HOW TO FEED THE SOUL--living a more creative life

#1 How to feed your soul and live a more creative Life……..our inner child artist

Our inner artist is a child and needs to be able to play.  Our artist brain is our inventor, our child.  It sees things and says "Wow!  I like that color, that pattern, that verse...."  Our logic brain is our Censor.  It says, "That's not right.  I can't do that.   It's too hard."   We battle to let the child come out by the Censor, an internal and eternal critic who resides in our left brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth.  But remember that your Censor's negative opinions are not truth.  It takes practice to let go of the negativity and allow yourself to play and fail.  With gentle, deliberate effort, shadow artists must nurture their artist child.  Creativity is play, but for shadow artists, learning to allow themselves to play is hard work.

#1. " To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."  Joseph Chilton Pearce
Try something unsafe and let go of the fact that it won't be something that you can sell.  Try to write a poem just to try, or draw something on a piece of paper just because it interests you.  Trying something for the first time is a whole new learning curve that challenges your brain to think outside of its box.  It's ok if it is hard and it you don't understand it the first time.  Wrestling with something and trying to "figure it out"in your brain is the point.

#2.  Art is the imagination at play in the field of time.  Let yourself play.  Schedule an "art date" with your artist child.  A weekly artist date is remarkably threatening--and remarkably productive.  A long country walk in solitude.  A solo trip to the beach, aquarium or art gallery.  A visit to a great junk store, a concert or jazz or gospel music in a strange church, an exploration of a new ethnic neighborhood or park or conservatory.  Dust off that old book of poetry.  Play the piano or guitar even if you don't know how.  Commit to do a solo art date and fight the temptation to include a third party.  Guard this time as sacred time to get nurture yourself.  Be on the look out for "dates" that interest you in the paper and set a time to do it!
{The above excerpts are taken from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.}
Let's add some more ideas of how to live a creative life that feeds the soul……..I welcome your input...

#2 How to feed the soul and live a more creative life.... Get Outdoors

"The scientific community is also discovering the outdoors as a divine elixir.  Researchers at the University of Michigan determined that participants' memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after an hour of interacting with nature.  They also discovered the benefits of the outdoors were the same whether the temperature was 80 degrees and sunny or 25 degrees and frigid......Scientists in Sweden found that joggers who exercise in settings with trees and landscape views felt more rejuvenated and wrestled with fewer bouts of anxiety, anger or depression than those who completed the same exercise regimen in an urban setting.  An Australian researcher believes the sudden skyrocket in nearsightedness-myopia-among youth is due to young people spending less time outdoors where their eyes learn to focus on longer distances."  Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg, pg. 50

     "In Richard Louv's book 'The Nature Principle,' he points out that for the first time in history, more than half of the world's population lives in towns and cities rather than more rural environments.  The traditional ways humans interacted with creation are disappearing.  As we enter the age of electronic connectivity, we're becoming less connected to our natural environment.  The result is that many of us are suffering from nature-deficit disorder, which he defines as "an atrophied awareness, a diminished ability to find meaning in the life that surrounds us, whatever form it takes."  He argues this reduction in our lives has a direct impact on our physical, mental, and societal health."  Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg pg. 51

If our physical lives are so affected, isn't our spiritual being as affected as well?  "What if the reduction in time spent outdoors impacts our relationship with God and the restorative work he wants to do in our lives?  Spending time outdoors has a way of shifting our perspective from inward to outward as we see the delicacies and intricacies of God's creation....One of the great wonders of creation is that God uses our natural world to alert us to his presence....God reveals his nature--in nature - All-powerful, wildly creative, infinitely wise, God is the supreme ruler.  His throne isn't founded in suspicion or threat but blessing and celebration.  Creation divulges the goodness of God as he declares the good, good, good of creation...Unlike other religions attempting to find guidance amidst the stars of the sky or the fear of the unknown, our God hangs stars, slings comets, and designs sea creatures.  Apart from him, they do not exist.....if God spoke creation into existence, should we be surprised when creation speaks back to us about God?"  Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg

If God can create nature, and we thrive better in nature, how much more can God heal and restore us if we take time in nature?  "If God creates such exquisiteness, how much more magnificent is the Creator?  Even the most spectacular displays in the cosmos only hint at the splendor of God; the deepest insights into nature are shallow observations compared to the depth of the nature of God.  Creation awakens me to God, inviting me to attune my senses to his presence and voice.  The wonder of creation in every encounter illuminates something about God."  Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg pg. 55

"For since the creation of the world
God''s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."  Romans 1:20

In the cycle from summer to fall, the leaves could have just turned brown and fallen off the tree.  There is no scientific reason for them to turn colors as they lose their chlorophyl.  The only reason is our God who loves to do things for our pure enjoyment and delight.
"Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;  let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.  Let all creation rejoice before the Lord!  Psalm 96:12,13

#3 How to feed the soul and live a more creative life..Making wreaths from found things

Sometimes I get distracted and try and make something out of something that I have.  Making new things out of extra free things that I have is a challenge I often do to make use out of things sitting around.  We have lots of saved corks around...lots of acorns from Michigan, {it was an abundant year,} and I like to use the plants that have been growing in the planters like sage along with cinnamon that can be used in cooking during the winter months.  This helps the creative process as well, as we are created as problem solvers.  Just as repurposing is the trend today and was the way of life for the generations before us, making things out of things that you have, or changing the original purpose of an item into something else is fun and challenges the brain.

It's also good to experiment.  "I think it's good to have a lot of projects going at once so you can bounce between them  When you get sick of one project, move over to another , and when you're sick of that one, move back to the project you left.  Practice productive procrastination."  Steal Like an Artist, 10 things nobody told you about being creative--by Austin Kleon
Cork Wreaths

#4 How to feed the soul and live a more creative life....DANCE

On those days you need extra motivation to make it to the gym, skip your appointment with the treadmill or elliptical and put on your dancing shoes.  New research shows that men and women who use dance to exercise have a more positive body image than those who don't.  Marika Tiggemann, Ph.D., author of a study published in the journal Sex Roles, says that dancing focus on health, movement and enjoyment rather than on losin weight.  "Do things to have fun," Tiggemann says.  Its not about how your body looks, It's about how you feel.  Alexandra Engler  Self Magazine 2/2015

New research on the brain has shown that we have a joy center that has the capacity to grow if we focus on building more joy into our lives, especially in the context of community.  We were created to get through the harshness of life with the help and company of community.

Brain science is helping us understand how six emotion centers are hardwired into the brain, creating a ring around a relational connection of a joy center.  Joy is in the center but is not hardwired in.  It must be developed in relationship and this is evidence that we are made in the IMAGE OF GOD.   The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have lived in relationship from eternity.  The neuronal pathways back to relational joy are formed in relationship.  A primary task of childhood/parenting is developing the neuronal pathways back to relational connection JOY from each of the six emotions.  Securely attached relationship augments capacity to handle pain, to suffer well, to handle stress, to meet challenges, to do relationships well, etc.  Community augments capacity.  If any of these areas are missing due to the absence of strong healthy childhood relationships, Jesus is the best at augmenting capacity to face old, unresolved trauma. also, "Joy Bonds" by E. James Wilder, and "Attachments-Life's connections" by Chris Coursey,

God knows how we are wired and what builds our joy capacity especially in community.  One way is dancing.  The Bible speaks of many times dancing expressed and experienced joy in community.

"Praise His name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.  For the Lord delights in His people; Psalm 149:3,4

After crossing the Red Sea, Miriam, Aaron and Moses' sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.  Exodus 15:20

Focusing on our joy center and how we can build up more capacity of joy, only helps us handle the stresses of life.  Dancing is one way to feed the soul joy.

#5--How to Feed the Soul and lead a more creative life---MEDITATE

{taken from The Daily Herald, DuPage County, IL, 6/15/15}
"Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard and Medical School, was one of the first scientists to take anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them using brain scans.  What she found surprised her--that meditating can literally change your brain....".I did a literature search of the science and saw evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and enhanced ability to pay attention, and an increased quality of life."
    "The first study I did, looked at long-term meditators versus a control group.  We found that long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex, versus the control group.  Which makes sense.  When you are mindful, you are paying attention to your breathing, to sounds, to the present moment experience, and shutting cognition down.  It stands to reason your senses would be enhanced.  We also found they had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision-making."
     "It is well documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older.  It is harder to figure things out and remember things.  But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.  So, the question was:  Did the people with more gray matter in the study have more gray matter before they started meditating?  We did a second study.  We took people who had never meditated before and put one group through an eight-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction.  We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions in the brains of the two groups.  In the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions:  1]The posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering and self-relevance, 2]The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation, 3] the temporoparietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective-taking, empathy and compassion, 5] An area of the brain stem called the pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.  The amygdala--the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general--that area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based, stress-reduction program.  The change in the amygdala was also correlated to a reduction in stress levels......Mindfulness is just like exercise.  It is a form of mental exercise,...and just as exercise increases health, helps us handle stress better, and promotes longevity, meditation purports to confer some of those same benefits."

     So, she goes on to say, "find a good teacher."  What better teacher than the One who created you and knows you inside and out.

"The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.  But I, GOD, search the heart and examine the mind.  I get to the heart of the human.  I get to the root of things.  I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be."  Jeremiah 17:9,10 The Message translation.

     Meditation is a daily time-out from life as usual for quiet thinking, listening and noticing thoughts, breathing and feelings.
     Meditation is pausing to think, to reflect, to imagine.  It is stopping our reactive behavior and pausing to think why we are reacting that way.  We establish patterns and fall back into them because they are comfortable.  That is mindless living, almost going through life by rote without thinking because we are so busy and so scheduled.
     Meditation is focused thinking.  Instead of going through the motions of our busy, over scheduled lives, it is pausing to receive focus from the only One, God, who knows our future.
     Meditation is pausing to stop our many scattered thoughts and activities to focus on the one thing that is important for that particular situation.
     Meditation is stopping our mind from automatically going into "problem-solving" mode, to listen to the One who knows our problems and has a different, higher, thinking perspective on our problems.
     In essence, meditation is pausing our lives for a time of listening prayer--not talking prayer, since God knows what we are going to say anyway, but actual listening and noticing the feelings and peace of being in the presence of someone stronger, wiser and more able than ourselves.  We were wired for this central connection--it heals, lowers blood pressure and stress.  Without the God connection, we are left to our own ways of thinking, our own limited wisdom, our bad patterns of behavior and old ways of dealing with problems.  We resort to old patterns, even though they may be destructive, simply because they feel familiar.  RUTS.

     So plug into a channel for a new way of thinking, a new perspective, new ways to solve problems that you have never dreamed about, as well as new dreams that God has for you.  The possibilities are limitless.  Be transformed.

Prayer For Focus by Carol Craft taken from Breathed by the Spirit by Carol Craft

Lord, {that} we would be centered,
                     we would be quiet,
                     we should listen for your voice.
           Remind us, Lord,
                     remind us of your Presence,
                     remind us,
                     call us,
                     sustain us with your Word.
May we know
                     beyond our knowing
May we see
                     beyond our seeing
May we hear
                     the voice you speak
Bless us, Lord,
Bless us more and more,
That we may come before your Presence,
and find ourselves transformed.

#6--How to Feed the Soul and Live a More Creative Life---FINDING QUIET


Learning to quiet oneself, not only helps us reset our emotional responses to triggers in this world, but it helps us to listen to ourselves, those around us and to God.  Learning to live in the quiet, enables us to hear....there is so much to hear.  In an ideal world, we learn to quiet ourselves when we are children.  This enables us to better regulate our emotional responses and to learn and change behavior.  Those of us who do not learn this as children, risk uncontrolled outbursts of anger, or shutting down into depression.  Operating in the middle level, where all of our relational circuits are "ON" enables us to communicate with those around us in a healthy and beneficial way.

Below is an excerpt from Wilder talks on emotional brain health and the benefits of learning "Quiet" as children.  It is not too late to use these principles as adults to help navigate our relationships and circumstances.

The Need for Quiet Versus Time-Out

In my last blog, I mentioned that one of the tools we use in our home is quiet practice. Some of you might be thinking, “What, exactly is quiet practice, and is this simply a fancy word for a time-out?” I’m so glad you asked!
What I refer to as a quiet practice in my house can look very similar to the classic “time-out” often used as a discipline in some homes. There are key differences between the two, so let me clarify.
The purpose of a quiet practice is to give our kids space for a “reset.” This means the child takes deep breaths, calms down, and turns on their brain’s relational circuits. While quiet practice can be used as a “consequence” for misbehavior, the purposeful pause is more about stopping in the midst of a problem situation and taking a moment to reset back to peace. There are times this may feel like a consequence to my sons, but it is a consequence with a purpose. The other point to highlight here is that my sons are permitted to have this reset in proximity to me, so I am around—though not necessarily in the same room as my son—when he is in quiet time.
So how is this different from the standard “time-out” that is often employed when our children are misbehaving or in need of a consequence? Time-out is a discipline or consequence where children are often sent somewhere to be alone, and the result is often that they stew about what made them angry. Time-out tends to be for a set amount of time, and usually, children are still equally (or more) upset and offline (nonrelational) by the time they finish. Well-intentioned parents often utilize time-outs simply because this is what our parents did for us to bring correction to unwanted behaviors and actions.
When Chris and I first started implementing the quiet practice in our home, our sons were 3 and 5 years old. We were visiting Jim and Kitty Wilder at the time. I was frustrated during this season because I was running out of things to “take away” when my children were not listening to me or were being unkind to each other or to other people. Jim shared that he observed what we were needing in most of these situations was for my sons to quiet themselves, which would result in better behavior, better listening, and much more peace. I can honestly say I was and continue to be profoundly grateful for this suggestion! This addition changed the course of my parenting, and it increased the peace in our household!
Before we started using quiet times, I talked to the boys about the goal of this practice. I emphasized we were using quiet times to take deep breaths and calm ourselves down. Obviously, my 5-year-old had a much better understanding of the goal of this exercise than my 3-year-old. The first few times we tried the quieting step, it was clear my sons were not happy. However, after some practice, both began to get the hang of the process, and they could begin quieting themselves in a few minutes—even when they were upset or angry about the opportunity to do so. There were a few times I noticed they were too upset, so I offered to join in for a shared quiet together time. When this happened, I would sit with my son and hold him while he calmed himself down. Over time, these quiet together moments became less and less necessary.
The key to using quiet practice is this: Once you teach your children the skill of quieting through mutual regulation practice, this quieting time becomes an opportunity to quiet on their own. As my sons have grown older and started to understand more about managing their own emotions and keeping their relational circuits on, we have talked about the purpose of this time as a way to have the space they need to get back into a relational mode and calm down from their upset, hyperactivity, or even disobedience. If my sons had not learned to quiet on their own, this “quiet time” practice would basically have turned into a time-out.
The interesting thing about taking space to quiet is how it can be applicable in nearly any situation. You are mad at your brother? Take some time to quiet yourself. You are jumping around the room in a frenzy of hyperactivity? Take time to quiet. You are arguing with Mommy because you don’t want to do what I asked you to do? Take time to quiet yourself. You just broke something because you weren’t paying attention? Take time to quiet. You are mad that you can’t have what you want? Take time to quiet yourself. We still validate and comfort our children in their upset, however, quiet is the step where the reset happens.
The other rule we have regarding quiet practice is this. The faster you go to quiet and return to peace, the faster you can be done. If you argue about going to quiet practice? It is longer. If you become really upset because you have to go to quiet? It will take you longer to calm. If you go straight to a quiet space and calm yourself quickly, you can be done quickly. This has intrinsic motivation for children to use the quieting skill for themselves. It also reduces resentment because, ultimately, child maturity is the stage of life where children learn to take care of themselves, so they are learning this self-care step is their responsibility. We are helping our children to grow important skills.
The other benefit of this process is it also allows me some space to reset my brain back to relational mode and gain a bit of peace in case I am still unsettled or upset about something in the situation. This is a blessed window of time for everyone to pause, settle into relational mode, then repair or continue the conversation once the quiet time comes to an end. The outcome of returning to relational mode is more flexibility, a better understanding of one another’s mind, and more engagement of the brain’s executive functions—which proves to be more satisfying for all of us.
While we often allow our sons to take their quiet time in proximity to where we are so they are not simply sent away to stew in their feelings, we do have an exception. There are times when one of my sons will be so upset after I ask him to take a quiet moment that his upset becomes bigger, and he will start yelling or even wailing. In these moments I will remind him that he is welcome to cry, but if he is going to scream and hurt the eardrums of those around him, he will have to go to his room until he can turn down the noise. There have been times he needed to go to his room because he continued to wail and scream, and there have been other times when he was able to turn it down to a softer crying and remain in the room. Our goal here is to instill in our sons that they are responsible for their emotions and reactions.
I have found this resource to be very helpful for restoring peace, and it provides the opportunity for children to regain their footing to relational mode.
I am so thankful to be able to share our journey with you. As parents, we can always benefit from others’ examples and creativity in applying the relational skills in our homes. What about you? Have you tried teaching your child to quiet? Do you notice a difference between time out as a consequence and learning to quiet as training time? How does it change the way you, as the parent, think? How does it change the way your child responds? What ways have you found to train quieting at home? I would love to hear from you!

For more informations on and Wildertalks on Youtube for emotional brain health.


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