Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creativity Tips: Put a Ring On It

Part 2 in the Sophie Series:

Let's start your day with a little quiz. It's easy; choose one of these two shining options.
  1. You can tell someone, "If you like it, then you better put a ring on it."
  2. You can stop waiting for someone else, put your hands up and flash your own dang ring.
My grandmother wasn't a Single Lady. She married at 18. In keeping with Orthodox Jewish tradition, she wore a wedding band unbroken by any jewels. On the other hand, literally, she wore this gorgeous ring.

Nanny saw this ring, loved this ring, and bought it for herself. Why? Because she knew she was worth it. She appreciated her own talents. And, now and then, she stopped spoiling the rest of the world long enough to give herself a treat.

How's your self esteem these days? When was the last time you celebrated yourself? Do you wait for others to tell you what a great job you've done? Or do you recognize your own excellence, applaud your talents, and happily share them?

Nanny was a creative wonder. There's never been another like her and there never will be. Interesting fact, though. There's never been another like you, either. And there never will be.

Consider that reminder a little present, all wrapped up with the bow on Nanny's ring.

Thanks to Leslie for the photo!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creativity Tips: Remember Your Roots

One of the strongest creative influences in my life was Sophie Eisen, my grandmother. I've spoken about her a few times on the CI blog, but there's so much more to say. Now, thanks to wonderful photographs from the amazing Leslie, I am prepared to share! Over the next week or so, I'll bring you creativity tips from Nanny (that's what we called Sophie), beautifully illustrated by Leslie's photographs.

Let's start with this shot of Nanny holding me. I was 2. She was 58. (Feel free to post comments re: how adorable I am. Thank you.)

The first lesson? Your perspective shapes how you see the world. Creative growth recognizes and embraces changing perspectives. For example, 58 doesn't sound as old to me now as it did then. I can embrace that. However, when I look at Nanny at 58, I have a hard time reconciling that with me at 56.

We all see the world through our own (distorted? You tell me.) lenses. To boost creativity, change your perspective -- consciously and deliberately. Ask yourself: How would a child view this creative challenge? What would an accountant do with this? If you had to explain it to someone who didn't speak English, could you? How?

Changing perspectives opens your eyes to new possibilities. Don't believe me? Change your physical perspective and see how different the world looks.

Back to the photo -- look at that hold she has on me. Nanny was solid. She was strong. She had the best heart ever.

But I digress. The date on the photograph reminds me of another creativity lesson Nanny embodied: If you don't like reality, change it.

Nanny, who was born on Feb. 13, 1899, was very superstitious. VERY superstitious. So having a birthday on the 13th really didn't work for her. What to do? Simple. On every form and whenever asked, Nanny claimed that her birthday was Feb. 12, 1899.

Would that have been a problem had she needed a passport? Possibly. But she didn't need a passport. She needed a birthday that wasn't on unlucky 13. When Nanny didn't like something, she didn't complain, she didn't whine, she didn't sulk. She fixed it. Now there's a concept.

We were lucky to have Nanny for 77 years; she died of cancer in 1976 and I still miss her every single day. Truly. It's not that physical pain anymore, but it's constant. I don't care what they say: There are some deaths you really never "get over."

And why would we want to?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Creativity Tips: Betty White Bender Over

Brilliant writers compose awkward sentences. With typos. Amazing photographers shoot out of focus. Unintentionally. And, after all these years in front of a camera, even Betty White flubs a line now and then.

The creativity lesson in this blooper? Well, there are a few. 1. We all mess up. 2. When we do, it's nice to be surrounded by an understanding team. 3. You might as well laugh.

Here's to a great week! (And Cleveland has nothing on us: Betty White would be hot in Kansas City, too.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Mary and I kicked off summer with an 8-day Caribbean cruise with three of her friends and their moms. This was way beyond our usual vacation, very fun and interestingly enlightening. Before I return to my regularly unscheduled Creative Instigation posts, let me tell you ...

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation
  • I can turn my phone and computer off for eight days and the world continues to revolve. Apparently, I'm not turning it.
  • It's possible to love something (let's say writing), stop doing it and not miss it. At all. 
  • It is also possible to turn anything into a competition: Mary can complete three Word Search puzzles in the time it takes me to do one.
  • I don't mind losing to my daughter. If you are not my daughter, beware.
  • People rarely encourage good listeners to talk.
  • I belong on a beach. This Kansas thing is a mistake.
  • I love to read. I love to read on a balcony. I love to read on a balcony overlooking the ocean. With room service.
  • Tina Fey's memoir has laugh-out-loud moments, but it's not great. It's self-indulgent. On the other hand, True Grit is a wonderful novel.
  • Some people can be unhappy anywhere. Even with room service.
  • My hubby has my back. I knew this, but I was reminded of it: Tom took care of Mom while I was gone. Mom survived without me just fine.
  • When you say, "I want Sex on the Beach," everyone laughs. Even when they know you're ordering a drink.
  • Money can buy happiness. And Sex on the Beach.
  • 80 gazillion people have tattoos. Most of them are ugly. (We'll just leave that purposefully ambiguous.)
  • Kate is right: Everyone has a story. I don't want to hear the stories about the tattoos.
  • You can be alone on a crowded beach if you're underwater.
  • I LOVE to snorkel. Or, as Woody Allen says, I LERVE to snorkel. Because "love" really isn't strong enough. 
  • You can find a new passion at any age.
  • On a cruise, the steward will call you by name after meeting you once. This will make you happy.
  • My permanent claim to fame will be that I knew Wes Powell before he was a rock star. Click. Listen. That is the sound of my vacation. This is the look:
  • It's possible to be so relaxed you can't remember what day it is.
  • I'm ready to be home. I'm ready to write.
  • I'm not ready to be insanely consumed by work and life again. So if you need to reach me this summer, don't expect me to be sitting at the computer, waiting for an email. Just call. I'll be at the pool. With a good book. And, very possibly, a snorkel.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Creativity Exercise: Google Guitar

After weeks of not writing anything but a packing list, I am catching up on client work and composing a post re: What I Did on My Summer Vacation. However, I have to take a moment to applaud the Google guitar. It's one of the coolest creative things I've seen in a long time. Go play.

Need musical inspiration?