Monday, December 31, 2007
We adopted Wiz from Wayside Waifs nine years ago. He'd been in a home where there was abuse, and, because of that, he considered it his job to protect us. And he always did his job, with unwavering love and devotion.
Everyone needs a Wizard.
Friday, December 28, 2007
It is an interesting shape for a scarf, isn't it?
But here's the deal: It's done. It taught me how to cast on, knit, and cast off. And, most importantly, Mary loves it -- because she is a creative soul, and a good, kind child.
My perspective? It's a fabulous failure. And the next scarf will be closer to scarfness. Because that's what fabulous failures do ... they move us toward success.
Happy New Year! And just let me know if you'd like me to knit something for you ...
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Today's creativity tip: Take a break. Being creative requires energy and enthusiasm -- and this week is the perfect time to recharge both. While I don't always take my own advice, I will this time. I'll be back January 2, 2008.
Thanks for being part of my blog, and Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
And that was all that needed to be said.
If you feel obligated to make a resolution for 2008, try the Kelly approach. Write better. Paint better. Cook better. Think better. Parent better. Drive better. Act better. Apologize better. Love better.
And, because this is the Friday fun post ... for goodness sake, laugh better! Start here ... with a couple who definitely "dance better."
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tip Number 2: As we have discussed, there are times when what needs changing is your perspective. And that's the great idea behind "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs" by Jon Scieska. As he says:
"You may think you know the story of the Three Little Pigs. But you don't know the whole story until you've heard A. Wolf's side of the story. Mr. Wolf huffs, and he puffs, and he has a very bad sneezing cold. He also needs a cup of sugar to make a birthday cake for his dear, sweet granny's birthday. Read and learn. Then decide for yourself--Big Bad Wolf . . . or media frame-up?"
This is a great book for adults and kids. And, speaking of books, if you haven't entered the book contest yet, see the post below!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Leave me a post about what you're reading, and I'll enter your name in a contest for an incredibly wonderful book. (I'll pick the book to match your interests.) Winner will be selected from people who post by Dec. 23, 2007.*
If there's no book on your bedstand right now, here's a creativity tip to go with the query: Visit the library or go to a bookstore. Today. Seriously. Reading is at the very heart of creativity.
*I'm sure I should have some really small print here telling you about your chances to win, etc. Squint your eyes and pretend.
Monday, December 17, 2007
"It’s not brain surgery."
Now, God love ‘em, I don’t know what advice to give neurosurgeons. But chances are, your mistakes aren’t life and death issues – even if they feel like it at the time. Go with the creative response to screw-ups big and small: Take responsibility, fix what you can, learn what you should, and move on.
(Do you wonder why it's a screw up and not a screw down? Why we mess up and don't mess down? Why we f... oh, you get the drift.)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Now, oddly enough, I didn't realize I was a blonde. Oh, sure, I knew I was paying a lot of money for highlights. But, in my mind's eye, I still had dark hair. Why? Because I had dark hair when I was a kid. I had dark hair when I was in college. I had dark hair when I was a reporter.
Then, I hit 30, and it all went white.
Trouble is, I never adjusted my mental picture. So this weekend, when I decided to buy the little package of hair dye that lets you cover up the roots, I selected a lovely brown. Fortunately, my daughter stopped me, and pointed out the obvious: I needed the bottle of blonde.
Am I leading up to a blonde joke? No, although it's tempting and would give me a reason to point my friend Barb toward this post. (Sorry, Barb.) Here's where I'm going, and how my hair color ties to your creative life: What you know to be true isn't always true. Your opinion isn't always right. And, even if perspective is reality, your perspective needs adjusting now and then.
Trust me on this. Blondes don't lie.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Which leads us to today's Friday Fun -- my favorite comic strip. Check out Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis:
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Here's what I want you to do:
- Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen.
- Write the phrase "I used to be someone else" on the first line of the paper.
- Using that phrase as a starting point, write for the next five minutes. Don't think -- just go with the stream of consciousness wherever it flows.
- At the end of five minutes, give yourself the Jan-approved smiley face on the top of your paper.
You can use this as a great start to a poem, an essay, or a memoir. Or, you can just toss it in the trash, happy that you got your brain moving in a different direction!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Beak performance is a common and insidious ailment that kids on a farm understand and CEOs don’t. Here’s how it works. If you draw a line in the dirt, and you put a chicken’s beak to the line, the chicken will faithfully walk that line. Day in. Day out. He won’t lift his beak, he won’t look around, he won’t move off the line.
In business terms, the chicken accepts, “We’ve always done it that way.” In personal terms, the chicken believes, “There’s nothing I can do about that.” The longer you’re on a job, or with a person, the more likely you are to display the dreaded beak performance signs.
But here’s the good news: You’re not a chicken. So lift your head up and take a good look around. You’ll be amazed at what you see.
P.S. This is an excerpt from my book in progress -- based on my creativity presentation. The chicken is the fine work of Mike Brown, who illustrated the presentation and is collaborating with me on the book. You're encouraged to encourage me to finish the book. Leave a post. Or, a personal contact with a publisher. (Ah, the fine art of subtlety. Never my strong suit.)
Monday, December 10, 2007
Take the road less traveled by. Or, don't take any road today. Stay inside, and listen to the world around you -- a world that should always include poetry.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Basically, TMZ.com (and now People) ran photos of JLH in a bikini. They're not her best shots, but then again -- she wasn't posing for one of her Hanes underwear ads. She was relaxing. Also keep in mind: She's a size 2.
I don't even remember size 2. I clearly went past it at some point, but I was probably in grade school at the time.
On her blog, JLH said, "I've sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women's bodies are constantly scrutinized. To set the record straight, I'm not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image. A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. "
TMZ apologized on TV, saying "We did go too far."
What does all this have to do with creativity? Two things.
- Beauty isn't an absolute -- whether we're talking about a woman, a poem or a painting. It's an opinion. So be aware of whose opinion you value. (Jennifer Love Hewitt gets major brownie points for taking TMZ to task, rather than taking this to heart.)
- TMZ ran the photos with the headline, "We know what you ate this summer." Clever? Sure. Creative? You bet. Vicious? Absolutely. And creative is no excuse for mean.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Need another creative boost? I got the Napkin Notebook link from my good friend Neil Neumeyer at BR Advertising. Check out their Web site http://www.bradv.com/ -- very cool.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The scarf is a thing of beauty.
Now, if I were keeping score (and I always keep score), the scarf would be losing. Some rows are long, some rows are short. None of the rows are tight.
Ordinarily, that could be a bad sign. But this creative project has an enthusiastic champion and an unbreakable deadline. My daughter Mary loves it, and plans to wear it on Christmas Eve.
And, on Mary, this scarf will be beautiful.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
No. I am not always this happy. Which is why, a few years ago -- during a less than cheerful moment -- my daughter Kate gave me this mantra: "Breathe in. Breathe out."
Simple? Absolutely. Effective? You bet. Oxygen is the true miracle drug.
So, as December keeps wrapping you in expectations and demands, follow the classic airline advice: If you're traveling with small children or big business, put your own air mask on first.
Monday, December 3, 2007
I owe this to my parents, who raised me and my siblings with the firm faith that we are the best thing on God's green earth. Unconditional positive regard -- heartfelt praise with no "but" attached -- is as much a part of my childhood as blintzes and bagels.
As an adult, I've discovered some unexpected advantages of high self esteem:
- Since I believe I'm good, others believe I'm good. They are predisposed to like what I write, what I say, what I do.
- I am free to appreciate the talents of all those around me. The undeniable fact that Jody Summers is a fantastic writer doesn't scare me. Even better, Jody and I learn from each other.
- Full circle to point 1: People who have faith in my talents believe me when I tell them how talented they are. That matters, because people rise, or fall, to meet expectations. And my expectations are every bit as high as my self esteem.
Bottom line? We're all here striving to improve, to be more creative. That's good. We're good. And there's no "but" about it.
So, to start your week off right, here's my creativity gift for you this fine Monday morning.
Get out a pen and a piece of paper. Draw a big smiley face. Now, draw a star. Very good.
The star is from me. You get a gold star for being incredibly creative. How do I know you're incredibly creative? Heck, look at that smiley face.
Seriously? How do I know you're creative? Well, given the number of posts on this blog, chances are good that I personally know you, and I don't know a single person who isn't creative. And, on the off chance that I don't know you, I still know you're creative.
We all are. Trust me on this. But only my special creative wizards are starting their day with a gold star!
Here's to a great week, filled with creative fun.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Or does it? You tell me. Have your Friday fun at a site my husband Tom recommends ... it's motivational nirvana. I suggest you click on "random picture" to get started, because that's easy.
And easy is always motivating.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Just follow the haiku formula: The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, the third line has five syllables. Here's a quick example:
Driving in my car,
Radio cranked, windows down
Your voice still comes through.
There are zillions of 17 syllable possibilities. Write one. Post it if you like!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
My favorite creative outlet is poetry. My next choice is collage art -- another activity with words. I'm sensing a pattern here.
So, speaking of patterns and aging brain cells, I'm learning to knit. I'm not following a pattern. I'm simply staring at some charming grandma from England on the Internet, trying to follow her flying fingers. My best friend says the scarf I'm knitting features the "Florida weave." Lots of openings for air. This is one of the many reasons why she's my best friend.
But, I digress. The creative query for the week is this: When was the last time you tried a new creative activity? If I can knit, you can .... fill in the blank.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Good. In this case, stifling is good. Now relax, and repeat after me, "That's great! Tell me about your picture."
More good news: The same approach works with adults. Try it. The next time someone brings you an idea you don't understand, take a deep breath, smile and say, "That's interesting. Tell me more about your idea."
Keep an open mind, and you'll be amazed at what those scribbles can lead to ...
That's not a word. Or, if it is, it shouldn't be. It's a creative misnomer.
Creativity has nothing to do with a job and everything to do with a mindset. Doctors develop unique protocols to treat patients. Plumbers stop leaks, even when they don't have the one faucet they really need. Exhausted parents find the perfect mix of swaying and singing that will lull their crying baby to sleep.
We're all creative. That's why this blog is for you -- regardles of what you do. Look around and let me know what you think!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Your creativity tip for the day? Before you salt the stuffing tomorrow, take a bite. The cook may know more than you do. Now, there's an interesting notion ...
Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll be back with a new blog on Monday!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I'll start. I'm thankful for my ability to listen. I'm a really good listener. Ask my friends. And, oddly enough, it's a skill I've honed because I'm deaf in my left ear. So, as my mom would say: Everything happens for the best.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Fortunately, I know a few early morning tricks to get creativity instigating:
1. Drink massive amounts of coffee. (Hey. I never said this blog would be good for your health.)
2. Read the comics. I recommend Pearls Before Swine.
3. Listen to a different radio station on the way to wherever you're going.
4. Take a new route. You may even remember how you got where you're going when you get there.
5. Park as far from the door as possible. The walk will help wake up your brain. And exercise is good for you. Or, so I've been told ...
There you have it. A Monday morning creativity espresso. If you have any comments, I'd be glad to discuss them with you. After 9 a.m.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This video is a perfect way to end the week for anyone who's worked in a creative department. If you aren't a copywriter or a designer, I still encourage you to take a look.
And welcome to my world.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Here's the exercise: When someone asks, "How are you?" today, stop rushing around, look that person in the eye, and answer the question. Then, return the favor. Ask how they're doing and listen to the response.
What does this have to do with creativity? Everything. Listening requires focus. Creativity thrives on focus.
And, by the by, so do we.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
So, for those of you who like the title: "Thank you. I didn't come up with it. Mike Brown did."
Mike is a nationally known speaker on strategy, innovation and cool business topics (check out mikebrownspeaks.com). Among other responsibilities, he handles strategic market research for YRC Worldwide, a Fortune 500 company. He is also an essential member of my creative team.
Who's on your team? When you're trying to come up with the perfect title, a different approach, an acceptable idea for dinner, who do you ask for advice? My tip for the day: Ask someone. Don't Do It Yourself. And to get really creative input, ask someone unexpected. A four-year-old. Your significant other. The colleague with the candy dish. Take their advice, or use it as a jumpstart. Either way, you both win.
P.S. Did DIY start with the unfortunate idea of self service gas stations? And how can we call it "service" if I have to do it myself? And if I was interested in self service, would I be married? (Ah, but that's a different post, isn't it?)
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
In all her roles, Jan brings a special blend of innovative energy and strategic smarts to her clients, her colleagues and every single project.
And those projects now include this blog. Yep, Jan is taking the big leap of faith into the blogosphere.
Hmmm. In a blog, Jan probably has to write in the first person. She'll work on that.