How Creative Pursuits Benefit You in Your Non-Arts Job

Charcoal drawing of the artist in 3/4 view, looking at an easel.
Self Portrait, 2004.

Ever since I decided to attend law school, people have been asking me how a person with an art background becomes a lawyer.  I’m not going to talk about my reasons for pursuing a legal career today (I’ll save that for another post), but I do want to explore how creative pursuits can benefit us in our jobs and lives.

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On Being “Humbled”

A peacock, anything but humble, shows its feathers.

One of my language usage pet peeves of late has been the increased use of the word “humbled” in contexts that demonstrate a lack of humility. A connection of mine recently posted on LinkedIn that he was humbled to have been selected to receive an award. I suspect that he was in fact feeling honored or proud rather than humbled.

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Writing a Personal Mission Statement

The beginning of a new year is a good time to reevaluate our priorities. Setting New Year’s resolutions is one way to define our goals, but it can be helpful to do some deeper thinking about what’s important to us and what we want our lives to look like.

When I was in my mid-twenties, trying to find myself and feeling some existential angst, I decided to write a personal mission statement. I thought about what I really valued and about the qualities exhibited by the people with whom I most enjoyed spending time. I considered how I wanted to be perceived and what I could bring to the people with whom I interacted. I crafted a brief manifesto of sorts, about ten sentences long, which is longer than a traditional organizational mission statement. What I wrote could probably be better described as a combination mission, vision, and values statement. I won’t include the whole thing here, but it began by stating that “I value compassion, fairness, and forgiveness,” and it ended with the following sentence: “I want to better the lives of the people around me by comforting them in times of need, lifting their spirits, and inspiring them to do the things they are meant to do.”

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A New Project for the New Year

Happy 2017!  Last spring, I decided to get up early every weekday morning and write before going to work.  After reading nonfiction for years, the time seemed right to tell my own story.  My initial plan was to write a series of personal essays and reflections that I might eventually compile into a memoir.  The process was revealing, therapeutic, and cathartic.  In no time, I was hooked on writing.  I started writing poems – something I’d loved to do as a child – and enrolled in a poetry workshop class through Coursera.  I found a couple of local poetry groups and attended a few of their readings and workshops.  Then I decided to try my hand at fiction and began working on a novel.  At the end of 2016, I had lots of ideas, a big stack of unfinished pieces, and no clear plan of what to do with them.  Read more