Friday, August 3, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have to Stop…

And sew a chicken.
Or three.
Yeah, once in a while I like to shake things up a bit, break out the sharp implements, and flex my mind’s elbow in a different way.
So I sew.
Most of the time, I quilt – but please don’t get the impression that I’m some kind of quilting queen.
I’m actually not very good.
And I’m a little slow – so, I only sew baby quilts.
Thus far, my lifetime quilt tally totals only 3 ½.
Um… and the future “baby” recipient of quilt number ½ is, well…
10 years old.
Yeah, I consider it my finest piece
of procrastination.
But, Mark, if you’re reading this – that quilt is all yours when you head off to college, for sure!
Um, and while I’m at it – Luke, we need to talk. I’m thinking that by the time you’re a grandpa…

Anyway, I just wanted to say that it’s okay
to dabble,
Or fiddle around.
It’s good to stretch those creative muscles in a different way once in a while.

And this week I decided that chickens were just the thing.
So I sewed…
a cheeky, chicky set of juggling balls.
Because, admit it –
you’ve always wanted to juggle poultry.

Okay, maybe that’s just me.

PROMPT: Do a little dabbling in a different way this weekend. Stretch that mind’s elbow of yours – and next week you’re sure to find more room in there for all the creative work you love.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Go Ahead – Sweat the Small Stuff

No writer’s block for these blocks!

Genius is one percent inspiration
and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
~ Thomas Edison

According to our friends in the science world, we can now take good ol’ Tommy Ed literally.
Exercise actually increases creative thinking!
Here’s the lowdown –
In 2005 Blanchette and friends found that students performed better on a creativity test after moderate exercise. What’s more, the subjects were still buzzing with turbo-charged creative potential for up to two hours after working out.
Oh, and here’s a nifty bonus feature – another study from the Journal of Sports Medicine reported that those creative exercisers also felt happier.
Couch spuds everywhere are probably wondering how this can be so.
Well, let’s just say that your left brain is a talker – chatter, chatter, CHATTER all day long. She never lets your shy right-brain friend have a say in her own quiet and creative way. What’s more, most of us spend most of our time engaged in logical, linear thinking. You know – if this then that, point A to point B, etc. Well, that’s just the kind of thinking that Lefty LOVES! So, on and on and on she goes in her pushy, wordy way. But in order to get a little creative spark…
we need to SHUT HER UP!
Turns out, exercise is a little like left brain duct tape.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain. And pouring extra oxygen on the brain is like, well... pouring extra oxygen on the brain, if you know what I mean.
Some exciting new research is also suggesting that regular exercise can even lead to the birth of new neurons. Trust me, that is a REALLY good thing.
And how do you get all of these amazing benefits and bonus features?
Just 30 minutes of blood, sweat, and tears.
So get out there and run, skip, hula, hike, dance, bike, or jump to more than conclusions.
It doesn’t matter how you shake it, just make sure you do.
Sweat it out like Tommy Ed and you, too, can have a life that’s chock-full of…
Light bulb moments.

PROMPT: Don’t let the Olympic athletes hog all the creative fun. Get your game on, dive right in, keep the ball (point pen) rolling, tackle that project, and you’re sure to hit a creative home run! Or… just stay on the couch, eat chips, and see how many sports metaphors you can pack into a piece.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Roll with It

I cannot watch Olympic gymnastics without memories of middle school.
Back then, I had the amazing (mis)fortune of attending a school with a complete set of gymnastics equipment. What’s more, our P.E. teacher was a former college gymnast.
She was a flippin’ zealot.
And so, for eight weeks every winter I endured a whole heap of falls and face-plants – because gymnastics apparently required strength, agility, and coordination.
I had NONE of these qualities.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that when God was handing them out, I was in line for pie.
And so…
Splits – Forget about it.
Cartwheels – Dream on.
Back walkover – Not a chance.
The same could be said for the front walkover, the handstand, the headstand, the handspring, and the round off.
In my 4 years of “training”, I mastered only one thing –
The forward roll.
To this day, I have no idea how I even passed middle school Phys. Ed.  
Because I’m pretty sure that a hoofed animal could have outscored me.

And while my sister can STILL do cartwheels (yeah, she flaunts it whenever she receives good news) – over the years I have lost even the tiny crumb of forward roll aptitude I once possessed.
Yep, I still stink at gymnastics.
But I’m totally fine with that now that I’m a grown-up.
Time has taught me that I actually stink at a LOT of things – auto mechanics, phlebotomy, Scottish dancing, nuclear physics….
The list goes on
and on.
And so with my hard-won maturity, I will actually enjoy watching the USA’s “Fabulous Five” battle it out for the gold tonight…
without traumatic middle school flashbacks.

Of course, the pie will help.

PROMPT: Even with all of the Olympic winning going on, you can still take time out to embrace your inner loser. Check out (aptly-named) Loser by Jerry Spinelli and Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid for inspiration. Then bake a pie. Pie makes everything better.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius

For two weeks every two years, I stumble around distracted and sleep-deprived.
I become oblivious to world events in my attempt to remain spoiler-free.
I sit around a lot, eat dinner on the couch, and lose whatever physical fitness I’ve acquired in the “off season.”
Yeah, that last bit of irony is not lost on me.
My name is Barb, and I am an Olympics junkie.
Of course, the summer Games are extra special for me. I ran track way back in the day – slogging through the 1600 and 3200 meters, as well as a leg of the 3200-meter relay on occasion. So as you can imagine, for the next two weeks I'll relive those glory days when I was a proud part of the pack that made champions possible.
Face it, folks, without losers like me – those winners look pretty silly running solo.
But I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m simply a track fan. When it comes to the Olympics, for me, the event is irrelevant.
Case in point – during the winter Games I can spend hours, yes HOURS, completely captivated…
by curling.
Two years ago, when the Games came to nearby Vancouver, I even paid good money to attend a curling match.
And BROOMED, Baby!

Certainly, it is the amazing mix of sport that makes the Olympics fantastic.
But writer friends, we all know it’s the stories that make them over-the-top AWESOME!
And London 2012 is chock-full of stories –
An archer who is legally blind.
A runner with blades for legs.
A U.S. weightlifter who lives in poverty because women with bad bikini bodies don’t get endorsements. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what all the 60’s bra burning was fighting for… But I digress.

So, stay tuned for the stories!
And thank you, Olympians…
for demonstrating what dedication really looks like,
for showing me that overcoming atrocious odds is indeed possible,
and for making me less of a whiner…
and maybe,
just maybe,
more of a winner.

PROMPT: It’s all about Faster, Higher, Stronger this week, so set your own golden goal! Rock that revision! Slam dunk that story! Power through that project!
No whining allowed.