Friday, September 12, 2014

Inspiration Through Grief

I am grieving. Two weeks ago, my beautiful 14-year-old shepherd mix died. Katherine was a wonderful dog. She followed me everywhere I went. For 14 years I had a perfect assistant in everything I did.

As I worked at my desk every day, she laid in the floor beside me, doing nothing more than napping. Yet now, without her presence, work seems a much more daunting task. What did she do for me there, while she slept? Did she provide a subconscious awareness of peace, of accomplishment, of happiness...some recognition of life well-lived? Without it, I am spinning, lost in a free fall. I feel disconnected from past accomplishments. A bone-deep loneliness haunts me. I wallow in the void she left behind. How am I to create anything within such grief?

As a forest fire burning through and demanding new growth to come forth,
grief extinguishes comforts I had known and forces new goals to emerge.

This is but one stage in the grieving process. Grief often brings about inspiration and uplifting changes. My outlook will lift, I will work through this depression, and on the other side I will rebuild. Just as a forest sprouts seedlings after a fire, some new expression will manifest through this loss. Reconstruction and hope are part of this journey. Losing Katherine will inspire me to move forward in other areas, to see clear solutions I hadn't seen before.

When that stage comes, I will feel recharged and renewed. I will set new goals and strive toward new accomplishments. I will thrive daily in my work, and soak up every bit of joy it brings. I'm just not there yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Art Enables Us

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” —Thomas Merton

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Easy Techniques for Creative Solutions

Creative thinking connects ideas that haven’t been used together before. Sounds simple when put that way, but gaining a fresh approach is often challenging. Here are some exercises to help you break out of routine thought patterns with any project.

You’re an alien. You’ve never seen or heard of this topic before. What to make of it? How would your alien culture solve it? Is it a problem, or is it something much simpler? Look at questions as if for the first time. Research related solutions from other fields.

You’re a three-year-old. Ask questions. Think of every possible question you can relating to the solution at hand. Then ask a nearly infinite series of, “Why?”

It’s your best friend’s problem. Pretend a good friend has just approached you and asked for your advice on the matter. Often, when you detach your personal investment in the project, you can see more possibilities.

Let it simmer. Walk away from the project entirely for an hour, an afternoon, a day. Let your subconscious work on it in the background while you’re mowing the lawn or planning dinner. Your brain comes up with great ideas when you aren’t forcing it.

Use a pen. Put pen to paper and draw, brainstorm, doodle, make notes—flowing ink gets ideas flowing. Writing down your thoughts helps you see connections you might have otherwise missed.

Don’t overthink it. Keep relaxed and open with these brainstorming tips. Planning your approach is like knocking on a door. Ideas will answer.