Q. What's the best way to jump-start the creative process? I don't have a lot of time or money, but I want to insert some spark back into my life.
--Arlene M., Cincinnati, Ohio
A. Your question is dear to my heart. Creativity is your birthright-and the best way to make meaning, celebrate life, and have fun (something too many of us have forgotten how to do).
Ask yourself once a day for two weeks: "What do I really want to create?" A friend and I called each other every day and posed this question, taking turns talking and jotting down each other's responses. You can also do this alone, journaling your thoughts for 10 minutes without stopping or editing. Either way, don't limit yourself to traditional artistic outlets like painting, writing, and dancing. Anything can be creative -- gardening, baking the best souffle, or...?
Once a creative direction emerges, baby steps will get you there. Don't make any grand plans, commit to time lines, or invest a lot of money in equipment, classes, or supplies. Drop the idea that best=big+fast. Real creation occurs moment by moment. Say you want to belt out cabaret music in upscale nightclubs, but you haven't sung since your high school musicals. Your baby steps could include getting recommendations of classes or voice teachers and going online to find voice lesson audio CDs like "Your Naked Voice" by Chloe Goodchild. Commit to a step a day, even if it takes only a minute, and you'll feel your creative energy growing along with the faith that yes, this aliveness and expression can be, must be, part of your daily life.
Coach Jennifer Louden is the author of six books, including "The Life Organizer: A Woman's Guide to a Mindful Year." Visit her at jenniferlouden.com. Email any questions you have about the challenging life issues you face today to firstname.lastname@example.org.