The Challenge to be Creative, and Going to the Dis-Comfort Zones!

Anyone who reads this blog knows that photography is where my creative urges soar. In the past month, I pushed myself to step out of my photography comfort zone and experiment with effects that go beyond my normal boundaries. Stepping into the dis-comfort zone has been fun, surprising and incredibly creative. . . so much so that now I must admit that photographically speaking, my comfort zone has expanded beyond all expectations! I love it.

Another area where I am creatively pushing the boundaries is in my writing. This month I have participated in the “A River of Stones Jan ’12” challenge. A simple challenge on the surface, but one which compels me to write in a different way. The results have tickled me and added a new dimension to my writing. I have to think a little harder, but playing with words has definitely added color to these blogs!

So, the creativity continues. But what about the NoCZ-2012 Challenge? I experience stepping out of my comfort zone every time I try something new artistically, whether it be writing or photography. But in other areas of my life, too, I find myself stepping across that line that says “comfort ends here.”

According to Myers-Briggs, I am an introvert. I don’t challenge that label because it fits and I’m ok with that. I love being around people and activity, however I need to withdraw from the buzz of interaction to regroup, clear my mind, think. Then when I’m ready, I’ll engage the larger world again. One area that is particularly uncomfortable for me is introducing myself to new people in new places or situations. As often as I have moved, I am often in “new” situations. In the past I was content to hold back because I knew that it was only a matter of time and we would move on and leave the present people and places behind.

This move is different, though. When Richard finishes with his present job he will retire. We are looking for a house here because we plan to stay and make this our community. I plan to get my license in this state and create a private practice here. There are no plans to move on. Merely waiting for things to happen or for people to find me does not work. I will have to step out of my comfort zone and be the one to reach out to others. And yesterday I took a small step in that direction. After the morning prayer service at the synagogue there was a large kiddush, or meal. This was our second visit to this particular synagogue so we did not know anyone. I turned to Richard and said “Let’s stay.” As we walked into the large banquet room I was a little overwhelmed with the activity and the number of strangers that milled about. But I forged ahead, got in line to get some food, but then where to sit? We didn’t know anyone to sit with. Once again I looked to Richard and asked if he was game to just introduce ourselves to some folks and sit at their table. He followed me. I found a table with some empty seats and asked if the seats were taken. “No, please sit down.” By now of course, my heart was racing a bit, but before you know it we had all joined in conversation. And it didn’t end there! As we were preparing to leave, I saw a woman standing a little distant from the crowd; I walked up to her, offered a greeting and explained that I was new to the community and wanted to get to know some folks. We had a delightful conversation and then Richard and I left.

Looking back on the day, even as I sit here typing, I amazed myself . . . did I really do that? Did I walk up to strangers and just start talking? It’s one thing to do something like that when you are in a particular roll and you approach someone from a professional stand point, but to approach strangers just to chat was a stretch for me. ¬†Wow. What an expansive challenge!

Well, that was my week. We are still in the first month of challenges so we can look forward to a year of exciting growth if this keeps up! Hope your challenges are helping you to grow and expand your horizons, too. Have a great week. ūüôā


Creativity Jealousy! Yup, It’s Out There.

Another week has gone by, another week of daily creativity. But this week I had trouble being creative on a daily basis. I was sick (still am), and I just wasn’t in the mood if ya know what I mean. Besides, everywhere I turned I saw creative people being creative. My level of creative juices was pretty much on empty this week. I have a twin brother who lives in Colorado. His photography is phenomenal. I see his work and I think to myself, “Why can’t I do that?” I have a sister-in-law who makes beautiful jewelry and I wish I knew how. My daughter-in-law crochets and she, too, is an outstanding photographer (as are both of my daughters! You should see their photos! Beautiful.) Then there is my son, artist extraordinaire. He’s painting fantastic murals on his kids’ walls. Amazing. Did I leave anyone out? Probably. The point is that this week creativity jealousy was not really “out there,” it was “in here.” Sometimes we just aren’t in our groove and it seems that everyone else is. Bleh…

But in reality, I know better. The fact that I write papers for school, or write three blogs, or photograph something everyday, or even figure out how to navigate through life obstacles is evidence of creativity at work. This week I have been guilty of comparing myself to others, usually negatively. Yet, I wasn’t meant to be “others,” I was meant to be “me!”

There is a parable of a person who died and had to stand before the ultimate Creator. This person was remorseful that he was not a spiritual giant like Abraham or Moses, and that he didn’t pray like Miriam or Hannah. G-d replied, “I didn’t create you to be Abraham or Moses or Miriam or Hannah. I created you to be you.”

It is good to remember that our primary creative endeavor is to be our authentic selves.

To see some of what I did this week, check out my NoCZ-2012 blog for today!

Doldrums Busters

This has been an unusually tough winter for those of us who live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.  While I have thoroughly enjoyed the beauty that a snow-covered landscape provides, enough is enough!  After a while the doldrums set in.  The once pristine beauty of new-fallen snow gives way to the ugly yuck and muck of grimy mountains of snow piled high in parking lots or along street curbs.  Walking becomes treacherous as one navigates the snow and ice-covered sidewalks.  Getting out of the house is more burdensome than liberating as layer upon layer of clothing is piled on before we even set foot out the door.  Cabin fever is epidemic.  The kids are home from school and we are all driving each other crazy!  Yikes!  I depress myself just thinking about it!  So, to banish the doldrums, I put on my thinking cap and came up with a list of things to do that might put us in better spirits. 


  1.  Take a walk.  Fresh air and sunshine does something physiological that lifts our  spirits.  By now most parks have shoveled walkways which makes walking possible and enjoyable.
  2.  Bake something.  Baking, besides being creative and aromatic, warms the  heart…and tastes good too!
  3.  Read.  Sometimes a good book helps us leave the doldrums behind as we get  caught up in a good story. 
  4.  Clean house.  Yes, clean house.  The energy it takes to clean is not only good for us, the end result will lift our spirits for sure.
  5.  Call or visit a friend.   Spending time with someone else helps us get our mind  off our problems, which is a sure-fire doldrums buster.
  6. Volunteer. Many people are worse off than we are and can always use our help.  Whether it be volunteering for an organization, or offering to help  a neighbor  shovel their sidewalk, or pick up something for a shut-in at the drug store, you will feel better.
  7. Sew, knit or crochet.   When the creative juices flow, the doldrums are out the  door!  Besides, it’s nice to have something to give to someone, even if it’s a  simple pot-holder, or short scarf.
  8. Write.  Another creative activity, this one keeps our brains active, and you might  discover that there is a latent author just waiting to be set free!
  9. Write an old-fashioned letter!¬† No email or texting or tweeting allowed.¬† No ¬†facebook¬†or myspace, just an old-fashioned letter. Fill it with the trivia of the day: ¬†weather report, kids activities, what you are reading, newsy things that ‚ÄúMom‚Äú is ¬†always interested in.¬† Then MAIL IT to someone you miss.¬† We all love to get ¬†snail mail, but we’ve lost the art and connectedness that writing brings.¬† What a ¬†pity.¬† You will feel GREAT if you do this one, so will the person who receives the ¬†letter.
  10. Learn something new.¬† Learn another language, learn a new software ¬†application, learn a new trade, take a class, learn to dance….just learn, learn, learn!
  11. Do it!¬† Make a list of things that must get done, but that you don’t like doing, then ¬†do one or two things from the list. Just DO IT!
  12. Art.  Paint, draw, mold.  Color with crayons.  Cut out snowflakes.  Make a  collage or a mobile.  Then display your creation for your family to enjoy!
  13. Do something nice for someone, and KEEP IT A SECRET, even from the recipient of your good deed.  Hard to do, but incredibly uplifting when done.
  14. Call the kids.  Play with the grandkids.  Call Mom and Dad.
  15. Go out for ice cream with your spouse or best friend.¬† Even in cold weather, this ¬†one is fun, and one of my husband’s and my favorite ‚Äúdates.‚ÄĚ
  16. Watch an uplifting movie.
  17. Take a luxurious bubble bath (guys, you can do this too!)
  18. Exercise.¬† Remember Jack Lallaine, the calisthenics guru?¬† He is in his 90’s now ¬†and going strong!¬† Calisthenics are a real pepper upper.
  19. Drink lots of water.¬† Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue, drowsiness, lack of ¬†energy, depression.¬† Drink. Drink. Drink. You’ll feel better.
  20. Photography.  Experiment with the camera.  Take pictures of everything.  Try creating a photo journal, a series of pictures of patterns in nature, or particular color  schemes, or landscape photos of your favorite park.  Make a photo album of your  kids, one for each child.  Be bold, different, silly.  You’ll surprise yourself at what  you create.
  21. If it is a rainy day, have a picnic on the living room floor!¬† Even if the kids are ¬†grown and gone, this can be quite fun….and silly, which is important for chasing ¬†the doldrums away.¬† And the nice thing about it is that there are no ants!
  22. On a sunny day, make a picnic at a nearby park.
  23. Meditate or pray.
  24. Dance.¬† Close all the curtains, lock all the doors, put on your favorite ¬†music…loud….and dance to your heart’s content.¬† Wear something bright and ¬†colorful, the more outrageous the better, and just go to town with the dancing!¬† ¬†Make up a new dance.¬† Make weird faces while you dance. Just dance!
  25. Offer to baby-sit¬†for a young parent who may need an hour or two for her/himself.¬† ¬†Once you‚Äôre a grandparent, playing with kids can be¬†more fun.¬† Don’t forget how tiring parenting young children can be.¬† So, have some fun and give a young ¬†mother (or father, but ¬†usually the mother) a break.
  26. Read children’s books.¬† Look at the pictures.¬† Imagine what kind of¬†story you ¬†would write for children, and what kind of pictures you would use to illustrate the¬†book.¬† Then do it for your grandchildren (or children.) Doesn’t have to be great, ¬†just heartfelt.¬†

This list could go on and on, but you get the picture.  With a little creativity, we can all come up with ideas to chase away the doldrums, ideas that not only enrich our lives, but energize our spirits, too.  So, the weather outside is frightful, but we can always choose the delightful, and these doldrums busters are just the beginning!