The Creative Process of Journaling- Start now to expand your mind.

The Creative Process of Journaling- Start now to expand your mind.

The Creative Process of Journaling

Are you still grappling to increase your creative potential? Do you think creativity involves a mystical state of mind attained only by a blessed few? I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to drink exotic herbal teas or meditate for 8 hours like the monks. Labeling the creative mind as mystical and putting it up on an unattainable pedestal does no good. In fact, it’s a myth that you need to bust at the earliest! According to Forbes, Creativity is the skill of the future! Today I’m going to talk about a very simple practice that can open the doors of creativity in your mind. The simple practice of journaling. Transferring your thoughts into words. The purpose behind journaling is not only writing thoughts and feelings in a book. It’s a journey towards an unknown destination. A journey of self discovery.

A Creative Process as Profound as Meditation

Journaling is more like meditation. Everyone knows what to do and yet, can’t get themselves to do it! When you want to meditate, you find a quiet place, sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breath, but how many of us actually do it the first time? Whereas in journaling, you find a quiet place, get out a book& pen and start writing. Sounds easy, isn’t it? But how many of us can actually get words onto paper at will? What’s interesting is, in meditation the thoughts don’t go away and in journaling the right thoughts don’t come to us!! Yet both are powerful methods to connect with ourselves and get our creative juices flowing. Without digressing, let’s get into the topic for today, Journaling.
Journaling is still one of the easiest and profound ways to open the gates of creativity for anyone! Even kids! Contrary to what most people think, You don’t have to be a skillful writer to write down your thoughts. It has nothing to do with vocabulary, grammar, or having a superior command in a certain language. Nor do you have to confine it to only words. Pictures, symbols or anything that gives some kind of meaning to your thoughts is a great way to unleash your creative abilities. It is all about giving meaning and form to abstract thoughts. This is where it gets interesting! When we consistently get our thoughts on paper, we unknowingly tap into emotions and ideas that are volatile and sometimes not easy to comprehend unless given a form.

Every Creative process needs Discipline

When I first started journaling, I was looking for an outlet to clear out stalled emotions. Emotions that were no longer serving me. My intention was to process the thoughts and emotions that were gnawing my insides away like a termite. An urgent need to make space for balance and calm nudged me to start journaling. I had started and stopped several times before, waiting for my muse to magically transmute my thoughts into the perfect words. Well, not this time. I knew what I had to do and yet, a book and pen were somehow not enough. Nor were my uncomfortable emotions enough motivation to start this wonderful practice! This is where you bring in your resolve and discipline. Anyone who has achieved anything in life will tell you, It is the first step that is difficult, but once you start, the rest falls into place.
Journaling is a unique creative process. It serves different purposes to different people. Today we’re going to explore some simple ways we can practice journaling and open the door of creativity and innovation. Something you never thought existed.

Your Unique Creative Process

Freestyle-

This type of journaling is exactly what the term freestyle means. Write without a plan or structure. So pull out a notebook for this specific purpose, or a word doc and start writing or typing whatever comes to mind. Now the main idea here is to not over think your thoughts or judge them for what they are. Simply pour in whatever thoughts come to mind without putting any kind of filter on it. For God’s sake, don’t let your inner editor out! Freestyle journaling is simply a brain dump exercise. A peep into the recesses of your mind.

Gratitude-

A gratitude journal is for people focusing or gratitude. If you intend to shift your perspective to a more positive and cheerful outlook, then this is a great way to start. Write down whatever you are grateful for. The difference between thinking about gratitude and writing it is, that writing gives our mind a much more solid proof and makes it more real.

Appreciation-

This kind of journaling is to boost your self-confidence and to train the mind to appreciate yourself and others. To look for only good. Take out a journal and start writing out everything that you appreciate in yourself and others. This isn’t about vanity or pride, but a genuine effort to pat yourself for the person you’ve become. Sometimes we don’t realize our own worth. An appreciation journal can help with just that.

Clearing or therapy-

The last one I’m going to talk about today is journaling to clear out unwanted thoughts and emotions. Now, When you write to clear your mind, it is not advisable to go back and read through the entries of your clearing journal. This is to release negative emotions and thoughts that might be hindering you. Write it, release it and forget it. Here’s a quick read from The University of Rochester on the topic.

The Creative process of YOU!

There are many other ways to journal. Start with whatever your heart desires. With time, the magic begins to happen. You gain clarity and tap into ideas and thoughts that can lead you to wonderful journeys of self discovery and creativity. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, check out my previous post on using your non-dominant hand to journal! So what is your journaling story? Which one is your favorite kind? I’d love to know in the comments below. Happy journaling!

Creative Continuum

After a long hiatus, I am back! Back with a renewed sense of purpose. My time away has been a huge learning curve and my creative consciousness has expanded in unimaginable ways. So, what does creativity mean to you?Is it simply a means for getting ideas? Or a way of thinking? Not really sure? You can check out what people have to say about creativity in this delightful post.

Creativity might mean different things to different people, but it serves everyone. I started thing blog with the intention of fostering creativity in children. Yet, I’ve realized that everyone is  starved for creativity. Going forth my posts will focus on nurturing creativity in everyone who feels it is important to them. Creativity will be the language and yet I will experiment with valuable content that fosters creativity in unlikely ways. Yes, unlikely. Creativity is not predictable and so is my space, but my driving force with each post will be to tap my readers on the shoulder and captivate them with a sense of wonder.

For, wonder is a good place to start. It is out of wonder that curiosity is born and curiosity branches out to imagination, inspiration and ultimately an expression of creativity. I am hoping to explore creativity in as many creative ways as I can. So join me in this journey of exploration and learning.

In case you are still holding onto any myths about creativity, you can bust those ideas right here. Wait! don’t forget to add your thoughts on creativity in the comments below.

Until next time, keep creating!

7 myths about creativity that you might find hard not to believe.

7 myths about creativity that you might find hard not to believe.

Creativity has been the most intriguing  of skills bestowed upon mankind , mysterious to a certain extent. It just hits you out of nowhere and you have to be quick to catch it or it will vanish as quickly as it appeared, searching for another mind which may heed to it. Yeah! I know that sounds like something only a gifted genius can tap into. So let’s take a look at 7 myths surrounding creativity that will lift the veil and help us see creativity as a little less intimidating.

1.First and foremost ,the most popular myth. Creativity is elusive to a gifted few. As it has been proven ,this is far from true. All of us are born creative. It all depends on how we nurture and sharpen our creative muse. There is no need to dig into research papers to affirm to this most popular myth, one look at a flustered mom trying to calm her wailing baby is enough proof that everyone is born creative .

2.Originality. This is a hard nut to crack. Philosophers since long believe that whatever idea we can conceive is already there and our mind is just tuning into it like a radio station. Moreover for any idea to be born, our brain organizes,combines ,links and  processes billions of data running silently in our sub conscious. So take off the pressure of having to be original and just listen to your heart. Creativity is mostly born from inspiration.

3.Creativity strikes suddenly out of no where! Well, as much as it would be fun to believe so, it doesn’t quite happen that way. A creative idea is the result of a thought planted in our mind .  If Alexander Graham bell wasn’t thinking about sound waves, I do not believe he could have invented the telephone. So a Eureka moment is the final stage of a thought process and all the hard work we have been doing to get to that point.

4. Creative people are weird or eccentric! Oh I beg to differ, While some can get quite lost in their thoughts and lose perspective of the world around them, most are normal dreamers like you and me!Eccentricity is certainly not a side effect of creativity.

5.Rewards can trigger creativity. Wait ! are you serious? anyone remotely creative can vouch that you cannot bribe your way to creativity. Most creative people  enjoy the process much more than the result and in fact perform much better without the pressures of rewards and incentives.

6.I should only create when I am inspired. oh boy, you never know how long that wait could be! You might just end up taking your ideas to the grave.Contrary to this popular belief, creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the better it gets! If you keep waiting for inspiration, you might never end up progressing in any of your creative endeavors. So it’s a good idea to show up consistently and keep doing your bit. Save the judgments for later, the world is going to shove it up your face anyway!

7.Creative people create instant master pieces! oh yeah, That’s what happens in the movies! Most creative people are so self-critical that they end up revising their work 100’s of times before they dare to bring it to light. It’s good to remember creativity is a process. It takes time, patience and most importantly, love.

 

So let’s look beyond the intimidating myths and start treating creativity as a skill. A skill that can be nurtured and enhanced just like any other skill such as driving or swimming .Yet, one which lays out endless possibilities before us , almost magical,simply waiting to be explored. So what are you waiting for? Let the creation begin! and yes, Please add other myths that you might know in the comments below.

 

7 ways to stimulate your child’s brain

Wonderful post by my dear friend Sumira who runs an early child learning center which is rooted in respect and child led creative play.

Kiran Tevtiya-Child Behavior Specialist

Many parents worry about whether they’re giving their children enough stimulation and experiences. In the bargain they tend to overdo things and overstimulate the child, which does not allow the child to benefit from the experience. Positive stimulation is all about finding a balance that’s right for your child. It is also about connecting and spending quality time with your toddler, without getting too worked up about packing the time with a hundred different activities.

So is your child getting enough stimulation? Check out our list on top ways to best stimulate your child:

kitchen-2

  1. Give them real life experiences: In order to grasp a good general knowledge of the world children need to learn through experiences. There is a world of knowledge to be gained by activities like your child spending time with you in the kitchen, rolling out rotis alongside you, or shelling peas. Plastic non-messy play food can…

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There are always two sides to a coin

There are always two sides to a coin

Lets face it. It’s not always that you can flip on your creative hat and like a magician, pull out fascinating ideas like bunnies or birds or a multi colored trail of knotted scarves. It takes time and sometimes a good deal of exercising your creative muscles before you can land upon your big idea and even though it might seem like hard work (though creative people will not agree! they love the process.) it is likely that every now and then we reach a stumbling block that somehow refuses to budge from our path. So today I would like to talk about an interesting exercise to help clear that block so we can continue our journey down the creative path.

We all know what a huge role perspective plays in the way we view and experience life. Our perspective is also likely to affect the way we think and conceive ideas and solutions. These perspectives might sometimes be that block between us and our epiphany so a good start would be to have an open mind and be flexible with our views. With that in mind , let us move on to the exercise. The main idea is to flip our view ! Sometimes habitually we are so set in  certain patterned thinking that we fail to see wonderful ideas  right under nose. So to clear the fog and get a better view, we need to think in reverse. For example, if you are thinking about how to get your kids to be more cooperative during homework or study time, you first think how to make them uncooperative. Your list could be vaguely similar or completely different from the one I came up with below.

1.Have an unstructured different time to study everyday.

2. Have a cluttered work space with books and supplies scattered all over the house.

3.Make it seem like there is a lot to do.

4.Make the task seem difficult to achieve.

5.Accompany and follow-up with threats and criticism.

Now  lets flip the list and see the other side of the coin!

 

1.Have an unstructured different time to study everyday.

Set a designated space and time for study everyday and try to stick to the schedule as much as possible. Of course , study time can be shifted on weekends and days with other activities . It’s a good idea to give kids given prior notice about the same .( “We will be shifting our homework time on Monday from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm since we have a doctor’s appointment.)

2. Have a cluttered work space with books and supplies scattered all over the house.

Have a separate study space with books and supplies organized.

3.Make it seem like there is a lot to do.

Break up the tasks into small chunks and have 2-3 min stretch breaks in between.

4.Make the task seem difficult to achieve.

Start with a review of how efficiently the previous home work was completed so kids have a success set point to look back to.

5.Accompany and follow-up with threats and criticism.

Appropriate guidance when needed ,encouragement and specific praise upon task completion.

Now I’m sure most of us maybe already doing all/most of these so we will refine the list further and look more closely at each point and evaluate improvements in each area. Now if our study schedule is not going as planned in spite of our best efforts, then obviously it needs a tweak! So here we go again.

1.Have an unstructured different time to study everyday.

Set a designated space and time for study everyday and try to stick to the schedule as much as possible. Of course , study time can be shifted on weekends and days with other activities . It’s a good idea to give kids given prior notice about the same .( “We will be shifting our homework time on Monday from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm since we have a doctor’s appointment.)

The kids already have a set time to study but each of them is enrolled in certain activities so they are not in the best frame of mind at the same time! So why don’t I hang up a calendar with their study schedules and activities incorporated? I could write in if any of us has an appointment and it would be a good practice for them to look into the calendar everyday to see what tasks need to be accomplished that day.

2. Have a cluttered work space with books and supplies scattered all over the house.

Have a separate study space with books and supplies organized.

I already have a study table stocked with supplies but I could add a Children’s dictionary to look up word meanings and maybe a math conversion chart.

3.Make it seem like there is a lot to do.

Break up the tasks into small chunks and have 2-3 min stretch breaks in between.

I already break up tasks and give them breaks but our problem is the break somehow seems to keep extending and as a result their study time! So I need to find a fun way to get the kids back to work once the break is over. I could use a timer? Or I could play fun music for 2-5 mins and once the music stops, its time to get back to work!

4.Make the task seem difficult to achieve.

Start with a review of how efficiently the previous home work was completed so kids have a success set point to look back to.

God knows how many motivational pep talks I give the boys! We also talk about previous achievements but it doesn’t seem to perk them up anymore . What if I put up a tangible graph of progress? Sometimes kids need to see it, to believe it.I  could keep plotting as they work and at the end of the month we could take a look at the completed graph.

5.Accompany and follow-up with threats and criticism.

Appropriated guidance when needed ,encouragement and specific praise upon task completion.

I know I don’t rush in to help them at the slightest frown and give lots of specific praise . What else can I do to keep them motivated? I could give detailed written notes of praise instead of just saying it. I could print out excellence awards or certificates to appreciate extra efforts and perseverance .

This is a simple example to use the reverse technique to come up with creative solutions.This can be applied to brainstorm ideas in any scenario . It can be most effective with kids when discussing behavior expectations or team work because kids need to first understand what is not acceptable, to be able to grasp what is.  Sometimes to come up with ideas for what we want, we need to be absolutely clear about what we don’t want! It is only when the fog clears that we are able to see the rainbow. So all you wonderful folks ,keep flexing your creative muscles and don’t forget to comment below and tell me if you found this useful and how this technique helped you.

Image courtesy :Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

After all, there is always some connection…

After all, there is always some connection…

“I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells.”–Dr Seuss.

After two months of vanishing from the blogging scene, I am back to the grind. Incase you wonder the reason for my absence, Well it was summer holidays!! Its the time we take to visit family and friends back in our home country ,India. I had intentionally kept away from all kinds of electronic gadgets .Switched off my phone (only occasionally turned it on to connect with friends in India& look up their numbers to call) and shutdown my laptop. Honestly, there was no time to miss my gadgets, as the entire trip was jam packed with travel, a social function conducted by us ,reunions with relatives and friends ,sight seeing and just being around lots of people! that left no time to crave for any virtual interaction. I knew writing during an Indian vacation would require much more discipline than I’m afraid I currently possess ! and working after lights out for the rest of the family which was way beyond our current bedtime here! Toss in some jetlag, excitement of meeting family ,the daily routines of catering to more people &the sheer exhaustion of interacting with each one of them, I was knocked out before my head hit the pillow. So I decided I would not fret about getting my ideas out to the world and simply blend with the crowd and observe (and boy! There was loads to take in!)I knew random observations were never a waste and always added to your creative database. However irrelevant it may seem, the brain is capable of making sense out of any nonsense.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”–Dr.Seuss.

So today my post is about a little creative exercise that can be done anytime to solve a problem or brainstorm an idea which is drawn from the vast data bank of all your conscious and unconscious observations, information, experiences, emotions and ideas that have been fed into your brain. Its quite simple, pick any random word and jot down the first word that comes to your mind when you think of that word. Do the same for the word you jotted down and keep going until you feel like stopping. At first the words may not make any sense and in fact may seem like utter nonsense!but if you keep coming back to it, you will see associations that you never thought of the first time and every visit will bring forward a new dimension until you arrive upon a wonderful idea or solution. We all know our brains are more powerful than any super computer and every second we are consciously and unconsciously feeding it with loads of data which is being safely stored away for future reference. No matter what words we pick, our subconscious mind will find a way to associate it according to our current need though we may not be aware of it initially. Mind mapping (which I covered in a previous post)can be an excellent tool to help with this exercise.

When using this exercise for problem solving, it does require a little bit of patience and out of the box thinking but  practice will help get the creative juices flowing. This can also be used  as a fun idea generator for stories or any form of writing. Here is a quick example to get you started!

Its summer break and you need ideas to teach life skills to kids in a fun way but you have no idea where to start or how to go about it. You need ideas to get you started.  So I’m going to use random word associations to help come up with a plan. Since its for kids, I’m going to start with the word, KIDS and write the first word that comes to my mind when I think of the word ,Kids and keep going until I feel like .

Kids—- fun—– play—– fight—- draw—- art—– pack—— dish—-cloth—-neat—–seat——heat—–will—–can—-do—-finish—-might—-sight.

From these set of words I could pick a couple of words that might cater to a life skill I might want to teach, and focus only on that during the summer break. Like dish (helping put away dishes or setting the table) or cloth ( folding their clothes or putting away their clothes in its appropriate place) . Now obviously I would do better to teach the skill in a fun and playful manner and for this I could use art and drawing to help me, for example draw and put up a visual reminder of the steps needed to be taken to complete the task from start to finish. Put this up at a place which is within the kids sight and motivate them to do their best with a pack of simple goodies when the job is well done. This is just a simple example of the use of this technique in our everyday problem solving needs in a creative manner.

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” –Dr. Seuss -The Lorax

Each person’s interpretation to the same set of words will be different and will be oriented to his/her goal and that’s what makes it all the more amazing!

The starting word can be picked randomly from a book or picture or magazine . As with most creative exercises spontaneity is what matters. Too much time to think up a word is not the idea. For younger children the starting word and subsequent words can be picked from a pack of picture cards and the story or idea can be drawn in pictures . It could provide as an excellent cooling off activity for kids after a temper fit or rough time in a social setting  and encourage them to think of possible creative solutions  and help them enhance their problem solving skills. Initially multiple rounds of modelling and support will be needed when introducing this technique with kids . The most important thing to keep in mind while doing this is, every idea born out of the mind is like a baby, no matter how big, small, bright, dull, fantastic or senseless it may seem, it is still worth loving and cherishing.

As always, I can’t wait to hear about the wonderful ideas this technique helped you all generate and the fabulous ways in which it was used!!!

 

Image courtesy :Pixabay

 

 

 

 

10 Outragiously Simple Ideas To Rescue Kids From Turning Into Digital Zombies

10 Outragiously Simple Ideas To Rescue Kids From Turning Into Digital Zombies

I know a lot has been written and said about the effects of digital gadgets on Children’s physical and mental health but we as parents and communities are still weary of shielding them due to the enormous power of connectivity and global knowledge that it has to offer. With educational institutions relying more and more on digital platforms to impart lessons , parents are unable to shrug off the pressure of keeping up with the fast evolving digital culture and thereby exposing children to hours of screen time that can leave them over stimulated ,irritable and sleep deprived. However just a little bit of regulated screen time and incorporating a few holistic habits into our Children’s everyday lives can help us enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution that our kids are lucky to be a part of without the guilt of unattended screen time! Here are 10 simple ideas to get you started right away!

 

  1. Me Time : It’s absolutely important to help kids establish a regular ME time. A time to quite the body and mind and just listen to their breath. A quick 2 mins can be a great start and can do wonders! Meditation can sometimes be a heavy word for kids so a simple countdown from 60-1 can equally serve the purpose of slowing down their speeding brains.

 

2.Nature dips : Regular nature dips are totally profound. Every once in a while gazing at the stars, rolling in the grass , wading in a lake or building a snowman can offer a much more amazing experience than the coolest video game.

 

3.Age old grandma’s tales : Stories have been a powerful medium of communication since the beginning of time. It has the capacity to transcend religion , race, community, territories, continents ,culture and language more than any other form of communication. The emotions in stories have the power to unite even the most radically different strangers. Why not use it to spark our Children’s imaginations and impart powerful ideas? A little bit of screen time replaced by a family story time can also be a beautiful way to bond!

 

  1. Everyday scavenger hunt : One of the biggest complaints about digital gadgets is the ease with which people get sucked into it thereby becoming totally indifferent towards the world around them. If you don’t want your kids to text you across the table asking you to pass the salad ,then developing their observational skills and mindfulness can go a long way. A simple game of everyday scavenger hunt can be a simple and fun way to do that. It’s as simple as, find 10 blue objects in the house or think of five things that start with the letter ‘T’ in your room. The variations are endless!

 

  1. Digital fast :We all get a weekly break from work and school during weekends. Our bodies and minds get a break to replenish and recharge at night . So why not our gadgets? A weekly (okay! I can hear you all screaming “Whaaat!” ) or monthly digital fast can increase your productivity to a surprising amount. At the least it can help you gain a sense of who is the master of whom. Are you in charge of your gadget or by any chance have you turned into its slave? It’s very important to model this rather than preach it to kids.

 

  1. Creative immersion :The best way to teach our kids to be in touch with their true selves and not just their gadgets is through their creativity. Unlike what people used to think, everyone is born creative and nurturing it to its optimum levels is in our hands. The pre digital era had kids indulging in coin collection, stamp collection and a variety of similar hobbies. So what’s stopping them now? Encouraging kids to pursue a hobby is never an obsolete idea! music, dance, painting, rock collections, reading poetry, writing a story, making a greeting card, photographing nature, building Lego models, helping your community in the tiniest way like picking up garbage and disposing it appropriately can all have an immensely satisfying effect. To pick a hobby, only your imagination is the limit. Don’t tell me you can’t think of even one! If you really can’t, then its high time you start thinking!

 

  1. Human connections: The world-wide web has undoubtedly connected the farthest people from across continents with the click of a button. Social networks and apps have totally transformed the way in which we socialize. A one stop destination to keep up with the happenings in the life of everyone is definitely convenient , but picking up the phone to call our best friend or family for no reason is a much better way to have an emotional connection. After all aren’t we humans creatures of emotion? All the love and hate around us are due to our pent-up emotions. So isn’t it important for us to teach our children the value of human connections? If you don’t want to receive a happy birthday text from your son on your 60th birthday, then the next time ,instead of wishing your parents for their anniversary on Facebook, pick up the phone and call, or better yet, give them a surprise visit! However powerful it may be, the world wide web can never convey the warmth of a hug.

 

  1. Traditional game nights : Game nights can be more than watching a sport on T.V with family and friends or entering a virtual world with Xbox .Introducing board games into family fun activities can be an effortless way of instilling sportsman spirit , patience and most importantly fun into the family. Dumb charades , I spy and word games are great opportunities to have eye contact ,face to face conversations and bonding. Games like chess ,snake and ladders , scrabble etc.. have the added benefit of enhancing the mind and imparting educational skills to kids.

 

  1. Life skills : If our kids end up as 40-year-old adolescents capable of coding, yet clueless about how to fix their dinner, then we have royally missed out on an integral aspect of parenting and that is ,to impart life skills to our children. More screen time is resulting in less time spent to learn critical surviving skills. Life skills are not confined to just doing chores around the house. It extends to every aspect of our life in order to lead a happy and successful life, like maintaining a fit body , happy and positive mental attitude, tolerant and empathetic social skills, respect and love in relationships , money skills , giving back to society , time management and organizational skills and of course house skills like fixing dinner, doing the laundry etc. The simplest way to do this is to just include kids in our everyday life. Model, explain and include them in age appropriate tasks pertaining to all these aspects without judgment and with tons of patience.

 

  1. Family projects : Finally, one last tip to get this party rolling! We all talk about how Television and various other gadgets of the screen family have been the main cause for the need of instant gratification among our kids and hence the need to teach the valuable lesson of perseverance! What better way than to do a family project? Start a project that the entire family is part of. It could be as simple as doing a simple DIY project at home to learning a new skill or language together. Coming up with a list of loved ones and making & mailing greeting cards during your favorite festive season could be the simplest way to start for little ones.

 

Whether you choose to try out all or just some of these tips , be sure to make time for life! Or it might just pass you by while you are busy updating your status!  I know I have talked in detail about few of the things in this list in my previous posts , but a quick recap with a few extra nuggets thrown in could be a great reminder!I need them too from time to time :)And dont forget, I would love your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Image courtesy :Pixabay

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I see?

The Best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see –Alexandra K. Trenfor

We all go through the motions of life mostly on autopilot ,oblivious to our surroundings and to a large extent ourselves too. With smart screens dominating every aspect of our lives, we rarely have time to even look at our reflection in the mirror! It is only when we occasionally lift up our heads and look around that we realize what we are missing. We fail to understand the immense power of observation. Wait a minute! What has observation got to do with creativity? Creativity is all about creating something new right? Well , not quite!

“Have you noticed how nobody ever looks up? Nobody looks at chimneys, or trees against the sky, or the tops of buildings. Everybody just looks down at the pavement or their shoes. The whole world could pass them by and most people wouldn’t notice.”
Julie Andrews Edwards.

 

It so happens that observational skills are a powerful propellant of creativity. At the very basic level, it is observation ,that mostly leads to inspiration and later creation. But there’s more to it than just that. Research shows that if we keep observing something for a long time, our mind gets bored of it and starts to look for alternate ways to perceive it by breaking it into smaller parts and looking for the interesting parts. Initially you are only aware of the sense of boredom but later these interesting bits surface into your consciousness thereby leading to exciting creations! A healthy habit of observation also helps us notice patterns and can thereby lead to creative associations and problem solving.

“We try so hard to instruct our children in all the right things―teaching good from bad, explaining choices and consequences―when in reality most lessons are learned through observation and experience. Perhaps we’d be better off training our youth to be highly observant.”   –     Richelle E. Goodrich

 

Developing observational skills in our children not only increases their focus and attention span but also helps them perceive and comprehend things in new and creative ways .The more data you feed your brain with, the more creative solutions it comes up with! There are lots of fun ways and exercises to encourage observational skills in children. Here are 5 ways to get started.

  1. Spot the differences – As a child this was my favorite activity from  Children’s magazines ! you basically have two almost identical pictures and have to spot the differences between the two. Here is a cool link which has lots of ‘spot the differences’ games.http://www.spotthedifference.com/
  2. Maintaining an observational journal – This is as simple as having a small sketchpad with you where your can draw and write your observations of people you see, animals, nature etc…. A quite time at the park observing and noting down everything you see might be a fun exercise!
  3. Observational challenge – Challenge yourself or your children to look for something new in familiar places . For example look for 2 new things in your room. Something you have never noticed before. It could be a crack in the wall  or a tiny rubber ball under the desk. Or look for something new in your car or classroom or your favorite park. A scavenger hunt is always a winner with kids!
  4. Finding hidden faces in pictures and other brain teasers that require observational skills. Here is a great place to find exactly what I’m talking about.  http://www.funwithpuzzles.com/2012/06/hidden-faces-puzzle.html.      and picture-puzzles
  5. Finally use your other senses to observe . Observation doesn’t start and end with your eyes alone! Taking in the smells, feeling textures and listening carefully to sounds are all ways of observing.

 

A little more to read up here.

Creativity is essentially interacting with the world around in a deeply inspired manner and observation is where it all starts! So let’s not sleepwalk through life . Lets wake up, lift our heads and pay attention to the world around us with all our senses and encourage our children to do the same. As always , I would love to hear your valuable thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Image courtesy : Pixabay

Mind mapping

Mind mapping

Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill — Tony Buzan

 

My older son just finished his state testing and the process taught me a very important lesson. As much as I would like to believe that testing scores don’t matter much to me and that my children are way beyond the scores, I realized with slight alarm that the entire testing process does affect me on some level. It’s not so much the scores but the fact that the scores  might change the way my son saw himself and the subtle ways in which it might alter his self-confidence and self-worth,  was something I pondered over the past few weeks. He’s at an age where his friends talk about the upcoming tests and I think I saw fleeting traces of worry on his face on  couple of days leading up to the test . I also read a timely post from fellow blogger Intentergy that reminded me that testing is a pretty stressful time for teachers too! You can find her wonderful post here .

With competition hitting rooftops ,we are all stuck in a world where our children are expected to prove their academic worth and skills in less than 3 hours . Unfair , I agree , but that’s just the way it is and we all need to  fasten our seat belts and get through the ride, however bumpy it may be! As a mother , all I could offer was support and encouragement. It was pretty heartening to see my son’s self-confidence though! Whenever I suggested  to put in some time practicing, pat came his reply ,” Mom! I am so prepared, I could give the test right now!” While I tried my best to keep his self-confidence intact, I wanted to help him strike a balance between being self-confidant and not getting over-confident. My quest to help my son stay relaxed and get excited about giving tests ( after all this is just the beginning !) brought me to mind mapping . I stumbled upon some wonderful resources and books which gave me a great head start on the fascinating subject! I would like to add at the outset that I didn’t get enough time to practice this with my boys extensively due to lack of time before the tests,  but this is something I am planning to work on over the summer holidays and hopefully do a follow-up  post!

“I have so many ideas buzzing around in my head. How else could I capture all these mini inspirations,quickly, without the simplicity of Mind Mapping?” – Dominic O’’Brien, nine times World Memory Champion

 

So now ,more about mind mappingMind mapping is  a more creative way of studying and retaining information which are two of the most important skills needed in academic life. It is an extension of a couple of aspects of creativity that I had explored in previous posts, story telling and pictures in the head . Mind mapping combines these two skills to give you an edge over traditional study techniques like rote learning or cramming. In simple words Mind mapping is all about linking information using pictures and words which resembles a map and helps you recall content and facts about your topic quickly and efficiently !

Lets get down to the basics then. You can start as soon as children are old enough to hold pencils, markers or crayons . Start with describing a simple short story and ask them to draw pictures and write key words about what they are hearing. Be as descriptive as you can. Give them basic guidelines or a simple template of the main idea in the center and basic branches to key events or concepts . Remember, there are no hard and fast rules in creative learning! Their mind map doesn’t have to match your vision of the story or concept, and each person’s mind map is different. Be there to guide, but please refrain your temptation of teaching. The most important idea behind every creative approach is to enjoy the process and always remember to have  FUN! Mind maps can prove to be excellent tools to comprehend science, history ,book studies or just about anything! Your imagination is the limit! Narrating simple concepts while children draw their mind maps will be the only guidance they will need from you initially. Once they get a hang of it ,and as they move up to higher grades, they can dissect and assimilate complex topics using mind maps. A simple habit of mapping concepts as they read and study can create wonders in the way they comprehend and recall information. Here is a basic template to get you started.

And a simple mind map by me .Please excuse any errors, I am still learning this fascinating tool 🙂 .

mind-mapping1

 

 

Some of the resources that helped me learn more about mind mapping can be found here , here and here . I also went on to buy a wonderful book by Tony Buzan called Mind maps for kids . It covers all the basics in a simple yet concise manner providing lots of ideas to work on! I have just skimmed through the book for now and plan to go through it in detail over the summer. I hope mind maps change the way children view learning and helps them actually look forward to it! 🙂 As always, I would love to hear the ways mind maps helped your children , or your mind maps trials in the comments below ! What are you waiting for?Unleash your creativity and  let the fun begin !

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay

 

 

It’s all in your hands

It’s all in your hands

Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands. -Clint Eastwood
 

A Mother’s Hand

I know the blogosphere has been flooded with Mother’s day posts and rightly so. Whatever we do or say about our mothers  and our roles as mothers is never enough. I’ve been a little tied up the last few days and so couldn’t get my post out in time, but any day is a good day to honor mothers ! 🙂 So even though the focus of my blog is Creativity, today I decided to wrap my post around the spirit of motherhood and the lady who started it all in my life, Yes my very own Mother. No mother has ever gone to a school to learn how to raise her children and every mother has her own creative ways of dealing with her own little angels ( or devils 🙂 ) . My mother is quite exceptionally creative ,be it her hobbies or her persona. A rule breaker and a trend setter.

We all can agree that creativity is stifled in an environment of ‘Right ,Wrong, Yes, No , Should ,Should Not ‘ and numerous other similar rules that aspires to make a clone out of us. Of course, code of conducts are  important guidance systems to ensure a sense of security and trust but when it comes to creativity, the best gift we can give our children is Freedom. Freedom to make mistakes , freedom to be messy , freedom to be different and freedom to explore the heights of their true self.

Isn’t Creativity essentially more about the process than the end result? The minute  a slight hint of anxiety over the end result creeps in, it instantly destroys the joy of creation. As mothers ,we all tend to expect the best out of our children, and unknowingly we pass on a vibe of expectation that our kids promptly pick up. The pressure of living up to their parents dreams can crush quite a many budding creators. So this Mother’s day , I remind myself of one of the most important lesson my mother modeled during my growing up years, the freedom to be completely me.

I was free to explore ,get hurt and learn my own lessons yet she was always there to guide me when I needed it. As much as I try to give the gift of freedom to my boys, I am yet to match up to the level of total faith and confidence that my mother had in me. All I know is that I am not a perfectionist and I can bear the fact that my house is nowhere close to looking like a museum. I don’t expect my boys to color within the lines or follow the instructions on the manual. I can most certainly live with the mess after my boys help me out with dinner or the mountain of books, after they are suddenly in a mood to explore every book on the bookshelf. It’s totally okay to be loud, make unearthly animal sounds and act silly in our house.

Today I would like to touch upon just one binding, that might do us well if given up, to spike up the creativity in our children or even us! And that is to explore the non dominant hand. We all have a dominant hand that we use to write, draw, eat, open doors etc.. And the non dominant hand or opposite hand playing a supporting role. It doesn’t matter if you are right-handed or left-handed, the non dominant hand can get you in touch with your creative side. It has been proven that when you use your dominant hand, one hemisphere of the brain is activated ,whereas the non dominant hand activates both the hemispheres! Leading to surprisingly creative ideas or out of the box thinking. The dominant hand is linked to the logical, analytical part of the brain while the non dominant hand is connected to the creative and intuitive part. So writing or drawing with the non dominant hand will activate and strengthen those parts of the brain that are not used on a daily basis.

 

A man paints with his brains and not with his hands . – Michelangelo

The non-dominant hand

Giving kids the freedom to use either or their non dominant hand  while they draw , do a fun art project or write a story  might be a great way to start. Neatness or perfection is not the key.The process is. It sure may take some time getting used to using the opposite hand and the first few attempts might produce totally undecipherable masterpieces!! 🙂 but with patience and practice it will definitely get better. So  just break the rules and try this easy technique to activate a few extra brain neurons when stumped for ideas or to generally boost up  creative thinking skills. Whatever it is, don’t forget to have fun!!

Few ideas to get started .

  1. Start with teaching your opposite hand to write your name.
  2. Draw basic shapes or stick figures.
  3. Have a spontaneous dialog between both hands in writing. Don’t think too much! Go with whatever comes to your mind first.
  4. Try doing other normal routine activities with your opposite hand like pouring water, opening doors etc…
  5. Fingerpaint using your non dominant hand.

You can find more information about the non dominant hand here  and  here  .I hope your non dominant hands open up wonderful creative thinking avenues  and ,my love to all the amazing moms out there ,who tirelessly lend a helping hand to put a smile on their little miracle’s face and finally, thank you mom for your wonderful hands that are always a blessing above my head.

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay