How to Spark Your Creativity to Thrive In Hard Times

If you have been reading my articles and emails for any length of time, you know that I love making art (painting, mixed media, etc.), I love Jesus and God's Word, and I enjoy taking a creative approach to life. In addition to being a "big picture" person who sees patterns and themes emerging early on, I see things from different perspectives or angles than some folks, which is probably part of my artistic/creative bent.

I have been using my creativity to find solutions to problems for many years, and now, I'm seeing the need for this to increase even more. Most of us are starting to see prices go up in our grocery stores and the price of gas increasing at the same time, among other signs of change. The other day, it hit me that I should start sharing creative solutions that might help other people navigate these expensive and interesting times. The very first thing I want to encourage you with, is that you can trust God to teach you to tap into the creativity he gives you to meet your needs and solve problems.

Because the word, "creativity" has been defined in a lot of different ways, and because it is the topic of this letter, I'm going to start off by providing you with a working definition.

"Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others."

In future emails I will be sharing practical ideas with you (about gardening, canning, fermenting foods, forming local co-ops, and more) as I learn them, but today's email I'm going to focus in on recognizing your creativity and the ability God has given to each of us to "think outside the box" to solve problems.

Before I even start talking about stoking the fires of creativity, I want to make sure I discuss the MOST Powerful step to take - that of praying that God will open your eyes to opportunities and resources He wants you to see. Ask God to empower you, through His Holy Spirit, to seize upon opportunities He sends your way to solve problems for yourself and for others. Make this your daily prayer and you will begin to see all sorts of creative solutions pop up. God is the Creator, after all, and He can bring things to your human mind that only He can see from His omniscient position.

Here are three things you can begin to do to stoke the fires of your creativity:

  1. Be intentional about looking at things (actual things), people, and situations from different angles. When we prepare to draw or paint something we see, we don't just look at the main subject, we also look at the negative space, the sizes of things in relation to the edges of the paper or canvas, the variety of colors that actually make up a color we perceive in an object and other details most people don't notice.

A perfect example of this is when we want to paint a realistic picture of the ocean, we will notice upon close inspection, that there are actually a lot of shades of grays, whites, blues, and greens that make up the watery waves.

Begin to notice these nuances and details about things you see in your surroundings and take note of them.

  1. Look backwards to re-discover "new" ways of doing things. Being creative does not always involve doing something "new", rather, it can help us get out of a current rut or way of doing things by looking at how other people have done things in the past.

A great example of this is the whole toilet paper issue. Remember when we were hard-pressed to find toilet paper at the stores? Well, it got me to wondering - what did people do in the days when toilet paper was not available? As I began to dig through articles and books about history and survival I found that there are many other creative things people can use as "toilet paper". (The Lambs Ear Leaf, the leaves of Mullein and Borage plants, and cloth fabrics just like the cloth diapers folks used for their babies, to name a few.)

  1. Use your creativity to imagine and visualize yourself using new (or old) methods to do things, even if it might be more time consuming or challenging. We have become accustomed to instant results in our high-tech and fast-food society, but we can begin to open ourselves up to doing things in a slower way that requires a little more effort.

One example in my life is that I truly started my garden in my mind. I began to visualize my garden, the tools I would use, the digging and planting I would do, and the excitement of harvesting my vegetables before I even started my garden. The visualizing and the pouring over seed and supply catalogs helped me make mental space for gardening, which helped me make space in my busy schedule to get a fantastic garden growing.

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