The Creative Mind Is You (Part One)


Creativity has an almost mythical quality to it. Everyone wants it and feels like it is incredibly hard to come by. It appears to be a rare gem that few will ever get to see let alone own. My goal, with this presentation, is to debunk the myth that creativity is for a select few.

This applies to every art form: writing fiction, memoir, visual arts (painting, sculpture), etc. I believe that creativity is 20% talent and 80% work.

Creativity is within reach of every single person in this room – it is just a matter of finding it. Let me take you on a path that will, with several straightforward steps, open a dazzling new segment of your mind.


1.     SCHEDULE: Dedicate some time each day for thinking about the events of the day. Start with 10 minutes and keep adding time within a comfort zone. As you increase the time, think about anything you like – for example, relationships, events, cooking something you’ve never done before – anything you like. It’s good to use the time to think when external pressures aren’t there like when traveling, showering, weeding, etc. It’s fascinating the thoughts that come to you when the mind is in a quiet mode.

2. REMINISCE: Try to think back to more joyous moments in your past. How did that feel? What were the happy and pleasant events of childhood? Trips? Playground? Parks? Picnics? Movies? Foods you ate? Good times with caretakers/parents, siblings, friends in your life. What made you feel safe and secure? What events made you feel good about yourself? Pick out specific examples of comfortable times. Most importantly, relish the humorous moments. Sometimes we lose the sense of spontaneity over time and we need to recapture the feeling.

3. PLAN: Utilize goal setting. What did you always want to accomplish in life that you might not have obtained as yet. Did you always want to weld sculptures or make furniture, draw cartoons or study astronomy? Even in the realm of giving back. Did you want to volunteer to help deprived children? Disabled people? Think of ways you can achieve that goal and start to work toward it. How about writing our life story? Focus on the creative aspects of that objective. Go to workshops and see how others have gone in the directions of reaching a goal. Try to focus on one goal at a time and work out how it would play out from inception to actual reality.


Images created by Cayla Belser

The Creative Mind Is You (Part Two)


4. INQUIRE: Ask the question WHY. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Be daring and bold in your inner life and external one as well. Don’t let unspoken rules of society limit you. I don’t mean overindulging, or anything that may be harmful to yourself or others, but, for example, challenge your mode of dressing for your age. Question the concept – “Age Appropriate Behavior.” Do something you’ve never done before in your life and maybe always wanted to try, but thought impossible to achieve. Or maybe do something you never wanted to try before. I’m not suggesting parachuting from a plane, but perhaps try playing a video game (educational, of course) or camping.


5.  EXPLORE: Experiment by going where you’re told it’s inappropriate. Try happy hour at a local tavern, bar or restaurant, or walk into dive type places not yet explored (and don’t worry about motorcycles parked outside). If you’ve never sat at a bar, try it and order the drink of choice. Try attending current youthful pop concerts, picnic in a park, bike ride, – and the list goes on. (There is a naked bike ride in Center City Philadelphia but (no pun intended, I’m not pushing that far). Go the distance and wear spurs on your boots. That’ll go over well at OLLI. Explore the sub-cultures that exist all around us. Observe people familiar and/or strangers and their differences. This inspires creativity.

6. DIALOGUE: Open your heart and mind. Listen and dialogue with people who have different lifestyles (or even similar lifestyles) without judgment. Express and/or record what you think and feel. Encourage two-way conversations with people, explaining your concepts about life and your life’s desires, your own experiences and listen to those of others. Take and give feedback without prior assumptions. Forget what is considered proper conversation (one size fits all is not good here) and open it up to a more worldly view – go global, if you will. Don’t limit your horizons. Just allow ten minutes to each person to talk about grandchildren.


7. REFLECT: Remember number two suggestion where I asked you to go back into nice, happy events in your life? Now I want you to take it one step further. Dig deeply into yourself in those quiet moments. What events and experiences brought you to the place where you are today? What were the more traumatic moments? What were the hurdles you had to overcome? Were you teased, bullied or ignored? Think of teen years, young adult, college era, marriage, relationships, children, grandchildren or recalling other particular time periods. Examining past traumas (if it isn’t too painful), can be extraordinarily enlightening (like inexpensive psychological therapy). I find it mentally cathartic to confront those issues and sometimes insights come to you. It is that kind of deep reflection that helps in daily living. Most importantly, how did you overcome those trying issues?

How has all that affected your current behavior? Are you satisfied or do you want to make changes? Whatever you choose, it’s a wonderful freeing experience to have the understanding of how we’ve come to be the people we are.


8.  APPRECIATE IMPERFECTIONS: It is not necessary to seek perfection. Many times flaws are what creativity is all about. For example: a sense of insecurity (which we all have from time to time) may turn into something very entertaining when put into words. We sometimes think we are the only ones experiencing inner fears but it is universal. Turn the tables on those apprehensions and find the funny element buried within. 


Images created by Cayla Belser