Even when life is busy, make time for yourself!

Now that June is here and spring is in full flush, life gets busier than ever for most of us. The invitations and events can be overwhelming, from graduations to end-of-school-year gatherings and other social events, weddings and organizational program offerings, to Father’s Day and family birthdays (at least this is a big birthday season for our family). And, many of us are busy making summer plans — or anticipating the summer plans we've already put on the calendar. It can sometimes feel like the season will rush past and fall will be here in the blink of an eye.

The antidote to all of that busy-ness is to slow down, to savor every day, to create time for yourself. Make time to breathe. Take time to be quiet. Plan time to walk in nature, sip tea quietly with a friend, get enough sleep, read a beautiful book. Use more of your time to BE, rather than DO so much.

One of the beautiful ways to slow down and make YOU a priority is to create. And that can mean a host of things you might not even think of when you consider the idea of “creating”. Here are some ideas:

  • Try carrying a small notebook with you, so you can pull it out and jot down ideas as they pop into your head. Try adding a doodle to embellish your thoughts.
  • Snap photos on your phone when you take the time to notice small wonders around you — things you typically rush by without noticing.
  • Buy an exotic new fruit or vegetable when you come across something unfamiliar at the market, and try fun ways to incorporate it into your next meal.
  • Intentionally take a turn to get lost on your way back from a meeting or outing, and see what you discover.
  • Play — in any way you can think of, whether with a child, or a friend, or by yourself.
  • Of course, you can write a quick poem about a feeling you have, you can strum a guitar, make a sketch, sing, or dance to music you love.

Any and all creative acts liberate your right brain, providing inspiration, more “aha” moments, new insights, and more quiet inside. I expect you will discover that it’s wonderful to slow down and start creating in small ways.

I wish you a season filled with an abundance of joy with friends and family, as well as quiet, creative time for yourself. I would love to hear about the highlights of your season.

A fantastic evening of creativity and cooking

I have long had the idea for offering a special workshop about creativity and cooking. The concept sprang from my focus on the importance of self-love, which is a key condition that enables us to create freely. The way we feed and care for our bodies is an important aspect of self-love. So, I thought, why not help people to bring creativity into the way they prepare food?

It took some time for me to find a partner to make my idea a reality. When I met Amy Lipton, who runs The Joyful Kitchen Cooking School, I knew she had the spirit and energy that would make for a great partnership. And, after taking a private class that she created for me and my husband, I knew my instincts were sound. Amy and I soon set the date for the workshop on April 28, and we were gratified that it sold out within a few hours of offering it to my community. In fact, when we added a second date (in May), that workshop also filled right away.

April 28 arrived, and in came a superb group of 8 women. The chemistry and enthusiasm in Amy's magnificent kitchen was palpable. I shared some key concepts about the nature of creativity and how we can be open, playful and experimental as we cook. Everyone did a writing exercise to loosen up, and then we cooked! 

Amy taught us techniques for creating Vietnamese fresh rolls, seafood and vegetables en papillote, and a fruit crostata. All are fun and surprisingly easy to prepare. For each dish, Amy demonstrated the basic preparation, and the the fun began! Each person made a version of each dish of her own, choosing from a huge variety of ingredients, seasonings and flavors that Amy offered us. And, we ate what we cooked as the evening progress. We savored the fabulous tastes, and compared the variations we'd each created.

The spirited evening was great fun, and eating the results of our efforts was a treat — in every sense of the word! It was lovely to see everyone let herself use interesting and unusual combinations of ingredients and flavors, and to hear about how they want to try and make new variations in their own kitchens.

Amy and I are looking forward to doing the next workshop in May, and are already looking for more dates so we can offer it again this summer. I can't wait!

 

Thoughts about love on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is the focus of the day and I want to share some thoughts on the ways that love and creativity are closely related.

The power of love is legendary. Thinking about love in terms of the people who love us and those we love comes naturally. But few of us think about self-love, which is crucial for our happiness, our relationships, and as a foundation for creativity of all kinds.

A common misconception is that it’s selfish to think about loving yourself, but self-love is neither narcissistic nor selfish. It’s healthy and wonderful to make yourself a priority and love yourself, in much the way that you feel warm, excited, adoring feelings when you think of a person you dearly love. These are feelings of delight that you can cultivate for yourself.

Fall in love with yourself! Just as you want to give gifts to people you love, give yourself gifts. You deserve them. Give yourself time to do things you love. Give yourself the treat of popping in to a shop that delights you. Take a trip to someplace you've longed to visit. If you are busily doing only for others, you're neglecting yourself. And, when you put yourself last, you cannot give as much to others.

Self-love is also about forgiving yourself and accepting yourself. Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. That's the sign of a harsh self-critic, and for some, a self-critic that's out of control. Healthy, robust self-love is the antidote.

Cultivating self-love fuels a happy life. And, self-love is a key foundation of creativity. When self-love is missing the self-critic has free reign and creativity is stifled. Nobody can feel free to experiment, play, create, make mistakes and move on from from them, try out new ways to express themselves or find novel ways to solve problems when that self-critical voice is putting you down (and often making you afraid to even try). Do you see how this works? How self-love is the antidote to the negativity that hampers us and limits our potential?

I hope that this Valentine’s Day will be a celebration of vibrant love — for those dearest to you and for yourself.