create with me

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My husband’s CEO was reading the Sunday paper when he found a generous article written about my happiness projects. The CEO sent the article around the office as a kind gesture to my husband.

A couple days later, the Director of Marketing asked me to speak to her team about community involvement. The leap between my silly projects and marketing seemed vast, but I agreed to chat when she promised coffee and donuts.

Y’all, I was nervous. The nerves started pop-pop-popping up when I realized I didn’t own business attire or understand how I could help push a corporate agenda forward. Would I waste their time entirely? Should I cancel? I silenced my worries, grabbed a flowery top, and followed my husband to work.
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The meeting felt like a conversation between friends: I talked about my background in art and social work, and then they asked for tips on connecting with the community. The hour flew by and closing remarks soon replaced the daunting questions. Success – I was feeling pretty good about my first stint in corporate America.

And then.

The marketing director asked me to conclude by discussing ways to increase creativity. I’m usually garrulous and quick, but this question brought great pause and then silence and finally a look of confusion. She noticed my discomfort and elaborated further, “Just tell us where you get ideas from.”

Where do I get ideas from? Goodness gracious, her attempt to save me from a potentially awkward situation only heighted my confusion, and I said the first thing that came to mind: “I seek inspiration everywhere.”

The group clapped and I drove home wondering why why why did I answer the question like that? It’s true that I’m always seeking inspiration, but the question to ‘how am I creative’ is so much more complicated than that. Creativity oftentimes seems like a messenger that stops by with an idea or two or three. Other times, however, I’m wondering if that inspiring messenger will ever choose to visit me again.  Does my creative messenger have a phone number? An email? How do I get in touch with him?

And so, I got to the serious business of thinking about creativity and its causes. I hope my thoughts will inspire a dialogue that generates lots of ideas for finding inspiration. Will you help me?
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Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Never wait till your ready. If you want to do something, go for it, and figure out the details as you go. Some of my best ideas come from making mistakes, thinking about how to do better, and then setting forth for a 2nd or 3rd or, to be honest, 7th try.
  2. Open your heart and your mind to new experiences, people and ideas. It’s when we are exposed to difference and novelty that we can compare and contrast and grow and consider. Make a new friend, try a new coffee shop, take a trip.
  3. As life changes this means evaluating new situations, accepting new things into your life and letting others go. This way we can develop our best ideas and devote time to the projects that inspire us the most.
  4. Challenge yourself, but try not to get in ‘over your head’ – somewhere between hard and easy we find our sweet spot. With any luck, working in that ‘sweet spot’ will inspire creativity and, best of all, flow.
  5. Journal is out, write it down, and type it quick. I’ve always got a pen&pad in my pocket because I never know when inspiration will strike. Some of my best ideas come while sitting in church or driving in the car or taking a hike.
  6. Give all ideas equal weight. You know the feeling of thinking an idea is great until you a) think about it further b) start to write about it or c) try to explain it to someone else? It’s not that the idea isn’t any good, but perhaps you need to think about it differently. What do you not like about it? Could you change the project/idea/plan so that it works a little better?
  7. Live an inspired life. I tell myself to write the book I want to read and paint the picture I want to see and bake the cake I want to eat. I’m not always accomplishing these lofty goals, but it gives me a high bar and encourages me to keep trying.
  8. Be the solution. Ah, okay, it’s really not as lofty as all that, but when I hear complaints, I start jotting down possible solutions. My ‘ideas’ might not be any good, but it usually inspires some suggestions for creatively solving problems.
  9. Get emotional. I try to let my feelings guide me on creative projects. If I feel passionately about an idea or project or person, I think about the reasons I’m ignited, and then I try to express myself with words or art or other creative outlets.
  10. Take your mind off the task at hand. For me, consciously trying to generate ideas oftentimes leads to voids and blanks and daydreams. It’s when I’m doing something else – running or cleaning or showering – that the ideas seem to fizzle and pop and appear from some mysterious place.
  11. Have a heart to heart. A good conversation is one of my favorite ways to connect with others, and it’s also a pretty solid way to inspire creativity. When I discuss plans and dreams and hopes, my friends usually inquire and prod and relate, and I’m usually inspired by the twists and turns the conversation takes.
  12. Eavesdrop. If your own thoughts and conversations aren’t inspiring enough, you can always keep listen to the person next to you :)That top photo is from my spring photo challenge, and the 12 creativity ideas clip art is from The Ink Nest.

as gold as it gets

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I’m not really lukewarm about anything.  I either ignore it or love it so much that I want it/gotta have it/ can’t live without it.  This character trait of mine is turning out to be a big problem, and I’m blaming the Internet.

Photographs on Flick and projects on P-interest and the creatives on Blogger provide inspiration that keeps me wanting to try this that and the other.  With Minneapolis positively melting, the desire to be outdoors and making the most of the season is in full spring (pun absolutely intended).
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To make sure spring doesn’t pass me by, I’ve made a checklist (which doesn’t include cleaning) to make sure that the days and weeks are filled with memories.  Inspiration for my checklist came from all over the web, and so it got ambitious pretty quickly.
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  • Apple Blossom Scenic Drive – The Great River Road along the Mississippi River boasts gorgeous views and colorful blooms during the spring.
  • Farm Babies – Does the name say it all, or do I need to explain?  The Wells Fargo Family Farm will showcase baby chicks, piglets, lambs, calves, and bunnies during the month of April.
  • Road Trip – With the masses of men planning summer trips, now is the perfect time to pack up the car and see the sights without the crowds.  Jon and I have heard promising things about Duluth?
  • Plant Something – Can you believe I’ve never done this? I have an urge to create something either a) bouquet-worthy or b) salad-worthy.
  • Baseball Games – Opening day for the Twins is scheduled for April 1, and so the excitement starts now.
  • Tulips for a Stranger – I love flowers, you love flowers, and yes, I’m planning to share some flowers.
  • Pizza Farm – Two words that make me oh.so.happy.  Locally sourced pizzas shared under the blue sky? Yes please.
  • Hikes and Bikes  – It’s not too hot and it’s not too cold – just right for spending the day on the trails.
  • Celebrations – St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day.  Time to drink green beer and hide some eggs and plan a champagne brunch.

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turnip the beet

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Weird is wonderful and the silliest people are my favorite.  That’s the mentality that makes a fanny-pack-attack a typical Sunday night adventure.

I told Lauren that fanny packs were making a comeback, and rather than question my line of reasoning, she simply replied that fanny packs could hold large quantities of chalk.  Smart girl, right?

Lauren skipped the fashion debate and suggested a sidewalk art project.  A couple texts later we decided that I would sew two fanny packs, fill them with chalk, and meet her outside our apartment at 7pm.   By nightfall, we had covered the sidewalks outside our building with a dozen happy messages. Rah rah rah, y’all. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage1-IMG_93191-IMG_93241-IMG_9327

the sweetest pop-up art gallery

ImageEvery so often you meet someone that appears destined for greatness.  These people triumph over their circumstances, and the world just seems to work in their favor.  It’s hard to tell whether these people are turning tricks and making their luck, or whether the universe is conspiring to push them onward and upward.  Either way, it’s obvious that something wonderful is definitely in the making. 

I met Megan Doman by sheer chance, and when we started chatting about art, I knew she was a kindred spirit.  Megan studied interior design as an undergraduate, and then she started working for a design team in the Twin Cities.  Problematically, her passion for drawing and creating artwork kept her from feeling fulfilled at the office. 

Megan decided to turn her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans: she quit her desk job, moved back home, set up an art studio, and dedicated herself to creating art.  I met Megan just as she was beginning a ‘sweet-indulgence’ collection, and I suggested that we showcase her talent in a ‘pop-up art gallery.’

Megan created ten original artworks for the show, and we created a makeshift gallery on the street behind my apartment.  An alternative way to gain exposure, sure, but Megan’s work deserves to be seen and enjoyed.  Pictures of the event are below, and if you want to bring Megan’s work from the alley into your home or office, visit her webshop.
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And y’all, Megan didn’t just show people pictures of tempting treats, she also fed them.  That’s definitely my kind of girl:
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Congrats on a great show Megan!!  

Also, another big thank you to Kristine at Apricot Lane in St. Louis Park.  She made sure that I was looking just as stylish as the artwork in that Chevron Top and Black Jeans. Thank you!

existing on coffee and flowers

i have my coffee cup in hand and i’m watching the blooming flowers out the window. i’m feeling perfectly happy on this sunny saturday morning (what a fine trio of words — sunny saturday morning has such a nice ring, don’t you think?)  i’ve been reading poetry, and feeling inspired to share some of my favorite words of wisdom from different authors, artists and poets.  hope the listing gets your morning off to a pleasant start ❤

“There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.” – Emerson

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.”— St. Catherine of Siena

“Blessed are those who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” – Camille Pissarro

“Don’t save something for a special occasion. Every day of your life is a special occasion.” — Thomas S. Monson

“It is a good and safe rule to sojourn to every place as if you meant to spend your life there, never omitting an opportunity of doing a kindness, or speaking a true word, or making a friend.” — John Ruskin

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” — Earl Nightingale

“I was raised with the idea of beauty in a different way. To me, it is something that really comes out of you and surrounds you.” —Marion Cotillard

“The challenge for those of us who care about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones.” — Katherine Paterson

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences, good and bad.” — Brené Brown

“I’ll treasure every day that I have with you. For I’ve known what life was like before you and..and since you, and as far as I’m concerned, these are two different lives. And one makes me so very much happier that the other.” — John Shors

“I can get my head turned by a good-looking guy as much as the next girl. But sexy doesn’t impress me. Smart impresses me, strength of character impresses me. But most of all, I am impressed by kindness. Kindness, I think, comes from learning hard lessons well, from falling and picking yourself up. It comes from surviving failure and loss. It implies an understanding of the human condition, forgives its many flaws and quirks. When I see that in someone, it fills me with admiration.” — Lisa Unger