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Joy today: Masterclass with writer Neil Gaiman and many more inspiring classes

As a gift to myself to spur inspiration, I signed up for Masterclass’s All-Access Pass. I’m obsessed. Masterclass is basically Netflix for online learning. Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, teaches a class on storytelling class and it’s wonderful. I’m about half-way through and I’ve already learned so much that is immediately helping me as a writer and author.

Given my new job for a film production company, I’m so excited to take the film and TV classes with:

  • Jodie Foster
  • Mira Nair
  • Ken Burns
  • Spike Lee
  • Judd Apatow
  • Werner Herzog
  • Ron Howard
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Shonda Rhimes
  • Aaron Sorkin
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Helen Mirren
  • Natalie Portman
  • David Lynch

Other classes on my “I need to take this” list:

  • Comedy with Steve Martin
  • Writing classes with Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood, and Dan Brown
  • Cooking with Alice Waters and Thomas Keller
  • Adventure photography with Jimmy Chin
  • Conservation with Jane Goodall
  • Space exploration with Chris Hadfield
  • Tennis with Serena Williams (I don’t even play tennis, but if Serena’s going to teach it, I’m going to take it!)
  • Jazz with Herbie Hancock
  • Fashion with Diane Von Furstenberg

What I can’t believe is that for just $180, I get all of these incredible classes and more for a year. Each class also comes with a downloadable PDF workbook and there is a mini-forum and office hours where you can post your comments and ask questions. Plus there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee so there’s no risk to try it out.

And I’ve got some good news for you! When I bought my 1-year All-Access Pass, they offered me a link to share with others to give you $30 off an All-Access Pass. So you can get all of this for $150 for a year. Just follow this link, and check it out for yourself: https://share.masterclass.com/x/5d9sN3

A Year of Yes: Grad school is the gift I gave to myself this holiday season

This is adulting at its finest: what opportunities we don’t see in the world we must make for ourselves. Grad school round 2 starts in less than a month – this time getting a Masters of Science in Biomimicry. In the past week, I’ve registered for classes, ordered my books for those classes, and applied for scholarships (waiting to hear back). Honestly, this gift to myself is what I’ve wanted for many years and is only now possible with this new program at ASU and my clear-eyed view of the next chapter of my career to combine my work in product development, business, storytelling, invention, history, and sustainability with my passion for science and endless sense of curiosity. Like all the best gifts, it’s one that gets better with time.

A Year of Yes: The 3 C’s of life

Don't quit - do it!

Don’t quit – do it!

“The 3 C’s in life: choice, chance, change. You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything in life to change.” ~anonymous

This weekend I said yes to a very big chance. I never imagined this kind of opportunity was out there. I never imagined I’d be asked to take it. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. But something in me knew this was not a coincidence, that I had to try, despite the fact that it’s a very long shot that it would work out. And you know what? It felt liberating. It felt empowering to just try. And no matter how this goes, maybe that’s the lesson—say yes and try.

 

A Year of Yes: Your time doesn’t belong to your past

“Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.” ~Unknown

We get stuck, don’t we? Bad experiences from childhood, from broken relationships of many kinds, jobs that didn’t work out, things and people and circumstances that hurt us. We have a tough time letting go. When that work is tough, I remind myself that the effort is so worth it. If we don’t let go of what was, then we can’t make room for what’s in front of us now and what’s on the way. There are good things coming to us that we don’t even know about yet, and if we’re bogged down by our yesterdays we’ll miss out what’s meant for us now. Keep the lessons, but please don’t let them hold you hostage. Your past doesn’t hold the keys to the castle that is your future; you do, right now, just as you are.

A Year of Yes: Taking a storytelling workshop with Third Rail Projects

Staying true to my New Year’s resolution of “Yes”, I signed up to take a storytelling workshop with Tom Pearson, Co-Artistic Director of Third Rail Projects. You may know Third Rail from their ingenious immersive theater productions of Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise. Tom co-created both of these projects. I’ve been increasingly intrigued by this art form of immersive performance and want to expand my personal and professional skills in rich, 3-D storytelling as a vehicle for audience development. I couldn’t be more excited to take this class.

Ritual & Performance: Rites of Passage
This one-day intensive will demonstrate how an artist can (re)construct a story from just the remnant or shard of a fragmented narrative. We will look at the mythologies surrounding coming of age, death, re-birth, and oracular archetypes – and their applications in Third Rail’s recent immersive theater hit The Grand Paradise – as a way to understand ritual, narrative, and rites of passage in an immersive theater context. The workshops will mostly be in lecture/demonstration format. Hand written note-taking is encouraged, but there will be no electronic devices of any kind allowed. Please prepare to participate in group material and to work together in dyads. A Q&A session will wrap up the last hour of the day.

A Year of Yes: Keep wondering

“The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.” ~Vasudev, Indian yogi and mystic

Doesn’t that quote make you smile? And doesn’t it make you smile even wider when you realize it was said by an Indian yogi and mystic. I always appreciate a no-BS policy. We are all guessing, all the time. I love nothing better than hearing someone I admire say that they’re still trying to figure out what they’re doing. I love that they keep trying new things, exploring, and putting themselves in the role of a beginner. There’s a lot of pressure in the world to be an expert, to only do what we’re sure of. We hate doubt, but doubt is the key to everything. It keeps us hungry and hustling. It causes us to keep learning. It sparks curiosity and inquiry. It gets us talking and connecting with others. Keep asking questions, of yourself and others, and know that being uncertain puts you in the best possible company.

 

A Year of Yes: Be a Young Person’s Carl Sagan

This week I was watching an episode of Cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson told the story of how Carl Sagan invited him to Ithaca when Tyson was just 17 years old and growing up in the Bronx. Sagan encouraged him to pursue his passion in science. It was a pivotal moment in Tyson’s life, a moment he’s never forgotten.

That’s the power of mentorship, of caring about the future and the success of young people. Carl Sagan had plenty of other ways to spend his time. He chose to make time to help young people, to support their dreams and aspirations, to share his love for science.

Whatever your talents, I hope you’ll find a way to use them to help our youngest generations. They need us, and we need them.

A Year of Yes: Making time for Michelangelo at the Met

“The wait’s going to be at least an hour.”

That’s what one of the guides said to me at the Met when I inquired about the insanely long line to see the exhibit Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer. I almost left without seeing it. Almost. But then I remembered my commitment to say yes more often in 2018 (even though it was still 2017.)

So I wound my way through multiple gallery spaces and parked myself at the very end of the line. I knew it would be crowded; I doubted I would be able to get up close to the pieces. And that was okay with me. I just wanted to be in the presence of the work. So I waited. For about 10 minutes, not even close to an hour, and then I was there. The first part of the exhibit was crowded but I was able to get up close to the work in many of the galleries. Very close to it.

“Yes, I’ll stay in line” was the right answer.

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Toward the end of the exhibit, I came to this placard. It’s short story hit me right in the gut. I audibly gasped. To give the illusion of perfection, to hide his process and his struggle in his work, Michelangelo burned many of his sketches. He wanted people to think his talent was effortless and god-given even though it was far from it.

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Think of all that lost work. Think of everything we could have learned if he hadn’t been so concerned about the illusion of perfection.

I sat there in the middle of the exhibition and thought about how afraid we all are to show our stumbles and missteps, how we savor the performance and cringe at the endless practice it took to get there.

When I left the museum, I turned and looked back at the building in the cold, dark night. I was so glad and grateful to be able to come to this museum any time I want, to live in a city that build castles to creativity. And as I looked at the Met, I thought about how much art has changed my life. And how much effort, how much beautiful effort, it takes to be an artist of any kind.

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What if we could all commit to being a little more authentic, to sharing when we’re lost and confused and unsure of how to proceed, to asking for help? What if we could be okay with admitting failure and defeat because accepting them while not being discouraged by their existence gives us resilience and confidence? Imagine what we could learn, what we could inspire, and what we could teach others in the process. I say, yes. Let’s.

A Year of Yes: Show your work – a lesson from Matisse

Pentimento is Italian for “repent” though its colloquial meaning in the art world is a bit closer to “show your work”. If you look at a number of Matisse’s drawings, you can see that he left his erasure marks so that we can see where and when he changed his mind and how often it took him multiple tries to get his work exactly the way he wanted it to be.

When I look at the path of my life, I see many pentimentos, places and traces of changing my mind, trying something new, exploring, and traveling in a new direction. Like Matisse’s sketches, you’ll see the marks if you look closely enough. And that’s okay with me. I don’t erase the mistakes of my life; I just re-arrange them. I put them in perspective. I try very hard to learn from them and be a better version of myself as a result of having lived through them.

I hope that as we begin a new year after what was a very difficult one, we’ll find a way to take a page from Matisse’s book. Let’s make use of our collective pentimentos so that we can craft a much better future together.

2018: A Year of Yes

My 2018 resolution can be summed up in one word: Yes. My friend, Ria, recently told me about an article she read in which the author explained that when you commit to saying yes, your day ends up in a completely different place than where it started. And I’m all for that. Yes to:

    • adventure
    • travel
    • learning
    • passion
    • creativity
    • exploration
    • joy
    • opportunity
    • community
    • building a better city, country, & world
    • kindness
    • helping others

I’m going to make 2018 the best year of my life so far in every way. And I’m going to lift others as I rise. We’re doing this.

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