Mundane Monday: Patterns of Creativity

The Mundane Monday challenge for this week hasn’t been published yet, but it’s still Monday, and I have a picture that fits the spirit of the challenge: to find beauty in the mundane and take a picture of it.

I took this photo while I was out finding a geocache and some Pokemon with my husband this afternoon. It’s the wall of a building near the Hillview Community Center and Park in Los Altos, CA. I was attracted by the simplicity of the pattern and color of the leaves: the few red leaves standing out against the cream colored wall. The composition seems almost Japanese, like a Haiku. I haven’t tried adding a Prisma filter yet, and my phone with the Prisma app is downstairs and I don’t feel like getting up and going down to get it. My iPhone and I, while we love each other, need a little time apart.

I’ve been scrolling through all the New Year’s posts from the blogs that I read–blog reviews, “best of” lists, resolutions, goals, summaries, humorous memes, daily challenges–and not feeling motivated to write anything in that vein. I actually do have some goals for the year: to grow my blog, to finish my novel, to practice my violin and viola, to incorporate some core strengthening exercises into my exercise routine. But my main goal is to find a way of living that is sustainable rather than all-consuming. I need some way of approaching life that is simple, orderly, and creamy, like the photo, that will allow my mind to be creative and not frantic, to be not always looking ahead to the future but rather, living in the present, in the here and now.

One truism that was affirmed for me in 2016 was something that I suspected about myself already: I do not like having to do anything every day. This year I stopped doing pushups and leg strengtheners every day. I punted on not just one but two violin practice challenges that involved recording myself every day and posting the recordings to Facebook. I quit NaNoWriMo on November 9th. I stopped doing Morning Pages every morning and reading aloud to my husband every night. I don’t blog every day. I did not manage a picture or a posting of any sort during every day of UU Lent. I do not do a daily bike ride, or a walk. I don’t get to 10,000 steps on my Fitbit every day either.

I did do a geocachingstreak” by finding at least one geocache on every day of 2016. I finished it! All 366 days! (And still going, in fact, since we found a cache today at the community center). But in order to make that work, I had to rely on my husband for some of them and tag along with him when he was finding his cache of the day. Left to my own devices, I would have only lasted about a month every day and then just continued on finding an occasional cache here and there when I went to an interesting place, which is my natural inclination.

I’m all for schedules, goals, and doing things on a regular basis, but for whatever reason, as soon as I start having to do whatever it is *every day* I balk. I punt. I find an excuse to get out of whatever it is altogether, and end up hiding somewhere with the door closed under a pile of blankets eating too many chocolate chip cookies.

A blogging friend of mine, Lady Calen from Impromptu Promptlings, has started participating in a journaling challenge called NaJoWriMo. I’m just ignoring the part that says you’re supposed to do it every day. But I still think the first writing prompt is interesting:

For this your first prompt, describe your creative side. When I refer to creative expression, it can range from doodling in your journal, home decorating, creating a presentation for your job or organization, to singing, painting, or playing a sport. Write as much as you can about the forms of creative expression that you regularly engage in. Go on to describe the history of your creative expression(s), and how you think your creative side is a part of your personality and outlook on life.

Okay, here goes: When I am being creative, I feel like I am in a state of “flow” and I don’t notice time passing. Sometimes it passes more quickly, sometimes more slowly, for me than clock time does. But the introduction of clock time, whether in the form of deadlines or every-day requirements, into the process tends to make me anxious and shut the creativity right down. I have to approach a creative project with some mystery attached to it; I can’t know exactly when and how it will end, what it will look like, and how long it will take when I start. If I know all that already, it doesn’t end up being very creative!

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I’m creative especially in writing and in music, but I also like visual arts. I doodled all the time in school. I like to photograph things in nature. I like landscapes. My aunt, Sharon Weaver, is a plein air landscape painter based in Southern California, and if I could paint, I would want to paint like she does. But since I can’t paint I settle for an iPhone camera. In general, I like patterns: I like to see them, and to make my own. I used to sew and would like someday to get back to it. I would like to learn to play the piano well. I am also reasonably handy with tools and I’m creative in using household items and scraps to build things. For example, I jury-rigged my music stand to hang my mother’s antique Moravian Star up in the front window of the house for Christmas.

In general, I think that “Mundane Monday” is not a bad description of my creativity. I like to use mundane things–whether they be words or objects–in creative ways to make new things.

(Courtesy of Prisma the morning after)

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18 thoughts on “Mundane Monday: Patterns of Creativity”

  1. I totally love this post. You describe me to a tee. It is so hard to complete things, but obviously, you have to complete some things to get through life. I push myself to finish, then I’m exhausted and tired of it. ie NANOWRIMO and this year blogs month. I did a couple of those back to back! I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t! I’m feeling like Maundy Morning today, and it’s only Sunday! 🙂

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  2. Years ago, a friend told me that I had a terrible habit of never finishing the books I started to read and that it was a pattern that permeated many aspects of my life and that it would hold me back eventually. I took what she said to heart about finishing what you start, but not to a fanatical level. I’m a make a list for the week and see how much you can accomplish kind of gal, but I’m also okay with moving things to the next week’s list. I think that to demand too much of ourselves squelches creativity and to demand not enough makes us soft and lazy. I like the Buddha approach to life — the road of moderation — and to not get to worked up about the way things work out (“good luck, bad luck, who knows”). Having said that, I’m a sucker for completing a list and I ALWAYS finish the books I read now unless, of course, I am really not liking it, so the trick for me is to choose wisely re: books, friends, activities, and the like. Also, to remember that the only thing that matters is if you’re happy and joyful. :0)

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    1. Pam, we seem to be a lot alike! I make lists but I don’t get upset (usually) if I don’t finish them. I love it when I do, though. It also takes a lot for me to stop reading a book. I only put a book on my read list if I’ve read the whole thing, not if I’ve stopped partway through. So something has to be really wrong with a book (for me) if I don’t finish it. Almost always, I’m glad I persevere with a book. But when I stop I’m usually glad too. I agree, choose wisely, have flexible rules.

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      1. My grandmother lived in Hellertown, which isn’t too far. And my college roommate was from Elizabethtown. She lives in Huntingdon now and her husband works at Penn State. And I once applied for a job, a long time ago, at F&M. I liked Lancaster and I would like to go back. I hope we can meet in person sometime!

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  3. Your self awareness is wonderful. We each have a different lens on the world, and a different way of reacting to challenges that present themselves. Success is not in doing what works for others, but what works for you… and having the awareness and strength of conviction not to start following someone else’s path.

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  4. Creative talent comes in many different packages. I wish I could draw or paint well but my talent leans more to design and layout… so graphic design (my major in college) and photography suits me better. Your aunt’s art is amazing! I will keep an eye out for here at the various art shows I go to here in Southern California. I love your description of your picture as “haiku” – perfect.

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    1. She is in a group called the PAC 6 painters, and they are having a show at the Santa Paula Art Museum later in the year, March 4-July 9. It is called “Between Heaven and Earth: The PAC 6 Paints the Sierras.” I don’t know if you’re anywhere near there, but if you are, check it out. The other painters’ work looks great too!

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  5. ‘A way of approaching life that is creamy’ and that will allow the mind to be creative and in the present.’ I love this description!! ❤
    I have been very 'offline' this past year, and while I was in the flow of life for the most part, I craved more online writing, blogging and posting. But like you, if I held myself to some kind of schedule I would balk and hide and eat cookies 🙂

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    1. I have the general outline of a schedule: Mundane Monday, Thursday Doors, weekend reviews plus one wild card. But if I miss one (like I did the review over Christmas and New Year’s) I just shrug and say oh well and carry on the next time. Weekly rhythms make so much more sense to me than daily ones!

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  6. Well done! Man! You rock with all those things you quit doing! I hate doing housework every day! I loved what you said about “flow”. I hope it’s ok if I quote that paragraph in the comment section on my blog. It was just beautiful. I will take it down tomorrow if you’d rather it not be there. Just let me know.

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