Where do you let your creativity surface? Is it on canvas or through song? Do you like to decorate or write? Do you enjoy pulling together ingredients and creating a delicious dish? Do you consider yourself to be creative at all?
This week on The Delicious Story I spoke with Kelly Boon who took us on a tour of CHAOS (Creativity, Humor, And Other Stuff), offering up ideas about the concept of creativity, and how important (and truly unavoidable) it is in life.
Kelly is an artist, speaker and advocate of all things creative—with a good serving of humor (and other stuff) mixed in. She works with companies and organizations to insight creativity, which helps the individuals within improve the quality of their work, encourages team building and harnesses positive culture improvements overall.
To be honest, I think my notions of creativity were limited when I was younger (and probably lingeringly so even today). I considered the result to be the definition of creative. I figured one can’t be a writer unless one writes well, and someone can’t be dubbed an artist unless they create work professionally.
Kelly explains that this is where the value of creativity gets lost on many people. By confining creativity to outcomes and labeling ourselves based on results, we miss the real value in the process of creating.
DITCH THE LABEL
I know I got stuck on this labeling issue early on in life. It’s a bit ironic, for example, that I host a show about memorable meals, because for a long time I didn’t consider myself to be a cook.
I think I came to this when I was about 10 and attempted to make my first dish, which was some variation of fried chicken. I studied my junior Betty Crocker cookbook, and selected the golden crispy fried chicken pictured there expecting my attempt to look the same.
I pulled together the ingredients and followed the instructions. Each piece of chicken was dipped the in buttermilk (I think) and then rolled (or is that dredged?) through crushed potato chips. I remember being so hopeful as I surveyed my work up to the frying point. The potato-chip-festooned chicken parts looked right based on the photos, so now all that was left was to fry per the instructions.
At that point in the recipe I must have missed something in the details. It may have been something about the temperature or length of time the meat needed to cook, but whatever it was my chicken was not crispy or all-over golden. The potato chips sucked up the grease and got burned and chewy while the meat inside was not cooked through. I was so disappointed and decided then and there I was no cook, and pretty much stuck to that for thirty years.
Of course, I went on in life and cooked, and was smart enough to marry someone who likes to cook and is quite good at it, and so life went on. Only later did I realize that I needn’t be a “cook” to enjoy cooking. There can be a mixing of ingredients, the shared bond of cooking with others where edible results may ensue, and I can simply appreciate that I was creative and cooking.
Even now cooking isn’t my preferred medium for expressing creativity, but I’m a better cook and needn’t worry about the label. I’m competent and can even have fun but I don’t have the magic touch to make food truly delicious. My husband, however, can make leftovers sing. My greatest talent resides in appreciating a good meal when it is placed before me.
FAILURE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT
It turns out that, like many people, I had already developed a misunderstanding of the value of failure in the process of creating. Kelly points out that the biggest gift of creativity is that it comes with failure. In fact, the only way to find the components of anything that works is by realizing what doesn’t. In those experiments, if we’re allowing our creative mind to unleash, we re-examine and dive in to try again when things don’t work as we’d like.
Still, failure can hurt, and we are conditioned to avoid it. That is why it is so important to find the spaces in our life where we can allow ourselves to open up to creativity and the failure that often comes with it. In those safe spaces we take ourselves and the outcomes less seriously. We don’t have to have our creations be great successes because it is the process of creating where we find growth and joy. Kelly explains that is where the real magic of creativity occurs. If we are in the mindset of creating, we learn and intuit lessons from the experience that carry over into other aspects of life.
Kelly has had many experiences bringing people together to tap into creativity. She shares a humorous account of people stuck to each other to resolve a specific dining conundrum. There would be no eating unless people got creative. I’ll let you listen to her story and decide how you would have solved the situation. Macaroni and cheese was involved. I didn’t get Kelly’s recipe, but here is one from Skinnytaste to try.
Kelly’s memorable meal story is a lovely example of how creativity comes in when we are open to the unexpected. Her anecdote of food and friendship is inspiring and hopefully helps you reflect on how to allow for more of the impromptu of life.
Kelly attributes this quote to her Dad.
YOUR CREATIVE LIFE
So here you are doing whatever is unfolding today. For one thing, you’re reading this post and listening to a podcast. Even in this this moment you are creating your story. You’re looking to feed your soul and aspire toward the next thing that will engage you.
It turns out that whether you consider yourself to be creative or not, creativity is literally leaking out of you just the same. We are each crafting our lives from the clothes we wear, to whom we love and how we spend our time. We are each in the constant designer mode of curating and shaping our lives. We are each a Versace of at least one life. When looked at through that colorful kaleidoscope, how might that change our choices? These are not just mindless decisions after all but the ones that propel us onward.
I circle back to the concept that is most delectable in today’s conversation with Kelly. We are each our own life chef; we pick the ingredients and how we prepare them as we go. Sometimes we stick to recipes, but when we veer from the instructions therein lies the opportunities to truly explore and expand our life experience. What elements are you bringing into your life of flavors?
To learn more about Kelly’s work in CHAOS go here.
Sherry is the founder of Storied Gifts a personal publishing service of family and company histories. She and her team help clients curate and craft their stories into books. When not writing or interviewing, Sherry spends loads of time with her grandchildren and lives in Des Moines, Iowa.
STORIED GIFTS SHOP
Need a beautiful infusion of inspiration for your storied life? Please check out the Storied Gifts Shop where we offer Wearable Wisdom & Daily Inspirations.