if I always followed a recipe. How do you decide to plant a flower bed/garden? That applies to furniture arrangement and curating art and decor in a room. I came to realize that I was creative.

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    1. Almost all of us make the same mistake...equating creative with something artistic. But, we could get through a day of our lives without using our creative self to solve a problem.

      Example? Betty and I just returned from a few days in the cooler weather of Flagstaff. Our motel room had drapes that didn't quite close, so sunlight came in much too early, hitting me in the face. My creative solution? Using a closet hanger that has two metal clips for pants or a skirt to hold the drapes together. Bingo: no sunshine on my face at 6AM. Creative? Yes.

      All of us use our creative abilities all the time.

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    2. What an excellent solution, Bob! You and Mona may have just changed my perception of what creativity actually means.

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  8. When are we going to see you and maybe your band playing on Youtube? A lot of old guys* around here play in bars and restaurants, and put the best of it up on Youtube -- and some of it is pretty good! * I don't mean to suggest you're an "old Guy" ... just a seasoned professional!

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    1. I am an "elder" who wouldn't inflict his playing on anyone except my wife for some time to come. But, I am enjoying it within the confines of my walls!

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  9. Bob, I love these thoughts about creativity. As you know, creativity is something I really value in my life. Being around other creative people is great for stimulating one’s own creative juices, and also I find that juxtaposing several different new experiences gives me a creative boost — kind of a cross-fertilization of ideas. Have you ever read any of Julia Cameron’s books on living a creative life, e.g., “Walking in this World”? She has some great ideas.

    Jude

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    1. I have been inspired by several of Ms. Cameron's books. "The Artist's Way" was my favorite.

      Creativity in one area of life does seem to bleed over into other areas. Something about using that part of your brain opens up new pathways.

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