Creativity Killers: Episode 3: Letting Fear Control What You Do

What is one thing that scares you? One thing that keeps you from following a dream you may have. This week I’m asking for a big one. Dig deep and figure out what scares you about moving forward towards your dreams. You probably already know what that thing is. If you don’t, it was probably the first thing that popped into your mind when you read that first sentence. So, I’ll ask it again. I’ll give that thought a chance to pop back up. In regards to your dreams, in regards to you living your happiest life, what scares you the most?

Take a moment to let that question marinate.

Are you afraid you aren’t good enough? This is a big one. Maybe you want to become a writer, but you are afraid people won’t like your ideas. Maybe you want to be on stage and teach people, but you’re afraid of public speaking. Maybe you want to put your art out there for sale, but you’re afraid that people will judge you. Maybe you want to open a business, but you’re worried you will fail.

Often, we can kill our own creativity before it even starts by holding onto our fears and refusing to step forward. We refuse to hear those stories that are coming through because we think they all have to be best sellers. This is one of my big ones. I enjoy writing. I enjoy telling stories through writing. But when I start writing something, those little ideas about not being good enough creep in. I used to read about how other people had written books, how other people said I should or shouldn’t start a book, and it would block all creativity. My ideas would no longer pour out.

(This is another creativity killer by the way……allowing other people’s ideas to overshadow your own. Click here to read all about this.)

To get beyond this I have tried to just do what I love to do. Sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes I still find myself doubting, worrying. When those moments come, I do my best to stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself to just have fun.

This week I want you to do one thing that takes you one step closer to creating your dream. If you want to put your art out in the world, put a picture of it on Instagram. Or even just show it to your close friends. There are plenty of people out there who draw or paint and no one ever knows it. If you’re happy with doing it just for the fun of it, then do that. However, if you feel like your art can inspire people, or if you want to try to sell your art, start putting it out there one baby step at a time. Or, just paint, just draw, just create. If you want to write, start writing. Write in a notebook. Get a flash drive and start writing and saving it. If you want to start a podcast, start writing out ideas for shows. Or maybe record one and let someone listen to it.

Maybe you have pushed your dream so far down that you won’t even allow yourself to acknowledge it anymore. Give that dream a chance to shine through again.

I don’t want you to do any of this for anyone else’s approval. I don’t want you to show others your art, writing or other creative endeavors so that they can say “Yes I love it”, and then you can move forward. The idea is to put your art out there, put yourself out there, because it is something that you enjoy, something you want to do. No approval needed.   

Share with us below what your fear is. Or what you’re going to do this week to take a baby step in the direction of your dream. Then we here at The Novel Turtle can send you all of the good vibes we have. We can all support each other in living our happiest life.

Creativity Killers Series: Episode 2: Listening To Everyone But Yourself

This picture started out as me trying to do something exactly the way someone else told me to. When it didn’t work out, I did my own thing and had way more fun with it.

If you want to do something, the quickest way to kill your excitement about it is to read how other people are doing it, and then try to do it exactly the same way.

I did this when I first started writing again. I was having fun, doing my thing, and I started reading all of the “dos and don’ts” of writing. When I was finished reading, I was so bogged down with what I should and shouldn’t be doing, I lost all interest in writing. Everything I wrote felt completely wrong in some way. It was only after I decided to write for the fun of it that my enjoyment in the process of writing returned.

I have a friend who opened a business. At first she tried to do everything the way that other people were telling her to do it. Everyone had an opinion about things. She found herself feeling like a complete failure and questioning why she had even started the business in the first place. Once she realized what was happening, and she began to listen to her own inner guidance about things, her business picked up. Her joy for what she was doing returned and she was able to begin helping people in the way that she was created to do.

Do I suggest that you ask for advice from those who have done what you want to do? Absolutely. Those who have gone before us have surely made mistakes along the way. If we learn from their mistakes then we are less likely to make them ourselves.

However, if we set out to do something on our own, and we try to follow someone else’s exact plan, more often than not it doesn’t work out. Why? Because you are unique. The plan worked for the other person because they did it in the way that was best for them. I’m not saying be stubborn, don’t listen to helpful suggestions, but…take them as just that, suggestions.

When you are setting out to do something, to create something, to build a new idea, figure out YOUR strengths, YOUR weaknesses. Don’t look at other people’s strengths and try to play to those. Use a similar idea, but tweak it to fit your needs.

When you have an idea that you are excited about, you tell others about it. Many times, they like to give you a long list of reasons that it won’t work. This is especially true if they have tried it before and it didn’t work for them. Or if they are the type of person who can’t bear to see someone else succeed. Or sometimes even if they care about you and they don’t want to see you have to fight an uphill battle. There will be those people who think they know everything about whatever you are trying to accomplish. They will try to tell you how to do it their way.

All of that to say, some people will attempt to discourage you from chasing your dreams. This discouragement has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. So don’t take it to heart. Simply take what resonates and leave what doesn’t.

I’m not saying don’t have people that you admire. I’m not saying don’t learn from those who went before you. I’m saying, if you’re going to do it, then make sure you do you.

Don’t allow other people’s ideas to overshadow your own.

Have you ever been excited about a project, only to be discouraged by other people’s opinions, “how-tos”, or by trying to do it just like someone else?

Creativity Killers Series: Episode 1: Multitasking

Painted Pumpkin with black hair.

This is your brain on multitasking.

In honor of Halloween this month we are going to talk about creativity killers and doing things that scare us. Dun dun DUN. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Also, we’re going to give you ideas about how to deal with these killers and how to move past them.

Our first creativity killer is Multitasking. Multitasking seems to be a way of life these days. A lot of people are very proud of how many different things they can juggle and do at one time. If you’re looking to open those creative channels, have less stress, and enjoy life more, the multitasking has to go. Or at the very least it can’t be a way of life for you.

When you think you’re multitasking what’s really happening is that your brain is having to stop and start tasks over and over again very quickly. When you look at one thing, your brain concentrates on that thing, but as soon as you look away your brain has to stop thinking about the first thing and move over to the second. If you’re doing three or four things at once your brain gets exhausted, and so do you. While you’re doing all of this bouncing around, you’re unable to really concentrate on any one thing fully. That means each thing that you’re doing is suffering at least a little. 

Multitasking is also a form of procrastination.

Why do so many people multitask their way through life?

Some people are addicted to multitasking. They can’t sit still. If they stop, even for a minute, they feel lazy, useless, or stressed. These feelings come up because when we finally slow down and give our mind a break, it gives our inner thoughts time to shine through; inner thoughts that sometimes we’d rather not acknowledge. We would much rather just keep shoving those emotions down and covering them up with busyness. The problem is, those emotions have to arise somewhere at some time. They often show up as a heart attack, exhaustion, or depression and anxiety. It’s much better to slow down, take the time you need to process those emotions, and then move on happier and healthier. Again, I know this is much easier said than done, but still so important.

Some people multitask because they feel like they have to, or because they have overcommitted to doing things. Sometimes it’s because they feel like they are not enough if they aren’t doing everything. Sometimes they are trying to prove themselves. The list goes on and on. These are all pretty deep issues that really warrant more discussion, but for now I just want to mention these things to give you ideas about what could be making you feel like you have to multitask.

If I can plant the seed, then hopefully we can all do a little more self-reflection and figure out our own reasons behind why we push ourselves so hard. Then we can take small steps each day to change our ways.

So how do you break the multitasking spiral?

Stop it. Just stop multitasking.

Ok. Problem solved. See ya next week.

Totally kidding. Although it would be nice if it were that easy.

It’s going to take time, and some effort, but it is possible.

The first thing to do is to narrow down what is actually important to you. If you make a list of everything you do each day, then mark the things on that list that are the most important for you to get done, what would those things be? If something on the list is just on there because you feel obligated to do it, scratch it off the list. Anything that doesn’t bring you joy, that doesn’t help you get to where you want to be in life, scratch it off the list.

Once you find out what is important to you, start saying no to commitments that aren’t in line with what you want for your life.

Next, be realistic about how much time it takes you to do things each day. All too often I see people who schedule themselves into a corner because they have unrealistic expectations about how long it will take them to accomplish tasks. Also, give yourself time in between to get where you’re going, or to switch gears in between tasks. You can’t schedule a class from 4-5 and then a class from 5-6 if you have to rearrange the room in between the two classes. You’ve started off the second class late from the very beginning, which means the rest of the class will be rushed and the need for multitasking will be more necessary to get everything done.  Scheduling our lives is the same. If you don’t allow yourself time in your schedule to get from point A to point B then you’re perpetually late and often forced to do multiple things at once to get everything finished.

Desk with laptop, book, and phone.

When you start going about your day, work hard to do one thing at a time. If you check e-mails first thing when you get to work, only check your email. Then move on to the next thing. I know that sometimes you get pulled away from things by other people. If that happens, help them how you have to, then turn your attention back to your e-mail until your finished. This is not an easy thing to do at first, especially for those that are pros at multitasking, but doing this gives your brain time to concentrate on each task.

It also allows you to slow down and see the world around you a little more. It will take your stress levels down drastically. You will find that you can check more things off of your to-do list because you’re actually focusing and doing each task a little more quickly.

Are you a professional multitasker? Do you tend to take on more than you can feasibly handle? This week sit down and figure out what’s important, make a plan to do only those things, and work hard at focusing on one thing at a time.

The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Chris Shelton

Joining us this week is Chris Shelton of Morning Crane Healing Arts Center and Shelton Qigong in California. We asked Chris questions, not only about the practice of Qigong, but also about running a business. As anyone who has ever owned and operated a business knows, you sometimes have to use a lot of creativity to get things done. We’re always interested to hear what inspired others, what has helped them along the way, and how they deal with the day to day. It’s also encouraging to see that others have dealt with the fear and doubt within themselves and have very successfully come out the other side. It is a lesson to us all: not to let those things stop us from doing what we love and are called to do to serve others and to have fun doing it.

1) For those that don’t know you, tell us a little about your story and how you got started doing Qigong.

My belief in the healing powers of Qigong is rooted in first-hand experience. As a teenager, I grew up in an abusive and neglectful household. I suffered from a heart attack at age 17 from a meth overdose and then a devastating back injury that left me in constant pain and partially paralyzed. I attribute my full recovery of not only the back injury but severe sinus and digestive issues to Qigong and the philosophies of Chinese medicine.

2) What made you want to start the Morning Crane Healing Arts Center?

I started the Morning Crane Healing Arts Center in a small office in Los Gatos, California, in 2001. Originally, my business name was the Morning Crane School of Qigong, but that name was too limiting for all I had to offer. At the time, I was a full-time butcher, single father of two children, and a competitive martial artist. I had finished the four-year Medical Qigong program in 1998 and did nothing with it until one evening after helping my teacher with his class; I got offered an opportunity to join the clinic in Los Gatos. I still didn’t know at the time whether or not I was meant to do this, and my ego had thought of all the reasons why not to do it. Two days later, I had made up my mind that I couldn’t do this and when I went to pick up the phone to call Janet (the massage therapist who offered me the position) to tell her no, I heard a voice say that this is your last chance this lifetime. So, I took a chance, and I am so glad that I did! My wife and forever true love, Parisa Shelton, joined Morning Crane in 2010.

Our business objectives are that: when people leave The Morning Crane Healing Arts Center, we want them to feel better than when they first walked in. To increase their awareness of how diet, lifestyle habits, and emotional status affects their health. And to give them tools to have an amazing life that everyone deserves to have.

3) As far as the business side of things, what were some of the hardest things that you encountered in the startup process?

The hardest thing was getting over financial fears and questioning if this is the “right” path I’m supposed to take.

4) What was one of the most surprising things that you learned when you started the business?

Sometimes your closest mentor and friends turn out to be your biggest adversaries and would like nothing more than to see you fail.

5) I heard you say one time that “Running a business is like trying to herd cats”. What do you mean by this? Is it in reference to feeling like everyone and everything is going in different directions sometimes?  

I meant that with a staff of people, no matter their education or skill level, there is still a level of organization and guidance needed to get everyone moving in the same direction towards a common goal.

6) At what point did you know it was the right time to start your second center in Los Angeles?

The business in LA built gradually. I gained significant confidence when Eric the Trainer, Hollywood Physique Expert, said “I know the who’s who in Hollywood and no one is doing what you’re doing in LA.”  When we received the opportunity to purchase a condo there and all the stars aligned to make this happen, I knew we were destined expand our business to LA.

Chris Shelton and Eric the Trainer

7) How do you keep the business side of things from taking over the teaching/healing side of things?

Proper compartmentalizing of tasks and things helps to prevent the business side of things from interfering with the teaching/healing side of things.  It’s like an analogy of life – avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.  Also, maintaining a personal health regime and meditation practice is very helpful to stay grounded and helps to maintain clarity of purpose.

8) Why do you choose to do classes for free in local parks?

We offer free classes to give back to our community. Once you think you’re big and lose sight of where you came from, this can cause a decline. We offer free services to expand awareness and let people know about the work we are doing. This is a common mistake I’ve seen throughout the years with practitioners who thought that they were established; they refused to do anything for free because they felt that they didn’t need to do so. I believe it’s important to dedicate a certain amount of time to offer your services, especially to those who could not afford to take part otherwise.

9) I’ve heard you say that one of your goals is to bring Qigong to as many people in the world as you possibly can, what other ways are you going about doing this?

With our Online Teacher Training Program*, YouTube videos, social media, books, and a TV show (for which we are pitching).

Man standing in front of trees.

Chris doing a video

10) You have a different approach to teaching Qigong and TaiChi. It’s not always so serious and you don’t wear traditional clothing. Why do you choose to teach this way?

I choose to teach this way because I feel that I can reach more people by being light-hearted and by dressing in my normal clothes.  Making it into a “Chinese” thing separates people and wearing silk-pajamas puts the teacher on a pedestal, and if you feed into this, then it feeds the students ego of seeking a guru-type mentor.

11) You and Parisa complement each other so well, how do you inspire each other each day?

Because at the end of the day we both have the same common goal and mission. We inspire each other with encouraging words, helpful gestures, and regularly acknowledging our wins. Even though it’s my name and face on the brand, I don’t mind sharing the stage with P.

Chris and his wife Parisa

12) You are also a published author with another book on the way, what made you want to write your own books?

I have my way of describing these ancient practices and techniques that I feel that I can reach an audience who otherwise might not be able to be reached.  Plus, I love Chinese philosophy, and I have all this knowledge and experience that I must not keep for myself and need to share with other people.

13) Do you do other creative things?  

Poetry, all mediums of art/drawing/painting, I like to dance – salsa, cha-cha, Rumba, and social dancing. Just last week we made arrangements for singing lessons!

14) Because The Novel Turtle is all about creativity, we ask everyone this question: What is your definition of creativity?

Creativity is the act of creating something from nothing.  It is letting God/Source flow through you and manifest things that stimulate, develop and enhance the world around us.  It allows people to be present and goes deeper into self-awareness.

15) What advice would you give The Novel Turtle readers to help them open up their own creative pathways?

Be around other creative and inspiring people, go out in nature, co-create with God what it is you want to manifest in that creative realm.  “I choose to co-create with God that creativity flows in and through me.” Also, never give up perseverance is the key to anybody being successful?

16) If someone wants to get in touch with you, what is the best way to do so?

Website: https://sheltonqigong.com

OR for information about the Qigong Teacher Training Program https://qigongteachertraining.com

E-mail: parisa@morningcrane.com OR chris@morningcrane.com

Phone: (408) 391-2846

If you want to try Qigong for yourself click here to see all of Shelton Qigong’s YouTube videos and HERE to follow them on Instagram.

A huge thank you to Chris Shelton for taking the time to answer our questions!!!

*If you are interested in taking the Qigong Teacher Training Course, I highly recommend it. It is truly a beginner course. Chris teaches you everything from the ground up. He and Parisa are tremendously supportive of their students and they are so much fun to work with.