Start. Stop. Start. Stop

Starting BlockFrom start to finish to start. Getting started on a new project is certainly exciting and full of momentum, the juices begin to flow and we fall into our groove rocking along on our creative adventure, but then as we dive deeper into our project we begin to question the direction and seek out a destination. Where is this taking me and when do I get off this creative train? When do we know when we are finished with one idea ready to switch gears and move onto another project?

I’m a serial innovator, I can come up with ideas and new beginnings all day long, it is the execution and commitment to those ideas where my weakness shines through, knowing when the path is complete or incomplete. Should I let it go so it can simmer in its own creative juices for a while or move onto the next best thing? Sometimes when I get to what may feel like a stopping point I begin to release my grip on its perfection and say ok it’s time to release (kind of like this blog post). You are on your own now, I’ve done my part to set the stage it’s your time to shine and if I keep tinkering with you I know that I’ll mess you up into something you weren’t meant to be, like a hovering parent who holds her children too close. Have a little faith, set them free and give them space to come into their own, allow them to fly.

Every ending offers a new beginning. As soon as we embrace the ending of a project we open up space for another opportunity to create again by pouring yourself into something new. These moments are inviting us to set our projects free. They may need some support from time to time but they really need us to accept their time of completion by knowing when to let them live on their own without constant interference. The finish line of one project can be the starting block (which sounds like an oxymoron) to embark on another idea journey, to begin the creative process all over again. Life and art do imitate each other, they are both a continual process of start and stop, capture and let go, ebb and flow.

Letting go of the old and welcoming the new can be an invigorating process, and believe it or not you can teach an old dog new tricks, it’s just hard for that old dog to learn to let go of the old tricks. Stay inspired to the possibilities that live in new beginnings, the sparks of creation that keep things growing, tap into what has been silent for so long, wake it up, nurture it, practice it, love it and watch it grow. New life is always available once we learn to let go of what is finished and start paying attention to what is calling us to bring it to life.

Here’s to getting started or stopping or starting again…wherever you find yourself in the creative game.

Starting Block — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Mile Marker 50

With other endeavors calling me away from this blog that I had fun with this year, it seems quite fitting to pay homage to the past as another year comes to a close…Farewell 2013

1963 was undeniably a memorable year in American history. On March 5th country music singer Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash in Camden, Tennessee, on June 12th civil rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated at his home in Mississippi, on August 28th civil rights leader Martin Luther King delivers his “I have a dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., on November 22nd the assassination of president John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, and on December 26th the introduction of four young men from Liverpool called the Beatles make their debut on the U.S. music charts. All of these memories are kept alive today by remembering their significance in history and honoring these individuals who were revolutionaries in their own right from evolving the face of equality through the civil rights movement to those whose artistic contributions changed the music landscape. And somewhere in the midst of all these great leaders and pioneers of their time, was a quiet birth of a baby girl on a November day in the desert town of Phoenix, Arizona. You won’t find her in any history books (yet) but she has blazed a trail of her own over the past fifty years, raised three beautiful children, enjoying her four adorable grandchildren and just celebrated the mid-century mark with appreciation for the past and a toast for the next fifty. I salute the history makers of yesterday whose legacies continue to live today and am grateful for my own fifty fabulous years of memories. You’ve come a long way baby!

Turning over an old leaf…

Fall

The season of autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. Luckily I live in a region that boasts a bouquet of vibrant colors and hosts one of the most magnificent places to experience this season to its fullest, the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Growing up in the desert of Arizona, part of my reason for relocation had to do with experiencing the array of seasons this part of the country has to offer. Of course I still appreciate my desert roots that has its own beautiful landscapes especially the northern region of Arizona where the high desert knows when it is time to fall into the fall schedule but for the most part the autumn desert of my past was painted with neutral earth tones and slightly cooler temperatures exhibiting its own way of saying hello to a new season.

One of the reasons this season is so special is because it represents a catalyst for change, forget New Years as the time to make plans and goal setting, fall is the perfect time to assess your own personal growth and begin to shed parts of your life that have lived out their season. Whether you use this time to get your finances in order before the busy holiday spending season, or begin to incorporate a more healthy routine to help you stay on track during the feasted holidays, getting a jump start on your goals for the coming year is the perfect time to join in this evolution of change. Since it is also known as harvest season, you can begin to harvest your own intentions and visions for your future. Allow this time of transformation to help you get started on new projects by changing old habits into new habits before you find yourself too tired like a dried up leaf beginning to fall. Let this time of transition reveal your true colors preparing your own growth transformation into another season in your life. Embrace the change, allow it to unfold at its own pace and join the exhilaration of letting go and quiet anticipation of what is to come. Revel in the spirit of autumn the season of release and expectation.

Take me out to the ball game…

Play Ball

It’s baseball season! Who knew there could be so much excitement in what can be such a slow moving game. Just watching my hometown little league team play their final game last night in the Little League World Series is an example of that excitement. You just never know what’s going to happen at any given moment in a game, whether it is an errant throw, a surprise hit, or a questionable call on a play. This unpredictability can swing a game in either direction from inning to inning which makes it well worth the watching. Having grown up playing sports and appreciating the lessons that sports can teach in those formative years, I’ve also had the privilege to watch my children and grandchildren enjoy these sports influenced life lessons too. Baseball is an ultimate team sport, where it isn’t just between a pitcher and a batter who make the game, you have fielders, runners, coaches and umpires all who have an integral role to play.

Baseball is such a great spectator sport because there are so many things to pay attention to at once. As a spectator you get to be an active participant whether you are playing umpire by making your own calls, a surrogate team member in sharing the spirit of sportsmanship with your comrades, acting as coach by shouting your play tips or cheering on your favorite players while you partake in a feast of hot dogs, warm pretzels, peanuts and a refreshing beverage. Spending a day at the ballpark can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors while your competitive senses are sure to be entertained. The fascination with baseball in our country goes back many generations and will hopefully continue through many more by fostering the spirit of this sport through Little League teams in our communities.

These Little League organizations in our hometowns provide kids such an enriching opportunity to learn how to work as a team while encouraging critical thinking skills about strategy and developing their athletic abilities. The camaraderie shared with teammates and the valuable instruction learned from coaches and parents will last a lifetime providing memories they can pass on as they share their love of the game. Baseball is more than watching nine guys stand in a field waiting for something to happen, from secret hand gestures signaling the next play to absorbing all the statistic history that has evolved the game, there are so many facets to explore making it one of the simplest yet dynamic sporting event to enjoy. Even if you aren’t a sports fan and don’t understand the difference between a foul ball and a wild pitch, go ahead stretch into new territory and give it a go, settle into your seat for an all American experience behind the plate as a fan of food, fun with family or friends and take in the view of America’s favorite pastime.

It’s your Birthday! Let’s party!

Birthday Boy

It’s your Birthday! Let’s plan a party, make a guest list, send out invitations and get excited about turning over another year. Celebrating birthdays never goes out of style, sure there are some of those higher numbers that make us cringe thinking about what that growing number represents. However we soon realize that these annual events no matter how trivial they may become as we get older, can actually become more meaningful as we age, giving us the chance to get together with friends or share these special days with family. The early birthday parties of childhood consisted of inviting school friends over to enjoy the festive of feasts, the iconic monument made of birthday cake. As a child we revel in the excitement of opening gifts, playing silly games like pin the tail on the donkey, although I think the donkey has been put out to pasture and replaced with a swinging piñata, albeit shaped like a donkey. Today, kids’ parties are far from the simple gatherings of years past, with parties held at the local kid centered pizza palace, or hop till you drop bouncing center, laser tag, party buses, on and on there are so many ways to make the event a more exciting experience. The annual celebration may have changed locations but the birthday gifts and cake are eternal. It just wouldn’t be a birthday party without presents, the cake and of course the singing of “Happy Birthday”. We look forward to celebrating with those who are important in our lives, and as much as the party is intended for the birthday boy or girl, it’s a show of appreciation for those who have come to join us for our special occasion.

The simple birthday party may be a thing of the past but I think there are still some revelers out there that appreciate the low key backyard approach to celebrating. Create a theme, get some decorations, streamers and little pointy hats, invite some friends over, prepare some simple snacks and punch, yes punch, come up with a few games and party prizes and voilà you have a party. I am curious how other cultures celebrate birthdays each year, are there certain milestones that are celebrated more than others or are there traditions that carry from year to year? Whichever way you choose to celebrate, we can all appreciate the joy of sharing these special milestones with those who care enough to join us in the annual marking our time here on earth. That in itself is simply enough reason to throw a party…just don’t forget the cake!

Old School…New School

School

It was only a couple weeks ago I was writing about summer camps, then last week about travelling to one of our National Parks and now it’s back to school, as many areas around the country begin their official school year this week. On a recent afternoon hike I came across this old schoolhouse that deserved some recognition from my camera and it made me think about how times have changed since the era of this 19th century schoolhouse. I wondered if the kids back then experienced the same exhilarating anticipation at the beginning of each school year just like students today, those feelings of anxious excitement as they get ready for something new. Although back then there was little to prepare for other than making sure you had good walking shoes to take you to the schoolhouse. These days students are getting ready by filling up a new backpack with shiny new school supplies, anxious to meet a new teacher and new classmates, eager to explore new places in the hallways that they’ll roam for the next few years. School gives kids a place to discover new personalities, including their own, room to read about characters of history and challenges minds with new ideas of problem solving. The American school landscape has changed in so many ways over the years with updated buildings, computers and technology in the classroom, varied schedules, limited arts and physical education classes, but the foundation has remained the same, a place to learn. We are proud to have some of the most passionate teachers, enthusiastic crossing guards, faithful bus drivers, engaged parents, and a wide variety of school functions that allow children to expand their learning experience beyond the classroom. Band and choir concerts, football and baseball games, spelling and geography bees, family social events are all opportunities to come together in the spirit of supporting young people while appreciating the importance of extracurricular activities and what they bring to the whole learning process, not to mention a chance for us to reminisce about our own school events we once enjoyed. Schools are not just a building where some people work and kids go to spend the day, beyond the rules and walls; they offer such a vital component to the evolution of our society. A place that encourages cooperation, promotes the importance of research and study skills, acknowledges hard work, and engages the community to remain involved. Even though the landscape around the old schoolhouse has changed, educating the next generation will continue to be our responsibility in sharing our values and freedoms we have come to know through our own experience. And remember, some of the best lessons are learned at home, so be a good teacher!

Lessons Learned from Summer Camp

ImageAs summer camps are in full force this season I find myself recalling memories and experiences from many summer moons ago when I was a youngster at camp. After visiting my son this week at his chosen summer vocation as a camp counselor, I was inspired by watching him take direction from his superiors, giving direction to his team members and interacting with camp goers and parents. It was interesting to see that my grown up camp goer was now a regular summer fixture at the same camp he once attended. Not only does the camp experience give young people a great education living outside their comfort zone but it also encourages them to get to know others outside their circle of home and school. It made me realize how trivial my thoughts had become of summer camp as nothing more than a place to give kids an out of the way experience and parents a much needed reprieve. There was so much more going on at camp than just a week away from mom and dad.
The real camp experience teaches some pretty valuable skills we carry with us through life like problem solving, leadership, risk taking, self-reliance and teamwork. It gives them a chance to exercise these skills when they go horseback riding for the first time, challenge their fear of heights by climbing up a 50 foot tower to reach the zip line, being resourceful by building a campfire, getting to know fellow campers and counselors and so many more activities that appear to be just for fun but in reality allow them to draw upon energies they never knew they had. My camp days are long gone yet this week’s seemingly insignificant visit to a familiar campsite made me realize how important this experience is for young people as well as seasoned camp goers of yesterday. Maybe it served as a gentle reminder to remember those long learned camp lessons and how they can apply to business today. Stretching beyond our limits, stepping out of our comfort zones, learning new skills, being a good leader and team member, maybe we need to simply step back for a hot summer minute and remember with childlike wonder the excitement of exploring new places and meeting new people and let that breathe new life into our weathered sails of business as usual.

 

What do you say, pretend it is your first week at camp and let go and have some fun, challenge your fear, make a new friend, try something different and write me a postcard telling me all about it!