12 [Creative] Days of Christmas – Challenge!

Christmas is right around the corner now with just two weeks to go, and I’m looking forward to having some vacation time and a chance to see some family members I don’t get to spend enough time with. And as  you may know from my recent posts, I’m continuing to work on keeping my heart and mind in a good place about the season: not too much hype, not too many unrealistic expectations. It can be difficult!

I recently opened up to a few people about how decorating for Christmas suddenly felt lonely this year. For some reason, decorating as a single person never really bothered me the way it did this time around. The experience reminded me of an article I read around this time last year . . .  so I thought I’d share that here now in case I’m not the only one who’s having some difficult moments:

If This Holiday is Hard, You’re Not Alone

Sidenote: I don’t 100% know if I agree with every single thing in this article, but I’m not trying to dissect it — If you’d like to, please feel free. I was just generally encouraged by the reminder that Jesus knows and can relate to difficult experiences.

And Now For Some Fun . . .

I’m throwing down a challenge! Write or draw something every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

If you’d like, print out this grid and play along. My grid starts on the 14th and goes through Christmas day, but you can shift and do whatever days work best for you. Post your progress on social media with the hashtag #12creativedays . . . I’ll be doing the same.

If you have any problems with the file below, you can also try downloading it as a PDF from this Google Drive link.

Do you have kids or friends who like to get creative? Get them to do this with you!

If you miss a day, don’t stress — you have enough to worry about. Just skip it or make it up and move on! ChristmasChallenge.jpg

I’m looking forward to seeing if any of you will participate in this challenge. Either way, I think you’re amazing & I’ll be back with more next 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.

Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs Countdown (Etc.). . .

IMG_7942.JPGOver the weekend, I toured Winterthur with some friends. Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the former estate of Henry Francis du Pont, an avid and eccentric collector. I enjoyed seeing the house with its many beautiful rooms, amazing hand-painted wallpaper, period furniture, and especially several Christmas-themed vignettes with a variety of beautiful Christmas trees (some of them are pictured above).

In my last post, I described my desire to stay focused on a few key values during this Christmas season & I do feel like my “10-ish Questions” have been helping me to stay grounded. How are you feeling about the holiday–any stresses?

In this week’s post, I’m just taking some time (while sipping Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea) to compile a “Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs” Countdown, so you can just take a little de-stressing music break if you’d like.

Sidenote: I’m refusing to put on the local radio stations that are playing Christmas music non-stop. I can’t handle, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” or “Dominick the Donkey” just yet, but I have enjoyed listening to a few select songs on my own terms. 🙂 If those two are your favorites, more power to you! 

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Songs

#5 – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (There are many good versions of this song, but I’m sharing the Charlie Brown version because the Peanuts Christmas Special is always a fun part of my Christmas traditions.)

#4 – Silent Night (Ok, so this is a pretty country-ified version of it, but how fun is that?! 😉 I’ve always really liked this song at Christmas time. Whenever I hear it, I remember singing it by candlelight at the end of Christmas Eve church services at my Grandparents’ church.)

#3 – It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (There’s not much to say about this. Just a true classic, beautifully performed.)

#2 – What Child Is This? (Hard to compete with the vocals and orchestration on this recording . . . simply beautiful.)

#1 – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Our church Choir performed this a few years ago, and it has been a favorite ever since. I really like the inclusion of a children’s choir, and I also love how honest the lyrics are about desiring peace on earth, especially after a year that has felt a little too frantic in many ways.)

And now it’s your turn: I’d love to hear about (and listen to) some of your favorite Christmas songs. Would you leave a comment & tell me about them?

Have a wonderfully Merry 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.


2 Creativity Topics, Semi-Related

After sharing some thoughts about Autumn last week, I heard several “Favorite Parts of Fall” stories from you — how fun! If you have more, I’d love to hear.

Tonight, I’m writing this blog post between trying to get some other things done, so you’re getting just 2 quick blurbs on semi-related topics . . .

1. Random Musings About My To-Do List:

(This is the introspective part of this post, so feel free skip to #2 if you’d like something more academic.)

When the days grow dark early and the nights get frosty, I find myself increasingly tuned in to things I want to accomplish. The energy of the cool fall months steadies my thinking, propelling me forward toward the end of the year. I can hardly believe we’re nearing the end of October — Halloween is only a few days away!

Here’s a quick peek at the creative projects I’d like to complete before the end of 2016:

  1. The Pirates’ Pizza Party – A collective children’s book project that I’m working on with some co-workers & friends.
  2. #1000amazingwomen – This is a personal illustration project I started earlier this year but lost track of over the summer.
  3. Completing the Logo Re-Design for EBFC – We’re a couple of rounds into the design for this logo & I’m not sure what’s next.
  4. Illustration/Design for “The Christmas Game” – I’m just getting started with the development of these designs and am excited to see where it will go. I’m hoping to make fast progress so that a version of it can be available for Christmas.

This list doesn’t include about a hundred other things related to (in no particular order) the holidays, my house, family, friendships, travel, church, volunteer work, personal development, etc.

So time isn’t necessarily on my side, but I feel the pressure driving rather than discouraging me. At least for today.

2. An interesting study I came across this week:

Plos One published a paper called “Modelling Creativity” in which 90 creativity-themed academic works from over 60 years were assessed for recurring themes, yielding a list of 14 factors contributing to the creative process.

The study is complex, so I wouldn’t expect that you’d want to read it all, but check it out if you’d like, take a look at this list, and let me know what you think. I’d like to dig into this a little deeper.

This paper describes a unique approach to developing a suitable model of how creative behaviour emerges that is based on the words people use to describe the concept.

14 Factors in the Creative Process (not all required, not necessarily flowing in sequence):

  1. Active involvement and persistence
  2. Dealing with uncertainty
  3. Domain competence
  4. General intellect
  5. Generating results
  6. Independence and freedom
  7. Innovation and emotional involvement
  8. Originality
  9. Progression and development
  10. Social interaction and communication
  11. Spontaneity and subconscious process
  12. Thinking and evaluation
  13. Value
  14. Variety, divergence, and experimentation

And now it’s time for some assorted questions of the week . . .

Does autumn spur you to productivity or tempt you to hibernate. Do you have a challenging to-do list? Any creative problems you’d like to discuss? What do you think is the most important factor in your creative process? What’s your favorite color of autumn tree? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in a comment.

Wishing you a productive and creative 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 every Monday & sometimes I add a mid-week “Collecting Creativity” post about other creative topics.