A New Direction

A couple weeks ago I started something new. It was sudden and unplanned. In fact, it wildly disrupted the plans I had in place. Those plans included starting a new business. I was just wrapping up the beta launch of my online course and coaching program, something I wholeheartedly intended to be my focus for the next few years, and something I spent the past year and a half bringing into fruition.

But an opportunity fell into my lap, seemingly out of the blue. It took me by surprise. My plans were already in place, well-laid. I was committed to what I was doing. And I was doing what I enjoy:  creating something new, teaching online, engaging others, improvising, flying by the seat of my pants to invent a new product and service.

But an opportunity suddenly came my way:  a new job. I thought I was done being someone else’s employee. I was sure I wanted to do my own thing, as I have at times in the past. I’m an entrepreneur at heart. But the opportunity thrilled...

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Design Lessons

creative doing Mar 03, 2019

My very first classes in graphic design were mysterious. I did my best to follow my teacher’s instructions, even though I often didn’t get her point. It wasn’t really about that though. It was about learning to see through her eyes, and trusting that I would learn something valuable in the process.

Our initial exercises seemed simple enough: creating a simple symbol, then repeating it within an 8-inch grid so that all the marks were evenly distributed. I learned about marks and shapes and space. I learned that “evenly” meant something much more precise than I initially thought. And even though we were working with small, straightforward compositions on paper, I learned that form and space applied to everything. It applied to the layout of a page and the arrangement of furniture in a room.

It even applied to the way I arranged myself in my own bounded life:  close to some things, far from others.

We worked with color, too:  hue, saturation,...

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What Writing a Screenplay Taught Me

creative doing Feb 03, 2019

A couple years ago I wrote a screenplay. I’ve always been a film buff, but I’ve never had ambitions in The Cinema. So I was as surprised as anyone to find myself developing a pilot for a TV series. It all came about unpredictably, too.

I was talking with a friend who knows my life pretty well. She made a broad comment that my life story seemed to represent much more than an individual life, and deserved to be shared. In that statement, she planted a seed.

I found myself returning to her comment in the days that followed. In doing so, I think I was helping the seed grow. Different ideas came to mind: a short story or essay? Pictures? What was the right medium and method? I’d written some essays before and tried a short story once (a complete dud). Somehow, a screenplay seemed like just the right response. Moving pictures. Narrated images.

It was easy to dive in because the seed was germinating. Quickly. I started reading books on screenwriting. I started blocking...

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Liftoff

Yesterday I launched the beta version of my signature program. It’s been a long time in the making, and it was a major milestone. The word “launch” comes up a lot in the realm of online business, and I’ve come to appreciate all it implies. It usually refers to the release of a product to an audience. And the world of social media marketing is full of tales of angst and woe about launch fears and failures.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in building my online business to date, it’s that you’re always launching. In the world of online business and social media marketing, you’re always releasing something new, even if it’s as simple as a Facebook or blog post.

When I hear the word “launch” I envision a rocket shot into outer space. A small vehicle hurtling through the darkness into the starry heavens toward places unknown. I feel kind of like that whenever I launch something into the internet. Whether...

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Another Year, Another Gift

creative doing Dec 30, 2018

I love this time, as one year comes to a close and another begins. It’s a time when I sit quietly and reflect on all that’s passed, and on what might come. For me, it’s a mix of silent contemplation and harried planning. Let’s hope they balance each other out!

The silence provides a space for something new to appear. On its own. Without my insistence. The silence is slow, gentle, accommodating, and roomy. In its spaciousness, a sight, sound, or memory appears, catching up with me somehow. I’m often caught by surprise. And sometimes the surprise is welcome, sometimes not.

The planning is something else altogether. Filled with structure and timelines and goals. I’m amused by the current popularity of paper planners, and I’m trying out a new one myself in 2019 (the Daily Greatness business planner). I love the look and feel of it, but honestly, it scares me a little. All those prompts and directive layouts feel bossy sometimes. I’ve been...

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What's Your Gift?

creative doing obstacles Dec 09, 2018

I think everyone has a special gift, something that is theirs and theirs alone to realize, and to give. And yet, not everyone realizes their gift. What about you?

If you check in with yourself right now - the life you're living; the career you’re pursuing; your relationships; your hopes, dreams, and fears - what do you see? Are you realizing and giving your unique gift to the world?

If I’m honest with you (and I hesitate saying this, because it sure sounds immodest), I think my special gift is the ability to see the gifts of others! I think it led me to become a therapist, and it’s what I hope to offer you in my new online course and coaching program, “The More Creative Therapist” (beta launching in January).

Through my program, I hope to help you realize your special gift, using creativity as a vehicle for doing so.

During sessions as a therapist, I often find myself holding possibility for my clients. As therapists, we often use that word,...

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Solution Focused

creative doing Aug 05, 2018

I was a designer before I became a psychotherapist, fields that are very different in some ways, similar in others. Design is all about solutions, and so is therapy. Both begin by identifying a problem that needs to be solved. And that’s where the challenges and opportunities begin.

Therapy uses diagnostic tools (symptom identification and classification) to define a client’s concerns according to a system, the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Whatever the DSM-5 defines is the problem: depression, anxiety, psychosis. The therapist works collaboratively with the client to explore underlying causes, monitor symptoms, and work toward decreased distress.

Design explores problems too, but in a more open-ended way. In the absence of a single, encyclopedic classification system, designers are free to consider problems creatively. The designer works with the client to explore the identification of the problem as a problem in the first...

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To Do or Not To Do

creative doing Jun 24, 2018

I woke up yesterday with a head full of to-do’s, feeling the pressure to get out of bed and get started right away. All this, on a Saturday no less. I felt the tug, but instead of succumbing, I recognized the underlying truth: that I didn’t really have to do anything. The choice was mine. And when I looked closer, nothing on my list was truly urgent. It just felt that way. Momentarily.

I think we often convince ourselves of an urgency that isn’t real. Often it’s just a habit, a knee-jerk response to anxiety. Sometimes it’s an indulgence - a way of magnifying our sense of importance. And at other times still, I think it’s a cleverly disguised distraction. The busyness distracts us from whatever’s underneath. And the only way to face that is to slow down.

When I do slow down, the resulting ease is a welcome relief. I allow myself to rest there a while. The “while” can be a few minutes, hours, or a day. Yesterday, it was a day.

...

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Thingification

I had a few conversations with colleagues this week who (coincidentally) wanted to make a change in their professional practice by doing more work in advocacy and social justice. They clearly felt this was the direction they wanted to pursue, but they weren’t quite sure how to proceed.

This is the way a creative impulse feels. It often begins as a yearning - the feeling of longing coupled with a general sense of direction, but without the clarity.

Yet.

I have a suggestion:  gain clarity by taking the ideas that accompany those feelings and “thingify” them. How? Give them form. You can begin with something as simple and straightforward as a list. But I suggest you go a little further and create an array of Post-Its. Or you can go even further (if you’re inclined toward playful risk-taking) and sculpt your ideas free-form with clay to see what comes out the other end.

(I suspect most of you feel comfortable with the first 2 suggestions, but a little...

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Putting Yourself Out There

Whenever you create something, you risk the vulnerability of exposure. What will they think? Do I look foolish? Who will they think I am? Who do I think I am? A flurry of self-doubt and anxiety arise with the prospect of sharing your creation.

This can be enough to stop us in our tracks. Better to remain safe than sorry.

I’m feeling this way right now. In building my new online business, The More Creative Therapist, I just created a free online mini-course to share with whoever might be interested. It's called More Creative in 5 Days (how's that for audacious?). I’m announcing sign-ups this week, and you know what? I feel scared! You know all those self-doubt questions I mentioned above? They’re running through my head right now!

Something about self-exposure makes you (among many things) a magnet for the strong feelings of others. We can never fully anticipate what our own creations will bring up. I got some negative feedback a while ago about a free offering on...

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