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Monday, November 26, 2012

Norman Fischer

"We all need to have a creative outlet — a window, a space — so we don't lose track of ourselves."

— Norman Fischer
American Poet / Zen Buddhist Priest
1946 -

I believe that creativity is as important as breathing to living a happy, successful life.  We all need a outlet for creative expression — whether that is writing poetry or painting canvases or discovering creative solutions to problems.  Creativity is not limited to professional writers, dancers or artists.  We all have the need to be creative.  And most of us should and can express ourselves through various media.  Don't limit yourself to one medium.  If you write novels, take up dance and see how they inspire each other.  If you paint, learn to play a guitar.  

Being creative is not about money or skill or success.  Being creative is about opening yourself up and letting go.  Being creative is about exploring yourself.  Some of the most creative people have never made a dime from their creations.  Some professional novelists, actors and painters find that their success becomes a prison and they lose the outlet for their creativity.  They lose the reason for being a writer, actor or artist.  Create for the sake of creating.  The joy is in the process not the product.

Creative Practice
This week find a new outlet for your creativity.  Explore new ways to express yourself.  Create something in a medium you have not used previously.

Background of Writer
Norman Fischer was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1946 to Jewish parents.  He studied poetry at the University of Iowa.  In 1980 he was ordained as a Zen priest.  He served as the co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1995 to 2000.  In 2000 he founded the Everyday Zen Foundation.  He has published 9 books of poetry.  He is married with two children.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others."

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh
American Writer
1906 - 2001

I have often heard beginning writers and artists say that the reason they write or paint is the need to express themselves.  I remember I was the same way.  And, I believe, the reason for this is that we are not in touch with ourselves.  The artistic adventure is a powerful way for us to find ourselves.  We write or paint to find out who we are.  Only when we are in touch with ourselves can we begin to touch others.

One of the goals of creative leaders is to touch the lives of others.  Have you ever read a book that inspired, motivated or changed you?  Have you ever looked at a painting and felt your whole world shift on its axis?  One of the reasons we create is to touch the lives of other people.  To make a difference in people's lives.  To change the world.

Are you in touch with yourself?  Do you know who you are and what your are contributing to the world?  Are you following your path?  What is the legacy that you will leave behind? Have you touched someone's life today?

Creative Practice
Write down all the reasons that you create works of art.  See how many reasons you can uncover.  Then ask yourself:  If I die in 24 hours, what legacy do I want to leave behind?  Write down your answers.  Then ask:  Am I on the right path?  What is your answer?

Background on Writer
Anne Spencer Morrow was the daughter of Dwight Morrow and Elizabeth Reeve Cutter Morrow.   Her father was a partner at J.P. Morgan who became the Ambassador to Mexico and a U. S. Senator from New Jersey.  Her mother was a poet and teacher who served as president of Smith College.  Anne graduated from Smith College in 1928.  She married Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator, in 1929.  The same year she flew solo herself and with Lindbergh would fly and explore the world during the next decade.  Their first son was kidnapped and killed in 1932.

Lindbergh published 8 books between 1935 and 1969.  Her most famous work is Gift From the Sea.

Monday, November 12, 2012

George Washington Carver

"Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses."

— George Washington Carver
American Scientist
1864 - 1943

The easiest thing to find are excuses for our failures.  Excuses are a dime a dozen.  "I don't have enough time."  I don't have enough education."  "My father used to beat me."  "I grew up without a father."  "I did not have enough money to go to school."  "I don't have time to write."  "I don't have time to draw."

Life is about choice, not excuses.  We choose what we do — how we spend our time.  Everyone faces problems.  The key is how we respond to our problems.  Do we bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problems?  Do we make excuses and quit?  Or do we choose to keep fighting for our dreams?  Do we find another way to solve the problems.  The choice is yours.  

What dreams have you given up on?  What excuses are you making today?  Why have you settled for less than you are capable of achieving?  

Creative Practice
Make list of all your excuses.  Then light a match and watch them go out up in smoke.  Make another list of all the reasons you want to be a writer, an artist or a creative leader.  Post this list where you can read it daily.  Stay focused on what you want.  Most people focus on the obstacles in their path; instead, focus on your goals — where you want to go.

Background on George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver was born a slave in Missouri.  When George was a week old, his mother, sister and him were kidnapped and taken to Kentucky.  Only George was recovered by his owner, Moses Carver.  When slavery was abolished, George was raised by his former 
owner as his own child.  His adoptive parents encouraged education and taught George how to read and write.  He earned a diploma from Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas.  He earned a bachelors and masters degree from Iowa State.

After college, Carver taught at Tuskegee Institute for 47 years in the agricultural department which he turned into a strong research center.  Carter researched and experimented with new uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, soybeans, pecans and other crops.  He discovered over 300 uses for for peanuts.  Carver never married.  He died at the age of 78 and was buried next to Booker T. Washington.  On his grave was written: "He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sally Field

"It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes."

— Sally Field
American Actress
November 6, 1946 -

Probably one of the meanest, most destructive critics that creative leaders confront are themselves.  We are often harsher on ourselves than we are on our family, peers and friends.  We compare ourselves to those around us and believe we are not as good.  We believe that others don't like us and are looking down their noses at us.  We take a simple negative statement that often is uttered and forgotten to heart and walk around crushed for days and weeks.  

Don't judge yourself through the eyes of others.  Don't let their negative comments penetrate your heart and soul.  Protect yourself from the onslaught of their poisonous arrows.  No one can know you better than yourself.  Their comments are only their perception of who they think you are.  They only see only a part of you.  They don't know you.

Creative Practice:
This week make a list of 25 of your positive traits and post them somewhere that you can read them.  Read this list aloud to yourself when you wake in the morning and again before you go to bed at night.  Carry a copy of the list with you and whenever someone puts you down, pull out your list and read it aloud to yourself.

About the Actress:
Sally Field, the Academy Award winning actress, was born in Pasadena, California to Richard Field, an Army officer, and Margaret Field, an actress.  Her parents divorced when she was four.  She was a cheerleader in high school.  In the 1960s she starred in two TV shows: Gidget and the The Flying Nun.  Gidget lasted only 32 episodes (one season) from September, 1965 - April 1966.  The Flying Nun lasted for 83 episodes and ran from  September, 1967 - September, 1970.

Sally Field starred in the title role of the 1976 TV movie, Sybil, and won an Emmy Award.  She co-starred with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit in 1977.  In 1979, she starred in Norma Rae and won the Academy Award for Best Actress.  She won a second Best Actress award for the 1984 movie, Places in the Heart.

Here are clips from 10 of Sally Field's movies.