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The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings - Eric Hoffer

>> 26 March 2009

Gratitude is the gentle recognition, rediscovery or "re-remembering" of the simple abundance around you.

It is to be a child again, in awe of a purple crayon.

It is sprinting from your car to the office and stopping your jangled thoughts just long enough to savor the sight of someone holding the elevator door for you, someone you do not even know.

Gratitude is noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary. And then taking the nanosecond to feel it.

But in this adrenaline-driven, multi-tasking frenzy we call Life, how do we have time to stop and smell the roses when we don't even have time to stop for gas?

Click on the image to find out.



A world where every human being will be born from a well-educated woman

>> 25 March 2009

Social entrepreneur Ann Cotton, Founder and Executive Director of CAMFED International, tells Global X what happened when she ran into a young woman in Zambia, a 26-year old orphan who was responsible for her three siblings: "She was fearful she was HIV positive. She asked me to go with her to the clinic."

Listen to her as she also talks about the world in 2017, a world "where every human being will be born from a well-educated woman."


A hundred words for clouds

>> 17 March 2009

I am in a plane to Rome, ten thousand feet above the earth. Above a blanket of sparsely clouds that look like and and old, worn sweater. Every inch of the earth below has been visited by men. The fields are orderly, the roads straight and the houses neatly aligned. It lacks originality as it is the same everywhere.

A few patches of snow start appearing here and there. Bright white against the dull, earthen surrounding. The landscape becomes a bit more bumpy, the roads a bit more bent. A bluish-gray river winds through it. It looks tamed: the same width from beginning to end with few and slight bends.

The picture below turns all white and suddenly manages to inspire awe and feeling. I wonder why and realize that it's lacking human influence. There are no roads here, no houses, no tamed nature. The mountains are rough. They look warningly dangerous yet so warmly affectuous. Wild nature as we rarely see it anymore.

Ten minutes later, the Alps have passed and the flat, brownish landscape looks like a sheet made of thousands of little fabric patches. There are no more clouds and the air is hazy, probably from the industry that starts appearing. There seem to be no trees at all. Which saddens me. How can you live in a place without a tree to hug?

Little sheep clouds seem to be running in the same direction. It is hillier and greener here. A strange winding river cuts through the hills in many different directions. The sheep become a woolen blanket. I have no idea where we are exactly and I wonder what it would be like to live down there.

The snow is back. It must be cold - but not windy, for the clouds are still in place. Or does it only look like that from up here?

A small lake in an enclave of brown, rough looking creases. I wonder whether it was here a million years ago.
A city appears and the wrinkles of the earth are being dug in by machines to extract the treasures that they are hiding.

The plane starts shaking, pumping adrenaline through my veins. I immediately think about my boys and husband. I used to love flying. I don't so much anymore. My ears block and I pinch my nose to blow them open. No, I don't really want to know what it's like to live down there.

The clouds are closing in, taking my view.
Eskimo's have a hundred words for snow. Do pilots have a hundred words for clouds?


I am reading 'If you want to write' by Brenda Ueland. While on a plane to Rome, I was looking out the window. The view and the messages in the book spurred me on to just write something.


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. -- Plato

>> 16 March 2009

The basis of human trust is established through play as Plato rightly pointed out.
Play is serious!
Nothing lights up the brain like play.
Play is the beginning of knowledge.

Yet it seems that, just like creativity, it is educated out of us. When was the last time you played? Really played, engaged in silly, childish activity, with no purpose at all but to have fun?

If you have kids, it was probably yesterday. Children remind you of how simple things really are - or should be. A simple peekaboo makes them giggle. As adults we loose our creativity and start using our imagination to find excuses. We think about 'what people would think'. I mean, seriously, what would they think if we went up to a stranger and went 'you're it' and ran away playfully? The stranger would most likely think you just escaped from a mental institution. Because he does not know that play is vital - no matter your age.

Listen to Stuart Brown on this subject.

I love the idea of the wearable meeting at the end of the speech :-) It is in line with my earlier post on innovation and meetings at Ideo.

So go out and play. And if you lack imagination, go find some children, borrow them from friends or family if you don't have any. And just follow them along in whatever they want to play. And the more you do that, the faster your imagination comes back to you from way back when you were a child.


Sunday laugh

>> 15 March 2009

I just looove Fawlty Towers and John Cleese :-)

There is too much butter on those trays

Communication problem number 2


What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. -- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

>> 14 March 2009

Pearls before breakfast - do we really notice beauty when we see it?

Can one of the nation's greatest musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? In an issue of the Washington Post Magazine Gene Weingarten sets out to discover if violinist Joshua Bell -- and his Stradivarius -- could stop busy commuters in their tracks.

The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?

Read the full article at the Washington Post.


Consider this...

>> 13 March 2009


Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success

>> 12 March 2009

You may have heard about bookcrossing.com, an online place where you can set books free and find some.

At thingsweforget, it is not books but post-it notes that are left behind. Like this one.

Another simple and original idea.


I am working on the creative workshop project for my colleagues. The closer the date comes, the more nervous I get.

Christine Kane suggested I allow the nervousness. Let it be there. If I weren't a little nervous then what would be the point.

I guess it is the famous fear of failure everyone has experienced at some point.

Christine's answer to that was 'Or fear of success! :-) (omg - what if you're actually GOOD at this??)'.

That little sentence made me stop right there, sit still and think.
What IF I am actually good at this? :-)

That made my day today. Thanks Christine.


Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat

>> 11 March 2009

I used to work in marketing for a bedding company and our challenge was to invent a new bed.
That's like reinventing the wheel you might say. Well, it was.

In order to get some creative help, we went and found Hans Zaugg who used to run a design school in Switzerland. Zaugg has been involved in products and brand such as Swatch, Artemide, Ikea...

When I first met this guy, my job was to translate, as he only spoke German (well, Schwitzerdeutsch - Swiss German actually). In the beginning I thought he was weird - but that was just me (I was young too...) comparing him to anyone I had known before - and he did not fit into any drawer.

The more I got to know him and his ideas though, the more he became a kind of guru of innovation.

When I first visited the design school, located in a tiny village in Switzerland, I was amazed (this was back in the early 90ies). Big open spaces, lots of colors, all sorts of different chairs, sofa and lounge area. It was definitely a working area that inspired me.

I have never seen anything like it again in my working life. It's all standard off-white, brown or beige furniture, hardly any color, no inspiring elements but the plants maybe.

Lately I have been feeling the need to create, to make something. This creativity craving has led me to introduce a first creative workshop to my immediate colleagues (end of the month - wish me luck) and it reminded me again of how important the surroundings are for creative flow.

I have just received a book by Marelisa Fabrega called 'How to be more creative - a handbook for alchemists' in which she points to IDEO, an innovation and design firm that uses a human-centered, design-based approach to help organisations innovate.

Awhile back ABC News Nightline posed the following challenge to IDEO: in order to see how the process of developing a better product works, IDEO was given five days to completely redesign the familiar shopping cart. Talk about reinveting the wheel - that story threw me right back into the early 90ies :-)

Watch the ABC News Nightline Special on YouTube:
Inside IDEO Part 1
Inside IDEO Part 2
Inside IDEO Part 3

No chaired meetings in suits. No powerpoints and charts. Quantity of ideas over quality. No criticizing other's ideas. The crazier the better. Build on other's ideas. Focused chaos.

There are so many good ideas to catch here to bring creativity and fun (back) to our workplaces.

So tomorrow I'll bring my own version of a DC3 wing to work.


There is no delight in owning anything unshared -- Seneca

>> 10 March 2009

image by Archana Sreenivasan
Have you ever heard about

Memetales is a children’s picture book bazaar. Memetales brings together inspired storytellers and most talented illustrators to help the world fall in love with creating and reading picture

Memetales provides a platform for collaboration and helps create unique, incredibly useful and high quality picture books by bringing together people with complementary skills. These books will be read and loved all over the world through the Memetales bazaar.

While providing a high visibility launch platform for first time authors and illustrators, Memetales strives to be THE children's picture book repository of the future. Memetales will become the unified marketing platform for all self-published authors and small publishing houses that create the best picture books for the children of the world.

At Memetales, they strongly believe that there is an incredible amount of passion and talent waiting to be shared by a number of people. With the advances in technology and publishing formats, Memetales gives them a way to share their creativity with the world, while helping them advance as writers, illustrators and artists.

When taking a large part of the pain away from the process of creating a children’s picture book, incredibly special things start to happen and it is already happening at Memetales!

So if you are a writer or illustrator, with lots of ideas and are looking for like-minded people, please go to the Memetales page and sign up (for free).
You can also visit the Memetales blog.


In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy. ~Karl Reiland

>> 8 March 2009

"Of all the things I have learned in my lifetime, the one with the greatest value is that unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change. Competition will improve quality and lower costs. Confidence will enable us to climb a mountain instead of a molehill. But kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures."

-- Bob Kerrey

During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. "Absolutely," the professor said. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

-- Joann C. Jones

Visit the Kindness Portal or Karmatube.


Rules eliminate the need for judgement -- Barry Schwartz

>> 2 March 2009

In this inspiring TED Talk, Barry Schwarz makes a passionate call for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

Or as Obama put it "It's not enough to ask 'is it profitable?', you have to ask 'is it right?' "

Read more in an interview with Barry Schwarz, right after he gave this talk.

Barry Schwarz's previous research was on 'Paradox of Choice', where he asserts that less can actually be more. He talks about 'maximisers': people who are out to always find THE BEST and don't feel happier than 'satisficers' for whom 'good enough is good enough'. It is all about simplifying your choice.

Paradox of Choice book.

Read also my earlier posts on related subjects:
Choices are luxuries - or are they?
Your talent lies in your choice.


Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind - Samuel Johnson

>> 1 March 2009

I am still on a high experimenting with all sorts of different art forms. Art journaling allows me to do that. After all, I have a page a day to fill. And I like them to be different.

I have recently (re)discovered doodling. Here is one example of doodles over the last two days...

I googled doodles and doodling and found an amazing world of art. I stumbled across to Zentangle (Anything is possible ... one stroke at a time). Googling Zentangle and then looking at the images results is amazing.

Doodles have the advantage of being an art form that is not thought through. One usually starts doodling on a page to pass time or because one is bored. Hence one has no final result in mind. And it is always a surprise.
Some people seem to have taken doodling to a different level though and some pieces do not look haphazard at all.

I surely will delve into it and experiment with it some more.

For those of us who are merely doodling without a plan:
Doodle analysis in a funny way.
Doodle analysis in a more serious way.


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