Creativity starts with yes!

…from my next book, Yes Changes Everything! Coming in May 2020!

Yes Changes Everything!Are you creative? Most people say, “Um, no.” They think only the da Vinci’s of the world, musicians, writers, and performing artists are creative. Those are the people with the secret special inborn talent that the rest of us just don’t have!

But you know what? I think we’re all creative; we just need to think about creativity differently.

Creativity is just bringing something new to life.

When we’re stuck for a word, it’s creative to look it up or even to ask people around us: “What’s another word for house?” and then use sanctuary, dwelling, or habitat in what we’re working on.

When we need a baby gift for a friend who’s having her third, we want to give something different, fresh, and unique. So it’s creative to scroll through Pinterest or Tumblr for ideas. We find a store that sells hand-crocheted llamas and one-of-a-kind monogrammed hats—done!

Something new

In this sense — bringing something new to life — creativity just sounds like a happy, healthy everyday life:

  • “Yes, I want to do that, so how can I find out…”
  • “Yes, that’s it! Plus, what if…”
  • “Yes, that sounds good, and maybe we should also…”
  • “Yes, and we’ll need to find out…”
  • “Oh yeahhh! And if we do that, we can test out my other idea…”
  • “Yes! I’ve always wanted to try…”

Obviously, the theme is yes! And next thing we know, we’re creatively:

  • Solving problems
  • Making good things happen
  • Bringing great people together who end up liking working or just being together
  • Seeing new opportunities
  • Generating the energy and finding the resources to push past obstacles and reach a goal
  • Facing a dilemma and uncovering new solutions

…and then standing back, looking at the results, and thinking, “Oh man, I created that!”

Creative mojo

This is so important, beautiful, because nurturing our creativity is all-in for being happy, healthy, and sane.

All. In.

Researchers have found strong links between creativity and self-esteem.

Creativity and healing after trauma.

Creativity and learning.

Creativity and giving voice to feelings people didn’t know they had.

Creativity and problem-solving.

Creativity. Bringing something new to life. Venturing into a skill, a form of expression, a task, an endeavor—anything that lies in a direction we have not yet gone in our happy, healthy, sane lives.

Creativity starts with yes

It could be yes to oil paints on a fresh canvas, yes to a cooking class, yes to an online fiction writing course, a pottery workshop, a garden design seminar, a woodworking workshop…yes to anything that gets our personal, unique creative juices flowing.

Beyond what we might consider “traditional” creativity, it could be yes to an assignment, meeting new people, a job or career, a different vacation spot, volunteer work, a new place to live.

Where is your unique creative mojo? What do you need to start saying yes to in order to kindle that creative spark in you?

When we wobble, we grow!

…from my next book, Yes Changes Everything! Coming in May 2020!

“You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
Love like you’ll never get hurt;
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.”

These are lyrics from the song, “Come from the Heart” by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh. I love them! They help me relax my grip on whatever I’m trying to do and ditch the illusion of ever being perfect at it (…and *exhale*).

Yes Changes Everything!

Perfection is just someone’s opinion anyway. The perfect cake, song, beer, or whatever is in the eye of the beholder. We may think a song is perfect, but to someone else, it’s just noise. A beer may be out of this world to us—just perfection—but someone else may think it’s awful. That means a perfect home, city, restaurant, or night out doesn’t exist. It’s not objective and real like the chair I’m sitting on or the candle burning next to me or Blossie curled up on my lap as I write this.

The perfect whatever

When we buy into the illusion that perfection is possible, we also get a whole lot of frustration and staying in place. Because perfection isn’t a thing, so we end up exhausted, running after air, or worse, staying frozen in place because we think we haven’t got the talent or connections or money we need to go after the perfect whatever.

What we really need when we go after something new is heart, energy, and passion. Things that don’t take talent or connections or money but lead us to the amazing goodness that’s hiding in plain sight, even if it’s a little dinged up or dusty or smaller than we’d thought.

Let’s wobble without fear

Something else we also need: to be okay outside our comfort zones, outside our safe, familiar space in an area where things get…wobbly. Where lines are thin and crooked. Where we stumble and fall. Where we’ve said yes to something for the first time, and we’re not good at it. It feels wobbly and weird, and it will come out tilted in the beginning—far from perfect.

But you know what, beautiful someone? Not only is wobbly okay, it’s great because when we wobble, we have to figure out what to do to steady ourselves. When things feel weird, we have to learn how to make them feel…unweird. When our cake, crocheted llama, or row of garden basil comes out gnarled and curly, we have to figure out how to straighten it out and in the process, learn a whole lot about what doesn’t work. When we wobble, we grow.

So let’s wobble, and let’s not be afraid.

Like nobody’s watching

And while we wobble, let’s turn off the noise—whether that’s opinions or articles or “experts” or headlines. Let’s tell them to shush. We’re trying to grow here. We can’t be distracted by every click that comes our way.

And hey, beautiful someone, see you outside our comfort zones where we sing like we don’t need the money and dance like nobody’s watching.

Proud of where we’ve been; excited about where we’re headed

…from my next book, Yes Changes Everything! Coming in May 2020!

Regret is a kind of guilt—something that definitely doesn’t belong in our happy, healthy, sane lives! Regrets are things we’re sorry for. Mistakes we think we’ve made. Chances we didn’t take. Opportunities we jumped on that didn’t go so well. Things we blurted out at the wrong moment. Things we didn’t say. People we trusted that we shouldn’t have. Good job choices we let slip by.

Yes Changes Everything!Regrets are a huge form of clutter that stands in the way of yes. The heavy guilt of regret keeps us from opening the door to good in our lives. It makes us think we don’t deserve good things — so new opportunities, people, experiences? “Um, no. Because well I regret some mistakes I made in the past…”

It’s like we’ve drawn a sad frame around these situations that fills with matching images, i.e., if we call these mistakes, regrets will fill the frame.

So, let’s reframe them

Every situation that can be called a mistake is also one we learned from. Thinking of them as lessons not only takes the sting out of them, it lets us look ahead with hope, and not back with regret. If we learned something from them, we’re already thinking about the future: what we should/shouldn’t do next time.

From mistake to lesson. One small wording change, and boom baby! We go from clutter that’s holding us back and crowding out the yes that changes everything, to good information that jets us forward—smarter than we were before. And no regrets!

What we learned

Take a look back over the last five years. Whether things have changed a little or a lot, we’ve come a long way. People have come and gone—friends, romances, bosses. Maybe jobs too. Roommates, apartments, houses, schools.

It’s because of these changes that we know more: what works and what doesn’t in our lives. What we like, and what we don’t. Who we’re attracted to…and not.

Here’s a (very partial) list of “stuff I’ve learned” in the last five years:

  • Helping people is in my soul.
  • I can be too trusting too early in a relationship.
  • I have the heart and soul of a writer—writing is how I think about and process my world and everything that happens in it.
  • I get intellectually depressed if my brain isn’t being challenged.
  • Fear is not a good motivator for me (except maybe fear of mediocrity 😊).

Your list

Think about the last five years…what’s on your list of “stuff I’ve learned”?

Now, every time we say, “I wish that had gone better,” we can just add something to our list of stuff we’ve learned to use next time.

We’ve handed ourselves another chance to tackle a situation, but to reinvent it this time. To return from the next battle, a little worn and weary, but definitely smarter. To do this thing better, with more kindness and empathy. And to grow.

We’re proud of where we’ve been, and excited about where we’re headed.

It’s a new beginning, a new yes.

Tuning out the naysayers!

  • “What makes you think you could ever…?”
  • “Look, I know you. I know what you’re capable of, and this definitely isn’t it.”
  • “Hey, I knew you when you couldn’t even spell. You’re gonna get a Master’s in Literature?”
  • “What’s wrong with my life that you think yours should be so much better?”
  • “What makes you think you should have a bigger house? Just be glad you have a roof over your head at all.”
  • “You should stick with what you know.”
  • You? Really?” (*condescending chuckle plus eye roll*)

Sometimes, it’s like all we have to do is mention an exciting goal, and the naysayers start in like this. Maybe they tried the same thing, it didn’t work out, and they want to help us avoid the pain they went through. They’re actually trying to help.

From discouraging…

Sometimes, honestly? Not so much. They may be afraid of being left behind. Afraid of change. Afraid of our lives outpacing theirs somehow. Afraid of the unknown and what it might do to them personally.

Then there are naysayers who think cynicism makes them look smart. They’re skeptical from the get-go: “What? How could that possibly work?” “I read an article about someone who tried that and lost everything!” They dig and dig until aha! they find the tragic flaw in your dream: “Okay, so I finally figured out what’s wrong with your idea.”

Naysaying can be especially discouraging when it’s coming from influential people in our lives.

Or when it’s coming nonstop at the speed of light.

When it’s cynicism disguised as “reason.”

When it reminds us of our less-than-stellar past.

When it cherry picks bad headlines for reasons we shouldn’t try.

…to positive!

Naysayers can have their opinions (they always seem to have lots of them 😊), but let’s leave them out of our awesomeness. The real danger is that if we listen to them, our yesses can start to seem ridiculous. Psychologist and author Piero Ferrucci once wrote, “How often—even before we began—have we declared a task ‘impossible’? And how often have we then construed a picture of ourselves as being inadequate? A great deal depends on the thought patterns we choose and on the persistence with which we affirm them.”

This is why, if we talk to anyone who’s achieved the “impossible” (dream job, dream project, dream goal), there’s no question that their own positive purpose gave them energy and determination to tune out the naysayer chorus of “No,” “Can’t,” “Don’t,” and “No way.” And the ability to do so was as important to their victory as anything they actually did.

Positive purpose—the certainty that what they had said yes to and were determined to achieve was good and worthy—gave them the resilience and confidence to answer the naysayers with an empowered:

  • “Yup, me!”
  • “You bet!”
  • “Oh, that’s yesterday’s story. I’m much better prepared now.”
  • “It’s a new day!”
  • “Yeah, but I know better now.”
  • “….” (i.e., nothing at all.)

So now us

Next time we hear:

  • “No one’s ever done it before,” let’s think: So, I’ll be the first. I’m a trailblazer!
  • “People have tried that and failed,” let’s say: But I haven’t tried it yet, and I won’t fail because I will make it work.
  • “It can’t be done,” let’s know: All I needed for inspiration was one example of someone who succeeded at achieving this dream to know that it can be done. And I’ve got that.”

“Failure”: A brand new view

When we find ourselves in tough situations, they become less frustrating, less likely to make us label ourselves a failure or some other negative thing if we decide we’re going to look at them as a sign that we’re growing and doing it all on purpose.

Instead of allowing tough situations to bring us down, we’re making them work for us.

It’s like: “At the time, it was just awful. But in hindsight, facing that [layoff/fight/awful person/ridiculous job] was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Real people/their stories:

  • “I really don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t go through my divorce. At the time, it was terrible, but having to deal with John cheating on me woke me up to just how strong I am and how much being able to trust someone really means to me.”
  • “I look around my shop and think, ‘Look what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t gotten fired and instead stayed in that awful job?’ I am so deliriously happy now.”
  • “When Jill quit at the worst possible time for my business, I couldn’t deny it any more: I was a terrible manager. Once I could see the price I was paying for not having a clue how to manage people, I grew up about it—read a few books, took some courses, and most of all, changed how I acted. Then, I added more people, and my business finally started to take off.”
  • “After Sara told a bunch of people that I wasn’t qualified to teach, I learned never to accept that kind of behavior from someone. I let it go that one time, and I know the consequences. I’ll be ready if there’s ever a next time.”
  • “I know now to trust my gut instinct when it comes to the people I meet. I went ahead and bought a car from someone who gave me a seriously bad vibe, and it came back to bite me. Cost me thousands and a night stranded on the highway in a snowstorm. Never again am I gonna let somebody I don’t trust talk me into something. If my instincts are telling me no, I don’t do it. End of story.”

In the end, these people saw a tough situation as a stepping stone. And here’s what’s really amazing: the experiences they had were bad (and sometimes really bad), and it would be naïve and just too “Suzy Sunshine” to pretend otherwise.

So I’m not trying to make light of our tough times, but there’s a secret weapon here: when we choose to see situations this way—as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block—we automatically come out in a good place. We take the hit, but we don’t stay down. We deliberately CHOOSE to see a situation as a learning experience, not a defeat, embarrassment, waste of energy, or any other type of loss or closed door.

Unstoppable, that’s what we are.

Who are your sandpaper people?

We’ve all got our own sandpaper people. These are the family members, neighbors, and coworkers who test our patience, demand more from us than we’re willing to give, or just generally make us crazy.

Be grateful for them, beautiful someone! Honestly, their abrasive behavior is smoothing out our own rough edges and sharpening our dull ones.

  • If you’re super-restless and impatient, having to deal with people who run at a slower pace smooths out that impulsive edge on you.
  • If you’re a laid back, wait-and-see type person surrounded by an army of Type As at work, your own (overly?) relaxed approach to work is being energized as you keep pace with these people.
  • If you’re kind of emotional, being around people who are always calm may make you crazy, but it will also stop the freight train of feelings and impulses that can drag you all over the place.
  • If you’re a loner, friends who force you to go out are opening up your network, your mind, maybe even your world.
  • People who disagree with us make us think.
  • People whose values or beliefs differ from ours teach us tolerance, respect…or spiritual detachment as we learn to “live and let live.”

Our sandpaper people are making us try new things, think in new says, get exposed to new ideas and people, witness our own strength, and see ourselves with new potential.

Smarter and stronger

This is all preparation for your dream come true. In fact, sandpaper people are pretty much needed for progress. Every time an edge on us gets sanded down, every time a dull spot in our lives—something in need of polishing up—gets “buffed” by a sandpaper person, we’re getting wiser and more patient. We’re broadening our perspective and our horizons. We’re seeing things in new ways and thinking about them with a different perspective.

And I know it’s hard to believe it when it’s happening to us, but those sandpaper people—even the incredibly annoying ones—are lifting us to new heights, making us better at listening, building our patience, and strengthening our resolve to reach our dream come true…all in ways no other type of experience could. Every time they knock us off course or distract us or generally irritate us, we have to do the work to get back on track.

Again, even though we may not like it when it’s happening, this is all making us smarter and stronger. We don’t grow in the good times. Our growth spurts come through tough times, through adversity.

And sandpaper people = adversity.

Big time.

Fresh ideas

I asked some friends what they learned from the sandpaper people in their lives. Listen to a few:

  • “My last boss was such a bad manager, but I had to learn to work for her without going out of my mind. So I did. Today, I could totally work for anyone. Thanks to her, I have tons more patience and self-control. And it takes a lot to get me upset at work. No one could ever be as bad a manager as she was, and I survived. I can handle anything now.”
  • “I treat my friends really well because I’ve lived through some seriously bad situations with friends. I learned the hard way just how important love and loyalty really are.”
  • “I finally figured out what my grandmother meant when she said, ‘Smooth mountains give you nothing to grip onto as you climb.’ Definitely true, I don’t grow when everyone in my life is making things easy for me.”

Instead of seeing sandpaper people as just plain annoying, try to look at them as a growth spurt in the making, a chance to learn something really important and see new potential in yourself. Remember this especially when they make you want to scream. That’s a huge leap forward straight in the direction of your dream come true.

YES is a fountain of youth 

…from my next book, Yes Changes Everything! Coming in May 2020!

I head to CVS for cotton balls and polish remover—that’s it, that’s all I’m getting.

That. Is. All.

Except that when I get there, right away my eyes (and my feet) are drawn to the shiny lip glosses, sparkly eyeshadows, primers that promise smooth clear skin…and every cosmetic do-dad under the sun. Do I have that color? Have I tried that brand? Would that foundation work on me? Oooo this one’s organic—gotta try that because well, it’s good for me.

I’m not proud of myself for this. And it happens a lot. My bathroom drawers are full of every product under the sun. Most I’ve tried. Some are still sealed. The fewest are the ones I actually use.

I seem to be in a never-ending search for the potion or lotion that is going to make me walk out into the world, not with the face I have, but with one I can create. One that’s brighter, more colorful, smoother, and let’s just say it—younger.

I’m learning though that youth isn’t really what I’m after. I mean if you asked me do you want to go back and be 25 or 30 again, um no. I don’t want to re-live all those awkward situations, job uncertainties, bad relationships, boundary-crashing relatives—all just to get rid of a few smile lines. What I’m searching for is the feeling of being young—hopeful with the best of life out ahead of me, positive and invincible.

Okay so no one is invincible—got that memo when I was somewhere around 30—but the rest? Hope-filled? Positive? Those I can do. And I don’t need to drive anywhere, spend any money, clutter up my vanity, or be disappointed (again) at the way anything pink looks on my face.

I just need to be open to new ideas and people and experiences. I need to allow myself the life-giving exhilaration of a yes that changes everything. That exhilaration does more for the youthfulness of our faces, and the rest of our bodies, than any product we can buy and apply. The fascinating field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) examines how our minds and nervous systems interact. PNI studies have found direct links between psyche (our minds) and soma (our bodies), specifically, a complex system of communication between our brains, immune systems and responses to stress. How we feel physically is influenced by our mental state. And our mental state is influenced by our physical condition.

We can skip the science

We don’t even have to dig into science to know how real this is: we get a really great cut and style at the salon and walk out feeling fresh and clearheaded. We clean and organize our home office and feel instantly more productive in it. Go through the car wash and exit feeling like the car drives better. The interplay between our physical experiences and our sense of hope and possibility is undeniable. We experience it all the time.

And for these reasons the yes that changes everything is a fountain of youth for us. Every yes that has the power to change everything is a new beginning — and isn’t that the real meaning of youth?

Maybe the best part — there’s no expiration date on that bottle.

self talk

Positive self-talk

Every waking hour of every day, we’re having a conversation with ourselves. This is truly powerful stuff, beautiful someone. The way we talk to ourselves affects how we think and what we believe is possible. It affects how we react to opportunities and new ideas. Self-talk influences every single one of our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

With this kind of power, it would be great if our self-talk was always positive and supportive. But it’s not. We may say them out loud about ourselves or just repeat them in our own heads, but certain words — I call them forbidden words — do nothing but hurt us, they make us feel hopeless and helpless.

Here are some of the words I’m talking about:

  • Loser
  • Failure
  • Quitter
  • Stupid
  • Untalented
  • Disappointment
  • Stuck

So we say things like:

  • “I’m such a loser!”
  • “I tried to change the oil in my car by myself. What an epic failure!”
  • “I can’t believe I did that. I am so stupid!”
  • “You know, I’m just really stuck in this relationship — I can’t get out of it.”

We should also be on the lookout for words like “every,” “always,” “never.” Negative self-talk with words like these baked in is just too big to be true:

  • “He/she/they always do this to me.”
  • “I never get things right.”
  • “It’s always the same story with me…”
  • “I am the worst at managing my money!”
  • “I’m never going to…”
  • “I always mess up my schedule. Every time I try to make plans, they fail.”
  • “I’ll never lose weight.”
  • “Exercise is absolutely not for me.”
  • “There’s no way I will ever be able talk in front of a group.”

Really? Are you truly the worst at managing your money—worst in the world? Do things fall through every time you try to make plans—every time, no exceptions? This stuff isn’t true or accurate, but worst of all it just amps up bad feelings and takes a sledgehammer to your beautiful heart and your amazing dreams.

Relationship strategist Lisa M Hayes says, “Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening.”

Your best friend

Make your own list of forbidden words or use mine, and promise, promise, promise that they are off limits. If hear yourself saying them, STOP. Talk a walk, get a coffee, call your Mom.

Practice making self-talk your best friend, a cool, loving person who’s always there for you, always on your side, your greatest fan. This friend tells you things like, “Don’t second-guess yourself…you are so smart…remember that time you…” AND “You’re just as tough as he is…you’re stronger than this situation…you’re so much better than this” AND “You can learn something here…there are some serious upsides to this” AND “Forget what happened…what matters most is what you do next.”

A final thought from Brené Brown, Professor, Author, and Storyteller: “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”

Because you are.