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Do It 2017 #10: A gentle nudge can work wonders

July 20th, 2017 No comments

It is a simple fact that, when it comes to productivity, we can all use a gentle nudge every so often. Our latest nudge came in the form of our new, young, neighbors. After renting the house next door for a long time, the owners were finally able to sell it outright to this couple. This has meant a lot of change…for the good…on both their property and ours.

We have been wanting to replace out south fence almost since the moment we moved in 21 years ago. At that time, our neighbor had some issues that made him reluctant to replace the fence. Then the new owners were not living in the property and so the fence was not a priority item for them. Over the years it descended further and further into disrepair — completely falling over in some cases.

Enter the new neighbors. They needed to dismantle the worse parts of the fence in order to complete their mortgage funding and we were fine with that. Even better, they wanted to replace the fence immediately. One of the reasons we hadn’t simply replace the fence ourselves was the cost. Paying for it all by ourselves was going to be expensive. Luckily, they were willing to split the cost. Just like that, workmen were on-site and 3 days later we had a nice, vinyl fence between our properties.

Moving, Moving, Moving

For me, it was a bit difficult to suddenly jump into action on such a long wanted project, but I also knew that this was the best time to get it done. It was amazing to have the young energy about giving us a push in the right direction. I have always sought out opportunities to work and hang out with younger people, especially as I crossed the threshold of 40, and this is one of the biggest reasons why. As we age, we can get a little too settled and a little too comfortable in our lives and having someone to push and challenge you a but can be a welcome change.

I know that our neighbor’s energy and excitement has certainly rubbed off on us. We have been working in the garden more lately — especially with Rosanne finally on break from her teaching for a few weeks — gotten our large tree trimmed and tidied, and we are getting our living and dining room paint refreshed after 10 years. As I often say, movement begets more movement. Action begets more action and that has certainly been the case here.

In return for all this added energy from next door, I am enjoying sharing any wisdom I have gained after 21 years of home ownership. We talk about their trees, what they want to add to the property and just general life stuff. They are free to ignore any advice I give, but it feels good to be able to offer some insight. 21 years ago we were the, relatively, young, folks moving in. Now we are in the position of being the “older” neighbors. I hope to be as good a neighbor to them as ours were to us.

Seek out energy and movement

So where can you turn and who can you turn to reinvigorate your thinking, your energy, your activity and your life? Is there a group that could benefit from your experience? Are there activities you can find that being you in content to younger folks who still have that amazing level of energy and excitement? There is nothing wrong with using a bit of that energy to add some fuel to your own fire. In fact, I think it is critical to seek out new thoughts, new places, and new adventures, especially as you grow older and more settled. Even better, you’ll find this new energy affecting parts of your life that are entirely unrelated. The simple act of being around more, good, energy means that you’ll be more inclined to do everything in your life. I know, for myself, the simple act of having these new neighbors has me re-energized to do a number of things — including returning to writing these regular blog posts.

From Today’s Perfect Moment

What would you do with a little energy boost? Take the first step and seek out those people and experiences that rev you up instead of those that grind you down. It can be a tough step to take, but it will become easier with time as each step leads to the next and the next. Like a snowball rolling downhill, it will gather its own energy and influence with just a little push from you.

 

Trip Planning and Prep Begins In Earnest

July 14th, 2017 No comments

Trip Planning and Prep Begins In Earnest

Prepping for our first trip to New Zealand in about a month. This is just one piece in the travel puzzle. Many more to come!

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In Sarah and Paul’s Garden

May 1st, 2017 Comments off

In Sarah and Paul's Garden</p>

<p>Hanging candle holders in our friend's garden before dinner last night.
#garden #home #decor #accessories

In Sarah and Paul’s Garden

Hanging candle holders in our friend’s garden before dinner last night. 

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* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!

Noted: Your Cooking Rut Ends With This $9 Lentil-Sausage Stew

March 7th, 2017 Comments off

Buy and gift these “Marigold with Raindrops” Totes, iPhone Cases, Laptop Sleeves and More!

February 25th, 2017 Comments off

Share my memories of Sicily and our visits there with these “Sicilian Rose” Prints, Totes, Scarves and Much More!

February 14th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017!: #5 Creative progress So Far

February 9th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017#5 Creative Progress So Far

This week I’ll give you a few updates on how I am doing with my own creativity and creating.

First, as part of allowing more time for my own creativity I am trying to stick to a more normal 9-5 work schedule. This is always a challenge when you work for yourself. The computer is always sitting there, staring at you, and wondering why you aren’t working on something. I work in my home office, so unless I make some definitive movement from work to personal life, it all just blends together.

Watercolor Wandering

Since my wife and son have late nights at college this quarter, it has been a little easier to set aside my own time in the evenings, but I still had to nearly force myself to make some movement. First was clearing off the left wing of my desk and setting up my watercolors. Years ago I was able to get some professional training in watercolor painting — for free – and developed some skill in painting from nature. Unfortunately after years of disuse, it is taking me a while to get my skills back. That said, I did get things set up and even did 2 quick practice pieces. Movement is always the first important step, so I feel that this is a big accomplishment and it puts me back on the path of my own creativity.

Watercolor setup

Of course, it will be up to me to sit down at the desk and pull out my brushes, but having them open and available certainly helps in that regard. They also provide an easy excuse to move from work mode to creative mode as they site just an arm’s reach away and I only need to pivot my chair to change my attention.

One big help is simply seeing dinner time as my switch over time from work to creativity. After I sit down to dinner I remind myself that I need to work on something creative and not simply fall back into the computer as I might have in the past.

I have also been looking for watercolor tutorials on YouTube and have shared a few to the blog here. YouTube has a huge wealth of resources and it only took a quick search to turn up hours of watercolor demonstrations and tutorials. Make sure you dive into YouTube and see it has to offer in your creative area. I am sure you will find many resources to expand your own creativity there. Be sure to share your favorites with me and the other readers in the comments.

Youtube watercolor videos

Music Making

As I mentioned before, I now also have my guitars set up next to my desk again and I have been practicing 30-45 minutes each evening after dinner. It is a great time to work as often the family is out of the house, so I don’t have to worry about disturbing them (or embarrassing myself) (LAUGH)

At first I only had the electric guitar out of its case, but as we have put the home office back together after having carpet installed, it gave me a reason to set everything back up again. So now the electric, the acoustic guitar, tuners, music and such are all close at hand.

Guitars

What are you creating?

So, now the big question — how have you been doing with your own creativity over these last 4 weeks?  I love to hear your accomplishments, both large and small and I am sure others readers would too. Leave a comment here and let us know what is working — or not working — for you.

This week I plan on paying more attention to setting aside time for painting and playing to try and make it more of an easy habit to full into each evening. I hope you are making space for creativity in you day, too!

Previously on Do It!:

Start your Spring early with these “Spring Sunflower” Tops, Totes and Travel Mugs!

February 7th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017!: #4 Discovering what you want to create and following where it leads you

February 2nd, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017#4 Discovering what you want to create and following where it leads you

So now that you have, hopefully, decided to do something special this year and made space and time for creating, you are ready to get started on actually creating something new. Of course, that then raises the question — what to you want to create?

Capture your thoughts and ideas

For me, I often capture ideas about items, programs, photographs, podcasts and more that I want to create in my handwritten journal. You do have a journal, right? How are you going to capture the important thoughts and ideas in your life if you don’t have somewhere to capture them? While I am a technology lover, I find that capturing raw, fleeting ideas is best done with a pen and paper. If you know me personally, you will nearly always see me with my journal in hand. Years ago I started carrying a purse and one of the biggest reasons for that was so I could carry all my technology AND my paper journal. You don’t have to use paper, of course. It is far more important to keep a journal rather than worrying about how you keep it. Use your phone, your computer, the back of your hand, whatever, but capture the ideas.

For more information on how I use my paper journal, check out this Snapguide on the topic

How to use a paper journal effectively – my first Snapguide

Now, what do you need to learn?

Once you start collecting ideas, you are sure to come across ideas that require a bit more learning to make them happen. Maybe you need to learn a bit more about watercolor technique, or how to us a CNC machine or 3-D Printer. Perhaps you need a bit more research into a historical novel you are writing or want to better understand how and why encryption can and should be used in today’s high-tech world.

We you are presented with questions related to your project, do what I do. Immediately start researching the topic on the Internet AND at your local library. Take 5 minutes to follow your interests and you will be greatly rewarded. You don’t have to dedicate hours to your research, but dive in and see what resources might be out there. I find that this research always spurs me on to more action — exactly what you need to create more in your life.

Two of my biggest sources for research are probably the most common for everyone — Google (or your other favorite search engine) and YouTube. Yes, that’s right, YouTube — source of mindless cat videos and screaming pranksters, right? Wrong! YouTube is one of the finest sources available today to help you learn nearly everything. Do many people dismiss it, often because they have never really engaged in the wealth of resources it holds.

When I started to learn about Arduino and Raspberry Pi computers I found tutorial after tutorial to help speed my on my way to actually using the devices. The best videos are like having a friend take you through a lesson, step-by-step, leaving you with something completed and concrete at the end. Even the worst videos can contain a tidbit of information or links that might lead you to even better sources elsewhere. Do not underestimate the power of YouTube to jumpstart your creativity and education, whether you want to learn about knitting, leatherwork, Raspberry Pi computers or raspberry Pie (the actual pie!) (LAUGH) I simply cannot quantify how much I have learned there over the years.

Go where they lead you

The other phenomenonal power of Google, YouTube and other online resources is that they can trigger creative thoughts and start you on a creative journey that perhaps you have never contemplated. I subscribe to a variety of YouTube channels so that I get a notification of each new video the channel creator release. While I might not watch every video, everything in their channel — and in my subscriptions — is potentially something I might like to watch. In many ways, along with Netflix and a few other video sources, YouTube has become the bulk of my daily video viewing.

Youtube channelYoutube sub page

An example of my channel subscriptions on YouTube

My subscriptions and viewing habits also means that YouTube can suggest other videos, from other creators, that I might find interesting. Nearly every day this leads me into another area of creativity. Recently, YouTube turned up videos on paper marbling, based on some other videos I had watch on artistic procedures. After watching a few of these videos, I am planning on trying my hand at paper marbling, at least in some small way. There are simple water and ink methods that you can do with just a few supplies, so it is easy to try it out and see what happens. I love this serendipetous discovery of new and amazing areas of knowledge and creativity and they simply pop up in my YouTube feed each day.

Once I find a YouTube Channel, web site or blog that I like, I can then use another tool to constantly monitor that source for new material and ideas. I use Feedly to subscribe to hundreds of blogs and websites from around the world. Feedly has replaced my daily newspaper and magazine reading much in the same way that YouTube has replaced network television. Each day I turn to my Feedly feed and find a host of new articles, photographs,projects and ideas. If you follow my blogs, you have probably seen me share some of the best of these blog posts there.

Iphone readingFeedly

Why reading apps and a page from Feedly

(Another great source I use is Flipboard which presents similar information in a magazine style format. You’ll also find my own blogs on Flipboard.)

Flipboard storyFlipboard

An example story from my Clipboard reading an My Flipboard Magazines

Further, whenever I am rambling about the Internet via links or a search engine, when I find a particularly great blog, I add it to my Feedly feeds, so it becomes part of my own, daily, customized newspaper or magazine, along with all my other sources. In this way I don’t even really have to go out searching for new information and ideas. Instead, it arrives in an easily readable (and shareable) form right on my phone, tablet and computer. Without Feedly and the blogs I follow, I would much less well informed about the world and miss many new ideas to further my own creativity.

Follow wherever your creativity and your sources lead you. You never know what amazing things you might find there!

Previously on Do It!:

Do It 2017!: #3 Making Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!

January 27th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017

#3 Making Time for Your Making, Doing and Creating!

If you took last week’s entry to heart you have made it easy and frictionless to engage in your creative pursuits by putting your tool, your instrument, your paints, and paintbrushes close at hand so you can easily transition from work to creativity and back again.

Now that you’ve set up your area so you can grab these moments of creativity, let me push you a bit further. Now, I want you set aside dedicated time to pursue your creativity. Look at your calendar and spot 30 minutes to an hour in your day that you can carve out specifically for creative work. Take the most unproductive work times of your day — 3 pm is usually when I need a break and a cup of coffee — and schedule in time. Maybe you have drop-off/pickup time for your kids? I used to get a lot of writing done, sitting in the car while Joe was at flag football and other practices.  Notice when you have these “holes” in you calendar and fill them with activities that make you truly happy.

Fooling yourself and making it easy

Now, I will be honest and admit that self-imposed deadlines and scheduled time for creativity don’t work very well for me. I am assiduous about my commitments to others, but can easily ignore commitments I make to myself. I know people who use self-imposed deadlines and commitments to great effect, but I have learned enough about myself to know that I need to find other methods of making time for creativity.

One method is to find a creativity buddy who sets aside time for you. In the past, I have had several people who wanted to get together to play music and were very committed to it. Since I knew they were depending on me to be somewhere at a specific time it was easy for me to simply “show up.” I didn’t self-impose the schedule — well, really I did, but in such a way that didn’t allow me to ignore it — It usually happened like clockwork. We both received great benefit from our time and I was able to get around one of my big creative weaknesses.

In another case, I had access to high-level art training and studio time as part of my work. These standing appointments —  were located just a few steps from my office — made it easy. I didn’t have the chance to go home and settle in and then try to make my way to class. I simply grabbed some dinner, carried it to the studio and began work. Again, I used the location and timing of the class to my advantage. Working around my issues and ensuring that I set aside the time I wanted and — more importantly — needed.

Sometimes you just need to fool yourself into doing what’s right for you. Whatever works. There is no need for recriminations or feelings of failure Just make it as easy as possible for your to get to the important work of creating.

Get away

Another great way of pursuing your creativity is to take some longer time away — a day, a week, even a month — to focus on your creative work. There are thousands of writing, painting and music retreats and workshops held all over the world. As exciting as that might sound, many of us don’t have the time or money necessary to study painting in the south of France or writing in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That doesn’t mean you can’t create your own retreats, though.

Lately, I have started to take a half or full day each week to get out of the house to shoot photos which I then share on Instagram over the next few days. One week I drove through the back country of Malibu. On another, I spent an hour or so at my local garden store. Sometimes I walk the local commercial districts or “play tourist” visiting areas of Los Angeles like downtown, Hollywood Boulevard or 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

This is another time to enlist the help of friends. I know I am much less likely to flake out on my creative time when I getting together for a photowalk or paint out. The group aspect has a way of keeping me on track and, in some ways, give me “permission” to be creative. Do you have a knitting group — a photography club — a plein aire painting event — on your schedule? If not, consider starting your own. You’ll be helping others be more creative, but also helping yourself even more.

The location is unimportant, but the time spent is critical. With each of these trips I am creating my own little creative workshop getting out of my neighborhood — and my comfort zone — with the specific purpose of creating something, If you’re an artists, pick your favorite media — pen, pencil, watercolor, photography — and spend a few hours focused on seeing things with an artistic eye.

You might not think it, but I have taken some of my most beautiful and artistic photos right here in my own neighborhood. Sure dramatic landscapes like Yosemite can certainly make creative and artistic thinking a bit easier, but there is beauty and creativity to be found all around you — take advantage of it! Just today I took a great photo of the morning sun refracting through a water glass without ever getting up from my sofa. Apply an artistic eye to everything around you and you’ll find that a creativity retreat is right around your every day,

Next time: Learning new creative skills from artists and DIY builders around the world

Previously on Do It!:

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