action, change, education, imagination, work

This just in: A Mister Rogers Kind of Work Day

Mister Rogers costume change
Mister Rogers costume change

When I was a kid, I loved Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I loved that he spent his day making people smile and using his imagination to help them learn. I especially loved that he transitioned his wardrobe when he got to work and before he went home.

It occurred to me that I do similar things with my job. I walk from my home through Rock Creek Park to my office in about 40 minutes. It’s a walking meditation really. I use the time to plan the day ahead and transition into work mode. I’m usually the first person there, and the first thing I do is put on my sweater and change into my work shoes. I spend the day with a fantastic team doing imaginative work to help children make the most of their potential.

Then when the day is done, I put my sweater away, change into my walking shoes, grab my backpack, and walk back home the way I came. I use the walk home to think about what I learned that day and to give thanks for the opportunity to do work that matters so much.

Mister Rogers taught me well. There’s something to be said for transition time, for having a dedicated place for work and play. I missed that time and space when I worked primarily from home. I’m grateful to have it back.

beauty, change, creativity, imagination, inspiration

This just in: Rock bottom is a strong place to start

J.K. Rowling quote
J.K. Rowling quote

“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” ~J.K. Rowling

There’s something amazingly strange and eventually wonderful about starting from rock bottom. Rock bottom’s a blank canvas, an empty room. It’s space, and within space, we can create something we love.

This quote from J.K. Rowling has been running through my mind this week as I prepare to change everything in the coming days. I’ll pack a few suitcases into my Mini, put Phin in his carrier in the front seat, Fedex my small amount of remaining items, and away we’ll go, headed straight for a new adventure in Washington D.C.

Rock bottom has such a negative connotation, but we don’t have to think of it that way. Rock bottom is solid, stable, unwavering. There really is no better place to build from. I’ve scraped down the walls of my life, removing the old chipped paint to reveal something fresh and new that is ready for color and beauty. I’ve stopped trying to make the best of the old parts of my life that no longer fit. I lovingly and gently packed them up and gave them away to make room for the new and extraordinary.

If you’d like to read the entirety of the speech that Rowling gave at Harvard that includes this quote, click here.

Florida, imagination, inspiration, nature, New York City

Inspired: I see the stars in Florida

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

Stargazing was one of my favorite activities when I was a kid. I looked at the stars for hours and they carried me away into my imagination. Were there creatures up there, out there, looking at Earth the same way I looked at the stars and planets? Did they know things I didn’t know? Did they have magic powers that I could only dream of? Maybe. Definitely.

In New York City there are hardly any stars. The city has too much ambient light and that light hides the stars from us. They’re up there of course, but New Yorkers can’t see them, or at least can’t see them very well. Here in Florida, they’re out there in brilliant abundance every night. They carry me away exactly like they did when I was a child. They remind me that I am only one very small speck in an enormous universe that is awash with secrets, truths, and discoveries yet to be made.

The sight of the stars in Florida keeps me reaching, and for that I’m grateful.

art, creative process, creativity, discovery, imagination, sleep, writing

Inspired: The magic of sleep and its impact on creativity, clarity, and writing

Dan Levitin’s latest research on the power of sleep to bolster and ignite creativity is fascinating. For writers, this research is especially valuable because one of our chief tasks is to connect disparate dots of information to create a cohesive story.

Levitin reveals a number of actionable pieces of advice on how to make our sleep cycles most beneficial to our imagination. The brain prioritizes the thoughts we have right before going to sleep and spends a good deal of its sleep time working on them. I’ve been spending time before bed working on my most important personal projects and challenges. The results of this practice have been amazing for me. I’m waking up with insights and connections in my work that I haven’t been able to see in my waking hours. I’ve also been going to bed and waking up hours earlier than usual and that’s tripped a powerful switch, too.

While we often think of creativity as elusive and unexplainable, I’m fascinated to learn how we can engineer it at least to some extent. At the very least there is much we can do to make room for its arrival and help it to feel welcomed and valued. Sometimes all we need is awareness and openness. Sometimes all magic needs is a space to happen. Get some shut-eye and create.

books, creativity, dreams, imagination

Inspired: I write down six impossible things before breakfast

Today’s impossibilities are tomorrow’s realities. That’s why I’ve been inspired by Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book, to take up a new morning ritual. As soon as I wake up, I write down 6 impossible things before I have breakfast. It gets my creative engine running right off the bat. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with!

My 6 impossible things lists so far:

– The ability to send people messages through dreams
– Trees that grow everything we need – even bicycles
– A composter that could recycle anything and everything – zero trash
– Grass that cuts itself when it gets too long – and we get to decide what’s too long!
– A memory bank where we could house everything we ever learn and believe and experience forever
– A way to truly understand exactly why another person has a certain opinion and everything that lead them to that opinion

– A system that quickly and easily moves water between flood areas and draught areas so everyone has enough water
– Fireproof trees and shrubs
– Shoes that give us energy
– A machine to turn our steps into energy that we can use anyway we want
– Self-monitoring plants that tell us when they need water and food and how much – for those like me who are green-thumb challenged!
– A machine that can take an image in my head and translate it onto any surface

– Compressed food that stays fresh and ships easily and grows if you add water
– A body scanner that we could use to check our vital signs everyday
– A filter that would alert us when we are about to say or write something hurtful before we actually say or write it
– An individual environment control to give us control over the temperature around us
– A way to save and review dreams after we wake up
– An automatic way to remind us of the good things in our lives when we are having a tough time

– A map to the end of a rainbow
– A way to instantly fix anything broken, especially in our bodies
– A way to see how our lives would unfold if we made different choices
– A way to record the world with only our eyes
– An instant language interpreter for every language so we could communicate with anyone, anytime, anywhere, even with animals
– Cars that generate their own energy without needing outside fuel

– Books that come to life
– Vehicles that drive, fly, and swim
– An emotion changer
– A thought releaser
– A brain health monitor we can use at home
– On-command suction hands and feet
– Breathe underwater without equipment

– Connect every town and city by high speed train
– A world where we can take our dogs everywhere
– Clothes that grow with us
– Hair that grows or shortens on-demand
– Instantly repairing skin
– Eyes and ears that never grow old

– Self-decaying tech that you decide when it should decay
– A meter that tells you how many positive and negative thoughts you’ve had in a day
– Something that makes me aware of every time I think something negative about myself so I can stop doing it
– A dog translator – canine to English and English to canine
– Instant basic knowledge of how to play any instrument
– A self-cleaning house

action, creativity, imagination, work

Inspired: Drop the Perfect in Favor of Action

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

Have you ever worked on a project and then re-worked it many times over hoping to get something just perfect? Then by the time you finish you realize that the world has changed and the idea has passed you by. Or worse, someone has already done what you’ve been planning to do. Nothing you do will ever be perfect. That’s a tough and necessary pill to swallow. Put your heart into it, roll up your sleeves, and get your ideas out into the world. That’s the place where they will make a difference.

books, creativity, imagination, science, vision

Inspired: Our Vision is Imagined and Our Creativity is Ever-Present

The Future of the Mind by Dr. Michio Kaku
The Future of the Mind by Dr. Michio Kaku

I’m in the midst of reading Dr. Michio Kaku‘s new book, The Future of the Mind. He explains that our actual vision is largely imagined. Our optic nerve should always create a large dark spot in our field of vision. It doesn’t because our mind actually compensates for it and fills in the details. Our mind guesses what’s there in that space that the eyes can’t actually see. We are imagining every moment of our waking lives. We are using our creativity without even realizing it. That’s how deeply embedded our sense of creativity is in our minds, in our very being. We invent the world around us.

choices, community, courage, imagination, opportunity

Beautiful: Be an Opener of Doors

From Pinterest

“Be an opener of doors.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love to open doors, for myself and others. It’s what I do in my teaching, writing, and consulting. I work hard to help others find new opportunities within themselves and in the world around them. Every day I tunnel into my imagination and discover new ways of seeing, new ways of doing, and new ways of being. Sharing these insights with others is a great honor.

I’m a firm believer in opening the doors that scare us most. What lies behind them are circumstances that will become our greatest teachers. As we open doors, we open our hearts. And as we open our hearts, we find that we are more full of compassion, understanding, and kindness than we ever thought possible. Once we open up to the world within, we can be in communion with the world around us.

Let’s plug in to what really matters. Let’s get connected.

beauty, decision-making, dreams, imagination, innovation, time

Beautiful: Feeling Empty Is a Gift

From Pinterest

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” ~ Bryant McGill

As I prepare to spend my summer re-thinking and re-shaping my future, I’m unpacking quite a bit of my life: my work, my time online, and the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. I’m taking very little with me in the hopes that de-cluttering my life will open the way for new beginnings.

We sometimes place an unfair connotation on the concept of emptiness. I think of emptiness as a blessing, as a state of being that helps us to re-imagine and re-invent. If every ounce of time and space we have is full, then we can’t be open to the many gifts that new experiences offer.

So I’m making room. I’m letting go. I’m giving myself the gift of fully experiencing life one moment at a time and the chance to celebrate the beauty that each small moment holds.

career, creative, creativity, imagination, innovation, job, work

Beautiful: Forget Job Searching. Instead, Create the Job of Your Dreams.

eb20a4bca686ede0d04a1cc9628f3e6bImagine if college wasn’t about preparing you for the job search. Instead, imagine that it was a 4-year haven for you to grow the skills that most interest you and for you to craft your own business that utilizes those skills. Over 3 million people graduate from 4-year colleges every year in the U.S. That’s potentially 3 million startups created every single year.

Imagine what that would mean for our economy, for our communities, and for education. Tom Friedman did just that in his New York Times column last week. Soon, we won’t have to imagine. This is the reality for our children today, and for their children, and so on. They will be job creators, not job seekers. Our society and our economy are changing rapidly. The paradigm of work and income is shifting, and there will be no turning back. This is a transformation in the economy that is moving full-steam ahead.

Rather than asking our kids what they want to be when they grow up, we need to help them figure out what they intend to build. And then we need to set that example for them in our own careers.