Taking Back the Spirit of Halloween

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Tonight is, for the majority of ‘of-age’ America, the night where the Halloween celebrations go down.  Parties, bar crawls, shenanigans, pranks, all performed with the extra spice of some creative, hilarious, and/or slutty costume.

From the outside, Halloween is simply another excuse for adults to get drunk and for kids to get hyper.  Let’s be honest, pretty much every American holiday looks that way from the outside.  But for me as an adult, growing up in a family that didn’t celebrate Halloween, it has always been about getting to show off my creative side both in ideas and in manifestation.

While most of my friends are quite content to be sexy cops, sexy maids, or the infamous sexy cat, I refuse to touch such cliches with a ten-foot pole.  Not that there is anything wrong with sexy cat, I just have thus far fiercely clung to my ideals of originality and home-made ensembles, and I don’t see myself changing that anytime soon.

Last year, I was quite proud of my American Beauty idea, and made a costume that was simple yet pretty awesome in my humble opinion (pictured above).

This year, I sit with 12 hours between me and the time when I step out into the world to display my creation, and I have nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

Considering that I was always ready for Halloween pretty early in the past, I find myself wondering what the change is.  Why am I not ready for this?

Part of it is the fact that I don’t feel like my body is something to show off right now, and sexy female costumes are the bread and butter of this holiday, which certainly puts a damper on things.  But mostly, as I look back on the past weeks and months, I have simply not been putting a priority on creativity.

Instead, I’ve been focusing on work, working out, sloooowwwwly reading my real estate books along with other self-improvement literature, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off to this appointment or that scheduled event.  Creating a Halloween costume has not been on the top list of my priorities.

All of this focus on productivity has been good, but it also has taken a toll.  My face has decided to sprout some ‘friends’, my extra lbs are stubbornly clinging to the areas I most certainly do not want them to cling, and to top everything off I caught a cold last week (getting sick is a rare, sad occasion for me).

What would happen, I wonder, if I simply embraced the spirit of Halloween more in everyday life?  What if, instead of worrying about spending ALL of my time in productive mode, I allowed myself a bit of creative time, just because?

Maybe taking some time to stop and paint the roses wouldn’t actually be holding me back.  Maybe, just maybe, it might actually spur more of the productivity that I want to see.

Let me give you some examples.

I have been wanting to make a vision board for quite a while, but because it’s not immediately productive, I keep putting it off.  Yet, whenever I hear successful people talk, they always refer to their vision board and how it keeps them on track.

What if I allowed myself an afternoon of unfettered cutting and gluing, of humming along to some Lana Del Rey or Angels and Airwaves, and really thinking about what I want to put on my vision board and how I want the final product to look.  How powerful would it be to have my dreams be on display in color every single day?

When you look at it that way, it seems incredibly silly to have waited this long.

Or how about the fact that I want to write several different books and perhaps even some screenplays, yet I never allow myself to indulge in a good fiction book binge-sesh, opting instead for more non-fiction reading that encourages self-reflection and hopefully spurs mental growth.  All great reads, by the way.

Yet, what if I picked up a book at the bookstore, gave myself an evening to dig in, and discovered that the way that author writes is amazing, and it turbo-charges my desire to create my own kick-ass protagonist?  AKA, actually push my ideas into fruition. Why the hell haven’t I been doing this on a regular basis?

Creativity is literally the fountain of life.  We as humans are created out of two people’s love for one another (or should be in an ideal world).  We are born of creation, and therefore we are born to create.

Why, then, do I and so many others inadvertently spurn the soft fields of creativity and hail the cold concrete of production?  We are in essence cutting off our nose to spite our face.

When it comes to Christmas time, everyone agrees that we should have more of the spirit of Christmas in our hearts year round—giving, loving, caring about our fellow man.  And I agree.  But I also vote that we should have the spirit of Halloween year-round, too—fun and creativity.

If we embraced those traits in our daily lives, all of us would be happier.  And just think of everything cool that would come from those hours embodying fun and creativity!  All things amazing and awe-inspiring and and epic originally came from an idea-an idea that was given the space and light to germinate, unfurl, and finally blossom.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I now have 11 hours left to put together the perfect blend of innovation and sex appeal…and I now know just what I’m going to do.

I’m putting creativity back on the priority list.  I suggest you do the same.

Happy innovating!

Master the Forge

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While I was being productive browsing Instagram the other day, I scrolled past the following quote:

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

-William B. Sprague

I absolutely love this.  In other words…

Don’t wait for the skill, create the skill.  For much of my life, I avoided putting in large amounts of effort into anything in which I wasn’t already relatively skilled.  This meant I got really good at writing essays, and stayed mediocre at band, choir, and drama (my activities of choice in high school).  Last summer, I went out of my comfort zone and joined a flag football league just to try it out (I had never played a sport in my life).  I sucked.  Pretty badly.  But I stuck with it, and this past Tuesday night I played an awesome defensive game, good enough that the other team was commenting on how many flags I pulled.  While this was, to be fair, a bit of an anomaly, I nevertheless would have missed out on so much if I had shied away just because I never developed the coordination to make me excel at sports.

There are so many times where people don’t even try because they know they are going to be terrible at something.  Those are the people that are going to stay terrible.  However, if you accept that you are a beginner, no matter what age you are, you can open up so many different and awesome avenues for yourself simply by taking the time to build up the skill, no matter how painful it might be.

Don’t wait for the time, make the time.  This September, I finished my Masters degree in Teaching and Learning.  It took me six months since I took two classes at at time (I had also received credits for another program I had completed).  The kicker was I started it in March while teaching full-time.  I could have put it off and completed it over the period of a couple summers while I had time off, but I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and get it done.  There were many, many nights when I would be mentally exhausted from teaching all day and have to come home, open my laptop, and write papers and discussion posts until bedtime.  The thing is, I did it.  I could have made the argument to myself that I did not have the time with a full teaching load and working out and having a social life.  But I carved out the arduous hours that it took, and now I have a higher degree and a nice pay raise to go along with it.

There will never, ever be enough time to leisurely fit in every activity that you want to do.  We always claim to be too busy, yet somehow, there is always enough time for Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  Time is the only thing that is distributed equally to everyone every. single. day.  If you really want something, you will find a way to make it happen.  Somehow, everything unimportant takes care of itself or fades away, and everything that is important finds its own niche in the 168 hours we are freely given each week.

Don’t wait for the money, create the money.  The universe is quite unfair in that, for most of us, there are so many ways that our money can be spent, and only a few avenues where money can be made.  I saw how my parents struggled while I was growing up, and I subconsciously knew that I never wanted to have that conflict in my life.  I took the traditional college route, and my income now supports me comfortably in a way that I never experienced as a child.  Now that I have established this standard for my life, I have realized I have even bigger dreams.  While I haven’t worked out the details just yet, I know myself well enough to be confident that sooner or later, I will accomplish them.

Most of us allow our money flow (or lack thereof) to dictate our life when really, we should be trying to devise any way possible to achieve our ideal vision.  Our lives are finite, and our existence is but a blip on the radar of the cosmos.  This alone should make us crave an experience so rich that it defies the gravity of mediocrity.  This conception is unique to each person, but majoritively, life experiences cost money.  If you have always wanted to travel the world, but are off put by the steep price tag, don’t wait for this experience to miraculously manifest: find a way to make it happen.

Don’t wait for friends, create the friends.  I have always been envious of people who have large groups of friends that are always doing fun, cool events together.  When I moved to California, I was in a relationship and therefore didn’t establish a friend group.  When we broke up, I found myself adrift with no one to remotely consider a chum save my coworkers.  Rather than sit at home alone, I did everything I would normally do with a buddy alone, including going out to the bars, eating out, and attending various events.  Fast forward a year and a half later, I am living with one of my best friends (whom I met at a bar, mind you) and I have a whole other group of friends from work and flag football.

The moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to do things alone.  Nine times out of ten, people label things as weird because they are too afraid to do it themselves.  Doing public things alone requires confidence, and people gravitate towards confidence over all other attractive qualities.  If you don’t want to spend time with you, why would anyone else?  If you want to have friends that love the beach, go to the beach.  If you want to have friends that motivate you in the gym, go to the gym.   If you want to have friends that are spiritual, go to a church or other arena of spirituality.  The point is, you are in control.  Make yourself available, and you’ll be surprised how many awesome connections you can make.

Don’t wait for the perfect love, create the perfect love.  I was married at age 19, and divorced at 23.  Those four years were the most miserable years of my life because I tried to force love between two people who simply were not compatible with each other in any way.  As with any type of pain, however, it has bestowed upon me so much knowledge about myself, my desires, and who my future spouse needs to be.

You will never find someone who completely fits your vision of a perfect partner.  That is a burden of expectation that no one should be forced to bear.  I do know, however, that you can find someone who fits your standards, gives you secret butterflies, and makes you feel like Rachel McAdams or Ryan Gosling in your own personal romantic comedy.  The mistake that so many people make is letting that person go when it gets hard.  A perfect love is only made perfect by both parties’ belief in its perfection.  Once the focus shifts from the flawless movie-screen moments to the inevitable rocky off-set interactions, the sparkle fades.  The difference between a life-long love and a fond memory is the elbow grease that both people put in to keep the iridescence radiating, time after time after time.

Everything that you want in life is within your grasp.  Sometimes, however, people treat their life like it’s controlled by a remote that’s over on the other side of the couch; we all know how many times the channel simply stays the same.  Don’t wait for the ideal time to make your visions come to life.  The ideal time will never, ever come.  Get off the couch.  Create your own channel.  Inspire others to do the same.  Become the ruler of your own forge, and let the resulting sparks ignite your life into a full blaze of masterful existence.