Tag Archives: thinking

“Blank” Something Different

In thinking over my previous post on breaking a funk and reclaiming my rightful mojo, I knew some action needed to be taken outside of… well… just writing a post about it.  While writing is certainly a form of action, it’s often more the declaration of desire than the actual exercise of change and movement.  I don’t believe this diminishes the importance of the writing, but it certainly clarifies in the grand scheme of change, improvement and all the other goodies this blog seeks to focus upon.

So what kinds of actions will be on tap for our intrepid blogger?  Well, a few notions (nothing overly radical) designed to break me out of my routine if nothing else.  Why is this important?  I see it basically this way:

If you are in a funk or a rut, you are clearly following a path of well-worn grooves that you’ve created for yourself.  It’s a routine and while it’s clearly not a good routine, it’s likely become comfortable nonetheless.  Therefore, to at least begin that critical process of being released from the funk, change is needed.  It can be a change in venue or perspective or habit, but until action of some kind that is just plain different takes places, you are working from a very difficult spot to free yourself from the rut.

A few short term plans to shake things up:

  1. Move something different.  I plan on making a bit of a resvision to my current exercise/training plan.  I really do enjoy the lifting scheme I use (Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1), but I have been doing it for quite a while now.  I have had great success with it, so instead of scrapping it all together, I am using his brand new 5/3/1 for Football to give myself a shot in the arm.  It’s not going to be a wholesale change in what I do, but then again, I don’t want it to be here because this has at least been going well (God forbid).
  2. See something different.  Sometimes you just need to just pause and take in in some visual inspiration at a museum and it’s been a while since I’ve gone new-britain-museum-of-american-art to a museum to soak up a little art.  It really is one of those things I always enjoy when I do it, but then I never do it often enough and then eventually catch myself think, “Huh… haven’t really been to a museum in a while…”  I always find it funny that I have several activities I really like to do, but then I never do them all that often.  They just seem to slip my mind so effortlessly.  But late Saturday morning will be spent at the New Britain Museum of American Art taking in what they have to offer.  It’s not a museum I have been to before, but I’ve heard excellent things about it.  My hope is that a little exposure to creative works will provide a jolt to my own creative juices.  I plan on having a post all about this experience on Saturday or early Sunday.
  3. Think something different.  In a sense, I will likely get this from #2, but I know that in order make a change, my mental approach needs to vary and adapt.  As I’ve written about before, I sometimes can be someone more-than-a-little leery of change… but I can also feel very invigorated by it.  If it’s self-created change, it tends to feel a little bit better because I can at least give myself that momentary illusion of control in the situation.  But in order to think differently, I might need to vary up my reading list.  This can be magazines, blogs, books and all of that good and wonderful written material the world has to offer… but I need something outside of my comfort zone.  I’m not 100% sure of where that is just yet , so I am open to some good and useful suggestions, i.e. while a book on acetylene welding techniques is certainly different… umm… that might be a little TOO different.
  4. Deal something different.  I’ve also decided I might make a deal with myself as a bit of motivation.  My home computer is seriously on the wane and I’ve been thinking of a replacement.  I’ve got a little money tucked away in some savings and I plan on hanging onto it… but I am also considering picking up a MacBook Pro whenever Apple decides to launch their newest version (which is allegedly soon, but who knows what decisions will be made by High Priest Steve and friends).  The deal would be if I do it, then this blog has to become a daily minimum.  In fact, I am thinking about waking up 45 minutes to an hour earlier each day and trying to use a bit of a morning energy to crank out a post or two.  This may be precisely the change I need, so stay tuned.

Time to stretch a bit out of the comfort zone and see what the end result may be.  Stay tuned for the mayhem to follow.

Coloring Outside the Lines

Whenever I see a little kid doing some coloring, I always smile when I see what kind of wild creation they come up with in their coloring books.  It’s often a bunch of crazy colors, none of which match and rarely are they able to stay within the lines.  I know it was like this with my nephews when I would see their bursts of Crayola-inspired artistry.crayons_full

But then when they reach a certain age (and I’m not sure exactly what age that is), I  think I fall into the same pattern of behavior as everyone else… admonishing them (gently mind you) that they need to start coloring inside the lines or they need to pick the “right” colors for their drawings.  It’s like my brain just cannot quite process a drawing by (for example) a 9 year old where they just can’t seem to stay neatly within the black-and-white pictures they are given.  I reason, “The pictures would look better and more life-like if they stay in the lines and pick appropriate colors!  I mean, cows aren’t green, for the love of God.”

Well, a friend/colleague/blog reader, Heidi, sent along a quote to me that really struck me about the above kind of thinking I (and lots and lots of other people) get snagged into:

Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.
– Alan Kneightly

Boom.  Headshot.

What a perfect little snapshot on what creativity should mean to each and every one of us.  I’m not going to go off on some rant about nurturing children or proper parenting techniques because (1) I’m not qualified having no kids of my own and (2) that’s just patronizing.  What I do want to say is that for myself, I really need to think a little more about how I view “coloring outside the lines” generally speaking, especially with my nephews.

Pencil mug from Sam In the end, does it really matter if my nephew, Sam, likes drawing all over the place or using the color red for… well… mostly everything (as is demonstrated by this pencil mug he did for me a few Christmases ago)?  Hardly.  I just wonder about the subtle effect of always forcing people into smaller and smaller boxes, hence smaller and smaller ways of thinking about things.  Would Sam be driven down a path of complete anarchy and chaos if he was never “corrected” to use different colors or try to be neat?  I kind of doubt it, but I do think that if he (or any kid) were to be constantly boxed in, they might not quite be to their creative potential as they should.

And I don’t mean anything about all of us needing to be artists and such, but I believe it to be a fact of modern life that creativity tends to be constantly stifled.  It’s like the old line of corporations wanting people to think outside the box, but then always putting them inside physical boxes (cubes) to do their work.  What is gained in neatly partitioned work spaces and potential floor plan efficiency may very well be lost in new ways of thinking.

My own remedy for my own potential stifling attitude (whether for others or myself) is twofold: (1) This blog.  I cannot even begin to say how liberating it is to do this and to write freely about topics of interest to me.  (2) Read The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.  I’ve had this book come highly recommended as a great read on unlocking your own inner creativity and letting it breath a little more.  I began reading a sample of it on my Kindle (so handy) and please do not be dissuaded by the title – it’s something anyone can find value in, not just artists.

Maybe I will even color my next chart for work outside the lines… if I could just bend that damn PowerPoint to my will…

The Quiet Drive

I have a list of things I wish I would do (or do more often), not unlike many people.  It’s a fairly simple list:

  1. Date Scarlett Johannsen;
  2. Demand recognition of my rightful claim to the Polish monarchy; and
  3. Devote more time to thinking and reflecting.

The first one got screwed up by the allegedly dreamy Ryan Reynolds and on the second one, I just need to figure out how to recreate the Winged Hussars.  Boy, I get me some of those bad boys, it’s game over.

On the third one, I used to find myself often lamenting, “Every time I spend some quite time to myself just sort of thinking over life and whatever pops into my deranged noggin, I really enjoy it, get some good ideas and generally feel a lot more relaxed.”  But you know what?  I would almost never do it.  Genius, I know.

So in around November of last year, I was getting myself ready for my morning commute which usually runs me between 20 and 30 minutes and for some reason, I decided I would do it with no music or radio.  The result?  The quiet drive, something I have done pretty much every morning commute since.  And as you can tell from the photo below… my morning commute is not exactly an eye-popping visual treat (at least not during your typical gray New England winter day).

Generally I am a morning person and so some time to think things over before the hectic rush of the day swept over me was ideal.  The commute home is just decompressing from the day and music then is ideal.  But first thing in the morning?  Not so much.

The end result of this new practice is I feel like I am making really good use of my commute time, much more so than I have at any other point in my life.  It does help that my commute is actually longer than it used to be at my old job (since that was 7 minutes door-to-door) and I can actually allow my brain to wander a bit.  I might use the voice memo feature in Evernote on my Droid to record some random thought or get down what I want to do as a blog post.  Whatever it may be, I feel like it’s almost a form of mental stretching or warm-up before the work day begins.

If you have a commute that is 15 minutes or longer, I highly recommend giving it a try.  At first it can be odd without the constant distractions you have become accustomed to of music or talk radio… but after a few days, it becomes a great fit like a perfectly broken in pair of jeans.

And maybe… just maybe… it will be the solution to my Winged Hussar dilemma.  Seriously, I need me a Polish cavalry to wreak some serious havoc, people.  CRY HAVOC AND LET LOOSE THE DOGS OF WAR!

The Polish Winged Hussars bringing some sweet justice.