Tag Archives: Creativity

Book Review: BIG MAGIC

Big MagicWe are all creators, or at least have the potential to be. That’s one of the messages behind Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC, Creative Living Beyond Fear. As a shameless believer in magic, with an interest in the nature of creativity, I couldn’t resist this book. It didn’t disappoint.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

The author digs deep into her own experiences to offer an interesting, unique and witty take on the nature of creativity and how we can harness it for success in whatever endeavor we choose. It’s a chatty style, and you don’t have to wade through loads of heavily scientific or esoteric ideas to get to the heart of the book, which is basically that we all have the right to live a creative life, but have to accept that doing so will bring challenges.

There is much reference to courage, and how we have to make space for fear. Fear is inevitable on the creative journey, and where some people say you have to conquer fear to move forward, the author says to make space for it because it will never go away. She says that the less you fight fear, the less it fights back. To give it its voice, then tell it to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. And then there’s the importance of giving ourselves permission to create, and not to worry whether our work is good or bad, if it’s high art or low art, whether or not it gets stellar or woeful reviews, etc. etc. We just need to put our best work out there and celebrate our own courage at having done so. Gilbert says we “can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job” and that we should refuse to take on any additional jobs such as policing people’s opinions.

Another interesting part of the book was the notion that ideas are all around us, floating in the ether waiting for someone who is open and ready to receive that particular idea. If that person refuses to run with it for any reason, the idea will simply float back into the ether until it finds another willing, and ready,  mind. Fascinating stuff, and it certainly gave me and my tendency to procrastinate some food for thought 🙂

I very much enjoyed this book. For me, it’s a keeper.

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L is for Love, Laughter, and Leaves by Valerie J. Patterson

This past Sunday my husband surprised me with a lovely day trip that began with a picnic in the park after church.  Leaf Peeping season is upon us, and Steve knows how much I enjoy each new season, how much I enjoy looking at the beauty each season brings us, and how creatively charged I can get when surrounded by all that beauty.  So, he planned an excellent Leaf Peeping Adventure.

As we traveled from one county to the next, across three state borders, and through one forest, my mind drifted to one particular Saturday a couple Octobers ago . . .

I was making the long trip home to see my mom and sisters and nieces and nephews and I had 70 some miles to think and to admire God’s artistry during another beautiful fall season.  The scenery changed as I went from my country-like suburban setting into my mother’s city suburban setting, but one fact remained the same: seasons change no matter where you are.  No matter where you go.

Along Interstate 70 there are wide-open meadows and altering terrain that goes from level to mountainous.  There are evergreens and oak trees and maple trees and foliage galore.  All of it different from the last.  The sun that day poured through the windshield making my windbreaker too heavy for the trip and after I struggled out of it while maintaining my course, I tossed it to the passenger seat and opened the roof of my car.  Autumn plays tricks with humans causing us to think a bright sunny day is also a warm one!  While the sun was warming me, the air was filled with the pungent aroma of burning wood and I knew somewhere close by someone was heating a house with a good old-fashioned wood-burning stove.  I love those stoves.  I have a friend who heats her house this way and it always seems to have an inviting, cozy feel to it that gas or electric heat seems to not have.

As the highway gave way to township and county roads I pulled to a stop at an intersection and I looked out the window to see a brother and a sister hard at work raking what seemed like a thousand leaves from the green blanket that was their lawn.  I rolled the window down and a smile spread across my lips as I heard the girl squeal as her brother covered her with a pile of leaves.  She stood up, covered from head to toe in colorful decorations only nature can provide and I watched her run after him with an armful of leaves.  They laughed, making a chore into a game and I began to feel a little homesick for the days when I went to visit my cousin’s house and we would rake their massive front lawn and build a house with leaves.  Not a structure of any sort, just the outline of rooms we pretended had walls and doors and windows.  Ultimately though, the carefully laid “foundation” ended up in a huge mound with several giggling children beneath it.

The light changed at the intersection but the feeling of nostalgia lingered with me in the front seat of my car and I was thoughtful as I continued my drive.  Childhood really is a gift.  It’s a gift parents give by having children.  It’s a gift children get from God and all too many times we are in such a hurry to grow up – some of us are given no choice and some of us just feel the need to be independent.  By the time I turned onto my mom’s street I was feeling a sort of cross between happiness and a deep sadness for the childhood I left behind.  I pulled into her drive and honked my horn four times like I always do and the front door opened and out came my two youngest nieces, one of my nephews, and the family dog.  Hugs, kisses, and laughter were exchanged and a small breeze rustled the leaves, taking with it my sadness and leaving me in the warmth of the love of my family.

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The sound of Steve’s voice brought me out of the past and back to the front seat of the car.

“Look at the peach-colored leaves on that copse of tress,” Steve said.

I looked where he pointed, gave his hand a squeeze, and blinked back an urge to cry.  I was right where I wanted to be–on a lovely trip with the one I love–but the past seemed to haunt me for just a wee bit of time that day.

Have you ever had one of those days?  Ones where you think so much about the past that it seems to become rooted in the present?  It’s good to recall memories.  They keep us young.  They enable us to recall simpler, easier times.  Sometimes they are painful and better left in the past.  The point is: they make us stronger.  I hope you have your own recollections of autumns past and I hope there are loved ones at the end that keep you firmly planted in the here-and-now.

Seasons of Creativity By Valerie J. Patterson

Being a creative being, I consider myself to be in tune with nature.  The beginning of each season inspires me, recharges me, and ignites my creativity.  I love fall.  Nature settles down for a long winter nap.  Everything becomes dormant and … well gray once Autumn’s dance is over and the colors have faded from view.  Outside my mother’s kitchen window is a massive evergreen whose strong limbs reach heavenward in praise of God.  It turns a fiery yellow every autumn and then gracefully loses its needles.  It’s the only evergreen I’ve ever seen do this.  It’s an incredibly gorgeous tree.  My pastor’s wife loves winter trees, the pose they strike as they wait for new life to spring anew is beautiful to her.  Because of her, I’m looking at trees in a new light these days.  I have found that she is right.

Winter intrigues me.  It covers everything with a frosty white that is the epitome of purity, and being clean, and pristine beauty.  I have to have the winter of my year every year.  It’s in my creative blood to see beauty in starkness, I think.  Besides, I love that moment where I breathe out and the winter wind blows my breath back onto my glasses and causes them to fog over.  That’s the moment I know winter has gracefully arrived and said hello to me.

Summer fascinates me.  The sun chases away the moon for a few extra hours each day.  There are lovely aromas in the air from flowers to bar-b-ques to sunscreen.  My favorite scent of summer is the ocean.  That cool spray that washes over hot skin and leaves behind a trace of salt water and the aroma of the beach.

But spring enchants me.  When the first bursts of life spring forth in shades of green, brilliant hues of flower blooms, and babies of many species, I want to sit very still and capture it all with my eyes, my nose, my ears, and my mind.  I don’t just want to admire it, I want to be part of it if only as a bystander.  The dormancy of winter virtually explodes vital life in springtime where I live.  I can sit beneath a tree and experience the faintest caress of a breeze on my face and arms and it always carries with it fresh, new scents that I would miss if I didn’t stand still and wait for it.

I see God’s creative hand in every season, and I know that He gave me just a teeny bit of that creativity when He made me, when He crafted the designer original that I am … that we all are.

I don’t think I could live where there weren’t four very distinct seasons.  Perhaps it would stifle my creativity?

What inspires you?

Until next time, I hope you all are well and enjoying the fresh vitalization that spring delivers.

~Valerie