019 How not to be bored or how to be bored (or 7 ideas for filling your Summer with relaxing stuff)

So in our house its the Summer holidays – we are 2 week into the holidays and already we are hearing the cries “I’m bored”. So today I took the proverbial bored bull by the horns and sat down with my kids to come up with a list of things they could do to fend off the beautiful beast of boredom. So here it is, our list of 7 un-boring things to do:

boy wearing black jacket holding electric guitar

Practice that instrument: does your kid play something? Have they a passion for piano? Do they go gaga for guitar, or are they ecstatic about the xylophone? Manipulate their passion to excel in and instrument or in using that wonderful singing voice.  Music fills a place and a heart with joy!

toddler reading book

Read a good book: I’m a mug for reading and for learning and I love that kids are like little knowledge sponges. I think there are few kids who don’t like a good book, but there are a lot of kids who don’t want to read books that don’t engage them. It took a while for my son to find books that engaged him when he was about 10-13 – then he found Lee Childs and BINGO he’s reading like a pro! I love talking with my kids about what they are reading, and more importantly about what they are observing and learning through their reading!

architecture building business cinema

A Trip to the Cinema: Kids climbing the walls? Do you need a break? Treat yourself and them to a movie. Once the lights are down they can enjoy the film and you might even manage 15 minutes sleep without anyone disturbing you, or even noticing.

bicycle bike biker cyclist

Bike Ride: What’s not to love? It’s exercise so its great for fun, health and your mental balance. It might even fill you with joy as you blow off the boredom cobwebs. Who am I kidding!!!! I hate bikes

bridge child children fashion

Go for a Walk: Now I’m back to good ideas. A walk allows you to slow the pace of life down. Choose somewhere you know the kids can run ahead a little bit (allowing you moments of peace). Give the kids a challenge: how many types of leaf can you find and identify? Lie down in the grass and see who can find the coolest animal shape in the clouds. Imagine you’re walking through Jurassic Park (might not be restful, but it wont be boring)

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

Help your local coffee shop make a profit: Coffee is one of the gifts of God to the world, so it would be a sin not to indulge! My kids love when we go for a coffee, always hopeful that some cake will be thrown into the mix! Coffee shops are great for people-watching – one can learn so much about people and Hipsters when consuming coffee (or tea, or some other drinky thing!).

Bored

Get bored: My kids are ALWAYS telling me they are bored, and I now always respond with “It’s good to be bored – enjoy!” Someone once said that boredom is the birthplace of creativity (Ok, I admit that it’s only me who ever said that!). It is true though – when we allow our minds to wander around in boredom, our minds wander into places they might not otherwise have reached. Boredom allows us to mentally and intellectually go ‘off piste’. It helps us think where and how we don’t usually think. Embrace boredom and you will embrace creativity.

My 8 year old is currently building a house. Yes, you hear that right – building a house! She was bored last week and began to imagine a little house with rooms. She began collecting crafty bits and pieces and yesterday began constructing her house. She’s collected paper for the walls and carpets; loo rolls for cupboards; etc. All this came from boredom.

So I implore you to change how you view boredom – boredom is a pathway to joy. Embrace it like an old friend; wear it like a winter coat; wander in it’s directionless travel through the beautiful fields of your imagination – you never know what creative genius you will find.

we got bored

‘The Stenchmire’ – about facing your fears

It shuffled silently through the undergrowth, the stench of its breath illuminated like mist under a cold full moon. I could almost feel the darkness within it as I hid, trembling in the tree trunk, heart bursting in the fear of being found. It wandered past slowly and I exhaled my relief. That was when he stopped, turned, and looked directly into the darkness where I crouched.

There are many things in life which can leave us feeling paralysed in fear: other people, job insecurity, terrorism, etc. Fear has this way of making us feel helpless, and so we hide. We hide our true selves. We lock ourselves in the inside of our bodies and we hope that no one will see who we really are, or what we really feel.

Image result for undergrowth at night

What if we’re not meant to live that way? What if the story looks more like this:

It shuffled silently through the undergrowth, the stench of its breath illuminated like mist under a cold full moon. I could almost feel the darkness within it as I stood before it, heart bursting in fear, yet determined to slay this beast once and for all. It wandered slowly and menacingly towards me. I exhaled my determination to stand my ground. That was when he stopped and looked directly at me in the moonlit darkness where I stood. I stood silent as a sentinel, staring him down, refusing to be the first to look away. We were like statues, cold and hard in the night until just when I was going to loose my stare, he lowered his head, turned and walked back into the darkness from where he came.

Sometimes you need to face what you fear. Sometimes you need to find out that you are stronger than you think. It’s not easy; it doesn’t mean you don’t feel afraid, but it does mean that you don’t let fear shackle you and hold you down as helpless.

May you find the strength to stand your ground, look fear in the eye, and put fear in its place.

012 Coffee Creativity: The Case of the Nude Barista

The sun is shining on Harrogate today and I can hear the morning coffee call. Responding to the call I step into my local independent coffee shop. I’m greeted by the owner and the barista, both of whom are bright and cheery. The welcome is warm and authentic.

This place is a little treasure trove of coffee in the centre of Harrogate. The vibe is relaxed, and every time I walk through the door I have the urge to be creative – it’s the leaidback inspiring conversations and vibe that does it for me. I can imagine John Keats travelling here from Hampstead Heath just to sit and write great poetry. If I had the time that’s what I would do, but I need to move on to work most days.

barista

I order a skinny latte with an extra shot, asking about the beans on offer today. The barista passionately describes the Nude and Volcano beans, describing them with such detail that I can almost smell and taste them! I opt for the Nude (The Volcano is an excellent choice if you prefer an espresso).

As he makes my latte the barista continues to talk about the coffee (he loves this job!) and before I know it I’m talking about how my love for coffee was birthed: Writing regularly in a coffee shop that didn’t mind me sitting for a few hours with a notebook, pencil and coffee. We wax lyrical about how much better paper is to screen reading and writing, and about how pen on paper is becoming a lost art and habit. And then my latte is ready.

I thank him for the coffee and fine conversation and I walk out feeling inspired. Walking round the corner I take the lid off the coffee, stop and inhale deeply. The scent drifts up, filling neural pathways with positive thoughts and messages: I feel happy, and the coffee smells like heaven. I am drawn back into memories of quiet afternoons writing with a coffee and I have this sudden impulse to write. Ironically, I have no notebook with me today!

creative mind

As I reflect on this morning’s experience it struck me that I had entered a highly creative environment: the barista is a creator, forming a unique coffee with each cup crafted. Creativity (like the scent of good coffee) permeates an environment and has a viral affect upon us. In short when we see creativity it sparks the desire to be creative within us. I’m reminded that we were born Nude and made by a creative God. With his thumb-print on our souls his creativity permeates us and allows us the ability and opportunity to unleash our creativity. Perhaps all we need to unleash creativity is a creative barista and the viral effect of a good coffee.

coffee

Creativity doesn’t need to be messy

creative mind

I came across the above image a few weeks ago. Every time I see it I think “that mind looks like it’s releasing chaos”. We are all wired differently: some of us require structured ways of being, while others thrive on the oceans of chaos. We tend to believe that creatives are on the chaotic side of the spectrum (we love the idea of an artist passionately letting the brush flash back and forth at the speed of light as they unleash the next great masterpiece!).

Yet, the opposite is often more true: creatives tend towards planning for innovation, and executing plans for increased probability of success. I recall the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci: the intricate detail of flying machines transported from his imagination to his sketchbook; the numerous sketches of his famous works as he worked on shades of light and angles of composition.

For organisations to be innovative there also needs to be structure in the innovation pipeline. So what does that structure need? It needs many things, but here’s just a few essential ingredients:

A Blank Canvas: Culture

The culture of the organisation needs to be ‘ready’ for innovation. Culture is set through the formation of defines vision (purpose) and values (guiding principles that bring us together around our purpose). Vision of the future requires innovation to get there.

The culture needs to actively promote innovation at every level of the organisation. Did you know that the idea of the common matchbox came from a factory worker? Does this surprise you? Organisations need to promote the coming forth of ideas from everyone – who knows where the next innovative solution will come from.

The culture needs to foster a spirit of gratitude: if staff have ideas that work – give them the credit for it! This fosters a culture of trust and commitment rather than distrust and resentment.

Artists: Leadership

Leadership drives the creation of a masterpiece. They pull everyone around the vision and supporting values. They craft and create the culture. They inspire; motivate and encourage. They create a sense of urgency and pull teams together to drive positive change.

Leaders also have an essential role in modelling the behaviours they desire from staff. Simon Sinek is correct with his book title Leaders Eat Last. They model drive, commitment, values, behaviours, integrity, character, etc.

Creative Process: Structure

Innovative and creative processes require a structure to work within. This ensures projects yield results and that projects are completed. Whether that structure is a change management process or a Project Management framework, the structure ensures a higher probability of success.

Creativity does not need to be messy: it can be a well-oiled machine adding massive value and advantage to the organisation.

There is so much new life in the darkness – so take heart

Life can be described in terms of shades: dark and light; black and white. We think of darkness as bad and light as good, yet God created darkness and light and said that it was all good. Even God Himself brooded in the darkness before the creation. Many of the most expressive and creative people in history have ‘dwelt in the darkness’ of creativity before their light has been shown to the world. Often great art comes through great pain and hardship. Childbirth is a painful experience for a woman, but that pain brings new life to the world – humanity is birthed in pain.

Whatever you are facing today, know that it might just be a pathway to something creative, new and special. In your darkness today may your thoughts, creativity and your life be drawn towards th light that is often at the end of the tunnel.

There is a darkness.

Deep.

Brooding and bubbling.


It lies within me.

Resting.

Active and living.


While all around

Chaos

Disturbed and troubling.


Dances around us,

Revolving,

Restless and unforgiving.


But here inside

Arms

Warm and inviting


In this darkness

Light

Radiant and warm


Shines my heart

Full

Of love and joy


Reflecting glorious

Bright

As brightest star


Shining sparkling

Silver

In darkest night.

And then from

Nowhere…

…blinding light.

009 You were made to be creative

Have you ever just looked around you and seen the immense amount of creativity there is in the world? From art to architecture; dance to design technology; fiction to flower arranging – there is creativity everywhere. Why is it that humanity has pushed the boundaries of creativity and artistic expression? It is simply that we are created to be creative. Our minds are designed to concieve of new ideas; words; images; designs; etc.

Creativity is an amazing gift that is wider in humans that in any other species. Beavers can create innovative dams, but they don’t paint, draft plans, or sculpt with clay. Humans can paint; sketch; sculpt; write; design; and so much more. We were endowed with a creative gene. It is in our DNA to be creative. With this in mind is it any wonder that when we create sonething we odften have an immense amount of pleasure and joy? Not only that, we help others to also experience great joy through what we create.

I recall the first time I saw Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night in Paris: It absolutely blew me away! As I entered the gallery the lights were low and my eyes had to adjust. I looked ahead and there it was, directly on front of me, shining incandescently. My jaw hit the floor and I can only describe that moment as deeply beautiful. The original painting in all it’s spendour brought an inner smile to my heart and soul. The joy at seeing it was a truly wonderful and emotional experience for me – creativity can do that for us.

This is not just true for classic pieces of art: it’s true for your own creativity too. When you write a poem; make christmas cards; or sketch your spouse it releases joy within you. Why? Because you were created to be creative.

But why should you be creative? Here’s a few reasons:

Creativity helps you unleash and realise your true potential
Being creative improves mental health
Creativity develops our sense of purpose
Creativity pushes us to be a better version of ourselves
Creativity cvan be a positive outlet for processing our negative experiences
There are many more great reasons for being creative – what reasons do you have? (let me know in the comments below).

Why not also choose a way of being creative. Craft something and then reflect on the feeling the end product gives you – you never know: it might just release some joy within you.

Until next time, keep smiling and live with joy.