Day: March 16, 2017

365 Challenge: Day 4 – Creativity

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Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work

Everyone has a creative side; it’s about how creative you are as an individual versus what it is you are creative in. Some of us have creative jobs but lack creativity in our personal lives. Others have your stuffy corporate career but a few exhilarating passions where your creativity knows no bounds.

I have traditionally held non-creative positions throughout my career: technical writer, business analyst, project manager, SVP of Technology, VP of Program Management, et al. And in those positions, it was generally about “how much can I get done in how quick of a period with the biggest positive impact?” Every so often I’d include a fun picture in my presentation or a cute quote in a semi-casual email. But for the most part, I was non-creative.

In my personal life… 50/50. I like to clean and organize things. Everything has a place and must be put back in it as soon as you are done. I struggle with expanding my taste outside of a few certain colors (black, white, grey and brown); well, in truth, I’m a lot better these days. I have a bunch of orange and yellow and blue in my apartment. And purple has always intrigued me. But not in my wardrobe very often.

So where’s my creativity? That’s easy! I’m a writer. I could make up a story about any character, setting or plot and have a thorough vision in my mind of what it would be. I can create a family tree full of wicked and loving characters with a history of complexity among their relationships. I can say things I wish I could say to someone in reality. I am really good in this area – and before you think I’m getting egotistical, don’t even go there. I’m just acknowledging a strength I’ve… mastered? No… polished? No… CREATED!

But in truth, it’s one of the only creative aspects about me. I tend to look for the most direct solution, but I am capable of challenging myself to find something alternative that’s got… a flair? If I’m unable to convince someone of an opinion or decision, I search for another method. If my audience prefers visual, then I’ll figure out how to present visually. So I am creative in my approach, just not as my primary drive.

Confession for today: I wish I could sing or play a musical instrument. But alas, I am tone deaf. I cannot remember words to songs and therefore make up my own. I couldn’t tell a harmony from a chorus. Nor do I care, I suppose. Because for me, it’s not about the educational or institutional side of music. It’s about the creativity that can be unleashed in words or sounds.

How often have you been in a bad mood when you heard a song that pulled you out of it immediately? Don’t you frequently put music on just to listen to music even if you’re not doing anything else but sitting there with your ears attuned?

The violin or the piano would be my go to instrument, in addition to singing, of course. Drums don’t really do it for me. Nor does a guitar. Yes, certain chords (ah, I do know a few terms) or beats from those instruments are pretty intoxicating, but the piano and the violin have moved me to tears and utter excitement at times.

But when I think about this type of creativity, it’s really an essential part of life. It’s as necessary as choosing the direct and expedient path in some ways. And it’s present in everything we do, even in some of those basic corporate jobs. In managing my department’s finances, I looked for ways to maximize efficiency and costs: I found creative ways to make it happen. And I found creative ways to track it. Note, creative as in fun and positive – not illegal. Don’t go thinking I’m some sort of Al Capone Jr.!

So… as I look towards my next job, I think creativity is more important. No, I’m not going into years of training to become an opera singer (although… that might be an interesting challenge). But I think shifting the balance so it’s a little more creative is becoming the target. Publishing intrigues me… I could spend my entire day talking about books and writing.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few months of downtime. I’ve read nearly one hundred books. I’ve created 3 websites (professional, for my book, and creative). I’ve dived into social media and begun posting stuff all over the place (even about me, like this challenge)! Maybe I’m not so shy after all… and that’s going to be tomorrow’s characteristic.

To Be or Not To Be: Shy, that is, the question.

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Review: The Mother’s Promise

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The Mother's Promise4+ of 5 stars to Sally Hepworth‘s The Mother’s Promise, a touching story that will give you a tremendous amount to consider. I received this ARC from St. Martin’s Press as a giveaway through Goodreads, choosing it because it had a gripping summary and a similar sentiment as the book I’d recently written. It definitely was worth the read: a ride through your emotions with several eye-opening questions to ponder.


Story

Alice and her 15-year-old daughter, Zoe, have lived on their own in California most of their lives. Alice assists the elderly with day-to-day errands and health matters while Zoe battles her social anxiety disorder. When Alice discovers she needs to have a tumor removed, and then learns the cancer will need extensive chemo and radiation, she’s at a loss as to who will help take care of her daughter during the recovery period. Enter Kate, a 30ish patient advocate / social worker who’s trying to have her own baby but has had several miscarriages. Kate realizes Alice has no one to help care for her and brings in another aide, Sonja, to help find a solution. Sonja’s got her own problems with a husband who has increasingly become combative and potentially abusive. Each of the 4 women figure out how to face their problems, working on their own and together at different times. Each suffers a major blow to their future and doesn’t know where to turn. Will they come together somehow in the end to help each other out, or is it too late?


Strengths

1. I could clearly picture each of the 4 women in my mind and felt connected to their plight. They were strong and weak, tragic and flawed, beautiful and hopeful. I watched them take 2 steps forward and then 1 awful step backward. And thru each mini-journey, I wished I could be there to help them figure out how to find a connection.

2. I expected this to be a tale of emotional sorrow. I expected this to be full of questions and a push for me to decide how I’d handle such a situation. But two little bombs are dropped along the way (no spoilers here) in such light, easy fashion, I literally dropped the book from shock. I didn’t expect those 2 moments to hit when they actually hit. It wasn’t as though everything was going well and suddenly something bad happened… I was already sad / worried for the character and then the carpet was ripped out… with no notice. Was a fantastic trick on Hepworth’s part, and I won’t say more because every reader should feel that sucker punch I felt.


Suggestions

I think the book ended a little too quickly and was possibly a little too wrapped up. I would have liked to see some of the final drama drawn out a bit more, a reflection on what happens afterwards, a glimmering hope for something positive beyond the immediate ending (which may or may not have been painful — I am not saying right now).


Final Thoughts

I will absolutely read other books by this author. It was humming along for the first 30 to 40 percent, and I liked it, but I was fine putting it down to read another book at the same time. I can only take so many emotional roller-coaster stories at one time, so incorporating a cozy mystery or a happy book is often necessary. Then I hit chapter 48 (note, they are short chapters) and I filled with rage, angst and fear… I read for 2 hours non-stop, putting it down only for 30 seconds to post another update on Goodreads to say “What???? A second gut punch… I can’t…” And that’s exactly how it happened. That said… the questions to ponder:

It’s great to know there are people in the medical field so willing to help and connect with their patients on a personal level. Is it really common?

I had many memories of losing my godmother to cancer when I was about 20. My mom was her caregiver, and I saw lots of pain… but I cannot imagine what it is like to be that person helping the patient who knows they only have a short time left. They are the heroes and heroines of the world.

Who would you trust to raise your child if you had no one in your life and were about to die?

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