9 April, 2014 20:37

10 simple Ways to be More Creative

Sky Marie
Guest post

“I’m not creative.”
“Oh I could never make/do that”
“I’m not musical.” “I certainly DON’T dance.”
“I’m just not one of those ‘creative people.”

Ever catch yourself saying any of these?

If you have, stop it. Don’t say it anymore. There’s a LOT of creativity in you. If your creativity is a little shy, well, don’t insult it and scare it away even more. Creativity is a bit like a timid but brilliant little animal that can be coaxed to come near if you’re kind, consistent, and feed it a bit. Your creativity needs to trust you, and you need to trust it. Why, is it worth investing in your creativity?

A creative life is a FUN life, a life filled with limitless possibility. A person who is chronically creative sees opportunity where others only see obstacles. They boldly take on risks and achieve success because they know they will be able to find solutions along the way. And who doesn’t want that??
Artists aren’t the only people who need to develop their creativity: Creativity is for salespeople looking for a new way to reach their customer, for engineers looking to improve a product, for teachers looking for a way to inspire their students, parents seeking to engage with their children…
Every person NEEDS to be creative, every person IS creative, and every person can become even MORE creative.
So how does one go about deepening their creativity? Here are ten valuable habits that can help you draw out your own unique creativity…

1. Be proactive. Practice being creative in a context that’s safe and rather inconsequential. Stretch yourself to create in a way you haven’t before, in a way that really doesn’t matter a lick. Experiment, take creative risks, and even “fail,” without a high cost.

2. Be prolific. Saturate your days with little creative explorations. Draw a doodle on every restaurant check you get for a week. Carry your camera on any ordinary day and take some “artsy” shots. Turn off the radio on your commute and hum an original melody instead, even if you feel stupid. Listen to the sounds in traffic and decipher the rhythm on the street. Try to remember that rhythm and tap it out with your pencil later in the day. Go in your room and shut the door and dance. With or without music. Write a poem. Paint. Build. Knit. Make a sculpture out of butter. It doesn’t matter. Just make SOMETHING. And do it frequently. The more often you engage your creativity, the easier it is to access.

3. Be original. Exercise great caution when it comes to copying someone else’s work. Unless you’re able to duplicate it exactly, you’ll likely feel “less than” in comparison. Do your own thing!! You know those parties where everyone paints the exact same thing step-by-step? Ever tempted to exactly copy something you saw on Pinterest? Things like these are absolutely great but they don’t really count as your *own* creative thinking. Go deeper. Think about why you are attracted to a certain thing and then incorporate similar elements into something that’s originally yours.

4. Be a thief. Okay, yes, I just told you to be original… Now I’m going to tell you to do the opposite. Steal ideas as jumping off points for new ideas. Artists often say, “Everything has already been done before…” As a creative person, give yourself permission to borrow an old idea and run with it. Shamelessly. (But this should go without saying- DON’T copy someone’s work and call it your own! Give credit where credit is due.)

5. Be flexible. Be OK with letting the finished result differ, even greatly, from your original idea. One of the biggest hindrances to the creative process is defining the finished result before it’s finished. Of course sometimes you know what a finished product needs to be and the real challenge is trying to figure out how to arrive *exactly* there. But if that’s not your task, just let something develop organically, let it speak to you as you go. Start a drawing, a poem, a story, anything, with no particular end in mind and see where it goes.

6. Become limitless by imposing limitation. Sometimes too many options can be paralyzing to creative thought. Give yourself some boundaries to work within. You can create boundaries with the materials you use, with the concept, or with time… Create a poem using ONLY the words on the back of your cereal box. Make a silly dance that initiates with only the elbows. Take photographs of things that are found at waist high. Write a story in only two minutes. Then, once you’ve got the ball rolling, you can lift the limitation if you desire.

7. Be absurd. Don’t worry about making sense when you’re practicing being creative. People’s opinions are of no consequence here. Don’t judge yourself or what you make. If you feel silly, that’s ok. Feel silly and keep going. If people raise eyebrows, let them. Everything new seems foreign and strange at first. Go with it.

8. Be an audience. You’re also practicing being creative when you appreciate other people’s creations. Go to a museum and spend a little time taking in the exhibits. Don’t worry about whether or not you “get it.” Just consider the color, the texture, the design, let your mind arrive at any meaning it comes up with. Change your radio station, frequently. If you know the words to every song on the radio, you’re boring your creative brain to death. It’s time to branch out into another genre. Notice how listening to a jazz station affects your mood vs listening to a classical station vs a country station. Keep an open mind and make yourself listen to new music. Don’t worry about whether you “like” it or not. Just take it in and wait…

9. Be a collector. Saturate your senses and stock your memory with snippets of information for later use. Close your eyes and touch things (fabrics, produce, whatever) just to consider the texture. Flip magazines from the back to the front, don’t necessarily read for content but briefly scan for phrases and images that jump out at you. Let your brain fill in the gaps. Keep a Pinterest board or create a literal bulletin board of pictures that speak to you. Take note of new or interesting words and write them down. People watch. Watch their walk, their gestures, watch the way they interact. Close your eyes next time you’re in a crowded place and listen to the many sounds. And then, just remember. Store the information as fodder for later creative endeavors.

10. Be a collaborator. When you’re ready, try creating with another person. Paint together on the same canvas. Create a story with your kids by taking turns adding a sentence at a time. Take an existing poem and sing it to a melody of your own. There are lots of ways to create with another human being. When we put our creative minds together, there’s no telling what we can achieve…

Choose a couple of these steps to try and commit to incorporating them into your life for one week. Once you have the hang of them, add in a couple more. It won’t be long before you’ll feel your creative juices flowing and your artistic horizons expanding exponentially. Without changing a single circumstance, you life may begin to look a little brighter, and people and places may become more interesting as you learn to engage creatively. You’ll likely begin to feel your confidence in general increase as you realize that you, too, ARE a very capable and creative person, indeed!

Sky-Marie McDonald is a multi-disciplinary artist whose passion for the arts and culture has lead her throughout the United States and abroad. Of particular interest to her is the effect of the Arts on society as a barometer of cultural health, and the Arts as a vehicle for positive social change. Sky-Marie has had the privilege of studying under some of the premier artists in the dance and theatre scene, in NYC and beyond. She has spearheaded research projects to preserve Native American Dance forms on reservations, taught in outreach projects to children in rural Central America, developed and implemented inner-city outreach programs for at-risk youth and founded arts programs for displaced children in shelters. She has been the recipient of various awards for her choreography and has had several works of poetry published. In 2012 she founded Early Spring Arts Conservatory in Southlake, TX, a non-profit organization committed to helping children and pre-professional artists reach their artistic potential. She currently serves as the school’s Artistic Director and the choreographer for the resident dance company, Early Spring Dance Theatre. She teaches dance, photography, costume design and construction, drama, and visual art. Besides her work with the Conservatory, she is also the owner of SkyMarie Photography Inc. and is sought after for her unique perspective in photodocumentary storytelling and portraiture for weddings, families, and professionals.


3 April, 2014 21:52

I think I’m headed for a breakup. I can’t stop my eyes from wandering.

I’m beginning to feel like there’s something better on the horizon. Maybe the grass really is greener.

Today I was in a book launch meeting with one of the world’s most influential doctors, and I couldn’t stop staring at my shoe.

It’s been seven years and I’ve never once cheated on my shoe company. But then, this beauty arrived.

Never mind the awesome packaging and colorful shiny exterior. Immediately I turned them over.

If you’re an athlete, you know you have your favorites. Heck, some even have a superstition about changing brands. But let me try to coax you out of your box. Because I was that way too! Today, I open my mind a bit to the possibility of falling in love again with something new. This shoe is simply amazing.

To a trail or obstacle course race runner it’s all about tread and functionality.

How will you navigate obstacles? How will the shoes hold up in water?

This shoe has a minimalist feel, that the Cross Fit athlete loves yet a maximum strength, that the regular runner, and trail, mud, obstacle athlete loves.

I’ve worn Solomon’s for years. The shoe you cannot buy in a big box store. They’re hard to find. A diamond in the haystack.

But after a day of wearing the amazing Reebok All-Terrain Spartan shoe, I may have just found my next great love.

The instep has an
Obstacle grip feature
With tiny grippers for walls, climbs, and scaling any obstacle with ease. This is the perfect technical balance of beauty and strength
for any obstacle course racing and any standard trail run. I’ll be wearing them in April, in a race.

The tread lugs are square and provide depth and traction for any kind or hill challenge!

Easily transitioning from meeting to mud, I can see why Reebok rolled out this amazing technical yet Attractive shoe. Sure, it’s for the Spartan course, or trail runner, and seems crafted for the adventurer at heart.

But do I really want to get them muddy?

Adventure and You

Let’s not put this off any longer.

You know there’s an adventure stirring in your soul. Yet you’ve been working, trodding along, juggling activities and family obligations and life. You’re just aching for an escape, even if it’s brief.

Maybe you’re tired of fighting something. Maybe it’s stress, conflict, or something else that you need to get rid of or overcome.

Today is the day.
Now is the time to sign up for your adventure.

For years I’ve participated in adventure runs and each time I do it’s a remarkable feeling.

At the end of one finish line, I was surprised to have tears running down my face at the realization that I had accomplished what I never imagined I could do. I felt strong, like I had tested the limits of adrenaline, emotion and courage.

The Reebok Spartan Race is the perfect antidote to stress, and the answer to unleashing that adventurous warrior inside you. The thing I like most about it is you can easily slide it into your life.

They’ve created a series of races across the nation with obstacles, water, adventures and rocky terrain.


Reebok has even created a new shoe I’m intrigued to test out – the Reebok All-Terrain Shoe – to handle mud, dirt and other obstacles. This revolutionary shoe is the first specifically designed with OCR obstacle course racing in mind. Stay tuned for my next post, “Cheating on My Trial Running Shoe Company.” I just ordered this shoe and soon I’ll be testing the only other shoe I’ve worn. I’m as nervous as an unfaithful girlfriend.

Yet, I have to admit … I’m excited! This shoe promises to be legendary.

Like the warrior Katniss in the Hunger Games, this All Terrain shoe seems half beautiful and half conqueror, able to handle any difficult obstacle with finesse.

I write books about life transformation. And part of that involves fitness. In order to be the best that you can be, you must challenge yourself in all four quadrants – faith, family, finances, and fitness. Are you tapping into each area?

Now is the time to give yourself an adventure that’s a quick shot in the arm, and an adrenaline rush that makes you realize you can do anything.

You can be powerful and strong.
You can accomplish big things.

Maybe you want to lose a few pounds or alleviate some stress. Maybe you want to train for a big race, get fit for an event, or forget the past.

Either way, if you feel that it’s time to take your life to the next level, the Spartan Race series is for you.

This isn’t just your average race. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether or not you consider yourself a runner. This is a challenge that will test your soul.

So let’s do this together. Let’s push the limits of our comfort zones this year. Are you all in? I know I’m ready to venture into the unknown. To push my body and mind.

Let’s do this, together.

Restaurant Review: London

I’m an American, but there’s simply no restaurant scene anywhere in America like London.

In fact I defy you, to find one. Message me. Prove me wrong.
I’ve not yet been to Dubai or Norway, so maybe there’s a creative dining spot there.

In London,restaurants are an experience. A theatre of costumed waitresses and art gallery walls, mixed with a musical symphonic live deejay experience. Food as art, delivered on trolleys. And at Sketch, the London regent street restaurant with the
most phenomenal bathroom in the world, with white glossy plexiglas or plastic pods that resemble alien eggs or a spaceship transporter.

Each individual has their own pod, and inside yours is a musical experience, and narration through the pod sound system. And did I mention that the bathroom is co-Ed?

It always fascinates me to hear chefs in other countries refer to the New York restaurant scene such as the chef of the modern restaurant Oblix, in London did when he was interviewed.
I’ve been to the best restaurants in New York, Dallas, Colorado and California and there’s nothing like London. I’m convinced that the greatest innovators in the world are somehow born in or flock to, the centre of London.

In Texas, the most unique restaurant I’ve found is the blue hangar cafe which is a small restaurant built on the edge of a live runway. It’s an adrenaline filled yet relaxing dining experience over classic hamburgers and simple lunch fare, as you wonder, will that Cessna hot the runway, or not? The diner has been witness to several plane crashes. Now thats an ultimate dining experience!

But in the upscale restaurant scene, about the most creative thing you’ll find is good food, and a normal, mundane brick and mortar box decorated beautifully.

You’ve got to see it to believe it – London restaurants will have you staring at the lighting, the ceilings, the patterned walls,
furniture and floors. With incredible sensory experiences like this, it reminds you that the food is secondary to living life!

24 December, 2013 04:41

When you hear the C word, it rocks your world. Cancer is horrible. And we’ve all known someone touched by it.
I’ve written books with cancer doctors and they’ve all got interesting stories. Patients that just “knew” that something was wrong before they were diagnosed. It was that way for me.
I saw a show about cancer. It was about a girl with a deadly melanoma on her face and it was a colorless clear spot. It bugged her. I had a pit in my stomach that night. I fell asleep just “knowing.”
The day I went into the doctor, she looked at the spot I pointed out and said “that’s cancer.” I replied, shocked, “but how do you know?” She had not yet tested it. “I know” she said matter of factly. And she was right.
4 surgeries later through the center of my face, I learned that life is filled with unexpected challenges. This photo shows a slight scar and reminds me of the people who have suffered much more. I never talk about this. But I want you to go get your checkup. Go to the doctor, and the dermatologist, and get yourself tested. Love you. Xxo


The selfishness of suicide

As a child of suicide I’ve spent a life counseling people off the edge of that cliff.

I’ve written about it, talked about it, and received countless letters from people who say I’ve made the difference and saved their lives. I’ve had a compassionate heart for depression and suffering.

Yet today, it changed.
Today I’m still compassionate but I see a different side of things.

Early this morning I decided to write about the story of the millionaire executive who decided life wasn’t worth living. He drove his car intentionally into traffic and killed a beautiful, pregnant young girl and her fiancĂ©, a loving father of three. The executive who wanted to kill himself lived.

I saw a photo of Jason Timmons, with his little girl. She reminded me of me, a child left behind. But Jason was killed when Robert Dellinger plowed into him in his SUV as he tried to kill himself. Suicide is so selfish. Everyone who ever said that to me I argued with. But, maybe they’re right. As humans, we all have ups and downs. I work with hundreds every year in my life skills program with real loss and tragedy. Mercedes Ramirez, survived an airplane crash. I was a crisis management worker there. Hundreds died including her parents. Others added losses unimaginable. Mercedes is helping others, talking about healing and recovery.

Then this afternoon, I read this. About the
Little girl who died when a woman bent on suicide drove her car into a restaurant. Tragic.


Humans are either resilient or not. It’s a choice. Today I choose to look forward, help others, and survive the toughest moments in life.

The paradox of need

If you’ve ever needed something, you know how it feels after that need is fulfilled. Whether its love, time, or money, need can press us into a place of longing, at times desperation, and then ultimately innovation.

In Africa some of the best inventions have sprung from the reality of poverty. Need – equals the need for a solution.

One innovation, a mobile eye detection camera that will take an image of the retina to detect eye disease, saves the sight of thousands. It’s a new take on the eye-phone, and will help kids and adults living in remote parts of the world. Other incredible innovations have emerged, such as the water straw to filter clean water. Now kids and adults can drink from a stream without dying from disease.

Many good things are birthed from tragedy, or need, which is something I’ve frequently witnessed in my own life, and with the teens and adults I serve. Were it not for the need, there would be no gap for the gain. If the human drinking from the contaminated river didn’t need clean water to live, no other human would have seen the need. But someone did, and because they stepped up, millions are saved. Beyond that, it’s the magic of human creativity and innovation, and giving, that is bigger than the need itself.

Recently I spoke at the Youth Leadership Summit led by an amazing man, in London. Harry Singha overcame a tragic childhood to now fill a need in the lives of teens by mentoring them to become leaders. And, it occurred to me, if he had to suffer through that to become the great man he is today, it was somehow valuable. Don’t ignore the magnitude and power of your trials. Get through them, use them. Push.

Tammy Kling
CEO / Chief Creative Director

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