How do you measure a year?

Jonathan Larson’s catchy song “Seasons of Love” poses an interesting question. It’s from the overwhelmingly popular Broadway musical (and movie) Rent in which impoverished friends—young artists and musicians—struggle to survive and create in New York City. In the song, the cast considers how a year is best “measured.” Should it be by days or cups of coffee, they wonder. Or perhaps it should be in inches, miles, laughter or strife. They conclude the best way is in 525,600 minutes. But not just any kind of minutes, but moments of love.

(You can watch a video of the song here.)

Not to get heavy here, but it’s pretty clear that our world needs help. As you think about this year, it’s been one of difficult choices and anger that borders on hatred. But when you think about the new year, it is a collage of choices yet to be made, one after another.

And so, as we close out this year with its own 525,600 moments—98 percent of them already spent—and begin another decade, we do so, one moment at a time.

That presents a powerful opportunity to choose how we’ll live 2010. Will it be by bringing more compassion, care and loving concern to our neighbors and planet? That would be good.

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about. It’s a sort of do less of, do more of, and give to others approach…

  • What if you could eliminate one habit from your life that no longer serves you well. How would that help you grow next year? (For me, being too skeptical or hesitant comes to mind.)
  • What if you could add one thing to your life. How could it improve your well-being and outlook? (More time to grow spiritually probably tops the list in my world.)
  • What could you give to others to make the world a better place? (Being more tolerant and patient fits for me.)

Think about the do less, do more, help others question. Then, begin each day thinking about how you can put each into practice. How about a scorecard to track your progress?

Think of it this way: Any time you do what’s on your list is one less moment of doing the opposite.

Want to join me? It’ll only take a minute.

I mean, it’s not like you don’t have 525,600 of them next year!

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You’re more creative than you think!

NOTE: This post also appears on http://www.whencreativityknocks.com.

When a friend threw out the idea of writing about creativity for When Creativity Knocks–the website of a mother and daughter team who share crafting skills–my mind went conveniently blank. That is until I remembered my all-time favorite story about Michelangelo (you know, the painter sculptor, architect, poet, engineer and original Renaissance man). It is said that someone congratulated him on turning a block of stone into a man. Skirting the compliment, he merely said the man was in there all the time and just needed a little help in getting out.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been much good at seeing objects in chunks of marble. Evidently, it’s not one of my “gifts.” Truth is each of us has our own special gifts. One of mine is writing music. People sometimes want to know where the music comes from. Usually, I say that I just sit down at the piano, stop thinking about things, and just listen.

Creative folks listen and observe, often looking for ways to connect seemingly unrelated dots. That’s part of the creative process itself.

Think of it this way: How many ways can you use a paperclip? Once you get past the “holding paper together” answer, the list begins to grow. It can become a device to repair a hem, serve as a hair barrette or unclog an Elmer’s glue bottle. Or, if you’re in the eight grade and combine it with a rubber band, it can help you earn a three-day “vacation” from school. But I digress.

Think of the crafting ideas on the When Creativity Knocks website. Each is the result of using common (and not-so-common) materials in different ways—in many cases, very unintended ways.

Take “All Decks on Hand” for example. It’s a great example of connecting a skateboard with artwork to aid a worthy cause—helping people with autism. Those are certainly unrelated dots, don’t you think? You can watch the video HERE.

Want to be more creative? Start by acknowledging that it’s possible. Then, do your own paperclip exercise by asking yourself: What are ten different things I could do with [fill in your own blank.]

Remember, all ideas in brainstorming are good.

Then, get ready for creativity to knock on your door!