Working Hard Isn’t The Only Solution

Being MeIn Dutch there is a saying: doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg. Which means: act normal, then you’ll be crazy enough. It’s a mind fuck, excusez moi pour ma francais. In the Netherlands we have this tendency not to stand out, the culture doesn’t promote weirdness or excesses.

The thing is, we got to be a successful country by working hard. We have this culture, coming from Christianity and Calvijn in particular, that we are predestined and therefor we are never special. Just predestined. This encouraged the Dutch people to not go big on emotions, not show our successes and to live a sober life and work hard.

Growing up in this culture, made me a child of this religion, even though my parents don’t believe in that God. I believe in working hard, sure, and until last year I had trouble expressing my emotions on the moment they occur. And even though I worked hard, I didn’t stand out.

That began to itch. I am different than the rest. I have my own stories. I make my own decisions.

The funny thing is, our country has come to embrace more and more. We are one of few countries that allow the usage of soft drugs. We are one of the first countries to support and encourage gay marriage. Without working on it deliberately (or have we?), we have become a country of different views. We have become a multicultural country. We have become a country where working hard isn’t the only thing that makes the clock tick.

The phrase should really be: act crazy, then you’ll be normal enough. Only when we embrace the crazy, the different views, the new influences are we able to live together in peace. And to use the inspiration for our own enrichment. We combine colors that make this beautiful new painting of acceptance, inspiration and creativity.

Creatively Deprived Part Two

congrats to me

The bed was hugging me with all his might and I tried to untangle its wrap. My eyes were doing the same kind of dance with the alarm clock. Still, being awake for way too long, my left eye is still fighting gravity. My head filled with worries the moment my feet hit the floor. The smile that comes up when I have happy thoughts, when I have taken some time to go in the sun and when I written yet another article, whisks away those positive-threads-eating-monsters in my head, until I am only work and sun. And one twitching eye.

This struggle made me very grateful of today’s prompt ‘say your name’. The name of my blog ‘Creatively Deprived’ is unfortunately very applicable today. You can leave out the ‘self-help’. No self help here, the motivation comes from externally sources only. Like from the Daily Prompt. So to answer the last question: would you like to rename yourself? Yes. At least for today.

That’s all.

What We Can Learn From Skateboarders

tumblr_lklm75LFwn1qex42zo1_500Just the other day, I was walking past the park. As I was contemplating what to eat for diner (I was walking from work to the supermarket), I watched these skateboarders doing tricks in the skate park (that’s inception for ya, a park in a park). This guy, definitely not a kid anymore, did some flip on a rod and fell. Hard. He didn’t care, he got up again and started this flip again. Without much success.

The funny thing is, we aren’t surprised when skaters fall. That’s part of the game. In sports, we fall, get up again, fall again, get up again, and so forth. Athletes do it all the time. Still in the heights of their career, when they try something new, they fall, but get back up again.

Why is it in the rest of the world so bad to fall, also known as failing? We judge each other so bad for making bad choices. Why do we push so hard to deliver something perfect at the first try? I am not alone in this: there was a time, I was sitting behind my computer, trying to write a story, but in my head, the little devils was saying ‘it has to be a best-seller’. True story. Of course it didn’t become a best-seller. Far from that. The main reason? Too much pressure!

Let’s take the pressure off and start by thinking about failing as a good thing. Like in sports, we only learn, become stronger if we fail. And if we fail fast, we learn even faster. I think: a day not failing is a day not learning. Only by writing this awful story, we can discover what we do wrong and learn what the trick is to do it right.

If we let go of the perfect picture we are striving for, we let go of the writer blocks, we let go of the empty canvasses, we let go of stammering on stage. We let the flow in. It might be the wrong flow, but we learn from that, it makes our next flow closer to what we are looking to achieve.

Aspirations And Dreams

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You have probably all heard the acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo (for a whopping 1,1 billion dollar). Lots of worries and doom scenarios about the future of Tumblr, because being bought by a giant all eater is not always best for the value. But I guess there is one big plus, alright two. First: the ceo is a woman. What could go wrong there? Second, look what Yahoo has done to Flickr. Looks great. I think.

The best way the value of Tumblr is described, is when entrepreneur Keenan Cummings, the found of Days, is talking about aspirational identity, about what you can be in the future. It is not something that you can never be that person, but it is something you think you’ll be in two to ten years. No wonder there are a lot of youngster on there, but that’s also the reason why I like it.

I go to Tumblr for my shot of dreams, shooting the what-ifs in my veins and sniffing the freedom that I want, too. I love my job, to make that clear, but sometimes you just want to escape and run away to the great wide open, to the wild fields and to the spot high in the mountains where you can park your minivan. Or to look at art or cartoons that I would want to make and vision for myself a great career in art. On top of my marvelous job of course, I mean, why can’t I have all.

Let’s all dream away together, and it doesn’t matter if that’s on Tumblr, or somewhere else, although part of dreaming is not having to put in any effort (like finding a new Tumblr). But think about the endless possibilities and let the world be the world for a while.

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Planning Ahead and Tools You Can Use

IcebergsAs you will know, at this particular moment I am in Brabant, the Netherlands, attending an improv weekend. Probably doing our workshop right now, but this is what happens more often right? You want to plan ahead. Or you find something on a particular moment and you don’t have the time to process it right away. Or you want to do more stealing before you are putting together your pieces.

We have a tool for that! Yes, we do. It’s called: Iceber.gs. Dutch trendsetter Nalden was tweeting about it and therefor I found it. I started using it some time ago, seeing if it would do something for me.

The challenge before Iceber.gs was to know where I saved what. I had Instapaper for my links. Pinterest for my images. Facebook for video’s. Notes on yellow sticky’s stuck on my computer screen. Crazy I was getting, because nothing was organised on subject. Majorly important, because I am not only a collector at work. This blog is for fun and I collect stuff for that too. Let alone the book I am planning on writing.

So when I found this tool, I was thrilled. The only problem with first use was that it wasn’t in my system yet. I was scribbling things down on post-it’s before I knew it. Now I have it opened the moment I open my browser and that tackled that challenge.

How it works is that it gives you the opportunity to make various Icebergs, the topics or projects you want to collect stuff for. In your browser you put your Icebergs button (comparable to the Pin It button of Pinterest) in which you can capture the image or a selection of text you want to store, along with the link. In Icebergs you can add notes, group and make big.

I am a fan, I am not afraid to say it, although I am not using as much as I want to, because I have too little time and an urge to put everything online at once. It’s something I am sticking to though, because I don’t have to start looking for where I have put the last great quote. I know where it is now. But I guess the biggest benefit: no more post-its!

BTW I have three invites to give away. So if you are interested, shoot me a message.

Getting Some Improv Done

This weekend, starting tomorrow evening, I will be attending a improv theater weekend in St. Michielsgestel, Brabant, the Netherlands. Far, far away in the deep dark woods a bunch of idiots are convening to dress up, drink beer (or so I have heard) and most of all, do improv. Or what we call: theater sports. Last year I had written something (in Dutch) about what improv does to your brain, maybe it will translate a little bit, why I like improv so much.

Improv is for me a great way to be completely in the moment. Even in my most successful meditation I am not as much present as I am on most improv evenings. There was a time that what I felt inside wouldn’t come out and there would be a difference of day and night between what was in my head and what was out there. Partly, improv made this gap smaller. It helped me in my everyday life, and the fun I have using this in improv is immense.

In the book ‘Imagine’ the writer Jonah Lehrer (yes, the much debated Lehrer who made up a quote of Bob Dylan, but didn’t make up anything else, thank god) tries to figure out what happens to our brain when we do improv. Pay attention now, I am going to say a difficult word: in our brain is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlpfc, there it is). This cortex is strongly connected to controlling our impulses. In other words, Lehrer says, these are the handcuffs of our brain.

At the moment musicians, who improvise too, make music spontaneously this dlpfc is shut down. This does not mean that with improv musicians don’t make sense, they just use a different part of their brain, namely the part that is related to language and the production of speech, which makes sure things don’t get completely out of control.

Also with improv theater an active dlpfc is killing. Lehrer has been talking to Andy Cobb, a veteran teacher at the improv school in the United States, Second City: “It’s about putting people in a state of mind where they’re going to say the first thing that pops into their heads, even if it seems silly or stupid. Because that inner voice, that voice telling you not to do something – that’s the voice that kills improv.”

I ended my last blog with the wish of shutting down this cortex more often, in order to be my true self. Being free, not worrying what other people might think. It’s still a work in progress, but I am getting there. Doing improv more often should work, because well, you know what they say: if you don’t show up, your genius will neither. This weekend I will have a +1. And setting myself free in the process.

Today I Preach LOVE

I don’t know about you, but even though great stories have complicated ‘deep shit’ moments, I think real life needs to get its act together. We Need Love. All We Need Is Love. This could be a great title for a song.

group hug

How To Be More Productive

manageyourdaytoday3Bloggers, or writers in general, have this problem: how to keep on producing. It is the Daily Prompt of today and it got me thinking. I started out really small, my biggest goal is to publish at least once a day, preferably more. If you have been tracking me, I have skipped some days, but most days have one or two posts.

What did I do to get the blog flow going? It might sound simple, but trust me, it can be a bitch sometimes. It’s the act of sitting behind your computer and write. And think about your blog all the time. This afternoon I walked through the park and I came up with a new blog post (what we can learn from skateboarders, but you’ll have to wait for that one).

I get my inspiration for the hard work from two master writers, namely Elizabeth Gilbert and Haruki Murakami. Gilbert says in the TED-talk (see video below) that the originally idea of ‘genius’ (not saying I am one, ha) weren’t centered around the person, the people, but around a outside force. A genie. Yes. But this genie can only come when you are there. When you are opening your mind for inspiration, the genie can take the time to let you write his/her ideas down.

A daily routine will also help with being more productive. Haruki Murakami is my prime example, but my routine is not nearly as perfect as his. I must add that in his earlier years he owned a jazz club, so he got his party time. Now he resides on Hawaii. He gets up really early, I mean, really early, at four in the morning. He writes until noon. In the afternoon he runs or takes a look at old record stores. At nine in the evening he goes to bed.

He says about this routine:

But the act of going and coming back is kind of routine. You have to be practical. So every time I say, if you want to write a novel you have to be practical, people get bored. They are disappointed.” He laughs again. “They are expecting a more dynamic, creative, artistic thing to say. What I want to say is: you have to be practical.”

The message on being there, getting your routines and put in the hard labor, is something that a lot of artists and thinker talk about. Look at the quote by Aristotl, in the beginning of this post. The quotation comes from the book ‘Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind’ edited by the fabulous people of 99u and their editor-in-chief Jocelyn Glei in particular.

Brain Pickings picked out the following quote from the book, which says it all:

It’s time to stop blaming our surroundings and start taking responsibility. […] Only by taking charge of your day-to-day can you truly make an impact in what matters most to you. I urge you to build a better routine by stepping outside of it, find your focus by rising above the constant cacophony, and sharpen your creative prowess by analyzing what really matters most when it comes to making your ideas happen.

So, every day I try not to make excuses. Even in the weekend, when my thoughts about doing nothing are really strong. But I guess it also has to do with building a habit. Once a habit, it is something that happens automatically. Wouldn’t it be great?! Would it be the time to dream bigger and set higher goals?

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Some other hard working bloggers:

  1. 22.5 Daily Prompt: Goals | family photos food & craft
  2. Why do I write this? | Geek Ergo Sum
  3. My blog goal | Right Down My Alley
  4. Daily Prompt: Goals | The Daily Post | بيسان
  5. Let’s do some diggings | Phelio a Random Post a Day
  6. Daily Prompt: Goals | mattsden101
  7. A Bucketful of Delightful Blogging Memories | Ramisa the Authoress
  8. Daily Prompt: Goals | Pinay New Yorker
  9. Goals | Nanuschka’s Blog
  10. This blogging malarkey… | thoughtsofrkh
  11. What I Named My Blog After | Daily Prompt: Goals | likereadingontrains
  12. Score an Own-Goal Blame the Goalie- (Daily Prompt) | The Rider
  13. spring reflections | greetings from england
  14. Daily Prompt: Goals | I really just pretend to know stuff
  15. My blogging goals | Sue’s Trifles
  16. Daily Prompt: Goals « Mama Bear Musings
  17. My Goal Is To Write Gooder | The Jittery Goat
  18. Daily Prompt: Goals | Basically Beyond Basic
  19. Daily Prompt: Goals | What I Want, What I Will Achieve | With Seasons Changes
  20. A Long and Arduous Journey | Heather D. Roberts
  21. GOAL! | Misifusa’s Blog
  22. Daily Prompt: Goals | No Effect Observed
  23. Kicking Goals | Tony’s Texts
  24. 89 Days | Venti Mocha Moments
  25. Daily Prompt: Goals | Let There be Peace on Earth
  26. Blogging Goals | Travellin’ Thru Rambles
  27. Love. Life. | Setting Goals for a Personal Blog
  28. Daily Prompt: My Goals For Blogging | My Daily Prompt Blog
  29. No. | Hope* the happy hugger
  30. Goals | Code Name Incog
  31. I’m so tired of having to ‘achieve’ | The Mercenary Researcher
  32. keDaily Prompt – Goals | Escape from Chaos
  33. Why I write this Blog | A Teacher’s Blog
  34. Alphabetical Advice from the Soul | Never Stationary
  35. I blog about happiness and honesty | To Pursue Happiness
  36. Road Trip A-Z Challenge Day 15 | My Daily Prompt Blog
  37. Daily Prompt: Goals | Alastair’s Blog
  38. Thinking Outside The Blog | Gin & Lemonade
  39. Daily Prompt: Goals | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  40. My Goal… | Haiku By Ku
  41. High hopes.. | Relax…
  42. Fun with Infographics! | doctorandmrso
  43. Daily Prompt: Goals | dianapleno
  44. Lydablogger | Just Give Me a Reason
  45. Vein of golden ore | I Didn’t Just Wake Up This Morning with a Craving
  46. Whatever Works: Musings on the Nature of Art | Svetlana Grobman: Writing With an Accent
  47. Daily Prompt: Goals | r | one studio architecture
  48. Daily Prompt: Goals – None are so easily achieved! | SERENDIPITY
  49. Daily Prompt: Goals | life n me!
  50. Goals, Ambitions and Resolutions | Things To Rave About
  51. Score | Spunky Wayfarer
  52. lovin bloggin | Bubonicboon
  53. Daily Prompt: Goals | A Visceral Life
  54. Mission Accomplished Daily | Donbury Pond
  55. Blog Journey | The Nameless One
  56. Daily Prompt: Goals | suzie81’s Blog
  57. Do 15 New Things in 30 Days | Cheri Speak
  58. Daily Prompt: Goals | writinglikeastoner
  59. Daily Prompt: Goals or “Welcome to No-More-Damn-Weeks” | Outside
  60. Daily Prompt: Meeting My Goals | Staying in Focus
  61. The Beginning | TheLifeandTimesofaMom
  62. Bloggy Goals? | Stuphblog
  63. Ever Changing | draliman on life
  64. No Particular Reason for Blogging | das Nicht-zuhause-sein
  65. Why I Do This | things change. people change.
  66. Reasons for Blogging | Kansa Muse on Micro Farming and More
  67. Daily Prompt: Goals | Exploring Utah with MS and Apples

Why You Should Be Stealing

Wait, weren’t you just writing that you want to be original? Have your own voice? Errr, I don’t get it anymore.

No worries, I will enlighten you.

1. I am NOT saying you should steal things, candy or money. These are things should be bought, bought and made.

2. I have written about stealing before. But since that post was based mainly on other people’s opinion and not very elaborate or clear, I will try again.

The thing is, there are a few concepts in this world that are false. These are:

Objectivity: nobody is ever objectively. Why not? Because we all look through our own glasses, which are colored by our background, where we were born and the people we hang with.

Independent: we might think we stand alone in this world, but even the people who see nobody and grow their own food, build their own house, are dependent. If you are not dependent on the people that built your house, you are dependent on mother nature.

Originality: please forgive me, I do not remember the source of this story, but there was a researcher who asked three very important and successful advertising guru’s to make a new commercial for a particular brand. What these people didn’t know was that they were primed with little acts on the streets and images. A person in a bear suite. Stuff like that. In the end of the day, they all came up with somewhat the same campaigns based on the things they had seen. Of course the ad people didn’t believe it, but in the end that’s what happens to us all, all through the day.

We are neither objectively, independent, original. Is this a bad thing? No. Does that mean we can’t make convincing art that surprises and moves people? No. The thing that makes us human is the ability to take the things that surrounds us in, combine them and make something completely new. You might call that original, even though the basics may not be original.

Stealing means that you take all the other stuff that other people made, take in what mother nature made and learn from historical events, and form your own opinion on that. Combine that with your sense of style, ideas on improvement and innovative design, and you come up with the next masterpiece.

If you are just copying (which you should not do), you will take all in, but not try to get out of it what is most important for you and what will help you be the person you want to be. You can’t be the other person, because you are you. In that way your make-up, your dna is original too, even though the basics have been used before (mother, father, same dna, that sort of argument).

The thing is that we can somewhat steer the things we take in. We can decide to read only quality blogs, look at the photographers that inspire us the most and use the quotes we think will help us be a better, more creative person. That’s what I mean with stealing, taking ideas, images and words in and making these ideas your own and building on top of that. You are dependent on the world for all the input, you are subjectively because you add your own color and you are unoriginal original. As am I. Of course.

Creatively Deprived – The Manifest

Inspiration is one of the most important ways to learn and to grow. As I am inspired by Justine Musk’s Declaration I will write my own manifest as creatively deprived, not so much rules to live by, but guidelines to remember and to read when one gets stuck. I would love to hear your ideas about the manifest!

THE MANIFEST

First, I will state that as author of this blog, this manifest is something to keep in mind and to return to when things get tough, time runs out or all has been done.

Second, as a creatively deprived I will always look for ways to be creative, to be more inspired and to let my creative self out. I shall be the inspiration itself as I will turn to others for inspiration. I will not fear the opinions of others, the common idea about ‘successful art’ and the way other people find their creative self. I will take all in and select what is useful for helping me to learn and to be a more creative artist.

Third, when stuck, I shall go outside to see what nature is doing in order to live. I shall speak to my friends and family about my struggles and obstacles. I will find a tutor, a role model, a teacher, who can show me where inspiration comes from and how I can light the fire within.

Fourth, I will always help others being more creative, I will not fear competition, I will encourage others to be better than me, if they are looking for that. I will always stay true to myself in this process and will show others how this attitude helps me to be a good person.

Fifth, I shall always choose love over fear. I will embrace my flaws, as I embrace my positive self. I will always get up and try to use this ‘mistake’ to grow. In loving myself through the good and the bad times, I will stay true to myself, to life and to the universe. I will always be a better lover, than I will be a hater.

As I have written this, there will be times when I am not a lover, but a hater. There will be times that I am not inspirational. There will be times that I see the green grass on the other side of the fence. But accepting the down times, I will acknowledge the good times.

Therefor, I, Anne, the author of Self Help for the Creatively Deprived, declare that I will promise to take you, the reader, on my journey, in order to help you feel loved, to be inspired and to be utterly more creative.