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I learned how to tap my imagination very early in my life thanks to my grandmother. From the time I was three, my “Nonny” and I had a private “girl thing” that we did every time we got together. At her home in the hills of Berkeley, California, she kept a large blue plastic water bottle by her front door. This was one of those dispenser bottles you would see on the top of a water cooler. Our blue plastic water bottle was very, very special. We called it, “Our Trip Around The World Jar.”
Every time we passed the jar, coming in or going out of the house, we would add a coin or two to the jar, even if it was only a penny. The amount of money didn’t matter. What mattered was that every time either of us put a coin into the bottle and heard it go “Clink!”, we would look at each other with a big smile, a nod and then say, “That’s for our trip around the world!”
When I was old enough to earn an allowance, I would always reserve a few coins and whenever I went to visit or stay with Nonny, I had these coins in my pocket. Over the years, we watched our pile of coins rise up inside that big blue jar, growing like one of those infamous magic rocks. This is one of my favorite childhood memories.
Whenever we would visit her, Nonny would make us tea and serve it in beautiful porcelain cups. She would also serve us a piece of cake or a cookie on beautiful china plates. I felt so ladylike and grown-up holding my porcelain teacup and plate, talking with Nonny about all the wonderful places we would travel to one day.
Our discussions would be filled with exciting details. If one of us said something like “Oh, how about let’s go see the beautiful Geishas in Japan with their colorful robes!”, the other would respond, “Oh that sounds like fun! Let’s add Japan and those pretty Geishas to our list! What colors do you see on their robes? Let’s get up and walk like the Geishas do in their high wooden platform shoes.” Then we would put on a record and walk like Geishas or dance around the room together.
As I grew older, and I thought, wiser, “reality” began to creep into my consciousness. I began to pause by the big blue jar as I came in the door.
I would look at the plastic jug and say things like, “Nonny. Do you know how much a trip around the world would cost? I’ve researched it. We need a lot more money that what’s in that blue jar!”
Nonny would always smile and say, “Well I’m throwing in a few coins anyway. You never know. They just might be multiplying in there while we’re sleeping.” I couldn’t help but laugh at her fantasy. Then as she left the room, Nonny would add over her shoulder, “I really don’t think this trip around the world is nearly as complicated as you’re making it, Mary Anne. Did you have any more ideas about where you would like to go and what you’d like to see when we go?”
Eventually, I started to roll my eyes as I passed the jar, saying things like,
“What’s the use of imagining something you will never have? It’s pointless.” Or “You and I both know we’ll never take that trip.” I began to see the blue jar by the door as “a pipe dream,” and this whole idea of taking a trip around the world as a pointless game of “make believe.”
No matter what I did or said, Nonny would always smile and then throw a few more coins into the big blue jar whenever we came in her front door.
She would always say, “For our trip around the world!” even when I pretended that I wasn’t listening.
Although my Nonny died at age 83, and we never did take that trip around the world together, I have personally traveled extensively for business and pleasure. I’ve worked in many countries, and have learned to speak multiple languages. Wherever I have traveled in the world, I have always thought of Nonny and how much she would have enjoyed the sights I was seeing and the different cultures I was experiencing. In fact, many of the things we discussed at our endless tea parties have now become a reality for me, some in very surprising and unexpected ways, just as we had imagined them together so many years ago.
A few years before Nonny died, I complained to her about the men in my life: “It’s impossible to find a real man! They’re all jerks!” I told her.
She smiled as she always did, and said, “Well you be careful what you wish for now!”
After many years, many men, and one failed marriage, I found that they all had fulfilled my very low expectations. Eventually, I had to admit that my “perfect life partner manifestation” needed a bit more refinement. I started to imagine a very different kind of man who would have more of the qualities that I valued, including a love of travel.
After three weeks of following my new partner manifestation plan, and setting aside my many negative beliefs, I met my perfect companion. He knew from a very young age that nothing is impossible and that limits are only in your mind, just as my Nonny did. He is kind, funny and fun to be with, just like my Nonny, and he also has a passion for world travel, as I do. This man is now my husband.
Bringing these things into my life wasn’t nearly as difficult or complicated as I had thought it would be all those years ago when “reality” sank the boat of my imagination. Nonny was the first person to teach me about how to create or manifest what you want in life. She taught me how to be grateful in advance of the things that I wanted to happen in my life. Nonny showed me how to visualize and imagine things in order to manifest them in reality, by trusting that whatever I had conceived (either positive or negative) would eventually come to fruition.
Imagination and creativity aren’t something that only artists have. Creativity is part of our human nature. Almost everything we do in our lives requires at least some measure of creativity. Without creativity and some degree of imagination, we couldn’t cook a meal, express an opinion, resolve a conflict, or for that matter sculpt, paint, doodle or draw. You can learn to unlock your own unique and powerful creative energy. Once you do, you can use it anywhere – from the office to the kitchen to the art studio.
The first step toward turning on the faucet of your creativity is to attain a state of openness. That requires clearing away your negative self-image.
In your childhood, you may have received the message that you were not creative. One of your teachers may have criticized your creative efforts on a particular project. This doesn’t have to mean that you are doomed to failure when it comes to being creative. Sometimes you just need a specific technique in order to eliminate a negative self-perception about your ability to be creative. There are steps you can take to leave these thoughts behind so you can once again express yourself creatively.
People who have a creative blockage always seem to have excuses for not moving forward. Some common things I hear from clients are that they don’t have enough time to be creative, or enough money, or that they lack the support from family, friends, or colleagues that they feel they need. Some more personal obstacles I hear are, “I’m not good enough,” or “No one else has done this before,” or “This is not the right time and place for me.” But none of these things is the real barrier to your success.
At this moment, no one else is stopping you from being creative or is standing in your way. You, yourself, are actually the block. To put it another way, you are attached to an aspect of yourself that is preventing you from being creative. You are in “the pity pit” (as I like to call it) or “victim mode,” which will endlessly generate excuses to enable you to avoid expressing your true inner self.
There are many methods for enhancing your self-awareness and improving your self-image to enhance your creative expression. Here is a quick meditation you can try right now to help clear the way so that you can begin the process of bringing your own artistry and confidence forward in your daily life, and then unleashing more of your creative energy.
Are you frequently telling yourself things such as: “This can’t work,” “No one will like it,” “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have the energy,” or “It’s not worth the trouble.”? Identify the excuse you use most in order to avoid being creative or doing something creative. Simply becoming aware of these barriers within you can help you to overcome them, to unblock yourself.
Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Be aware of your body and allow yourself to settle into the stillness of the chair or cushion you are sitting on. Listen to the sounds around you. Slowly allow the sounds to fade out as you settle down into your own inner world. Rest in this place of openness and peace for a few minutes or longer.
Now, from that place of stillness, silence, and spaciousness, bring the main obstacle to your expression of creativity into your awareness. Simply observe it, without judgment. Just let the obstacle be there and as you breathe in and out, simply observe it. You might imagine holding a balloon or blowing a bubble. You can then place your obstacle in your bubble or balloon and then blow on the bubble or let go of the string tied to the balloon and simply watch it float away. Gradually, as you inhale and exhale, you will observe the obstacle to your creativity gently dissolving into space. As your obstacle continues to dissolve in your mind’s eye, just be aware of the empty space that is left behind and rest there for a few minutes.
Repeat this breathing exercise until you begin to feel a sense of openness and spaciousness inside of yourself. The more you become aware of what is blocking your creative flow and practice clearing it out, the more you will discover a more self-affirming and open-minded sense of yourself as a creative person.
Whatever you would like to create, it is only a thought away and begins with your next choice in that direction. What is something that you would like to imagine today that you would like to manifest into your reality of tomorrow?
Share your dreams, goals, and hopes in the comments below!