(Parody #2 of “Testify” by NEEDTOBREATHE)

[Chorus]
Hand me a plate, hand me a fork
What’s for dessert tonight?
Here at the table, I’m gonna eat a tasty pie
Give me a piece, it’s called a slice
Open my mouth real wide
Sit at the table and gonna eat a tasty pie

[Verse 1]
With ice cream, it’s pie ala mode
Oh, do I want a scoop or two?
Wait just a sec. I could use a spoon
Oh, here’s just what I’m going to do
Eat it before it gets cold.

[Chorus]
Hand me a plate, hand me a fork
What’s for dessert tonight?
Here at the table, I’m gonna eat a tasty pie
Give me a piece, it’s called a slice
Open my mouth real wide
Sit at the table and gonna eat a tasty pie

[Verse 2]
Bite after bite, I start to get full
Oh, I’ll probably start to regret
Eating it before it gets cold.

[Chorus]
Hand me a plate, hand me a fork
What’s for dessert tonight?
Here at the table, I’m gonna eat a tasty pie
Give me a piece, it’s called a slice
Open my mouth real wide
Sit at the table and gonna eat a tasty pie
Give me a piece, it’s called a slice
Open my mouth real wide
Sit at the table and gonna eat a tasty pie

[Bridge]
Start to regret it, scarfing that pie down
Feel kinda achy, tummy’s making sounds
I still can taste it, feel like passing out
Feels like I’m dying, lying on the ground

[Chorus]
Hand me a plate, hand me a fork
What’s for dessert tonight?
Here at the table, I’m gonna eat a tasty pie
Give me a piece, it’s called a slice
Open my mouth real wide
Sit at the table and gonna eat a tasty pie
Give me a piece, it’s called a slice
Open my mouth real wide
Sit at the table and gonna eat a tasty pie

[Outro]
Gonna eat a tasty pie
(Open my mouth real wide)
Gonna eat a tasty pie
(Open my mouth real wide)
Open my mouth, open my mouth real wide
Gonna eat a tasty pie
Open my mouth, open my mouth real wide
Barfed up a tasty pie

(Parody #1 of “Testify” by NEEDTOBREATHE)

[Chorus]
Where is my shirt? Where are my socks?
Wanna get my outfit right
Look in the closet and see what I can find
Here are some jeans, here is a glove
Feels like I’m wasting time
Look in the closet and gotta wear my festive tie

[Verse 1]
It’s taking a while. I found my shoes.
Oh, here’s a woolen sweater too
Where are my pants? I need to leave soon
Oh, I am running late for sure
Where is my coat? I don’t know.

[Chorus]
Where is my shirt? Where are my socks
Wanna get my outfit right
Look in the closet and see what I can find
Here are some jeans, here is a glove
Feels like I’m wasting time
Look in the closet and gotta wear my festive tie

[Verse 2]
Day after day, I search through my clothes
Oh, I found a missing belt
Where is my coat? I don’t know.

[Chorus]
Where is my shirt? Where are my socks
Wanna get my outfit right
Look in the closet and see what I can find
Here are some jeans, here is a glove
Feels like I’m wasting time
Look in the closet and gotta wear my festive tie

[Bridge]
Missing the party, looking all around
I’m done pretending. Can it be found?
I think I misplaced it
There’s no way to know
Here in this moment, It cannot be found

[Chorus 2]
Where is my shirt? Where are my socks
Wanna get my outfit right
Look in the closet and see what I can find
Here are some jeans, here is a glove
Feels like I’m wasting time
Look in the closet and gotta wear my festive tie
Here are some jeans, here is a glove
Feels like I’m wasting time
Looked in the closet and
Couldn’t find my festive tie

[Outro]
Couldn’t find my festive tie.
(Couldn’t find my)
Couldn’t find my festive tie.
(Couldn’t find my)
Couldn’t find my, couldn’t find my festive tie.
Feels like I’m wasting time
Couldn’t find my, couldn’t find my festive tie.
Wasted so much time

NOTE: This is adapted and modified from something I wrote on Facebook a few years ago.

I’ll say up front that I am a Christian, and I believe people were made in the image of a Creator; subsequently, all people possess some form of creativity. In some way or another, each person can be creative, given the right circumstances. Granted, creativity is not limited to artistic expression, as creativity is the very essence of life; creativity is what transforms some cloth and poles into a tent, sheltering people from the elements. But for the sake of simplicity, I’m making the distinction between those people like me who live for or gravitate toward creative outlets and those who are less inclined to be creative as a means of self-expression.

The first thing is to ask, “What is creativity?” Google’s dictionary defines it as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.” Creativity is essentially the ability to produce something new or different, usually intriguing, using whatever resources are accessible. Creativity turns an ordinary cardboard box into a fort, race car, spaceship, or even a non-ordinary cardboard box.

But how are creative types different from those who seemingly lack creative self-expression. What makes a person creative anyway? What qualities do creative types possess that link them together yet at the same time make each person different? I’d like to share just a few qualities we have in common. This is based on personal experience and knowledge of other creative types, not meant as some scientific or groundbreaking discovery. For the sake of needlessly using an acronym to emphasize points, I’ve used each letter in “creativity.” Creative types are

  • Curious
  • Resourceful
  • Emotional
  • Adaptable
  • Tenacious
  • Inspired
  • Varied
  • Imaginative
  • Talented
  • “You-nique.”1

  Curious. Creative types are by nature inquisitive explorers; we venture where others are not willing to go or try things others are not willing to try. When it comes to being creative, we overtly or subconsciously ask the question, “What if…?” or “Is this possible?” Creativity is not about seeing things and the world as they are, but seeing them as how they could be; it’s about considering possibilities or looking at potential. A canvas is but an unstarted painting, a sheet of paper but an unwritten poem. Curiosity is but a starting point, for while not all curious people are necessarily creative, all creative people possess some sort of curiosity within themselves. “If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.” — Linda Naiman

People less inclined toward creativity may think us curiosities or just plain weird for not seeing things as they are or were; conversely, we may think non-creative people are dull or rigid for not seeing possibilities.

  Resourceful. Within the creative process, you may be restricted by resource limitations, but in creativity, the only true limit is one’s own imagination. It’s not about what you don’t have; it’s about what you do have or can access. Basic economics teaches us that resource limitations are a part of life, which means we do not always have what we need to accomplish what we want. But we work with what we have. Creative types like to find ways to get what they need by using what they have available in order to accomplish a goal. If what we have does not help us directly accomplish our goals, we like to find ways to indirectly reach them. For example, you want a new costume idea but don’t have money to afford anything, so you look in your closet and start piecing together old costume parts to modify a creation of your own design.

  Emotional. This is twofold, for it speaks of how we relate to what we do and how we relate to other people. When it comes to being creative, there is sometimes an attachment to what we design, especially when it is for whom or what we care about most. When we really get into the creative process, we may figuratively and/or literally pour our blood, sweat, and tears into whatever we are making, sometimes at the cost of basic necessities. Simply put, we can get proverbially lost in a project, but it might be how we best express who we are deep down. Whenever we design anything that requires much effort, it becomes a part of who we are; it tells others, “this is what I do because I want to” or “this is something important to me.” Think of the author who spends hours inside a room with just paper and pen, until words form sentences, characters, and worlds; these are the ones who truly understand how a story takes on a life of its own. Because what is produced is an extension of oneself, there can be an emotional attachment to the process or the end result, and in that process is found a kind of joy or happiness.

Relating to people can be different than relating to what we produce, but it is through creating we connect with other people.  When it comes to people, some creative types may seem emotionally distant on the surface, but they really do have emotions that might not always be easily expressed with physical or verbal gestures. Emotions may simply be better expressed through one’s work or even by giving one’s work freely to others. Other creative types may be more emotionally-expressive than others, lashing out and “unleashing their wrath” should their work be disrupted (or perhaps it’s an immaturity on their part), but it does not mean they only care about themselves or their work. If you don’t think they can be given to emotions, think of children who are often proud to have their “masterpieces” adorned on the fridge by their parents.2

  Adaptable. Humans have an inherent need for a sense of stability or consistency; without such things, life’s problems will overwhelm a person. However, life is all about change, for change is inevitable. The only way to survive and thrive in change is to be adaptable.

Because creative types possess a willingness to try out new ideas and methods or to explore new places, new situations do not necessarily scare or intimidate them. If forced into strange or uncertain circumstances, creative types will eventually find a way to work within the situation. Adaptability allows us to become who and what we need to be for a given situation in order to survive. Our ingenuity, which is a combination of adaptability and resourcefulness, allows us to find ways to work within new settings and thrive when resources are limited. Since we cannot always control our circumstances or have resources readily available, we learn to work where we are and with what we have in order to accomplish a goal. Of course, end results are not always as expected, but adaptability also allows us to change the goal to match available resources.

  Tenacious. It may seem counter-intuitive or contradictory, but creative types are flexible yet stubborn. While we may be willing to accept change and work within our circumstances, we are not so easily willing to give up on a project or idea, especially when so much time, energy, and/or thought processes have already been personally invested. When one method or idea does not work, there can be a willingness to try a new approach, albeit sometimes reluctantly. While there are times we want to quit, our determination may compel us to keep going toward some perceivable goal. This drive for project completion can result in sleep deprivation; we sometimes will spend countless hours trying to get “that one thing” just right.

  Inspired. While creativity does require imagination, our ideas are probably inspired more often than we pull anything from our own imaginations. Almost any idea you can think of has probably been thought of by a thousand other people who lived before you. This is why creativity does not always mean completely original and why similarities of other ideas or concepts may often be recognized in different people’s work. Being inspired is different from blatantly copying someone else’s work. Appreciation of someone else’s idea, which too may have been inspired, can be noted by the joyfully-exasperated question: “Why didn’t I think of that?” Appreciation is not to be confused with begrudging an unspoken idea being somehow stolen or that someone else beat us to the proverbial punch.

  Varied. “Variety is the spice of life.” Creative types are likely less drawn to the “same old, same old” and may become bored or uninspired doing such tedious tasks others are more comfortable doing. There is a joy found in learning or trying something new or creating something different. Creativity is also not limited to one design, one area of expertise, or one avenue of self-expression. A really creative person can produce different designs in the same area or function in different areas; in fact, some individuals may thrive better with multiple outlets of self-expression.

Additionally, the thinking of creative types is probably less linear than other people who only see results, for we might be seeing the beginning, middle, and any number of endings all at the same time. We might be considering many ways to get to a destination, noticing the details other people miss, or perhaps dreaming up ideas others can’t envision. While mechanical routines can feel boring or wearisome, the internal thought processes of the creative mind can generate excitement. Creative types may seem to lack “one-track mindedness” in some areas, coming across as less focused on the mundane or more absent-minded, mechanical processes, but they could simply be lost in their own thoughts and/or creative processes.

  Imaginative. Creativity requires imagination. Imagination is the only true limit to being creative. You will hardly lack for ideas if you possess and exercise your imagination, even if you lack the resources to accomplish your goal. An original idea may not necessarily come from one’s own imagination, but imagination is needed to put all parts together, to envision the final outcome before a project is started and as it is going. When everything is pieced together, it can result in a truly remarkable and memorable piece that started in someone’s imagination. Granted, while creativity does not always mean something completely original from start to finish, in some cases it can, yet this may be what is most considered when people say something is creative.

A huge part of who we are, imagination is a piece of our childhood we never truly gave up nor wish to give up. Side effects may include getting lost in thought easily and/or talking happily about things which might not actually exist.

  Talented.3 While anything or anyone can inspire ideas, no amount of lectures, book-reading, or knowledge increase will make someone creative. These things can and do spark creative ideas, but they do not make someone creative. Creativity cannot be taught, but it can be cultivated.  The ability to really express ourselves creatively is something we either possess or we do not, but even if we possess it, it must be cultivated to grow. Even the most creative people you know probably have works that they look back on and would disown, if not for their emotional attachment and how much they have grown since then. Once upon a time, some of us only knew how to draw stick figures or Tic-Tac-Toe boards.

  You-nique. This is the crux of creativity; it separates originality from carbon copy.  Uniqueness is the difference between making something our own and just simply imitating what someone else is doing. While similarities are normal, each person’s style, method, medium, etc. of expressing ideas is as different as the person who generates them. If two creative people are given the same assignment and tools, each could conceivably produce something completely different.

What makes someone creative? There’s not really one set thing that separates us from those around us. Creative types are curious about the world around them, and they use what they have available to make things happen. They may become attached to their designs, but they are not emotionless robots or self-centered sociopaths. They roll with the punches but do not give up easily. Their ideas are inspired by others. They like variety and may often imagine things differently than how they are. Creativity comes naturally to them, but more than anything, they are unique in how their creativity is expressed. In short, they are not all that different from less creative types; really it’s only that they engage the world that isn’t with the world that is.

I am creative, and I embrace this.

creativity


1Because why not.

2There are some drawings I did when I was a little boy, and they are in my dad’s office at home. Sometimes I see them and think, “I can’t believe he still has those things.”

3Talent is not to be confused with skill, for skill level does not necessarily negate nor confirm creative ability. One can master the mechanical, but still lack the drive to be creative.

As another year comes to a close, I thought I’d take a look back and briefly summarize how my life has changed in 2016. 

I started this year by working a night job I’d been at for over five years. I was feeling more and more burnt out as time progressed and in some ways losing touch with reality. But for a few anchor points, I could barely keep days straight, as one bled into the next. Also, due to my awkward sleep and work schedule, I missed out on opportunities for social interaction, which helped perpetuate feelings of isolation. I felt trapped and didn’t know how much longer I could take it.

Things began to change within a few months, as I started looking for work elsewhere. In mid-April I found a different job that seemed a good fit, even though it was a line of work I wasn’t familiar. From my brief interaction with some of the employees while interviewing, they seemed to enjoy what they did. In addition, it was better pay and hours. After accepting the job offer, I soon began to feel a pending sense of freedom. I think I’ve spent the past several months still recovering from the physical and mental damage of having worked nights for so long, but that time shift alone was enough to begin recovery.

After being there less than a month, one of my coworkers tried setting me up with her kids’ former nanny. About a month later (this was June), I was meeting up with a wonderful woman for what would become the first of many dates. By the end of October, we were engaged and are now looking forward to our wedding in April.

What started out as a somewhat bleak year in my life has ended up becoming one of the best. There were high and low points during this year. Some bad decisions and some good decisions were made along the way, but by God’s grace I made it.

Onward to 2017! It’s going to be an interesting year.

A time for laughter
A time for fun
Time to ask Santa
For a new BB gun.


If your family doesn’t know
That you’re left alone
Do your best to protect
From burglars your home.


Way up in Vermont
Where snow is so white
Yet it’s not seen at all
Until the last sight


A toy super cool
Was promised to get
Many antics so crazy
And Sinbad were met


His wish was granted
He hadn’t been born
But life without him
Was truly forlorn


Past, present, and future
The one thing that stays
People won’t miss you
If you don’t change your ways


Try to steal Christmas
You won’t get away
‘Cause your heart will increase
To three sizes that day


Came face-to-face
With the man in suit red
You take his place
Since you made him dead.


Born as a human
Yet raised as an elf
Went to find his family
Met Zooey Deschanel


Santa’s not real!
Why won’t you quit?
That man’s just a bum
He’s an alcoholic.


A sad little tree
Made new by some friends
The true message of Christmas
You’ll hear by the end


His mama’s so sick
She’s gonna die
If only these shoes
You’d help him to buy

gift

What do I want for Christmas? What should I get my family? Which store carries what I’m looking for?

This is the time of year when many of us ask those and many other similar questions. From the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve each year, people spend so much time and energy looking for that perfect gift, fighting crowds and traffic to find “the one present they’ll never forget.” But I bet if you ask enough people, they’ve forgotten more gifts than they can remember, especially if they’ve lived long enough. Sure, a gift here or there might stand out in memory, but think back five or ten years. Do you even remember who gave you what or what you gave to other people for Christmas?

Every December, people get so caught up in the madness of the season, but how many people ever stop to ask themselves WHY? Why do we give gifts? What is the purpose of this annual tradition that puts so many people into debt and causes so much stress? We spend so much time hunting, buying, wrapping, giving, opening, and then quickly forgetting the presents, and in that there’s a hollow emptiness. You can go through the same ritual year after year, but you’ll always find yourself with things that eventually break, disappear, gather dust, or just leave you feeling empty when you finish. In the gift-giving process, it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important, or rather who.

When gifts are given, they should point us to something greater; they should remind us of the relationships we have, rather than being an end in themselves. It’s a far greater gift to have meaningful relationships you can’t buy than to receive the most expensive things someone else can. We can give gifts to people we love and care about, but then as recipients, we might get so caught up in the gift itself, we quit thinking about the person who gave us that gift and quickly become ungrateful. Just go online and you’ll see people making big stinks about the gifts they didn’t get. They’re even willing to take out their rage on the people who didn’t give them the gift they wanted or supposedly deserved, all to the amusement of others, instead of being grateful for the gifts they did get or recognizing that someone else loved them enough to want to get them something at all, perhaps at great expense, just for a trinket the recipient won’t remember in a few months. And that’s a great sadness.

But it’s not just the world who does this. How often do we who are Christians forget the ultimate Gift Giver, while seeking to enjoy the gifts we’ve received? We can get so focused on the gifts themselves, instead of remembering the relationship with the One who gave us those gifts. When we get some gift we didn’t ask for or want, or when we don’t get what we want, we throw a fit and get angry at God or other people in our lives. Or we get the gift we want, but then we lose focus on the One who gave us that gift, and we turn the gift into an idol that eventually leaves us feeling empty.

So this holiday season, as you spend time trying to find gifts for other people or trying to figure out what you want yourself, take some time out of the seasonal chaos to remember giving gifts should not be about the gifts themselves but about the relationships you have. Whatever you get someone else or someone else gets you, those gifts will likely be forgotten or go unused in a few years or months time. Instead, remember it’s about the people you have in your life; besides, sometimes the best gift you can give someone else is time.

donald_trump

HOLLYWOOD, CA – After a recent tour of Universal Studios, Donald Trump told his supporters at a press conference, “It’s a disgrace in there. Every stage I saw has only three walls. I love Hollywood, but that’s no way to run a business. You can’t run a business with missing walls.” Trump was informed that stages have traditionally been made without the extra wall, but they are usually understood as being there by everyone involved.

After hearing that it allows audiences to see what goes on and sometimes interact with the actors, Trump replied that audiences don’t need to know what’s going on. “What happens on stage is nobody else’s business. Actors don’t need audiences. You get an audience in there, and members start sneaking over stage borders. They’re really notorious for stealing actors’ lines and scenes. You can’t trust audiences. When I’m elected president, every stage in Hollywood is gonna have a fourth wall, and you know who’s gonna pay for it? The audience. We’re gonna make theater great again.”

He was informed by a reporter that stages have been designed this way since the ancient Greeks, to which he responded, “If I had been around in ancient Greece, I would’ve built stages with four or five walls. Yeah, five walls. Huge walls! The Chinese got it right with their Great Wall. No wonder Greece was conquered by the Russians.”

As Donald Trump finished his press conference, many in the crowd could be heard chanting, “Make theater great again.”

Donald Trump later denied ever having heard of Universal Studios.