Posts Tagged ‘creativity coaching’
Making all the Time You Need and Then Some: A Review of Marney Makridakis’s Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life
Posted September 4, 2012on:
At every creativity workshop I have ever taught, I always get the question: How do I find time to do more of what I love? The metaphors about time that I encounter working with clients often include the language of battle, scarcity, worry, challenge and management. I think that’s true for most of us. Think about it. When’s the last time you heard someone say, “I’ve got all the time I need for x?” or, “I’m not crazy busy anymore. Time feels like molasses.” or, “Time–my little bundle of joy!” The fact that people struggle with time is not news. What is news is that author Marney Makridakis in her pioneering book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life shows us that it is possible and even fun to learn how to shift, visualize, command, tickle, seduce, and measure time in completely new and revolutionary ways.
I am head-over-heels in love with this book and declare Marney, a genius. Marney is a well-known artist, entrepreneur, coach and founder of ArtellaLand.com, the ground-breaking online community for artists, writers, and creative individuals. She also promotes the ARTbundance philosophy, an innovative approach to self-improvement through creativity.
Her deep wisdom as a successful coach, artist and student of time is evident in this book. Creating Time is beautifully written, edited and incorporates insights and original art from a variety of folk, including professional artists but also many people from Marnie’s creative community. You’ll find how to ‘stretch and shrink’ time from creative guru Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (aka SARK), view original artwork by entrepreneur Leonie Dawson and artist Brian Andreas.
Marney taps into the mundane and magical aspects of our psychological (nonlinear) and temporal (linear) experience of time. She advocates that we need an expansive view of time and that time is a “valuable resource far more infinite than we tend to think it is.” Her constant reminder to us is how to become better aware of the states in which we perceive time, so we’re less aware of the limiting factors of time “but more aware of the present moment.” She helps us discover “more tools to support this blissful state.”
In the first section, you begin by exploring your relationship to both linear and nonlinear forms of time. Once you’ve done some excavation work assessing your needs and desires that are time related, the next section introduces and helps you tap into unique methods for creating time through creativity. You go deep in these chapters as Marney presents a specific concept and interweaves anecdotes, personal stories, literary and pop culture references, and scientific theory (everyone gets a refresher course on the theory of relativity!). After reading chapters in this section that include, ‘Creating Time Though Stillness’, ‘Creating Time Through Metaphor’, and ‘Creating Time through Synchronicity’, you will not doubt that we can indeed create time outside of our usual and often narrow frame and “welcome a new way to experience time.” Each chapter concludes with an engaging ARTsignment, an art project that is designed to activate and expand self-awareness and transformation. You don’t have to possess any particular set of artistic skills to dive right in get started. In this book you learn by doing and will be inspired to try your hand at the ARTsignments as you see many examples of others’ interpretations.
The third section integrates all of the time concepts you’ve learned over the course of the book and offers diagnostic tips about what techniques might be best to apply right away. She provides a list of quotes that form a nice short hand for charting one’s self talk (i.e. like “I’m always worried about the past or the future, and I find it hard it hard to live in the moment.” or “I don’t have a realistic sense of time. I’m always procrastinating and am never sure of how long things take.”), and what techniques to try right away.
Creating Time stands alone as a book that seamlessly and deliciously combines creativity with science and offers adventure after adventure to completely expand our sense of time. If your relationship with time is tired, played out, frustrating, confusing and one that always seems to be defined by scarcity and lack, order this book today. It’s definitely time for a change!
Posted July 22, 2012on:
Although for the past ten years I’ve lived less than an hour away from the well-known Rhine Center, in Durham, last week was the first time that I had a chance to attend one of their programs. The Rhine Center has a long history in research on parapsychology and human consciousness and is composed of a research center and an education center. The Rhine Education Center “provides professional education in parapsychology and public events at the Rhine explore psychic abilities, experiences, techniques, and the culture of ESP throughout the world” (Rhine Center website). On Friday, July 13, they were featuring a science fiction writer that I didn’t know—Arlan Andrews and his talk ‘Science Fiction and the Future of the Paranormal’ caught my eye. The novel I am writing examines the effects of uncontrolled ‘psi’ outbreaks, so I thought Andrews’s talk created a good reason to make the trip.
Dr. Andrews is an engineer, science fiction writer, and author of hundreds of articles, stories and columns on the paranormal, science fiction, futurism, ancient civilizations, future technology and politics.
His began by discussing how he got interested in science fiction, and his experiences investigating paranormal activity with his wife (a noted psychic). His talk was chock-full of intriguing concepts, great stories and photos of him, Ray Bradbury and other science fiction writers at conferences during the 1980s and 1990s. But, what I found the most fascinating was how he founded SIGMA, a think tank of professional science fiction, fantasy and game writers who provide pro bono futurist talks to the U.S. government (and paid consulting for corporations). He developed this think tank after working as a Fellow in the White House Science Office in 1992-1993. Given science fiction’s enormous role in shaping and imagining technology and the future, he wanted to bring the expertise of the science fiction community to inform challenging public policy issues. He started SIGMA, in 1993, with a modest group of nine PhDs (he stressed that in the beginning, he had to have people with doctorates to get over the ‘giggle factor’ by Washington officials), and has grown it to 40 plus members.
What? A group of distinguished science fiction writers (many of whom are scientists and engineers) giving talks to U.S. government officials and world leaders on how to stretch their thinking to solve global dilemmas and imagine a better future? Sign me up!! How do I join? How do I get invited? Well, I’ve probably got a bit more publishing to do before I get invited (and hmm maybe a doctorate in a science field wouldn’t hurt either)…but hey, I’ll put getting invited to SIGMA on my bucket list!
SIGMA has spoken to the U.S. government, over the years, on national security issues, evolutionary technologies and futurism. He showed us pictures from some of these meetings on ‘science fictional thinking’ in which they stress the importance of imaginative and associative thinking, and turning problems upside down in order to generate innovative ideas. My creativity coach’s heart pumped three times harder as I learned about SIGMA (and was surprised that I’d never heard of them before). The talent of the SIGMA group is extraordinary and includes many writers you know: Elizabeth Moon, Nancy Cress, Greg Bear, Dr. Yoji Kondo, Michael Swanwick, S.M. Sterling, and Dr. Larry Niven to name a few.
Earlier this year, as invited guests, SIGMA presented a panel on “Disruptive Technologies” at the Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This panel generated great buzz. The conversation inspired computer engineer Yasser Bahjatt to create a TEDx talk about how Arab science fiction could dream a better future and he’s created an open platform to support artistic expression and a new culture of science fiction writing. Check out the inspiring video and his vision.
Arlan Andrews didn’t look tired after giving a rousing two-hour talk. I’m glad that I went (thanks to my partner, Tim for finding out about this event and buying tickets!) and learned so much. I’m sure that my future will include more visits to the Rhine Center. I talked with Dr. Andrews about a possible interview exploring his ideas about creativity. I’m expecting that will be a blast, too!
The close of a decade offers a time for reflection and taking stock of what has nurtured us, especially in our creative lives. Ten years ago, I had yet to become a creativity coach. I was a few years out of graduate school and adjusting to the relentless demands of professorial life. I was secretly working on a novel while researching my academic books that I needed to write. I have made several intentional and transformative leaps this decade in claiming a life as a coach, writer, and academic. The books below have been traveling companions and witnesses to those changes. They are books that I return to often and encourage my clients and workshop participants to read. As a whole they offer a fountain of ideas, techniques and incentives for accessing and maintaining creative states. Well-written and highly engaging, they provide ladders up from the ditches of self-loathing that creative people sometimes fall into, insights on how to quell doubts about one’s ability to create(at least long enough to get the next thing done), and sport new roadmaps in how we might shape a creative life for ourselves, if we dare.
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet, Matthew Fox: This is a jubilant philosophical discussion about the role of creativity in serving human evolution. Fox, a radical theologian argues for the necessity of creativity for the continued survival of the species. Fox makes a case for the spirituality of creativity, a commitment and practice that renews us and the culture as it fosters social justice, compassion and transformation.
Making Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day?: SARK: How does one achieve a creative dream that feels impossible? SARK answers this question through her helping people tackle internal barriers (e.g. critics) and external realities (i.e. lack of time or money). I probably recommend this book more often than the others on this list. SARK has a gift for helping people overcome obstacles to creating. MYCR offers readers practical guidance about the stages of dream development (i.e. egg, hatched, infant or baby, toddler, child, adolescent, adult). Once you figure what stage your dream is in then you can find exercises to figure out what your dream needs in order to sustain itself. Bursting with color and confidence, this book is meant to awaken the dreamer (and doer) inside of us.
Coaching the Artist Within: Advices for Writers, Actors, Visual Artists & Musicians from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach, Eric Maisel: I’m convinced that by writing this superb book, Maisel wants to put himself and other creativity coaches out of business. He reveals useful techniques that teach us how to be aware of the habits of mind that we use not to create as well as to create. Maisel draws on vignettes from a diversity of clients to amplify the lessons presented. You learn how to be your own coach in a mindful and kind way.
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life, A Practical Guide, Twyla Tharp: This understated but powerful book should have gotten much more notice. Twyla Tharp, world famous choreographer, doesn’t believe that creativity is a gift from the heavens bestowed only on a chosen few. Unlike many creativity books, The Creative Habit is intellectual, incisive and doesn’t coddle. There’s no mention of affirmations or positive self-talk in this book. What’s offered up are more than thirty unique exercises for jumpstarting one’s imaginative musings.
On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself through Mindful Creativity, Ellen J. Langer: I love books that blend neuroscience, mindfulness and creativity because they give us a new window for understanding how to break longstanding habits of mind. Langer presents psychological research that demonstrates how people typically undervalue their perceptions of themselves and the world around them–mindlessly. Mindless living affects our creative lives negatively. Mindlessness when creating might show up as tyrannical self criticism and evaluation, overreliance on social comparisons, and lack of interest in ambiguity. She argues for a mindful approach to creative endeavors that allows us to notice how our choices can arise from the context of our present moment(as opposed to following a mindless automatic script).
The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius, Nancy Andreasen. This book helps us understand how the brain exercises everyday creative acts (i.e. the ability to have a conversation) and what possibly contributes to off the chart creativity (e.g. the lives of Martha Graham, Thomas Edison, Toni Morrison etc). Andreasean’s writing makes neuroscience accessible for a lay audience.
The Twelve Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor, Gail McMeekin: If an author puts the word secret in a title, it immediately makes me want to read it. This book doesn’t disappoint as it delivers up the life histories of women who have found ways to nurture and sustain their creativity. This book’s emphasis on finding role models, mentors and allies drives home the point that we need support to accomplish our creative dreams.
An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, Diane Ackerman: Although not a book solely about creativity, Ackerman’s chapter on creativity, “Creating Minds”, is worth several other fluffy books on the subject. She writes with a poet’s sensibility and a journalist’s precision about our amazing gray matter.
Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, Elizabeth Gilbert: I have taught this book in my undergraduate course ‘Women and Creativity’ for the past few years. I schedule the book to be read during a section of the class I call ‘creativity as life process’ which focuses on creativity as life-making. This book offers many lessons about the power of creative problem-solving, the importance of curiosity and exploration and using the self as a resource for understanding life. Gilbert produces a product—which is the memoir, but it is how she makes a life that is real magic.
The Creativity Book: A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance, Eric Maisel: This is a go-to resource when you’re out of ideas and bored with your current project. It presents a doable, one year plan for waking up your creative muses.