Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm Not Thankful For ....

I know, not a very gracious headline. But here's the deal: Everyone is telling us to make a list of all the things we have to be thankful for ... yada yada yada.

Let's not.

Instead, take out a clean sheet of paper, and list five things you're not grateful for ... things you're not thankful for ... rotten stuff. For example, the current state of my retirement account goes on my list.

Got it? Good. Now, rank those five things, using this measuring stick: Is it brain surgery? Is it life and death?

Hmmm. No? Not a one of your five things is a life-and-death issue? Not even that temporarily disappointing 401(k)? Well then ...

Enjoy the holiday weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Creativity Tips: Learn from Your Mistakes

Back in June, I told you the sad but true story of my research call from Victoria's Secret.

They called again last week. Guess what? I haven't gotten any younger. And my opinions are still of absolutely no interest to Victoria, although she will take my money. And my daughters' money. Which, (gasp!) is my money.

So, here's the secret: There's absolutely nothing wrong with making a mistake. Once. That's how we learn. Making the same mistake twice? That's something else.

When you make a mistake, in a creative project or anything else, don't beat yourself up for it. Tell yourself to stop the negative thoughts. Literally. Stop. Then, quickly analyze what went wrong and why. And make yourself proud -- do better next time.

P.S. It's a Van Gogh painting. An Old Woman of Aries. He apparently saw some value in old women.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Creativity Tips: Be Strategic

I'm guessing you love words, or you wouldn't be visiting this blog. So, you might think that I added the thesaurus widget a while back because we're all such wonderful word wizards.


I added it because Google Analytics told me that the blog gets a number of hits from people who Google "another word for (something)." The widget fits the CI creative approach, while also being a strategic magnet for new readers.

Which brings us to an interesting exercise/query, based on one person's Google: What's another word for stay?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Fun: Digital Conversion

Analog? Digital? I'm with granny.

(I can't even figure out the multiple remotes we have in the house.)

Thanks to Kat for the link!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Site Seeing: Everyone Has a Story to Tell

One of the first things I learned as a reporter is that everyone has a story to tell -- and almost everyone is eager to tell it.

Check out this fascinating site, Write In My Journal, where David has figured out a very cool way to get those stories, and share them.

P.S. Thanks to Leslie for the link!

P.P.S. You gotta love a man who loves Moleskine notebooks. The only way to write ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Thank a Friend

Today is Barb P.'s birthday, and as regular readers of the blog know, we never miss a reason to celebrate. So, all together now:

Happy Birthday, Barb!!!!

And, in honor of Barb, here's your exercise for today -- take one minute, and send an email to an old friend* and say thanks for something they did, maybe years ago, that meant a lot to you.

*Gosh, Barb. I didn't mean old old. But I do understand. They say the sense of humor is the first thing to go ... (And thank you for always making me feel appreciated, while gently prompting me to do better!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Define Doldrums

Have you ever found yourself in the doldrums? Of course you have. We've all been there. But, where is there? Help me out here. Define "doldrums." (And if you have an escape route, let us know.)

P.S. For those of you not in the Midwest: Kansas City in November may be the definition of "doldrums."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Creativity Tips: Get Energized

I recently had the pleasure of conducting a presentation training session for a client.

For me, leading the session was like shaking hands with the Energizer Bunny. (In a good way.) Maybe because it's a break from writing. Maybe because it's a throwback to my days in radio. Maybe it's the opportunity to immediately see that my work makes a difference.

Maybe my why doesn't matter. What matters is finding what energizes you. Need a jump start to answer the question? No problem. Let Mike Brown, who helps me daily, help you determine your distinctive talents.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Fun: Dr. Seuss

Very well, sir.
Step this way.
We'll find another
Game to play.
-- Fox in Socks

I love Dr. Seuss. So, it's no surprise that Seussville amuses me no end. Go to the Playground and try the Story Maker. Here's to a happy weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Creativity Tips: Are You Happy of Me?

When my youngest daughter was a toddler, she made up wonderful phrases and words. For example, when caught in the act of misbehaving -- a daily event -- Mary would simply stop, look up at me with her big brown eyes and ask, "Are you happy of me, Mommy?"

How can you not be happy of someone smart enough to come up with that line?

Another common Mary phrase was, "I did that lasterday." Lasterday could be yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that. It covered a fair amount of territory, but I always knew exactly what she meant. She'd been there and done that. Lasterday.

Today's tip? Don't setttle for the ordinary. Don't accept, "It is what it is." Make it what it should be. Do that, and I'll be happy of you. Far more importantly, you'll be happy of you. Lasterday, today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Creativity Tips: Celebrate!

Today, we're celebrating ONE YEAR! of the Creative Instigation blog.

And you know what I like best about this blog? You. I love your comments. I love the idea that people who don't have to read what I write are reading what I write. I love knowing (from your feedback) that some of what you've read here -- posts and comments -- have made a day or two better for you.

As my special "thank you" to all of you, I'd be delighted to send you a copy of my very first e-book, because I finished it. Yep, I finished it. That alone shows the power of the blog.

Just send an email to and I'll send you Creative Chai, with much gratitude and appreciation.

Here's to Year Two! And keep those comments coming!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Creativity Tips: Don't Be Too Creative

Now, there's a headline you may not have expected from me. Don't Be Too Creative.

Let me explain: I'm planning the annual Thanksgiving feast. Our family tradition has morphed a bit, with the passing of parents, and the big meal is now at our house.

One thing hasn't changed: the basic menu. I make the same turkey, stuffing, dressing, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Mashed potatoes and gravy for Amber.

I make hot rolls from scratch, using Lynn B.'s recipe. The butter for those rolls has to be Land O'Lakes. Unsalted. Because that's what my grandmother used.

I open a can of that jellied cranberry sauce that no one will eat, because we always have that jellied cranberry sauce that no one will eat. I need black olives for Eva. Whether she's here for the meal or not, she's always part of it.

Mary bakes chocolate chip cookies for Kate and Cary and Sam. And extras, for them to take home.

As we prepare for the holidays, remember: There are traditions worth respecting. When you find one, at home or at work, enjoy it. And if you want to add a creative touch, reduce your stress level. Think small. Come up with new toppings for that pumpkin pie. Add a Food Network side dish to the menu. Forget the fancy linens, and let the kids decorate a sheet of butcher paper -- remember those handprint turkey drawings?

And this year, let the joy of the holidays begin with anticipation.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Creative Query: What Aren't You Reading?

I'm enjoying the book I started reading while waiting in line to vote, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I started this new book, despite the fact that I already have bookmarks in Wicked by Gregory Maguire and Love in the Time of Cholera, the classic by Gabriel García Márquez.

Problem is, I can't seem to get past the first few chapters in either of those books. I want to read them. I plan to read them. I can't read them.

Bringing us to my creative query for you today: What's the best book you haven't been able to read?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Fun: A Kinder, Gentler Graffiti

If you ever think there's an end to creativity, think again. And look around. People come up with new ways to express themselves. Every. Single. Day.

Thanks to Bud for the link!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creativity Tips: Little Things Amuse ...

Here's a tip, and an exercise: Change the ring tone on your cell phone. (Hey, that's cool: It rhymes!)*

I recently changed my ring tone. The first day, I missed calls. I missed calls all day long.** I heard the sound, but it didn't register. I historically have the ringer turned off 90 percent of the time. Yet, my mind is still conditioned to the old, familiar sound. I've become Pavlov's dog.

That ain't good. Don't walk around with your brain on automatic. Think again. Change the ring tone.

*This is when my mother would say, Little things amuse little minds.
** No. It didn't matter. At all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now, It's Time to Work Together

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."
-- President Elect Barack Obama

"Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans, and believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that. It is natural to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and ... get our country moving again."
-- Sen. John McCain

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Creative Query: What Will You Read In Line?

I'm hoping for long lines at the polls today ... I've gone to vote far too many times when there were no lines at all.

We have some wonderful CI team members who aren't American citizens. And, we have some who aren't old enough to vote. For the rest of us, today's the chance to be part of national Creative Instigation. Get out there, and instigate change!

Before you go, cast a vote here for what you'll take to read in those long lines. I'm waffling between a new novel (well, it's new for me: I just bought John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany) or a copy of Vanity Fair, with those lovely long articles that I never quite get around to reading ...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Morning Surprise

In the spirit of what makes America work, I can start the week with a bipartisan post ... thanks to Amber, who sent the link!