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Welcome! There are more than 800 Inspirational Quotes For Writers, Artists and Other Creative Leaders on this site.
Spend a few minutes exploring. And come back every Monday for a new inspirational quote.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Carol Emshwiller — Change the World



Sometimes as creative leaders, we hope we can change the world — to make it a better place for everyone. Unfortunately, our vision of what we want the world to be and what it actually is rarely match. And even the most powerful people can not change the world to fit their vision. We can have an impact on the lives of some people and can alter the small corner of the universe where we eat and sleep. Maybe as Emshwiller suggests, we need to lower our sights. If I touch one heart, changed one life, I have made a powerful difference.

If I want to influence the world that I inhabit, I must first change myself. As creative leaders, we must work on becoming who we need to become before we can change those around us. It is very difficult to change someone else. Husbands and wives understand this. Those who learn to accept their spouses for who they are will be happily married. Those who spend all their time trying to change the behavior of those they love, often end up bitter and angry.

Change is something that we enjoy when we are the ones who initiate it. If someone else tries to change us, we put our foot down and refuse. As creative leaders, our art, writing and music can touch people's lives and inspire them when they are ready to hear and see. We all plant seeds and yet, we may never hear if the seeds grow and bear fruit. So we must hope that we have inspired a few.


What do you want or need to change in yourself?  What steps are you taking to change your behavior?  What are you doing to transform yourself into a better writer or artist? How will you be different tomorrow than you are today?  It is never to late to change your habits, your hopes and your dreams. Start today.

Monday, August 15, 2016

William Baziotes — The Process of Creation



Evolution is the way a poem happens for me. I don't know what the poem is about until I'm finished writing. The poem evolves as I write. I know there are writers who outline everything they do. They know what they are going to write every step of the way. For me, it does not work. I like not knowing. The excitement is in the writing. The same thing happens when I write a story or a novel. Only at the end do I know what I was writing about.  And even then I might not be sure.

When I travel I am the same way. I want to discover new places. My wife and I once were on a trip with another couple. They had everything planned down to the minute and became upset if we deviated from the plan because it put them behind schedule. I can't travel that way. The joy is in the discovery.

Art for me is also about discovery.  When I draw a mask, I never know what a mask will look like until I am finished.  The joy is in the process of creation. The joy is in not knowing where you are going. 

Zentangle 2016
I have been studying Zentangle, a meditative art form, for the last four years.  A basic principle of Zentangle art is that you don't plan your work.  The fun is in the exploration — of discovering where you should go.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that creative leaders have many different ways of working. What works for one person does not work for another. How do you work? Do you map out your story in advance of writing it? Do you know what your painting will look like before you start painting it? Are you confined by the expectations of yourself or others?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Harley King - Heroes and Stories



Are you the hero of your story? Or are you the victim? We all have faced challenges in our lives and we have struggled to overcome difficulties. We have people who seek to hurt us and cause us harm. Have you found the strength to share your story of triumph and victory over the pain? Or are you still dwelling in a past of unhappiness? Maybe it is time to retell your story with you as the hero. Maybe it is time to celebrate your healing.

Our stories are not new.  Others have tread the same path and faced the same challenges.  The difference is in the details. The difference is in our memories. Share your memories and the details that make your story unique. Share what is special about your story.

The fact that I have been fired five times in my career is a part of my story. Yet, I have risen from the ashes of failure to find new paths. I have used my failures as opportunities to grow and change. I have overcome the pain of loss. I have become the hero, not the victim.  I have been employed by the same company for the last 28 years.

The fact that I was diagnosed with prostate cancer is a part of my story.  Yet, today, ten years later, I am cancer-free.

The fact that editors have rejected my poems is a part of my story.  Yet, I did not let the rejection stop me from writing.  I chose to keep writing and have now written over 5,000 poems.  And I still write and rewrite my story.  I celebrate my story. 

What stories are you telling? Are you the hero?  Or the victim? Is it time to rewrite your story?

This entry marks the 950th post to this inspirational blog filled with positive quotes and comments. I have written every week for six years, beginning with my first entry on August 7, 2010.  The first two years I posted a daily entry. During the last four years I have posted weekly. I am writing and rewriting my story.
First blog post: August 7, 2010
http://harleyinspiration.blogspot.com/2010/08/every-flower-is-soul-blossoming-in.html

Monday, August 1, 2016

Tom Robbins — Options



Many artists and writers dream of becoming successful.  They believe they will be happy when they have a best seller on their hands.  Be careful what you wish for.  When you are an unknown writer or artist, you are free to explore new genres or avenues of thinking without anyone criticizing you. When you are successful, you can become boxed in by the expectations of others and your options to explore new genres becomes limited. 

One of my favorite mystery writers, Walter Mosley, has tried on occasion to write novels outside of the genre of mysteries and these novels have never been as successful as his Easy Rawlins novels

 I once talked with Denver Pyle, a Hollywood character actor for most of his career. He said that his role as Uncle Jessie on the Dukes of Hazard negatively impacted his ability to be cast in any other roles. He was typecast as Uncle Jessie. 

Sometimes we as creative leaders become trapped by our own success and are unable to reinvent ourselves. Ricky Nelson speaks of this trap in his song, The Garden Party.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Carl Rogers — Paradox of Change



Have you ever had a desire to change who you are?  Have you ever dreamed of waking up and being somebody different?  That is one of the fun things about being a novelist or an actor.  Novelists and short story writers can become the characters inside the stories they tell. I once wrote a short story, Bath Day, in which I inserted my real self as a minor character seen through the eyes of the main character.   Actors take on the character of others.  They play heroes and villains.  They experience death, love, sorrow and laughter in the skin of imaginary characters.

Most of us have struggled with our self-identity. We may not like our physical looks or the bill-paying work that we do or the fact that we have grown old. We may think that we are poor husbands, wives or parents.  And yet, if we learn to accept who we are and what we have done, then we can begin to change into who we want to be.

Have you ever tried to change your habits? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Start exercising? Learn another language? Leave the toilet seat down? Some people say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Personal change is never easy. We need to learn to be more forgiving of ourselves and those with whom we share our lives. None of us are perfect. And if change is difficult for us, don't you think it is just as difficult for those you love. Learn to be gentle with yourself and those you love.

Monday, July 18, 2016

William A. Ward — Humor




Are you able to laugh at yourself and the circumstances you find yourself in?  Life has a tendency to throw you off balance and unless you are able to laugh, you will surely cry.  Laughter gives us balance and a way to cope with the challenges we face.  

Many of us take ourselves too seriously. We need to learn to laugh at ourselves. We all make mistakes. We all screw-up. When we learn to laugh at our mistakes, we begin to heal the pain. None of us are perfect, even those of us who try to be. For years perfection has been one of my goals whether I was speaking or writing and I have had to learn a hard lesson that it is okay to make a mistake. I have had to learn to relax and to laugh at myself. In fact, mistakes make us better people, more human.

Have you laughed today? In these crazy times (and when have they not been crazy?), we need to be able to find humor in the absurdity of living or we will quickly lose perspective. We will fail to see the forest. Laughter and humor are essential for maintaining one's sanity in a difficult, confusing and chaotic world.

Some of the best humor is what I call spontaneous humor.  This is humor that is not planned.  This is humor that rises spontaneously out of the situation and it can't be conveyed to others.  This is humor that you have to have been there to grasp it. 

Are you able to find the humor in difficult situations?  I challenge you to keep a humor journal where you record funny things that happen to you.  And on those days when you feeling down, pick up your journal and relive those laughs.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Brianna King — Second Chance



How many times a day do you think of yourself as a failure?  How often do you throw your creative work in the trash? Maybe it is time to learn the art of imperfection.  Too many of us strive to be perfect. Perfection cannot be achieved.  Even the best works of art have mistakes.

In Japan, some craftsmen practice the art of 500-year-old art of Kintsugi which involves repairing broken ceramic pieces with a lacquer that is mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  We should not simply throw things away because they are broken or imperfect.  We need to find the beauty in the imperfection.  We need to celebrate imperfection.  Our imperfections are what make us unique and special.  Without our imperfections, we would not be who we are.

So, the next time that you want to wad up your writing and toss it in the waste basket, don't. Put it aside and come back to it on another day.  Learn to find the good within your creative work.  Learn to celebrate the imperfections. Honor your mistakes.

Here is a video that provides more background on the philosophy and history of Kintsugi.








Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Katharine Graham — Love What You Do



Do you love what you do? Do you love to paint? Do you love to write? Do you love to act? Do you love to draw? What is your passion? If you do not enjoy writing or singing or painting, then maybe it is time to get out of the creative business and find something you love to do. The creative world is difficult and if you don't have fun being creative, you will feel like you have been hit by truck.

What we as creative leaders do is very important. We touch people's lives and help them feel better about themselves. We solve problems and show the world a better way. We bring beauty and new ideas into the world. We help people escape their mundane worlds for a short time. We inspire people to be better than they are. We give hope where there is none. We help people visit new worlds and experience new places.

Celebrate the creative work that you do. Be proud of the creative work that you create. Appreciate your accomplishments and achievements even when others don't recognize your talent. Be happy with who you are.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Certified Zentangle Teacher




I am now a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). I attended a 3 day workshop in Providence, RI, last week and am now certified to teach Zentangle art. People learn to draw abstract patterns using black ink on white tiles. Zentangle practice is a relaxing and meditative form of art.

https://www.zentangle.com/zentangle-method

Here are some examples of my recent creations.






Monday, June 27, 2016

Jim Rohn — Discipline




We all have dreams and most of us never act on our dreams.  We find excuses and reasons why we can't do something.  We focus on all the obstacles we see in front of us.  Dreams may inspire us to act for a day or two, but it takes discipline to keep writing and painting.  And this goes for successful writers and painters as well as beginners.  

I have read stories of successful writers and painters who stop working.  The first book or two made them a celebrity and they never finish the next book.  They get caught up in the celebrity of being a writer.  Being a creative leader requires discipline to sit down at the computer, to stand at that easel, or to sit at the piano.  

Do you have the discipline to accomplish your dreams?  Do you rise before everyone in your family so that you can spend an hour or two working on your art?  Or do you stay up after everyone else has gone to bed?  Do you do what many others only dream about?  

Creative leaders can become easily sidetracked by the next creative thought or the next creative idea. We are attracted to the energy within new creative ideas. It is a emotional high and can be addictive. If we are not careful we will jump from one idea to the next and never finish what we have started. Creative leaders must master the art of self-discipline if they are to be successful.

Are you struggling with your dreams or have you mastered the art of self-discipline? Do you procrastinate and never finish what you start or do you bring your projects in on time? Do you let the pleasure of the moment keep you from doing the work you were meant to do? Do you let the joy of new ideas get in the way of completing your work? Remember self-discipline is the key to your success.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Advice



As creative leaders, we all receive advice — some good, some bad, and some dangerous.  Be careful of who you listen to.  The wrong advice can be damaging to your emotional and mental health as well as your creative output.  Good advice can keep you on track and motivated to keep producing creative work.  Dangerous advice is that which keeps us from fulfilling our potential.  We give up because some expert says we will never amount to anything.  

As creative leaders, we are also tempted to give advice.  Be careful.  The wrong advice can destroy a potential artist or writer.  I learned a valuable technique from a trainer many years ago.  He said if you are coaching someone on skill development, you should ask them two questions:  What did you do right?  and What will you do differently next time.

Most people know when they made a mistake or messed up, even if they don't consciously admit it.  And when they write or paint something, they are very critical of themselves.  So get them to focus on what they did right?  Have them focus on the good things.  Then ask them what they will do differently the next time they write a story or paint a picture?  Get the person to focus on how he can improve.  

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jack London — Inspiration



What inspires you? What motivates you to create? What moves your spirit? I often find my inspiration in nature. Maybe a lone tree in a field. Or a full moon rising slowly above the horizon? Maybe it is a butterfly fluttering about the yard on a warm afternoon. Or a snow-covered cornfield with the stalks popping through.

If you wait for inspiration, you may never find it. You must seek it out. You must chase it through the fields. Maybe it is buried beneath a rock. Or hiding in a bird's nest. Or lost in a raindrop.

Sometimes inspiration sneaks upon you when you are working and catches you by surprise. Sometimes it invades your dreams and you wake up with the answer to your problems. When you pretend that inspiration is not important, it will dominate your soul.

Consider inspiration as a friend who comes and goes at all hours of the day and night bearing gifts that will delight you. When you open the gifts offered by inspiration, be not frightened by what you find. Cherish the madness that inspiration bestows upon you. Taste the sadness when it leaves you naked and exposed to the elements.

Kneel before the altar of inspiration and pray that you will survive the dangerous journey. Catch fireflies and offer them as a sacrifice to the gods of inspiration. Dance with the goddess of inspiration and steal her beauty. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for an opportunity to taste of the nectar of the gods.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali — Growth



Life is about change and growth as individuals and as writers and artists.  If we think the same thoughts at 50 that we did at 20, we have failed to grow and mature in our thinking. We have wasted our time here on this earth.  If we paint the same paintings or write the same stories at 50 that we did at 20, we have failed to grow and develop our skills. We have wasted the precious gifts we have been given.

I am much more accepting of life today than I was when I was 2o.  I now take the long view and realize the world will go on long after I have left this world behind.  When I was eighteen, I thought the world was about to end.

How have you changed?  What have you learned? What did you learn yesterday?  What do you still need to learn?  Have you stopped growing?  Are you simply existing — waiting for the end to come?

In the summer of 1966, I saw Muhammad Ali standing on a street corner in downtown Chicago.  He was 24 years old and I was seventeen.  He was already a world champion boxer and I was a teenager from a small farming community just beginning to engage with the world. He had already refused to be inducted into the armed forces and was stripped of his title.  My first protest march was two years away.

More than 30 years after I saw Muhammad Ali, I met one of his daughters at the restaurant she owned in a suburb of Chicago.  I was there to give a speech on the privilege of service. Life had come full circle.

Life is about the people who cross our paths, the relationships that we choose to develop and the memories we acquire.  Life is about growth, learning and change.  Thank you, Muhammad Ali, for what you gave the world of yourself and what you taught us. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beverly Pepper — Fallow Fields



Farmers understand that they have to leave the fields fallow some years. The soil needs a rest and an opportunity to rebuild itself. If they planted corn every year, they would deplete the soil of its nutrients eventually. 

Artists, writers and creative leaders are going to have good days and bad days. The bad days are a way of restoring the creative energies to our spirit — of making us whole again. Work every day but understand that some days you will be producing weeds and other days you will harvest the corn.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Edwin Hubbell Chapin - Forgiveness




As creative leaders we often face rejection. People ignore our paintings. Editors reject our writing. Critics criticize our work. How we respond to this rejection is a indicator of our character. 

When I was in sixth grade I was asked to be the reporter for our class news in the local newspaper. The criticism I received was that I needed to tone my writing down because it was too much like advertising. I was so deeply hurt that it was years before I picked up a pen and began to write again. But those articles foreshadowed a later career in marketing and advertising where I did actually write ads.

I have been reading the biographies and memoirs of Presidents for several years now.  Even these great leaders had a hard time overcoming criticism and forgiving their critics.  Both Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower felt slighted by the other.  Richard M. Nixon felt slighted by JFK and LBJ and even Eisenhower on occasion.  Nixon's failure to forgive his enemies and his critics led in part to his down fall and resignation.

How do you handle criticism? How do you respond to rejection? Many years ago I submitted two haiku to two different magazines accidentally. The reason I found out is that they both were returned on the same day. The first letter I opened was a rejection slip and it hurt. When I opened the second envelope, I found the haiku was accepted for publication. I learned a valuable lesson that day. There will always be rejection, but there will also be acceptance. Don't focus on the rejection; focus on the acceptance. Editors are fickle and rejection often has nothing to do with you. It has to do with the editor's editorial needs and his personal taste.

Maybe it is time to take a look at your life.  Who do you need to forgive?  What criticisms and rejections are holding you back from success?  What pain and injury must you forget?  What we spend our time thinking about is who we become.  Are you so busy reliving the slights and rejections of the past that you fail to enjoy the present?  Life is too short to dwell on what we can't change. Forgive and move on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Andre Gide - Truth




Great novelists understand that truth is neither black nor white.  The best characters are filled with shades of gray.  Black and white characters are boring and leave little to the imagination or the heart.  As readers, we connect most with the characters who are conflicted and whose behavior is neither purely evil nor purely good.   The best stories communicate the nuances of the human soul.  

When it comes to the interactions of human beings nothing is black and white. You can always find some gray. Every person has some good in him as well as some bad.  For me, very little truth is black and white. Most truth, if not all, has various shades of gray. No human being has a monopoly on truth. We all make mistakes. 

Yet, many people choose to see the world as black and white.  They quickly choose sides and set up barriers which give rise to conflict.  Sometimes writers and artists fall into the trap of seeing the world as black and white: "Only our style of art is good. Everything else is bad." For much of the 20th century artists moved away from realism and adopted cubism, abstract expressionism, surrealism and magical realism. Realism became a negative word. In writing, we have literary novels and the genre novels. Mysteries, science fiction, fantasy and romance novels are considered by literary snobs not to be as good as the literary novels.

I grew up in a church where congregations would split up over such simple things as whether men should wear clothes with buttons or the fish and hook. The fights between the groups of people occur because each group believes they have cornered the market on truth. They probably agree on 95% of the issues, but they allow the five percent to divide them. They don't see the gray because they are blinded by the black and white.

Who in your life are you separated from because you each think you own the truth? A story does not just have one or two sides. It has thousands of sides. Nothing is black and white. Everything is gray. Break down those black and white walls today and gather those you love in your arms.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Franklin D. Roosevelt — The Thrill of Creativity



Creativity is not limited to writers, artists and musicians.  Anyone can be creative if they open themselves up and listen to the ideas inside.  Who has not had a better idea about something?  There are creative business people who have new ideas about how to do something better.  There are creative doctors who develop better ways to treat patients.  My dentist has developed 12 products that he has sold on the market. Unfortunately, some people bury their creativity deep inside.  They even announce loudly to those around them: "I don't have a creative bone in my body."  We all have the potential to be creative if we allow ourselves the opportunity.

Creativity is one of the most thrilling acts that we as humans can participate in.  If you have ever experienced the excitement of chasing a new idea or exploring a new way of seeing the world you will understand what Roosevelt is saying.  Some people might say that Roosevelt was not creative.  He did not produce any great works of art.  His creativity lay in his ability to change the way he and others saw the world.  The ideas that rose to the surface during his Presidency dramatically changed life in the United States and around the world.  People today are still trying to understand the impact of the changes Roosevelt created in our society and our politics.  Roosevelt was a creative leader.

What are you doing to cultivate creativity in your life?  Give yourself the freedom to look at the world in new ways.  See the world in ways that others don't.  Don't accept things as they are.  Question why?  Creativity is not about technique.  It is about seeing the world in new ways.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bernie Siegel — Hope




As a young writer, hope is one of the few things that kept me going.  I would read a story about someone who was 50 or 60 or 7o and he had just published his first novel.  After years of toiling in the salt mines of writing, he found success.  These stories inspired me to keep writing.  I had hope that one day I would be discovered and become successful.  Even today I have that sense of hope, that belief that one day I will be proved right.  Yes, I am a writer.

When we lose hope, we give up on life.  We quit.  Some days all we have is hope.  As the old saying goes: every dark cloud as a silver lining.  We just have to find it — to look at the world with new eyes.  To see the butterfly in the midst of chaos.  No matter how dark the night, there is always a sunrise.  Everyone faces challenges and difficulties.  The sad thing for me is people who see no way out of a problem but to take their own lives.  Never give up hope for a better tomorrow.

As creative thinkers, we need hope.  We need to believe in ourselves, our ideas, our art.  Have faith that you have been given a gift.  Have faith in your dreams.  Have faith that the sun will rise again.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Robert Henri — Visual Memory



Philosophers have long said that we experience the world through our senses, and scientists have confirmed this.  The ability to see is one of our dominant senses.  The question that Robert Henri is raising here is about our memory of what we see.  Both painters and writers need strong visual memory in order to put detail into their work.  Painters often work from observing models, but they also need to be able to work from the memory of that model.  The same is true of writers.  We must be able to describe our characters, the setting and the physical world.  Often the physical world provides the reader with insight into the nature of a character.

Bernadita (1926)
Robert Henri
Visual memory is something I struggle with both as a writer and a reader.  When I come to a long descriptive passage in a novel, I will skim through it quickly so as not to be bored.  When I write, I struggle to put in visual detail of the person and his surroundings.  As a speaker I can be in a room for eight hours with a group of people, but at the end of the day I could not describe their faces or the clothes they were wearing.  

The only place where I have discovered that I have a strong visual memory is when I am driving.  I can have driven through a city once and come back five years later and I will remember visual elements and be able to find my way around without getting lost. Somehow subconsciously, my brain picks up the physical clues and I remember them when I am back in the same place, but if you were to ask me to describe the place I could not.

For the past fifteen years I have been cultivating my visual memory through the study of art. If your visual memory is weak like mine, I would encourage you to find ways to improve your visual literacy.  Most creative leaders need a strong visual memory.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dr. Benjamin Mays — Goals



Research shows that only about 2% of Americans write goals.  I was 35 years old when I first heard about the importance of goal-setting in achieving one's dreams. In college I had dreamed of being a writer but at 35 was far from my dream. I had only written about 200 poems in 15 years. I set a goal to write a poem a day for a year. That year I wrote over 400 poems.

If you want to achieve your dreams, you need to turn them into goals.  Goals are dreams with deadlines.  Some creative leaders don't want to set goals because they are afraid they will not reach them. But the truth is that people achieve more when they have goals then when they don't. You may not reach the goal you set but you will come closer than if you had no goal. And as many people learn, the joy is in working to achieve the goal, not in actually achieving it. And when goal-setters reach their goal, they quickly set a new goal. 

I once met a 101 year old man who was writing his first book using a laptop computer in a nursing home. I visited that nursing home a couple of years later and the man, then 103, was writing his second book. What goals have you set for yourself? Your work? Your life?

Dr. Benjamin Mays must have been a master goal-setter for all that he accomplished. Mays was the youngest of eight children born to tenant farmers and former slaves in South Carolina. He earned a B.A. from Bates College in Maine, a Masters and a Ph.d in religion from the University of Chicago. He received almost 30 honorary doctorates in his lifetime. He was an ordained Baptist minister and an educator. He became President of Morehouse College in 1940, a post he held for 27 years. Mays wrote nearly 2,000 articles and nine books includingThe Negro's Church, the first sociological study of African-American religion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who graduated from Morehouse in 1948, called Mays his "spiritual mentor" and "intellectual father." 


Childhood home of Benjamin Mays

Monday, April 4, 2016

Louis Auchincloss — The Gift of Dreams





How often do we hold ourselves back from doing the things we want to do because we are afraid? Afraid of what others will say? Afraid of failure? Afraid of success? Afraid we don't have any talent?

Louis Auchincloss wrote this statement in his first memoir, A Writer's Capital, in 1974. In his 92 years on this planet, Auchincloss was a lawyer, a novelist, a short-story writer and a historian, publishing more than 60 books. He filled his life with things he wanted to do.
Dreams are creative gifts we have been given — paths that we should walk.  When we refuse to seek our dreams and refuse to do the work that needs to be done, we are rejecting the gift. We are denying our birthright. 

Is there something you have been dreaming of doing, but have not done it? Maybe today it is time to take that first step in achieving your dreams. If you don't, no one will care. Only you care about your dreams. Only you can achieve your dreams. Only you have the power it takes to achieve your dreams.

Today I celebrate my 67th birthday. I am thankful for the gifts I have been given — the dreams that I followed and the life I have lived.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Leonardo da Vinci — Miracle of Creativity



The ability to create is a miracle that has been given to the human race.  We have the ability to create something that did not exist previously.  From our early days in the caves to the high tech world of digital art, humans have had a need to share their stories and express their emotions.  Whether we sit around the campfire and mesmerize others with our stories or we sit in front of a computer and compose a novel, we are experiencing the miracle of creativity.

Some of us have tossed this miracle away by denying our ability to create.  Some of us have allowed others to destroy this miracle through their words and actions.  And some of us allowed our need for perfection to keep us from expressing ourselves.  The miracle of creativity is a gift that is sacred and we need to honor, respect and give thanks for what we have been given.

If you have lost the miracle of creation, you need to rediscover it.  You need to go deep within yourself and restore the miracle that is your birthright.  If the miracle of creativity has died a slow death within your soul, you need to resurrect it and celebrate the gift of life.

The miracle of creativity is the gift that gives the human race life.  Without creativity, there would be no progress — no growth.  Without creativity, we would not be human. Give thanks this week for the precious gift you have been given.  Celebrate the healing power of creativity.  Draw a picture.  Write a poem.  Tell a story.  Sing a song.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Natalie Goldberg — Listen Deeply



Most of us probably never associate the creative process with listening. We experience writing, painting and singing as active processes. We perceive listening to be a passive process. Actually, listening is very active and engaging. 

As writers and painters we need to be listening to the world around us and to the people within that world. By listening we learn to see the world for what it is. The better we understand our world the stronger artist we become. Those, who are so absorbed in themselves that that they do not listen, ultimately, will lose touch with the world and they will become weak.

Learn to listen with your heart, your body, your soul, your mind and your spirit. Taste the different flavors of the world around you. Explore the dark crevices and the deep roots. Climb the highest trees and tread on the sandiest beaches. Taste the heights of the human spirit and the deepest valleys of the human heart. Listen with every pore in your flesh. Listen with every cell in your body.

Here is Natalie Goldberg discussing the 30-year republication of her famous book, Writing Down the Bones


Monday, March 14, 2016

Milton Berle — Build a Door



Many times we have to make our own opportunities. People often complain that they were not given a chance. They fall into "If Only"thinking: "If only I could have gone to school." "If only my boss would have promoted me." "If only my parents loved me." "If only I had a job." "If only someone would publish my book." If only. . . . If only. . . . If only. . . . 

If you are going to achieve your dreams and accomplish your goals, you must move beyond "If Only" thinking to "Opportunity" thinking. You must build your own doors and knock on them.

What doors can you build today that you can knock on tomorrow? Building the door to opportunity does not just happen by accident. It takes hard work, belief in oneself and persistence.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Joan Miro — Planting Seeds of the Spirit



Growing up in a conservative Mennonite family, I was not exposed to art as a child. My maternal grandfather even forbid photographs and television.  My parents did not buy a TV until after he died. 

The Garden 2
Joan Miro
My first exposure to art came my freshman year in college where in one of my classes we had to choose an artist to study. I chose Joan Miro, a Spanish artist, and his paintings planted in my soul a love of art. I had an opportunity to study art history about 30 years later and fell in love with several painters including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Eastman Johnson, Edvard Munch and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. When you fall in love with a painting, you come back to it again and again for it to refresh your soul. 

A great novel stays with you long after you have read it. My all time favorite novel is Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  I first read it college and have read it 3 times since.  

How many times do you listen to the same piece of music over and over. And each time you hear it years later, it brings back waves of emotion. Roberta Flack, Harry Chapin and Kris Kristofferson remain some of my favorite singers more than 40 years after I first heard them.  

Artists, musicians and writers all plant seeds with their works of art. What seeds are you planting with your writing, your painting or your music? How is your art impacting your audience? What seeds have you planted in their souls?


Monday, February 29, 2016

Christina Baldwin — The Gift of Creativity



Sometimes as writers we become caught up in the business of publishing and experience the hurt and pain of rejection. We become frustrated and sometimes quit writing because we don't think we are good enough. The need to write, to express ourselves, is not about being published. The need to write and to create is the gift in itself. Celebrate and honor the gift you have been given. Write for the sake of writing.  Write for the sake of the gift.

The same can be said of painting and any of the other forms of creative expression. Painting is not about selling your art to the highest bidder or having your painting hang in a museum somewhere. The art of painting is a gift to be honored and treasured. Respect and appreciate the gift that you have been given.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Gail Godwin — Writing Habits



Our minds are very powerful and capable of doing more than we imagine.  In a New York Times Book Review essay on the lives of aging writers, Gail Godwin told the reporter that she was able as she grew older to compose paragraphs in her mind and retain them — something she was unable to do in her youth.  She remembers as a young writer hearing Jorge Luis Borges tell his audience at the Iowa Writer's Workshop that blindness taught him to compose his stories in his head.  I know of poets who compose poems in their minds and are able to recite them from memory.

Many young writers and artists feel that if they are not successful by the time they turn forty, they have failed.  Yet, writing and painting is a learning process.  Creative power does not rest only with the young.  Some of us don't get our first wind until we are over sixty.  I remember reading the story many years ago of a writer who published his first novel in his thirties and his second in his eighties.

While Gail Godwin is best known for her fourteen novels, she has also composed music with Robert Starer and keeps colored pencils at her bedside.  On her website Godwin says that she will often draw before she goes to sleep.  She says: "I also draw when I am baffled by some aspect of the character.  Making a visual image of that character in action almost always reveals something new."

(Photo of Gail Godwin by David Hermon.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Leo Buscaglia - The Healing Power of Hugs



After a speech a number of years ago, a manager came up to me and said she had a story to tell me about the healing power of hugs.

The manager, who was an administrator in health care, said that she had a long-term employee who began to come in late and even miss days of work. Being a good manager, she took note of this.

One day the manager saw the employee coming down the hallway. She said the employee seemed lost to the world — about ready to give up on life. Instinctively, the manager gave the woman a hug. The woman just stood there not knowing what to do or say. Every day after that the manager would give the woman a hug whenever she saw her.


After a couple of months the employee opened up and explained to the manager why she was so depressed. Her daughter had recently moved out of the home to attend college. Her son had moved out two years earlier and she was alone. And she said that it was the tenth anniversary of her husband’s death. She felt she had nothing left to live for.

For a while taking care of her patients kept her going. She knew her patients needed her so she would come to work. But she reached the point where her patients were not motivation enough. She decided to take her own life.

She came into work with the intention of gathering up her belongings and driving back home and taking her own life. That was the day the manager gave the woman her first hug. That hug saved her life and every hug after that helped to draw her out of a depression.

Hugging was not something I grew up doing. I was raised German Mennonite on a farm in central Illinois. As a family, we did not hug. My wife is of Mexican-American descent and she taught my family and me the importance of hugging. When I got into health care, nurses reinforced the importance of touch and hugging. So for the last 20 years of my parents’ lives I hugged them.

As writers and artists, we often work in isolation and yet we have this desire and need for human touch.  We should surround ourselves with supportive friends with whom we can cry  and who will give us a hug when we need it the most.  Healthy friendships are a necessary part of the creative process.

As creative leaders, we need to take care of our own emotional and mental heath so we have the strength to create more works of art.  Be sure to give your friends and family a hug each and every day.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


Silence is a valuable gift for writers and artists. Silence is where our work as creative leaders begins. We must go back to the well of silence again and again to refresh our spirit and restore our sanity. Silence allows us to process the tons of information that enter our brains. Silence allows creativity to take root and grow beautiful flowers. Silence allows for reason to prevail over ignorance.

There is a lot of noise in our society that clouds our thinking and hinders the flow of creativity. The noise of multiple voices rises from the traditional media: newspaper, radio and television. And the noise is multiplied a hundred times over today by the cell phones, the internet and social media. Each of these technologies has value and can contribute to our success, but we must manage and control their use, not let them control us. We must sometimes go silent and cut ourselves off from the noise. We must go deep inside and experience the silence.

And in the silence we will know and understand our purpose. If we lose sight of our purpose, we will lose our way and become lost in the noise and chaos. The silence allows us to find ourselves and to stay focused on what is important and why we are here.

Are you in touch with your purpose? Do you know why you are here? Do you know what lessons you have learned and what lessons you still need to learn? How are you going to make a positive contribution to the world at large? What are you giving back to society? Seek to know who you are by knowing your purpose for being. Embrace the silence and stay focused on your purpose.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Prakashan B.V.



Happiness does not come from buying a new house or an expensive car.  The thrill of buying something new is very short-lived. Happiness can not be found in the world outside ourselves.  Happiness is an inside job.  Each of us is responsible for our own happiness.

The same can be said for those of us who are creative leaders.  The happiness created by the acceptance of our work by a publisher or an art gallery is only temporary.  If we are not happy on the inside, we will soon return to our negative feelings of failure and frustration.

There is always going to be someone who is richer than you — more successful than you. Likewise, there is always someone who is poorer than you — less successful that you. No amount of money or success will free us from our fears and doubts.  No amount of money will eliminate the pain in our hearts. If you win the lottery tomorrow, you will still be the same person you are today.  The money will not make you happy if you are not already happy.

Happiness comes from loving and caring for those around us — from sharing of ourselves with the people in our lives. Happiness comes from creating what we want to create, not what the market wants to buy. Happiness comes from making the most with what you have and not coveting the success of your neighbor.