My touchstones

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TouchstonesMy background is design and education. After completing a Master’s Degree in design and serving as a director of fine arts for a school district, I felt an impulse to write a book on creativity. My intuition was whispering to me in fact calling me. It seemed like a natural progression. My experience in education taught me that standardization, not creativity, was the focus. Here is a video that fleshes out that idea a little more. It shows the rock singer-songwriter, Lenny Kravitz, describing how he confronted standardization very early on in school. Fortunately, his inner creativity wasn’t stifled for long. How many kids aren’t so lucky? How will they fare as they enter the workforce where more and more organizations are demanding creative thinkers for their 21st century challenges. After observing that disconnect for a while, I found research on how to live creativity and make our homes, workplaces, and schools greenhouses for it. Then, I found even more research, two-years worth to be exact.

Along the way, I have been frequently wondering if I am crazy for taking this on? I am not a writer. I have visual abilities instead. Over time, I have noticed that my self-talk is changing. Why not? That is a typical question now. Why not me? I can do it. Go for it. Just let it evolve. Each day I take a few step forwards. Occasionally, a self-sabotaging mindset still takes hold, but I have found some touchstones along the way to bump up my positivity. Here are a few of mine that keep me psychologically in the zone for my writing marathon.

Martha Beck: Ms. Beck is a sociologist, an author, and a life coach. After moving away from academia, she decided to write self-help books. At first, the going was really rough. To keep herself positive, she would look back at college papers and read encouraging comments from teaching fellows. Martha used those comments as a lifeline. She used any nugget or crumb to mine her path as an author. Unfortunately, I don’t have many encouraging comments on my college papers, but that’s okay. Martha Beck gives me hope.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: During research and writing phases, I have experienced a general feeling of uncomfortableness and restlessness at times. When that general feeling washes over me, it feels awkward even burdensome. It doesn’t feel good. I was confused by it at first until I found the book, The War of Art. The author, Steven Pressfield, puts a label on the uncomfortableness. He calls it creative tension or resistance. According to Pressfield, it is a normal part of the process with any creative endeavor whether it is a book, painting, or new business. When it washes over, I just need to hold the tension and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is part of the deal. It is just creative tension. What a relief to have a name for it. Now, I recognize it and write through it.

Elon Musk: Elon Musk is a billionaire, an inventor, a scientist, a designer, and an entrepreneur.  In 2002, he was PayPal’s largest shareholder when the company was acquired by eBay. After PayPal, Musk was deciding where to focus his energies and his new wealth. Because of his interest in space exploration, he started by googling NASA. When were they going to Mars? It turns out that there wasn’t any information available on their website. No missions were planned. That was the dawn of Space X. It was founded by Elon Musk to create self-sustaining civilization on Mars and other planets.

Even though Elon Musk isn’t a writer, his confidence to follow his intuition and passion is inspiring for me. Who googles NASA, sees an opportunity to help humanity, and acts on it at huge scale? Wow. Even though I am not a billionaire, an inventor, or a scientist, I can follow my intuition and passion too. If Elon Musk can do it, why can’t I? Who or what are your touchstones?

Santorini and Vera Wang

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SantoriniSantorini sunsetRecently, I left my cozy nest and traveled to the Greek Islands. Santorini stood out in particular. It is an intoxicating mix of light, Cycladic architecture, aegean-blue water, and volcanic mystery. Because it is a special spot on planet earth, throngs of tourists visit each year making it a very busy place. The luxury hotels are gobsmacking. Entrepreneurs are opening new stores and restaurants each season, but in reality, Santorini is the caldera for most visitors. Helicopter tours fly over in regular intervals. During high season, tourists from cruise ships run to see Santorini sunsets from the best vantage points on the caldera. I got caught up in the lemming frenzy on my first day. It takes over the island.

WorkshopOne place on Santorini seemed different from the tourist usual by its other worldly appearance. I felt it. Something unique was going on in there. To satisfy my curiosity, I stepped inside the workshop which is a whitewashed, cave dwelling organic to Santorini. Right away, it seemed like a sacred space, a room with a view of the sea. The outside light illuminated the stone walls of the cave which were lined with Byzantine, Russian inspired art. The pieces are painted using oil and egg tempera on antique panels and doors. The gold leaf of the icons shimmered in the natural light transporting me to a higher plane. Art and sacred places make my spirit travel. I asked the artist, Dimitris Koliousis, about his workshop. It has been his art space since 1978. Even though Santorini is increasingly affected by the tourism footprint, his workshop on the caldera still keeps him there. I think it transports him too. It is a Zen-like place that is a clear channel for his creativity.

Dimitris Koliousis is not the only artist who needs a Zen-like place for creativity. In a recent New York Times video called In the Studio with Vera Wang, Ms. Wang describes the monochromatic space with Feng Shui elements right off her studio. It is her haven/disco/mental hospital. It is an office that she can retire to from the hands-on intensity of her studio. It clears her head and prepares her for the insanity of her work. What is you Zen space?


The Making of Carolina Herrera’s Fashion Show

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As you can tell, I believe in taking grand or not-so-grand tours. Exploring unfamiliar destinations has a direct impact on my thinking. I bring back creative ideas as well as a new way of looking at the world. I don’t hesitate to leave my comfortable nest. Traveling is transformative for me.Tulip

Carolina Herrera believes in travel too. According to her recent video posted in The New York Times, Ms. Herrera found inspiration in Greece, England, and Italy for her Spring/Summer 2015 collection. While enjoying a July sojourn, she looked with wide eyes for new influences from clothes, to colors, to situations. A particular tulip caught her gaze. Check out her new video to see how a nature’s flower informed the color code of that collection. Her creativity inspires me. What about you?