Thursday, July 31, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Chair Man of the Bored

Let's start today with a new perspective! Change your seat at the dining room table. I know, I know. You have "your seat." Well, move it. Sit in the next seat. Sit at the other end. And, while you're at it, sit up straight.

I bet you look at your next meal in a whole new light.

P.S. He's such a lame duck, I'm not even going to make a joke.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Creative Inspiration: A Space in the Air

I was going to link you to one of my favorite poems, and I couldn't find it on the Internet. I have gotten so used to thinking the Internet has everything ...

But you shouldn't miss this, just because the Web has. It's not a short poem, but it is a quick read. And it's beautiful. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to replicate here the imaginative spacing Jon Silken created -- he had varying indents on each line.)

A Space in the Air
by Jon Silken

The first day he had gone
I barely missed him. I was glad almost he had left
Without a bark or flick of his tail,
I was content he had slipped

Out into the world. I felt,
Without remarking, it was nearly a relief
From his dirty habits. Then, the second
Day I noticed the space

He left behind him. A hole
Cut out of the air. And I missed him suddenly,
Missed him almost without knowing
Why it was so. And I grew

Afraid he was dead, expecting death
As something I had grown used to. I was afraid
The clumsy children in the street
Had cut his tail off as

A souvenir of the living and
I did not know what to do. I was fearing
Somebody had hurt him. I called his name
But the hole in the air remained.

I have grown accustomed to death
Lately. But his absence made me sad,
I do not know how he should do it
But his absence frightened me.

It was not only his death I feared,
Not only his but as if all of those
I loved, as if all those near me
Should suddenly go

Into the hole in the light
And disappear. As if all of them should go
Without barking, without speaking,
Without noticing me there

But go; and going as if
The instrument of pain were a casual thing
To suffer, as if they should suffer so,
Casually and without greatness,

Without purpose even. But just go.
I should be afraid to lose all those friends like this.
I should fear to lose those loves. But mostly
I should fear to lose you.

If you should go
Without affliction, but even so, I should tear
The rent you would make in the air
And the bare howling

Streaming after your naked hair.
I should feel your going down more than my going down.
My own death I bear everyday
More or less

But your death would be something else,
Something else beyond me. It would not be
Your death or my death, love,
But our rose-linked dissolution.

So I feared his going,
His death, not our death, but a hint at our death. And I shall always fear
The death of those we love as
The hint of your death, love.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Site Seeing: Inside Guernica

Continuing the summer vacation plans, here's another site to see: the bad banana blog video on Inside Guernica. It's a fascinating new look at a classic work of art.

Angela, you commented recently that: "Social media is changing other art forms; it's amazing." I think this is another example of that!

Thanks to site-seeing-superstar Leslie for today's link!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Creativity Tips: If at first you don't succeed ....

OK, I finally tested that technological feat of subscribing to Creative Instigation in a feedburner, and found myself staring at my test blog site, where a kitten holding a machine gun is frozen in action.

For all of you who also tried, I apologize.

I have now tried, tried again, and have posted a "subscribe via email" link. I've tested it. It seems to work. Let me know if it doesn't work for you.

FYI, if violent kittens attack when you try to subscribe, it's not working.

P.S. to Barb ... I think this is the blog feature you requested months ago. I live to serve you. I just don't serve very fast ...

P.P.S. The creativity tips? Ask for what you want. And if you know I've messed something up, let me know. I tend to assume I'm perfect. :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Fun: Be a Bookworm

I admit it: I'm a bookworm.

And when I'm too tired to read, I can still play! Here's to a great weekend, filled with fabulous words.

(By the by, I'm currently reading Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut. Great intro by his son Mark, who also wrote a wonderful book, The Eden Express.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A creativity tip from dear Abby

Nope. Not that Dear Abby.

One of the younger members of the Creative Instigation team is my friend Abby, who has a fashion blog that I find inspirational and instigational. She generously agreed to be my first guest blogger.

Here's her tip on Designing a Phrog:

In my spare time I like to design clothes. Although I cannot sew too well, I LOVE doing the sketching. I created my own clothing line (hopefully when I’m older it can actually work) called PHROG. I call it this because my family loves frogs, even though my parents revolt against getting even close to one. We have a pond in our backyard with colossal amounts of frogs. So you can see where I was going with the title.

Anyway, I enjoy creating my very own characters. They can have blonde hair or brown hair. They can wear plain clothes or ones that are OUT of this world.

I think if you can draw and you – like me, you have an obsession with clothes – you might want to try designing sometime!

P.S. from Jan: If you don't have kids in the house for inspiration, borrow one now and then. Seriously. And some of the ideas on Abby's blog could jumpstart your creativity today!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Creative Query: Your Favorite Dessert

In the July issue of GQ, there's an interesting, well-written story on Alan Richman's search for the perfect dessert. It includes this line: Show me a man who believes his favorite desserts are those he has eaten as an adult and I'll show you a man who had an unhappy childhood.

Which made me wonder: What's your favorite dessert?

I'd have to go back to yesterday's post, and some of my grandmother's baking. She made butter cookies that were beyond delicious, and always made a "J" shaped cookie for me, an "H" for my brother Harry and an "E" for my sister Eva. I can still remember the fun of searching for my special cookie.

P.S. Yes. I read GQ. Surprised?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Creativity Tips: Ice Your Coffee with Coffee

I was enjoying an iced coffee today, and it reminded me of my grandmother, Sophie Eisen.

Sophie could cook and bake better than anyone I've ever known. She created her own recipes, and they are amazing. She was also a poet and a tailor and the only woman the men allowed in the weekly family poker game.

She was, quite simply, the best.

Here's the iced coffee tip I learned from her -- and it's a bit of creative genius. Nanny, as we called her, would make ice cubes out of black coffee, so she could cool hot coffee without watering it down. It also works great for iced coffee, a true summer treat for me and my fellow caffeine fanatics.

P.S. No, it's not a real bull. But why let reality get in the way of a great photo?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday, Monday

It's Sunday night, I'm writing this for Monday morning, and I've had a lovely, lazy weekend. So I'm going to continue the mood by easing into the week with a simple request.

OK, two simple requests. (I said I was easing. I never said I was easy.)
  1. Mike Brown and I are preparing a Creative Instigation workshop, and want your input. Please take a second to vote on the survey Mike has posted.
  2. Mark your calendars now! Plan to join us at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, at the Greater KC PRSA meeting. I'll include a location and sign-up link as soon as the info is posted online.
  3. Heck, let's go for the magic of three. One more request: Have a spectacular week!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Creative Inspiration: Billy Collins

Among America's poet laureates, Billy Collins is one of my favorites. He takes the everyday, and transforms it. For example, we've all been annoyed by a barking dog, but only Collins has written Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House.

And, before I forget, poetry and animation make a fascinating combo. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Doodle You

You did buy that sidewalk chalk on Monday, didn't you? You know, the chalk I asked you to buy? I'm assuming you follow my every suggestion.

Hmmm. Based on my experience as a mother, that could be a false assumption. So here's the deal. You can doodle this outside, or on a clean sheet of paper.

Doodle your name. Doodle it twice. Doodle it different.

I'm going to doodle Janet because it's more fun than Jan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Creativity Tips: Think Beyond

To continue with our sidewalk chalk theme, Mary and her friend Erin started by sketching the standard hopscotch game. Then, they decided to think beyond. By the time they were finished, the game ended three houses down.

It's creative brilliance. Instead of playing the we've always done it that way game, they made their own rules.

Take a lesson from the teens. Don't follow mindless rules. You'll be hoppier. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Sidewalk Art, Take 1

Happy Monday! We're going to start the week with an errand and an exercise. I want you to go buy sidewalk chalk -- you can usually find it at the dollar store.

If you already have sidewalk chalk, you're my hero.

Then, go doodle outside. If you're not comfortable doodling on the sidewalk in front of your house, try the patio out back. Or doodle in front of the neighbor's house. Just keep it friendly.

My inspiration? Mary and a friend decorated our driveway and sidewalks this weekend. Which brings to mind a creativity tip, to go along with the exercise. Keep art supplies handy, and they'll get used!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Fun: More than Seven Words

I've been meaning to pay tribute to George Carlin, and my good friend Barb provided the way to do it. Check this out ... if you're over 18. And don't have sensitive ears. It is, after all, George Carlin.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Creativity Tips: Just Say Stop

I know, I know. I promised to give you my advice on how to deal with bad wizards, and then I didn't do it.

I forgot.

But here it is: When your brain starts in with that hideous self-talk, telling you how stupid and talentless and useless you are, visualize a stop sign. See it. Say "STOP!" to yourself. (I recommend doing this silently, or people twitch.) Then, force your brain to go to a happy place.

Back in my radio days, I periodically made mistakes on the air. Hard to believe, but true. I would use this technique to stop beating myself up. It took a while, but it finally worked. Now, when the negative self-talk starts, I stop it. Fast.

Never let a bad wizard win.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Site Seeing: Wordle

As promised, the Creative Instigation team will periodically go site seeing this summer. Leslie sent the link to Wordle, a site that's time-consumingly addictive. It's also productive. After I write my blog, I'm going to create a home page look for a Web site, using this as a design tool.

Again, as I mentioned yesterday, tools matter.

(OK, I can hear the groans from my designer friends. Relax, I'm playing. I don't scream every time you write a headline, do I? Oh, yeah. I do ....)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Creativity Tips: Butter is Better

One of my creative outlets is baking, so today's tip stems from that: Use unsalted butter in your recipes and everything will taste better. I guarantee it.

In baking -- and in other creative venues -- the right "tools" make a difference.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Creativity Tips: No Habla Inglés

This week, give your mind a real creative workout. Talk to someone in a different language. I have a colleague who only speaks Spanish. I haven't spoken Spanish since college (yes, that's been a few years), so talking with her about families, vacations, work, etc., is an adventure. I can feel synapses reconnecting every time we talk.

Don't know a foreign language? Don't know anyone who speaks a foreign language? You need to get out more often. But, for today, don't worry. Just leave a post here in Pig Latin, and I omise-pray to espond-ray.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday Fun: Here's to a Sparkling Fourth

OK, the final "Don't" for the week ... don't pass on the opportunity to play this game!

Enjoy the weekend, and if you're playing with fireworks ... be careful! (I have to say that. I'm a mom. It's my job.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Creativity Tips: Be an Einstein

Ready for the fourth "Don't" in our list of the week? Here's one from The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander:

4. Don't take yourself so damn seriously.

If you haven't read the Zanders' book, I strongly recommend it. And, as a reminder of our first three "Don't" rules:

1. Don't act your age.
2. Don't just do it.
3. Don't miss a chance to celebrate.

And here's one of my favorite Einstein quotes for you: "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Creativity Tips: Celebrate!

Today's "don't" is extremely important: Don't miss an opportunity to celebrate.

If my memory is right, today is Angela's birthday. Along with recent birthday girl Leslie, Angela was one of the "early adopters" of this blog. She's also brilliant, fun, and extremely adorable in those shades.

Celebrating is one of the things creative teams should always take time for, so ... join me in saying:

Here's to a wonderful year, Birthday Girl!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Creativity Tips: Don't Just Do It

Let's make this a week of "Don't" tips ... we started with:

1. Don't act your age.

Now, we'll move on to:

2. Don't just do it.

Beginning today, take better care of yourself. Protect your creative energy for projects that really matter to you. How? It's simple. When someone asks you to do something you don't really want to do, smile and say, "No." No excuses, no alibis, just no.

It's a lesson I'm starting to embrace. And, if I can do it, I know you can do it! Or, not do it ... as this case may be.