Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creativity Tips: Tell Me a Story

I love a good story. And I love a good blog post -- especially when it includes a good story. Check this out by Andrew Nemiccolo of Seven Story Learning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Creativity Tips: Never Pass Up a Celebration

I love this face.
Mary is 19 today! Whoo hoo! In honor of my baby's birthday, here's a story I've told most of my friends, but may not have shared here ...

When Mary was just a little thing, maybe 3 years old, I was rushing to get her and Kate (probably 7 at the time) ready to go -- Mary to daycare and Kate to school. Mary was being pokey. I told her to hurry up. She told me to shut up.

Say what?

"Did you tell me to shut up?" I asked, pulling myself up to a towering 5-feet in full strict-mother mode.

Picture the panic, as the toddler tried to squirm her way out of this one.You could see the creative brain cells in action. Her eyes were literally spinning. Then, she stood up straight to declare her innocence.

"No, momma!" she insisted. "I said, 'Shit!'"

Well, I started laughing so hard I had to leave the room. At which point, poor little Kate came trailing after me to point out that first Mary told me to shut up, then she cursed, and she still didn't get in trouble.

My girls. I'll keep 'em both. Happy birthday, baby!

P.S. There is a definite creativity lesson here. With a little imagination, you can turn a bad situation around. Just ask Mary.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Food is Love: Nutella

I waffle. Should this be a Food is Love post? Or a Friday Fun post? I think it's both.
Nutella has been around since the 1940s, so I'm a little late to the table. I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago and discovered my new favorite snack: Nutella on a graham cracker. It's yum, it's fun and that makes it good for you.

Let's ignore the fact that the first ingredient is sugar. Better yet, don't ignore it. Because, as my grandmother used to say, "Everyone needs a little sweets."

Happy weekend!

(If you're ready to expand beyond Nutella on a graham cracker, check out this muffin recipe, one of many floating around Pinterest. AKA, the site currently known as a bottomless hole of time-sucking possibilities. I haven't tried the muffin recipe yet, so let me know if it's good.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fabulous Phrases: Gratitude

I'm so glad I started my professional life as a radio reporter. My need then to really listen to people so I could quickly capture the best soundbite has helped shape my career -- and my relationship to the universe. I hear soundbites others might miss.

For example ...

One of the speakers in Jerusalem was a young rebbetzin who had recently recovered from a critical illness. During the months when she was hospitalized, many people stepped up to help. They fed her family, sat by her bedside, prayed for her recovery.

Later, she told one of her friends, "I will never be able to repay all these kindnesses."

The friend quietly replied, "You're not indebted. You're connected."

You're not indebted. You're connected. I've never heard a more gracious, freeing and absolutely accurate way to describe that kind of situation.

And, for the record, I'm grateful you and I are connected.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Creativity Tips: Thinking Back to School

With apologies to my many friends who are English teachers, this is exactly how I felt during junior high and high school. I could never understand why the teacher's take on the author's true meaning was any more accurate than mine. After all, the teachers weren't around when Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter.

A few lessons from the chart:
  1. You don't know what you don't know. And none of us knows what the other knows. And who knows if what any of us knows is right?
  2. If you create something that may go viral, put your dang name on it prominently. I would credit whoever put this together if I could. As it is, I'll just thank Patty for sending it to me.
  3. More than one opinion can be right. The curtains may have represented the author's immense depression. Even if the author was just thinking, "Blue. I'll make the curtains blue."
I still have The Scarlet Letter on my bookshelf, along with most of the other books we discussed in class. Take that as proof that my English teachers did a wonderful job. I still love literature. And I still love arguing about it!

P.S. for those of you who have been around me for decades. Everyone is posting picures of their cute kids in adorable back-to-school outfits. Kate is out of school and won't let me post a pic of her going off to work. Mary is back at K-State. I'm tempted to stalk her Facebook page and steal a photo. But I'm trying to control myself ...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creativity Tips: On the other hand ...

Chuck Dymer has a well-deserved reputation as a brilliance activator and if you haven't looked around his site, give yourself a treat and do it now.

Chuck sent me this insightful response to yesterday's post. I agree with everything he says and am delighted he gave me permission to share his feedback with you. We do run the risk of becoming observers of our own lives ...


You did seize the moment. You took the time to flip the painting over to read the artist's commentary. You got "the lost in translation" humor. You shared it with your traveling companions and you shared it with your readers. You told a story with words instead of pictures. What better thing to do in a land which has given the world a wealth of stories long before photography was invented. 

We don't always need photos and videos to validate our experiences. In fact, when I watch people filming everything they do, I get the sense they're no longer in a state of experience but rather a detached state of observer.

Thanks for sharing your experience.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Creativity Tips: Seize the Moment

There's a beautiful section of Proverbs that discusses a woman of valor. During one of our shopping expeditions in Israel, I found an interesting painting of a woman. When I flipped it over to read the artist's commentary, I discovered the real work of art -- a classic lost-in-translation example. The painting was titled .... wait for it ...

A Woman of Velour.

Did I take a photo? No. I did not. I didn't seize the moment and then it was gone. Learn from my mistakes, peeps. When you see the perfect shot, take it.

(Yes, this became a running joke throughout the trip. My traveling buddies and I now live in terror of becoming Women of Velour.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Creativity Tips: Schedules Matter

Two weeks ago today I stood for the first time before the Western Wall. The Wall is the last remnant of  the Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed thousands of years ago. I don't remember ever not knowing about this holy site -- the image of the Western Wall is engraved in my memory.
I had imagined standing here -- but I hadn't imagined standing here with the Jewish Women's Renaissance Project. This group masterminded logistics. They keep 200 women on time, all the time.

To stay on schedule, we had about 30 minutes at the Wall. That meant I had 30 minutes to work my way through the crowd, reach the Wall and say a prayer. Then, most importantly, I had to find a reachable crevice where I could leave my carefully printed prayer and the prayers I had carried for my mom and a friend.

Thirty minutes. I had one eye on the Wall and one eye on my watch.

Did that create an incredibly spiritual moment? Nope. Not at the Wall. But as I stepped away, something unexpected happened. A heartfelt prayer silently poured out.

You can schedule spirituality -- we do it when we attend weekly services, light candles, meditate every morning, say a prayer before going to bed. You can also schedule creativity. Trust me, writers who have novels published don't wait for "the mood" to hit. They write. Every. Single. Day.

If you haven't blocked out time for creativity yet, do it now. Pull out the calendar and get it on your schedule. You'd be amazed at what can happen in 30 minutes.

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.” – Richard Rhodes

P.S. My prayer was for courage.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

JWRP Journey: Kayaking, camels and creativity

Now that I'm back from the Jewish Women's Renaissance Project trip to Israel, I want to share a few lessons learned ... and the easiest way may be a day-by-day review. We'll start with activities for Tuesday, July 24th. We were jetlagged but jazzed as we left Tiberias to go kayaking on the Jordan River.

I'd never been kayaking before, but it won't surprise you to learn that I spent most of the time at the back of the boat, paddling and steering.

Hey! What would you expect? The trip was just beginning. I hadn't realized yet there were plenty of women on this ride perfectly capable of moving our boat in the right direction.

Despite my control freak tendencies, my first kayaking experience was a blast. We even turned the dang boat around in time to go over the "rapids" face forward. Whoo hoo! Later in the week, I would ride a camel. Another first.
The lesson learned:  I like kayaking. I don't like camels. Will I go kayaking again? Absolutely. But next time, I won't go in circles as much and I won't drink the river water. I can be taught.

And that's the real creativity lesson of kayaking and camels.
You learn something new every time you try something new.

As we move through our own individual journeys, it's absolutely essential to try new adventures -- and absolutely no reason to wait. You don't have to travel halfway around the world to explore your options. Wonders await us everywhere.

What have you always wanted to do? Hike a long trail? Sail a boat? Paint a picture? Do it. Do it now.

P.S. It's nice to let someone else steer the boat and lead the camel. Really, really, really, really nice.