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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Lanyard: It's a Mom Thing

in honor of National Poetry Month,
in honor of Mom's love for poetry,
in honor of what would have been her 98th birthday,
and in honor of her delight in dozens of useless, goofy gifts ...

The Lanyard
by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past-
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that's what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-clothes on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift - not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.


While I was looking for "The Lanyard" online (too lazy to type it out), I found several versions. All with mistakes -- in words, punctuation, spacing, line breaks, you name it. When online, the old saying is true: Trust, but verify. I had Aimless Love by Collins on my bookshelf, so I finally got off my lazy tush, found the poem on page 60, and typed it out.

Mom, of course, would tell us that everything happens for the best. I will say that while looking around online, I stumbled across a poet I wasn't familiar with, Julia Kasdorf, and I love her poem: "What I Learned From My Mother."

You know what I learned from my mother?
Look up! And enjoy every possible moment.