Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Creativity Query and Exercise

As we move toward the wrap-up of 2011, it's a great time to think back. What did you learn this year? And, if you like to make New Year's resolutions, how would you apply that learning to 2012?

This has been a year of tremendous change and learning for me. For example, I discovered:
  • The empty nest event was far more traumatic than I expected and I am truly grateful for the friends who understood and supported me through that. I will always be happiest when the family is together, but I have stopped wandering the house aimlessly when I'm here by myself.
  • Thinking of exercise as part of my daily ritual changes everything. I don't have to resolve to say a prayer when I wake up or brush my teeth; I do both automatically. Now, I don't have to resolve to exercise. I don't even have to go to the gym -- I exercise when I walk by standing straight and engaging muscles I used to ignore.
  • The iPad is the greatest invention of all time.
  • I am still not a great judge of character. I assume everyone is good and my friend. Oddly enough, they're not. Fortunately, I have wonderful friends who kindly point out when I'm being blindsided -- and I have learned to listen. This is huge: I used to assume the other people just didn't understand. Now, I realize I'm the one who often doesn't get it.
  • I don't need everyone to be my friend. Whoa. I no longer need unending validation.
  • I love basmati rice. I created a recipe with it that I'll share one of these days. Never used to think I could make up recipes -- just follow them. You never know what you can do until you try.
  • Schedule and environment shape my creativity. When a long-term client asked me to empty out my cubicle and stop coming in to the office on a daily basis, it took quite a while for me to work through the related change in my writing approach. I feed off people, interaction. I listen to hallway conversations and grab words for copy. And environment matters. I can't work in ugly.
I could go on, but ... enough about me. What about you? What have you learned this year? And how could that relate to a resolution? To help get your creative juices flowing, consider this:

How do you define yourself? If you had only one word to use, what would it be? Now, how would you like to define yourself?

My word is strong. Isn't that amazing? Never would have been my word before. In 2012, I'm resolved to strengthen myself, my relationships and my creativity.

And now that I have that settled, I'm going to enjoy the rest of 2011! I hope you do too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stormy Jackson and Windhorse Tattoo

When you think of a tattoo artist, what image pops into your head? Let's say it's a guy. Is he smart and articulate? Kind? Friendly? Approachable?

Is his studio sparkling clean, sunny and filled with fabulous artwork?

My image of a tattoo artist and his studio changed dramatically when I went with Kate* to watch her shoot this video of Stormy Jackson at Windhorse Tattoo in Kansas City's Crossroads District. It's a quick watch, great video, wonderful audio. And a solid reminder that, realize it or not, we all have prejudices tattooed across our minds.

*Yes. I do have the most talented children in the universe. Thank you. Kate did this as part of her internship at T2+Back Alley Films.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creativity Tips: Say NO in November


I planned to post this on Nov. 1 to kick off the month. But, as time approached, that started to feel like a self-imposed, needless deadline during a very busy week. So I followed my own advice. I began November by saying NO to myself.

Say NO in November is my annual campaign to reclaim the holiday season and whatever remains of my sanity every year. It's very simple. I say NO whenever I receive a request that would add more stress than joy to my life.

Let me make this perfectly clear: Stress doesn't mean it's a negative event I'm rejecting. This past week, I said NO to leading worship on Saturday morning at the synagogue. Leading worship certainly gives me joy -- but I have to prepare. I have to review. I get nervous beforehand.

I refuse to make time for all that right now. I simply want to enjoy November and December. So I said NO.

Stress, as I'm defining it, could be related to time, people, effort, energy. It could be spacial stress -- the event is on the other side of town. It could be psychic stress -- you're not sure about the expectations tied to the request. It could be family stress -- you really, really, really don't want to spend 30 more minutes in the same room with that particular cousin.

Whatever it is, formalizing your approach makes it simple to say NO. You don't have to come up with any excuse. You don't have to feel guilty. You are part of the Say NO in November campaign.

In my experience, it's best to make your participation in the campaign known ahead of time. That not only fends off requests, but makes it incredibly easy to reject them. People are prepared for the NO. If you're blindsided, use the official campaign response. Come on, practice it with me:

"Thank you so much! I appreciate the (offer/invite/whatever). However, I've joined the Say NO in November campaign. So, thanks again, but NO."

Like this idea? Stick around. You're gonna love DECLINE in December.