Category Archives: Steps to Creativity


How have I coped with this time of social distancing? I took a walk, then another one, and it turned into over 364 walks! From 3/29/2020 until 3/21/2021 I logged in 2200, the length of the Appalachian Trail. Walking daily is probably the best decision I never made! Things I’ve noticed are:

  • I began to listen to nature, and my observational skills increased
  • My concentration level increased
  • I feel in better shape than I have been in decades
  • I am eating much healthier
  • I fit into all my clothes
  • My most creative ideas have come while walking – and I’ve learned to take a notebook with me

According to a study done by Stanford University, walking can increase your creativity by 60%!!!!
If I had read this a few years ago, I would have laughed. But – it Is true. You can read about about this study HERE.

Ampitheater found in the woods

In looking back through history, many of the great creatives walked daily. 

  • Aristotle gave his lectures while walking. His followers were known as peripatetics – Greek for wandering about.
  • Wordsworth walked an estimated 175 thousand miles during his life
  • Dickens walked everyday after writing from 9a-2p – and 20+ miles was not unusual.
  • Thoreau felt walking was a pilgrimage to his Holy Land.
  • Beethoven  took breaks throughout the day to “run into the open”. 
  • Virginia Woolf and James Joyce  took several of their characters on walks that she took herself.
  • Nietsche felt it was where he worked best.
  • Mahler walked up to five hours a day. He had a jerky weird walk which his daughter claimed came from his shift in rhythms.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” Nietsche


I have discovered a hidden world of treasures in my own neighborhood. I have collected over 80 bird feathers, I found a hidden beach, a hidden teepee, a hidden ampitheater – all in my neighborhood!

I have seen a gleeful boy and his father take a bike ride throughout the neighborhood every day after lunch. I have seen a neighbor taking her bird on a walk. I discovered there are three greyhounds (in different homes) on one street, and three standard poodles. There is a cat that likes to walk with her favorite dogs. 

So, get out there and take a walk. Don’t use weather as an excuse, learn to dress properly. As Roger Miller said. “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet”.

And, I know a lot of you will say – you just don’t have time! I have found I don’t have the time NOT TO WALK. As I said, I walk often these days – often working out a problem in my head while moving. A fifteen minute walk outside is better than no walk at all.  Out of ideas? Again, take a walk!

One last observation, 99% of all dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs have a basketball hoop. I wonder what that means?

Basetball hoop

Do you have an walking stories to share?







BLACK NOTE ©Vickie Martin

Music is a powerful way to change your mood and tap into your creativity. Did you realize since music is made up of vibrating sounds, it forms patterns and creates energy?  When you listen to music, it trigger the release of dopamine, often referred to as the pleasure chemical. Music has been around since the beginning or time. Even in Paleolithic times (or the Stone Age), time was spent creating music as flutes made from animal bones have been found. Music just makes us feel good!

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” Nietzsche

Music helps us enter into the “mind wandering mode” – the day-dreaming state where thoughts seem to float around and often seem  unconnected.

Familiar music helps you stay focused. However, new music (new to you that is) demands more attention – you will stop and listen because you don’t know what is coming next.

Music helps us exercise. As early as 1911, science found cyclists went faster while listening to music.

Music makes us more productive.  It helps us focus.

So, what should you be listening to? That is a somewhat individual decision. Most studies show lyrics to be distracting. But, there are lyrics that some people find inspiring.

There is a lot of research out there about the effects of music on the brain, it is a question scientists have long been interested in. They all agree that music does have an affect on our moods, that is makes us move, it helps us focus and it inpisres us.



For me, classical music inspires me. I’m talking about Beethoven, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and the like. I like that BIG SYMPHONIES. That may not work for you. Stephen King listens to hard rock while he writes. Jazz inspires me. And, there is always Bowie to listen to!

What have you found to work for you? I’d like to know, I always willing to give it a go!








It seems everyone is so focused on their work and commitments, they have stopped playing. Do you think playing is a waste of time because the only goal is to have fun!

What is play? It is defined as taking part in an activity for enjoyment and recreation instead of for a practical purpose.

Why should we play?

  • It relieves stress and often triggers the endorphins that give us a sense of well-being.
  • It stimulates your mind. People have a tendency to learn more when they are having fun.
  • It improves learning skills. Playing board games or putting together puzzles challenges us and improves our memory.
  • It has been proven it increases social skills in children, why wouldn’t that apply to adults?

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

I dare you to go play! Make a list of what you liked to do as a kid. Make a bucket list of things you want to do.

Better yet, set a daily goal to play, set a minimum amount of time you will spend playing.

What can you do?

Learn a card trick

Play the Ukulele

Go Bowling

Play miniature golf

Go to a playground

Play with a dog – and if you don’t have one, many rescue groups need dog walkers. Talk to the dog while you are at it.

Put on some music and dance

Make a collage


Who doesn’t play? Studies have shown, mass murderers don’t play!

Playing helps us relax, it takes us away from the real world. Through playing we can be anything, an explorer, a time traveler, a ruler – there are no limits.

What do you do to play?








Yep, you read that right! You have permission to fail fabulously!

“You gotta be willing to fail…if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.” Steve Jobs

The fear of failure is universal, there is even a word for the persistent fear of failure – ATYCHIPHOBIA.

“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.” Amy Tan

Don’t think of failure as proof we are just not up to the task. Look at failure as an opportunity to learn and move forward. That is how we grow, and failures will only stop you if you let them.

Failures are better than having regrets, Never say never. If you are afraid you will fail, start with small goals – but keep them challenging. You can make small goals that will lead you to the ultimate goal.

Being wrong can bring about unexpected discoveries. Most artists have had “happy discoveries” when things didn’t go right. Relish the uncertainty of not knowing how things are going to turn out.

There are some very famous “failures” that I believe are inspiring.

Einstein did not speak until he was four and could not read until he was seven. He was the only person in his graduating class that couldn’t get a teaching profession.

After Fred Astaire had a screen test, the casting director wrote “Can’t act. Can’t Sing. Slightly bald. Not handsome. Can dance a little.” He kept that note his entire life to remind him to never quit trying.

R.H. Macy started seven businesses that failed before he hit on Macy’s.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who said he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.

Thomas Edison was fired from his first two jobs because he wasn’t considered productive. He also made over 1,000 attempts before he got the light bulb right. Do you think if he had given up at the 10th attempt, we’d be sitting by candlelight now?

Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. He was also defeated over 20 times before he won an office.

Jerry Seinfeld was booed off stage the first time.

Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected 27 times.

Sir James Dyson has said he had 5126 failures before he got the Dyson vacuum cleaner right.

Jack Canfield was rejected 44 times before Chicken Soup for the Soul was published. That published told him he’d be luck to sell 20,000 copies. It told 1.5 million in the first 18 months. Click here for a list of all of the ones in publication now.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity team his sophomore year.

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected by 29 medical schools before one accepted her by mistake. She was the first women to receive a medical degree in the U.S. (1849)

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford

“I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Michael Jordan

“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” Buddha

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

attracting an audience

And, maybe the most famous failure in the world:





own quote

Live your life as if it is a blank canvas. Start by cleaning out, decluttering. Take the time, make the space to create. If you are surrounded by “STUFF”, you might be living in “THE LAND OF OLD IDEAS”. You are seeing the same piles every day while thinking the same old thoughts.

Think like the minimalists, which refers to the art movement that is based on simplicity. Less is more. Apply this to your surroundings. It will free your spirit!

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

We all have books we have not read or clothes we don’t wear.  Where do you start?

A few years ago, I did a huge decluttering. I started with my books. I put all the books I have not read in one place and put a to be read by date on them (within a year usually). At the end of the year, I boxed the books up and donated them.  (Since then, I have installed a Little Free Library, they go there).


Clutter saps your energy.  If you declutter and find a place for everything, you have more time, you don’t spend time putting things up or dusting.

Adopt the one in one out rule. Every time you bring something into your home, get rid of something.

Lately I’ve been unsubscribing to emails. I cleaned off my desk top too.  What a difference it made!

But, paperwork had become unmanageable. So, I went through the house and picked up every stack of paper, every magazine, things I had printed to read later – you know the drill. I dumped all of it on my dining table.  Look familiar?


That was ALOT OF STUFF! I’m my mother’s power of attorney, and I have a huge stack of her paperwork. Well, I got to work and I put them all in stack.


I felt like I was accomplishing something. I read the blogs I had printed. I filed everything. Except for one stack.


I’m left with one big notebook that has all of my mothers information in it. This is going to take awhile to organize, but now it is all in one place!  Whew!

I threw away a huge stack of paper (well, put it in the recycling actually).

If you have things you are emotionally attached to, put them in a box and put the box away. I did this a few years ago, and ended up throwing out a lot of stuff after six months.

Think of the clutter as visual noise that is surrounding you, it can start having a louder voice than your creative voice. Tackle it one room at a time or one category at a time, but do it! You will feel better.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hoffman

“The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.” Mother Theresa

“Three rules of work, out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

All remember CHAOS stands for “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome”.

I challenge you to tackle one area of chaos within the next week. Pay attention to how it makes you feel.  Tell me what you learned!



“A mind too active is no mind at all.” Theodore Roethke

There have been times I have been afraid to take a peek inside my mind.It was an endless maze I couldn’t find the exit. With all the things life throws at you, we all have a tendency to hang on to things. We suffer from information overload. Humans were never meant to spend so much time indoors staring at a computer. And, there are always those voices that are always worrying and censoring you.  You worry about what you have to do today, worry about what you have to do tomorrow, worry about what you did yesterday. It is an endless cycle. It’s almost like your mind has taken on a life of it’s own with the incessant chattering. It’s probably talking to you right now!

But, the voice doesn’t want to hurt you, in fact, generally it wants to protect you. But, that chatter fills up you mind. To learn to empty your mind, it opens it to all these wonderful new ideas and thoughts.

How to do it?

I believe meditation, exercise and writing your Morning Pages are key.  What are The Morning Pages?  This comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is a basic tool to reclaiming your creativity.  Write three pages every morning FIRST THING.  You are not writing these to be published, you are writing to empty your mind. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just put pen to paper and write three pages. They don’t even have to make sense. They are not designed to be read again. If you don’t have anything to say, write that you don’t have anything to say. Write affirmations, write out your to-do list. But, put the pen to the paper and write.  Writing on a computer is rarely as effective.

You can hear Julia talk about the morning pages in the following video.


So, get paper and a pen and write the three pages first thing in the morning. Trust me, it works!

Next up in this series, Think like a minimalist.






Take a walk, a jaunt, a stroll. Get out and strut your stuff. I don’t care what you call it, just get up and MOVE!eclipse20x38framedoncanvas copy

A recent study at Stanford University found creative thinking improves during and after a walk. While participants in the research were leisurely walking on a treadmill, they were instructed to come up with different uses for an object (like a button). The volunteers that were walking came up with four to six more uses for the object than those sitting down.

Steve Jobs, Obama and Mark Zuckerberg often have walking meetings. In fact, the idea for the study came from a walk!

It is estimated that William Wordsworth walked almost 200,000 miles in his lifetime.

Beethoven carried a notepad and composed while walking

Gustav Mahler insisted his wife Alma walk with him daily, with walks as long as five hours.


Tchaikovsky walked every morning for 45 minutes and took another walk for 2 hours in the afternoon

Charles Darwin took three walks a day

Woody Allen stopped walking around New York because people recognized him, now he often paces on his terrace

“I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” Kierkegaard

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

“Walking is the best exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” Thomas Jefferson

“Now, shall I walk or shall I ride? ‘Ride’ said Pleasure. ‘Walk’ said Joy.” W.H. Davies

“If you seek creative ideas go walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.” Raymond I. Myers

“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I would just explode and perish.” Charles Dickens

So, get up – take a walk!!!!  But – don’t walk as a smartphone zombie! Remember the following to have a truly creative rush.

Have no fixed route

Do not text

Go Alone (or with someone that doesn’t talk)

Leave the soundtrack at home

Walk mindfully


Do you have a favorite walk or hike? Do you have any walking rituals? Can you tell a difference in the way your mind works after or during a walk.

And –  what would you do with a button?  Use it as a doorknob in a dollhouse?  Make a bookmark, a hair ornament?






Finding your tribe is first step in living a creative life. Call them what you want, your tribe, your posse, your clan, your family – just call them! Find them! These are the ones that will support you and want the very best for you. The right group will:









Did you know that geese travel 75% fast when they travel in packs? So, it stands to reason if you find your tribe you will gain momentum and reach your goals faster.

You can ask them to hold you accountable for your goals too (an accountability partner has worked for me – but she moved on – I need a new one!)

But, remember the word – RECIPROCITY. To really have a tribe you can trust, you have to give it back. You need to encourage, inspire – in short – cheer them on!

Find a mentor! Thomas Edison mentored Henry Ford. Thomas Jefferson mentored Lewis and Clark. Paul Robeson mentored Obama. Maya Angelou mentored Oprah. Woody Guthrie mentored Bob Dylan. Ralph Waldo Emerson mentored Thoreau. Warren Buffet mentored Bill Gates.

Where are you going to find your tribe, find your mentor? First of all, get out there, go out into the world! Keep trying! Take a class, go to events!

Be curious. Be brave. Make connections!



BOY, is my face red!!!!

Almost exactly two years ago, I started a series called “21 weeks to your most creative self”. When I wrote the last installment THE POWER OF NO (published 8/16) I looked back through my blogs to see when I started the series –  September 2014! Only eleven posts on the subject in 2 years!

SO – I decided to start all over again.  I’m going to call this simply – STEPS TO CREATIVITY.  So, here goes – starting with the question:


Merriam-Webster defines the word as “the ability to make new things or think new things.” It is the ability to see the world in a new way and to make connections between things that seem unrelated.  It is asking what any two year old asks,



Every human being is born creative. However, as we get older society teaches us to suppress creativity – remember being told to color within the lines?  Society teaches us to conform and often frowns upon originality. That makes most people forget they were ever creative at all!

Living creatively means looking at the world around you with wonder. Your imagination leads to thoughts, thoughts become words and words become action. Creativity is not worth anything if you don’t do anything with your ideas.  Let me repeat that

Creativity is not worth anything if you don’t do anything with your ideas.

Many of us give up on creativity. One thing universal about people living a creative life – they DO NOT GIVE UP!

Living creatively means looking at the world around you differently. Your imagination leads to thoughts, thoughts become words and words become action.

Most people believe you have to be a genius to be creative. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A GENIUS TO BE CREATIVE!

You learn to be creative by exploring, experimenting, questioning, processing information.

Think of creativity as a muscle that needs to be strengthened – that can only happen with repeated use!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

I don’t believe some people are born more creative than others. Creative people usually do six things throughout their lives, known as The Innovators DNA, things anybody can incorporate in their life.

  • Make CONNECTIONS between different things
  • QUESTION everything
  • OBSERVE everything
  • NETWORK (with like minded creative people)
  • PRACTICE – the most important one of all!

Making the effort to live a creative life is be fully alive. Believe you can change the world!!!

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

So, I challenge you to spend some time thinking about what inspires you to create. You don’t have to paint the Mona Lisa, you can bake a cake, write a joke, put your clothes together differently, take a different route to the grocery store. It can be anything, it can be as silly as eating spaghetti with chopsticks.

Let me know where you find your creativity! Inspiration is all around you.