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So, what excites you? motivates you? energizes you? what is it that generates that SPARK in your life?

Some of us might mention our loved ones, others their social engagements, or creative endeavors, or someone else might be excited about a book or travel.

No matter how you answer the above question, the fact is that our brains CRAVE those “sparks” and our bodies, hearts, minds do, too! The more scientists explore how the whole body-mind system works, inside and out, the more they realize the importance of keeping active on all levels of life.  And no matter your age, your social status, your belief system, in order to “get your spark on”, you need to be actively “engaged” with life!

[Engaged may not translate well for those internationals reading this post, so I could say “interacting” or “connecting” with life, or “involved,” or intrigued,” or “captivated,”  if any of those words help :)]

Especially as creatives…

As artists who derive a sense of purpose and fulfillment via expressing life – in its many forms – we need to feed that spark, and realize that it takes “work” to maintain it, just as with any fire: if it is not being fed with oxygen and some sort of fuel, it will not continue to generate heat or light.

So, let’s start here and now with a few ideas that are not new, but might just spark some interest!

FIND A SPARK:

Get outside :) read a new book, pick up a new magazine, try a new restaurant, start a new exercise class, listen to a different type of music or a podcast, take time for stillness, try meditation or another form of mindful practice, and listen to your own heartbeat, and I mean literally. Research suggests that the heart is WAY more than simply part of the circulatory system, so taking time to really get in tune with your own natural rhythms is vital! Did you happen to hear how many times I used the word “new”? Novelty is vital to the spark!

The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.  ~Auguste Rodin
CREATE A SPARK:

Start a conversation around new things that perhaps catch your fancy OR ask questions of friends, family or, better yet, strangers! Meet someone new, a friend of a friend, or maybe someone with whom you are acquainted but never had time to get to know. Take a photo of something you’ve never taken a photo of before OR Begin exploring shapes and shadows, light in all its facets, combinations of colour and overlays, of contrast and perspective. Pick up a paintbrush or  find another medium where you can be a kid again, fascinated with how things work and why. Creative exploration is vital to the spark!

Creativity is a spark. It can be excruciating when we’re rubbing two rocks together and getting nothing. And it can be intensely satisfying when the flame catches and a new idea sweeps around the world. ~John Lehrer
GROW A SPARK.

Nurture your explorations with a little “tlc” by journaling about your experience, scrapbooking, gathering interesting pieces/objects while you are outside and arranging them and/or displaying them in a way that reminds you of your ventures. Discuss your findings with others who are like-minded, or maybe totally different than you. Find someone who has different tastes/forms of expression and share what you have been doing – observing yourself and them as you interact. Actuate your learning by blogging about it, even if no one sees it or comments, you will be growing your own spark for personal self-discovery and self-expression. Share! Share! Share! Social engagement is vital to the spark!

Goal-getting matters. And writing down the brave acts and bold dreams you intend to accomplish will provide the spark to get them done.   ~Robin Sharma
MAINTAIN A SPARK.

Create daily and weekly habits that contribute to maintaining that spark. Like, really. Name the days of the week such that each day there is something new and exciting to be actively engaged in – and I am not meaning active as in “ADD, hyperactive” ;)  Stay actively focused in your meditation practice or actively involved in training your brain via brain games, or actively engaged with your body through movement exercises, daily walking/jogging, martial arts training or expressive dance. Become an observer of when you are binging emotionally, what is contributing to those ups and downs, those mood swings. GET REST. Oh my, this one is huge, believe me. I know from personal experience, but there is also so much scientific data about the importance of sleep! Commitment is vital to the spark!

Nevertheless! IF you find your spark losing its get-up-and-go every once in a while, start back at the “Find” step… and be thankful for ALL of life, in ALL its variety, diversity, beauty.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.  ~Albert Schweitzer

photo credit: Jesh de Rox