acceptance

a gracious acceptance

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There’s a phrase that has been running through my mind lately:

a gracious acceptance of the way things are

I’m not sure what sleep-deprived conditions summoned it forth from the cloudy brew of my mind, but I’ve been turning it over and over like a well-done burger.

Lately, I’ve been learning the peace of what it means to accept things as they are. In this I find contentment. 

I’ve also been realizing how often I fail to achieve that state of mind. Contentment is a fish not easily grasped.

On the flip-flop-side, there is a desire inside, a burnin’ churnin’ engine which drives me to work for change. It won’t let me be. 

I can’t let things stay as they are when there remains the possibility of improvement, whether in myself or the surrounding world.

All this reminds me of the ol’ Serenity Prayer I’ve seen hung up on display in many a house.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

I wonder if it really is as simple as all that or if there’s more to it. 

How do we know when our work is acceptable, whether we’ve done good enough or if we should have given more?

Experience, sure enough. But sometimes there’s just no way to know until you try and find out how it all turns out.

For now, I aim for steps firmly planted in front of me, with an honest and humble recognition of the way things are, but with open eyes, looking far enough ahead to seeing how they could be different.

stick to it

Some time ago, I heard a quote about sticks which has stuck in my mind:

“Learn to love getting the short end of the stick, you get a lot more sticks that way.”

Sadly, I’m not not sure who said it as it was not a direct quote. But there is something I absolutely love about this mentality. Correction: I love the idea of living with this mentality, actually doing it, turns out, is much harder. 

It’s all about humility, being willing to accept less and be happy with it. For us creatives, that’s not always easy. We expect the best of ourselves and we want to get the best from others. I don’t know a single creative who doesn’t hope for recognition, affirmation and appreciation of their work. But the sticky truth is, what we often receive is far less. Often, after all our efforts, we get the shaft.

Getting shafted is no fun. Whether it’s being ignored, rejected or even attacked, it can be quite hard to stick to creative living. But here’s the thing: when you learn how to deal with that mess and keep being creative anyhow, something amazing happens: like precious metal refined in fire, you too learn to accept the good with the bad, you become a more whole person less dependent on the praise of others and more able to enjoy creativity for its own sake.

When you’re willing to take on the small, thankless jobs for a time, you’ll eventually get better ones. When you learn to ignore the hurtful criticism, you’ll be more ready to receive and learn from positive feedback, whether congratulatory or corrective. 

Luke 16:10 tells us:

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.

So, the next time someone gives you the short end of the stick, take it gladly and be glad it’s not a poke in the eye with that same stick. Little sticks aren’t impressive, but remember this: a big ol’ bonfire starts out with a bunch of little sticks. So let all those “short sticks” be your kindling for something big, bright and beautiful.

It only seems appropriate I close with one of my sister’s favorite jokes:

Q: What’s brown and sticky?
A: A stick!

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, has there been a time in your life when getting the short end of the stick turned out for the better? Let us know in the comments below.

 

I am a creative

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When I first recognized the word creative being used as a noun, it sparked something inside me. Everything about it felt right. The person using it was author and entrepreneur, Joanna Penn, in reference to herself. She said it with boldness, complete confidence. As I’ve grown accustomed to it, I realize it’s the only way the word should be said—as if you’re standing high atop the Swiss Alps like you’re in some Ricola commercial, shouting, “I’m a creative!” for all of God’s green earth to hear. 

There is something so freeing, so revitalizing about coming to the place of accepting yourself as a creative, without question. It’s a badge of honor, a password to a secret club, a ticket to the chocolate factory, a written edict from the king, one which gives you permission to be who you are and do what you want. It’s really something special—something no one and nothing can take from you. It’s yours and you’ve earned it by right. When you’re a creative, you know that you’re neither a hack nor a fake. You stop caring what the critics say because you know, deep down inside, you’re the real deal.

At least, that’s how it should be. But there is a struggle—a feeling of doubt. Am I really a creative? What right do I have to call myself by such a title? Sometimes it feels more like claiming you’re an artist after having just made your first scribble on newsprint with a crayon. But an artist and a creative are two different things. I’ll not get into what is and is not an artist (tis a worn road with many side-trails) but a creative, well, anyone can be one. And by anyone, I mean you. Yes, you can be one. All you have to do is want it, then turn your desire into action. If you do, then you are, unequivocally, a creative. Name it and claim it my friend.

What if you don’t feel it yet? That’s fine. Do I spring out of bed every day, fueled by incredible currents of creative juices pumping through my veins (eew?) like water from a firehose? Heck. No. Some days all I want to do is hit snooze, repeatedly. But I get up anyways, most of the time. And even when I give in (which I sometimes do), then I make myself get up and step up the next day. Part of being a creative is the struggle. Some days you will feel like a fake, afraid one day everyone will see through the mask and realize you didn’t have an invitation to the party. But it’s not true. When you’re a creative, you, my friend, are the party. 

Wait, how can you be a party? Do you have to wear a chandelier on your head and hold a punchbowl in your arms? Well, that would be an interesting costume, but that’s not quite it. What am I getting at here? I’ll make it plain: if you want a life of creativity, if you take steps toward such an end and you work at it, then you’ve earned yourself the title. Trying is being.

What is a creative? It’s someone who looks at the world in a different way,  who finds new solutions to old problems, who inspires others to do the same; one who not only uses creativity, but lives it. Do you think you can do that? Well, I know you can. If you do, if you are, then you have my permission to let the world know: 

You! Are! A! Creative!

And if you are one, welcome! You’re in good company.

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

“Let them call you a failure, incapable, hopeless, useless, incompetent, wrong, a lost cause—you'll be in good company, with some of the greatest people to have ever lived. But if they ever call you uncreative, consider it your chance to prove them wrong, about that and everything else.”
-Me (A. P. Lambert)

 

Hey Creatives, have you struggled with this? What causes you to doubt your own creativity and how do you overcome it? Let us know in the comments below.