10(ish) Creative Questions to Ask Yourself This Holiday Season:

This past weekend, I visited my Parents for a few days. I had a lovely Thanksgiving Day “feast” with extended family and spent some time catching up, relaxing, and . . . yes, a bit of shopping. I also found myself doing some thinking about the holiday season in general and what I’d like the next month of my life to look like.

Here, I have to admit my temptation to get sucked into every single possible event, decoration, craft, movie, recipe, sale, and display the Christmas season can offer – more and more. Glitter on EVERYTHING!


I’m not saying there’s anything specifically wrong with a whole lot of Christmas merriment, but I do know that my heart is craving something different this year, and I’m having to really wrestle to listen to that craving and make different choices.

I think it’s a real exercise in creativity to ask myself how I can slide past some of the things that tend to lure my attention, finances, or spirit and tap into an experience of the holidays that’s more grounded in a few key personal values. I’m asking myself some specific questions, so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’d like to ask them too.

Note: I celebrate Christmas, but I think most of these could apply to other holiday traditions.

10(ish) Creative Questions to Ask Yourself This Holiday Season:

  • Am I doing something because I feel it will bring happiness, or just because “It’s what we do”? Will I have regrets (or hurt anyone) if I let certain things go?
  • Am I purchasing something because I think it’s worth it and useful to me or a loved one, or just because “It’s on sale” or “It’s shiny”?
  • Am I eating something because it will nurture my body or is a special/occasional treat, or am I grazing mindlessly on the seemingly endless array of cookies, cakes, and candies, pushing down stress and storing up discouragement?
  • Am I filling my time up with things that just entertain me, or am I making time to build memories and feed relationships for the future?
  • Am I giving gifts out of a truly generous spirit, or are my attitudes in any way reflecting pride or selfishness?
  • What do I really feel when I’m in a crowded, loud retail environment at the holidays? Is it excitement, fun, festivity and glee . . . or over-stimulation, frustration, disconnection or despair? Will I take the time to actually self-check?
  • When I reflect on this season come January, what will I be most glad to remember about it? What would I most wish I had done differently?
  • What can I do (that I may never have done before) that would change my holiday experience for the better?
  • Is there anything my heart is nudging me to do or try this season that I find myself afraid to embrace? If so, why? Will I push past the fear and demonstrate my courage?
  • Do I actually believe that God came to earth in the form of a human baby named Jesus? If I do, how should it shape my choices or my joy this month?

If you ask yourself any of these questions and find that the answers improve your holiday experience in any way, I’d love to hear about it . . . would you post a comment & let me know?

I’d like to leave you with a short video I watched this week that shows some young men being “selfish” in a fun, creative way:

Wishing you a lovely holiday season that really feels like the most wonderful time of the year.
❤ Nicole

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.

Creating Silence


A few of you may have noticed that I didn’t write a blog post last week. To be honest, I was dealing with a mix of not feeling well and a good bit of anxiety about recent events, so I decided that silence and self-care were more important than sticking to my blog posting schedule. 

The photo above shows some flowers I purchased mid-week. I took this picture of them in front of a framed print I love that shows a girl who’s gazing at the night sky. (Sidenote: Do you ever buy yourself flowers? Do you think it’s frivolous? Sometimes, when my mind is most preoccupied, their intricate beauty helps to unravel me and reminds me that they were created by a Divine Genius who’s bigger than my worries.)

On Wednesday, I went for a long walk in my neighborhood. It had rained, so it was grey and there were damp, colorful leaves dotting the sidewalks and piled in heaps along the curbs. The scent of after-rain autumn and the coolness of the air were soul-charging.

In the hour I was out, I saw only a handful of other humans and, for the most part, heard nothing but the sound of my own breath, my own moving feet.

During my walk, I thought about the recent election and the turmoil that followed. I thought about friends and family, some of whom are celebrating and some of whom are grieving (both about the election and about other things). I thought about work responsibilities, some of which I’m conquering and some of which feel messy. And for part of the walk, I thought about basically nothing, just looked at houses and cars and trees and felt thankful for the chance to just be . . . thankful for my safe, quiet neighborhood . . . thankful for legs that will move me.

I realized the quiet thinking time was a luxury. Sometimes it’s difficult to find silence, and sometimes it feels impossible to make time (or choose to take time) to disconnect and receive, but it’s so important. I think it’s crucial to allow our brains time to filter and file. I think silence is often the bearer of inspiration and clarity about things that would be elusive if we bury them with chatter. I think God speaks most often in a still, small voice.

In a recent blog post, I shared a study about principles of creativity, and I can’t help but think about how many of those aspects of creativity (such as, thinking and evaluation) would be impossible if we refused to sometimes make room for silence, how little we can get done if we never really listen [Related: Become a More Creative Listener in 30 Minutes or Less].

I know some people may feel they have too much silence in their lives already. If that’s you, this note isn’t for you. If you’re like me and find silence a little elusive but realize it could be an important boost to your creativity and well-being, keep trying.

A Few Final Thoughts About Creating Silence:

  • Make time for it. Find pockets in your busy day to take silence breaks. Schedule it if you have to.
  • Make space for it. Set aside a quiet room, closet, walking spot, or if you have to, get equipment like earplugs.
  • Make it a priority. Balance with your other responsibilities, but when you’re making a choice between silence and unproductive clatter, exercise the discipline to choose silence.
  • Enjoy it. If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why and be brave enough to sit with it for a while.

Wishing you some [inspiring] silence this week,
❤ Nicole

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post [usually] every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.

Doused in Ice & Creativity . . .

Sometimes the timing of things makes me think I should pause and take a closer look. Over the weekend, a friend and I went to visit another friend’s Dad who has ALS. On the way home from this visit, I was listening to NPR & heard an interview with Nancy Frates on the TED Radio Hour. The show featured clips of Nancy’s TED talk about why her family started (and how much they invested themselves into) the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Hint: Her son, Pete, has ALS.

I remember being amazed in the Summer of 2014 by how quickly the Ice Bucket Challenge took off and grew. Hearing Nancy’s story and reading more of the history of the challenge on the ALS Association website, I’m impressed by how much quick thinking and creativity was invested in fueling the movement while it was in its prime and how much dedication and effort continues to go into supporting research and the search for treatments and a cure. I also know how much creative experimentation, love, and sheer hard work go into caring for an individual with ALS. 

Certainly the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had its share of detractors, people who critiqued it for a variety of reasons. Some labeled it ‘slactivisim’ (a too-easy brand of activism fueled by emotion). Others questioned its impact. The ALS Association has posted a helpful info graphic that shows some of the results that have come from both the funds raised and the increased awareness that was generated by the movement (this is just a clip – click to see the full graphic):


I wanted to draw attention to this topic in today’s blog post, not because I feel qualified to make any sweeping general judgments about the Ice Bucket Challenge itself but because I think it’s a story that demonstrates creativity in a unique way (my blog is all about creativity in various forms) and because I think it’s worth thinking about what factors come into play to make things like this spark to life.

What does it say about us as humans that we continue to try to raise awareness of and support for causes that are important to us . . . or that sometimes we don’t continue trying?  I ask the last part of that question with zero judgment. I know that sometimes life doesn’t allow us to try, sometimes we’re fatigued or overwhelmed, and I know we can’t all always be trying about everything, but I feel grateful that we live in a world where there’s such a thing as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (and the American Cancer Society . . . and World Vision . . . and adoptive parents . . . and people who volunteer at local food banks . . . and without getting too cheesy, people who are simply as kind as they can be and as willing as they can be to admit it when they don’t feel like being kind and need a bit of grace) . . . It inspires me.

If you read this & think it might be of interest to anyone you know, would you pass it along? I’d also love to hear any of your thoughts about it if you’d leave a comment for me below.

Wishing you a week that’s full of kindness and grace,

❤ Nicole

P.S. This isn’t a pressure thing, but if you donated to ALS during the Ice Bucket Challenge but haven’t thought of it since then, or if you have never given to this cause, and have any interest in giving, please click here.

Would you like to click “Follow” to be notified each time I post? I promise you’ll never be bombarded with spammy e-mails. My regular schedule is a weekly post every Monday & then sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.