Second Chances

We can all relate…we have all had a need for a second chance to try again.  It would be hard to image life without second chances.  Mistakes happen, no one is perfect.  Second chances are important. A second chance is a gift that allows a person to do better. Growth and change can occur with opportunities to learn from mistakes. Giving and receiving a second chance is the gift that contributes to personal development and wellbeing for all involved and beyond. 

People sometimes make poor choices based on circumstances or stress. Since it is impossible to know exactly what someone else is thinking when they make poor choices, it is generous and kind to keep an open mind. Often a second chance is a magnanimous gesture that is a wise and mature choice. -Unknown-

Approaching a second chance should be with gratitude and excitement.  Recognizing and appreciating a new chance, a chance for a do-over/re-do, speaks to the premise of Blooms to Blossoms.  The giver AND receiver of a second chance benefit emotionally, morally, and spiritually as the shared experience enhances learning and development.  Life IS about second chances.  Giving someone a second chance is not wrong if as the person is willing to acknowledge the mistake and demonstrate change.

Fiallo (2017) shares personal experience in his Medium article Remember This When You Get A Second Chance, “A mistake can be a small thing. Or it can be a devastating thing. One that can change your life in an instant.  I experienced the consequence of a 4-year prison sentence, and at the end, was pulled out of the abyss to be given a second chance.”

He describes 5 aspects about life-saving second chances that could apply to all of us. 

*Second Chances are a Precious Blessing… treat a second chance like you would a precious and rare opportunity 

*Don’t Squander Second Chances…take every advantage to use the spirit with which it was given

*Run with Your Second Chance…be ready and execute

*One Second Chance Breeds Another… Be prepared for additional opportunities that WILL come your way

*Never Forget Your “Original” Sin… Dwelling on the past is not healthy. What’s done is done. Time to move on. But ignoring and not learning from it is equally if not more unhealthy.

My grandfather, Buddy, gave a second chance to a convict (C. W.).  During C.W.’s time in prison he enhanced his knowledge, skills, and abilities through productive use of time (lifelong learning). Through his acceptance of the consequences for his actions and the ability to cope and manage to improve himself (personal development) during this time Buddy felt he earned a second chance. 

1958 news article

When C.W. was released from prison, Buddy hired him to re-stain the woodwork in our house and to paint a picture for my grandma.  Buddy said C.W. made a mistake when he was young.  As far as I know, C.W. continued to do odd jobs, use his creative talents and later opened an office supply store. I believe he also married and had one child.

C.W. painting for my grandma…(currently in my parents home).
I hope to have this hanging in my home one day

Can you imagine what we would all miss if we did not give people a second chance?

Can you imagine where you would be and what you would be doing if not for second chances?

I have had my share of second chances in the past AND I hope that if needed in the future I would be gifted a second chance by a caring soul…like Buddy!! Below are a few quotes I hope will inspire you to be a giver and/or a gracious receiver of a second chance.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.  
Carl Bard

I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better.  
Maya Angelou

Sometimes life gives you a second chance, or even two! Not always, but sometimes. It’s what you do with those second chances that counts.     
Dave Wilson

A second chance doesn’t mean anything if you didn’t learn from your first.
Anurag Prakash Ray

Let tomorrow be your second chance to prove that you are better than today and yesterday.  
Ritu Ghatourey

Love At First Sight

We have been cat owners (owned by cats) for 20 years.  The joy they have brought to our life is immeasurable. As I think back on the story of how each cat became part of our family, I feel as though we were meant to be together.  With each cat it was love at first sight…attraction that leads to an long-term relationship.

They each have distinct personalities of charisma and charm.  Words that describe charismatic are confident, exuberant, optimistic, expressive body language, and a passionate voice.  In some ways I have become bilingual by learning the language of each of our cats. Each has private language developed with me.  They provide just as much nurturing to us as we do to them.  Our cats need us BUT there is a balance of these relationships: we need them.

Pets are humanizing.  They remind us we have an obligation
and responsibility
to preserve and nuture and care for all life.   
 James Cromwell

Einstein (10/21/01-10/9/14) and Reggie (10/21/01-2/1/19) are brother and sister pixie bob cats and were our first two cats.  The name Einstein was chosen because he was particularly smart and intelligent.  He immediately came to me, rolled over and asked for a tummy rub so he had to be mine.  Reggie (Regina – Queen in Italian) was our kitten for life…never weighing over 7 pounds.  Reggie was our queen.  She had an independence about her that required respect while exuding love and contentment.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.  **Anatole France
May the memories of our friends be with us forever.

They motivate us to play,
be affectionate,
seek adventure, and
be loyal.  
Tom Hayden

Until last Friday we had 3 cats Percy, Chester, and DJ.

Percy (named after a town from my early childhood) is a rescue cat and joined our family in 2012. She is a solitary cat who likes her alone time.  She kisses me with her eyes, likes to be near us but at a distance, and always shows contentment with her “hooked” tail.

Chester (named after the town where I was born) is a pixie bob and joined our family in 2014.  He is a cuddle cat who demands attention.  We share a favorite chair, he knows where the treat drawer is and “asks” for treats regularly.  He has a demanding voice only a mom could love.  

DJ  (named after my Dad) is a rescue cat and joined our family last year.  I have shared his story in a blog earlier this year.  He is best buddies with Chester and loves to have his lap time.

Buddy (named after a nickname for my grandfather) is a pixie bob and joined our family this past weekend.   We are looking forward to integrating Buddy into the group.  I am confident he will find his place and be a great asset to our family.

How can you not love this face?

Our cats had/have a power of immense, non-judgemental love…that is completely reciprocated. From the moment our eyes locked there is no going back. Our lives will forever revolve around each other.  Percy, Chester, DJ and Buddy are loved every day and we never take them for granted.

Creativity: Untapped Potential

One of the reasons, I believe, my career path led me to work in higher education research is that I ask lot of questions and am observant.  It is interesting to consider that these two characteristics are also common descriptors of a creative person.  Cherry (2019a), Ossola (2014), and Sutton (2017) support the idea that research and creativity go hand in hand.  

According to cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, creativity can be broadly defined as “the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile.” Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn’t a skill restricted to artists, musicians or writers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. 

In October I posted a question on my personal Facebook page.

“What is Creativity? Have you ever thought about how creative you are??”

As you might expect there are several “tools” to measure creativeness.  I am on the fence about if we “can trust” such tests.  However, for the fun of it I thought I would complete three of the “how creative are you” quizzes (see Notes below). Being a “gatherer of credible information” I also researched the idea of creative potential which led me to the writings of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  He is noted for his work on happiness and creativity with research specifically focusing on how people access their creative potential.  Cherry (2019b) and Hoage (2013) summarize the 10 characteristics of creative people outlined in his book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (ppg. 59-73).

Creative People Are:Description
Energetic, but FocusedBoth physical & mental energy; enthusiastic about tasks
Smart, but Also NaiveFlexibility & fluidity of ideas; consider various perspectives; sees associations; imaginative & curious
Playful, Yet DisciplinedLighthearted while maintaining perseverance; determination
Realistic DreamersDaydreams grounded in reality
Extroverted and Introverted
Social & quiet; interactive with others for inspiration & reflect in private
Proud, Yet ModestRespects others work; thrive on personal successes but focus on the next project/idea
Not Weighed Down by Rigid Gender RolesDominance and sensitivity cross common gender roles; strengths of both genders are highlighted
Conservative, Yet RebelliousEmbraces the past yet seeks ways to improve and modify; conservative traits while taking risks to innovate
Passionate, but Objective About Their WorkWillingness to be critical of own work and seek constructive input from others
Sensitive and Open to Experience, but Happy and JoyfulCreative outcomes is the reward for struggles of the process (internal and external feedback)

Creativity Quizzes I Completed

How Creative Are You by Uzzi from Kellogg School of Management, created a short quiz (40 items) as a self-directed measurement tool.  This tool determines “if you have the personality traits, attitudes, values, motivations, and interests that characterize creativity.”

Test My Creativity by AULIVE measures personal creativity.  AULIVE is business focused collection of “hands-on tools and a systematic method designed to demystify and systematize the space of creativity, innovation and value creation.”

The Creative Types test from Adobe Create is an exploration of the many faces of the creative personality. Based in psychology research, the test assesses your basic habits and tendencies—how you think, how you act, how you see the world—to help you better understand who you are as a creative. 

**These instruments and results are all free and without supplying personal information.  
**These instruments do not provide in-depth description of reliability and validity although all refer to research supporting the creation.

A Summary of My Results

I initially completed the Uzzi assessment in October. Categories range from noncreative to exceptionally creative. I scored in the very creative category. I would not have described myself as “very” creative. I conducted my own “test-retest” process and took the assessment again in November and December. All three times I scored in the very creative category.

My score on the AULIVE was in the “normal” range. Description of AULIVE categories for what is a considered a “normal” range based on metrics are:

Abstraction The ability to abstract concepts from ideas
Connection The ability to make connections between things that don’t initially have an apparent connection
Perspective The ability to shift ones perspective on a situation – in terms of space and time, and other people
Curiosity The desire to change or improve things that everyone else accepts as the norm
Boldness The confidence to push boundaries beyond accepted conventions. Also the ability to eliminate fear of what others think of you
Paradox The ability to simultaneously accept and work with statements that are contradictory
Complexity The ability to carry large quantities of information and be able to manipulate and manage the relationships between such information
Persistence The ability to force oneself to keep trying to derive more and stronger solutions even when good ones have already been generated

I was particularly interested in the Creative Types quiz since it referred to other credible research.  The eight type categories include artist, thinker, adventurer, maker, producer, dreamer, innovator, and visionary.  

My results placed me in the Thinker category.  This assessment provided a more in-depth explanation of the results than the other two.  

The Thinker
Ever the perpetual student, you experience the world as an endless opportunity for learning, discovery, and truth-seeking.

My creative strengths….intellectual curiosity, ability to find and create meaning
My untapped potential…bridging theory and practice, applying ideas to real life
My ideal collaborator…the Adventurer.  The Adventurer has high levels of creative energy, spirit of curiosity and play. The Adventurer is the perfect counterbalance to the Thinker.

My Thoughts on the Results

**The results were similar (no outlier) which adds credibility to the process.
**The results supported the perception I have of myself although Uzzi outcome placed me in a more creative category than I had thought. This outcome (after test-retest process) indicated to me that I have not tapped my potential.
**The results are in alignment with other self-assessments I have completed (Myers Briggs and StrengthFinders).
**There was overlap of my results with the Csikszentmihalyi categories in the table above.

Answering the So What Question

Knowing or at least gaining some insight about my characteristics and strengths will help me explore my creative potential.  I believe my desire to form new connections, associations, and relationships between ideas and people support the purpose of Blooms to Blossoms.  I hope that I can continue to find creative ways to present relevant and interesting ideas to my readers.  The results will guide my future work.  

Creativity = Imagination + Ideas x Connection.

The personal journey to create yourself

It is in…

…singing that you discover song
…writing that you discover story
…painting that you discover art.

It is in the doing that you discover yourself.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily

Intentions Rather Than Resolutions

Would it surprise you to know that the idea of New Year’s Resolutions is over 4000 years old?  Pruitt (2015; republished 2018) as a History Channel Stories feature outlines the history of the practice of making resolutions. Today “most people make resolutions only to themselves and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on).” Prossack (2018) supports Pruitt by stating “that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.” 

The first of a new year is one of the more common temporal landmarks.  Research backs the motivating power of what are called “temporal landmarks” — certain dates that naturally inspire us to turn over a new leaf.  In a blog I published last month I mentioned that “I am not a person to make New Year’s resolutions, but I often take time to think about how I can be a better me.” My year in review blog I lay out a plan for 2020.  Each year rather than setting virtuous goals by creating a list of New Year’s resolutions, I focus on how my actions bring to life my intentions to “be a better me.”

Dr. Bill Scheu, a friend, and my chiropractor shares my viewpoint  of a holistic perspective on health and wellbeing.  He is a 3rd generation chiropractor with a focus on restoring and maintaining client health.  A wellness approach is the foundation to his practice.   He and his staff provide a personalized plan extending to massage, diet/nutrition, exercise, and injury prevention and recovery.  Our thoughts on the expectations of a “new” year align.  With permission from his office, I share a portion of the New Tampa Chiropractic January newsletter with you.  

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”
Anne Frank

January is always an exciting time.  It’s the start of a new year; it’s like each of us has a chance to renew our commitments to what’s working in our life and a chance to let go of what is not. Here is a “different” approach to think about as you build momentum for the new year.  Rather than make a “resolution”–think about setting an “intention”. 

Resolutions focus more on the outcome, not the journey. These tend to be a specific goal that is firm and fixed and this creates thoughts that “we aren’t good enough” the way we are and if the goal is not reached that we have “failed”.  Intentions suggest that we look deep inside, to become a better version of “ourselves”.  When an intention is set it is based on the premise that “we ARE good enough” the way we are.  It is more about an attitude; it is more fluid and is more about the journey than the outcome.  An intention is something to practice; it’s an ever-renewing process.  When we set an intention instead of a resolution, we can stop thinking about wanting something we do not have, and start moving toward what we want to achieve.

An article from Nutritious Life explains How to Set an Intention.

Make a statement that relates to your purpose and HOW you can bring about change. Instead of saying “I want to lose ten pounds,” how about “I will treat my body with respect because I am worth it.”

Once you have your statement, support it with realistic action steps you can commit to such as: 

**I will schedule exercise each week, adding more time to my workouts each month.  
**I will add one healthy food to each meal.  
**I will ask myself if I am truly hungry before I take another bite. 

See the difference?

Also, if your intention is something less “measurable” like more focus, ease, happiness, etc. pay attention to how you can incorporate these things into your day.  Then do something each day to demonstrate your commitment to your intention.

To me, New Year’s resolutions are goals we think we “should” achieve while intentions are goals, we want to achieve.  Intentions set the direction for the upcoming year.  My intentions create my plan and the desired result I wish to achieve is my goal.

Below are a few of my intentions (no particular order) for this year.

**Move often and with purpose
**Take care of myself and others
**Be kind to myself and others
**Make healthy choices
**Do things that make me happy
**Drink more water
**Be good to people
**Laugh often
**Be creative
**Spend time with friends/family
**Read more
**Believe in myself

What are your Intentions???