Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Fun: Add Drama

I want this button. Hugs to Vanessa for sending the link!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thanks, Nora Ephron

A writer I've long admired, Nora Ephron, died yesterday. Too young. 71. As is fitting, her obituary in The Washington Post is well written. It begins with the line:

“Take notes,” Nora Ephron’s mother advised her as a child. “Everything is copy.”

So noted.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Creativity Tips: Staying Alive

Does music make a difference? When you're talking about lifesaving creativity, it absolutely does. Take a tip from the American Heart Association and their approach to hands-only CPR. The more of us who know it, the more likely we are to be staying alive.

(Isn't it amazing how adding music makes the process more memorable? The more senses involved in an experience, the more memorable that experience becomes.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Creativity Tips: Isaac's Proposal

There are times when amazing creativity demands a team. Check out Isaac's proposal. It starts strong and just gets better. Mazel tov to the happy couple!

And here's hoping your week is something to sing about!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Fun: Homer

Do you know the secret to a successful marriage? Laughter.
This clock was a gift from me to Tom.
With his creative skills, he turned my gift into an animated GIF.

I think it's time for the weekend! 
And possibly a beer. And a donut.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Creativity Exercise: Name Your Street

Kate and her friend Ann fly home today, after a month in Europe. Yay! Reason enough for a fun creativity exercise.

During their time overseas, Kate and Ann lived on a street named Jerichausgade in Copenhagen; their flat in Berlin was on lichtenrader. (If you are familiar with the lichtenrader area, don't tell me about it. I get the feeling I would have retroactive heart palpitations.)

Streets in my life have included: 63rd, Quincy, Holmes, Seminole, 47th, Price and the lyrical,historical Daniel Boone Road. When we were kids and went to look at the house on Daniel Boone, we made the address into a song. Sang it as part of our effort to convince the folks to buy the house. "87-47-Daniel-Boone-Road! 87-47-Daniel-Boone-Road!"

Hey -- don't laugh. The magical incantation worked. Mom and Dad bought the house.

Today's exercise: Pretend you can name your street. Choose your address. Go!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Creativity Tips: Ask the Right Question, Part 2

Now that we've considered the creative approach for offering help, let's flip the situation around. How talented are you when it comes to asking for help?

Monday, I was stomping around the house. The dining room and kitchen were crammed with boxes -- we had new carpet installed last week and haven't had a chance to unpack, put things away. There were more boxes from mom's pending move in the entryway. Yet more boxes packed for charity and sitting by the fireplace.

Which stack pushed me over the edge? Doesn't matter. Here's the issue: I still expect people to read my mind. It's the classic, "If you really loved me, you'd just know." So, imagine my surprise when Mary said,

Mom, do you need help with something?
All you have to do is ask.

She really and truly didn't know that I wanted help to move the boxes. She was trying her best to simply stay out of my control-freak way. Whoa. I came out of insane mode long enough to say,

Yes. I would really appreciate your help.
Would you please move all these boxes up to my office?

And, snap. Easy as that, boxes disappeared. Take a lesson from John, Paul, George and Ringo. Get better at asking:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Creativity Tips: Ask the Right Question

When you know someone who is in a challenging situation -- death in the family, illness, lost job, whatever -- the typical question a typical friend asks is:

What can I do to help?

Interestingly enough, that is not a helpful question. When people are stressed, the last thing they want is another tough question to answer. If you really want to help -- and it's not just a generic How are you today? remark -- take a tip from my good friend Maureen. Knowing that I will be at Mom's apartment tomorrow to continue packing her stuff*, Maureen's immediate question was:

What time should I meet you at Mom’s tomorrow?

Ask the right question. Make it easy for the person in need to accept your gracious offer. Words matter -- and knowing that is always a tremendous help.

*Mom is moving from her assisted living apartment to a room in the health care center of her facility. She's OK. Just 91. Getting old, as Betty Davis said, is not for sissies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Creativity Tips: I'm Fine

As a writer, one of my favorite creativity exercises is to find different ways to say the same thing. For example, we've all said, "I'm fine," when we are not fine. Here's Mary Englebreit's take on that:

And now for something completely different, here's a version from Bad Idea T-Shirts:
One of these made me laugh out loud. Yeah. That one. If I weren't in a "toss it out, toss it all out" mood, I'd buy that one. Twisted? Could be. Could be.

But here's a fine idea: Take this concept and run with it. Look at something you've done one way and consider a different twist. Maybe you use whole wheat flour rather than white flour in a recipe. Mix and match your clothes this week in a way you've never tried before -- different T with those jeans, perhaps. Orange tie with the blue shirt. Blue tie with the blue shirt. Purple nail polish.

Do something that makes you smile. Then, when people ask, you can say in all honesty: I'm fine!

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Food is Love: Yogurt Apple Pie

Yep! I'm bringing it back -- the Food is Love feature on the CI blog. If you're new, don't argue with me re: the psychological impact of equating food with love. I'm a Jewish mother. Don't go there.

Our first new recipe is easy-peasy and scrumptious. It's not really apple pie, but it's the next best thing. Actually, I don't like apple pie, so this is the first best thing for me. There are no measurements because we are all creative souls and I have no idea how much cinnamon you prefer.

Mix this up in quantities you like. Taste as you go. Enjoy!

  • Cut up one very fresh, crisp apple. Eat about a third of it while you're cutting, because you don't need it all with the yogurt.
  • Mix the apple pieces into low-fat vanilla yogurt.
  • Sprinkle in a fair amount of cinnamon.
  • Toss in a good handful of chopped pecans, pecan pieces, whatever you have in your freezer. (You do keep pecans in the freezer, ready for baking, correct? Good.) If you are allergic to nuts, don't be nutty. Don't add nuts.
  • Stir it all up.
Now, here's the important part:
Put this in a beautiful bowl or parfait glass, because that makes it taste even better.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Creativity Tips: Stretch

As I write this, I am sitting in an empty home office. In a few minutes, I will unplug this computer and move it to the dining room table. After 25 years, two kids and three dogs, we're getting new carpet throughout the house.

Oh yeah, baby. Fresh. New. Carpet. There may never be another glass of red wine, Kool-Aid or apple juice in this house again.

In preparation for the carpet installers, I completely cleaned the office so they can move furniture. That included emptying the closet -- stuffed to the gills with office supplies, creativity toys and craft stuff. And two huge bookshelves, filled with books, photos and other essentials for life.

Since the office was clean, I took that as an opportunity to paint. Rather than the charming Johnson County beige we had before, the walls are now a beautiful pale turquoise.

I had never painted a room before -- that was always Tom's job. But, he was busy, I had time, and it's my space. As it turns out, I'm a heckuva good painter. Damn few drips and hardly any stripes. I also spackle and tape like a pro. Never knew I could do that. Then again, I never tried.

Ooooh. There's a key. I never tried.

Think of something you've always let other people do -- some creative, productive task you've just never tackled. The weekend is coming up. Stretch. Do something new!

P.S. The link on "Johnson County beige" contains adult language and excellent sarcasm. It's also a fairly accurate description of Johnson County. For the record, I am not from Johnson County. I'm a KCMO native. Just sayin ...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creativity Tips: In the Mood

There are many different kinds of creativity. In my world, these often fall into two categories: professional and personal.

Professional creative activities include my client work. I don't wait for "the mood" to strike before I do these. Or, perhaps I do, but the work mood strikes every day. Deadlines -- and paychecks -- inspire me.

Then, there are those other creative endeavors. You know, the sock monkeys. I have a list of five or six people, including Mary, waiting for their monkeys. There's the T-shirt quilt Kate expected for college graduation. Yeah ... no. Hell, I haven't finished the baby quilts for Kate and Mary yet.

My point? When it comes to personal creativity, I do what I do when I want to do it -- and that's fine. I will get the monkeys and quilts done, or I won't. It's not brain surgery.

This blog falls somewhere between professional and personal. For a long time, I considered it an important daily deadline. Then, I didn't. Now ... well, I'm still not interested in adding another daily deadline to the schedule, but I do feel I have new ideas and stories to share.

Frankly, I also miss you. (Sidenote: Never start a sentence with Frankly... or To tell the truth... or To be honest ... because it implies the rest of your comments have been bold-faced lies.)

This realization came to me recently in a meeting. After my portion of the session ended, there was no graceful way to leave. So, I doodled. What came to mind, unbidden, was a list of blog ideas:

I'm a writer. Not a photographer.
Don't judge me.
You know what this list means to me? The time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many blogs. Expect to see a bit more of me in the days ahead. No promises, and I could always get a headache. But at the moment, I think I'm in the mood.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Creativity Tips: Just Do It

Once upon a time, when my daughter Kate was in second or third grade, she told me she needed a new pair of athletic shoes.

"OK," I said. "What kind do you want?"
"I want boy shoes," she said.
"Why do you want boy shoes?"
"Because the boys at school run faster than the girls," Kate answered, "so I figure it has to be the shoes."

There are about 10 million potential creativity lessons in that reply and my response. For example, I could have told her that she was being ridiculous -- that a boy's ability to run fast did not hinge on his shoes. However, making someone feel stupid is the world's fastest way to to squelch creativity. So, that would be wrong. Real wrong.

That leaves three immediate options:
  1. Gently explain that the idea is wonderful, but might not work. Buy girl shoes.
  2. Gently explain that the idea is wonderful, but might not work. Buy boy shoes anyway.
  3. Buy the boy shoes and let her run.
I'm going to let you guess what I did.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Creativity Exercise: Put Out the Fire

Happy Monday!

Over the weekend, I was driving somewhere with the radio on. I was flipping stations and don't know what the DJ was talking about, but he said this line and attributed it to Tennessee Williams:

We all live in a house on fire.

Now, that's a fabulous phrase. I thought maybe it was from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but I couldn't find it in a quick skim. Any of you know where it's from?

Meanwhile, here's your creativity exercise to start the week. Figure out what's on fire in your house -- what makes you want to run screaming out the door. Then, don't ignore it. Put the fire out. It's hard to be at our creative best when there's something nagging at us -- something we know we need to do, to fix, to say. This week, deal with the issue and move on.

Right after you find the quote for me ...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Creativity Tips: Read Shepublican

Now and then, we've talked about voice on the blog. I talk about it all the time with clients. Your voice, whether it's personal or brand, sets you apart. I like to think that the success I've had with this blog stems, in part, from people liking my voice.

And, of course, the bribes I paid out at the start of it all.

My friend Kate is launching her blog, Shepublican. She did not bribe me to mention this. I bring it to your attention because:
  1. Her voice is apparent right from the get-go. Read this. First post, and you hear her.
  2. We're going into a political season that promises to be nasty and mean. I welcome a view from the center of it all.
  3. I love Kate.
Read and enjoy. Then raise your voice. Now's the time.