How is 2015 treating you two weeks in? Things have been good here in Jamaica, especially since I’m participating in another free online course and making the time to write. On January 2, I joined a free online course called Learning How to Learn: Powerful Tools to Help you Master Tough Subjects. I spotted the course a few months back while creating my Lifelong Learning curriculum but was too busy to hop on board. Thankfully, I’m loving the experience since I’ve joined the course and learning lots in the process.
It’s my first course from Coursera.org though a church sister told me about the site around 2 years ago. All in all, the course has been an eye-opener, highlighting several details about the brain and learning that I had no clue about like chunking, diffuse vs. focused learning and Einstellung. I’m already applying some the study strategies as I prepare for an upcoming exam 🙂
If you’re eager to improve learning this year I’d encourage you to join the course or sign up to receive notifications when the course reopens in upcoming months. Oh, the course it only one month so you shouldn’t worry too much about needing to invest too much time in this endeavour.
Poetry Publication Success & Other Stories
Apart from this online course, I’ve also been working on some short stories. They began as 400-word snippets while participating in the Iowa University fiction writing course a few months ago so I decided to develop them instead of work on entirely new stories.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that last month I had a bit of success in terms of publication. Two of my poems — one which I posted here and another, both of which were written during another creative writing course — were featured in a Caribbean literary magazine called Susumba’s Book Bag. When my friend sent me a message informing about the publication I was so surprised, elated and extremely grateful since it was my first publication since 2012 when my last two poems were published in the literary section of a local newspaper. It felt like a huge validation and an impetus for me to work even harder as a writer.
Tips for Improved Creativity During the New Year
So what’s going on with you since the new year? Have your creative juices been flowing? Are investing enough time to work towards your goals or did you simply make New Year’s resolutions for the sake of making them? If you’re struggling to achieve your goals, particularly as it pertains to creativity, here are 3 suggestions that could result in improved creativity in 2015:
- Don’t think; just do
It’s often so easy to get stuck in the recesses of your mind, thinking about what you wished you could do if you had the time or the perfect job or the skills — “genius gene ” perhaps — that you think others have. But thinking too much could prevent you from actually taking control of your life and making the best use of your time and energies.
Sometimes all it takes is a little “doing” and you’d be surprised at the outcome. For instance, last week while taking a break from studying I started doodling my usual flower-creations but soon the doodles transformed into a winged nymph — the sort I imagine in children’s books I hope to write someday. It wasn’t brilliant but it showed me a glimpse of the possibilities and reminded me that my artistic skills remain, even after years of neglect.
- Don’t limit yourself
We often hear that “the sky is the limit”, but if we removed the limit we often place on ourselves, then and only then would our prospects truly be limitless. We all are creators in our own way but too often we limit ourselves, by comparing ourselves to others and in the process belittling our own skills. I’m often a victim of this. It takes courage to ignore the faultfinding self-critic inside me that’s only satisfied with perfection. But we don’t have to let this self-critic control us.
The best way to remove the limitations imposed by our self critic is to work on improving the skills we already have instead of envying the skills of others. All it takes is a bit of confidence. My husband is a great example of this. In the past two months he remodeled our bathroom, all on his own — the tiling, plumbing and painting took up entire evenings, especially while I was away on vacation. I remember wondering why he refused to at least have a “professional” evaluate the bathroom and offer advice. He was determined to do it on his own and he did a great job too and improved his skills in the process. Remember, you don’t need to be a painter, a writer, a singer or pianist to be creative. Use the skills you already have. Be confident. Hone them and you’ll see the difference.
- Let the world inspire you
But what if you don’t even know what to do or how to be your most creative self? The secret is this: it’s not that complicated. Let the world inspire you. Look at the stars more intently, smell the fragrance of the flowers, walk and breathe in deeply, sit at the park and meditate, take a dip in the ocean, play with the snow, watch your children laugh as you tickle their toes, and live… Take the world in.
And best of all, don’t be afraid to reach out to those you admire. They are often much more eager to share insights than you think. This reminds me of a church sister I admire, Sheryl Medley. She is a dynamo in the kitchen and loves to bake. Often when she visits my congregation, she shares cooking ideas with anyone who’s ready to innovate in the kitchen. This one time she told me about curried broad beans — or was it butter beans — and I tried it with a secret ingredient I hadn’t considered even during my curried chickpeas days back in Sweden. The secret ingredient, coconut milk, made my curried beans a hit, even with my husband who’s not too into the vegetarian thing! I tried something new and it worked all because a kind church sister was willing to share insights and I listened.
This year as you seek to be creative and pursue your dreams, have an eye to see and a heart of gratitude. Instead of making excuses and comparing yourself to others, work at your own pace and remember that you don’t have to limit your potential. Whether you are a doodler, gardener, homemaker, photographer or cuisine connoisseurs, you can make this year your best year! So all the best to you and let me know how the year goes as you seek to be your most creative self yet.