The Newsletter of the Creativity Coaching Association
Welcome to the September issue of Creativity Calling!
We've just crossed over the first day of autumn and change is in the air! Fall absolutely is my favorite season! Northeastern USA dons its stunning wardrobe of vibrant reds, oranges and gold. And, along with the crisp fall air, I'm always filled with excitement over the opportunities available to create a new slate of life activities--personal and professional.
You and I are unique beings. Creating schedules that inspire us, that are optimally productive and balanced between work and play just makes sense, doesn't it? What can you do to tweak and/or refocus your life...and have fun in the process?
This month our CCA Creativity Coaches offer us inspiration and practical tips to assist us in creating the lives we most desire. Barbara encourages us to stretch beyond the familiar to manifest our creative best. John details ample reasons for developing our self-compassion, but not just for ourselves, as it also benefits other artists and creative people worldwide. Miranda shares fascinating research concerning the effect our environment has on our unconscious mind, and then gives us tips for introducing more helpful/
inspirational surroundings. And, lastly, a big congratulations to Steve Harper, the CCA's newest certified creativity coach, who shares insights gleaned from his journey as a creative person and creativity coach. Excellent reading--ENJOY!
Please feel free to share this newsletter with others and do keep sending us your ideas for future newsletter topics. We love your input and suggestions.
All the best!
Beverly Down , President & CEO,
Creativity Coaching Association
Advance your Creativity Now
By Barbara Martin
Did you (or do you) find going back to school each fall daunting, or exhilarating? Perhaps you found it disheartening or discouraging, a restrictive routine of being told what to do and when to do it. Or did you relish stretching your mind to understand more of our world and the people in it? Either way, you went.
Moving up a grade is a rite of passage for kids--and for creatives. You advance to a new level each time you challenge yourself to create honest new work. Creativity demands that we combine what we know already with something new, something we don't know yet. We are at our most creative when we lean over the edge of what we know and engage in that expansive phase of exploration and learning.
Granted, a creative practice geared to maintaining our usual skills is useful and important, but if we're stuck and repeating the the same-old same-old over and over, then it's time to reach out and discover more about what we do and why we do it.
Being on that edge of the unknown can feel uncomfortable when we push ourselves to venture where we have not dared go before. Or it may look too hard, in that we feel incompetent or otherwise not ready for the task at hand. Or it may seem unpleasant, if we struggle to express an emotional place we've resisted until now. But it's at these barrier moments, where we pause and really listen to that quiet voice deep within, that we make the work that matters most to us. This is the level where we create the work that is ultimately the most satisfying.
Right now, you can "go back to school" or retreat into your comfort zone. Will you sample new skills? Retrain to unlearn bad habits and instill better ones? Why not set yourself free to move up to doing the work you long to create, the work you love most.
Step bravely forward into each creative challenge. Meet it with compassion, courage and honesty. Just like all those little kids heading off to school with that "ready or not here we go" feeling in the pit of their stomach. You can do this!
~ Barbara Martin is an artist, writer and CCA certified creativity coach living near Portland, Oregon. Reach her at BarbaraMartin2@gmail.com.
Escaping the Ivory Tower
By John MacDonald
It's safe to say that creativity coaches and self-aware artists understand the nature of negative thinking as a creative block--that it's crucial for artists to develop the skill to recognize and manage habitual patterns of negative thinking if they are to create as productively and as joyfully as possible. And most would agree that an important component of the skill of managing our thoughts is self-compassion: we learn to be easy on ourselves as we come to understand and accept our artistic and personal limitations. But the benefits of developing self-compassion go well beyond our individual selves working in our isolated studios. Self-compassion can also connect us to the worldwide community of artists that lies on the other side of our studio door.
For most artists, the creative life is a solitary life. We work alone, with all the advantages and disadvantages which that lifestyle brings. On the downside to working alone is the common experience among artists of feeling disconnected from others. Whether or not we're part of an artists group, it can get lonely in our studios. Given the solitary nature of the creative process, these moments of loneliness are unavoidable, but how can we reconnect with the world? How do we keep ourselves from feeling isolated?
The self-compassion we develop as a tool to fight negative thinking can also nurture our relationships with others. As we open our hearts to ourselves, we will invariably find our hearts opening up to all artists. We feel deeply connected to them because their struggles and failures are ours--we've been in their shoes. The difficulties we share can become a bridge of understanding that brings us together. And this empathy crosses every barrier of gender, culture, and time. The kindness and understanding that we give to ourselves, when sent outward to other artists, comes back to us multiplied. We feel part of an enormous community and this connection affirms the meaning of what we do. It creates an unbreakable tie that can nurture us as we engage in the joyful but sometimes heartbreaking activity of art-making.
~ John MacDonald has been a full-time freelance illustrator and painter for over 30 years. A member of the Creativity Coaches Association and a CCA Certified Creativity Coach, he lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts. www.jmacdonald.com
What You See Is What You Get
By Miranda Hersey
How much does your environment impact your work? As Malcolm Gladwell details in his bestseller Blink, our brains constantly decode information and influence our actions in ways that may or may not support our goals.
Gladwell cites a now-classic 1996 priming experiment wherein New York University researchers asked participants to rearrange scrambled words to form sentences. The control group received random sentences and the experimental group received sentences containing words we associate with the elderly, such as "Florida," "old," "forgetful," "wrinkle," and "bingo." If you were among the experimental group, after finishing the test you would have walked down the hallway more slowly than the control group.
This experiment was just one of many that reveal our brains' susceptibility to the subtle (but not subliminal) signals we receive. The unconscious mind guides us in ways we can't control. It is for this reason that classical music has adopted the practice of blind auditions, using a screen to separate auditioners from the audition committee. It is simply too difficult to ignore information from visual cues--information that can support incorrect conclusions, such as the formerly widespread belief that women are inferior musicians. As Gladwell notes, in the three decades since the use of audition screens became commonplace, the number of women in top US orchestras has increased five-fold.
What does this mean for you, as a creative? It means that you need to ensure that what you see every day is empowering and inspiring. A few simple starters:
- Clean up your desk. Piles of clutter may perpetuate feeling overwhelmed and disorganized.
- Go green: Having a plant nearby can improve attentiveness, productivity, and well-being.
- Use creative visualization: Make a vision board and hang it where you can see it daily.
- Stick 'em up: Write your goals on Post-It notes and hang them in obvious places.
In the words of Napoleon Hill: "We begin to see, therefore, the importance of selecting our environment with the greatest of care, because environment is the mental feeding ground out of which the food that goes into our minds is extracted."
~ Miranda Hersey is a writer, CCA certified creativity coach, and host of the blog Studio Mothers. As a business owner and the mother of five, Miranda is passionate about helping others live deeply satisfying, creative lives. She lives in rural Massachusetts, happily overrun with people, books, and animals.
Congratulations to Steve Harper,CCA's Newest Certified Creativity Coach!
Finding Coaching / Finding Myself
By Steve Harper
My search for coaching began when I was little.
As a kid I played Little League (poorly) and the coaches I knew seemed eternally disappointed in my limited abilities. I carried fear with me every time I stepped up to the plate or took my place in the field. That fear ruled me, even as I tried to be brave.
I discovered art in elementary school, encouraged by my father (a visual artist). I drew and wrote comic books, then wrote a short play that I acted in. It was fun to invent stuff--to make up the rules as I went along.
Years later, I thrived in acting school; then playwriting school. I went out in the world to make a living as an artist, knowing the rules of how to create a performance, and how to write a character.
But I wasn't sure how to survive day to day in between making art. Did I need a survival job? Could I take a vacation? What were my work hours when I didn't have a 9 to 5? How could I run my creative business? I needed a coach--someone to help me navigate creativity in a world that thrives on corporate structure. I started feeling fear. It ruled me, even as I tried to be brave.
A friend introduced me to Eric Maisel's Coaching the Artist Within. I read it and was hooked. I'd spent years asking anyone I could find how to survive and thrive as an artist. People gave disappointing one-sentence chunks of advice. I needed to know more about showing up as a person AND as an artist.
Eric had some powerful thoughts. When he referenced the Creativity Coaching Association's program I knew I was interested.
I coach to help people find their way. I coach to re-learn what I know about balance and survival. I coach to stay on the path and to re-invent it. I coach to dispel fear and lean into a celebration around creativity. I coach for myself and I coach for my clients. I'm proud to be certified--to step forward in service.
~ Steve Harper writes for the television show Covert Affairs. He's a CCA certified creativity coach and a graduate of Yale, the A.R.T. Institute at Harvard and The Juilliard Playwriting program. For coaching, articles and guidance go to www.yourcreativelife.com
New CCA Coaching Certification Course Starts in October 2013!
Tap into Our Database of Creativity Coaches
Life is not about finding yourself...
Life is about Creating yourself.
~ E.W. Wilcox
If you've been thinking about becoming a creativity coach, or adding creativity coaching to your existing life coaching, consulting, or therapy practice, we invite you to explore CCA's Certification Program. Our program includes a variety of basic and advanced coaching courses that can be done online or through telecourses in a reasonable period of time. The knowledge and skills you will develop in this program will serve your own work and open up opportunities for you to professionally coach others.
For details, please visit our Certification Program web page for a full explanation of the courses offered and requirements.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- just starting out in exploring your creative desires?
- a working artist who is stuck on a creative project?
- looking for something new to juice up your creative work?
- going into midlife and feeling that now is finally the time to do the art you always wanted to do?
- already a known artist but interested in taking your success to the next level?
For any of these situations, why not hire a creativity coach? Check out our database of over 80 coaches who are ready to work with you and propel you forward. CCA-member coaches specialize in nearly 100 different specialties.
Find a coach here.
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CCA Creativity Coaching Success Stories E-book
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If you have not yet purchased your own copy of Inspiring Creativity, why not take advantage of this special offer today? An anthology of 22 powerful essays by professional creativity coaches, the book will get your creative juices flowing and make you feel more confident, excited, and ready to tackle your creative work.
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Hope You Enjoyed Our Newsletter!
This is the end of the September 2013 issue. Send us an email and let us know your thoughts and suggestions.
Note: If you are a life coach, executive coach, literary agent, therapist or any other profession involved with creative people, and you are interested in joining the Creativity Coaching Association, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.