One of the biggest reasons I started my LCP was to get back to being a creative learner. I’ve taken courses on learning and being creative, and over the last three years I’ve learned to think of myself as a creative person again.
When I went to meet with my creativity mentor a year or so ago, this was the saying she had on her wall (a quote from Annie Dillard). It resonated with me, and I just started hooking rugs, so I thought I’d preserve the quote in yarn:
Today I met with one of my mentors and we discussed how as humans we are creatures of habit who will stay with what we know even if it isn’t ideal, rather than embark on change. My mentor discussed a creative course she’d taken and said that it helped her “remember what it’s like to set aside time to be lured into the unexpected”.
This made me stop and think that this has been what my LCP journey has been about. I haven’t learned to create a masterpiece or become a symphony musician, but I have learned to remember the joy of having the safe space in which I can learn.
My mentor also discussed the need for us, once we’ve made a choice, to act as if it is the right direction, to observe it as we live with it, and if we have to, we can stop, reconsider and go back to plan B. There is time.
In an recent Harvard Business Review column,
Srini Pillay discusses how excessive focus actually exhausts our brain, and instead we need to give the brain time to let neural connections form. Our “default mode network (dmn)” at rest uses 20% of our body’s energy, compared to 5% that effort requires. So, we actually do a lot of work when we are doing nothing!
Some things which the author suggests can help us be more creative and productive by helping us toggle between focus and unfocus are:
- Take a 10-minute nap.
- Pretend to be someone else (psychological halloweenism). He refers to a study: “In 2016, educational psychologists, Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar found that people who try to solve creative problems are more successful if they behave like an eccentric poet than a rigid librarian.” — I must try to not be a rigid librarian 🙂
- Use positive, constructive daydreaming.
My creativity mentor recommended a 40-day writing course to me, and I am in day 35! It’s been a fascinating journey to unravel and recreate myself as a writer, and it has revealed something in me that I didn’t expect. So, here I go, a Shakespearean sonnet about the place I love the most:
Chéverie, My Love
What mys’try do you hide within your walls
What story will you tell when layers lift
What ghosts will beckon when my spirit calls
What words upon my page be cast adrift?
The ocean breezes come and go at will
New tides each day cast stories at my feet
The eagle sits upon a branch, so still
Within the space where tide and time do meet
You’ve seen them come and go, so many loves
Fair-footed, feathered, differently attired
Birds of the air, fleet foxes, sweet young wives
You’ve witnessed through the years and much admired
And ‘neath the faded paper of your world
The story of your life to me unfurls.
I did it. I completed my first American Sign Language course. This may have been one of the biggest and most enjoyable challenges of my life. The class was mixed in ages, and my brain definitely did not work as well as those of the younger students in the class, so I had to work harder. That was a new experience for me. I’m used to being one of the first in the class to “get it” and this was humbling.
It was fascinating to be in a class with a deaf instructor. In order to communicate with her, I had no choice but to learn the language; it wasn’t like my French class where I could ask the instructor things in English if I didn’t have the French words. I appreciated the peace in the classroom (no one talked aloud) and I now think that all students should learn some basic sign language in elementary school. Otherwise, for those whose only language is ASL, the world is very closed, and for the rest of us we miss the opportunity to communicate with these people.
Of all the diversity training I’ve taken over the years, I think this course demonstrated to me best of all why our world is a better place when we have diverse workplaces, when many voices are able to be represented in our social structures.
And I got a pretty good grade:
My creativity mentor, Kathleen, sent me some information about a 40-day writing program, https://www.reneehartleib.ca/40-day-writing-project
I’ve been following James Clear, who was also recommended to me by Kathleen, and a recent email I received discusses continuous improvement. In this post, Clear says:
“If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”
Small steps. I just convinced myself to sign up for the 40 day writing project, starting in June!
Last week, I completed the introductory level conversation course at Université Sainte-Anne, so I have now finished all introductory levels of their program! I think of how intimidated I was the first time I walked into the building to register for a French course, of how I felt initial success and then encountered challenges, and of how I am now at a stage where I feel confident enough to try.
I am also in my fourth week of learning ASL through the Continuing Education programming at NSCC. This has been a unique experience which challenges me, but because (through learning French) I have some confidence that even at my age I can learning a second language, I am enjoying the course.
Here’s the confirmation for this course: