Day 49 – Self Evaluation #8 – What Do Really I want?

I decided to do these last two posts on self-evaluation a little differently than previously planned. Lets’ get right to the list of things I might want to tackle for this project and then next time I will try to prioritize and shorten the list down into something manageable.

Looking back on this phase of the project, part of my underlying problem goes back to something pretty typical of those of us in our senior years. We look back on where we have been and are just not satisfied with how it has gone. I could have done more. Is it too late to do that? We see and read stories of people who let creativity truly shine in their lives and wonder why I am not more like them? Yes, this is blatant envy. So, what do I really want? That is the deepest question for this self-evaluation series. This list will be a hodgepodge of thoughts so hang on. Next time I will try to make sense of the brainstorming.

1- I want to try to resurrect my sketching skills

I have pleasant memories of being able to draw in my youth. I just want to be able to draw something I see, even if it is from my mind’s eye and then stand back and be able to seriously look at it with a degree of pride.

2 – I want to write short stories

I know I am a prolific blogger who puts out thousands of words a week, but most of that is about things I have studied. I just want to let my mind take me to where it wants to go. I have always been a “Just the facts” type person so writing fiction is very foreign to me. I want to get over that! I know I will never be the short story writer that Jack London was; that is not my dream, but I would kinda like to write as he did.

3 – I want to write Verse

One of the saddest things for me personally is that I am no longer able to remember what musical instruments sound like. I can remember the cadence of songs but the melody evades me now. To satisfy my musical urgings, in an at least a limited way, I pull out the lyrics of many of my favorite songs and sing them to myself. I want to dig up some of my past and the lessons learned and put them to verse.

4 – I want to write a travel guide about the historical places in America

I have struggled with just how to get my photo portfolio into the public eye. I have tried several different routes with only limited success. I have thousands of pictures of places I have visited throughout America. I want to try and put together a possible ebook travel guide to sell on Amazon (proceeds donated a charity).

5 – I want to be proficient in Architectural Art

Even as a very young boy, I was fascinated with architecture. I can still draw the floorplans for all the houses I have lived in and that counts in the dozens. Looking back one of my favorite classes in my early college years was mechanical drawing. I know the drafting board and T-square don’t exist anymore but since I enjoy electronics I want to try my hand at things like two-point-perspective illustrations. I often say I should have been an architect instead of an engineer. I don’t think it is too late to show some creativity in that arena.

6 – I want to do something to Celebrate My Eccentricity

I have really never tried to just let my creativity run free. My artistic endeavors in this area don’t have to make sense or look like something real. I just want to celebrate my full eccentricity in an artistic mode. 🧐

7 – Create something that exists only in my Mind’s Eye.

When it gets down to the nuts & bolts, the essence of this project is basically to create something, anything, that is uniquely mine. Something that no one has seen or maybe even imagined. I don’t know what that is yet but I hope this one-year project will point me in that direction.

Closing It Out

I think seven is a lucky number so I will stop here. I will be thinking about this list in the coming week and try to wean it down to something manageable for this project. That will be a creative challenge in itself.

What areas might you be looking at to enhance your creativity?

Day 41 – Self Evaluation #7 – The Epiphany Year 2008

After wallowing in self-pity for too long I finally came to terms with the fact that my malaise was all my fault. I got it through my stubborn head that I could spend what was left of my life on the couch watching TV, or I could set goals to actually do something that was at least more fulfilling. You could say I had finally hit rock bottom and the only place to go was up. That epiphany was what finally turned my retirement from one of boredom to something much more satisfying.

The most deep-rooted of all human needs is to live for something more important than just survival. Most of us want to make a difference, to leave our mark on this world that might still be around when we are no longer here. That is what I sat out to do.

Blogging

One of the things I did to make my life fuller and more meaningful was to start up a couple of blogs; one focused on the questions I have always had about religion. The other was to use my question everything attitude to try to make sense of my corner of the world. The format for that blog was to use a Will Rogers style of reporting on things I gleaned from life and particularly on the Internet. That second blog would eventually morph into RJsCorner which is still in daily publication after almost 3,500 posts.

Becoming More Active in Helping Others

I had started volunteering at a local soup kitchen a few years before, but during this time I kicked it up several notches. Over the next four years, I would spend several volunteer hours a week preparing and serving the meals. The days were long but very rewarding. That part of my new life helped me understand what being a follower of the teaching of Jesus really meant.

Celebrating Instead of Mourning My Eccentricity

Another critical thing that helped me get all the couch was to realize that my eccentricity was actually a good thing. What makes a person eccentric? I don’t really know, maybe for me, it was partially due to my Aspie traits. They say that people with those traits bluntly tell the truth and that certainly describes me. Before I tried to hide these differences but now I let go of that stigma and have now come to actually celebrate them. I want to let you in on a little secret, being eccentric sets you free to be anything you want to be! Some of the happiest people you will see have been labeled eccentric.

As Dame Edith Sitwell said many years ago “Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is really a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because the genius and the aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.” To me, that kind of freedom to just be myself I was yearning for all along.

In Closing

Retirement too often turns out to be a big nothing simply because we refuse to put in the effort to conquer our self-imposed boredom. Looking back I realized that it was just laziness and indecision that held me down. I simply didn’t want to put in the effort to make a satisfying retirement happen.

I can see the end of this self-evaluation coming. I think the only things left is to do a summary and then make up a list of projects I might want to undertake for this Cracking Creativity project. That will happen in the next two posts and then the fun starts 🙂

Day 36 – Self Evaluation #6 – Taking Stock

It is time to move beyond the negative in the self-evaluation phase of this project. I don’t want you to think that I think of myself as uncreative. I fully, and maybe boastfully, recognize that I have creative talents that I believe are well above the norm, but they are just not enough for me at this point in my life.

I want to spew creativity. I no longer have to do something just for the sake of making money. I can now pick and choose how I want to spend the rest of my life.

Let’s get on with my positive side of creativity.

Web Management

I have been involved with the Internet since the AOL days of the 1980s and in website development since the 1990s. In my corporate life, I wrote code that enabled engineering databases to be shared at multiple locations via the net. When I opened my own business in 2000 one of the first thing I did after configuring my shop was to bring up a website to sell what I made. As a result, I had customers throughout the Midwest.

Then in 2008, after I finally shut down my pity-party of full reitirement I opened up my first blog site. Four other sites soon followed. I now maintain three rather successful blogs which are constantly in a state of change/improvement. I am kind of proud of the creative way they look.

I am a pretty creative person when it comes to the Internet.

Documentary Photography

I have loved taking pictures since I was a young boy. But, it was not until after college that I could afford the film and processing required of that hobby. I am not much of a people person so the main subject of the photos were the places I have visited. My first blog site was InSearchOfAmerica which was a photo blog of my travels. Since going digital I have probably taken 100,000 pictures of which the 20,000 best reside in my portfolio. I am in the process of introducing them on Flickr now.

I am a pretty creative person when it comes to documentary photography

Writing/Composing

I have loved writing stories about my life and view of the world since boyhood. I almost effortlessly got “A”s in all my English Composition classes up through college. Of course, the Internet allowed me to expand my reader base via my blogs.

I love writing and I think I am a pretty creative person in the written word.

Life Foundations

I have made it a point to question everything and to think for myself. It is central to my life now. I have always been a dreamer, just not very good at following through on those dreams. My blog site over at RJsCorner is founded on the 10 Pillars of my life. They represent the person I want to world to see.

I think I am pretty creative when it comes to the way I think and act.

Eccentricity

Finally, one creative characteristic that I have been enhancing in the current stage of my life is my eccentricity. I don’t particularly care at this point in my life what others think of me. Part of my eccentricity is due to my Aspie traits. They make me eccentric. I have always been pretty blunt in voicing what I am thinking, but that has been enhanced in recent years. I think being eccentric just might be a foundational part of creativity.

I think my eccentricity makes me a pretty creative person.

Let’s wrap this up

Taking Stock of my Creativity has allowed me to be able to move forward in my search for more. It eventually showed me that I can do just about anything I put my mind to. It allowed me to have a personal epiphany. That is the topic for the next post.

Day 30 – Self Evaluation #5 – Baggage

Last time I ended up my self-evaluation in the doldrums of self-pity in my early full-retirement years. This time I will talk about the baggage that may have contributed to putting me there. The baggage we carry throughout our lives is usually what hampers us from reaching our goals. It acts like an anchor that prevents us from moving downstream.

Self-esteem

I have always had an underlying problem with my self-esteem. I think I inherited it from my dad. He just never thought he could do anything about his situation in life. The self-esteem he had as a thirty-two-year-old was bashed on the rocks of time when his wife abandoned him to marry someone with wealth that dad could never imagine!

I’m sure that has had an effect on my creativity.

Depression

I have suffered from depression most of my life to one degree or another. I thank the Lord that it has never gotten so deep as to affect my daily living but it does pop up its ugly head on a regular basis, especially in my early retirement years.

That has probably kept me from being the creative person I dreamed to be.

Aspergers

I don’t call myself an Aspie but I do have several of the traits of one. I now know that my avoidance of eye-contact is probably a neurological thing and my clumsiness in social situations is not an indication that I am faulty in some way. It is just that I am wired differently than most.

The feeling of being inferior to others I’m sure hurt my creativity.

Not enough of a risk taker

This one I will take sole responsibility for. So much of my life was centered around being secure. I stayed on a job I really didn’t like for way too long. Fortunately, I eventually found my place into a different field with that same employer. That allowed me to garner a now rare full pension.

But I’m sure my aversion to risk-taking had a major effect on my creativity. It was not until I became free of having to have a job for financial security that I even allowed myself to seek out creativity.

Closing it out

Facing my life’s baggage head-on has finally allowed me to seek the creativity I have so long searched for and that is the main purpose for this year-long project. I can’t say I have completely conquered all my baggage but just recognizing it is a long way towards becoming the person I want to be. My main regret is that I didn’t do this much earlier in life! In the back of my mind, I have always thought of myself as being creative but I never allowed myself the courage to actually seek creativity as a purpose in life.

Next time I will be going to the opposite end of my self-view. I will be covering the things that I think I have done right in the creativity area and how I might expand my creativity to other fields.

Day 26 – Self Evaluation #4 – The Early Retirement Years

My early retirement years were a time of serious adjustments. After I left the corporate world, I almost immediately became totally absorbed into making my cabinet-making business a success. Before I could do that I spend many hours gutting the inside of an old pole barn to make the shop. During that time I really didn’t appreciate the freedom I had gained from losing a fixed-hour corporate schedule as I was actually working some pretty long and arduous hours. I had not done that much physical labor in years but that proved somewhat satisfying and reconfiguring it into a working shop somewhat creative.

It was not until I shut down the business after 6 years and then realized that I was now in the full-retirement mode that there was nothing on the horizon to occupy my time. That caused a panic set which put me into a state of depression and self-pity for longer than I want to admit. I guess this is not unusual for people who suddenly have all the time in the world, but it was new and alarming to me. My newfound freedom was simply overwhelming! I saw myself as a now a non-productive member of society for the first time in many years.

It would be a while before I realized that since I did not need a job for money that I could do anything I want. But finding that “anything” proved to be quite a chore. My very essence was entwined in the job I occupied at any given time and that had vanished. At first, I was pretty much a couch potato as I just didn’t want to do the work to discover a “new me”.

During the last dozen corporate years and even during the years of self-employment, my main creative mode was apps and database development. That was where my creativity truly blossomed. When I lost that feeling, I lost a fundamental joy in my life. I didn’t want my retirement life to just be something I was doing when I wasn’t sleeping. I finally had the opportunity to put more creativity into my life but I just didn’t know how to do that. I used to say that I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. (ha). I wallowed in my boredom and self-pity and TV for way too long.

Being the son of a pretty stoic father who didn’t share his emotional feelings with others, I didn’t reach out for help, I took it all on myself. I had no close friends that I thought I could share this type of thing with. I would slowly dig myself out of this proverbial hole. That is the story for the next post.

Day 21 – Self Evaluation #3 – Post Corporate World

This post will be about how I saw my creativity after I left the corporate world, but I gotta start just a little earlier than that.

After I had been with the company for 26 years they announced that they were shutting down the Midwest branches and moving everything to New Jersey. They said my job would be there next month if I wanted it. Given that there was a huge difference between my fixed pension at 26 years than it would be at 30 I decided I HAD to make the move.

It would be my first time ever living outside the Midwest. I found the work environment quite different when I arrived in New Jersey. Whereas in the Midwest it was about the team, in NJ it was almost every person for themselves. It wasn’t easy to be creative in that environment but I managed to accomplish some creative stuff computer software wise while I was there. In my third year there, a Hong Kong company bought out the division and that everything changed. Long story short, I let it be known that I wanted to be one of the first to be laid off and indeed that happened. Since I had my thirty years in I welcomed the downsizing and especially the payout that came with it.

As soon as I was unemployed we quickly sold the house and moved back to the Midwest. Since I had some pretty serious skills in app development I contemplated seeking a job in that area back in my home state but instead decided to go into business for myself.

The adjustment from corporate life to single-person self-employment was a drastic one. I struggled with these semi-retired years for some time. Eventually, I settled down into making custom made and designed furniture. In order to get the business off the ground, I designed and built a full line of farm toys that I sold at regional craft fairs alongside examples of my furniture. The toys became popular with many repeat customers. That was a pretty creative time for me and it proved to me that I still had some creative skills outside the software area.

But, after six years and a mild heart attack, I decided I had breathed in enough sawdust and was bored with wood anyway so shut down the business. I then moved into the full retirement mode. That is when I really struggled with my self-perceived lack of creativity!

That is what the next post will be about…

Day 16 – Self-Evaluation #2 – The Middle Years

The middle years are primarily about securing your place in the world and fulfilling obligations. How I dealt with my creativity during those years is what this post is about.

The middle years, what can I say about them and my search for creativity. If I had to sum those years up in two words it would probably be “lost opportunities”. When I entered college it seemed that my creativity was forced onto a very low temperature back burner. Electrical engineers were supposed to be about facts and equations. Creativity just wasn’t a topic in the curriculum.

When I graduated from college and entered the corporate world, little changed in that regard. I was usually given a task such as “design a circuit that turns off a light when you leave a telephone booth” (my first assignment). I guess there was a certain degree of creativity involved, “do I use this type circuit or that one”. The company mantra was “We want you to take risks, but don’t ever fail!” That statement squashed my and most other’s creativity.

In my off work hours, I dabbled with one creative thing or another but never in any depth. I convinced myself that I just didn’t have time for a creative endeavor. Of course, I realize now that that was a copout.

I don’t want to end this post or the description of my middle years as a complete creative failure. They were not. There was a period where creativity, at least at some level sprouted. After about fifteen years as an electrical engineer, the personal computer was invented and that awakened my simmering creative spirit. At first, it was on my own, I spent hours and hours playing with my new toy at home. In my spare time on the job, I developed apps as they are called today to enable me to do my job more efficiently. When others discovered my new tools they had to have a copy. That eventually led to a new career within the company. I say now, that I was just born fifteen years too early. 🙂

To close it up for this post on my middle years, I put too much of my potential creativity on hold and I have come to regret that.