I am a huge fan of Adam Lepzig (I’ll save you my jibber jabber on how awesome he is and send you off to see for yourself).
According to Adam, we live in a culture where financial success has taken the place of aesthetic judgement. “Money = Good” is our country’s motto.
In fact, the exact opposite is true: Business success is not the same as creative success.
I found an inspiring TED Talk with Adam regarding the culture war that we face in America, what truths and myths exist about it, and how we can use our own voice, our vulnerability and our creativity to bring about a shift in our own way of thinking.
I also have to agree with Adam — as I have had this thought myself many times over the years — that ingenuity, creativity and inspired living are an important factor in rebuilding and revitalizing our economy. We have to completely re-invent who we are as a nation and how we will move forward in the new and ever-evolving global marketplace.
Creatives, entrepreneurs and artists are at the heart of this transformation It’s time to own our role and take responsibility for the things that are put forth into the world. There’s enough junk floating out there already and it’s up to us to steer the conversation about the good, the bad and the culturally-draining toward a brighter horizon.
P.S. I can’t hear the words “culture war” without thinking about a song of the same title by one of my favorite bands, Arcade Fire. It’s a good one.
I wanted to share this amazing bit of inspiration (hat tip to the amazing and talented Doc Waller) from one of my favorite people in the world of radio, Ira Glass, producer and host of NPR’s “This American Life“.
“What nobody tells people who are beginners…is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste…But there is this gap…It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions…It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
So don’t fear the gap and fill it with self-criticism, self-doubt and self-disappointment.
Instead, dig deep and find your inner reservoir of inspiration, and make and do and create until your well is dry. Then find a way to recharge your battery (whether it be in isolated self-reflection or by connecting with other people who help replenish your spirit) and get back out there and do it all over again.
Being creative and producing what is in your heart is a battle, but it’s less of a fight of you against the world, and more of a fight of you against yourself.
The rest of Ira’s thoughts on creativity have been turned into a nice little motion graphics video which is below.
No go forth and create!
All of Life Itself.
They all begin with a thought and culminate in existence.
They live and breathe in a life of their own (metaphorically or literally) when we release them to the wind and trust the world to receive them with love and joy.
The act of creating rests on one concept: moving ideas from the ethereal world into the material world.
Creating in one’s head is the easy part. Having the courage to hold the dream and birth it into reality (and with confidence) is where the hard work comes into play.
Releasing our inner judgement and the need for perfection and learning to trust the process is the hallmark of the creative person.
We often place such rigid demands on the fruits of our labor that we fail to recognize the true beauty of their existence.
Nothing is ever as lovely as it is in our imagination. That is what is so exciting (and ultimately disillusioning) about living in our heads. We can create worlds more riveting than reality but we become trapped by our inability to break free of our self-imposed limitations.
It reminds me of the movie Inception.
Cobb cannot bear to live in the real world without his deceased wife Mal, so he devises a way to keep her alive in his dreams, by creating the Inception program.
He deceives himself into believing that creating in his head is better than living in reality and thus lives for years inside of himself.
Like Cobb, our thoughts and ideas must be released, otherwise we are doomed to a life unrealized and unfulfilled.
The mere act of following through with creative urges actually imbues each new project with real beauty — honest beauty — and far too few people take that chance.
Creation takes courage, but once you find that inner fire and temper the steel of your spirit with it’s flames, nothing can stop your bliss from becoming a reality.
Creativity Takes Courage: Five Ways To Build Your Courage
Diana Adams | Bit Rebels
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence
As a child I knew that I enjoyed certain things — drawing, reading, playing, music — but I didn’t realize that these things would become important to me as an adult. I just thought those were the things that kids did. That was what life was about until you became an adult.
As time passed and I grew, I somehow thought that those childish things should be relegated to the past and that I was supposed to somehow find a new way to live: with more responsibility and focus on what I was supposed to become.
Become? I thought I already was?
How was I supposed to suddenly determine the outcome of my life by age 18?
When I started college I had grand dreams of becoming a graphic artist and making my mark in the world of advertising.
I was fascinated with Darren Stevens’ job on Bewitched and wanted nothing more than to bury my head in a computer and Photoshop the crap out of everything in sight.
I also grew up with a passion for interiors and furniture.
When my sisters and I would play with our Barbies, I would spend more time arranging their house than I did actually playing with the dolls.
I frequently moved the furniture in my bedroom around because I liked the feeling that I could create by rearranging everything.
My dad worked a second job as a carpenter and I liked visiting him on the job site and seeing how the houses were put together.
Later, my parents worked together to build a few houses and sold them quite successfully. My mom helped design the layout and distinctive features of the house and my dad would lay out the floor plan and practically build it by himself.
I took a couple of private art classes since my school didn’t offer anything in that arena and eventually taught a children’s art camp one summer under the direction of one of my teachers. I really enjoyed it and didn’t even mind getting up at six in the morning during my summer vacation.
While I high school, I spent two years on the yearbook staff, during one of which I served as the editor. I couldn’t wait for one o’clock to roll around so I could jump in front of our Mac and open up Photoshop 5.0 (wow!) and Quark.
The whole process (taking photos, planning the layout, and writing the stories) convinced me that my future lay in graphic design and I decided that I would pursue it in college.
I was so into it that my parents even took us on a family vacation to Savannah, Georgia to visit the campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design to see if I would like to attend.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything resembling a portfolio and I had such a low opinion of my capabilities at the time (mostly due to not having a strong background in the arts) that I decided to just study locally at The University of North Alabama and perhaps transfer to SCAD later.
I never did.
I started at UNA in 1998 and at the time computers were really just coming to the forefront of the design industry.
The small university I attended was focused mostly on nursing, teaching and business.
They had an art department but it wasn’t well funded. The computer lab had only a handful of computers and there were only a couple of classes that dealt with them (at that it was only at a 400 level).
I would have to wait four years to even think of learning any type design software.
I took a couple of semesters of art classes and really only enjoyed one class (Drawing 101). I felt dispair at having to learn the basics when what I really wanted to do was create things digitally.
After much deliberation, I decided to drop the art thing altogether and get a degree in journalism.
Then I tried marketing.
Then I dropped out and decided to just work for a year and see where it would take me. I thought perhaps I just needed some time to mull things over and settle on a direction.
Then I got married and moved and began studying programs like AutoCAD, Photoshop and 3D Max.
The classes were fun but as they progressively got more difficult I realized that the 3D thing was not my forte and changed over to web design and eventually taught classes in HTML.
Those were the days before the world of designing for the internet became as complex as it is today and I eventually gave that up because I couldn’t wrap my brain around things like Java Script, Flash, ASP.NET and the like.
I felt as though maybe I was wrong about my creative abilities and maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be an artist — of any sort.
Eventually I gave it all up and took office and administrative jobs.
I am very good with organizing and running things and have an outgoing personality so these jobs seemed like a good fit. I could talk to people all day and help plan and organize events and in general I was a very happy camper.
As the years passed, though, I began feeling that little rain cloud of melancholy over my head. I knew that my life was about more than just working for a paycheck and watching the clock tick down the seconds until the weekend arrived.
I knew that there was something creative inside of me that was struggling to get out, even as I pushed it back in and told it to keep quiet. It somehow felt less depressing to not acknowledge it’s presence than to stare it in the face and wonder what to do with it.
I finally hit a wall that not only affected my personal outlook on life but it affected my relationships with everyone around me. I was depressed and honestly couldn’t see a way out of my self-imposed creative isolation.
I felt doomed to a life of soul-sucking jobs and no way to express everything I felt inside of me.
After a particularly tearful conversation with my mother over the telephone, she suggested that I try looking for creative inspiration outside of my job.
Perhaps meet with a writer’s group or begin taking painting or piano classes.
That night I looked on CraigsList to see if there was anything interesting in my area and I found an ad placed by a young filmmaker in Birmingham, Alabama.
He was looking for a production designer to help him with an upcoming movie.
I had no experience and no knowledge of what a production designer actually did but I felt compelled to email him and start a conversation.
Little did I know that one simple email would change my life forever.
Though the process of coming into contact with a small but very close group of creative and interesting people, I gained some very important insight about myself and the process of creating.
I realized that I am creative and no “job” decides that for me.
I realized that I need to create to be happy.
I need to get all of that energy and all of those ideas out into the world.
It’s like being perpetually pregnant. Without giving birth to something new on a regular basis, that beautiful energy turns into a parasite and begins the slow process of tearing away at my self confidence, and eventually, my soul.
I don’t have to pigeon-hole myself into a certain medium. I can be a photographer, writer, musician, painter, crafter, cook, makeup artist, interior designer, gardener…anything! As long as I approach it in a creative and energetic way, I can do anything I dream up.
That is a truly liberating notion: “I can do anything.”
Thanks to the pervasive creative genes given to me by my parents, I was born with a knack for knowing good design, but I didn’t even realize the future implications. I just thought that’s how everyone looked at the world.
I didn’t know that this was one of the things that made me who I was…who I am.
I am in the process of completing my interior design classes with great plans for the future and you know it totally involves another blog (as if having two of my own and guest-posting for another weren’t enough).
No longer am I afraid of life and where it will take me.
I have such conviction to bring my ideas into the world in whatever way I choose. My options are literally endless.
The task at hand now is to focus and move confidently in that direction.
The last day of my work week.
The day when I get to actually get some things accomplished at the office because I don’t have any meetings.
The day when I get to meet up with friends after work for a drink and good conversation.
The day when I begin planning my weekend and thinking about all of the things that I want to do.
The day of bagels and donuts in the break room.
The day of music in my ear buds and drumming with highlighters on my desk.
Today is a good day.
Getting to know someone means showing an interest in their lives.
For people to open up to you they need to know that you genuinely care about what makes them tick.
Listening to others creates a connection and lets people know that you are capable of maintaining a balanced relationship (hint hint…it’s not all about you).
Check out this article from Henrik Edberg at The Positivity Blog to learn more about fostering honest connections with others.
My very first guest post is from the lovely Dani DiPirro at Positively Present.
I found her blog about a year ago when I was searching to fill my life with more creativity and more meaning. Ultimately, this also meant more adding more positivity.
My spell check says “positivity” isn’t a word. I’ll just ignore that.
Dani’s insight and honesty are what drew me to follow her blog and when we began conversing via email I found her to be just as transparent and endearing as she seemed online.
If you want an uplifiting daily read dashed with humor and fun, you should check out Positively Present. I’m also proud to announce that she has created her very first workbook (Live Happily Ever After Now) which aims to help the reader stay present and appreciate the now.
I’m so excited to have seen her growth and progress and this workbook is just the first step in what I am sure is to become a lifetime of doing what she loves — inspiring others to live a more authentic and present life.
And now, on with the show!
From a Dream to a Reality: Leaving the 9-to-5 Grind
Dani DiPirro, PositivelyPresent.com
I used to wake up most mornings cursing the day. I spent my weekends and weeknights writing about how to live and love life in the present moment, but when it came to my day-to-day life, I struggled constantly with embracing my 9-to-5 job. Though the job itself wasn’t bad at all—and the people I worked with were great—getting up every day and going to work often felt wrong. It’s hard to explain exactly what was wrong about it, but at the core I had the belief that I was living a life that I wasn’t meant to be living.
For a while, I convinced myself that this was normal; this was how everyone else felt too. But as time went on, I started to realize that might not be true. While most of my friends weren’t jumping up and down with excitement to go to work every day, they weren’t miserable. They didn’t feel like they were losing a part of themselves every time they put on a suit or sat in a meeting. As my friends settled into their careers, I found myself itching to get out of mine and make my own path.
But I was scared. No one else I knew was doing anything other than what was expected of them—getting up each morning, going to work, climbing the corporate ladders of their various industries. While my friends were supportive, many of them raised an eyebrow at the notion of leaving the privileges of a comfortable corporate job. And, quite often, I questioned it as well. Who did I think I was, striking out on my own? How would I survive without my steady paycheck? What risks would I have to be willing to take?
I needed inspiration, guidance—and I needed it fast. Lucky for me, an inspiring duo wasn’t too far out of reach. My parents had started their own company when I was just a young child. From nothing, they grew their dream of freedom from bosses and office buildings to a successful small business that has supported their family for over two decades.
Perhaps it was their business that had instilled in me the need to strike out on my own. Maybe subconsciously they had been inspiring me for years. Or maybe it was just part of my blood—the need to do my own thing, to find my own success. Whatever the reason, I was going my own way—and I needed their help.
For the first time, my father told me stories of what it was like to start a business with two small children depending on him. He had so little money. He had to start from nothing. I remember those early days and how nothing seemed different other than the fact that my dad no longer went to the office every day but instead had a section of the basement dedicated just to him and his work. Miraculously, though he and my mother were stressed and strapped for cash, I never knew about their struggles. It was difficult, he told me, but he never regretted it.
My parents encouraged me to go for it—to go after what I really wanted for my life. Perhaps that’s what all parents do with their children, encourage their dreams, but it seemed like an extra bonus that my dream of working for myself paralleled the dream they’d shared years ago. I was fortunate to have them, to have their support and their wisdom. Without that, I don’t know if I could have taken the leap and said goodbye to the job I’d grown so comfortable in.
Whatever your dream is, don’t be afraid to go for it—and don’t be afraid to find the support you need to make it a reality. Leaving a job to pursue a dream is no easy feat and it requires lots of motivation and inspiration. A lot of that you can do yourself, but it never hurts to have people beside you who will make that giant leap into the unknown a lot easier. Without the support of my parents, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Find the support you need to launch your dream. Financial, emotional, spiritual—whatever type of support you need, find it. Because without it, it will be much, much harder to turn that dream of yours into a reality.
Dani launched PositivelyPresent.com in 2009 when she decided to turn her life around and start focusing on the positive while living in the present moment. Positively Present focuses on living positively in the present moment, and since its launch Dani’s personal development site as grown and it continues to impact lives around the world.
The thought for this blog came to me about 6 months ago, during the dreary months of winter. I was feeling the melancholy influence of long and dark nights filled with cold winds and lack of personal interaction. Even though I was generally around a large number of people at work and spent my evenings attending night classes, I still felt this sense of disconnection.
In the last few years I had lost a large number of friends due to the changes that life brings (promotions, moving out of state, traveling abroad, and the most permanent change of all, death). I still kept in touch with these people on a semi-regular basis and knew the basics of how their lives were moving along, but I really missed the closeness of our collective friendships.
I could always count on seeing them on a weekly — if not daily — basis. We went on road trips and vacations together. We attended one another’s weddings and funerals. We cooked together and threw parties together. We wrote books together, played music together and loved each other unconditionally. We were a family.
As each person’s life grew and expanded, we grew farther apart, even though we all expressed nothing but good wishes and luck in the new endeavors. It seemed that geography would separate us on more than a physical level — it would separate us emotionally and spiritually. As time passed, however, I learned that distance could not take away our connection to one another. It would only change it and transform it into something new.
Change and transformation are something that humans run from every day. We set up routines in life so that we do not have to experience change. We try to put the inevitable on hold in a myriad of ways by recalling the perceived magnificence of youth rather than accepting our present state of being and wisdom, holding onto relationships or careers that no longer fulfill us, remaining stuck in a behavior or thought pattern that no longer match our current emotional state, and even refusing to better ourselves or create new goals for fear that we are unworthy of the greatness that might lay in store.
We are all caterpillars who refuse to become butterflies. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for us, we have no choice in the matter. That is to be our fate. It’s sad to resist such a beautiful outcome, but we do it every day, and have done so since time immemorial.
While contemplating my perceived lost relationships, I realized that they were not really lost at all. They had simply transformed into something more beautiful and more real. These weren’t relationships that were to be short-lived and forgotten, or the opposite, life-long and stagnant. They were honest relationships that have proven to withstand everything that the world could throw at them and still come out swinging. They are champions.
When I think of who I was in the past, who I am today, and who I hope to become in the future, I realize that it is all really just a series of influences from my connections in the world. Whether or not those connections are face-to-face or long distance makes no difference. They have all made a lasting impression on myself as a person and I owe a great debt to what those connections and relationships have taught me.
In the age of the internet, my circle of connections has grown exponentially. Not only am I touched by those who I come into personal contact with but I can also be touched by those who lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The “friends” that I have made (and yes, I’ll refer to them as friends) via a series of linked computers have had just as an important mark on me as my family and friends have made.
Some of these friends come in the form of actual emails and conversations and some are just a nameless face behind a blog, a website or a podcast. They have no idea who I am and vice-versa. Nevertheless, they have created a ripple in my pond that I believe touches the ponds of other people that I know (or, in the case of the internet, do not really know at all).
It excites me to think that life is fast becoming less physical and more emotional — ethereal, even. Not that a physical relationship with someone with whom you can share actual space, hold hands, sing along to the same song, share a glass of wine or offer a shoulder to cry on is less important. It’s just that needing to physically come into contact with people is not a necessary component for personal growth.
It’s the same with literature, art, photography, music, writing letters or even using the telephone. It’s the thought that is shared that is important. Not the means in which it is shared. It is the act of sharing — of touching — of creating a connection that is capable of causing change in another that is at the heart of it all.
On this blog I plan to explore how we touch one another’s lives. I will write about some of my own experiences and I will also reach out to those who have influenced me in my own life, and ask them to share their own connections of influence and how they have helped shaped the person they are today, as well as the person they hope to become in the future.
I hope you enjoy it and see the beauty that is in everyone’s story. I welcome submissions from anyone who wants to share their own account, whether or not we have ever conversed, either in person or online. You can keep it anonymous or offer full disclosure. The choice is yours. The important thing is that you share your knowledge with others and keep the ripples in the pond going.
After all, we are all just catepilars deciding whether or not to risk becoming a butterfly.