blogging, communication, creative, creativity, design, health, innovation, media, product development, stress, technology, work, writer, writing

Inspired: Check out my magazines on Flipboard for travel, stress-busting, product design, and office design

Check out my Flipboard profile:’m now on Flipboard as @christanyc and created 4 magazines to curate content in travel, product design, workspace design, and stress reduction. I hope you’ll stop by and check them out:
Travel on Purpose – use your travels and vacations to build a better world

Insanely Cool New Products – the coolest new product innovations and the awesome people who make them

Crazy Creative Workspaces – interior design inspirations for the places where we work

Stress Sucks – the science of stress and how to bust it

courage, design, fashion, Second Step, time

Inspired: Carolina Herrera Took A Big Bold Step at Age 40

Michelle Obama in  a stunning Carolina Herrera design
Michelle Obama in a stunning Carolina Herrera design

Carolina Herrera, designer to the stars, took a big risk at 40. Prior to then, he was a housewife in Venezuela. When she turned 40, her children were grown and she told her husband she wanted to move to New York to start a new career as a fashion designer. She had plenty of connections and access to funds so that helped though without her drive, ambition, and impeccable taste, connections and capital wouldn’t have meant much.

She could have easily laughed off the idea, and stayed right where she was – comfortable, settled, and bored. Instead, she went for it and reinvented herself. Today, she’s still reinventing herself and her fashion line at age 74. She admits that she’s every bit as scared now as she was 34 years ago and she said that every year it’s harder, not easier, to do her work. However, she loves it so she keeps going.

We place so much emphasis on youth in our society that we forget that every day, at every age, we have the opportunity to reinvent who we are and what we do. We can shift gears and try new things. We can be daring and courageous. Reinvention is a choice and Carolina shows us where it can lead if we give ourselves the chance.

choices, courage, decision-making, design, determination, time

Beautiful: The Mad Path Is One of Possibility

113b7d49aefec161100fed4bc73d5d9b“I don’t want people to think I’m crazy so I won’t say, do, try…’x’.” How many times have you said that to yourself? I hear that recording running in my mind all the time. And I’ve learned to acknowledge it, thank it for its counsel, and then let it go. We have to release that thought if we are to do anything original. Our value, and the value of work, is found in what’s not obvious, in connecting dots that have been disparate.

That’s the place to go – into the dark corners, into the places that others won’t go. And don’t be meek about it. Hold your head up high, confident, bold, brave, and daring. Attempt to go so far in the direction of your dreams that you merge with them. Your life is an expression of what matters most to you – who you spend your time with, where you go, the actions you take, the support, encouragement, and love that you provide to others.

Don’t be discouraged if others can’t see what you see. It’s not their fault. They don’t have your vision in their minds. You have to build it for them. You have to bring along those who are interested in your path bit by bit. The expression you wear on your face and the light you emit from just being who you are, living your very best day every day no matter what circumstances you face, is all the proof you need.

beauty, career, creativity, design, dreams, strengths

Beautiful: Today You are Building Tomorrow’s Destiny

“Sometimes, history is destiny.” ~ Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development at Trust for Public Land

While Mr. Benepe is referring to the development of cities, his quote just as easily applies to our lives. What you do today matters, not only in this moment but in every moment that follows. As someone who spent a lot of time unsure of when I would actually try to create my dream career, I can promise you that time is of the essence. Waiting and talking about what you’re going to do someday gets you nowhere. Action starts the long, winding, sometimes-frustrating but always-interesting road. And that’s what we all need to do – we need to get started. Now.

Traversing this ground toward dreams is going to take time. You’re going to grind along in fits and starts. Some days it all comes so easily and some days you’ll feel like you’re chasing your own tail. This cycle of ups and downs and turnarounds happens to me all the time. Why is it so hard to move forward? And is it even worth trying?

It’s hard because we have to build the foundation, construct the frame, enclose it, smooth out the structure, and then, and only then, do we get to the fun stuff of aesthetics and decoration. But without that underlying organization, without all those incredibly unsexy but totally necessary pieces of infrastructure, the aesthetics don’t matter. Cover it up with spackle and paint all you want. It will crumble without a foundation.  

As someone who is still very much in the foundation building phase, who is mired in unsexy structural details on a daily basis, I can tell you that I still find some small victory every single day. Some days, I’m waiting on that victory until the 11th hour. But it always shows up. I think about throwing in the towel and just then some small sign from the universe breaks through and that sign gives me the strength to keep going, to keep trying, to keep waking up and giving it my best shot.

I am certain there are lots of changes on the horizon. Changes I can’t even imagine, much less plan for. Some of them are going to knock me over. They’re going to overwhelm me and cause me to question everything. Well, almost everything. No matter what happens, I’m going to get right back up. I am certain of that. And I will be stronger for it. Destiny-building is strenuous work, but there is no greater joy that pulling it together bit by beautiful bit.

art, books, creative, creative process, creativity, design

Beautiful: Blender Master Class from No Starch Press

blender_simonds_complete_V7.inddDesign skills are quickly becoming a part of the necessary knowledge base of professionals in a wide variety of fields. Plenty of courses, online and off, free and fee-based, are cropping up to demystify the process of design. Open source design software is also paving the way to help us evolve from media consumers into media creators.

If 3D design is on your wish list of skills, you’re in luck. Blender is an incredibly popular open source 3D design suite with a massive user community. No Starch Press has just published the book Blender Master Class by author and professional 3D artist Ben Simonds. The book guides you step-by-step through 3 intricate projects by teaching you modeling, sculpting, materials, and rendering skills. The book also explains how Blender interfaces with GIMP, an open source graphic design program, and includes a DVD with all of the relevant files for the projects described in the book.

Simonds makes Blender, a sophisticated program, approachable by breaking down its basic features one by one. Blender is used by many artists for animation, simulation, and game design. However, these features are not covered in this book. Simonds focused his efforts on the niche that needed to be filled – helping new Blender users understand the basics of creating still images.

With this book you can quickly get started on the task of getting those 3D designs out of your imagination and into the world. While Blender can feel overwhelming at first because of all of its bells and whistles, you’ll have Simonds with you on every step of the journey as a guide and supporter. I can’t wait to see what you create!

design, education

Beautiful: My Article on Innovative School Design for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

The Facade of the East Harlem School. Photo: Eric Freeland.
The Facade of the East Harlem School. Photo: Eric Freeland.

I recently visited the NYU Center for Architecture to see The Edgeless School exhibit. The exhibit highlights innovations in the design of schools all over the country. If you’re interested in design, architecture, or education, have a look and let me know what you think. Good snow day reading! Click here to access the article.

adventure, beauty, design, determination

Beautiful: What Are You Planting in the Garden of Your Life?

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

Today we’re back to the regularly scheduled programming of inspiring posts that I hope help you go after everything you want in life.

We are down in the depths of winter. It’s cold, the daylight is limited, and we’re all hunkered down inside praying for Spring. Some of us (like yours truly) even have our eyes toward the summer. I think of Spring and Summer as a time of blossoming and then of harvesting. But if we don’t plant seeds now, there will be nothing for us to enjoy when the warm weather rolls around.

Now, during these cold and dark days, is the very best time to plant the seeds that you wish to grow. What dreams do you want to take root? What relationships do you want to build? How do you want your life to unfold? It doesn’t happen magically. A realized dream will not fall out of the sky and into your lap. It happens through hard work and dedication.

You can only reap what you sow. Gather up your seeds, head out there into the cold, and start planting. When those flowering dreams start reaching up toward the sun for all the world to see, you’ll be glad you took this time to bring them to life.

art, choices, creativity, decision-making, design

Leap: Curate Your Life

Photo from Lifehacker

“Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film.” ~ Ansel Adams

“Curating a creative life” has been my tagline for this blog for several years. At one point my obsession with change got the best of me and I toyed with changing the tagline as I thought about how I wanted to craft my career and my businesses, Chasing Down the Muse and Compass Yoga. After a couple of days of a new tagline, I changed it back. There’s nothing wrong with sticking with what works and makes us happy. I realized it’s much more than a tagline; it’s my mantra.

It would be easy for a museum curator to just get any pieces of art up on the wall but that’s not the role of a curator. He or she carefully chooses what kind of art to install, and how and why and for what purpose. An art exhibit needs to hang together. It makes a cohesive statement and the pieces support the whole.

Your life is a living, breathing house of art. You are the sole curator of it; you decide what to add, what to toss, and how it comes together. And you are the only one who gets to judge its worth and meaning. You have the best job in the world and it’s the only job you really need to do. Don’t just live your life; craft it by your own design.

creativity, design, social change, social entrepreneurship, technology

Leap: Day 2 of the Social Good Summit and Day 1 of Clinton Global Initiative

If you’re looking for a bit (or a tidal wave) of inspiration, head on over to the livestreams of the Social Good Summit and the Clinton Global Initiative. You can watch the sessions and participate in the conversations through Twitter with the hashtags #SGSGlobal and #CGI2012.

Here are my favorite highlights of the day:

Government is Worthy of Our Innovative Spirit
UN Ambassador Susan Rice spoke eloquently and passionately about public education, technology, government, and the need to serve. Every sentence had a nugget of wisdom in it, and the one that impressed me the most was her argument that we cannot give up on government as inefficient and hopeless because there are things that government can do that no other entity can do. She used herself as an example – as an African-American woman, she has the right to vote in this country because of government. She reminded all of us that government can and should provide opportunity for everyone within its reach.

A Lack of Secrets is a Blessing
Sol Adler, Executive Director of 92Y, gave a concise and powerful contemplation with these two questions: What would the world have been like in 1939 if we had Twitter? How many more relatives would I have been able to know if we actually knew what was happening in Europe? (Most of Mr. Adler’s family perished in the holocaust.)

He introduced Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Former Prime Minister of Poland, who explained that our world now is suffering from atrocities that are as grim as the holocaust and that technology has the ability to end that. If we can raise awareness and encourage action to support peace and understanding, then we will be able to truly be able to create a better world.

Unemployment Is a Flaw of the System, Not the People
I’ve heard Muhammad Yunus speak a number of times before and he never fails to impress and inspire. His life mission is to alleviate poverty through opportunity, and this is within our grasp if we can harness the collective creative power of people through technology. His message is clear, “Concentrate on building businesses to solve social problems. Human creativity is limitless.”

Designing for Impact
The Clinton Initiative took the definition of design and expanded it exponentially to serve as its theme for this year’s event. President Clinton kicked off the event with this poignant sentiment – “We live to prove the cooperation works better than conflict. We act with far great impact when we rely on one another’s strength.” And in that spirit the conversation turned to the subject of design.

Tim Brown of IDEO elegantly explained that all designers, no matter what they are designing, no matter if they have formal training or not, begin with the same question: “How can I be helpful in this situation?” And they find that answer in the field. They roll up their sleeves and work. “Design is learning by doing, not just thinking.”

The conversations continue today and tomorrow for both events. Check out their websites for more details. Talk soon.

design, dreams, future

Leap: Your Destiny, Your Design

From Pinterest

You could wait. You could seek the advice of others. You could find someone whom you admire and do exactly what they’ve done. You could let the Universe decide.

I don’t recommend any of those avenues when it comes to creating your destiny. You are wonderful and divine. You know exactly what you want and why. You have the very seeds from which every dream of yours will grow. All they need is nurturing. Some attention. Some room to breathe.

Each of these seeds is as unique as you. No one can tell you how or when they will develop. No one can tell you which ones need your attention now and which ones can wait. No one except you.

Your destiny is your business. You are the one who will live it. You are the one who lives with the outcomes of your actions. You will always wake up to you, walk with you, and go to bed with you. And so you must be your own best friend. Your own best champion.

Care for yourself and care for those dreams because when you are at your best and you are fulfilling the destiny you created for yourself, the whole world benefits. We all get a chance to experience the very best version of you.