Music has an extraordinary way of healing, inspiring and creating ambiance but its biggest prowess is in the area of enhancing emotions and influencing creativity. I was raised on many genres of music that influenced my experiences with the guitar greatly since learning to play at the age of 9. These experiences convinced me that we become more flexible both personally and outwardly when we fall in love with music.
Example: Next time you watch a movie, focus on the background music. Watch how it influences your interpretation of the plot. Think of your exercise play list and how it creates that extra burst of adrenaline at the gym. Listen to the sounds of nature and take note of how they affect your level of peace and openness. Then think about how your mood is altered when watching the news on TV, dodging traffic while talking on the phone or at a crowded Wal-Mart. What does this do to your creativity?
I believe that music can remove the worst of creative blocks. I also believe that ingenuity and creativity return when there is less exposure to stressful or stagnant background noise.
So, if you want to bust open your writer’s block or shift your artistic direction, try changing the background noise. Listen to different types of music as you write, paint, or even cook. Then look at what you created and think about what you listened to at the time. You may be surprised at the results.
Does the term “exercise” in the title, make you groan or bring you joy? Are you excited about the word “exercise” or on the verge of not reading this because of it? You may as well keep reading since reading alone won’t make you sweat!
I loathed exercise and the concept of sweat until I turned 24 when I started going to a gym. Then after a bout of the “ho-hums” in my life, I sought out a new hobby and fell in love with biking 9 years ago when I did my first mountain bike ride. Since then, I’ve been on and off both mountain and road bikes and the experience has radically changed my life.
It wasn’t long before three things became very apparent to me:
- I was losing weight without having to diet
- I was becoming more confident
- I was getting better rest at night
- I had more energy throughout the day
- I was becoming addicted to physical activity
- My creative muse thanked me all the time!
I’ve heard it said that the brain requires more oxygen than any other organ, so a sedentary lifestyle it seems, can severely hamper the flow of creative juices. Therefore, it seems logical that the best way to get more oxygen to our brains is exercise! For me, the creativity factor suffers when I go days on end without moving my body. More creative energy, better sleep, improved health and improved confidence… all are the wonderful benefits of exercise.
So are you ready to get up off the couch?
When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to play the saxophone. I took a band class at my elementary school for two years, and I was one the only one of my friends to carry my instrument with me to high school, where I played for one more year before deciding that I was way too cool to be in the band.
Eighteen years later, I look back at that girl who gave up something she enjoyed and I shake my head at her. So here I am, fresh into my 30th year of life trying to pick up where I left off with something I enjoyed so much in my youth. I am currently taking saxophone lessons at a local studio with a teacher who is my age, but the difference is that he never put down his horn. “Do what you need to help it all come back to you,” he told me at our first lesson. “Can I call you Mr. Lewis? That was the name of my 6th grade band teacher,” I told him. Though I’ve only resorted to calling him Mr. Lewis a couple of times, I was pleased to find how quickly my musical knowledge has come back to me. And what is more amazing is that I look forward to going home after work to practice, which was something I dreaded when I was 12.
The other night I was practicing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” a song I played at my very first band recital in 6th grade. The notes moved through my fingers and out of the saxophone as easily as they did 18 years ago, and I had just as much satisfaction in playing them as I did then, even though instead of playing in front of a roomful of proud parents as I first did, I was playing for myself.
As we get older we learn that what others think is less important as what we think of ourselves. I had always been disappointed in myself in giving up the saxophone, but I feel a sense of accomplishment now, and not that I’ve mastered any skills, but just in the fact that I’ve picked up my horn again and can allow myself to find joy in the music that I’m creating for myself. It’s never too late to create that for yourself.
There are times in our lives when the burden of feeling blocked leaves us restless and frustrated. We can feel stuck while missing our muse or lacking in creative impulse. But out of the stagnation, often there are lessons needing to be learned during this period of time which can usher in wondrous changes. We learn things about ourselves that cannot be learned when creativity is high. During that time, though our artistic energies can feel blocked, something probably needs purging and for the moment, we are tasked to clear out lessons for the next level of creativity.
It’s hard to see the lesson and not feel frustrated, but time has a way of opening the heart to understanding things we can’t understand when we are in the middle of a difficult, seemingly unproductive time. Bitter things, as Rumi says turn out to teach us about us and enable us to know joy and creativity as never before – or at least know ourselves better so that we can increase our ability to reach those greater heights.
Rather than judge what is happening when we are blocked, every day ask, “What is this situation wanting of me?” Each situation comes with an opportunity to be bigger, stronger, perhaps more creative than before. These situations lay the foundation for a more joyful, freer expression. Moving beyond the narrow heart of judgment allows us to truly hear and see everything differently. Our lessons will be learned, our hearts will be opened in a new way and creativity will expand. The burden of feeling blocked will then dissipate more quickly, leaving the door wide open to a new creative you!
If the words creativity, vision, imagination and enjoying the process contribute to your Joy Factor, then listen in to what Atlanta artist, Corinna Sephora Mensoff has to say about these juicy topics.
Barry owns “The Filling Station” deli down the street. He makes a mean Cuban and my favorite egg salad and bacon sandwich. He’s a hard worker. In fact, most of the conversations we have are short and on the run, because as you know, small business can encompass most of your life.
But the other morning Barry came into the coffee shop right before opening, and we were able to have a slightly longer conversation. Barry was lit up, even before having his caffeine. That weekend he did something that allowed him to express his creativity and passion – he catered a nice dinner for just one couple celebrating their anniversary.
Barry talked about the menu items, the special requests from his client, the way he set the table and how he was able to ready the meal and leave the couple to be alone and enjoy their wonderful date. Barry described how the clients’ wife looked at her husband, and how that warmed his heart.
It was fun to see such enthusiasm on Barry’s face and hear such passion in his words – all because he was able to express his creativity. If we could all do that from time to time, we could really make a positive impact on the world around us with our joy.
Do you express your creativity through painting, song, writing, problem-solving, gardening or a wonderful meal? Figure out what lights your fire like Barry and be sure to make time to do it.
Does anyone else recall the glee when you opened a brand new box of crayons? Do you remember the smell? The perfect wrappers, the long unbroken sticks with the honed, flat, tapered point? Did you seek your favorite color first? For most of my working life, I’ve kept a full set of color markers or pencils on or near my desk. A coloring book of some kind is at hand – mandalas are my favorite. And when I have a few minutes, or need to change my state or take a break, I color.
I’ve loved fabric, paint and texture all of my life. From nail polish to make up, a gauzy floral skirt to a full-length wool cape, these elements of design still move me and make me swoon every day. They delight my senses, make my mouth water, and tickle my spirit. I learned to sew at the age of nine, to crochet in my teens, took up needlepoint in college, and learned to knit on my first lecture tour in New Zealand. (How could I be in a country with 80 million sheep and not learn to knit?) Handwork is a meditation to me, as the luscious yarn glides through my finders, developing a form and personality as I work, yet it also a social focus, as I can “pass the time of day” with others as I create.
The element of design common to all of these—fiber, paint and texture—is color, and I was blessed early on to find a way to use this passion to make my way through the world. I cannot explain the elation that comes when I find the perfect colors and finishes for a space, or what a charge it is to see it—often months later—in real life on installation day. Sometimes I just have to sit and drink in the room and sigh with pleasure, wondering what stories the room will hold in a few years—the events, emotions and gleanings of the souls that will live there.
Color is free energy. The cost for color vs. non-color is usually nil, but the boost that comes from the right color for the right application is a bonus . . . a gift from the Universe. While it is merely a refraction or reflection of LIGHT, the impact is huge, and it gives me great joy. It’s akin to eating canned corn when fresh corn is available: why settle for gray when you can have pink, coral, teal, lime, or sage?
I love this video. It makes my soul smile, from hair roots (uncolored) to my toenails (usually colored). http://www.letscolourproject.com/blog/2010/05/dulux-walls-global-film-launched-2/
I was on an airplane last week, flying to CA, my home away from home, I noticed something. Whenever I am on a plane or in a car for an extended length of time, my creativity soars! Have you ever noticed that? All I can say is woohoo!!!!
For the last 6 weeks, I have had a block in completing my book proposal. There are a couple of things in play here. One, my fear of success poked its little head into the picture and started playing with me, and I let it. Second, it is summertime and I usually want a bit more free time, which left me a bit unfocused. And third, I got a nasty sinus infection this summer that really made me slow down for a few weeks. This combination had me take my attention off of the proposal and put it on other things.
At first, I was very hard on myself about being blocked. I know that I cannot struggle through a proposal on a book about Joy! As I let myself experience the disappointment of being blocked and lowered the bar that I keep so high for myself, the energy shifted. When I allow myself to feel what I need to feel, instead of trying to stuff it and hide it, I let myself off of the hook and trust that everything is happening the way it is supposed to. The proposal will arrive on the agents’ desk at the perfect time.
With all that said, I am thrilled to tell you that I worked on my proposal on that plane trip—joy and creativity were in the house! I do believe that the higher the plane, the closer to spirit. Spirit and I are tight—we work well together.
Now, back to trusting my feelings and my process.