Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My 2020 Wish for You: A Truly Happy New Year

I'm a writer; words are my toys. I play with them all the time -- in my head while I'm driving; in my Moleskine notebooks while I'm doodling; on my screen while I'm at the computer. This past week, I've been playing with Happy New Year!

The phrase is so automatic, it's becoming the December version of, "How are you?"

"How are you?"
"I'm fine. How are you?"

"Happy New Year!"
"Happy New Year to you!"

We hardly hear the words. This year, my wish for  you is to hear the words, and then make them come true. In 2020, I hope you discover true happy.
I hope you find big HAPPY. Dream-come-true happy, the way I did with the publication of Look Up: Your Unexpected Guide to Good in 2019. That was a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular moment, and I'm still enjoying every bit of the follow-up activities. Major happy.

But ... every day isn't spectacular, is it? No worries. On even our worst days, there are moments of good. No matter what's happening in your life, I hope you find and appreciate the little happy: An unexpected card from a friend. A remarkably good cup of coffee. A chat that makes you laugh. A wink that says, "I know you." 

In 2020, I hope you find the day-to-day little happy in novels that read like poetry, movies that make you cry, daisies that last for weeks and weeks. I hope you find it in a shared meal, a solitary walk. Pet those puppies and kittens. Push a kid in a swing. Practice breathing in a long check-out line.
You may or may not have a huge HAPPY in 2020. Those days are all the more special because of their rarity. That said, I absolutely guarantee that little happy moments are waiting for you. Every single day. 

May this be the year you look up and see them. 






Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Magic of "Look Up" -- Part Two

People ask me how long it took to write "Look Up: Your Unexpected Guide to Good" and I'm not sure how to answer. I started writing the version that would morph into the final book last November. That said, some of the content goes back a dozen years.

The love and support and encouragement to write the book goes back decades.

It definitely took a village to raise Look Up. Rather than attempt to thank everyone involved, I'm going to share a story about one very important villager: my friend Jody Summers.

When I completely lost my creative mojo (see this post), 
Jod kept me going. 

There's a story in Look Up about my inability to think if I'm not holding a pen in my hand. I've been a reporter/writer for so long, there's a magical link between the pen and my brain. I was doing a presentation once with Jody, dropped my pen, and froze. Jod did this crazy dive for my pen on the floor, while -- at the same time -- handing me her pen so I could keep talking.

I dropped that pen years ago. I still use the example when I talk about teamwork and creativity.

After the launch party, I sent a message to Jody:

Jody is absolutely right. She -- and so many of you -- have been right by my side for years, handing me my pen whenever I drop it.

Without you, there would be no book. You are the magic, and I am forever grateful.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Believe: The Magic of "Look Up"

For many of you, our only connection is the Creative Instigation blog, and I so appreciate that you are still on the "follow" list, despite my posting gaps. Your patience has been rewarded: I have great news to share! My book, "Look Up: Your Unexpected Guide to Good," has been published and it's available on Amazon.

Yep. I said I was going to do it.
And I did it. 
The book is, in many ways, a tribute to Mom -- but it's much more than that. It's a way to share Mom's determination to find the good in the universe, no matter what. Because the good is still out there, waiting for us.

Talk about good.
Chris (on the left) designed the amazing display.
Vanessa (on the right) created the perfect event. 
The launch party we had last week at the InterUrban ArtHouse in downtown Overland Park, Kan, was beyond perfection. I could babble about it for hours, but I'm going to limit myself to three magical moments.


1. While we were getting things ready for the party, Santa showed up. That's right. Santa came by and gave this Jewish momma a big ol' hug before my first book launch party. Talk about your good omens. Santa, I believe.


2. Sherri, an art therapist who has a studio at the InterUrban ArtHouse, bought a book before the party began, and I told her, "You're the first person who doesn't know me to buy a book!" We chatted for a bit and I invited her to come back for the festivities. She did, and what happened next is hard to believe:
Sherri: "You're Lillian's daughter."
Jan: "I am."
Sherri: "I knew your mom. I did art therapy with her at Village Shalom. She'd come in and say, 'I'm almost blind, you know!' And I'd say, 'That's all right, Lillian. We'll make art together.' I still have some of her paintings at my house."

Say what? The first person to buy the book who doesn't know me knew Mom? She still has Mom's artwork at her home? You can tell me that's a coincidence. I will forever believe that's Mom, looking over us. Still.

3. Hmmmmm. Number 3 is about one of the people who has kept me going throughout this process. I believe she deserves her own post. Stay tuned. More magic tomorrow.

While you're waiting, here's an idea: You could buy my book! (Pretty please with sugar on it, as we used to say.) Then, review my book. When you do, send me your address and I'll send you a surprise!




Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Creative Inspiration: If by Rudyard Kipling

One of the great joys of being a reader is remembering lines, and having them pop into mind exactly when you need them.

The right words, at the right time, guide us through life. They make us feel less alone.

I was talking to my friend Vanessa recently about writer's angst -- and the stress of sending my book draft out for initial reader reviews. The line that came to mind is from If by Rudyard Kipling:

"If all men count with you, but none too much."

You'll find the entire poem here. Bonus! Sir Michael Caine reciting it here.



It's beyond me how people can not love poetry ... 


Friday, May 10, 2019

The Castor Oil Song: A Mother's Day Treat

When my girls were little, they would periodically exclaim, "That sucks!" I would then give them the full Mom stare-down, and they would quickly add, " ... like a vacuum."

Well, it has come to my attention that for many people, for a variety of reasons, Mother's Day sucks. Like a vacuum. We can't have that, can we? Absolutely not. My mom is here, with a song -- assuming the video works. Fingers crossed. Because I guarantee you, Lillian Sokoloff and the Castor Oil song make any day better. Even a sucky day. 

"When you're feeling lonely, and you're kinda blue, 
I bet, that I have the remedy for you!"


(If the embedded video doesn't work, click here. My technology skills are ... not skills.)




Monday, April 29, 2019

Are You My #Creative Type?

The Adobe creativity quiz I linked to on Friday was such fascinating fun, that I encouraged my husband, Tom, to take it. He did, and the following conversation ensued:

Jan: What creative type are you?
Tom: I'm the Thinker.
Jan (Squealing. Because. Jan.): That's perfect! We're meant to be together! According to the quiz, I'm supposed to partner with a Thinker!!
Tom (Pause. Because. Tom.): Well ...
Jan: What?
Tom: According to the quiz, I should partner with an Adventurer.

HOW COOL IS THAT? I assumed if the Visionary was supposed to partner with the Thinker, then the Thinker would partner with the Visionary. Nope. To get the best creative results, you need all types.

Love it. Happy Monday. Go find your type(s).




Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday Fun: What's Your #Creative Type?

My friend Vanessa got a link to this creativity quiz from her friend Melinda, and passed it along to me. My friend Jody got a link to the same quiz from her friend Claire, and passed it along to me. And now, since I'm your friend, I'm passing it along to you!


Take the quiz. It's a hoot. Some of the questions and responses made me laugh out loud. And, I'd like to think the results are right on the mark! (If you read my creative strengths carefully, you'll note that humility isn't mentioned.)



P.S. Mom used to say, "Little things amuse little minds." It amuses me to now set the blogs for automatic posting at 4:23 a.m. rather than 4:22 a.m. to honor her birthday, rather than mine.
P.P.S. Yes. She's up there laughing.