Today is the 19th anniversary of the terrible events of September 11, 2001. On that day, like many Americans, I watched the events unfold on television. I was at my parents’ condo in Naples, Florida. The television was turned on because my father, a World War II vet, kept it turned continually, even when no one was watching.
I happened to pass by the TV set and caught sight of the twin towers under attack. I callied to my parents. “Come look at this! Something is happening!” They rushed to my side. We watched, stunned. We pledged to never forget.
My parents have passed away since then. They never forgot. Nor have I, nor have the millions of other Americans who like me, can only imagine the way it felt firsthand. We have not forgotten the tragedy and the bravery of those who experienced the reality of that fateful day.
When Jack Kerouac wrote his classic novel, ON THE ROAD, mid-20th century Americans were a restless lot They were on the move, eager for new adventures. Travel by automobile had become a national obsession.
Today, on Labor Day weekend, 2020, Americans still love to explore by car, truck, and now, even SUV. Our continent is so beautiful. What could be more appealing than a getaway outdoors?
This year, enjoying the outdoors seems particularly appropriate. Indoor activities are restricted due to the pandemic. Many Americans have been stuck at home for months. But what if you don’t have access to a car?
To refresh your spirit in nature, you may not need wheels. A local park, a nearby beach–such outdoor venues close to home can allow you to enjoy a mental vacation. So why not give yourself a break from anxiety?
Relaxing in nature may stimulate your creativity, too. It does mine. Over time, I have developed approaches that work for me.
Three creativity-building exercises to try while outdoors:
Use your imagination. When you gaze across a landscape or seascape, imagine how the same scene would appear at different times of year or times of day. When you see a friendly dog, imagine how it would have looked as a puppy. When you taste a delicious dish, imagine how the cook came up with the recipe.
Notice the connections between things. Observe closely, with the soul of an artist. Do the veins in a leaf resemble the wooden skeleton of a tree? Do the ripples on the pond resemble waves caused by wind through a field? What does a bird’s trill have in common with the music you enjoy? Do the scents of certain flowers impact your emotions?
Feel a sense of wonder. Allow yourself to step into the zone of higher consciousness. Marvel at the intricacies of a spider’s web. Feel awe when an eagle soars beyond its mountain home. Experience the thrill of the vastness of the night sky, Realize how truly astounding the world is–seen and unseen–and that you are part of it,
Of course, these are just examples. Discovery awaits. The possibilities are endless.
NOW GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!! 🙂
Happy Labor Day,
Tina Murray, Ph. D.
Editor and writer / Copyright Tina Murray, Ph. D. 2020 / photo credit: Tina Murray, Ph. D.
If you are feeling the creative urge–to paint, write, act, sing or the like–but feel too timid or self-conscious to carry out your vision, I recommend that you listen to Ethan Hawke’s TED talk, “Give Yourself Permission to be Creative.” Hawke’s suggestions may free you from your artistic inhibitions, Certainly, he is a qualified practitioner when it comes to being creative.
Most celebrities are known for one special talent or skill . Ethan Hawke, however, is a celebrity who is famous for achievements in more than one arena. Best known as a Hollywood actor and director, the handsome Hawke has made many films since appearing as a prep-school student in Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams. The man is known, also, for his literary accomplishments
Hawke has written novels and had them published. In fact, I once owned an Ethan Hawke first edition. Sad to say, I had to sacrifice it on a bookseller’s altar a few years ago, when (my own) times became hard. I had hoped to have Hawke sign the book one day. When I first became a published author, I began to collect signed books from other authors, some of whom I encountered at book signings. However, that is another story for another blog post.
If you would like to view and listen to Hawke’s TED talk, please use the following links and search for ‘Ethan Hawke.’
Before the pandemic, I drove to the Atlanta area. In Alpharetta, Georgia, which is part of Metro Atlanta, I attended a writers’ workshop at the public library. At the library, I saw the sculpture pictured here–a lion emerging from the pages of a book–and I photographed it. It captures an idea I had expressed when I wrote the following performance piece, “Your Words.” The piece is a “poem,” of sorts. I have posted it below:
Words are powerful
Your words are powerful–because they create and shape
What you say matters.
It matters to you.
And it matters to people around you, the ones who inhabit your experience.
Thoughts you create are emitted, as words, from the factory of your mind.
They filter through your mouth, your pen, your device
Into the Manifest.
What are you releasing into the world?
Smoke and ash? Are your words like smoldering trash?
Or do you speak fragrance and flow? Like honey and gardenias and gentle flakes of snow?
What you release is what you increase.
Look around you.
Where are you in life?
Are you covered with soot? Buried beneath a heap of cold, gray rubble-trouble?
Or are you dancing a top a golden sea-swell of glittering angel dust?
If you don’t like where you are, change your words.
Call your Highest and best into being.
You create your own environment, within and without.
What comes out spells what you’re all about.
“Your Words” by Tina Murray / copyright Tina Murray, Ph. D. 2014. First performed (read aloud) by the author at the Co-Creators Coffeehouse Open Mic, Center for Spiritual Living, Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday, 04/04/2014. Photo credit: Tina Murray, Ph. D.
The creative process can flourish best when opportunity presents itself. One hundred years ago today, women in the United States of America received a tremendous new opportunity: the right to vote in US elections. This hard-won freedom meant women would have a vital role in forming the future of the nation. It meant, also, that women could make new choices in their own lives.
My mother, Zena, was born into the first generation of women who experienced empowerment. In her own way, she was a pioneer. The story goes that, after attending business college, she was the first female “draftsman” hired by the Alabama Power Company. I have posted a photograph of her at her job. A beautiful young woman, she is seated at her drawing table, hard at work.
Mother has passed on now. She left us fifteen years ago. I miss her more than I can say. I am pleased, however, to share her accomplishment with you on my blog.
She was not a celebrity, but some of the people who gave women the right to vote were celebrated in their own time. They, and the lesser knowns, deserve our thanks. Thanks to those now-deceased elected officials who made the change possible. They were creative thinkers, as were the tireless suffragettes.
A special thanks to President Trump for pardoning Susan B. Anthony today.
In this time of reflection, when you are often on your own, a little courage can go a long way. In the spirit of optimism, I have posted a poem I wrote three years ago. At that time, I was enduring a loss of vision, in more ways than one. Since then, I have regained both my eyesight and my wheels, but I am once again stuck in place because of the pandemic. You may be stuck, too, and worried. Faith will see you through. I hope my poem will help you travel to a lovelier place in higher consciousness. You may find your creativity there, too.
To mask or not to mask? That, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is the Covid-19 question. Some people want to wear masks. Some do not. Of those who do wear masks, many opt for a simple face covering. However, some people are rising to the occasion by creating unique and artistic face masks, which also aspire to a protective function. These creatives are allowing adversity to inspire their efforts. One such artist comes to mind because she made a mask for me.
When the Covid-19 pandemic first occurred, I had never worn a face mask in public. I did not even know where to purchase a mask. When I told a friend of mine, Elva Bertram, that I did not have a mask, she graciously offered to have one made and shipped to me.
At Elva’s request, her friend, KATE BECK, a talented textile artist and fashion designer from New Orleans (https://www.katebeckneworleans.com; https://www.alquimiestudio.com), made me a lovely cloth mask. (My favorite color is blue.) Kate sent it to me, and I was delighted to receive it. I am grateful to both Elva and Kate for their thoughtfulness. I have posted a photo of my own Kate Beck mask. You can find her work on Facebook, also, at Kate Beck New Orleans.
I am not surprised that the call for masks worldwide has inspired the artistic imagination. As a former art educator, I know mask-making is an activity that students enjoy in the classroom. It helps them to express themselves in unique ways. It helps them learn art history, too.
Different cultures, down through time, have used masks for religious, ceremonial, and healing purposes. Today our use of masks to ward off illness might easily conjure beliefs shared by shamans of old. Although our modern masks are mainly inspired fashion and lifestyle statements, their spiritual connections run deep.
Inspiration comes when it comes and how it comes. Its origins are mysterious, but it can be triggered. In his REPUBLIC, Plato suggested the idea that necessity is “…the mother of invention.” To my mind, “invention” is just another word for “creativity.”
During the first few months or 2020, masks have become a part of daily life in America, if only temporarily. Approve of them or not, they can be fun and profitable for artists to imagine and create. When worn, they become forms of self-expression.
Still in lockdown? Need to exercise your creative muscles? If you are going batty from inactivity or feel as if you are suffering from artistic atrophy, I would like to offer a suggestion. You should join author Jaden Terrell’s Facebook group for writers, “The Spirt of Ink.” (https://www.facebook.com/spiritofink)
“The Spirit of Ink” is a public group. Any member of Facebook is welcome to join. By participating in the individual and group activities online, you will give your Inner Writer a good workout.
For example, you may respond to writing prompts. You may try your hand at writing stories and poems. You may listen to online talks and interactive teaching sessions, along with other members. What’s more, you may pick up helpful hints about the writing biz. Even if you have never written a word in your life—but have wanted to—you can experiment with writing and learn from a master.
Jaden Terrell (https://www.jadenterrell.com) is the pen name of my dynamic friend, Beth Terrell. Beth is a highly accomplished, award-winning author, editor, and educator. In other words, she knows her way around, when it comes to crafting fun and interesting activities for bored or blocked writers.
She has worked with other significant groups, as well, including The Mystery Writers of America and Killer Nashville. (https//killernashville.org).
Even if you decide you don’t want to be a writer, be sure to check out her books on her website. You will find some exciting mysteries there. Remember, reading is just the other side of writing. Reading a good mystery story can keep you as occupied as writing one! Either way, you will be exercising your imagination while staying safely at home.
The Covid-19 quarantine is upon us. Here in the USA, the lockdown is in its fifth month. Many people–not sick but forced to stay home–are looking for new ways to explore and express their creativity. Some just need a way to release their feelings. Writers, particularly, have enough free time to write, some for the first time in their lives. While I have great sympathy for people affected by the illness, I have been able to use the down time creatively.
I am pleased that I, at last, was able to attend a monthly meeting of the Music City Romance Writers. MCRW is a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America, the national organization to which I belong. Everyone was so welcoming!
I picked the perfect day to attend. The guest speaker was publishing pro Ami McConnell (www.amimcconnell.com). She knows everything about editing and publishing. I learned a lot. 🙂
Ami’s current project is a writers’ conference, Writer Fest Nashville (writerfestnashville.com). The conference includes track for authors, songwriters, and screenwriters. If you are a writer, whether aspiring or published, you owe it to yourself to check out this exciting, new conference.
I am a writer. I write novels. My name is Tina Murray.