If it could talk…

Last week, as I walked through the gate of our apartment building, the portinaia (doorkeeper) flagged me down to give me this package. It was the most interesting package, covered in all sorts of stamps from the UK, addressed to my husband.

“Oh wow,” he said when I brought it into the apartment, “I didn’t think that would ever come!” Turns out he had ordered some mosaic tiles from a shop in England, five weeks earlier. I asked him to save the package for me, so that I could photograph it. I was intrigued by this wrinkled envelope, covered in colorful stamps.

What stories would this package tell, if it could talk?  Could it tell me the story of why it had such a diverse set of stamps? Maybe someone had cleaned out their desk, and they were trying to use all of the old stamps that were left over when postage increased.

What about its journey? What would it tell me? How did it get to be so crumpled and rumpled, with the stamps peeling off? Why did it take so long? Maybe it was waylaid, because it needed to be hand cancelled. Or possibly it got stuck in some sorting machine. Likely the delay was due to Poste Italiane, famous for its inefficiency, but I like the fanciful stories better.

After photographing the package for a while, I decided to soak the stamps off and save them, for some craft project in the future. When a treasure trove of textured imagery comes your way, you have to take advantage of it. Reaching back into my brain archives, to a time in my childhood when I was a junior stamp collector, I taught Brandon how to remove the stamps without damaging them.

It wasn’t until I had removed the stamps that I realized all of the stories they collectively carried with them. There was the College of Arms Quincentenary, World Hockey Cup London 1986, and Royal Mail 350 Years of Service. The Most Ancient & Most Noble Order of the Thistle Tencentenary of the Revival, The Domesday Book 1086 and The Queens Award for Technological Achievement 25th Anniversary can be added to the list. Some celebrate artists as well: Sea Pictures by Edward Elgay, a photograph of Alfred Hitchcock by Howard Coster, and a vase by Hans Coper. A total of 24 stories are held in the stamps on this one little package.

Normally we don’t stop and notice the stamps on our mail. We don’t stop to think of the story they are representing. In fact, it’s becoming rarer to actually have stamps on our mail, with the decline of people sending personal mail and the increase in use of electronic postage. What luck then, to receive a package like this. It’s a treasure trove of culture and history and art.

If any of my UK readers can fill me in on the story behind this colorful stamp with the yellow house and the green robot looking guy, I would love to hear it!
Today’s 9 Muses Musing prompt is STORIES. I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying these prompts. They are inspiring me to tell stories I wouldn’t have told otherwise. Tomorrow’s prompt is TRADITION.

The Spiral of Creativity

This photo of Parco di Monza in summer has been coming up in my mind lately, which means I need to share it. I loved the cloud formations on that day, the spirals I saw. I didn’t see the clouds as spiraling inward, but moving outward. I saw in the clouds a spiral of creativity, where ideas are born at the center and then gain momentum as they spin toward the outside. The ideas eventually break free and are sent off into the world at high speed, flung with the creative energy they attained through the spiral. All that, read in the clouds on a summer day.

I can see why this image has popped into my head, because the whole idea of the spiral of creativity fits perfectly with some reflection I’ve been doing. As I work hard on finishing my Find Your Eye class, I’ve realized that I have moved to a dramatically different place in the creativity spiral. The place where the ideas are about to completely break free, and move off into the world.

I decided today I would share these fresh thoughts on the creativity spiral. These are the different places or phases I’ve experienced, so far. I’m curious to know, is this how you have experienced it too? Where are you in the spiral?

The first phase of the spiral is Absorbing. Opening yourself up to all of the creative ideas that exist in our world, and absorbing them into our creative center through reading, observing, learning. This is an active step, because you have to seek the ideas out and expend energy into taking them in to yourself. This may also be the absolute center of the spiral, like the eye of a hurricane, the place where there is calm. You need peace and quiet to absorb.

Processing is the second phase. I think the phrase I like to use, “I have all of these ideas swirling around in my head,” fits perfectly here. This is where the ideas you absorbed begin to be transformed. You think about them, write about them. You are seeking where they fit in with your life, your experience, your philosophy. You are in the spiral proper now, beginning to really move.

After Processing comes Practicing. You begin playing around with your creative ideas. You give your creative self a playground, a safe place to explore and practice. You delight in the discoveries you make. It is through this practice and play that new connections are made in the ideas you’ve been absorbing and processing. Brand new ideas are born.

At some point, Practicing transitions into Acting. Some of the ideas that are born during play will become ready for action. Things are really moving now in the spiral. Dreaming of how to bring the idea to fruition becomes doing. You begin to take the next steps, to make the ideas real and get them ready to release into the world.

Finishing comes next, very close to the outside of the spiral. You are moving quickly, putting the work into completing the remaining actions to send the idea into the world. This, in some ways, is the hard part, because it’s not all swirly fun and play. It’s the nuts and bolts of getting things done. There are deadlines and external requirements at times. The excitement is still there, but it is different, tempered with effort. In this phase, your commitment is tested. Will you really launch the idea into the world? Or will you let it sink back into the spiral?

I find myself in the Finishing phase of the spiral right now, with my Find Your Eye class. It is interesting to discover, even with the effort it is taking, that my commitment is stronger than ever. Each time I work on the class, no matter how much I still have yet to do or how much I see that I need to improve, I find myself saying, “This is good stuff. I need to get this out to people.” This one idea, of the many that are born in my spiral of creativity, will be launched into the world.

What comes next in the spiral of creativity? I don’t know yet. I can only see the parts of the spiral I have been through so far. I don’t know what happens when the creative idea is launched into the world, but soon I will. Have you launched your creative idea? What has come next for you? I would love for you to share your experiences with me, to let me know what phase comes next in the creative spiral.

While I don’t yet personally know what comes next, there is one thing I do know:  In order to work, the spiral must always be kept in motion. In order to keep the momentum, even for one idea to launch, I have to be Absorbing and Processing and Practicing too. Without that continual creative energy fueling the movement, the spiral will die. Like clouds on a sunny day, it would will eventually blow away, disappear into the sky. So I keep reading and journaling and writing here, sharing my little insights with you all, so that my spiral of creativity continues.

Today’s 9 Muses Musing prompt is SHARING. This is the post I needed to write today, regardless of the prompt, and I’m surprised that it even is remotely related.  Tomorrow’s prompt is STORIES. 

Shiny Light

Patrick came home with this candle last week as a gift from the second graders he reads with at school. Brandon was dying to light it but I made him wait until I could take some pictures. He had to wait several days, because at the time I was sick and didn’t have the energy to do much more than sleep. When I was ready, he was happy to be my photographer’s assistant.

So here it is, a bright and shiny candle today, brought to you by me and my trusty assistant. Can you make out our apartment, in reflection?

Today’s 9 Muses Musing prompt is SHINY. Tomorrow’s is SHARING. I hope all of your Christmas wishes came true yesterday!