by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Sometimes we even doubt our ability to be creative at all. In those moments, if you have my inspiring 2020 Nature Calendar, you’ll get a friendly, warm, gentle reminder that you’ve got this.
Creativity is in your life just as it’s in mine.
My calendar designs are based on my personal creative process of finding time for self-care, especially through experiencing nature. There's scientific research proving that experiencing awe improves your optimism and lowers stress.
Nature is a constant source of awe. Research shows wellness improves even if you’re looking at pictures of nature instead of being outdoors physically!
Release Your Stress To The Air
I want you to see how incredible you are. How easy it can be to release your stress to the air and relish the vibrance and wonder that nature brings to your senses. Exploring the profundity of nature’s compassionate force can put you back in rhythm with your own inherent creative flow.
That’s why I made my 2020 calendars.
And yeah, they aren’t mass distributed. These are limited editions (and almost sold out!) that I personally designed as a resource for nurturing your creativity and inspiration.
I used decent quality materials so you could write your personal events and notes on them easily. I left plenty of white space so you can set and track your personal goals in the same place where you’ll see a joyful or peaceful moment in nature.
The same place where a positive affirmation will be to encourage you about your infinite creative potential.
You can feel how I incorporate authenticity, an open heart and sincere determined effort in the creative process from these calendars. You can see why this visual and written format is important to me.
If I can make something out of the simplicity of an ordinary moment within my day, so can you. These calendars were made to empower you and me toward manifesting our beautiful relationship with the unceasing compassionate power of the universe.
That’s why I made these calendars.
The cart has closed on YourCreativeChord's 2020 Inspiring Calendar. Stay tuned for 2021 Calendars in October 2020!
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU'LL LOVE MY INTERVIEWS WITH CREATORS, & INSPIRING STORIES! CLICK HERE FOR MORE!
Photo Essay Series
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This is the first of my photo essay series featuring images from my newly designed 2020 nature photo calendars. The calendars include monthly self-care themes highlighting strategies for nurturing your creativity and inspiration.
I enjoy taking nature photos because each captured image represents my excitement, joy and appreciation for the wondrous beauty available within an ordinary moment. My pictures are symbolic of my personal dreams and inner prayers for experiencing life to its maximum potential.
It helps that I live in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky, surrounded by agricultural and horse farms, near enough to the Kentucky Horse Park that I can ride my bike there. I also lived in sunny Florida for half my life, enjoying the gorgeous beaches of Venice, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Clearwater and Dunedin.
I snapped the photo above at Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, during a sunset walk with a friend, determined to capture the serenity of the sun’s gentle departure beyond the horizon. This memory reminds me of my sincere friend, who graciously spent the weekend with me there to literally force me to enjoy some relaxation in between my whirlwind of events surrounding that time period.
The kindness of my friend’s compassionate gesture, the therapeutic nature of the deep, pulsing waves of the water, the setting of the sun as it sprayed its pastel wash of colors across the sky, and my deep love for Sarasota, as the place my Buddhist practice began (the starting point of hope in my life), exist within this momentary pause. Just as an entire lifetime of memories, personality, knowledge and emotion are represented within a person’s name, a single photo is full of kaleidoscopic meaning.
My photos are about slowing down enough to take one, solitary second out of a busy life to celebrate myself, my progress, this chapter, and the hope of the next one. It’s about letting my creative heart lead in my daily life, not my head.
I don’t compare my nature photography to other great photographers. Though I admire and deeply respect the works of others who’ve dedicated their lives to mastering technique and skill, that is not what inspires me.
I began taking photos because I was deeply moved by Daisaku Ikeda’s photography and underlying philosophy. He doesn’t claim to be a professional photographer. He began taking photos to commemorate experiences with others and leave something behind to encourage them.
I bring my photos to YourCreativeChord with a similar hope and intent; to inspire us to continually expand our lives by letting our true authenticity be the ultimate authority of our creative process. My photos are about seeing the world through the lens of my Greater Self (not my lesser self, ego).
I share my nature photography as a way of recognizing and celebrating our universal yet vulnerable point of human connection, and to experience the rejuvenating power of nature’s beauty within my images.
My photography is meant as an example of courageous creative exploration, as that is a prime point for me as a creator. I blog and podcast about the importance of allowing creative adventures, setting aside the theoretical mind, to allow one’s heart to express itself, unhindered by any limitation.
I’m a writer, poet and composer, but I venture into photography without my thinking hat. Instead, I bring childlike wonder and profound appreciation for nature’s astonishing allure.
I want to share this with you as a way of encouraging you to see your world as the artist within you knows it to be. When you see my photos, my hope is that it sparks your belief in your own creative vision. Enjoy the view.
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By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PART 1 of my 2-part podcast, featuring my interview with University of Kentucky educator Ryan Hargrove, on tapping the creative process. See below for details.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PART 2 of my 2-part podcast, featuring my interview with University of Kentucky educator Ryan Hargrove, on nurturing creativity. See below blog for more details.
I had an insightful conversation about the creative process with Associate Professor Ryan Hargrove, of the University of Kentucky’s Department of Landscape Architecture. Hargrove teaches metacognition and creative thinking through a variety of projects, trips, interviews with creative professionals, and a class called “Living on the Right Side of the Brain.”
Hargrove’s future goals are to provide more active learning opportunities through creative reflection and association deep dives for all University of Kentucky students, including electives, co-curricular activities, trips, and long-term masters projects.
Viewing People & Creative Ideas Holistically
Hargrove’s teaching methods and views on creative thinking both educated and inspired me. His strength as a teacher of creative thinking is his prime focus on understanding the individual person. He looks at how each person learns best, digging into discovering how they think. This undertaking guides his teaching and mentoring strategies.
His inclination toward empathetic listening is refreshingly disarming. When teaching students, he takes into consideration that each person has arrived from a different path, with a unique learning speed, baggage, and skills.
Hargrove instructs with less of the theoretical, knowledge-pouring traditional manner, and more of a holistic process aimed at bringing all aspects of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses to navigate problems.
This resonates with the creative process itself, as it functions in connection with all aspects of the whole being, too.
His responses to my questions delving into best practices for tapping creativity were encouraging to me as an entrepreneur, writer, poet, composer, pianist, vocalist, and hobbyist photographer.
His viewpoint is valuable to any creative professional or anyone interested in tapping or improving creative flow. Here are some of the points from my dialogue with Hargrove that stood out as most useful to those interested in nurturing creativity.
Is Your Creativity Divinely Struck Or Consistently Disciplined?
Although inspiration can and does strike sometimes from seemingly divine intervention, the reality is that most brilliantly creative people consistently work hard at their craft. By continuously doing this disciplined work, the creative person is more able to capture ideas readily and link diverse pieces of information together in a new way.
Commit To A Way Of Seeing Life
Hargrove made the point that creativity is not an “on or off switch,” but rather a commitment to a way of seeing the world. Creative professionals typically are always open to receiving ideas for inspiration. They constantly seek out new ways of looking at life, new or different perspectives, techniques, styles and experiences.
Learn To Think Creatively Versus Knowledge Is Power
Gaining knowledge is important but is not the end all. Especially as we have access to knowledge at our fingertips with electronic gadgets, learning to think creatively is a more valuable asset. This skill leads to transformative ways to solve problems and open new creative ideas.
Adjust Yourself To The Moving Target
Successful creatives don’t have the creative process figured out. They know creativity is fluid, always changing, and that their creative flow is also morphing over time. They accept this and adjust themselves to the moving target of inspiration.
Mindset Is Your Best Skill
Successful creative people know themselves well. They know that listening to yourself, and being in alignment with your creative process is instrumental toward creative production.
Divergence Is Enlightening
Immerse yourself in new perspectives to grow. From exploring podcasts, blogs, books, doing new things like painting, dancing, cooking, new music, trying a new sport, traveling to new places, to meeting new people. Engaging in conversations, working on problems with others, or trying new experiences or things are valuable in two ways:
Be Open To Inspiration
Be open to the idea that a eureka! moment can come from anywhere. Creatives know that being open to inspiration means it can come from unlikely or unexpected places.
A four-year old child. An elderly man at the park. While shampooing in the shower or during a bike ride. While taking the trash out. Or from a completely unrelated conversation with a friend. Anywhere and anyone is acceptable and welcome as inspiration!
Reflection Is Where Creative Force Ignites
Taking time to reflect on the problem or time away from a creative project or daily responsibilities is a crucial form of nourishment for the creative mind. There are two kinds of downtime that are helpful to sparking inspiration:
These are moments when you are not actively pursuing creative tasks or solutions to a problem.
Reflection is evaluating what’s going well and what you could change to improve.
Skill of Association
The skill of association is a critical aspect of creative flow. This is the ability to absorb disparate pieces of information in an organized manner within your mind. And later, combine that information to create something new or to address a problem with a fresh approach using the incorporated new information.
Having a way to organize new ideas or perspectives is key to the skill of association. This happens when you take time to sort through your experiences and become aware of interconnections with the new information before storing it in your brain.
Asking how to organize the new idea in your head, why it’s interesting, or how it could connect to other things leads to an organizing system within your mind.
This assimilation supports your ability to feel inspired by these new and interconnected things.
Craft, Skill, Experience
Creativity requires you develop your craft or technical skills, and develop a repertoire of both life and creative experiences. The more proficient you become at your craft, the more readily you can incorporate new ideas. The more you live your life, the more ideas and experiences you’ll have to draw forth creatively.
There is power in practicing healthy choices. But the creative life can also lead to imbalance or unhealthy habits because it can be all-consuming. When an idea strikes, other aspects of your life may easily be neglected (eating, exercise, relationships, sleep).
However, when you place top priority on consistent self-care, other aspects of your life will generally flow better. If you feel good physically, you can usually do better work.
Surround Yourself With People Who Are Better Than You
Connect with people whose skills and character you admire and who bring out your best by challenging you to grow and improve yourself. Ask people who will be brutally honest to assess your creative work.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Seek out new challenges. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and learn to live with ambiguity versus certainty. The discomfort of ambiguity leads to generating solutions and creative inspiration because it forces you to change your thinking.
Putting yourself in a situation where you must endure a problem state forces you to grow beyond your norm which leads you to new levels of inspiration.
Mistakes and failures are part of the creative life and are good if used to reflect on and adjust how you’re thinking about the problem or creative project.
Use failure as a learning tool to improve your creative process. Failures provide incredible growth opportunity when used to assess your approach and try new angles of thought.
The creative journey joins all aspects of your whole being, from the physical, emotional, mental to the spiritual. All your experiences are interconnected and have the potential to influence inspiration.
LISTEN TO MY Podcast Featuring
Educator Ryan Hargrove!
The podcast posts in two parts:
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PART 1!
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PART 2!
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts below!
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Your Troubles Are Your Progress Barometer & Catalyst For Your Full Potential
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COMING SOON: Watch this space for new ebooks, products and courses for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
In my CREATIVITY blogs, you’ll find tips for exploring creative flow, and inspiring content related to the inherent challenges and tremendous joy within the creative process.