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Over this past Labor Day weekend, I found myself reading excerpts from distinguished professor of psychology and management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996).

He writes:

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people. In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.

They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Paradoxical or not, what I have learned most is that there is no formula for individual creation. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.” So, more than anything else, what it takes to be creative is resourcefulness and the courage not to give up.

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“Quantum physics tells us that nothing that is observed is unaffected by the observer. That statement, from science, holds an enormous and powerful insight. It means that everyone sees a different truths, because everyone is creating what they see.” ~Neale Donald Walsch

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"Shells"

“Shells” by Lina Way

“Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over this sketch of a story about a man afflicted by one of those personal tragedies born of extreme shyness who one day, while wearing a mask I don’t know where, told another mask all the most personal, most secret, most unthinkable things that could be told about his tragic and serene life. And since no outward detail would give him away, he having disguised even his voice, and since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensation of knowing that somewhere in the world there was someone who knew him as not even his closest and finest friend did. When he walked down the street he would ask himself if this person, or that one, or that person over there might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be born in him a new interest in each person, since each person might be his only, unknown confidant.”
― Fernando Pessoa

interestingly so, it is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese, had three alter egos who wrote in styles completely different from his own. In fact Pessoa wrote under dozens of names, but Alberto Caeiro,Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos were – their creator claimed – full-fledged individuals who wrote things that he himself would never or could never write. He dubbed them ‘heteronyms’ rather than pseudonyms, since they were not false names but “other names”, belonging to distinct literary personalities. Not only were their styles different; they thought differently, they had different religious and political views, different aesthetic sensibilities, different social temperaments. And each produced a large body of poetry. Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis also signed dozens of pages of prose. Who is better that Fernando Pessoa can understand the concept of “wearing a mask”…

We are all to a certain degree, if we are willing to admit to it or not, are wearing masks, hiding in our “shells”, afraid to show our true selves. Is it the society pressuring us to oblige and fit in, our our own minds what to be accepted?.. Yes, many try to “stand up” to majority of the society by being accepted in minority part of the society, which is still trying to be accepted in this or that “popular” club…

Why can’t we be just ourselves? isn’t that the ultimate freedom to be YOU, not to try pleasing coworkers, friends, family, loved ones (especially loved ones, they love to abuse their right they have in our hearts 🙂 ) why can’t we say that this we love, and this we hate and be perceived by our circle as just truthful person, not a “crazy nut”?!.. Why can’t we all as human society accept that each and every person has its own free will and just be ourselves, not hide behind “masks” and “shells”…?…

"Blue Love" Oil on canvas, framed

“Blue Love”
Oil on canvas, framed

“But dear, don’t be afraid of love, it’s only magic.”

“Lights”
Original Oil Painting on burlap canvas
“There simply is no pill that can replace human connection. There is no pharmacy that can fill the need for compassionate interaction with others. There is no panacea. The answer to human suffering is both within us and between us” – Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-Abstract-Oil-Painting-on-burlap-canvas-lights-by-artist-Lina-Way-/151644214904?ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT

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carrot egg and coffee
A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?”
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.
“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?
Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

Sade

I am waiting to get my car serviced and i am listening to Sade songs, and i must confess: I am obsessed with Sade.

I’m also a huge fan of her music…and I believe in love.

To get a glimpse into the many faces of love, we can look to Sade’s music, specifically to some of her deeply moving lyrics. There’s a resonance that is quintessentially Sade; she’s deep, sincere and soulful.

Over the years, I’ve gleaned many nuggets of truth about life and love through Sade’s music. These are a few things I’ve learned about love from my most favorite lines in her songs.

“I want to cook you a soup that warms your soul.” ~ King of Sorrow

Love is nourishing. Deep down, we all want a love that touches the very depth of our soul. We also yearn to give a part of us that will touch the hearts of our partner/lover/friend. To nourish is to share a part of ourselves with our beloved in a way that says, “Let my love feed your soul.”

“When you’re on the outside baby and you can’t get in, I will show you you’re so much better than you know. And when you’re lost, and you’re alone, and you can’t get back again, I will find you, darling and I’ll bring you home.” ~ By Your Side

Love is a guiding light. When we forget who we are, love is the gentle reminder that we are bigger than our troubles. It’s the light that leads us back to the deeper truth within.

“If someone has to lose, I don’t want to play.” ~ Somebody Already Broke My Heart

Love is fair. In the game of love, many of us play not to lose instead of playing to win. No one has to lose if both parties are clear on what they desire to experience in the relationship. Love can be win/win. Honesty, clarity is important, than you do not hurt other, and yourself will not get hurt. Lets not make love a game… it is not fair to play with feelings…

“I suppose I could just walk away. Will I disappoint my future if I stay?” ~ King of Sorrow

Love is an active choice. We often overlook the present and future cost of staying in a relationship that has run its course. We can choose to love our future selves by honoring where we are now. Not making a choice is still making a choice, so choosing to move your life forward requires a commitment to making powerful decisions for yourself and your life.

“If I tell you how I feel, will you keep bringing out the best in me?” ~The Sweetest Taboo

Love is vulnerable. Being vulnerable is like dancing naked in the rain. For a relationship to flourish we must be willing to tell the truth about our shortcomings and our mistakes; those things that make us human. It’s about being able to take ownership for those things we don’t necessarily like about ourselves. Being transparent cultivates trust and openness, which creates a deeper and more meaningful relationship. If we holding back, and not allowing another in our soul, it will destroy love in another and will lead nowhere. It is the hardest choice to be vulnerable in relationship, but that is love when you hope that person will love you enough not to break you.

“We have seen some suffering baby. It has not always been perfect. Darling we know it, whatever may come, we can get through it, as if it’s just begun.” ~ All About Our Love

Love is supportive. Just as the seasons pass, there will be peaks and valleys in all of our relationships. Loved ones will get sick, some will pass on, the economy will change and so will our life circumstances. Being supportive is more than just lending an ear; it’s opening ourselves up in all of our capacities whether it be financial, emotional or spiritual support. It’s extending ourselves in a way that cultivates well-being and healing.

“You forgive those who have trespassed against you. You know tenderness comes from pain.” ~ It’s Only Love That Gets You Through

Love is healing. Forgiveness is the catalyst to healing our pain. Holding on to grudges or past hurts allows wounds to stay open, and forgiveness can end the emotional suffering we put ourselves through. Forgiveness is that pathway to peace of mind and peace of heart.

“In my heart, your love has found the safest hiding place…. Your love’s in a sacred place.” ~ The Safest Place

Love is a sanctuary. When we feel battered and broken, we can find comfort and healing in the presence of a dear friend or our beloved. We can hold the space for our loved ones to get through difficult times. When we do this, we deepen our love and compassion for one another.

“Call on me baby, if there’s anything I can do for you. Please call on me baby, help me to see you through.” ~ Still In Love With You (Thin Lizzy Cover)

Love is complete. When a relationship ends, it doesn’t have to end with both parties feeling depleted or diminished in any way. We can speak to the deeper truth of our humanity and end things peacefully. We can speak our truth(s) and stay true to our higher selves; completing the relationship in integrity.

“Your kisses ring—round and round and round my head, touching the very part of me—it’s making my soul sing.” ~ Your Love Is King

Love is freeing. As ever expanding beings, we all have a deep desire to be fully self expressed, whether we’re in love or not. When we’re free, we free up those around us. When we have souls singing together, it invites us to dance with life…and who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

What’s your favorite Sade song and what does it mean to you?