Extending a smile can help encourage and bring delight to others as well as yourself. Take time to stop and smile today!
Creativity surrounds us in many forms – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Moving outside routine habits into an exploratory stage or uncomfortable stage can often help us connect to new creative energy.
Here are 10 ways to help spark your creativity:
1. Learn a new skill. Take a class, watch a video, or learn from a friend a new skill that interests you. If you have a college or university in your community, browse the continuing education course offerings. Your local community websites or newspapers may also offer workshops on a variety of topics such as improv, cooking, photography, or CPR. Be ready to discover!
2. Take a journey alone. When we are alone we tend to be more focused on our surroundings and the experience, providing an easier path to spot creative ideas. Stretch yourself to move outside your comfort zone. Being uncomfortable might feel a little stressful at first, but the more you do it, the better it will feel. We are not growing until we are uncomfortable.
3. Change your environment. Instead of working in your office or cube every day, try a change of scenery. Take your work to the library, park, or other inspiring location. Visit workplaces of friends and colleagues.
4. Visit a museum. Whether your interest is art, science, animals, cars, airplanes, antiques, or other area, plan a trip to a museum. Museums are full of inspiration and history. There may be a local museum or historical society in your community that you never knew existed. Take the time to explore. Search here for a museum in your area.
5. Play in the dirt. There is something about being close to nature that can relax our mind and body. Maybe you need to pull some weeds, plant some seeds, or do a soil sample. Enjoy your time in nature! Mother nature is a great teacher.
6. Exercise. Regular exercise not only improves your energy level, flexibility, and numerous other health benefits, but it also sparks your creative inspiration. Take a walk, ride a bike, jump rope, or visit an exercise class. Build an exercise routine into your schedule so you can continually improve your mental and physical performance.
7. Take notes. Keeping a journal, notebook, note cards, or other documenting system, will allow you to track your thoughts and give you time to reflect. Sketch an idea with visuals or with written words. You never know where you might be when a note worthy opportunity arises so it’s important to keep a pen/pencil/paper or electronic device close by to capture your ideas.
8. Dream. Relax and let your mind wander. Visualize the outcomes you want to achieve.
9. Build your network. Reach out to others in similar roles across different industries, attend workshops and conferences, connect online and offline. Be appreciative of others that are different from you, as they will enhance and broaden your views.
10. Make good mistakes. Thomas Edison explored hundreds of good mistakes on his journey to making a light bulb.
“The person who is afraid to make mistakes will be afraid to try.”
– Arthur W. Combs, Educational Psychologist
An essential element to business is the joy of creating. Keep looking for ways to expand your discovery skills and creative inspiration.
The warm summer temperatures mixed with the occasional rainstorm creates a perfect environment for a vegetable garden. You plant the seeds and crops, and with some help from nature, the conditions can bring you much more than simply delicious vegetables.
Over the past 4 years of gardening, I have discovered the following 7 ways a vegetable garden can increase your productivity.
1. Rising Early. Getting an early start each day can help you focus with quiet time before your schedule gets too busy. Early mornings are the best time to water your garden. Water the roots, not the leaves.
By rising early you have time alone in the garden to relax and listen to nature around you. I often inspect my garden in the morning for any harmful insects and pick vegetables that are ready to be eaten.
2. Healthy Nutrients. We are what we eat! Consuming healthy vegetables and herbs can have a great impact on our bodies. A fresh tomato or cucumber from
a garden far exceeds the quality of vegetables on a shelf in the local grocery store. When we eat healthy, we feel better, which leads to greater productivity.
Click here to download a PDF of Nutritional Facts for some Raw Vegetables from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
3. Convenience. A garden can save you time and money. Instead of driving to the grocery store to pick up some spinach, pepper, or other vegetable, you can step outside in your yard, on a porch, or balcony. Even if you don't have a yard, there are still creative ways you can grow some crops to enjoy healthy eating. Some examples include:
4. Sharing with Others. When you have more than you need, share! I gave away 12 cucumbers recently to 5 different people including family, friends, and neighbors. Sharing vegetables with others is a fun way to learn more about people. I know what vegetables some of my neighbors like because I have had the opportunity to share with them. It takes little time to bring such pleasure to others. It's the small gestures that mean so much.
5. Growth. The more your garden grows, the more you grow! Each time you begin planting your garden, try something different such a vegetable you have not planted or a new variety of a crop. Take time to review seed packets and plan out what you would like to plant. By expanding your knowledge of crops you will learn more about the food you eat.
6. Creativity. From designing the layout of your garden to preparing meals with your vegetables, there is an abundance of creative opportunities. Discover what areas you like best about gardening and let your imagination go! Maybe you enjoy trying new recipes, experimenting with different soils, or trying different varieties of crops.
7. Appreciation. Each stage in the development of a garden is critical. From preparing the soil, selecting the seeds and variety, planting, watering, to harvesting. Maintaining a garden has given me much appreciation for the importance of gardening and farming. There are amazing nutritional benefits from growing your own food. The work is worth it!
These seven areas are a short list of how we can all benefit from vegetable gardening. To keep our minds and bodies productive we need to eat healthy, have quiet time, share with others, expand our knowledge, engage our creative skill sets, save time and money, and appreciate the importance of nature. The next time you are in your garden or visiting a garden, think about what aspects of gardening may contribute to your productivity.
You may have gone on a hunt recently, possibly for some Easter eggs. I love to hide and hunt for Easter eggs. A fun pastime that has not disappeared with my aging. As I hunt for Easter eggs I learn more with every egg I find. An egg may be hiding in different terrains, heights, or positions I may not have thought about, but I gained knowledge throughout the hunting process.
Deciding on how to create your website and identifying website creation tools can be a hunt also. I continue to challenge myself as I work to improve my own website and help others. There are a plethora of options if you want to create your own website. Many template based website platforms such as Weebly or Wix offer user-friendly interfaces without the need to write code. Weebly offers options for customizing code so power users can have full control over the HTML and CSS in the website theme. Power users may also enjoy creating a site using WordPress. WordPress is free open source software built by a distributed community of mostly volunteer developers from around the world. When using Wordpress, you can select a free or paid theme for your starting point and then add additional functionality to the theme by finding plugins that fit your needs. The learning curve can be a little steeper with WordPress depending on your experience and knowledge.
If you are embarking on a website creation hunt, below are a few questions that may be helpful to ask yourself before you begin:
1. Do you plan to manage the site yourself or prefer others to manage it for you?
If you plan to manage the site yourself, evaluate your knowledge, experience, time, and desire to want to update content and handle any issues that may occur. Some interfaces will be more user-friendly than others. Keeping content fresh and current is significant.
2. What content would you like on the site? Text, Photos, Videos, Audio, Downloadable documents, Contact Form, Online Store (eCommerce), Social Icons, Maps, Password Protected Pages, etc.,
It is important to think through what content and features you would like on your site as some website packages have different levels of functionality and you want to make sure you purchase the plan or choose the platform that best fits your needs. If you are selling digital goods, physical products, or services, you may want an online store.
3. Do you currently have a blog or do you want to manage a blog on the website? Are you currently active on social media or do you want to become active on social media? Do you use email marketing?
There are lots of options for social sharing and blog tools. For example, some website platforms may allow you to create a blog right on the site where other platforms may connect with third-party blogging tools. If you have an email newsletter you may want to check with your email marketing provider and they may offer plugins or code for you to insert in your website for users to subscribe to your email newsletter.
I continue to enjoy my website creation journey as my website evolves and I add new features. The Voice in Bloom website was created using Weebly and it has been a wonderful, user-friendly experience. Hope you dig into your site and let your creativity explode!
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Trying to view beautiful scenery out of a dirty window is a bit frustrating. The scene appears tarnished by dust and lack of care given to the face of the window. Missing a lovely view because of an unclean window is similar to missing a message that was communicated in an unwelcoming style. You want to see the scenery and hear the message but it comes out clouded because the proper attention was not given. The world is full of variety in personality traits, communication styles, cultures, and roots that influence how we behave and relate to one another. Attempting to communicate a simple or complex message without having understanding of the audience we plan to communicate with, might lead to dust in the communication channel.
How might one prepare to communicate a message with a particular audience? Here are a few tips.
I came across this quote and wanted to share:
It is difficult to not only say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. - George Sala
Wishing you bright and clear windows of communication in 2015!
The challenge of finding the next piece in a puzzle or solving the mystery playing a game of Clue are mental fitness activities I have always enjoyed. There is something about needing to discover and complete the next step that keeps my creativity and problem solving wheels turning. The feeling of accomplishment is a positive boost also. There are endless opportunities to engage our brains in positive mental fitness activities involving puzzles, games, taking something apart, or walking through a corn maze to test your mental and physical fitness.
Games are being used frequently in education and business environments to enhance learning. In one of my undergraduate management courses our class was divided into teams and we used a management simulation game to help teach us about the elements involved in running a business such as budgeting, hiring, inventory control, and much more. It was one of my favorite classes and was a memorable and valuable exercise that required collaboration from all students. In reading an informative blog post from the Association of Talent Development website, Five Tips for Success When Using Games in Training, I was able to better understand some of the behind the scenes preparation that was involved in the management game I had played 15 years ago. The role of games or gamification in organizations continues and the article, Gamification: Three Ways to use Gaming For Recruiting, Training, and Health & Wellness, explains the growing use of gaming in businesses.
There are many studies and articles that discuss the importance of keeping our minds challenged and the creative insights that are ignited through mental fitness activities. What is your favorite mental fitness exercise? How often do you participate in mental fitness activities?
In most countries, transportation signs are a common siting used to communicate the maximum speed allowed. As technology has improved, some areas have adopted smarter highways that present digital speed limit signs with variable limits. Smarter highways provide drivers with real time traffic information and the ability to adjust the speed limits according to what is occurring at that time, thus increasing roadway efficiency and driver safety.
Relating this concept to our lives, there are times when we may wish we could post our internal speed limit to alert others or we may need others to hold us accountable to a maximum allowed speed limit. Just as speed limits vary depending on what area of the country we may be visiting, each of us has our own speed limit according to our individual stage of life. Think about when you meet someone for the first time, you may quickly try to predict their speed limit. If they could post or tell you their speed limit, it might help the introduction and networking process, but it would take the fun out of trying to identify their speed limit!
Challenge of the week: What do you think is your average internal speed limit? What might cause an increase or decrease in your internal speed limit? How do you adjust your internal speed limit?
When you enter a cemetery, many words and feelings may come to mind. Emotions can be stirred and thoughts of anger, pain, peace, and beauty may arise. I came across the following words in a book that forced me to take notice, "we see what we are prepared to see" When I visit a cemetery I enjoy taking a relaxing stroll and admiring the grounds and intriguing history of those who have walked before me. Taking regular visits keeps memories refreshed and allows time for keeping my mind open to things I may not have expected to see.
How we prepare ourselves and set expectations can greatly impact our outcomes. In a business transaction, meeting a new person, reviewing a document, or searching for a missing item, if we fail to to bring an open mindset, doom and gloom could set in quickly and hinder our ability to see what is needed.
Challenge of the Week: Take an opportunity that develops this week and try to minimize your normal approach or viewpoint and see what surfaces.