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The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls -- Pablo Picasso

>> 28 February 2009

For the next year or so, Craig Frazier will post a new drawing every week in desperate need of a caption.

Craig invites YOU to write the words that you think belong to that drawing.

Please submit a line no more than 30 words in length by that friday 5pm. Every week’s submission will be judged by an editorial review board of one and the winner will be posted the following week and remain forever in the book.

As a reward you will receive credit, including your website, if you wish, and a copy of DraWords when it is finished.

What a creative idea!


Creativity is as important in education as literacy -- Sir Ken Robinson

I really do believe I was put on the planet to help people have creative confidence. I don't have 27 agendas. I'm not the sustainability guy, or the developing-world guy. My contribution is to teach as many people as I can to use both sides of their brain, so that for every problem, every decision in their lives, they consider creative as well as analytical solutions.

-- David Kelley, founder of IDEO


Until about a year ago, David Kelley was on a roll. He had received a National Design Award, been inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, held an endowed chair at the Stanford School of Engineering, and even won the Sir Misha Black Medal for his "distinguished contribution to design education." He also had a loving wife, a daughter to whom he was devoted, and a vast circle of friends that included Apple's Steve Jobs and actor Robin Williams. Then, one morning, he noticed a lump on his neck. David Kelley, the founder of IDEO, had cancer. Read the inspiring account of David's journey into design thinking.

Visit David Kelley's IDEO
Watch Ken Robinson's Do Schools kill creativity.


The greatest gift is to give people your enlightenment, to share it -- Buddha

>> 27 February 2009

Have you ever had an a-ha moment?

You know, a moment when suddenly little bits and pieces of life fall together and make you realize something?

I had one yesterday.

I was at work, in a good mood, smiling. I felt like I was in a bubble; a positive, happy bubble that allowed me to work easily and get things done.

I noticed that my mood, attitude and intention seemed to change the way things were happening and people were reacting around me.

One colleague seemed particularly stressed and in a bad, sighing and complaining mood. I knew what was coming: complainers come in, tell you their horrible story, complain and expect you to join in.

I was not going to have any of that.

I smiled. I kept hold of my happy mood. I listened.

And then I said "You know, I can feel that you are in a terrible situation and what happened really bothers you. If you cannot change the situation around, you can always change your attitude and reaction towards it. You decide whether this bothers you. You decide whether you complain or instead do something about it. You always have the choice."

This colleague is one of the many I never really discuss anything other than work. And he first looked at me funny. Then he smiled and laughed and said "You know, you are right... It's just that this and this happened and I have been through this and this...". He still managed to continue his complaint thread.

"Calm down," I said. " breathe. Let it go. If you want to hold on to it, than that is your decision not the other person's." - Pause - "You're right, you're right." he said and laughed, wandering back to his office - with a smile on his face.

Whether this smile was due to what I had said and made him realize, or whether he just thought it was weird and astonishing that I, who never had more than professional conversations with him, would all of a sudden give him personal advice, I don't know. And I don't mind either way. For either way is positive.

I still had my good mood and my smile and did not let myself get dragged into the complaining habit.

Many people rather complain than ask for what they want. Complaining keeps them in the problem rather than getting them towards the solution. They feel their ego increasing because they make someone or something wrong, hence elevating themselves to a higher, better level. It becomes a habit and a vicious circle.

14 ways to be and stay happy and have a positive effect on other people:

  1. Get up ever morning saying "Today is going to be a great day."

  2. Set powerful intentions for the day: I will be happy, inspiring, encouraging, creative etc today.

  3. Smile. It's contagious. It creates an atmosphere. It makes a good impression. It is worth more than words. It's a free facelift...If you are sad or angry, force your smile and it will start changing your mood.

  4. Decide to go complaint free. It is very difficult. But you can start by refusing to join in other people's complaining. And ask yourself each time "Can I change this?" If the answer is yes, then change it. If the answer is no, then stop complaining about it for it's not going to change.

  5. Be a radiator instead of a drain. Not the most common English language metaphor, but very much to the point here: be someone who radiates energy, dynamism, who is positive instead of someone who is negative, a drain on other people's energy, always criticizing.

  6. Move instead of brood. Say you were humiliated. Will you let this control your life, will you brood endlessly and remain stuck in this moment or feeling? Or can you set it aside and keep moving towards something better?

  7. Stop living a life of quiet desperation.

  8. Encourage others to be brilliant.

  9. Share your knowledge. Do not use 'knowledge is power' to justify a reluctance to share information because some form of advantage can be gained through the use or manipulation of knowledge. This seems to be a big issue at many workplaces. Start with giving information yourself and you will see that it is reciprocated.

  10. Have a positive influence on your colleagues. Prevent colleagues from taking offense to your intervention, thinking that you are telling them how to do their job or believing that you see them as incompetent and take that personally.

  11. Talk about it before it gets too big and starts leading a life of its own. Sometimes problems that seem big are actually really small. It is our emotions that change our perception. Whenever a problem appears, tackle it right there and then. Talk about the feelings you have, encourage others to do the same. Bring in a mediator if emotions get too big.

  12. Change your perspective. By creating new perceptions, you can actually create new realities. When entering a situation or meeting a new person, you may have preconceived ideas or feelings. You may have the whole thing figured out already. Take note of this (don't judge) and consciously change your perspective. Try to look at it from a completely different angle. Say you're a homeless person. How would that change the situation or meeting this person?

  13. Don't try to stop the negative. Just start doing and seeing the positive. We all have our negative thoughts and actions. We all have a tendency to complain, to not feel worthy. Instead of trying to change this negativism, try to focus on the good. This bad situation or problem may give you the opportunity to start something completely different. If you don't feel worthy, start by looking at little things that are positive.

  14. Don't judge too quickly. Many situations are not always what they seem at first glace.

"Most folks are about as happy
as they make up their minds to be."

--Abraham Lincoln


Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear - Cheri Huber

>> 25 February 2009

Let's say you are a starter.

You have this great project of bringing creativity to your workplace. You decide to tackle the beast with baby steps and start with an informal
creative workshop among close colleagues.

You have decided about the content and activities of this first workshop. You have set a date and invited everyone. Everyone has confirmed their attendance.

And then FEAR sets in.
You start doubting.
You start thinking you will fail.
You start thinking that your colleagues will find your activities ridiculous.

We human beings still have some instinctual fears.

We have quite a few conditioned fears (if your mother was afraid of spiders and jumped and screamed each time she saw one, it is very unlikely that you love arachnids).

We also have the sometimes unfortunate gift of anticipation. We anticipate terrible things that might happen -- things we have heard about, read about or seen on TV. Or things that we simply imagine could happen (because as starters we have a wild imagination with tons of ideas of what could happen to us, right?)

Fear is a contradictory feeling as it can be exciting as well. Just look at the people who love horror movies or roller coaster rides.

So you have this workshop in a month time and you want to silence the doubting and fearing voices telling you that this is all ridiculous and that you will become the laughing stock of the company.

Fear extinction involves creating a conditioned response that counters the conditioned fear response.
Most behavioral therapies for fear extinction focus on exposure.
For instance, therapy for a person with a fear of snakes might involve visiting a snake farm repeatedly and taking small steps toward touching one.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. -- Audrey Lorde

Eight Practical Tips

Below is a summary of the article "What are you afraid of?: 8 secrets that make fear disappear" which offers these tips for dealing with everyday fears:

  1. It doesn't matter why you're scared. Knowing why you've developed a particular fear doesn't do much to help you overcome it, and it delays your progress in areas that will actually help you become less afraid. Stop trying to figure it out.

  2. Learn about the thing you fear. Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you're afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.

  3. Train. If there's something you're afraid to try because it seems scary or difficult, start small and work in steps. Slowly building familiarity with a scary subject makes it more manageable.

  4. Find someone who is not afraid. If there's something you're afraid of, find someone who is not afraid of that thing and spend time with that person. Take her along when you try to conquer your fear -- it'll be much easier.

  5. Talk about it. Sharing your fear out loud can make it seem much less daunting.

  6. Play mind games with yourself. If you're afraid of speaking in front of groups, it's probably because you think the audience is going to judge you. Try imagining the audience members naked -- being the only clothed person in the room puts you in the position of judgment.

  7. Stop looking at the grand scheme. Think only about each successive step. If you're afraid of heights, don't think about being on the fortieth floor of a building. Just think about getting your foot in the lobby.

  8. Seek help. Fear is not a simple emotion. If you're having trouble overcoming your fear on your own, find a professional to help you. There are lots of treatments for fear out there, and no good reason not to try them under the guidance of someone with training and experience.
Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive --
the risk to be alive and express what we really are. -- Don Miguel Ruiz
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you
really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you
think you cannot do. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

I will report on how I managed to silence my doubts and fears
and the outcome of the first creative workshop in about a month...

Source: How fear works


The next thing to saying a good thing yourself, is to quote one -- Ralpho Waldo Emerson

>> 23 February 2009

Today I found a little booklet full of interesting quotes from blogger on Tinkerbell's site.
If you click on the image below it should start downloading the pdf file.

It not only gives you interesting quotes, but also lets you discover some mindful blogs.
Happy reading.


Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving -- Albert Einstein

>> 22 February 2009

I am so happy today as I have just won a free ticket to Stacey's Hungry for Balance online retreat.

This e-retreat will be filled with six weeks of celebrating your needs and passions, living with intention, practicing putting yourself first, connecting with other life balance seekers, and holding yourself accountable for living your best life.

I am excited, curious and looking very much forward to it.

If you want to join us, you can still register here.

Thanks Stacey.


Are you a starter or a finisher?

>> 20 February 2009

In 'The Handbook of Academic Writing' by Rowena Murray and Sarah Moore the starting versus finishing paradox is described as follows:

The starting versus finishing paradox exists by virtue of the fact that the skills associated with starting a writing project are qualitatively and radically different from the skills you need to activate in order to progress and to complete it. Starting a writing project is very different from completing and finishing, and this fact is often the cause of writing obstacles as the demands of moving from starting to finishing become difficult to overcome.
Andrew Boyd summarizes the different CEO styles that Randy Komisar talks about in The Monk and the Riddle

  • Phase 1 Starters that are all ideas, excitement and enthusiasm - these folks get the thing off the ground. Starters are riskoholics - they love the challenge of impossible odds.

  • Phase 2 Growers that are more organised - they replace the starters, and build the organisation through the first couple of years. They are risk managers rather than balls-to-the-wall risk takers like the Starters.

  • Phase 3 Maintainers that are very good process people - they thin out the early excess weight in the organisation and settle it down into a good value proposition for shareholders. Maintainers are risk-averse and performance means more to them than relationships, steady and guaranteed growth more than a shot at the truly remarkable.
No matter which of the above you are, it is clear that all three are needed for a company, projects or society to work. If we only had starters, all those bright ideas would never grow up to anything successful.

It is different when you work alone, have your own one-man-show, are an artist or blog writer. Here you need to be all three in one.

You need to start a blog or a post, a painting or a project. But you also need to grow the blog if you want it to be read and and become successful. You also need to finish the painting, frame it and get it out into a gallery, if you want to make your art known and sell it.

In that case the three phases often conflict with or contradict each other. If you are a good maintainer, you might shy away from taking the risk of investing in a new website design for example. If you are a starter, you will have all sorts of brilliant ideas on how to make life and the world a better place, but usually get stuck once it comes down to putting it all on paper and selling your idea.

I believe that this is the reason why so many struggle in the beginning and numerous projects die before they get a chance. Sometimes, the solution to this problem can be so easy though: hire someone. It is a scary thought, I admit, and it comes with some risks. So if you are a brilliant maintainer you might never get to this conclusion...

Here are 7 signs it's time to hire someone. Think of it as an investment in you, your business, your art. Even though it will cost money, it will leave you with more time and only the tasks that you're good at and enjoy.

And that is priceless.

You will launch many projects, but have time to finish only a few. So think, plan, develop, launch and tap good people to be responsible. Give them authority and hold them accountable. Trying to do too much yourself creates a bottleneck.

-- Donald Rumsfeld (astonishingly enough :-)


The days are long, but the years are short.

>> 19 February 2009

I discovered this thought provoking short slideshow (1 minute) about what you can learn from children and what it means to live in the now. It's all about being happy about the small things, being happy now.

Go to The Happiness Project for 10 tips for being happier.

“What a wonderful life I’ve had!
I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”
-- Colette

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
--Charles Kingsley


Today is life - the only life you are sure of.

>> 18 February 2009

Today is life - the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.

--Dale Carnegie

Another art journaling page.


How to create 10 simple, positive habits

>> 17 February 2009

  • Start a great day
    When you get up in the morning, tell yourself 'Today is going to be a great day'.
  • Be grateful
    Every day, after you have started your 'great day', while you're on your way to prepare breakfast, brush your teeth, put your socks on..., list the things you're grateful for: being alive today, having a comfortable bed and warm duvet, fresh coffee, running water, a loaf of bread, the sun shining/the noise of the rain on your roof/the snowflakes falling, your car starting without a problem... If you are not a morning person, you can do this before you go to bed too.

  • Learn something new
    My grandmother always said: 'Never go to bed without having learned something'. It doesn't have to be a new language. It can be the name of your new neighbour, the meaning of a new word from the dictionary, or use Wikipedia Randompage, or find a few more ideas here.

  • Smile
    Go through the day smiling. A smile begets a smile. When you feel stressed or angry, force the smile on your face. Lifting the corners of your mouth for a while will lift your spirit as well. Persist.

  • Say thank you and mean it
    Thank someone you don't know very well with a little (unexpected) gift.

  • Practice random acts of kindness
    Give a bill to a beggar instead of a coin, leave little notes for your partner when he goes to work, pay for the customer behind you in line, spread your generosity, dare to be an angel.

  • Be creative
    Create something every day: start an art journal, check out these creativity tips, tools and resources.

  • Dare.

  • Take some 'Me-time'.
    Insist on having some uninterrupted time (it can be 10 minutes, it can be an hour - you decide) for yourself. To do whatever you like doing. Take a bath, go the hairdresser, read a book, paint, go for a run/walk. It has to be something just for you.

  • Take the stairs
    It is free exercise and saves electricity by not using the elevator.

    "Good habits are worth being fanatical about. "
    John Irving


Attitudes are nothing more than habits of thoughts, and habits can be acquired. An action repeated becomes an attitude realized - Paul Myer

>> 16 February 2009

Today I want to talk about habits.
We all have them.

Ed Buryn describes them very well:

“Routines and habits are the Known, protecting us from the Unknown. Habits are also called home. Habits tame the raw wilderness of existence into the civilized comforts of everyday life. Unfortunately, as we all know, habits gradually domesticate all the wildness and energy out of life. So much energy gets bound up in routines and habituated patterns, keeping them alive, that your life goes dead instead. Thus, if you want to discover again the wild side of life, you have to leave “home”; you have to break or dissolve your habits in order to release the energy locked up inside them.”
–Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in the USA (1980)

The Internet has it that one can change a habit in say 21 or 30 days. The primary source for this research however, is a single study, by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, that was done in conjunction with amputee therapy.

That seems a little weak for a theory to be proven. Though the internet is full of the 21 day method.

I have found a researcher who has dedicated the greater part of her career to studying the brain and the neurological effects of learning new things.

Ann Graybiel and her group at the McGovern Institute at MIT have done extensive laboratory work with rats and measuring the “activity of neurons in the striatum, which is in a key position to be involved in this habit-forming business, because it is the main part of the BG [basal ganglia] that receives the reward-related dopamine input on the one hand, and it gets massive inputs from the neocortex on the other hand.[1]

This research has given Graybiel a great deal of insight into how the physical processes of learning take place. It also shows that habits, or new behaviors, are difficul for the brain to create. Once formed, however, these behaviors and their related neural pathways are easily accessed when the conditions are encountered again.

It is important to note that not once in any of the articles on these experiments does Graybiel mention a time frame for establishing these neural patterns in humans. Read also: Brain researchers explain why old habits die hard

What triggered this train of though?

As you may know, I have been trying to fill a page a day into my notebook/journal with something creative or artful. And I must say that the habit feeling is kind of kicking in. Some days I am bad though and do not create anything. Other days I fill 3-4 pages. But I am consistently filling the pages and that is what counts. And I am discovering a whole new world and it is just the greatest fun.

I believe that habits and learning or getting rid of them is a very individual experience.
No matter what studies say though, persistence is key and getting yourself motivated. You need to want to do it and finding reasons to create the 'wanting' is not always easy but key.

I used to smoke. I had tried to give up many times but failed miserably. When we started planning a family I all of a sudden had reason enough to want to quit. The idea of being pregnant and having the responsibility of an unborn baby triggered in me the need and desire to quit. And I must say I did it without too much trouble. I haven't touched a cigarette since.

So if you want to change or create a habit:
  • start analyzing yourself and the habit
  • try to find as many reasons (even if far-fetched) as possible that would make you WANT to change.
  • list the reasons
  • list the pros and cons of the habit (I will get fitter vs it takes time)
  • list the ways or things that would help you reach your goal (stop buying potato chips)
  • stick it to your bathroom mirror and look at it every day
  • find a sponsor to help support your goal
  • start living by it
  • fail, get up, try again
  • persevere and motivate yourself again and again

More on the subject:

Warning: Habits May Be Good for You: Thought-provoking New York Times article discussing research into habit formation and how public health advocates have used that knowledge to encourage positive hygiene habits in developing countries.

MindHabits: Video game developed to “train” attention on positive, growth-enhancing behaviors (looking for acceptance in a sea of rejection, etc.). I wouldn’t recommend this as your sole positive habit related to creativity, but the site is interesting in the way that the developers have created a complex, multi-level game to reinforce helpful actions.

If you still think you can do it in 21 days: 12 Proven steps to break Any habit in 21 days


In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself - Susan Sontag

>> 15 February 2009

What can I say? When I start something new I am always all excited. I have been filling pages of my 'art everyday book'. Above is a sneak preview of my entry into art journaling... I think I will have to go to the art supply store tomorrow to get some more stuff :-)

Does this happen to you?
You discover something new and it inspires and excites you. And you begin with it and can't seem to stop. It gives you satisfaction, empties your head, makes you feel creative, alive, full of joy.

What have you recently discovered that had this effect on you?


Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things - Lawrence D. Bell

The Little Things

Mary Dawson Hughes

It really is the little things
That mean the most of all...
The "let me help you with that" things
That may seem very small
The "I'll be glad to do it" things
That make your cares much lighter,
The "laugh with me, it's funny" things
That make your outlook brighter...

The "never mind the trouble" things,
The "yes, I understand,"
The interest and encouragement
In everything you've planned
It really is the little things,
The friendly word or smile,
That add such happiness to life
And make it more worth while.


Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity - Bo Bennett

>> 14 February 2009

I am a fan of creative people. I love them for fuel to my own inspiration. I am amazed at what some people come up with.
Meet Jen Stark, a young artist who has found a way (by 'accident' or 'chance') to turn cheap paper into art.

Since I am filling my 'one year of white pages' book with daily art and creativity, I have been inspired by art journaling sites and blogs. Meet ArtJunkGirl who has some very interesting stuff out there as well as tips on how to journal. So I hope that my pages will become more and more interesting and colorful as I move along the year.

(the above journals are from ArtJunkGirl)


Happy Valentine's Day

>> 12 February 2009

Do you want to show someone you care this Valentine’s Day and help eliminate AIDS in Africa?

Visit the Hallmark/RED shop here.

Hallmark & (PRODUCT) RED have joined forces to create a Facebook application to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa.

The goal? See how far a card can go. Sign the card today, then send it on and see how you can personally make a difference.


It takes a long time for a man to look like his portrait - James Whistler

>> 3 February 2009

The first time I went to a drawing class I was supposed to draw a picture of a ballerina. Beautiful, skinny woman in a tutu. I thought 'Yeah right! I'm outta here'.

But then the teacher told us to turn the ballerina image upside down. Huh?
Yes, upside down.
Why? Because turning an image upside down turns the left side of your brain off. It stops recognizing features and does not double guess anymore. When the image is the right side up and your drawing the hand, your left brain says 'hand' and has preset concepts about what a hand is supposed to look like. And the result is all about those preset concepts and not about the hand in front of you.

When I turned the image upside down, I just got started on drawing the lines as they came along. I stopped worrying about the foot looking like a foot, the tons of details of the tutu, the delicate, fragile beauty of the woman.

We were not allowed to turn the image around and after we were finished I almost fell off my chair. The result was stunning. Ok, it was not Mona-Lisa-this-needs-to-be-in-a-museum quality, but it bore a resemblance I could not have dreamed of being able to draw.

When I try drawing something now, I know I need to switch the left side of my brain off. I need to focus on lines, areas, shadows, darks and lights. Anything human is very good to train on. And portraits are the most difficult.

As I am at home with a serious flu - sitting on the couch under a blanket with my notebook, surrounded by a cup of chamomile tea and a box of tissues - I am filling pages by copying 'human things' from a book:

Drawing on the right side of the brain
Learn to draw
Michael Gelb on How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci


You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus - Mark Twain

>> 1 February 2009

I am filling my little white pages, and I am devoid of blog post inspiration. So here is today's creative result. A little less flawed than the cup...


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