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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.