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Monthly Archives: February 2011

“What is creativity?” I asked a group of young women

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In a workshop with teenage girls I asked, “What is creativity?”   The answers surprised and I must say, delighted, me.  (They did not say, “painting a picture”.)

Creativity is to express no matter what and nobody can judge you.

Creativity reveals my raw emotions and without thinking, whatever is inside comes out, and it doesn’t have to make sense.

Creativity is a mix of emotions and feelings.

Creativity is to think freely without worrying about what others think of you.

Creativity is passion and no limits.  No one can say when to stop.

Creativity is expressing your unique self.

Creativity is to be proud and show off your unique self.

Creativity is a whole different world and you get to create it.

Creativity is thoughts expressed through our body and feelings, not our mouths.

Creativity is our individual thoughts and how expressed.

~~  Thank you brilliant women! ~~~~~~~

The Harbour or the Storm?

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WAtercolour - Painted in Crete. Copyright Janet L. Whitehead 2009

It’s a good life in the harbour: Polishing the brass; sleeping to the hauntingly sweet creaking of the docks and the deck; lolling about in gentle waves; lounging in the sun; drink in hand; bantering with neighbouring captains about storms approaching or the new ship in port. The phrase “This is the life” is oft heard.

Then there’s the days when you sail out into the bay: Managing the sails in gentle breezes; puttering about on calm water; aimlessly wandering near home… but, damn, you have to take her in, you have places to be, responsibilities to keep, things that need doing.

Sometimes you just don’t take her out. You know that the yearning to go further.. to explore, to discover.. becomes so strong that you feel disappointed and sad that you are not sailing into the wild blue yonder. And who wants to feel disappointed and sad if they don’t have to? So you just hang out in the harbour to avoid that feeling.

There’s nothing wrong with the harbour.. it’s a pretty good life.  It’s a great place to imagine the adventures, the sailing into the unknown, and the exotic destinations. The possibilities are endless. You know your ship is capable, you’re pretty sure you are….   “Hey! Stop that kind of thinking!” your logical mind interrupts, “it’s not realistic.”

One day, though, the imagined becomes possible….. (ya, you probably got a life coach)   and it is not long before you set sail on the great adventure of your dreams. The ship is stocked, the teak oiled, navigation skills are tuned up. Although you feel a bit nervous, and have even hesitated a couple of times,  you leave the harbour… with nods of approval, smiles of respect, and perhaps some “you’re crazy’s “of those back in the harbour.   (Maybe you are crazy! But doesn’t it feel amazing!)

 Wind billowing in your strong sails, you sail out of the bay, into
the open waters, an exotic island perhaps your destination.  
You spot a storm on the horizon, and smile craftily. Your ship is in it’s glory. You’re prepared. In fact you are excited.. because, honestly, you have always wanted to play in a storm.

by Janet L. Whitehead © 2009

Got Bridge?

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Look around you … might there be a bridge hiding in some strange corner of your life?

 Could it be the housekeeper?

 As much as we’ve been taught to be independant and able to do it on our own, moving forward doesn’t always happen easily and the ‘beat yourself up’ self talk takes up way too much space.

 Part of my coaching process is to help my clients find others who can also be a support… and those ‘bridges’ have shown up in housekeepers, the quiet clerk in the office, a teacher, and often, within a group of people with similar interests.

 Is there someone to bounce ideas off of, who is not affected by your choices, (that’s key and often eliminates partners and family) who ask questions to help you explore a little beyond what might be limiting beliefs, and who can guide you into your place of intuition, wisdom and answers?

 If you want to build your bridge to get from where you are to where you want to be… you could simply pay attention for a few days as you ponder the question:

“Where’s my bridge?” 

  Answers will come.

They are like that sometimes

by Janet L. Whitehead © 2011

The Headless Muse

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A funny thing happened on my way through Ephesus, Turkey one day.

I happened by the ancient Celsus Library.. (okay, not so much happened by. I was immersing myself in ancient places, sketching, painting, and rewriting ancient history as I imagined it. It’s a rather bizarre book in progress!)

Anyway, there are four muses immortalized in stone, and you can imagine my surprise when I heard one say “Psst. You. Come here.”

Which surprised me since she was headless.

But she went on anyway.. “Can I borrow your head for a bit? It’d be nice to have one, and I’d prefer borrowing another muses head.”

 “uh..” I replied, “another muse?” She picked up on my mortal-like doubts and added:

“Oh, you know.. it’s like the masters. We used to send one here and there, but people tended to turn them into idols. It’s hard for people to find their own brilliance when they are so busy idolizing others. Ditto with the muses. It got so most people didn’t think they were worthy of a muse, and that their passions and gifts were unworthy, and so they simply didn’t show up to their muse-given calling.”

I couldn’t help but spend a moment contemplating that I had just given my head to a muse. But while I was pondering that thought, she was scratching my head with my hand and said, “In truth, we have always been more in awe of mortals than they of us. Really, how brave they are to show up in your world.”

“Anyhoo,” she continued, “You are all masters and muses.
Nowadays, there just a lot more who are there to
provide bridges to that discovery. Get it, oh muse you?”

 “oh, yes, I can be a bridge! I’m cool with that.”

 “Go forth, oh muse, be the bridge you are called to be!” she announced in a very goddess-muse-like way, using my arm to cheer boldly.

 “umm,” I said, “do you think I could have my head back?”

She hesitated long enough for me to have a moment of panic thinking that bridges don’t always have heads and maybe she wasn’t going to give it back.

 “Can I keep the arm?” she asked.

“No,” I bravely answered thus recognizing the muse as a kindred spirit to whom I could say no.

She liked that and gave me back my stuff. Phew.

by Janet L. Whitehead © 2011

Imagine! You can Enhance Your Child’s Creativity and Reduce Your Guilt-Load!

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 Oh Momma -the guilt of it all! You’ve been inundated with parenting advice meant to nourish the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth of your child. And within that information is a fabulous array of advice for supporting your child’s play, imagination and creativity.   After all, play is the child’s work.  Not only is it their way to process and make sense of the world, it is their way to discover, explore, and develop their passions and gifts.  

 And you get to be the support system for that. Uh huh. Some days you’re just darn happy you actually fed your kids.  But the guilt weighs heavy when you haven’t played on the floor with them, when you let them watch more than the recommended time of TV or perhaps you haven’t had family story time every night, let alone in the past month.

 Now we get to find a kinder and gentler way for you to acknowledge and support your child’s creativity. Less is More.  These ideas are simple to implement… so simple you’ll almost feel guilty. But please don’t. We’re trying to reduce that load for you.

1. Simple words. Huge value. Remember hearing these words as a child?  “Stop playing, it’s time for lunch.”   “Oh it’s just your imagination.” “That’s not going to make you a living.”

Now there are ways to respond that acknowledge creative play, thoughts and ideas.  “Let’s fuel that body of yours with food so you can keep on playing.” “Time to get back to playing now!” “All the great discoverers in the world had good imaginations, too.”  “Are you having fun, honey?”

 If you do blurt out something unsupportive when your child has creatively redone the couch in yellow paint… well, you’re human. Later you can acknowledge the creative aspect as well as the value of involving you prior to painting things like couches.

2. Support your child’s natural inclinations.  It’s the path of least resistance.  More than that, it inspires your child to feel safe exploring what they love. Consider the little girls who want to play princess and yes, with a prince who shows up to save the day. We want our daughters to be independent, strong and able to change a tire with one hand.  But by discouraging, even in quiet ways, the little girl who loves to play princess, she begins to doubt her choices, passion, imagination, and her natural gravitation towards what she loves.

 So if your daughter wants to play princess, or your son only wants to play with cars, you don’t have to feel like you must redirect them.  They are developing some aspect of themselves that is important, even if we aren’t quite sure what that is. You are supporting their development more by letting them play their way.  Isn’t that a relief?

3. The Line Doodle.  Some children like colouring books and that’s okay.  Do offer them a variety of blank paper and drawing tools, but know that showing up to a blank page can be as intimidating to a child as it is to an adult. You can get things started by squiggling a random line on the page and saying “What could you turn this into, I wonder?

4. “What if…” questions.  Whisper “what if” questions in a conspiring way to capture your child’s interest.  Excellent places to do this are while out shopping, when in waiting rooms, and at group activities not conducive to creative play.  Just ask the question. No follow through is required, although a round of shared storytelling might evolve!

What if you imagined switching Grandpa’s nose with baby cousin’s nose?
What if this store sold rocket ships?
What if all of the people waiting for the doctor were animals/dinosaurs/cars? What if all the vegetables had personalities? I wonder what they’d say.

5.  Playing with your child is valuable and sometimes boring.  You catch yourself wanting to be doing just about anything else but!   Remember what you loved to do as a child and choose to play that with your child.  Savour it like going to a spa, and value it like serving a dinner of 5 vegetables that your children actually ate.  You loved etch-a-sketch?  Do that.  If you have only one etch-a-sketch, and find yourself not wanting to share with your child.. well, at least they get to see that you value play and creativity!  

If you loved to make forts, make forts.  If you loved imagining wondrous adventures while playing in nature, see if you can bring that spirit back on your outdoor walks. If story time really is your favourite thing, make it the ONE thing that you decide to do regularly.

Here’s one more ‘what if’.  What if you told yourself, “Wow, I’m a great parent” while you curled up with a good book at the end of a much less guilt ridden day?  Imagine how good that could feel.

by Janet L. Whitehead      ©2010
Certified Professional Life Coach and Creativity Coach.

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