Thursday, April 21, 2011

Living a Creative Life: Taking Stock



Chicago! A city, a neighborhood, a living and breathing sports city. My kind of town, really. Streams of people parade up and down the streets of Wriggleyville in the hours that lead up to game time. This visit, we were welcomed with snow! Baseball was a definite no-go. With wind chills, and rain, I'll bet it was below thirty degrees at night. But I didn't go to Chicago for the baseball; I came to visit my girl. And in that, I'm never disappointed. There were countless meals with long conversations, afternoon pastries with a half-caf. latte or two, and on Saturday, in the pouring rain, we went off to take care of toes and nails.

Two days during my stay, though, I was left to fend for myself. Unfortunately my daughter had to work. I contacted a friend, Mary Jo, whom I'd met at Chautauqua last summer, and we met for lunch to catch up. Mary Jo writes picture book and is currently about ready to send her latest work out. Since Chautauqua, she's published a non-fiction piece in Rethinking Magazine and has a few other pieces in the works. Mary Jo is a life coach, a writer, a real estate entrepreneur. She, like her mom before her, has many, many pots on the fire. So I was honored, really, that she leaped at the chance for lunch.

We pulled up along a quiet street in Roscoe Village and settled upon a beautiful Italian place, Pizza Bella. The restaurant, of course, was half empty...a grandmother with her seven year old granddaughter were celebrating a birthday, a trio of working people seated themselves at the table behind us, and a pair of new parents came in with their little one, and that was just about it. Mary Jo had a number of questions for me, which of course, is exactly how I remembered her to be. "How's the work...what are you working on...", all the usual stuff. But somehow, she tapped into a chink inside my walls. She got me thinking about my work, my crowded life and all the extra angst I've welcomed into my life. She spoke of priorities, and made me think about all the clutter in my life. Committees...and more committees, living in the political grindstone, it's a wonder I can even think at all!

So...in the wake of our visit, I'm still thinking about this conversation, and how counterproductive the life I'm living is to the creative part of myself. No wonder I've had so many periods of being stuck. Now I'm listing, prioritizing and trying to get it all straight. Extra-curricular for me...means counterproductive to the craft. Instead of being able to generate more...I'm diminishing my ideas, renting out space in my brain to things most people don't care about at all! In the upcoming blog, I'll share some of my thoughts on creativity...and my plans for nurturing those tiny seeds in my life. Work needs to be that means to an end, because in the end, if that's all I've done...I've left nothing of personal creative meaning for me.

After two very long cups of coffee, the waiters started rattling around. Mary Jo had set a plan in motion, and she had inspired me to do the same. So, of course...I get home, and on my counter is a copy of Whole Living...with an article, called Second Act: How to Reinvent Yourself!

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