Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Creative Story: Harry van Bommel

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Harry is a published author of 27 books who has spent the last three decades teaching and speaking in the fields of home and hospice care, community and international development, education, management and staff development, and helping people record their life stories. Over a dozen of his books are available for free reading through his not-for-profit organization's web site.

What does creativity mean to you?
The human mind is a wonder of ancient technology – a pity we use only about 10% of its potential. It is not surprising that we have not mastered its many uses when we consider that the brain has 100,000 to 1,000,000 different chemical reactions taking place every minute and there are ten billion neurons transferring information continuously. Creativity is about tapping into that other 90+% of our mind’s capacity in ways that bring out wonder, awe, answers and joy.

What is your creative passion? How do you approach it?
Creating memories is my creative passion. Whether it is by helping someone in need, recording someone’s life stories, or using photography, music, writing, glass engraving, performing, thinking, talking, walking, eating, or holding hands with the ones I love to create memories.

Describe the feeling you have when you are heavily into a creative activity you love?
Gratitude for the time to follow my heart.

What does the creative process do to, or for, you?
Gets me to think beyond the typical. It is easier to do what comes ‘natural’ rather than to stretch and try something new, difficult, or frightening. Yet it is when we do exactly those things that we re-create our life’s meaning and direction and we affirm that we have much yet to experience.

How have you fulfilled your own creative urges?
By doing the things I listed in #2 above. I work part-time, home school our children with my wife, Janet, and therefore, have ample opportunities to fulfill my creative urges. There are always more projects for the future so I never get bored or wonder to do next. I am truly blessed.

What do you do to satisfy your soul?
Time with family comforts my soul as does prayer, thoughtfulness, walking, nature, reading, talking with good friends and strangers, bus and train rides, and, of course, writing and music.

Who has inspired you in your life to achieve your potential? How?
My parents set the example that all work is important when done well. My father taught me that “No one is better than you, and you are no better than anyone else.”

My mother taught me to “Love God, love others and don’t forget to love yourself.”

My wife teaches me every day about how to value life, affirm it in everything I do and value the gifts of every living person.

My children inspire my creativity and my playfulness.

My faith reminds me that I have but one life to live and should use it well for the betterment of as many people as I can, including myself. Georges Vanier (Governor General of Canada in the 1960s) taught me through his writing that “the more you know people, the better you will understand them and the more you will like them.”

I am inspired by people in my daily life who have gifts to share. I am inspired by the stories of people who have made a difference in the lives of others without seeking personal gain. Lastly, I inspire myself through a craving to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally.

Do you have an interesting story to tell about what you do and how you got to it? Share it here. Why do you love it?
I helped both of my parents and my grandfather to live at home until they died – all within 4 years. I was in my early 20s and knew nothing about caring for people who were ill, let alone dying. I would not make a good “poster boy” for the home care or hospice care movement. My father was the last to die of the three. During his final illness I promised that I would research and write something that might help other people in similar circumstances.

I was fortunate to meet the leaders of the hospice movement in Canada and internationally and put their experiences into several books that have helped Canadians since 1986. In the last six years, our small not-for-profit organization,, has made nearly 200,000 copies of two of our books available, for free, to about one million Canadians. These plus 11 other books are available for free on our web site so that we can reach as wide as audience as possible.

I am grateful for what my parents and grandfather allowed me to do with them in their last months and for the opportunity to share it with others in ways that make a life-affirming difference in people lives – both those dying and those who will carry images of successful living before death with them for many years to come.

To share your own creative story, fill in and submit your responses to the creativity questionnaires on

Posted by Picasa

No comments: