Eight Creative Sparks

What sparks your creative energy? My top eight include cleaning, gardening, and walking. Add in some MP3 tunes from Foo Fighters, U2 or Pink Floyd; and the ideas blow my mind. In fact, I’m listening to Pink Floyd’s Blue Sky as I type.

At times it’s challenging to keep up with what my brain produces during these sessions. I use a pen and journal book to record snippets of ideas while I clean or garden. These tools are old-school. But, they are easy to keep nearby for note-taking.

I have also been taking my camera with me everywhere, recently. That way I am ready to snap a shot anytime, anywhere. While my smart phone has a camera, I seem to prefer my husband’s Canon PowerShot. I think it takes better pictures and provides me with more options for enhancing my impromptu photo sessions.

kateschannel — brood of ducklings — Rochester Park

Visual and written references of big-picture thoughts help me remember ideas when I am at my computer creating. Here’s a look at my Top 8 creative energy sparks… What are yours?

1. Cleaning has three distinct benefits. I end up with a clean house and hours of exercise as well as buckets of material for blogs, conflict resolution strategies, date night plans, and play activities to try with my children.

kateschannel — Daffodil blooms — Spring 2011

2. Gardening is therapeutic. What could be better? I am outdoors in the warm sunshine helping nature be beautiful around my home. My creative energy surges as I watch things grow and flourish.

3. Mowing the lawn is an activity my husband and I mud wrestle over. I believe he realizes the same benefits as I do from this mindless, thought-invoking chore. He amps Godsmack on his MP3 and away he mows.

4. Walking after my children go to bed is a mini-vacation for me. It’s one hour of downtime to stride along with the bunnies and frogs while thinking about whatever comes to mind. There are no interruptions for snacks, drinks, advice, phone calls or help with finding the remote control.

5. Running or elliptical training unleashes my competitive spirit. If I need a boost before writing a blog post I go for five miles in 30 minutes while watching some light TV or a movie with eye candy.

6. Listening to music moves me in a number of different directions. The direction depends on so many variables such as weather, mood, energy level, motivation, etc.

7. Writing opens my mind to thoughts I may not have considered before. I try to write without editing. But, sometimes, the perfectionist in me trumps the moment; and stifles the process.

8. Praying/meditation enables reflection on ideas I think have more merit than others. During prayer or meditation, my mind is often cleared of clutter. I just think about whatever comes into my brain. After an hour or so, I seem to feel a better sense of direction on what an idea might lead; or if it just a dead-end to be left behind.

Work it Out: Brain Purge

What’s in my head today? The question should be what is NOT in my head today. I think about so much all of the time. Some of my thoughts are productive and some are not. Why does my brain fixate on getting out with friends, celebrity happenings, movies, music, etc. when it really should be thinking about my husband, children, outdoor clean-up, 5k training, domestic and global issues impacting my family, health care, summer plans, etc.? I wish I had a remote control for my head. That way I could just click a button and the right channel would come to mind. Just think of how much more productive I would be each day.

However, I think all this junk in my head does have a means to an end. Most of these thoughts lead me to think about my life in the big picture. Where do I want to be in 5, 10, 15 even 20 years? The pictures in my head help plot my future. In 5 years I want to be a well-paid, published writer. Setting this goal in my head and then recording it for you and I to read is a catalyst for taking the next-steps toward achievement.

Another truth is I have a lot to say about what happens around me and I have a lot to say about people who make impressions on my life. Why keep all these thoughts to myself? My brain cannot continue to store them all and it needs room for all the other information that comes at me every day. Besides, maybe someone else – you perhaps – will have better use for it than me.

Life on Friday: A Snarl Unleashed

It happened in my kitchen at 7:00 am, today. My daughter’s school bus would be at the corner in one hour. She needed to eat, get dressed and clean up. My son was losing it because he wanted raisins and wouldn’t get them out of the pantry. Our dog, Buddy, needed out and more water.

Before I could reach for my venti-size coffee, a rare but very audible snarl escaped. What was that? It sounded like a low rumble from a lioness or panther. I looked around. Who did it? Our dog, Buddy, was waiting for someone — anyone — to fill his water dish. While impatient, he hadn’t reached hysterical begging, yet. So, I concluded it must me.

How could this happen? It is a sunny, beautiful Friday. After a quick, self-psycho, analysis, I had my answer…simultaneous, impatient demand for my undivided attention. It is number one on my Top 10 Snarl List. My 10 include people, behaviors, and music that are most likely to elicit a snarl or two from me.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to exchange snarl lists with those we love and with strangers? That way the intensity and number of snarls could be reduced and serve as a catalyst for world peace.

BTW, be sure to see the link below on how to snarl properly.

Three Tips for Successful Snarling.

The Original Saturday Real-Life Escape

It began Saturday morning. I started the engine, set my music to the Black-Eyed Peas, and sped out of the driveway. Squealing my tires, I left my husband, children and dog for my sister and Hob Nob Pinot Noir. I escaped to the land of The Original Cottage Inn, Stucchi’s, the University of Michigan and flirty boutiques.

At The Original, my sister and I savored a child-free meal and traded strategies on how to avert meltdowns. Somehow food and drink tastes so much better without food strikes, projectile air launches, or requests for drink refills. Plus, nothing beats The Original. Just think about it. Does Ataris’ cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer measure up? Say what you want. It just doesn’t do it for me. The same goes for food. Mastery of artful, tasteful duplication is tough and not without peril.

Our escape route also included a trek through the campus at U-M, hunting for stylish spring accessories, and indulging at Stucchi’s. That scoop of cinnamon crumb cake was absolutely delicious; and worth every calorie and fat gram.

The original Saturday real-life escape was extra special with a visit to my sister’s home. There, I cuddled my nephew who is a bundle of six-month cuteness and discussed how challenging it was to catch leprechauns with my niece, Annalise. She even showed me the box she made for trapping them. Life is beautiful.

Nine Irish Kids and the Power Codes

My mom is one of nine Irish kids who grew up in Howell, Mich. The tight connections among her siblings — my aunts and uncles — make for mega family reunions and for volumes of stories.

One story is about family population tracking and keeping peace during family meetings. My Aunt Kate — a mentor in all things Kate and the youngest of the nine — generated and assigned — in descending numeric and alphabetic power codes — to help everyone remember their “pecking” order in the family.

Numeric codes were assigned — from eldest to youngest as follows:

  1. Diane
  2. Susan (my mom)
  3. Gerry
  4. Betty
  5. John
  6. Steve
  7. Julie
  8. Dan
  9. Kate

Single, alphabetic codes were then matched to the number of offspring or pets each of the nine introduced to the family. For example, my Aunt Diane has four children. Their codes are 1A1, 1A2, 1A3, and 1A4. My mom had just two — my sister and I. So, we are 2B1 and 2B2. My cousins and I have learned our power codes do little to help trump discussions, decisions or euchre contests.

How do in-laws and future generations fit into this power code scheme? I am sorry to admit this. But, I lost the memo at my Aunt Gerry’s in Melbourne, Florida. It’s probably matted to the bottom of that empty keg we drank on St. Patrick’s Day 10 years ago.

So, how much of this story do you think is blarney and how much do you think is fact?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!