Monthly Archives: November 2010

Creating Smiles

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creating Adventures

Last week’s theme was about looking at one thing each day from a different perspective. This week is about taking one action each day to create a real life adventure. Thanks to beeblu for this suggestion. (Stop by her site to read some fantastic poetry.)

Let the games begin!

Day 1:

A small group of us (6 gals) got together today and the conversation turned to ways we can weave a bit of inspiration into each others’ lives. One thing led to another, and we created an adventure: 

Each one of us will come up with seven small actions that would bring a smile to someone else. Every day next week we’ll each receive an email from one of the other gals in the group with one of these actions to complete that day. At the end of each day, we’ll email each other to see how things went.

Actions will be things like; ‘Go Christmas caroling at your neighbour’s house’, or ‘Buya coffee for the person behind you in line’, or ‘Talk to the check out clerk and find out how their day is really going’.

So, the action for today was setting up the adventure for next week. Merely setting things up was an adventure in itself in the excitment it sparked within us.

Life is an adventure, let’s have some fun along the way!

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Hitchhiker

It’s cold. He never meant to be outside this late. He rubs his hands together trying to keep the circulation going.

Headlights in the distance. He gets ready.

As the car approaches he sets his sign on the ground against his backpack.

A rush of wind as the car speeds by him.

How long before the next car comes?

He begins to doubt himself, his decision to take this journey.

Squatting, he hugs his legs in, burying his head.

The low rumble of a trailer truck coming closer.

Maybe this time…

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For the Love of Dogs

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
A Different Perspective

We love our dogs in this city. Oh yes we do- right down to the colourful little booties we put on their feet. We have dog spas for making them look good, psychologists for helping them sort out their issues, and daycares for socializing and educating them.

Unfortunately, our dog education system is not very advanced as there are no higher education options beyond the daycare level.

There are, however, plenty of doggy daycares around- one in every neighbourhood it seems. And they’d all be happy to take in your dog.

We do, however, have a problem with daycares in this city. Not the doggy ones, though- the child-minding ones. Competition to secure a spot in one is fierce as there are too few spots for too many children.

It’s time to take a different perspective: why not fill the vacant spots in the doggy daycares with children who can’t get a spot in the child-minding ones?

Why not integrate dogs and children into the same educational institutions? This could also be the key to creating higher levels of education for dogs.

What an absurd perspective (and one I do not endorse, by the way). Yet, pushing a point to absurdity forces us to reconsider the logic of our priorities and actions.

Here’s to absurdity!

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The theme for this week is about finding one different perspective on something in my life every day.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Dog’s Perspective

Debbie: Look at him, Alister. He’s trying to tell us something.

Alister: Huh?

Debbie: His eyes- look at them. They’re so expressive. He’s so sad.

Alister: Well, what do you think he’s sad about?

Debbie: I think he feels bad about peeing on the carpet this morning. He saw how long it took us to clean up. He’s feeling guilty. He’s trying to apologize. Look at how he’s so focused, trying to connect with us. 

Alister: He is staring at us, I will give you that.

Debbie: Oh Alister, I can’t stand it, seeing him feel so bad. I’ll make him feel better, I’ll go buy him some nice new booties.

Alister: Now?

Debbie: Yes, now. I can’t let him get scarred by this guilt.

Alister: He is looking pretty pathetic…

Dog continues staring, all the while thinking: Food. Food. Give me food. I want food. Why aren’t they giving me food? Can’t they tell I want food?

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Go with the Flow

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
A Different Perspective

It is my incessant habit to analyze the world around me in order to make it make sense. Yet, at times it makes no sense to do so. Events early on in the day reminded me of that.

I started the day watching Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. In the opening sequence, a coin flip turns up as heads 157 consecutive times. How does that make any sense?

From there, I sat down to catch up on the two books I am currently reading simultaneously. It just so happened that I landed at the beginning of a chapter on pardox in G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and at the beginning of a section on paradox in Charles Handy’s The Empty Raincoat. If I were currently reading 157 books, would they all have landed on a chapter on paradox today?

How does one make sense of that?

One doesn’t.

Exactly!

So with that as the start of my day, I decided to make the day about being along for the ride of life without trying to analyze it.

The day was packed with visits and tight schedules. When it appeared I wouldn’t have time to get ready for lunch guests, I made no plans to figure out how to resolve the situation. I just went with the flow.

It turned out that our guests were half an hour late, which gave just the right amount of time to get everything in order.

I was glad to have not wasted my time analyzing the situation to come up with a strategy of accelerated activity to resolve it.

I made no attempt to analyze the sodium content in the canned beans I ate, or figure out why I couldn’t remember a phone number I had dialed so frequently.

I didn’t stop to think about why I can’t parallel park or if I got the best deal on broccoli I could have.

And it was nice to not analyze, not look for things to make sense.

Tomorrow I will go back to my usual. But now, I’ll be more conscious to just go along for the ride a little more often. It just makes sense, don’t you think?

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The theme for this week is about finding one different perspective on something in my life every day.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Way It Is

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t know now the things I didn’t know then.”

If I had drawn different conclusions about the events of my life, would I be a different person today? Would I have wanted to be a different person? Who’s to say I would have had the choice?

What is is and what was was. What I know now I know. And knowing, I step forward into the light.

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Look Deep Into My Eyes

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
A Different Perspective

Every day I walk by a photograph on the wall of an owl. Sometimes I look at the owl, sometimes I don’t. Today when I walked by, that owl was looking at me. Seriously- I could feel it. And so, I stared back. Our eyes locked. I sensed that he could see into me, what was going on deep inside.

The moment stirred within me a longing to see into others the way that owl saw into me. And so, as there’s no time like the present, I spent the day looking- really looking- into eyes that met mine, exploring the stories they told me.

At the deli, the server’s eyes revealed to me that he was all about partying- full on. I felt the weight of that, knowing he needed so much more out of life.

The dim eyes of the 85 year old lady I spoke with recounted that she was tired of not being given a choice- of having her schedule determined by nurses, her meals served to her without consideration of her preferences. It saddened me that we treat her as a task to be managed rather than as an individual with wishes to be respected.

A fellow shopper’s eyes showed me the great talents their owner possessed, waiting for the opportunity to manifest. I wished for him a chance to shine.

I don’t know if these stories are true- they are just what I saw in those eyes. But it gave me a chance to realize how much can pass between two people whose eyes lock for just an instant.

“The eyes are the window to the soul.”

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The theme for this week is about finding one different perspective on something in my life every day.

Image source:
http://www.worldofbirds.org.za/
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Your Chocolate Brown Eyes

Waving good bye for the last time before you disappeared as the train mounted speed.

Your chocolate brown eyes burning their image into my mind, ready to look back at me whenever I closed my eyes.

That would be the only way I’d ever see them again, and they’d never look quite right in my imagination.

It always ended up looking like one was a lazy eye drifting off to the right as I tried to get your attention…

Image source:
http://sketchfu.com/drawing/1797868-brown-eyes

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A World of Colour

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
A Different Perspective

Sometimes as I go about my day, my senses are suddenly heightened to a particular aspect of my environment. Today it happened as I went to dip a piece of bread in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I froze in the moment before dipping the bread. The strong contrast in colour between the bright yellow of the oil and the darkest of purples suspended within it caught me. 

I felt the vibrancy of the yellow and the depth of the purple. I was drawn into an altered perception of something so simple as bread dip.

And so, the day became about colour. I decided to take in the world around me primarily through colour, and leave the tasks and interpersonal dynamics in the background of my mind- the opposite of my usual.

Colours seemed to leap toward me- echoes of green in clothing, carpeting, and furniture standing at attention all at once.

I noticed how constantly vibrant the world around me is, with the tiniest specs of colour lighting up around me.

The next time I get caught up in tasks and dynamics, I hope I remember to switch lenses and see the world around me from a different point of view.

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The theme for this week is about finding one different perspective on something in my life every day.

Image source:
http://www.chekyang.com
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

501

501 places to go
501 verbs to conjugate
501 recipes
501 world’s funniest jokes

What’s with the ‘501’ series of books that give you so many options? What if I only want one recipe and only one verb?

Let’s say I’m trying to simplify my life, not get muddled with so many choices. How are those books going to help me then?

Or, let’s say I believe in saying what I mean, being direct, making my point clear. “I’m sorry” means “I’m sorry.” Why do I have to try to say it without saying it 501 different ways? Why not just say it?

I want to write a book someday. I’ll call it ‘One Thing’. And it’ll be just about one thing. All one page of it.

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http://catchycolors.blogspot.com/

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An Integrated Life

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
A Different Perspective

I’m the kind of person who keeps the peas separate from the carrots on my plate; I take apart layers of chocolate bars so I can savour each taste independently.

It’s as common sense as separating laundry.

But, I had a conversation today which made me reconsider the extent to which I compartmentalize the details of my life.

Over coffee, we discussed how full people’s lives are these days. There are multiple demands pulling us in a myriad of directions. Even getting together with friends can be a challenge as schedules need to be coordinated for weeks ahead at times.

And yet, if we just integrate our lives a bit more, wouldn’t things be easier?

If I have to go grocery shopping, and my friend does too, why not tie the errands we have to run anyway with spending time together?

If I’ve been meaning to work out but just can’t find the time, why not do it on a lunch break I have anyway, rather than trying to make extra time?

If I have to make supper and want to get more involved in my community, why not join a community kitchen group where we cook together and share enough food for the week?

Even mixing laundry has its perks. I accidentally washed one of The Wise One in the House’s white socks with his load of darks once. He ended up with a light blue sock to match the white one left behind. He made the rule that I never do his laundry again.

I can live with that… 

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The theme for this week is about finding one different perspective on something in my life every day.

Image source:
http://www.chekyang.com
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Revolution

Revolution- a radical departure from what is to a bold new future, right or wrong, for better or for worse.

A healthy dose of idealism accompanies any successful movement.

Disillusionment is the sum total of all failed revolutions, marked by the wounded left to put the pieces of their lives back together.

Revolutionizing my state of being- that’s the revolution I want to be involved in.  

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http://www.prague-life.com

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The Very Important Game

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
A Different Perspective

Some people are just plain crazy. How else do you explain Canadian Football League fans sitting outside for hours in minus 20C weather, watching grown men in tights and shoulder pads chase after a piece of leather?

Honestly!

I would never say those words to Gary, though. Gary is a die-hard Stampeders fan. Has a sticker of the team logo on his car window. And on his sweater. And ball cap. Gary is a true fan.

His head hung low today- the day after his team got knocked out of the Division championship by the same team that took them out last year. Sadness filled his eyes.

They say it’s good to talk about your feelings. So, I asked him how he was. Disappointed. Very disappointed.

They also say it’s good to get your mind off things. So, I asked him what else he did on the weekend, besides watch football.

He told me he watched his 10 year old daughter play hockey. She had tried her hardest, but her team lost.

And then Gary said something I never would have expected him to say. He told me that if he had the power to change the outcome of just one of those two games, he would rather have his daughter win her girls’ league regular season game than have his professional league team win the Divisional championship to go on to the coveted Cup.

And with that comment, he showed me a different perspective:
Sometimes the outcome of one child’s game is more important than the game watched by tens of thousands.

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Over the next few weeks I’ll be using this section to apply in my real life thoughts from previous weeks. Feel free to join in.  

Image source:
http://www.canada.com/
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Game

Cheering en masse, the crowds roar and rumble to the pace of the game. One minute everyone is on their feet, screaming and whooping it up. The next, a low jeer of disapproval fills the stands.

Up and down goes the rhythm, punctuated by the occasional orderless murmuring between periods.

There are those who feel they must stand out from the crowd, creating their own chants, shouts, and gutteral sounds. Have to be an individual, let everyone know how they see things.

Be an individual if you must, but do it from the other side of the stands, not behind my head!

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http://fourfourtwo.com/

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Creativity and Change

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

Whenever we discover new ways to see old things, or explore  life in a new direction, we inevitably have to let go of something.

Creativity requires us to change.

It’s like the moment a child starts play school and has to leave behind her teddy bear for the first time. She cannot imagine being without her old friend- she does not yet know the new friends she will make.

Of course, not all change is for the good- the thing you let go of may be better than the thing you find.

And so, with creativity and change, wisdom must be added to the mix. Being aware of the potential consequences of a creative pursuit will help in deciding whether or not to head down that road.

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http://www.schacommunitybenefits.org/stories.htm
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Man and the Penny

I take no notice of him at first. He’s just a man in the busy coffee shop making his way toward the bathroom. But then, as he crosses in front of the counter, he bends down to pick up what appears to be a penny, and puts it in his pocket.

I’m staring now.

His clothes don’t fit quite right. His pants hang off him like they’re three sizes too big, the sleeves of his button-down shirt are rolled up past his elbows. His boots drag as he walks.

He had picked up a penny.

My friend asks if I’m paying attention to what she’s telling me about the fight she had with her boyfriend. “Yeah. Yeah, of course I am,” I re-focus.

A few minutes later I’m distracted again as the man walks back the other way and takes a seat in the corner.

He doesn’t have a drink or food, nor does he order anything the whole time we are there.

I wonder if I should buy him something. Would that be patronizing? Am I making stereotyped assumptions about who he is? What assumptions, exactly, am I making? Would he take offense to my offer? What would he think of my motives? What, indeed, would my motives be?

I can think myself out of anything.

As my friend and I get up to leave, I head to the counter and say to the girl ready to take my order, “You see that man over there? This should cover a large latte and a chocolate square for him. Please take it to him.”

We walk out. There is a shopping cart with empty bottles parked just outside the doors.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/polarimetric/3139767284/

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Making the Connection

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

Ever have one of those moments when a thousand things you’ve been thinking about converge into one cohesive whole? I had one of those mind-crashing experiences while reading David Gauntlett’s site Making is Connecting, based on his book of the same title.
Nearly all of the concepts we’ve been discussing on this blog- like pouring creative energy into the small things of life, the value of handmade goods, the effect of our creative works on others, and using creative energy for the social good- all drew together into one single picture.
Mr. Gauntlett unites all these and other concepts under the banner of connection as the vital characteristic of creativity. He discusses the progression of connecting ideas or materials to each other to form something new, then connecting with other people on this something new, and finally, together with other people, connecting this something new to the world to tackle social problems and global issues.
I needed a moment to soak it all in.
It left me with clarity on defining my next steps: experimenting with connecting thoughts from this blog to actions in my ‘real’ life, reporting back to you online, and seeing how (hopefully) over time something materializes through this to tackle social or global issues.
There was only one concept from our discussions that was missing from Mr. Gauntlett’s single picture: the connection we have been exploring between creativity and the divine. However, I think these words from his book’s conclusion (posted on his site) can also be applied to the divine:
“…others may be able to sense the presence of the maker, in the thing… made- the unavoidably distinctive fingerprint that the thinking-and-making individual leaves on their work, which can foster a sense of shared feeling and common cause…” 
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For a phenomenal example of connecting a varied range of ideas to each other, see http://kateshrewsday.wordpress.com/ In each post she connects ideas as varied as migraines, IKEA, Wild West movies, and a pile of laundry into a wonderfully woven whole. 

Image source:
http://www.thinkwebdesigns.com/
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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Happiness Bubble

He lives in his own world, oblivious to the reactions of others and to the misery of the world. He has been this way since birth, always happy, living inside his own bubble. Someone dismisses him, he doesn’t notice; the news cries out rumors of wars, he merely shrugs his shoulders.

The disparity between his reactions and the natural response to circumstances worries his wife. She has never seen him angry or ever heard him complain. “Why can’t he be more like other husbands?” she asks her friends. “Why can’t my husband be more like yours?” they reply.

And then one day, the unthinkable happens- the entire political and economic world order collapses. Complete chaos ensues- food supply chains crumble, laws cease to exist, ownership no longer matters.

He walks down the street amidst screams of devastation and the thunder of gun shots.

He continues walking, a smile lighting on his face as he thinks how happy he is to be alive.  

Image source:
http://www.bebo.com/ 

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Necessity- the Mother of Invention

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Characteristics of Creativity

‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’, goes the saying- as far back as Plato. It suggests that if we need something badly enough, we’ll come up with a way to fill that need.
The site thereifixedit.com takes a humorous look at inventions (often quasi-inventions) that people have come up with to solve various problems.
One of my personal favourites is this picture:
 
That’s one way to solve the problem of driving an imported car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side! (Of course, I’m not endorsing this solution, just showing the photo.)
If our need is great enough, we’ll work at a solution long and hard until we find one.
I wonder if the reverse is also true- if there is something we want to do/create/invent badly enough, will we work long and hard to find the need it fills?
Image source:
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Real Work

Jeff’s motto had always been “It ain’t real work unless you get your hands dirty.” His dad taught it to him, and he taught it to his kids. He made sure his kids, eight and ten years old, experienced the pride of building something, seeing the finished product they themselves had made.

January 4 was just like every other workday of the past twenty-some years. Jeff suited up and got ready to go to his welding bench with the other guys.

On this morning, though, his boss was waiting for him at the bench. “This came in for you from Head Office,” he told Jeff, handing him an envelope with the company logo embossed along the side.

Jeff raised his eyebrows, “Head office? What do those stuffed shirts want from me?” He grabbed the envelope and tore it open.

Eyes wide he blurted out, “You have got to be kidding me!”

“What?”

“What kind of prank are these guys pulling? It’s a job offer for VP of Sales and Marketing at Head Office. This some kind of joke?”

His boss grabbed the letter and read it for himself, “What the…”

Jeff spent the next half hour trying to sort out the situation with the HR department. He figured out that the letter was intended for a different Jeff Sampson and was sent to him in error. However, as the Manager of HR explained, they were extremely busy and it would take far too much time and fussing to straighten out. The best solution was, she explained, for Jeff to show up at Head Office on Monday to start his new job and settle in to it.

He could not believe what he heard.

The thought that plagued him most was how he was going to explain to his kids that he was now going to be a stuffed shirt who never got his hands dirty.

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http://www.225steel.com/

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