New class in town…

I remember thinking, as a kid, that because I wanted to grow up to be an artist I had automatically been placed in that ‘other’ group.  You know the group I’m talking about – the ‘not as smart as the other kids who wanted to be doctors and lawyers group’.

I do realize this is simply not true; but it is a fact that ‘some kids’ will grow up with this thought so firmly implanted in their brains that they will always feel they are in that ‘other’ group, no matter what.  (I’m not thinking of any one kid in particular…just making a comment.)

So, I was very pleased to stumble upon the article ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’, by Richard Florida.  I’ll just summarize it here but you might want to go to the site and read the article in its entirety – its pretty interesting.

It starts off talking about the changes in corporate recruiting strategies on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University…(I know this may sound boring  – but it gets better).

From the article

I noticed one member of the group sitting slouched over on the grass, dressed in a tank top, with spiked, multi-colored hair, full-body tattoos, and multiple piercings in his ears.  Apparently ‘this guy’ had just signed on with a recruiting group from Texas – and had inked the highest-paying deal of any graduating student in the history of his department…A big change from the days of the author’s own college days – where students would put on their dressiest clothes and carefully hide any counterculture tendencies to prove that they could fit in with any company….This guy had been wined and dined…

I asked the young man with the spiked hair why he was going to a smaller city in the middle of Texas, a place with a small airport and no professional sports teams, without a major symphony, ballet, opera, or art museum comparable to Pittsburgh’s.  The company is excellent, he told me, There are also terrific people and the work is challenging.  But the clincher, he said, is that, “It’s in Austin!”.  There are lots of young people, he went on to explain, and a tremendous amount to do; a thriving music scene, ethnic and cultural diversity, fabulous outdoor recreation, and great nightlife.  Although he had several good job offers from local high-tech firms, he felt the city lacked the lifestyle options, cultural diversity, and tolerant attitude that would make it attractive to him.  As he summed it up: “How would I fit in here?”.

This young man and his lifestyle proclivities represent a profound new force in the economy and life of America.  He is a member of what I call the creative class: a fast-growing, highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend.  Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries – from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts.  They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit.

Stuck in old paradigms of economic development, cities like Buffalo, New Orleans, and Louisville struggled in the 1980s and 1990s to become the next ‘Silicon Somewhere” by building generic high-tech office parks or subsidizing professional sports teams.  Yet they lost members of the creative class, and their economic dynamism to places like Austin, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Seattle – – places more tolerant, diverse, and open to creativity.  Because of this migration of the creative class, a new social and economic geography is emerging in America, one that does not correspond to old categories like East Coast versus West Coast or Sunbelt versus Frostbelt.  Rather, it is more like the class divisions that have increasingly separated Americans by income and neighborhood, extended into the realm of city and region.

The distinguishing characteristic of the creative class is that its members engage in work whose function is to “create meaningful new forms”.  The super-creative core of this new class includes scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the ‘thought leadership’ of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysis, and other opinion-makers.  Members of this super-creative core produce new forms or designs that are readily transferable and broadly useful – – such as designing a product that can be widely made, sold and used; coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many cases; or composing music that can be performed again and again.

Another example is the secretary in today’s pared-down offices.  In many cases this person not only takes on a host of tasks once performed by a large secretarial staff, but becomes a true office manager – channeling flows of information, devising and setting up new systems, often making key decisions on the fly.  These people contribute more than intelligence or computer skills.  They add creative value.

Everywhere we look, creativity is increasingly valued.  Firms and organizations value it for the results that it can produce and individuals value it as a route to self-expression and job satisfaction.

Wow, who knew??

You can read the entire article (which also includes city rankings by creativity) at: www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html

Raise your Sights

Now is the Time…

to look up

Take the opportunity to raise your sights – literally.

Look up from your normal field of vision:

take in the roof lines of buildings, the hills, skies, treetops, birds.

There’s a whole new world there.

It’s all about changing your perspective.

“Our senses don’t deceive us: our judgement does” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

from the book, Now is the Time, by Patrick Lindsay

(cell phone image – abandoned building, lakewood, texas)

Wish Brainstorming

I was doing an on-line search for ‘personal mission statements’…

A personal mission statement is a brief description of what you want to focus on, what you want to accomplish and who you want to become in a particular area of your life over the next one to three years. It is a way to focus your energy, actions, behaviors and decisions towards the things that are most important to you.

but what if you don’t KNOW what it is you want??

This led to more on-line searching which led me to this page (found on timethoughts.com) about ‘wish brainstorming’.

Thought it was interesting…

Wish Brainstorming for Goal Setting

Wish brainstorming is a tool that can help you figure out what you really want.

Wishes are a simple way to capture things that you may need, desire or want without necessarily committing to doing them.

Because your wish list only represents things that you may want to pursue, it’s easier to release any judgments about how/when you are going to do these things and focus instead on what you truly want.

Rather than trying to wish for everything that you want in all areas of your life, it is useful to focus on one result area at a time. Once you’ve brainstormed your wishes for this area, you can move on to another area.

Wish Brainstorming Guidelines

Brainstorming works best when you use questions to stimulate your thinking. You simply try to come up with as many answers to the questions as you can. It’s simple because your mind is programmed from early childhood to answer questions.

As soon as you ask yourself a question, your brain will shift into high gear trying to come up with answers. All you have to do is listen for the answers, and write them down. You should try to write every thought that pops into your head, whether it looks like a good answer or not.

The key is to reserve all judgment, criticism and doubt until later. The first step in brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as you can without thinking about them. So go ahead and write down any crazy, silly, weird or seemingly useless ideas. The reason for this is that judgment, criticism and doubt block the stream of ideas and shut down the creative process.

If you get stuck at any point and can’t come up with anything else, ask yourself the question again and wait for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times. If nothing comes, read a few of your answers. Reading your answers can often inspire related ideas or thoughts.

Wish Brainstorming Questions

Use the following questions to help you get started with your brainstorming session. Each set of questions is divided into one of four categories corresponding to the types of wishes that they help you think about.

Wish Type One – Want and Don’t Have

The first wish type represents the things that you want and don’t have. This is the most common type of wish and is based on a motivation toward things you want, desire or find pleasurable.

Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you want and don’t have:

  • What would you wish for in this area of your life if you had unlimited financial resources?

  • What have you always wanted to do or accomplish in this area of your life but have never attempted? Because of lack of time? Money? Experience? Resources?

  • If you could have, do or be anything that you wanted in this area, what would you wish for?

  • What would you wish for in this area if you were absolutely confident that you could accomplish it?

  • What habits, skills, abilities or personality traits that you see in others would you like to develop?

  • What knowledge, experience or expertise would you like to gain in this area?

  • What would you like to learn? (Learn to speak Italian, Learn to cook, Learn about astronomy, Learn to Tango)

  • What positive traits or habits would you like to develop? (Be more patient, Be more confident, Manage my time better, Read more often)

These questions are designed to stimulate your thinking while removing common barriers such as fear and doubt.

Wish Type Two – Don’t Want and Have

The second wish type represents the things you don’t want and have. These could be things like an extra ten pounds, a lousy job, or a mean boss. This second wish type is useful because many people find it easier to list the things they don’t want. This is based on a motivation away from things you dislike.

Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you don’t want and have:

  • What would you like to change, remove or eliminate from your life? (Lose extra ten pounds, Change jobs, Less stress)

  • What bad habits or personality traits would you like to get rid off? (Stop interrupting people, Eat less junk food)

  • What do you currently have that you don’t want in your life? (A mean boss, Too many demands)

Wish Type Three – Want and Have

The third wish type represents the things you want and have. Wishes of this type could represent things you want to appreciate or treasure more, good things in your life that you want to have more of, or things that you want to preserve.

Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you want and have:

  • What about this area of your life do you like and want more?

  • What do you enjoy doing but haven’t done in a while?

  • What would you like to improve or enhance about yourself?

  • What are the blessings in your life that you would like to appreciate more?

  • What good things in this area of your life do you want to preserve and avoid neglecting?

Wish Type Four – Don’t Want and Don’t Have

The fourth wish type represents the things you don’t want and don’t have. Examples would be things like heart disease, bad health, financial problems, and other risks that you want to avoid.

Use the following questions to brainstorm for things you don’t want and don’t have:

  • What problems or pitfalls would you like to prevent?

  • What bad habits or negative traits would you like to avoid developing?

Turn the Negatives into Positives

While the “Don’t Want and Have” and “Don’t Want and Don’t Have” wish types are useful during brainstorming to help you identify wishes, especially if your motivation style is away from things you dislike, they don’t make good long term wishes.

In goal setting, it is always better to focus your attention on the things you want rather than on the things you don’t want. A useful exercise is to convert all your negative wishes into one or more positive counterparts.

For example, if one of your “Don’t Want and Have” wishes is to get rid of an extra ten pounds, you would convert this into a positive wish: “I weight a healthy XXX pounds,” where XXX is your target weight.

Similarly, you can convert “Don’t Want and Don’t Have” wishes to their positive counterparts by wishing for things you can do to prevent or avoid these negative wishes from being realized.

Prioritize Your Wish List

Now that you’ve created your wish list, it is time to prioritize it based on what is most important to you.

A useful prioritizing tool is the ABCD method. In this method you prioritize wishes into one of four categories:

  • A’s represent things you really want

  • B’s represent things you want, but not as much as the As

  • C’s represent things that are nice to have, but you don’t necessarily want at this time

  • D’s represent things you definitely don’t want to pursue at this time

Why include the C’s and D’s in your wish list? Because you already went to all the trouble to think of them, you might as well write them down. You never know if you might want to change your mind later.

Once you’ve categorized the wishes, go over the A’s and rank the top five to ten items (A1, A2, A3…) based on importance and urgency. Try to find the wish that you really want the most right now and make it your A1 priority. Then proceed to find the second one, and so forth.

Another way to prioritize your wishes is to ask yourself which of them would have the most positive impact on this part of your life? Review your priorities from this perspective and make any necessary adjustments.

5 Minute Christmas Decoration

What can I make with a box of sewing notions I got for a dollar (at an estate sale I visited today)?

Let’s see…

Here’s the box of notions

Hmmm…this spool is interesting.  Reminds me of a Christmas tree.

And I’ve got some vintage jewelry around here somewhere

Voila!

A 5 Minute Christmas Decoration for a tabletop!

 

 

(everything looks better under glass!)

Get your Shrine On

A shrine is a place or piece of furniture used to remind us of meaningful intangibles through the display of meaningful tangibles.  It’s also a place or piece of furniture that can be an on-going art project in three or more dimensions.  How about creating such a shrine and spending a minute (or several) with it every day?  Could a shrine improve your outlook on life (as well as your home decor)?

How about some incense and a candle or two to go with your items of inspiration?

A shrine doesn’t need to take up a lot of space.  How about putting a few reminders of your creative self and the vast unknown in a cup or tray?  What about a portable shrine?  A key-chain shrine?

A shrine could be placed on a shelf, on the floor or in a cabinet.  A used piece of furniture could be converted to hold meaningful books, beads, letters, candles, artwork, etc.  A shrine could be simple or ornate and it should evolve over time and always remain fresh and relevant to you.  As an artist, this is your chance to create a piece of meaning and beauty relevant to you and you alone.

How often do you get to do that?

-taken from the book, Creative Sparks: An index of 150+ concepts, images and exercises to ignite your design ingenuity by Jim Krause

Uncertainty…it’s what’s for breakfast.

More wisdom from Zen Habits
This is a guest post from Jonathan Fields, author of “Uncertainty:Turning Fear and Doubt into fuel for brilliance –

Uncertainty. It’s a terrifying word.

Living with it, dangling over your head like the sword of Damacles, day in day out, is enough to send anyone spiraling into a state of anxiety, fear and paralysis.

Like it or not, though, uncertainty is the new normal. We live in a time where the world is in a state of constant, long-term flux. And, that’s not all. If you want to spend your time on the planet not just getting-by, but consistently creating art, experiences, businesses and lives that truly matter, you’ll need to proactively seek out, invite and even deliberately amplify uncertainty. Because the other side of uncertainty is opportunity.

Nothing great was ever created by waiting around for someone to tell you it’s all going to be okay or for perfect information to drop from the sky. Doesn’t happen that way. Great work requires you to act in the face of uncertainty, to live in the question long enough for your true potential to emerge. There is no alternative.

When you find the strength to act in the face of uncertainty, you till the soil of genius.

Problem is, that kills most people. It leads to unease, anxiety, fear and doubt on a level that snuffs out most genuinely meaningful and potentially revolutionary endeavors before they even see the light of day. Not because they wouldn’t have succeeded, but because you never equipped yourself to handle and even harness the emotional energy of the journey.

But, what if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if there was a way to turn the fear, anxiety and self-doubt that rides along with acting in the face of uncertainty–the head-to-toe butterflies–into fuel for brilliance?

Turns out, there is. Your ability to lean into the unknown isn’t so much about luck or genetics, rather it’s something entirely trainable. I’ve spent the past few years interviewing world-class creators across a wide range of fields and pouring over research that spans neuroscience, decision-theory, psychology, creativity and business.

Through this work, a collection of patterns, practices and strategies have emerged that not only turbocharge insight, creativity, innovation and problem-solving, but also help ameliorate so much of the suffering so often associated with the pursuit of any creative quest.

Here are 5 starter-strategies to help get you going:

1. Reframe.

We tell ourselves stories all day long. I’m skinny. I’m fat. I’m talented. I’m stupid. This is genius. This is awful. I will succeed. I will fail. I’m terrified and anxious. I’m confident and proactive. It turns out, the storylines we create around a particular circumstance are far more determinative of success than the circumstance itself. They affect not only our willingness to act, but the quality of our ideas and solutions.

If you create a story that empowers action and innovation, that’s great news. Unfortunately, our brains have a strong bias toward negativity, leading most of us to create stories around circumstances that require action in the face of uncertainty that are more likely to paralyze and stunt creativity than fuel action.

Reframing is a process that asks you to suspend negative storylines, explore if the story you’re telling is the only one and, if not (which is inevitably the case), construct or frame a new storyline that empowers you to experience an uncertain circumstance not as a prime for failure and inaction, but as a signpost for meaning and opportunity.

For example, if you’re disabling storyline is around the risk of failure, instead of just asking “what if I fail?” and creating a doomsday scenario, you also ask “how will I recover, what if I do nothing and what if I succeed?” Then build new stories around those questions.

2. Practice Mindfulness.

Reframing is an immensely powerful tool in the quest to lean into the unknown. But it also requires a certain equanimity; the ability to pull back and see what’s really going on, re-center, then breath into that uncomfortable place long enough for amazing things to bubble up. Over time, a daily mindfulness practice goes a long way toward equipping you to do just that.

Plus, it cultivates the sense of persistent grounding that makes living and acting in a world where there is no new normal far more enjoyable. And it trains you in the practice of dropping thoughts, among those, destructive, limiting-beliefs.

3. Exercise Your Brain.

We’ve all seen the research on exercise and health, weight loss and disease prevention. But, did you know that certain approaches to exercise also have a profound effect on your brain?

Daily cardiovascular exercise, for example, especially with high-intensity bursts mixed in can improve mood, executive function, decision-making and creativity and decrease anxiety and fear. The latest research even reveals the possibility that exercise can grow new brains cells, something that until only a few years ago, was thought to be impossible. It’s also strongly correlated with decreases in anxiety and increases in mood, which are directly connected to improved creativity and problem-solving.

4. Singletask.

Multitasking is out. Turns out this badge of honor from the ’90s is more fiction than fact. Our brains don’t multitask, they just rapidly switch between tasks, sometimes fast enough for us to believe we’re doing many things at once. Problem is, every time we switch, there is a “ramping cost” in your brain, it takes anywhere from a few second to 15 minutes for your brain to fully re-engage. This makes you feel insanely busy, but simultaneously craters productivity, creativity and increases feelings of anxiety and stress.

Multitasking also requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC). But the PFC is also responsible for will-power, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check. Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing it’s ability to keep fear, anxiety and the taunt of distraction at bay.

Simple solution–just say no. Do one thing at a time in intense, short bursts.

5. Get Lean.

Instead of creating in a vacuum, explore the possibility of bringing a “lean” or “agile” approach to your creative process. Focus on maximum learning, create the simplest version of your idea possible, then bring a select group of those who’d potentially enjoy it into the process earlier in name of soliciting and integrating input into the next iteration. This not only minimizes waste, it changes the psychology of creation by adding more certainty earlier in the game and encouraging consistent, incremental action.

These five strategies and practices can change the way you experience the creative process in a profound way. They’ll not only allow you to tap a reservoir of previously hidden creativity, they’ll also allow you to experience any creative endeavor with a far deeper sense of equanimity and joy.

I just can’t leave it alone!

Remember the post about the mixed media piece I did from the book, “Taking Flight” by Kelli Rae Roberts?  I wasn’t thrilled with it because there were too many colors going on and the colors I’d chosen weren’t making me happy either.  I’m definitely a novice when it comes to color mixing.

But still, I couldn’t just leave it as is and move on – I had to try to improve it somehow- that, or completely cover the canvas with gesso.

I attempted to play down some of the colors by adding more blue to it and I was ok with that but still not lovin’ it.  I usually take pictures of the art-making process to help me remember what steps I’d taken along the way and I’d done that with this piece also.

After adding more blue and a couple of highlights and before covering it and starting over I decided to drop the image into Photoshop to see what I could do to change it in that way.

Here are the results.

I know I keep talking about filters but I just think being able to see something in a completely different light can be helpful.  These changes are easy to make and very forgiving – since you’re only working on the digital file while leaving the original art intact.

Check it out…

Absolutely!

Isn’t this a cool greeting card?

I never send the greeting cards I buy – I keep them around as inspiration.  This one is perfect for the way I’ve been feeling lately.

I feel like I’m on the verge of a breakthrough – or a breakdown

its hard to tell really.

But regardless…I’m on the verge of something – that’s certain.

I haven’t quite figured out what the triggers are but I know that feeling very well.

The racing heart when you hear about something that piques your interest.  The butterflies in the pit of your stomach when you read something that makes your heart sing.  Viewing art that you feel directly connected to…

You get the idea.

I’ve been having that feeling a lot lately.

And I’m pretty sure its not indigestion.

Stay tuned…

(greeting card by curly girl store.com)