THE BLOG
05/03/2013 02:39 pm ET Updated Jul 03, 2013

Finding the Grey Zone

We as human beings instinctively feed our bodies, nurture our relationships, and find a sense of spiritual belonging. We seek out the things we need to do to make sense of our world. But too often we neglect other important aspects of our well being, like tending to our creative self. That inner child who's easily lost in the responsibilities of life -- the one who still looks at things with a wide-eyed sense of wonderment -- the one who doesn't know why something wouldn't work -- the one who hasn't quite yet learned all the rules, or better yet, chooses not to obey them.

Finding one's creative potential is most likely not on the top of a busy person's high priority list. However, it can and should be, especially when submerged in the complexity of today's world. One way we can do this is by becoming aware of what I call our "Grey Zone." We access this during the times we are mindlessly engaged in rote activities, daily routines you do subconsciously. The shower that starts your day, driving 45 minutes to and from work, the dog walk, the 60-minute spin class; whatever it is that you do for an extended period of time that doesn't require your complete attention is a pathway to the "Grey Zone." This is the ethereal place in your mind where ideas are born. It's where we invent things, formulate that brilliant concept and find answers to problems that have been constantly nagging at us. There is prep work, though. The key is to keep posing the question to your subconscious. Whatever you want to find an answer to, or inspiration for, will emerge from here. A new idea for a painting series -- a way to complete a task you are stuck on -- need lyrics for a song? It's in the "Grey Zone" where creative solutions bubble just beneath the surface waiting to pop.

I love to paint, but life became too hectic for me as a single working mom to have any time to
myself, never mind the luxury of having a "hobby." Gallery shows were a thing of the past and the inability to purge and explore my creativity was a constant source of frustration. After all, we are not fully living if we are not using our unique gifts and talents. One day, during my long commute to work, mini movie scenes suddenly began to appear in my mind's eye. They were not images from a movie I have seen, but rather scenes from the one I was going to write. They were showing me another outlet; screenwriting. At first, that thought just frustrated me more. 100-plus typewritten pages? Do I even know who I am? I hate sitting at a computer! But the scenes kept coming; on the treadmill, in a waiting room, whenever I had idle time. I soon realized, I was never actually on a computer. Writing was completely portable. I could do it anywhere, almost anytime. I would jot down notes on whatever I could get my hands on -- a random piece of mail in my car -- the side of a Starbucks coffee cup, it didn't matter. I wrote two feature-length screenplays and the only time I sat at a computer was to format them in a screenwriting software.

One summer, I was standing outside of a church where I was attending a wedding in Vermont. While waiting for the newlyweds to emerge, my mind began to make the shift. I looked at the tree next to me, and saw a twisted face looking back at me from the bark. It looked like a screaming tortured soul frozen in time. That simple observation led to a long-term passion of mine; searching for hidden treasures among the knots of the trees. You can see some at www.knotexposed.com. It was also in this "Grey Zone" I came up with an invention idea, which made it to client presentation as my very first Edison Nation submission. I was lying in bed on a Sunday morning thinking about how I could cut my house cleaning time in half. Then suddenly, without warning, came the answer! I made my submission and was hooked. If you've ever had a new product idea, check out www.edisonnation.com. It's a great site for keeping you creatively challenged.

So how do you get started? Using your creative abilities doesn't require talent, it requires a certain way of thinking. I like to say, "You look within, then you look around." Within, you will find your specific passions and interests. Around you, will be the answers. Remember to keep posting the questions to yourself religiously like a Facebook status update. Your subconscious will get to work on them. Let the answers emerge when they are ready. Remember you are the creative author; there is no "right and wrong." Finding creative outlets is a healthy way to de-stress and attain your higher potential -- all while making your personal mark in this world. Go create!