May: The month for CREATIVITY

May is a month of CREATIVITY. The natural world is filled with creative energy at this time of year. And it can also be a time for your own creative ideas to sprout, take root and begin to grow.

I started this monthly character strength blog in winter, during a time when I wasn’t feeling particularly creative. (Having a deadline, even a self-set one, is sometimes what it takes to get me going on a creative project.) But this month I didn’t even think about my monthly blog until now, just shy of month’s end. Yet this has been an incredibly fertile month for me creative-wise.

Why? I think it started in late April when I told my health coach I was feeling blocked creatively. She asked me what I was doing to stoke my #1 character strength: Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. I wasn’t doing much. I had been so focused on work and family, I had forgotten to set aside time to just experience awe.

Then I realized I wasn’t really setting aside time to do much of anything to fill my creativity bank account. I had been making plenty of withdrawals (I write for a living), but I hadn’t been replenishing my creative energy.

So I made a conscious effort. And the month of May made it easy. It’s a coming-out-party of sight, sound, taste and feeling. There’s so much happening in the visual landscape, as rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwoods and a rainbow of wildflowers suddenly pop into bloom. Then there’s the aural landscape, with the arrival of Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Swainson’s Thrushes, Western Goldfinches, Wrens and all manner of song sparrows who fill the air with music. And, for me, it’s also a taste and tactile time. Fresh strawberries begin to show up in the market. Garden soil, warmed by the sun, sifts gently through my fingers as I prepare the beds for planting.

Once I took the time to stop, look, listen, taste and feel — essentially to make some deposits in my creative bank account — I was able to ask my calmer self what I needed to be doing. Suddenly, the ideas started sprouting. (Stay tuned for more as these idea sprouts grow into projects.)

If you’ve been feeling like something’s missing in your life, I invite you to take this fecund time of year to take time out and think about your own strength of creativity and what role it plays in your life.

Everyone (yes everyone) has the character strength of creativity.

It doesn’t have to be painting or crafting or writing the next great novel — it can be something as simple as trying new food and flavor combinations while you make dinner. It can be singing in the shower. It can be arranging flowers in your garden beds.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative person, I hope you will look at your life and see where your creative energy is going — because it is going somewhere. Then ask yourself if that is where and how you want it to be.

What is your #1 character strength? Are you using it toward enhancing creativity in your life? Are you making deposits into your creativity bank account or are you constantly making energy withdrawals that deplete your creativity?

A suggestion: try nature bathing.

If you’re having trouble tapping into your creative energy, this might be a good time for some nature bathing. Just seeing all the creative life around you can be inspiring and energizing. Studies show that as little as 15 minutes of being in nature — a local park, a walk in the woods — reduces stress and makes people feel happier. And when you are happier and feeling more relaxed, your creativity has room to flow.


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