I sat down to work this morning and browsed my iTunes library for a bit of music to accompany my work. I came across a name I had not noticed there in quite a while. A little distraction ensued, which has now led to this post. That name was Ben Solee.
I’ll let you discover the wonderful talent of Ben Solee on your own, but I want to share where this little distraction has led me today. Track number eight in Ben’s album “Learning to Bend” is called “Panning for Gold.” It’s a tender and soulful tune about God that moves me deeply, as God asks that, with all the beauty he has left us in the world, we help him remember where he’s put it. Ben can say this much better than I can, so I’m going to let him do so. Enjoy!
If there has ever been a time in history when the world’s in need of beauty, it’s now. What is the unique beauty you’re here to add to the stream of life? It could be the smile you give the shopkeeper or the song you sing on TV. Whatever corner of the world you’re in today, show me the beauty. Let your creative light shine.
This Sunday, April 21, I will share mine. Please join me for a half-hour of beauty in a free live teleconference
“Discover the Wheel of Creativity: Your Compass for Creative Living.”
This Thursday, February 21st, I’ll be waiting for you at The Nomad Chef Secret Restaurant in Central London for the UK launch of my book:
The Wheel of Creativity: Taking Your Place in the Adventure of Life
Will you be There?
This party celebrates more than the launch of my book.
It is also a celebration of all your dreams still being dreamt and all your plans waiting to be laid down. It is a celebration of what you are here on Earth to do.
The Adventure Starts Here
Come join me and a select group of creative spirits — from artists to entrepreneurs — as we share an evening of solace for body and soul. This evening offer you safe harbour from life’s creative storms, just for a little while. Come get inspired to embark on the adventure of your lifetime.
Canapés and bubbly will be provided by The Nomad Chef.
Click here to register and get directions to the secret restaurant.
Can science tell us where creativity comes from? No. Can it tell us what creativity gives us? Perhaps. Makes for an interesting conversation anyway! And a worthwhile 16-minute break with Dr. Charles Limb.
Today I’m going to try something, and I’d love to know your thoughts about it. Today I begin a creative experiment by recording a video journal a few times each week. In each journal, I will invite you into my private world, behind the photos, quotes and status updates I create on the Internet. What’s really going on for me today? What am I pulling?
How can this help you?
For many years of my life, I made my living writing and producing TV/film projects. I still appreciate the candid, in-your-face kind of filmmaking that captures the authentic moments of real life. The more eccentric the people, the more interesting they are to watch.
Well, somehow in the intense process required to write, publish and promote my book, I’ve found myself getting caught up in a lot of should’s lately. I have focused on the things I thought I had to do for people to discover my book and benefit from it. Somehow I lost touch along the way with what I most love doing. And that, as I well know, is a sure-fire way to disappear into the oblivion of my own mind.
I know I’m not alone. So my hope is that my little experiment will help you find your creative process in the midst of your day-to-day life. If we can’t sit down over coffee today, this is the next best thing.
Whatever you want to achieve this year, you’ll go through a creative process to do it. The quality of your life this year depends on how you take that process on. Join me for this sneak musical preview of what that little trip is going to look like.
P.S. It’s the ride of your life!
Now, go live this year CREATIVE!
* The Wheel of Creativity: Taking Your Place in the Adventure of Life is a book by Katherine Robertson-Pilling. Learn more here by subscribing to my monthly Creative Adventure Journal.
LYRICS: 12 Days of Creativity: A Musical Tour of The Wheel of Creativity
Station 1 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… a hunger for something more than this.
Station 2 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… an appetite for that… and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 3 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… anorexia… an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 4 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… a little boat to launch… anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 5 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… isolation… a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 6 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… crisis-a-brewing… isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 7 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… conception of a new thing… crisis-a-brewing, isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 8 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… waiting for gestation… conception of a new thing, crisis-a-brewing, isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 9 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… finally breakthrough… waiting for gestation, conception of a new thing, crisis-a-brewing, isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 10 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… a new thing to nurture… finally breakthrough, waiting for gestation, conception of a new thing, crisis-a-brewing, isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
Station 11 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… a grown plant for pruning… a new thing to nurture, finally breakthrough, waiting for gestation, conception of a new thing, crisis-a-brewing, isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this
Station 12 and the Wheel of Creativity gives you… a ripe crop to harvest… a grown plant for pruning, a new thing to nurture, finally breakthrough, waiting for gestation, conception of a new thing, crisis-a-brewing, isolation, a little boat to launch, anorexia, an appetite for that and a hunger for something more than this.
In case you EVER think your life doesn’t matter, or that the place you hold in the world is not important, or that the people around you don’t need YOU, please read on. What you create with the ingredients in your life is unique to you. And in some mysterious way, it nourishes everyone you meet.
This morning, I am baking banana bread. It’s in the oven now, the counters are clean and the dishes are washed; so I’m taking these moments to post a new blog. Banana bread is one of my ‘specialties’; and whenever we have overripe bananas around the house, I always try to use them up in this way. I hate to see anything not complete its purpose in the world.
This morning, when wiping down the black granite countertop, I thought (as I always do now) of my husband’s Auntie Mary. Mary told me with some intensity, “NEVER use water to wipe down a counter with flour on it; it will turn to glue. Always use a paper towel.” I always do. And I always think of her.
I had an Aunt Mary too. They both had tough lives, with numerous sticky patches and tough nuts to crack; but they were both as full of life and joy and determination as I might ever hope to be.
The last time Ian’s aunt was in our home in England was one month after we were married and just after her husband had died. She was lost, grief-stricken, and fragile. So I asked her to teach me about baking.
As she rolled the dough out on the countertop, in her inimitable way, Mary described her first baking experience. She was 20 years old, newly married, and just arrived in the rural English farming community where her Bill was a tenant farmer. She was visiting one of the local ladies one day, and ignorantly asked where she was supposed to buy bread.
“BUY BREAD?!” came the rough response. And the woman pulled out 20 lb. sacks of flour, threw heaps onto the butcher-block and put Mary to work. Even that day in our kitchen, she didn’t use thermometers to tell the temperature; she put her hand in the oven and felt it.
Mary and Bill spent 60 years together, farming their living out of the Earth. I met Bill once, and he was a force to be reckoned with. Ian describes him best when he tells how Bill had all his teeth pulled in one sitting without anesthetic. Mary was his helpmeet.
They never had children, so their niece and nephew were especially important to them. As a woman without children of my own, I can imagine Mary wondering if she was going to leave anything in the world as a legacy. She did.
I’m sharing here a bit of video with you from that day, so that you can meet Mary for yourself. She taught me to make scones, and this is an extract from her lesson. Honestly, if she had lived longer, I would have figured out how to get her her own TV show. You’ll see what I mean.
What does all this have to do with you then?
Every one of us in life has a variety of ingredients in our cupboard: talents, sensitivities, experiences, insecurities, the stuff we make our lives of. Knowing what to do with them makes the difference between glue on the counter and a lovely harvest of scones. It is the people we know along the way who teach us what to do, sometimes through their wisdom, sometimes by making us find ours.
Take your place. Share yourself. Bake the bread of life.
You know, there are just so many untold stories in the world. So many anonymous lives, each lived by a single human being with dreams and hopes, confusion and despair. Together, all 6,980,079,851 of us (at this moment now), whether we ever touch or see or hear of each other, we weave the web of life together. As an old friend of mine in Chicago used to say, “We’re all just muddling through.”
Well, what if one of those lives – you know, the disposable ones – the poor and nameless, the faces you never have to see except by accident when changing the channel, what if one of them made it out of the abyss. What kind of story would she share? What would be the tenor of his voice?
Today, I heard that voice. I heard his story. It moved me.
By the age of 8, Emmanuel Jal was a child soldier in Southern Sudan. At five, he saw his village burned, his aunt and sisters raped and his mother killed in the war that has ripped his country apart. Unable to read and write, he was sent to ‘school’ where he was trained to fight. And he was a soldier for the next five years.
When Jal was 13, a young British aid worker named Emma McCune found him, rescued him, and gave him a second life. That’s not the happy ending we’d like for our story, however. McCune was killed soon after in a car accident, leaving Jal to find his own way on the streets of Nairobi. From there, Jal took one step after another
following the journey of his extraordinary life to become the hip-hop star he is today, described by Peter Gabriel as having “the potential of a young Bob Marley.”
Jal, now just 29, founded Gua Africa, a UK charity whose mission is is to help individuals, families and communities overcome the effects of war and poverty. He is raising money to build a school in Southern Sudan, which he calls Emma Academy.
Here is what I watched today that touched my heart, lifted me out of my obsession with my small problems, and reminded me of my place in the web. I hope it touches you too and awakens in you the creative voice you might have silenced.
With music as his “weapon of choice,” Emmanuel Jal is doing the real work of the artist in society, transforming his suffering into light. But this work is not for the artist alone. It is for us all. For we all suffer. And the world is in need of light.
What does it mean to be creative? What kind of person is the Wheel of Creativity for? It is for all of us.
The hungry young boy whose voice cannot be heard
The beautiful, elegant aid worker who sees his potential
The person in his audience who wants to be moved
The woman who accidentally finds his story online
The person who reads her simple blog and decides to get involved
What is possible in your part of the web of life when you take your place there as a creator?
As a professional writer, my medium has almost always been the written or spoken word. So, when I saw this performance by violinist Robert Gupta and cellist Joshua Roman at a March 2011 TED Conference, what touched me most was the power of their communication beyond words. I was grateful to be speechless.
The piece Gupta and Roman play in this video is Johan Halvorsen’s “Passacaglia.” It is written for violin and viola, but Joshua Roman plays the viola part on his Stradivarius cello instead. Their generous, honest performance is deeply moving not only for the richness of their notes, but also for their risks in the spaces between them. When I see them perform, and when I discover their stories, it is clear to me that they have opened themselves wide to let Life flow through them, not only in their music but also in the streets.
Robert Gupta joined the LA Philharmonic when he was 19, already 8 years into his music career. That was four years ago. In addition to a Masters in music, Gupta did his undergraduate degree in pre-med (neurobiology). And he is a mental health activist as well as a musician. In fact, he teaches violin to Nathaniel Ayers, the brilliant schizophrenic musician discovered on the streets of LA and portrayed so beautifully in the film “The Soloist.”
At 26, Joshua Roman has been called a “classical rock star” by the press for his “absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level.” In 2006, at the age of 22, he won the role of principle cellist of the Seattle Symphony, the youngest musician ever to be a principle player there. Just two years later, he launched his solo career. Roman can as easily be found playing nightclubs or online in his video series, “The Popper Project.” He also travels frequently to Uganda to perform with his violinist siblings for schoolchildren in HIV/AIDS centers and refugee camps.
In 26 years as a freelance writer, my work has often been solitary. I have sometimes longed for the kind of creative connection that passes so visibly between these two young musicians. And some of my most meaningful work has occurred on the sidelines, when I was invited to play in someone else’s project.
“Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” (John Lennon)
At times today, I find myself isolated in my own ambition, and that kind of solitude is far from creative. At the same time, Life is offering me more and more opportunities to share the pure joy of creative exchange with others. It is not easy for any of us today who have a vision, to let go of our agendas and allow Life to direct the flow. But, more often than not, our most prolific moments come in the spaces between the notes, if we are willing to risk going there.
Enjoy this raw, imperfect and brilliant performance. And notice how much Life occurs in the spaces between the notes as in the notes themselves.
The greatest myth today about creativity is that some of us have it and some of us don’t! It’s a myth that can cost you your life, waiting for fill-in-the-blank to begin the life you dream of.
Life is a creative adventure. The Wheel of Creativity is a compass for the journey. Understanding the 12 stations of the Wheel of Creativity puts the power in your hands to create the life you dream of from the life you have today.