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Lost Your Creative Mojo??

Lost your creative mojo? Painter's block, writer's block....designer's lethargy.....artist's woes. So many words for the ...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Can You Google Google?

I am alarmed. I am alarmed because of a couple of reasons.
The Trump administration has broken down "Net Neutrality"....so the internet will not be compelled to be fair or spooned out equally world wide.  The internet is just another commercial entity now, with it's own mission statement and profit margin. It's just that there is no limit to it's market place.
We are the product, and the consumer...AND we also do the work. We provide the data,through our every click and Facebook post..... from our lives and emails and blogs and skype calls and youtube videos. We don't just consume the net....we ARE the net and the NET has become us. We no longer know where we begin and where the net begins. We just know we want to be in it.

Is this the singularity?

Google offers Camera Phones called Google Pixel XL. They "offer" unlimited photo storage why? Because they are simply loading your photos to your google account in the sky....and adding your personal photo and phone data to their Big Brother files. Except here's the catch ......here's the meme. You pay them almost $1300 for the privilege of sending Google your personal files....all you do on your phone belongs to Google....if you buy their phone.You pay Google to spy on you. You pay Google to know everything about you.

It's like  the points cards that the cashiers keep asking me for when I checkout at the local pharmacy. They want me to use my "points card" as often as possible? Why? Because the data provided is valuable and important. Sure they may offer me a couple of freebies once a year in exchange for this powerful data, but the data gathering is prevalent and persistent....seemingly more important than the cash they exchange for the toothpaste I just bought there.

Don't just blindly chat on..... Think about the movers and the shakers. Think about Google.

Google Google, and learn something about this larger than life virtual giant. He isn't that "virtual" anymore.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

You Can Tell a Mastercraftsman by What?

The question I have been playing with lately....is how does one identify someone who is at the top of their game? 

You can tell a Mastercraftsman by what? By how he/she treats their tools.

Today, I just want to talk about our tools of MASTERY....yours and mine.

How to focus 101.
  Isolate your tools.

A writer knows which format they prefer to write it...which keyboard clicks more smoothly and which room they prefer to be in when they write. Tim Ferriss (  ya ya.... I know I quote him so very often)  likes to be very specific about how he orders his writing posture, his beverages, his background visuals, his audio background, and his computer system set up. He knows that his mind is prone to wander, just like the rest of us....but he has "mastered" his "monkey brain" to a certain degree to know how to get himself into the "zone" that is optimal for his writings to flow most freely.

As a teen, I recall visiting an artist in her residence. She had carved out a lifestyle that was quickening and pioneering in the small community in which I grew up. Being a somewhat abstract painter in a conservation dutch community is no task for the faint of heart. But not only was this classy lady rising, she was doing so in what appeared to be a most peaceful and gracious flow.

Anyway, back to her tools. I recall how she showed us her paintbrushes.....which ones were made from horse hair etc. These tools were handled gently and with great respect. If my memory serves, her home was designed in such a way as to allow her ample lighted space pouring into her studio from which she produced her masterpieces. She and her family members revered her work space and yes....her tools.

I have never seen a Master at work who was careless with his or her tools. A shirtmaker I once worked for kept his tools stored with precision. He guarded his tools like a bulldog defends a raw steak, fiercely and without question. Anyone brave enough to borrow a tool from this particular Master knew that he/she had to put it precisely back into the exact same space and position it was in when he/she first touched it. He was known internationally for his skill and precision. A MASTER must always know exactly WHERE his tools are.

So, instead of rambling on about a plethora of Masters I have studied and try to learn from.. I want to challenge you today with the following three very blunt questions:

Number 1: What are you aiming to MASTER? Write it here: .......................

Number 2: What are your top five tools required for mastery? What could those tools be or what are they now?1....................
                2 ...................
                5 ..................

Number 3. Where do you keep those top 5 tools? Are they secure? Consistently in the same spot?
The answers to those questions will help you understand your own path to Mastery a wee bit better.
If your "tools" of choice, are scattered all over your home, in hard to find or dusty places.... how focused are you really on becoming a Master?

Or perhaps, in thinking through your list of fave tools ...you begin to remember how you loaned your favorite tool to your cousin or an old friend. Maybe it's time to get it back where it belongs. Maybe it's time to re-build your MASTERY tool chest.

Your tool of choice, may be a laptop that has a virus plaguing it....and is, therefore, lying dormant under your bed. It's time to get that laptop de-bugged. Your tool of choice may be a set of knitting needles ...one of a pair which has gone M.I.A. Time to visit yur fave knitting needle shop....or shop online to replace one.

Maybe the weights you use to carve out those athlete level muscles have rolled under the couch....roll them back out. They are your tools.
Your path to Mastery has  a path and on that path are quality tools.

A Chest of tools. Respect the tools, Respect the chest, the place to rest and protect your tools. Maybe your chest of tools needs a new lock to "seal the deal"  to your revitalized commitment to Mastery.

The path to Mastery is not a static line..... It ebbs and flows. There will be times when you need to remind yourself of what you are aiming for.....and aim again.Aim Again today and empower yourself with quality tools that you keep close and secure.

May God bless you as you move towards your goals.

In peaceful productivity,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Thought Life....book life

One can not talk anything meaningful about one's thought life without discussing their
book life.

What is a book life? Well, the books you surround yourself with have lives of their own.

I am not even speaking about the book that you are currently immersed in . I am speaking even of the books that sit idly on your night stand or dusty piano, or atop on ole book shelf. I am talking about the text books from the college you dropped out of, that you keep in storage in the attic. Their words still speak. The fact that you haven't disposed of these books, is a testament in and of itself.
Your recycling bin has been seeking to recycle your books, but you have resisted. You have hung onto certain books because they were markers in shifts in your thinking, in your thought life, in your formal education or in your  self led self taught "home" school.

Your books have been markers of your paths of discovery. They reflect that journey to maturity...or painfully show us how far we still have to go....

I think it was Napoleon Hill, who stated that "thoughts are things".

Therefore when we surround ourselves with certain books, we are surrounding ourselves with many millions of "things" belonging to the authors of those books. Their words fill our minds, our space, our ideals. We argue with their thoughts, we discuss and dismiss or else contradict completely what we read. But we always respond to whatever we read. It is merely human nature.

 I have always resented it when someone tried to tell me what I should and shouldn't read....It felt so controlling and intrusive. I have also resented it when electronic book readers try to shove their way into my consciousness. Blogs I have embraced. Twitter too.....but reading the books I am passionate about, I want to hold in my grubby hands myself....in paper format. They may be printed on the cheapest newsprint, or the crispest leather bound hard cover, or they may be pages I've printed off and stapled together in an attempt to produce a "real" book. But it must be old school. It is a book.

 I want to bend the corners back on the pages I visit often. I want to scribble in the margins. I want to Tweet some of their quotable quotes. I continue to become delighted to uncover how great an ocean of knowledge is awaiting me in the land of books. This land beckons me still.

What mankind writes about is a reflection of what it finds important or profitable to repeat.

Soon it will be spring time in this beautiful land of Canada....and with it will come the inevitable urge to purge. Muted books will stumble into my hands and leap toward the recycling bin with reckless abandon. But I must resist. I will attempt to keep at least one book from each of my fave influential authors. Many of their thoughts I have already committed to memory. But I must keep a momento of their position of power in my life. The authors have earned a trophy. That trophy is a space on my book case.

in peace,


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Hodge Podge of Mad Methods to Prosperity

Some folks use "cheapskating"....to coin a new verb, to "MacGyver" their way into a lifestyle that they feel is "successful" and sustainable. The family that comes to mind was dubbed
"America's Cheapest Family". Click on that name to see their website and books.

What was their method in a nutshell? To refuse to use debt to fund an unsustainable level of consumerism, and to intentionally get out of mortgage debt as quickly as possible. They have paid cash for cars and college and have intentionally crafted a simple lifestyle that they find to be fulfilling and teachable. They have written books and gone on various tv shows to document how to live a more thrifty and debt free lifestyle.

Then  there are those who cut their WANTS down to only NEEDS and postpone major spending until they have enough savings and investments that can carry them comfortably through their retirement years....with lots left over to pass onto their heirs. 

The gent that I think of that utilizes this strategy is none other than "Bernard Kelly " who
wrote quite a stunning compelling "how to " book about persona finance.( click on his name to view his book)
He suggests radical choices early on in life can have a huge impact on your ability to one day have the life of your dreams. One of his own personal fave choices was to defer car ownership until he turned 30. This one choice, in and of itself allowed him to put away a higher percentage of employment income into his choices of investments. This empowered him to have vastly more financial freedom later in life to pursue his lifestyle of choice.
The only thing I find irritating about his written tale, is that I can't seem to figure out what has happened to Mr. Bernard Kelly.... did he disappear? Is he still teaching and writing? Does anyone know?

Then there is the wonderful spendthrift and millionaire, the late Verna Oller,( click on her name to read about success of her estate)  whose thrifty ways included cutting her own hair and using an old zipper to tie her boots up so that she wouldn't have to spend any money to buy new boot laces. Her savvy investing granted her the joy of leaving her millions of dollars for the community she lived in to one day have their own community pool.

She is a literal inspiration especially for women like myself, because she taught herself how to invest by going to the library and borrowing copies of Barron's wherever she could. She hated the thought of spending good money to go buy her own books and magazines, but would travel around town to gain access to free copies of the best books and investing/business magazines in order to empower her investing.

Some folks take great risks and win big..... The Canadian Singer Alanis Morrissette made a killing when some stock she owned in a small company went public..... from stock worth less than half a million dollars to over 40 million dollars overnight in the year 2000. It always does the heart good to hear these stirring stories.

Do you know someone who has, through persistent creative thinking, carved out a beautiful and prosperous life? Do you find their style to be "replicable"? Do they teach others their hard won strategies?

When we, as fellow humans on this adventurous  journey called "life", discover ways and means to empower ourselves forward to achieve noteworthy success, I believe we are compelled to share our discoveries so that the rest of us can learn. Do you agree?

In peaceful productivity,

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Let the Stitches Show....

I love van Gogh ....gazing intently at his self portrait...one can see each individual brush stroke.
It is a thing of  earnest detail, intensity and beauty.

So, why do some artists insist on doing their art in such a way as to pretend that all their minute
and very detailed work is invisible? Why do some consider it so brutally important to hide the raw materials of their work?

My song is : Let the brush strokes show, let the stitches show....let the yarn ends show in all their ugly glory....because you're being honest about all the different threads that make up your work of art.

Seamstresses do their best to hide the ends of threads so that no one can see when/where they started or finished their work.

Knitters  or folks who crochet seem to have each their own little tricks and customs to be able to
deftly hide the tail ends of each piece of yarn/wool they weave into their masterpieces.

Perhaps I hit my head too many times water skiing as a kid....but I seem to fall on the
 OPPOSITE side of the fence on this one.

I believe in letting it all show. Let your stitches show. Let the tail ends show in an awkward knotted lump in the middle of a knit hat. Why should I pretend as if such an earnest work of my own hands was magically woven together with only one magical piece of thread whose beginnings and ends are never to be seen again? Why should I pretend that the works of my hands are perfect?....when a certain amount of rustic playful rawness has a certain attractive quality all it's own.

To give a financial example of this idea...permit me to mention the film that is based on a true story entitled "The pursuit of Happyness" that starred Will Smith. It showed the gritty underbelly of what it took for a single dad down-on-his-luck to start from nothing and make it into the upper reaches of success on Wall Street. The film was not "soaring violyn solos playing gently on Prozac breeze..." but it had a certain charm none the less. Honesty can be a beautiful thing in certain doses.

It's like walking on the beach in bare feet after the waves have cooled the sand.....simply incomparable....and doesn't have a dollar figure either...if you don't mind me saying so.

Perhaps it is because i am not always the most dainty gal....I prefer to work with "less than dainty" chunky yarns and some of the fattest chrome metal circular knitting needles that I can find. I prefer to use tapestry needles too ...which are metal needles with eyes so wide, that they barely qualify for the term "needle". My muscley fingers work well with them.

 I get irritated with my cell phone keyboard because the keys are simply too "dainty" for my non-dainty piano hands.

I have a store bought knit poncho that shows the stitches in all their glory up and down the seam. I proudly wear it..... and call it my "Harvest Sweater". It probably would look more suitable for a long walk on a dirt country road, than on a slick city street...but I wear it proudly none the less.

Perhaps it's because i see a symbolic gesture in these customary artistic preferences.
How honest can we be with the work that we do? Can we show, visibly and publicly, like van Gogh
how much work it takes to make the art we make?

Do we pretend that the works of our hands flow effortlessly from our beings like ghosts in a fog?
Or can we "let it all hang out" so to speak..... and be forthright about what it really takes to make what we make?

They have said for the past 10 years in the business community that the "new" trend is toward
TRANSPARENCY..... So....my friends, what does that mean to all us artists and crafters?

Can we be a little more frank about the time, materials and sheer gritty hard work that it takes to make the things we brag about and try to sell for thousands of bucks?

You may be surprised how folks will react to your bold display of frankness. Instead of showing contempt for a visible reminder of your own raw materials... you may find that folks find it endearing and personally empowering. Baring your own humanity and scruffiness may encourage other humans
to stop hiding their own vulnerability ....and feel good about it.

van Gogh is applauded as a a MASTER, a genius and one to be emulated. He laid it all out there in all it's raw and "ugly" obvious splendor. But we do not call his works of art "ugly".

We call them ..........spectacular.

Peacefully productive,

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nobody Cares What You Think?

I was once told "Nobody Cares What You Think!" by an elder in my former church....yes
.... I kid you not.

And no, I never got an apology....but hey there's still eternity....perhaps i'll hear it in the beautiful blue beyond.

 And yes, for the record....I did "get over it".....and when/if I see that gent again, I will greet him politely with a smile...just in case you're worried that I will make a scene...again.

Which brings me to the reason for my post today. I want to remind every church going christian today to realize that the future and present state of the modern church is in their own hands. The doctrines that will be taught to our children's children and on and on will depend on what we,
 that means YOU AND ME... choose to preserve and protect and what we dispose of today in our modern churches.

I recall, in my childhood, growing up in a quite religious home, that the doctrinal books that supported my parent's church denomination were held very high....so high in fact, that few of my peers even dared to open them. It seemed to be that the doctrinal books that had been published by that particular denomination were regarded as being " on the same level" as the Holy Bible itself.

In my childhood, I never met anyone, not even once, who acknowledged that these doctrinal books were written by mere men/women.  It was inferred that said books were therefore infallible and beyond requiring "editing", beyond needing improvement, and beyond and far above us
mere laymen, mere church goers. It was many many years later that I came into a sense of my own voice and the desperate need that there was for my wee voice to be heard along with the voices of all of my generation. There was a keen sense that our voices were ready to be heard....but there was an uncertainty as to whether they would be respected and valued. The jury is still out on that question.

You see....it is certain that religious "Traditions" just do not carry the weight that they once did.
I am in my late 40's and I feel how important it is for Christians to acknowledge that "how we do the "thing" called "Church"" over the next decade, is up to us.....and it isn't written in stone. It is malleable. It is vulnerable. It will change. We will decide how scriptures are interpreted and how they are taught and applied to our modern living situations. Our decisions will have a lasting effect on several generations to come.

It is a very scary thing indeed to become awake to the power and incredible responsibility that we  hold. It is not something to be touted as a puffed up arrogant person might, but rather as an awesome opportunity to take what we know and love about God and His Word and incorporate "that" into our daily living. It is a creative and dynamic process to decide how we do "church".

Doctrinal books have to taken from their dusty shelves and "updated" even if we still feel very under qualified. We need, as a generation of christian believers, to continue to educate ourselves in the foundations of our faith.....the history of the bible and why we believe what we believe. Theology is not a scary or "untouchable" realm. Doctrine matters... It is important and vital and current.

....Doctrinal books are constant "works in progress" and they need to be "updated and upgraded" often enough to reflect our current thoughts on worship and christian living. To neglect doctrinal books because we are afraid of offending other christians is not a good enough excuse. We are called to fill the earth and subdue it. We are called to make these books "ours" ....to claim them for our generation. so that we our faiths become truly "ours". Our children must feel empowered in today's churches, so that their faiths become truly theirs.

And so in closing.....so I don't belabor the point.....I want to state for the record...... just in case someone in authority ever said "Nobody Cares What You Think" to you in a church setting, permit me to set you straight:

   I do solemnly declare that "God Himself cares deeply about what you think. Lovers of Jesus all around the world care deeply what you think......and lastly....little ole me cares what you think."
You are important. Your voice is important.  It is Your thoughts and Your actions that will shape the modern church that goes beyond us into the future.

Now what are you going to do with your powerful voice?

In peaceful productivity,