challenge

365 Challenge: Day 11 – Dreamer

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Dreamer: a person who dreams or lives in a world of fantasy; one who is impractical and unrealistic. a person whose ideas or projects are considered audacious or highly speculative; visionary.

When I chose “dreamer” for today, I had one definition in mind, but as I read a few others, I realized I could apply the meaning across a few platforms. So here goes:

  • Dreamer who is sleeping
    • I am generally not a dreamer. Occasionally I will have a dream, perhaps once a month. I dreamed more when I was younger than I do now. And most of the dreams I’ve had were nightmares, not happy dreams.
    • I will, however, after tucking myself into bed, getting comfortable and spending about an hour letting my mind calm down from the day (it takes a long time for me to fall asleep…), toss out a few ideas to promote (provoke?) a dream. It’s sort of like pre-planned dreaming. Now how bad is that… I’m so pragmatic and organized that I can’t even let fantasy take over in my dreams. LOSER!
    • When I chose my dreams, I think sometimes it was about that mansion I wanted. Or about publishing a book. Or maybe something more of an erotic nature. I AM human, you know.
    • I’ve had a few recurring dreams… nightmares… and I will wake up with a bit of anxiety and hyperventilation. It took about 2 minutes to be able to breathe normally once. I remember being quite scared, making horrible noises and grasping at the sheets trying to will the strength to get through it.
    • My favorite dream was probably around 6 or 7, likely after watching Star Wars for the first time. I dreamed Darth Vader was standing in my doorway and wouldn’t let me out of my bedroom. I swear I got out of bed and some immovable force kept me in the room. (Maybe the door was shut and I was too sleepy and scared to realize it… and why would I just think of that reasoning now, nearly 30 something years later… yikes, I’m losing it).
  • Dreamer who is unrealistic
    • How could I be pragmatic and unrealistic? Silly reader… what an amateur mistake. Well… then again… pragmatic means I choose the best path based on known information. If something is unrealistic, generally, you don’t have all the information and that’s why you think it’s realistic. Your mind is blocked from seeing the reality of a situation and therefore you think you can reach the goal, but if your mind was more open or capable of seeing the full picture without the tunnel vision, then maybe you’d agree it was unrealistic. So you can be both.
    • I’ve had a few unrealistic moments where I convinced myself of things that were not possible.
      • Who hasn’t thought they had a disease from reading something online or hearing about it on TV? Only to turn out that you’re a nut job because it was just a 2-day virus or your imagination? Of course, sometimes it turns out to be true and that’s awful, but that’s not what I’m referring to… but wait, why would you dream that you wanted to have a medical issue. I think I’ve just confused myself, so I’ll stop here and let you laugh at me about it.
      • I thought I’d get a job that I had absolutely no qualifications for.
      • I thought someone was interested in me but that was just my over-active imagination and desire working tirelessly, which isn’t the same as a dream.
    • I’m too grounded in reality. I can’t just open my mind to something completely foreign. Maybe in like .001% of the time will I be unrealistic in my expectations of something I dream for… most of the time it’s a reasonable expectation, but it’s also left up to chance and luck – a totally different topic. Bet you want to know if I think I’m lucky or not! 😊 Egomaniac I am. Wait, I said I wasn’t one previously.
  • Dreamer who is a visionary
    • Definitely not me. I absolutely have “dreams” of doing something successfully well, achieving goals others could not, building or creating something so life-changing… but I don’t consider that visionary.
    • Visionary implies you would be able to go out and do it, lead others to the solution… I certainly do that on a small scale, but I’m not the guy to build the most inventive new product, find a cure for a horrific disease or inspire world peace. I think I could inspire world peace because I’m generally an influential and enlightening kinda guy when I speak (hmmm…. Maybe I am more of an unrealistic dreamer than I thought I was)!

That all said… I’m really not much of a dreamer, am I? And I’m OK with that. We’re all different and that’s what makes us such a challenge to understand.

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365 Challenge: Day 9 – Envious

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Envious: demonstrating a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another

Everyone is envious at some point in his or her life; it is impossible to go about your day without ever thinking “I want this” or “I should have that.” Just doing this daily challenge, I’m noting characteristics I would like to have or change. To me, that is envious.

I’ve always thought of the word “envious” as a bad thing. The green-eyed jealousy monster. Stay away! But perhaps this is where envy and jealousy have a slight difference to them: jealousy implies a negative connotation and denotation whereas envy might come across with a bit more optimism.

You can be envious of how good someone looks or the new job (s)he was offered without seeming to have that underlying bitterness over who should have gotten it first (or at all).

I know I can be both envious and jealous. I have always been a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of guy. When I was younger, I would get angry or upset if someone else beat me (Note, I still can’t stand to lose, especially at cards… I have to win all the time) or got something I wanted. A sort of childish reaction, sometimes accompanied with putting up a wall between that person and myself… even into my late 20s, I think I still had more remnants of that behavior that one should have as an adult.

I really never wanted for anything (life’s staples, you know, things of substance) as a child. I had all the necessities, nothing missing to be able to eat, sleep, drink and be sheltered. Yes, I am lucky and grateful. Perhaps because I never truly needed something to survive, my envy or jealousy of trivial things was that much more impassioned.

When I say that I was envious when younger, I don’t mean in a very obvious and negative way. It wasn’t a regular thing. It wasn’t a big scene where I acted out. It was more a quiet acknowledgement inside my mind and body that I wanted something and I deserved it, and I didn’t like that someone else had it before me. Remember, I’m shy… so I don’t often do things to draw attention to myself.

As I’ve aged, it’s certainly been minimized; however, it’s present enough that I notice it as a general first “go-to” type of behavior when I see someone else got that perfect new job I am still looking for, or someone else received a huge annual bonus and it sounds like it was more than my last one. There are a few of those remaining traces left, generally focused around 2 or 3 topics of truly physical things, not emotional things.

Age brings comfort and happiness to the mind in many respects (I’m ignoring fear of sickness or death), and I’ve been lucky enough to be happy with my life; I don’t envy other people’s lives for those types of things. My mind is content with where I am and who I am; I know the things I need/want to change to be better instead of just because I want them. And that’s a really good thing because it means I’m achieved a great many things thus far.

But… how do you address that envy when it creeps up from time to time? What tools and techniques do you use to control it? For me, I think it starts with knowing what you are truly envious of. If you have envy, it means you want something you don’t have. So start with your list of wants.

Write ‘em down. Give yourself clear goals. Target dates. Check-in points. Figure out what’s realistic. And if it’s not realistic, focus on either (1) being envious in a good way and happy for the other people or (2) removing any trigger points that make you uncomfortable or unhappy about it. Challenge the energy behind the envy into the drive to move the dial on your goals. For instance…

I have always wanted to own and live in a mansion. A huge piece of property with an old-fashioned yet modern building and gardens, a long and winding driveway, and… you get the picture. But why? Perhaps status. Maybe freedom. Could be security. Do I have it right now? No… I live in NYC and do not have $10M to spend. Seriously, who does? And how do they make it happen? Can you help me? JUST KIDDING.

It’s been something I’ve wanted since childhood. But at the same time, I collect things for my current home, draft ideas of what would be good to have in the future, look at places where it may be the right environment to live, etc. And some day, perhaps I will have what ends up being my mansion, even if it’s not a mansion by anyone else’s standards. Note, I love my current apartment and it’s definitely nothing to complain about at all!

Another example…

I want to be a writer. So I write. Then I am a writer. But what I mean, is I want to be a published author. So I write. Then maybe I will become a published author. I am envious of authors. But I am not jealous. If it never happens, it never happens. But I know that I tried. I set out to write a book, which I’ve completed. And I’m starting to shop it with literary agents. I’m doing a lot to make it happen, so I’ve been able to stave off jealousy and replace it with hope and envy.

I’d like to hear from others about envy… how do you handle it? What do you do to control the impulse?

365 Challenge: Day 8 – Considerate

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Considerate: careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others

I am considerate, probably to a fault, in most situations. It’s how I was brought up, instinctual at this point. It isn’t something I have to remind myself to be or do:

  1. Whenever I’m passing through a doorway, I let the other person go first. And on the way out, I turn around to verify there’s no one else before I let go of the door. Who just walks through a door and assumes the next person will catch it? If you don’t, you’re rude.
  2. I always say hello and goodbye when greeting someone. It’s not just the right thing to do, it sets the tone. If you ignore someone, (s)he may get defensive. If you forget, (s)he may think less of you. Why not use a couple of words to make it brighter?
  3. Toilet seat always gets put back down.
  4. I serve someone else before I serve myself.

My momma taught me the right way of doing things. And no, I’m not from the South. Born in Florida, but most folks tell me that doesn’t count.

But it goes beyond the “trivial” things I’ve noted above. I think about how my actions will impact someone else. It doesn’t mean I always choose the right thing, but I definitely make a conscious choice to do the wrong thing rather than it just happening without my oversight and/or control. I always know it’s wrong. Not like something happens and I respond, “oh, I didn’t know that would hurt you.”

It’s important to think about others and not just your own needs, wants and desires. I’m by no means a “goody two-shoes” – sidebar, where did that term come from? Someone please tell me so I don’t have to look it up myself – but I’m definitely only one step removed from that wonderful little shine.

It takes effort for me not to be considerate. I find it hard to believe someone is born or taught to be inconsiderate. Maybe if someone took advantage of you once too often, you might become less than considerate as your general approach. I suppose I could understand that type of learned behavior, but if I realized that about myself, I’d make an effort to course correct it somehow. Not everyone is that lucky though, and I realize so.

People do take advantage of others. Letting someone else keep paying for things. Doing less than your fair share of the effort or work. I couldn’t do that without thinking poorly of myself. I start out with every relationship is 50/50, whether it’s a boss/employee, family, friend or spouse/partner. When you cook, I clean the dishes. When you do the laundry, I fold it. When I repair something, I expect you to clean up the leftover mess.

That said, balance moves from time to time. When one person is super busy, the other can pick up the slack. These are things that should just be normal, natural, you know, consideration being given and applied.

When is it acceptable NOT to be considerate? Ah, tough question. What if someone else doesn’t do their fair share of work, can you really just leave the dishes sitting there for them to do when you know they have to get up early? Do you perhaps be less than honest or lie if someone has a habit of asking too many favors and never returning them? This is probably where I can be less than considerate. I have a bit of a policy such that when you do something hurtful or neglectful or thoughtless to me, I have been known to consider behaving in the same manner. Not always. And not after just one instance. But when I feel like I’m doing more of the work or putting in more of the effort, then I will eventually pull away and let you suffer on your own – assuming it’s not something serious.

Is that the right response? Should we always live that golden rule and not retaliate? It depends… some people learn by observation, some by action and impact. If you’ve told someone what they’re doing is inconsiderate, and they still do it, do you really, really, really have to do the right thing? Whether it’s the right response or not, I tend to think it’s fair to stop doing the right thing for that person on a go-forward basis.

I was tempted to start chatting a bit about phone, email and text message etiquette and consideration, but I think I’ll save that for another whole sub-topic under communication. After all, it’s only fair and considerate that I keep each post focused and of proper length, right?

And in honor of being a good considerate chum, if there’s a characteristic you think I should talk about, please ping me! It’s not only about what I think. 😊

365 Challenge: Day 7 – Irish

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Irish: containing roots from Ireland

On this, the seventh day of my 365 Challenge, and in honor or St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, I have chosen a more physical characteristic about myself on which to blog: I’m about 20% Irish (as near as I can figure). Add in some German, English and Scottish, and you’ve got the rest. I look pretty much like you’d expect for this conversation, as PALE as could be!

I’m an avid genealogist who has traced back each branch of my family tree at least 6 generations; some are over 10! It appears as if I have about 20% of my roots in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and Ireland), arriving in the U.S.A. between the 1860s and the 1880s. There’s a bit of a blurred line for some of the Northern Ireland branches as I am not certain if they are truly English or Irish based on the information I’ve discovered. The key names:  McDonald, McGuire, Graeme and Flint.

According to a Huffington Post article, originally sourced from Quora, there are 4 commonly “accepted” stereotypes about Irish people: (a) Frequent Drinkers, (b) Violent Fighters, (c) Red Hair, and (4) Articulate Wordsmiths. Let’s see how that applies to me:

  • Frequent Drinkers:
    1. I’d say compared to the stereotype, I’d likely not be considered a frequent drinker, but I’m definitely a drinker. It wavers… at some points in my life, I barely drank and at others, I’d have 1 or 2 every night. There have certainly been a fair share of excessive nights of drinking (mostly college), and one or two a year where a big group of friends just have a party and I succumb.
    2. What do I drink? Champagne. Wine. Whiskey. Lighter mixed drinks. I’ll drink beer and the occasional shot, but I’m more about something with a good taste or lengthy distillation or fermentation process. Whiskey & Ginger Ale is my go to drink. I can drink an entire bottle of champagne in one sitting at dinner. And I’m a Pinot Noir when it comes to wine.
    3. Why? It tastes good. It lightens my nerves (remember that post???). I’m not one to go to a bar, in fact, I dislike bars for obvious reasons (see post about my shyness)!
    4. In conclusion, I don’t think I’m the stereotypical example in this case.
    5. Score: 0 out of 1.
  • Violent Fighters:
    1. In comparison to the stereotype, I’m far from it. I’m not a peace-loving pacifist either, but I tend to shy away from arguing or fighting, whether it’s physical or verbal.
    2. Once in grammar school, when I was about 11 or 12, I punched someone. He was laughing at me and I’d had enough, so I hit him. That was the only time I ever hit someone. On the opposite side, my first ex punched me when we broke up because of well… that confession I told you about in the post on honesty. End result — 2 punches in my entire lifetime. That’s pretty good odds that I’m not a fighter!
    3. However… as a result of being so shy and generally calm (a post for another day), when I do get angry, it is extremely intense and volatile. Not physical. But I will spew several expletives, turn quite red and be unable to sit still.
    4. In conclusion (ugh, I sound so dull and formal), another miss…
    5. Score: 0 out of 2.
  • Red Hair:
    1. Oh… this is going to be a fun one. When I was born and up until 3 or 4, I’m told I had blond hair color. As I aged, it turned darker and was a medium brown. When I hit about 20, I started to get a little grey on the sides. And for the last 20 years, the grey continues to takeover. However…
    2. I’ve also dyed my hair for the last 15 years… ever since the first few strands of grey started to come in. Two reasons: (1) I’m very vain and (2) I tend to like going a little darker and a little lighter every so often. I get bored with my appearance and shift it around a little bit. We all do it… no judgments please! 😊 I’ve always admitted it when asked. I don’t lie about it. But I also haven’t really ever volunteered it.
    3. That said…over the last 20 years, the brown has started to take on a much stronger reddish tone. And the dye brings out the red even more. So, under the initial layer, I suppose I do have a noticeable percent of red hair. I’m certainly not bright red. And it’s much more apparent in the summer and in the sun. Maybe just like 20% of my DNA is Irish, 20% of my hair is red. Wouldn’t that be ironic!
    4. The HP and Quora post noted about 10% of the Irish are red-heads, which is the second highest right behind the Scottish with 13%. So… if I’m 20% Irish and 10% of the Irish have red hair (there’s a dirty limerick in here somewhere), then I had a 1 out of 50 chance of having a full head of red hair. (Oh, I’m good at statistics too… but that’s for another day)… I’d say given I have some strong red tones burrowing through frequently but I’m not a red head, I’m gonna give myself .1 for this trait, thus…
    5. Score: .1 out of 3.
  • Articulate Wordsmith:
    1. Well, if you know me, then that’s a definite YES! I mean… I’m doing this 365 Day Challenge. I’m a writer. At work, people LOVED to read emails from me but HATED to read them because it took so long. Hopefully in a good way.
    2. Truth be told, yes, for the most part, I am a natural wordsmith. I have a fairly good vocabulary. I know the grammar rules and usually only break them intentionally or when I’m not being formal. I tend to say more than I need to just because I have so many words to choose from, bouncing around my mind.
    3. However… there is some part of me, maybe 10%, where I stumble on my words. I think I know the definition of something, but I’m extrapolating too far and it doesn’t actually apply in the case I’m using it. Sometimes I forget words and it comes out like a 2 year old trying to talk (without even drinking). And occasionally I just say the wrong word; the right one is in my head but the wrong word comes out. And I have no idea why. I believe I think more quickly than I can actually articulate, hence the mouth and brain coordination is slightly off, but that’s an uneducated guess.
    4. So, in conclusion, once again, this is definitely a true statement, thus…
    5. Score: 1.1 out of 4.

Taking all that in… I’d say the 20% to 25% Irish is about accurate. In a funny kind of mathematical way. Too bad I don’t have the actual accent… I find it kinda sexy!

365 Challenge: Day 6 – Old Soul

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Old Soul: spiritual person whom is wise beyond their years; people of strong emotional stability. Basically, someone whom has more understanding of the world around them.

In honor of my 40th birthday, I chose the word “old soul” as today’s celebratory characteristic. I debated whether to go with “historical” or “old soul,” weighing their definitions and word types. An “old soul” is really more of a noun while “historical” is the adjective; however, the definition of “historical” was weak — basically, it means “of the past.” While ever thou is truest, it didn’t do justice to what I’m attempting to say about myself. So screw consistency today (ha!), I’m going with a noun.

When I think of an old soul, I don’t initially picture myself as one. Iffy on the spiritual part. Iffy on the understanding of the world around me part. Let’s not get into the emotional stability part. I don’t think it’s fair to comment on my own emotional stability, especially on the day I turn 40, typically the age most people consider their mid-life meltdown crisis. (Note, I’m not having one and don’t plan to either.)

But so much of who I am and what I enjoy doing is connected to the past, you know, historical. I am a genealogist. I read historical fiction. I enjoy the transition of power between various kings and queens of the past. I adore American’s Gilded Age. I wish I grew up in the 1960s. I ultimately enjoy the quieter and slower times of sitting around and observing all around me rather than engaging with every new modern toy and game on the market. But it’s really beyond that…

To me, an old soul not only echoes the past (the way they dress, the music they listen to, the books the read, the words they use), but deeply understands the past. Someone who wants to learn from the past and determine the best course for the future. No matter what task I choose, I always need to start from the beginning. Not when the issue first became a problem, or when it first was known. How did it begin? Take me on a tour of its existence and paint a picture of everything surrounding it. Help me understand its purpose down to the very core of its creation. And embrace it.

If I’m walking on land that has some personal connection to the past, I yearn to know what it was like for those who walked before me. If I’m looking at picture someone painted, I create an image of the room in which it was painted and wonder what happened there. If I hear a two-century old piece of music, I wonder what the artist went through at the time to change the face of music and give the world what it has today.

What I lack as an old soul is that spiritual quality or essence that is rare in most people. Occasionally, you’ll see and feel it from someone without ever having exchanged a word. That’s not me. I have no hidden talents of getting feelings from someone unless it’s outwardly and specifically communicated. And even then, I am sometimes the one who says “Are you being sarcastic or did you mean that?” I lack this quality with people where I feel energized and full of it with places and things.

How is that possible to be both? To feel the power of things from the past but not from people? I think it comes down to subjectivity. With people, they can tell you if you are right or wrong. Things cannot. You can learn new information and change your opinion or feelings from things, but ultimately, what you feel from an object is your interpretation of its history and existence. The blanket your great-grandmother knitted… The glasses on your mantle brought from Victorian England… The doorstop cast during America’s colonial settlement.

What I enjoy having as an old soul are the feelings of having past lives. Every so often, when I’m performing some activity or visually seeing some historical site, it’s as if I can recall being in that place. I’m not exactly transported there, but I have a small connection that makes me remember I’m more than just Jay who was born in Florida on March 18th, 1977. And for those of us lucky enough to have those moments where you without question believe and sense what you conquered before you were born, it’s a feeling unlike any other.

I think maybe I will look further into past-life regressions… I’ve been looking for something new to study, to learn, to embrace. Learning what’s real and not real in this topic would be a challenging and interesting experience. For those of you who haven’t see “Defending Your Life,” with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep, please rent the movie. Not only does it speak volumes to me about how one should live a life, but it shows how the past can be connected to everything you do today.

So… whereas my post said I am not very spiritual in the beginning, perhaps I am more than I thought I was. And a bit closer to being that full old soul I want to be.

365 Challenge: Day 5 – Shy

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Shy: being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people

Am I shy? My instinct is to say overwhelmingly yes, but I’m more like the 80/20 rule when it comes to being shy. How so, you ask?

Undoubtedly, if I walk into a room where I do not know anyone, I will find the closest empty spot and attempt to blend into the scenery (wearing those plain colors comes in handy, you see, of course)! Strangers are scary. They want you to talk to them. They look at you and probably make up terribly embarrassing things about you. OK, now that’s just silliness.

Yes, I am shy and I do try to blend into the scenery. I worry about others’ perceptions of me, but not enough that I am overly anxious about it. I probably won’t be the person who initiates a conversation if I am completely foreign to the crowd and the gathering’s purpose is not something I am passionate about. For example… if I were to walk into a crowded room of readers, genealogists, writers, grandmothers, etc., I’d feel comfortable and strike up a conversation. But if I walked into a room of people all waiting in line for something, or an auto parts store, or even a train station, I would not want to interact with anyone.

I don’t get obviously nervous, e.g. sweating profusely or babbling. I just pull out my phone or a book and ignore everyone else rather than make an effort to be congenial. If someone attempts conversation with me, it’s a 50/50 shot whether or not I will respond with any sort of non-verbal or verbal invitation to continue to conversation. I won’t be rude, but I’ll use close-ended answers rather than be open-ended in my replies, hopefully politely discouraging further attempts at communication.

That said, if I walk into a room full of people with common interests, I will initiate conversation. And if it’s people I know, I will also converse and enjoy the time. But I’m not entirely comfortable where I let my guard down. I still consciously think about the fact that I’m around more than 1 or 2 people at a single time and need to be acutely aware of everything I say and do.

However, on some rare occasions, when it’s more than just me and 1 or 2 other people, I do find myself quite comfortable around others and willing to talk or engage in some sort of discourse. And when it does, there have been 3 types of scenarios or reactions:

  1. I’ve had a few drinks such that I’m less conscious of my surroundings but not so altered to the point where anyone would think differently. It’s enough to make me what I assume is how everyone else generally feels: Comfortable, unconcerned, open, relaxed…
  2. I’m having a rather confident day where I feel ultra sexy, handsome, smart, cute <<insert adjective related to wherever it is I am>>; as a result, I feel like I’m standing out for positive reasons and others will naturally flock towards me. (No, I don’t think I have self-image issues… it’s more like… “I’m fine with who I am and being average, but today I see a whole lot more.”)
  3. I’m in search of something that I believe I can catch, conquer, amass, learn or get. Perhaps I was in a bar/club and flirting in search of meeting someone. Or maybe I’m trying to show off certain strengths to convince someone to do something my way. It could be that I’m the focal point among people I’m known for a long enough time period where I know they know my flaws and idiosyncrasies, and I don’t mind it being obvious!

I certainly couldn’t claim I’m 100% shy, especially given some of the things I’ve seen myself do over the years. I am fairly strong when it comes to public speaking. I’ve led teams of over 100 people in the corporate world. I’ve flirted and left a bar with someone I barely knew. I’ve been naked (without having any drinks) in front of a few others for a non-sexual purpose. (A dare… don’t ask… it’s enough to admit it).

But my initial reaction to anything I believe will have people I don’t know is generally not a positive one. When friends suggest bringing another friend along, my mind thinks “scary stranger.” When someone talks to me in public, I’m usually highly aware of my surroundings but at the same time, turning off an ability to hear anyone say something. So while I know there are 3 people in one corner and an exit in another and a cashier looking around for the manager, I fail to recognize 1 of those 3 people just said “excuse me, do you know where ‘x’ is?” And when I do, I ALWAYS respond with “I’m sorry, what?” and an expression similar to that of a 3 year-old being forced to eat vegetables.

I am pretty sure my body language gives off the vibe “don’t talk to me” but on the flip side, when I do know you, absolutely no topic is off limits. You want me to reveal a horrible secret about me, sure… I’m honest and blunt about those things. You want to talk about something deep and troubling, OK, happy to cover how it felt to have a kidney stone at 8 years-old screaming “what the hell is coming out of my #$#@.” (I got a puppy out of it because no one believed me when I said I was peeing blood!) I’ve got super high boundaries but they are very easily removed.

So there’s the 20%. A bit disorganized today in my thoughts, but at the same time, I think it probably showcases a lot about who I am.

365 Challenge: For those new to these posts, I’m posting a characteristic I either currently have or I want to have. Check out more here.

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.