The Challenge to be Creative, and Going to the Dis-Comfort Zones!

Anyone who reads this blog knows that photography is where my creative urges soar. In the past month, I pushed myself to step out of my photography comfort zone and experiment with effects that go beyond my normal boundaries. Stepping into the dis-comfort zone has been fun, surprising and incredibly creative. . . so much so that now I must admit that photographically speaking, my comfort zone has expanded beyond all expectations! I love it.

Another area where I am creatively pushing the boundaries is in my writing. This month I have participated in the “A River of Stones Jan ’12” challenge. A simple challenge on the surface, but one which compels me to write in a different way. The results have tickled me and added a new dimension to my writing. I have to think a little harder, but playing with words has definitely added color to these blogs!

So, the creativity continues. But what about the NoCZ-2012 Challenge? I experience stepping out of my comfort zone every time I try something new artistically, whether it be writing or photography. But in other areas of my life, too, I find myself stepping across that line that says “comfort ends here.”

According to Myers-Briggs, I am an introvert. I don’t challenge that label because it fits and I’m ok with that. I love being around people and activity, however I need to withdraw from the buzz of interaction to regroup, clear my mind, think. Then when I’m ready, I’ll engage the larger world again. One area that is particularly uncomfortable for me is introducing myself to new people in new places or situations. As often as I have moved, I am often in “new” situations. In the past I was content to hold back because I knew that it was only a matter of time and we would move on and leave the present people and places behind.

This move is different, though. When Richard finishes with his present job he will retire. We are looking for a house here because we plan to stay and make this our community. I plan to get my license in this state and create a private practice here. There are no plans to move on. Merely waiting for things to happen or for people to find me does not work. I will have to step out of my comfort zone and be the one to reach out to others. And yesterday I took a small step in that direction. After the morning prayer service at the synagogue there was a large kiddush, or meal. This was our second visit to this particular synagogue so we did not know anyone. I turned to Richard and said “Let’s stay.” As we walked into the large banquet room I was a little overwhelmed with the activity and the number of strangers that milled about. But I forged ahead, got in line to get some food, but then where to sit? We didn’t know anyone to sit with. Once again I looked to Richard and asked if he was game to just introduce ourselves to some folks and sit at their table. He followed me. I found a table with some empty seats and asked if the seats were taken. “No, please sit down.” By now of course, my heart was racing a bit, but before you know it we had all joined in conversation. And it didn’t end there! As we were preparing to leave, I saw a woman standing a little distant from the crowd; I walked up to her, offered a greeting and explained that I was new to the community and wanted to get to know some folks. We had a delightful conversation and then Richard and I left.

Looking back on the day, even as I sit here typing, I amazed myself . . . did I really do that? Did I walk up to strangers and just start talking? It’s one thing to do something like that when you are in a particular roll and you approach someone from a professional stand point, but to approach strangers just to chat was a stretch for me.  Wow. What an expansive challenge!

Well, that was my week. We are still in the first month of challenges so we can look forward to a year of exciting growth if this keeps up! Hope your challenges are helping you to grow and expand your horizons, too. Have a great week. 🙂



Creativity Jealousy! Yup, It’s Out There.

Another week has gone by, another week of daily creativity. But this week I had trouble being creative on a daily basis. I was sick (still am), and I just wasn’t in the mood if ya know what I mean. Besides, everywhere I turned I saw creative people being creative. My level of creative juices was pretty much on empty this week. I have a twin brother who lives in Colorado. His photography is phenomenal. I see his work and I think to myself, “Why can’t I do that?” I have a sister-in-law who makes beautiful jewelry and I wish I knew how. My daughter-in-law crochets and she, too, is an outstanding photographer (as are both of my daughters! You should see their photos! Beautiful.) Then there is my son, artist extraordinaire. He’s painting fantastic murals on his kids’ walls. Amazing. Did I leave anyone out? Probably. The point is that this week creativity jealousy was not really “out there,” it was “in here.” Sometimes we just aren’t in our groove and it seems that everyone else is. Bleh…

But in reality, I know better. The fact that I write papers for school, or write three blogs, or photograph something everyday, or even figure out how to navigate through life obstacles is evidence of creativity at work. This week I have been guilty of comparing myself to others, usually negatively. Yet, I wasn’t meant to be “others,” I was meant to be “me!”

There is a parable of a person who died and had to stand before the ultimate Creator. This person was remorseful that he was not a spiritual giant like Abraham or Moses, and that he didn’t pray like Miriam or Hannah. G-d replied, “I didn’t create you to be Abraham or Moses or Miriam or Hannah. I created you to be you.”

It is good to remember that our primary creative endeavor is to be our authentic selves.

To see some of what I did this week, check out my NoCZ-2012 blog for today!

Creative Every Day 2012!

How is it possible to NOT be creative every day? From rising in the morning till retiring in the evening, one creates his or her days whether by default or by design. This year I design to be more aware, to create a personal world of beauty, responsibility, kindness, health and more. During this first week of the new year, I chose to experiment with photography, to try my hand with the technology that allows us to artistically edit photographs in order to create exciting images and moods. I ventured out at dusk to see what I could capture with a different, artificial light on snow (see above). I used an editing program, Apple’s Aperture,  to change color, and in one photo to increase graininess. The creative efforts were fun, and even failed attempts taught me. And I was reminded of a life-lesson, one that I must revisit time and again, creativity and risk-taking are required elements for living a full, rich, and rewarding life.

Another creative venture took place in the kitchen. We usually have salmon at least once a week, and almost always on the Sabbath. The salmon must be cooked ahead of time though, since we don’t cook on the sabbath. I was tired of preparing this dish the same way every week. In an effort to bring a little creativity to the kitchen, and ultimately to our dining room table, I found a recipe that sounded delicious,  Orange-Ginger Baked Salman!  I prepared it late Friday afternoon and we ate it hot for our Shabbos meal that evening. I prepared enough for two meals so on Saturday we ate cold fish for lunch. It was just as good the second go around! We liked it so much in fact, that I am sharing the recipe with you!

Orange-Ginger Baked Salmon

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup soy sauce (I used Teriyaki)

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

chopped up scallions (I just threw a bunch in.)

4 Salmon steaks

Mix orange juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic powder and chopped up scallions together. Place salmon steaks and sauce in 1 gallon ziplock bag. Make sure that each salmon steak is completely coated in the mixture, then place the bag with the salmon and sauce in the refrigerator until ready to bake (at least fifteen minutes.) When ready, place salmon steaks in baking dish, pour the remaining sauce over the salmon. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees till done. (I baked for 30 minutes.) Serve hot or cold. Delicious either way.

If you want to grill the salmon, remove from the refrigerator and take the salmon out of the ziplock bag and sauce. Grill for 5 minutes (or so) on each side, until salmon flakes.


With classes starting, a lot of my creative effort will be poured into my coursework in the coming weeks. But I have learned from experience that to maintain equilibrium, I must also be creative in other areas of life. Come back next week to see where creative endeavors led me.