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Top 5 books for a creative walkabout

Whenever I hit an obstacle, my first inclination is to read all about it. Rationally, I want to read and learn in order to do better. (The “do better” part is the most difficult by far.) So yes, I’ve heap upon heap of books.
Here, I list 5 books I love and keep returning to in my creative walkabout. These books inspire me, help me keep my humor and optimism intact, and provide expert advice.
1: The Joy Diet – Martha Beck
Martha Beck is a genius! Whether you are in an emotional slump or just looking for a pep talk, Martha is for you. My volume of the Joy Diet is dog-eared, flagged, underlined, and scribbled in. In 10 menu items she describes the steps to a happier life. During my creative walkabout, the Joy Diet has once again become a fixture on my bedside table. I’ll leave you with a bit of Martha-wisdom:

“Every time you voice your thoughts to a loved one, or cook a meal, or choose a new bar of soap for the dish by your bathtub, you are creating a modification in space or time that would never have existed without you.” (p.69)

2: The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way is tried and tested by millions of creative spirits around the world. It was first published in 1992 and is a creativity classic. The most important exercise is writing Morning Pages, every day. Morning Pages are three pages longhand to be written every morning, before you do anything else. The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course, which I’ve completed in around 9 months. I’ve loved, liked, appreciated, hated, loathed, despised the Morning Pages, but I also see a wonderful progress towards greater creativity.
3. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
You know Elizabeth Gilbert with the bestselling “Eat Pray Love”; In Big Magic, she explores creative living beyond fear with an amazing perspective that is all her own. Contrary to the two first books on this list, Big Magic doesn’t include exercises, but fret not, it holds great, down-to-earth motivation to spice up your creative mojo.
4: Finding your own North Star – Martha Beck
Yes, this is the second book by Martha Beck on this list, but the two books are very different. Finding your own North Star is navigating the storm and finding the life you were meant to live. I appreciate that Finding you own North Star isn’t described as an easy 3-step plan, but a path that requires hard work – because that is the truth. The books includes plenty of exercises including a life profile that is solid gold.
5: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, known as the KonMari Method, takes a practical approach to creative living by helping you declutter and tidy your material baggage. It is a little addictive to tidy and organize with the sole question of “does it spark joy?”. It works! While my closet and the walk-in closet under the stairs were decluttered, my thoughts were as well.
Do you agree in my list or are there essential books missing? I would love to hear from you.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo

Quite the nifty and humble title, isn’t it? The Japanese expert declutterer and professional cleaner spills the beans on her KonMari Method of tidying. There is a red banner down the cover, saying: a simple, effective way to banish clutter forever. Even with my cautious optimism, I thought, not likely. But I must say, I am now convinced and have recommended the KonMari Method to others.
The starting premise for Marie Kondo is a blank space and this is monumental. Discard first, she says, and then choose what to have in your home by a simple question:
Does it spark joy?

She has a lot of other pointer in her easily read book, like tidy by category and not by location, tidy alone with “advisors”, and start with the easiest categories such as clothes and leave sentimental items and heirlooms for later.
I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” during my creative walkabout, where everything – my home, my life, my thoughts – was cluttered, and there is a certain magic about tidying. It has a meditative feel when you make it occasion instead of something you should do before the in-laws arrive for dinner. And I see now, why it is paramount that others do not interfere. You must shrug off some social prejudices that you inadvertently follow like: It’s too nice to throw out. So and so gave it to me. If I lose five pounds… I don’t like this, but so and so always likes when I wear it.
After reading the book, I started with my own closet. I emptied it completely (and even washed off the shelves). Turning to the clothes, I held each piece in my hands and asked, does it spark joy, before putting it in the “yes” pile or the “no”/charity or the “no”/trash pile. After getting the no-piles out of the way, I folded and hung the rest in my closet.
The process surprised me. It wasn’t a chore of “doesn’t fit’s”, and the finished result was an organized closet, full of clothes I love. I feel more beautiful when I’m getting dressed in the morning and I appreciate and care more for my clothes now.
“Does it spark joy?” is really a pretty appropriate question, not only regarding T-shirts, but this in your life in general. What do you do, that sparks joy?

Curiosity is your first star (creative walkabout)

From my first post regarding my creative walkabout, it may sound like the storm calmed the moment I became curious in throwing clay. Sorry, weathering the storm isn’t that easy.
My clay-throwing was the first spark of curious creativity and it lasted the very first class and the drive home. When I woke the next morning, I was tattered and frayed in the storm once again. Hello Despair, old friend! This was the classic, pessimistic case of one step forward and two steps back. My inner neon billboard screamed FAILURE!
However, that inner billboard doesn’t know anything. One step forward and two steps back is a change from whirling around in a tornado. It is progress. I know, you only saw a flicker of light, happiness, achievement, and joy, but trust it, you just saw a star that you can use to navigate the storm.
Celebrate the moment! Cherish it. Remember whatever it is that sparked your curiosity.
Curiosity is a curious term. No pun intended, even my trusted friend, Merriam-Webster says so.
Curiosity: desire to know:
a: inquisitive interest in others’ concerns: nosiness.
b: interest leading to inquiry: intellectual curiosity.
We all know, that Curious George was a cheeky, little monkey, who always caused some kind of trouble and of course, curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity and its synonym, nosiness, is often a negative attribute, like the nosy neighbor, always lurking to see what’s happening. Forget this definition of curiosity.
Curiosity is a spark of interest, leading to inquiry, change, innovation, and development. Curiosity is letting go of the “why” and playing around with “what if”.
I purposefully use the term “playing around”. Curiosity requires a playfulness. This is the reason, we can’t plan or logically think ourselves out of the storm. You need a little playfulness; you need to listen to your inner child.
You were really smart as a kid. You knew what you loved to do. Maybe it was sports, something creative, board games, algebra, catching frogs, please continue in your own words. And if your parents asked you to do anything else, like take out the trash or do your homework, you were very vocal about pausing what you loved to do.
Finish this sentence, just for fun. As a kid, I loved to ________________________________________ .
Now do it! I mean it. Leave Inertia and Passivity and do it. It doesn’t matter how silly or childish, your pursuit is. If you loved to play in the sandbox, go to beach and build a sandcastle or buy some kinetic sand and play around with it.
This is your first star.