The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Zora Neale Hurston

Dear Alice,

Happy Birthday!alice_walker2002-headshot-bw-med

I like many other writers, readers, scholars and folk are sending you the biggest of birthday wishes and affection. Here are ten things that I want to thank you for:

  1. For your beautiful smile. By the time I was a sophomore in college I had discovered your body of  work and read everything I could find. In my desire to develop as a writer and having so few models that looked like me, I nurtured secret fantasies of being your daughter–because I thought we had similar smiles. I know that sounds strange. Don’t misunderstand–I loved my mother and her face. But, she possessed high cheekbones, ones that I would never have. Seeing your smile with full cheeks made me appreciate my own wide smile and made it easier to imagine myself as a writer. Also, an essence of kindness radiates from your smile that draws people in that I admire. Now, more than twenty years later, I am a writer and have nurtured my creative self, so had shed that fantasy of being your daughter. But, I still love your smile!
  2. For writing The Temple of My Familiar. Epic, metaphysical, culturally rooted and romantic! I still remember a snippet of a line that Fanny says to her husband as she is trying to encourage both of them to spiritually evolve-“I love your breath most because it is the least colonized part of you” (paraphrase)
  3. For writing about African American women’s creativity and exploding conventional notions about what creativity is ‘good for’ in the landmark essay ‘In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens’. I have written elsewhere about the power of that essay in my life. I am still amazed that in many popular creativity books, authors still fail to acknowledge the genius of African American women (and other women of color) and reduce creativity solely to production.
  4. For naming womanism.
  5. For your novel Meridian. I just finished teaching this amazing novel to students in my ‘Women of Color in Contemporary U.S. Social Movements’ class. It provides a powerful connection to the struggles of black and white women during the Civil Rights movement. It also beautifully explores the psychological and health challenges of being an activist.
  6. For writing about role of meditation and Buddhism in your life and the value of contemplative practices for the future of humanity.
  7. For resurrecting the work of Zora Neale Hurston.
  8. For The Color Purple. Singular and visionary.
  9. For Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems.
  10. For your short story collections: In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women and You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down. These collections tackled topics that ranged from abortion, pornography, black love, internalized hatred, love, lust, fame, and valuing one’s roots.

I’ve stopped myself at 10, but I could easily keep going. Thank you for all that you have written and shared.

Advertisements

The Chapel Hill News ‘My View’ column below kicks off my new blog series called ‘Jump-start Your June: Reigniting Your Vision Mid-Year’. June provides a great time for us to review the goals, commitments and visions we made at the beginning of the year. Do we even remember the commitments we made in January? Do our goals still take our breath away? Have we already accomplished some of them?

I’ll provide some tips about how to reconnect with meaningful goals. I’ve also asked several amazing thought leaders to write guest posts about how to ‘jump-start your June’ in a variety of areas including health, creativity, and finances.

I’d love to know: What aspect of your life could use a jump-start this June?

 

June’s a good time to check in on goals

In June most people want to talk about graduations, Father’s Day, and the start of summer. I’m, however, inclined to ask them, “How is the vision that you set in January coming along? Do the goals you affirmed still speak to you six months later? What intentions for your year have fallen by the wayside? Is that vision board or treasure map, representing your dreams, collecting dust in a corner?”

I wish we could label June as “Jump-start Your Vision” Month. Why? Because midyear we naturally turn toward an assessment of how the year has been going for us. Coaches often get a lot of work in June, most of it involving supporting people in creating forward momentum for pursuing a vision and tweaking their goals.

For many, the energy, commitment and intention to pursue a big vision can fizzle out by February. The fitness industry often labels people who sign up for a membership at the beginning of the year, “January Joiners.” Historically, by the second week of February, most of the newcomers won’t be seen again until late May (scared by the approach of summer).

Some people get discouraged if they’ve tried something for 30, 40 or even 90 days and haven’t seen results. We’ve all heard this mantra before – if you want to form a new habit or quit an old one, try something for 21, 28, or 30 days. Despite what we’ve heard from advertisers, some psychologists and self-help experts, there is little scientific evidence to support the idea that effort over any specific time period will automatically produce a positive behavioral change. Now, isn’t that liberating? Sometimes we can make rapid change in a short amount of time and sometimes we have to redouble our effort and change takes longer.

So, I say before we declare that in any given year, we’re going to do “x” for “x” number of days or weeks, let’s check in with ourselves. If the change we’d like make is in an area of life where nothing else has seemed to work, then OK, maybe we should go for an intense 30- or 40-day challenge, but then I advocate asking for support in a public way – solicit friends to help with accountability, or work with a coach. If people want to tweak a positive habit (i.e. something they are already doing, but would like to do more of), then I recommend choosing a smaller increment (10 days as opposed to 21 days), and to enjoy the sweet spot of repetition.

I review three key areas with clients in jump-starting their vision midyear:

•  Design and desire. We look at what’s not working and why. Let’s take the example of someone who created a goal to make a green smoothie every week and then stopped. I might explore how this goal sounded excellent in the abstract, but the design wasn’t very manageable (because of time, cost of materials, and/or motivation).

I’d then discern if the underlying desire for the client is to possess better health and increased energy. If so I’d strategize to see if we can fulfill this desire by designing a more effective pathway, strategy or behavior. The elements of design and desire need to be in sync for effective goal setting.

•  Buffets and three meals a day. In looking at action steps in pursuing goals, I contrast eating at buffets versus planning three healthy meals a day. We can fall into a trap of constantly taking actions (or piling up our plates at a buffet) that don’t really serve us and dissipate our energy. For example, I work with many creative writers who spend so much time developing their platform (i.e. creating a Facebook page, posting multiple Tweets, writing on a blog, etc.) that they have less energy to deepen their craft. We need to plan a series of thoughtful actions (like our daily meals) as a staple for reaching our goals.

•  Questions and answers. Writer, anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” The great thing about a midyear vision check-in is that enough time has passed to ask deeper questions of ourselves than we could in January. Employing a sense of wonder and gratitude, we can track the insights, synchronicities, and serendipity that has shown up our lives since the beginning of the year. With our environment in full bloom, we can feel supported by physical lushness while digging a bit deeper in our internal gardens.

Column reprinted with permission. Originally published on June 15: http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2013/06/15/76706/berger-junes-a-good-time-to-check.html


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

View Full Profile →

Follow me on Twitter

Follow The Practice of Creativity on WordPress.com
Advertisements