Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun: SP Studio

Here's your chance to be a cartoonist! Make your own South Park characters. It's fun, it's easy, it's Friday!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Creativity Tips: Plant Something

Plant a petunia.
It's good for the soul to dig in the dirt.

Plant an idea.
Start small. See how it grows.

Plant your feet firmly on the ground.
Make it tough for anyone -- or anything -- to knock you over.

(Now, it's your turn to be the creative gardener. What else should we plant?)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Make a List!

Don't groan over the post headline. I'm not talking about a "to do" list. This is far more fun ... this is poetry! List poems aren't as structured as the old 5-7-5, but they open the door to amazing poetry.

And don't tell me you can't do it, because we can all make a list. Read this example, then give it a try.

Among the Things He Does Not Deserve
by Dan Albergotti
from The Boatloads.
© BOA Editions, 2008.

Greek olives in oil, fine beer, the respect of colleagues,
the rapt attention of an audience, pressed white shirts,
just one last-second victory, sympathy, buttons made
to resemble pearls, a pale daughter, living wages, a father
with Italian blood, pity, the miraculous reversal of time,
a benevolent god, good health, another dog, nothing
cruel and unusual, spring, forgiveness, the benefit
of the doubt, the next line, cold fingers against his chest,
rich bass notes from walnut speakers, inebriation, more ink,
a hanging curve, great art, steady rain on Sunday, the purr
of a young cat, the crab cakes at their favorite little place,
the dull pain in his head, the soft gift of her parted lips.

Once you've made your list, go back and look at where Albergotti breaks his lines.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creativity Tips: The Perfect Mistake

I was cleaning out old emails, and found this note from a friend ... sent when I was in the midst of a crisis:

Love you and call me if you need forever.

She meant, " ... if you need anything." But her mistake is perfect, and said exactly what she meant. Mistakes can be marvelous.*

By the by, the crisis is long gone. The love remains.

*I could be making a mistake here. I may have already used this on the blog. It doesn't matter. I don't feel like searching for it -- and I do feel like starting our week with this reminder: A creative team just isn't complete without a friend you can call if you need forever.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Fun: Get Ready for Memorial Day

My friend Steve led me to this Do It Yourself site, full of cool projects. Check out the Memorial Day ideas! I'll see you back here on Tuesday -- enjoy the long holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Creative Inspiration: Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai is rapidly becoming my new favorite poet. The more I read, the more I like. Here's a quick sample:

I Know A Man
© Yehuda Amichai

I know a man
who photographed the view he saw
from the window of the room where he made love
and not the face of the woman he loved there.

Translated by Chana Bloch

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Site Seeing: Creativity is No Accident

Thanks to Leslie for pointing out this fun post on successful, creative kitchen accidents. I like the story about potato chips.

And look at what the Big Rabbit did with our Monday post on blue!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Creativity Tips: Question Your Rules

When I was playing with Sam on Saturday, I told him I was going to use his story as a blog post on Monday. He said, "Let's do it now!"

And, being the creative wizard that I am, I promptly said, "We can't do it now. I don't post on the weekend."

I DON'T POST ON THE WEEKEND? What the heck? Who made that stupid rule?

I did. And there was a good reason. I didn't want to post seven days a week. The problem is, the rule is now one step from sacrosanct.

Well, gang, it's time we all question our rules. I'll start. I own this blog. It doesn't own me. I will continue posting Monday through Friday. But if I have something to say -- or an 8-year-old's hopeful, excited face staring up at me -- I'll post on the weekend.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Creativity Tips: Use Blue

Let's start the week off with a quickie. (Stop it.)

Consider our Quick Quote by Picasso: If I don't have red, I use blue.

Today, don't worry about what you don't have. Use blue.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Creativity Tips: Keep Your Eyes Open

Inspiration is everywhere, if we take the time to see it. Don't believe me? A few minutes ago, I suggested to my 8-year-old nephew Sam that he write a story. He went over to the computer and started typing away -- I had no idea where his inspiration came from. But, Sam is a creative genius. He used words on the keyboard ... back, forward, stop, mail, search, favorites and web/home ... as his inspiration. It's brilliant.

Here's his story:
One day there was a kid named Roney who went back to the store. Roney went forward to the fruit section. He stopped by the apples. Then he saw a mail carrier in the pile of apples. Then he searched for the cereal aisle. Then he saw his favorite cereals -- cinnamon toast crunch, trix and coco puffs. Then he went back home and played games on the web. The End.

Try the Sam version of creative instigation! Write a story or a poem this weekend using words on your computer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Fun: The Pioneer Woman

If you haven't visited The Pioneer Woman, take a few minutes and look around. Cook up some of her cowboy grub. The mashed potatoes are a classic.

Here's to a happy weekend! Enjoy a few carbs for me. I'm back on the South Bitch plan.

P.S. Several friends have pointed me toward The Pioneer Woman. Vicki was the first. Thanks!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Why Are You Here?

The question I posed yesterday takes us to a core purpose exercise. Consider, for a moment, that there's a reason for your being. If you don't buy that, then mull over the idea that while you're here, you can create a reason why you're here -- something more inspirational than "random genetics happen."

After a lot of thought and a philosophical discussion with my friend Chris, here's my answer to the question:

I'm here to help other people and leave the world better than I found it.

I've written this in first-person, because it's personal. This is my core purpose -- it may not speak to you at all. What does make sense to you? Today, give serious creative thought to what gives your life meaning, and what you hope to accomplish. If you want to post a core purpose, that's great. If you want to challenge the idea, equally great!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Creativity Exercise: What Are You Doing? Part 2

So, to follow yesterday's Twitter tip, let me ask you a question: If you had the attention of 80 gazillion people around the world, what question would you ask?

For example, I'd be curious to find out:

Why are you here?

I'll give you my answer to that question. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Creativity Tips: What Are You Doing?

Twitter asks the question, "What are you doing?" And there are a number of Twitterers who answer that question, leading to such memorable posts as, Going to Starbucks. Need latte.

Here's what I'm doing -- I'm wondering why I would care that someone I've never met before is going to Starbucks and needs a latte. But I digress. Twitter has clearly struck a nerve with gazillions of people. The simple question, "What are you doing?" doesn't scare newbies off. You don't have to be a social media expert to answer that question in 140 characters or less. And, once you manage one successful tweet, you're far more likely to try another. And another. And another. Until you're a tweetin' fool.

The lesson learned? When you launch a new creative adventure, find ways to build success into the start. Success creates the courage to try and the confidence to fail -- and try again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Creativity Exercise: You Are Special Today

In our family, we use this plate for special occasions, such as birthdays. Or Tuesdays. Or "you got out of bed and did your best all day when you didn't really feel like it" days.

As your fearless CI team leader, it's my responsibility to remind each and every one of you that, "You Are Special Today." So, at your very next meal, visualize this plate holding your food.

I'm serious. Look at it now. Visualize it then. And, while you're at it: Sit up straight, chew each bite and clear the table when you're done.

Now, you're family.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Creativity Tips: Quick Writing Lesson

Here's a Sunday special ... because it just occurred to me that my "status update" on Facebook today could serve as a quick writing lesson.

I posted: Jan Sokoloff Harness is sending a Jewish mama's hug to all my friends who are missing their mothers today.

My phrasing exemplifies why writers aren't normal people: We think about every word. For example, this started as my way of reaching out to the many friends I have whose mothers have died. Then, I started thinking about other friends -- some who don't live close to their mothers, others who simply aren't close to their mothers.

The phrase "missing their mothers" encompasses all these friends. And starting the sentence with a positive hug keeps it as upbeat as possible, especially for those mourning mothers gone.

Words matter.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Fun: Another One Bites the Dust

Take a look at this video ... I've had dates with worse moves. And worse hair. Happy weekend!

(Thanks to Patty for the link and the laugh!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Make Mother's Day Special

On Sunday, celebrate the mothers in your life creatively. I'll start the ball rolling -- then you post other ideas!
  • Bake a recipe your mom's mom used to make.
  • Let mom select a date for a professional photo shoot with the family
  • Reverse the Mother's Day concept: Give an album (lord, my age is showing), GIVE A CD you liked as a kid to a kid

Or, if you're lucky enough to still have your mom, give her a chance to talk. And listen to what she has to say. I almost blew that opportunity last night -- I was so busy writing this post, I forgot my nightly call to Mom.

And that, as they say in Pirates of the Caribbean, is what we call ironic.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Creativity Tips: Use Uncommon Sense

This past weekend, my sister competed in the Women's Championship tournament of the Missouri State Bowling Association. As always, we took Mom.

Now, picture this. Lunar Bowl. Hundreds of bowlers. Mom: 88, walker, macular degeneration. The only seating for bystanders? Barstools. Shoot. Me.

Enter Mike, the tournament director. He took one look at Mom, and moved into action. The next thing we knew, Mom had a comfy chair and was sitting down on the lanes with the bowlers. Breaking the rules for Mom, Mike said, was just "common sense."

Unfortunately, he's wrong. It's not common. In all the years we've taken Mom to the state tournament, Mike is the first person to help us find a comfortable spot where she could see the action. And he didn't stop there. He called the lanes where the tournament was to be held Sunday, and made similar arrangements.

Mike is a mensch. He's also a creative genius. He kept his eyes open for the unexpected. He took ownership when he didn't have to. He solved the problem, and shared his solution with a colleague. It's creativity at its best -- creativity that starts with a good heart.

The result? Even with her limited vision, Mom saw Eva bowl six great games Saturday night. And she relished every minute.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Creativity Tips: Borrow a Brilliant Kid

I've told you that children are amazing creative instigators, and suggested you borrow a kid if you don't have one. Every time I say this, I hear your eyeballs roll.

So, because I love you, I've done the heavy lifting. Meet Ellie, the Creative Instigation kid. Ellie's mom is expecting a baby, so Ellie and her friend Anna have written a book about the big event:

When Baby's Are Born
by Ellie and Anna
(UNedited by Mommy -- but note: Anna has her own slightly different version of the book. They each made one and kept it.)
When baby's are born their cute!
They come out of your mommy's Belly or someware else I can't tell you what cause it's privet.
When Baby's are born they smell Bad.
When Baby's are Born they screem allot. Did you know that?
Their soooooooooo cute!
Boleyve me!
When BaBy's are Born you can't Be loud Because they cry!
Bye! Bye!

I'm going to give you two quick creativity lessons from this book:
  1. Ellie and Anna didn't censor their words or edit as they went along. They had something to say and they said it, beautifully. Lesson: Don't edit as you go. Put the words on paper. Edit later. (And, at your age, I do expect those words to be spelled correctly.)
  2. Ellie and Anna wrote honestly. Babies do smell bad. They do scream a lot. And they are soooooooooooooo cute! Lesson: Contradictions are good. Contradictions build interest.

Now, your turn! Leave a comment with another creativity lesson inherent in this book.

And thanks to Vered for sharing Ellie with us!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Creative Inspiration: The First 100 Days

Nope, I'm not talking about the first 100 days of the Obama administration. I'm talking about a 100-day anniversary I missed last month -- Leslie Adams hit the centennial mark in her ongoing 365 photography project, with a photo to mark every day of the year. She's coming up on 125 now.

Leslie's work is inspirational, and so is her dedication. She lost a camera after starting this project -- a setback that would have stopped many of us. Leslie simply changed her approach, and kept going. The results are gorgeous. Enjoy the slideshow!

And, no matter what this week holds, let's remember that there's always a way to keep going, a way to make it work, and make it beautiful. That's the process, the heart, of creativity.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Fun: Solo Media

I tweet. I am on Facebook. I write a daily blog. I think social media is fine and dandy. (Why don't we ever use the word dandy anymore?)

But, at the end of the day -- or the week -- what I really enjoy is a good old game of solitaire. Play the web game and enjoy!

P.S. I also talk to people, face to face. And I read -- a lot. The current stack includes Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst, Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott and The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser. I'm not far enough into any of them to know if I love them -- but the Kooser book is great so far!

P.P.S. Happy birthday to Kat! And to my sis-in-law Kate!