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Archive for the tag “creativity”

Letting the Beauty Rise From the Mess

hinnamsaisuy/freedigitalphotos.net

hinnamsaisuy/freedigitalphotos.net

A fantastic writer, from a fantastic newspaper, with whom I had the privilege of working with and learning from dropped an excellent gem on me one day when I was stuck writing one of the stories I’m most proud of to this day.

She said sometimes, when you write, you can’t have that perfect lede (opening sentence) right off the bat. Sometimes it comes to you midstream, sometimes you write it last.

But to get the creative process going, sometimes you have to just dump, she said. Just “barf up” whatever it is in your head, no matter what it is, and from there your work will rise.

From the madness, from the seemingly non-sensical, beauty will develop. You will be inspired.

Kind of reminds me of the “Do Something” campaign I’ve been on this year. When you feel like you can’t do anything. You can’t work out, you can’t create, you can’t save money. Just do something. You don’t have to win a marathon, you don’t have to put out a best seller, just start the process of doing something. Walk, then jog, then run.

Dump, then dumpster dive, spread out the trash and let the beauty rise.

It sounds counterintuitive, it sounds downright nasty.

Why rummage through our filth to get to the good stuff?

Sometimes that’s just what we have to do.

Has there ever been a time you lost something important?  Suddenly it hits you.

You might have thrown it away.

You pray you didn’t, but you know it’s in your trash and you know you just threw out a lot of nasty stuff.

But how bad do you want that thing? That piece of paper, that ring or earring?

The trash isn’t going to hurt you, but it’s gross. You don’t want to do it.

You even feel like you are lowering yourself to do this. You don’t want anyone to see.

But when you want something bad enough, or you need it, and you know exactly where it is, vis-a-vis the trash, you just got to do what you gotta do.

You’ll clean it off and clean yourself later.

That thing is worth it to you.

We are humbled when we have to dig through our own crap.

Today’s post is a dump.

I’ve got so many random things on my mind, it isn’t funny.

A friend just told me today how impressed he was with my “journey” over the last two years.

I guess a lot has happened, including this blog. I wanted to write. I hadn’t been writing and so I just wrote one day.

And it grew, and the people following the blog began to impact me in ways I hadn’t expected.

I was getting stronger the more I wrote, and the more honest I became with myself and with the folks reading it, cheering me on, laughing with me and pumping their fists against the sky in agreement when something made me mad.

I have been on a journey. An incredible one. It hasn’t been easy.

A lot of it has been filled with pain.

Garbage. With beauty tangled someplace amid the indistinguishable mess.

It’s there.

I’ve been spending the better part of the last two years, digging through the garbage of my emotional and spiritual life.

It was not pretty, I had to lower myself, I had to humble myself, and I had to see the bigger picture and the greater reward for doing so.

Some of the dumpster digging has been private, and some public.

But I had to and I continue to soldier on, because somewhere in the mess, there is beauty. There is victory. There is the prize of knowing myself better than I ever had.

Beauty in the mess.

Rise, beauty, rise.

The beauty in losing something valuable in the garbage is, you know you’re a dumbass to leave it or let it be thrown away just because you couldn’t bring yourself to dig through it.

I had a friend lose a generous gift card in a gas station trash can. Lawd. That’s even worse. You are dealing with stranger garbage! But she had already said she didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford to buy another, so she had to roll up her sleeves turn that joker over, and fish it out.

Have you ever found you lost something in someone else’s trash? Yourself, your emotions? Your self-esteem?

It may be harder, and more embarrassing, but what you left in that mess is worth salvaging for yourself. You can’t leave that behind either.

I need to get back to writing my book. After living more life, having more hurts and triumphs I can finish it the way I was supposed to and add a layer of depth I couldn’t before.

I will get back to my t-shirt company. 2013 isn’t over yet!

I will continue to love myself in all of its drafts and revisions.

I will continue to have a spirit of gratitude in everything.

I will continue to give my love to others to the very best of my ability.

Am I ready for love? I don’t know.

Am I ready to truly receive it?

Maybe.

Do I know what it looks like?

No.

Do I know what it feels like?

Yes.

Will I recognize it right away?

Probably not.

Will I question its authenticity to death?

Hell yes.

But will I have it?

Super, certainly hell yes.

Rise, beauty, rise.

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My Creative God Complex

I am creatively restless.

I am about to explode. There is so much in me.

I lamented to a friend that I was itching to get out of my office, go away someplace, create, write, paint badly on canvas (never painted in my life), eat the most wonderful foods, drink amazing wines and have sex. That would make me happy right now.

My day dreams are becoming really powerful these days. Too powerful, distracting, and intoxicating for me to ignore and not act. They are far more fabulous and filled with passion and purpose than my current state.

In them, I am ridiculously happy, well-dressed, healthy and traveling as I please. I am working on my various projects, I am launching my novel. My non-profit for young women is doing powerful things.

Tyler Perry and Oprah are very interested in turning the novel into a movie. I’m asking Tyler over lunch respectfully about how he feels about the black bourgeoise crucifying him on every turn and blaming him for the coonization of black people in today’s media landscape, and how my main concern is that honestly those same people are the ones who love my book. How will he and his brand legitimize me in the movie world? He looks at me intently and says he loves the challenge and that is exactly why he was drawn to the material. His question was how will me and my book finally make those folks see him with different eyes?

He assures me not to worry. He’s ecstatic that I am so humble and wanted to learn everything about screenwriting that I can. He is impressed that I tactfully asked my question about coonery to his face. I’m so heavily invested in my book, and my characters that while I’m open to working with the pros, I want to be hands on…

See there I go.

To make matters better or worse, I get a breathless email from a friend who is traipsing through China this week, eating great food, exercising vigorously, immersing himself in language and culture and having a wonderful time. I’m jealous and inspired at the same time.

My sister sends me an adorable photo of the diorama of the wetlands she (mostly probably) and my nephew made for a school project. I think it is the finest diorama I have ever beheld.

These things heighten my senses.

I opened my fridge this morning to find spilled milk. I laughed while cleaning it up, and laughed harder at the irony of laughing at spilled milk. I thought of a new shirt design from that one incident. I thought of writing this blog. The creative force was beckoning me and I was already starting to run late for work.

Work is standing in the way of the greatness rumbling within. Damn…

Because I feel I am an artist today. On this extraordinarily rainy day, I decide to wear large jewelry, a shorts jumper over a white turtle neck, and blue tights, a massive statement necklace and long black jacket and tall black boots. It’s so extra for where I’m going to spend the next 8 hours, but I’ve got to be free. I’ve got to express myself today and through my clothes too (fashion is art). I recently finished reading an amazing novel, “The Human Stain”. I believe in order to be a great writer, you have to read great reading and study what the author was doing.

I was entranced by these characters Philip Roth developed. They each had a story that was thoughtfully played out. They were flawed, they were messy, arrogant, some how they were all intertwined with one another. They had secrets, they made massive mistakes, they carried their pain and they were often reckless in the quest to feel alive and free, if only momentarily.

I followed that connection in me. This yearning for reckless freedom. Freedom from the hold that paying bills and eliminating debt has on me. Freedom from the quick, scary pangs of fear when it’s really quiet in my apartment and I hear a random sound foreign to the regular sounds of my home and realize I am alone.  Whatever that sound is, if it is evil and wants to have at me, it has a very good chance of doing me in and no one will be able to save me.

I fill the noise with the low hum of the radio, say a prayer and go back to sleep.

So how do I break free?

The sobering reality is, I have to toil on in my practical world to pay the bills and finance my dreams that I feel are well within my reach.

Then came the rational roll-up-my-sleeves mantra I’ve adopted to “do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.”

In my Holy Spirit-filled home church, there was a saying people often said. “Your gift will make room for you.”

This meaning, if you stick to your God-given talents, acknowledge Him in it, recognize where it comes from always, opportunities will present themselves.

I am a creative person. I am a writer. I had gotten so far from the writing path professionally for a number of reasons. It’s time to come back full circle, this time doing it on my terms. I’ll finish my book. Tyler and Oprah will come…

I feel a power and a connection to God when I write from my heart or when I sing. The creative force itself is Godly, in my opinion. Why wouldn’t it be? He is the ultimate Creator, I think He delights when we start combining our intellect and what’s in our soul to make something meaningful, even if it is only to one person.

Folks often think when we love others unconditionally, or treat people kindly, that is when we are most God-like.

That’s cool, But I think when we create something, see an idea through until it is materialized into something we can see, hear or feel, smell or taste (food is art too) that’s when He says, “Wow, look at my children.”

When we make something beautiful or useful or meaningful, I think that’s when we are most like Him.

Dream, Plan, Execute, Celebrate, Elevate, Repeat.

Dream, plan, execute, celebrate, elevate, repeat.

That came to me this morning when I was getting out of bed.

I was thinking about the business I’m working on, the creative process and success.

Dream.

Man, my dreams are big. My dreams involve a lifestyle brand involving clothing, eventually a perfume, a social networking community, blog, internet radio show and internet t.v. show. I already have planned out a photo shoot, the models, the themes and what my website will look like.

I know what my brand launch party will look like, and even the very cool space where I want to have it. I see the appetizers and people sipping on drinks and video and photos from my shoot enlarged, projected on the walls as loud music pulsates through the room. Family and friends are there, I’m being interviewed by bloggers and local media. People are buying my products.

I dream about visiting a new city and seeing strangers wearing one of my shirts, stopping them to take a photograph to put on my website and being blown away.

Plan. 

I enlisted help. I am enrolled in a program geared towards grooming female entrepreneurs and the classes are intense. But it’s totally worth it. They also offer other networking functions where you get to meet other women business owners and exchange ideas and find mentors. It’s a supportive environment where I can actually see my project off the ground in a realistic way, acknowledging my own shortcomings and where I have to grow or put in more work. They have me crunching numbers, doing research, market research, establishing my target customer, figuring out who my competition is, etc. Refining my idea, going back to smaller goals and attacking those one-by-one.

Execute.

I’m executing my plan by being enrolled in the course. By working on designs and making samples, wearing my samples and getting feedback. Working on the concepts for the blog, t.v. show, securing my models and a photographer and planning my photo shoot for the summer. I write down any and every idea and I’m constantly looking for inspiration. I study people/brands who are doing things similar to what I’m trying to do at the smaller levels and I’m studying companies doing it on a much larger scale, seeing where I can grow.

I saw the best quote ever last week. This one business owner said, that you should love the business you have started and should be working harder than your friends with the so-called “real jobs.”

So in addition to my real job, I have to put in the time on my business. My day doesn’t end when I leave my real job. I should still be working on ideas and making decisions and plans and studying.

Celebrate.

When my samples show up, I celebrate. When the photo shoot happens, me my models and photographer will celebrate. When I launch the site and make my first sales, I will celebrate. When I actually turn a profit, I will really celebrate. I enjoy seeing my ideas come to life and it makes me feel I am one step closer to the entire dream happening. As a journalist, seeing my byline in print never got old. Mini celebrations all around. If you don’t celebrate accomplishments great and small, you are going to put a lot of pressure on yourself and the distance between you and the bigger picture is going to seem a whole lot farther away.

Elevate.

After you celebrate, it’s immediately time to look over what you did and figure out how to improve upon it. Can I make this better? Is there something I see now that I didn’t see before? How can I save myself time and energy and money the next time around? Who else can I ask for help who knows a particular area very well?

Repeat.

Go back to the dream state. I always go back to dreaming about that launch party, dreaming about the photo shoot and dreaming about how the web site will look. I dream about eventually being able to use the philanthropic arm of my company to visit young women in middle and high schools and talk about dreams, their talents and about the planning and execution of their dreams. I dream about giving stand-out girls and women scholarships and internship opportunities, and jobs to support themselves and their families.

When I imagine myself as a kick-ass business woman, I envision myself giving a presentation like this someday, just for the hell of it. Love this scene from Charlie’s Angels.

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