What every creative house should have in it

We’re all creatives now.

Be you a self-defined creative (in the arts, in design) or be you a small biz whiz or be you in a large organization, we’re all creatives. We all need to engage our creative best to thrive.

And where you live is where it all begins. Your home is the spur or the chains to your creative flow.

Every creative house should have at least one item made by each inhabitant:

  • An art object
  • A clay mug
  • A book (if a writer lives there)
  • A drawing, a sketch
  • A handmade something
  • A handwritten mantra in marker or paint
  • A musical instrument (if music is played)
  • A quilt
  • A vision board
  • A scrawled prayer for this life and this world
  • Notes on the good life tacked to a wall
  • A handcrafted piece of furniture
  • Driftwood lovingly burnished
  • A found object repurposed imaginatively 
Engage your creativity from where you live. It will spill out from there.

For you 

Evan Griffith
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Living a thin slice of the dream

the family adventure part

Yesterday my editor Dan Richards and I sat in our van going over edits for my upcoming bookito Burn, Baby, Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within.

There we sat, in the second row captain’s chairs, maybe 50 feet from the diner where we’d eaten breakfast. I was having the time of my life reviewing where my little book sucked. 

A good editor shows you both the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript. Dan is more than a good editor. He’s a great editor, one who practices the fine art of subtraction. Like a master designer, he strengthens by removing the excess.

Take the first several paragraphs for example. He crossed out a lot of it. Many an author might see that as a bloodletting. To me it was purification.

There we were, AC blasting, cocooned in this modern metal cave, going over his summary of what worked and what didn’t . . . and I had a flashback to a flashforward of that moment. 

I was living a thin slice of the dream.

We all have dreams. Things we yearn for, what we’d like to see slip into our daily experience.

It was only a year or three ago I was writing variations on a simple dream in my Vision Pages: For a van that would work as a mobile ops unit while doubling as a family adventure vehicle.

Something Dan said prompted the memory of pre-visioning the very moment we were living. It swept through me. I could vividly recall daydreaming about a moment exactly like this. Where I’d be engaged in creative work in the van with someone else. 

(How fast we age out of some dreams, eh? . . . a daydream from 35 years ago would also have entertained the idea of me and someone else in a van, to far different result . . . 🙂

In those Vision Pages I imagined interviews, collaborations, curiosity conversations . . . I imagined the van as my mobile creative studio. And here I was living this aspect of it for the first time.

It was thrill inducing. You’ve probably had those moments of recognition. They steer through your body like a drunken fairy spewing magic dust to every corner. You shiver bodily, in unlikely places even. 

If Dan hadn’t sparked this recall in conversation I might not have noticed it . . . 

Which causes me to wonder . . . do we live out small victories all the time and miss them?

For you 

Evan Griffith
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The optical illusion of time (how to slow it down)

Here’s one way

When you’re freaking out about how much you’ve got crammed into your day, there’s one counter-intuitive thing you can do to slow it all down.

Pause.
Really pause. 
Better yet. Stop completely.
Close your eyes. 

Breathe in and out slowly five times. Each time slower than the last.

Think for just a few seconds of what you’d like to see happen, effortlessly. 

Feel that flow. Feel for a fleeting moment how effing good it would feel to see it all come together.

Then engage. Hop back in to the fray. Go to it.

Try it. It’s an amazing reset to the pace of your day. 

I’ve had time literally unblock itself. As in, what seemed impossible somehow in some way suddenly became doable.

(Where, you ask. You don’t have privacy where you’re at.  Slide off to the restroom. Many a day has been saved from behind a stall door.)

Time opens up for those who befriend it.

For you 

Evan Griffith
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The karmic charm of self-fulfilling prophesy

Let’s start by going to the great oracle of Wiki:

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true . . . 

~ From Self-fulfilling prophesy, Wikipedia

Elsewhere on the great Wiki you find this further explanation:

Robert K. Merton defined self-fulfilling prophecy as, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.

The surprise gift within Merton’s definition is that a self-fulfilling prophesy begins as a false statement

Now let’s focus on the karmic beauty of the remainder of the definition: 

When this false statement causes belief, also presumably false, at least initially . . . this new belief and the actions that arise from it insure that the originally false prophetic statement comes true.

Sweet Jeezy Jazz-o-lifealicious, I’ll take more of that —

For you 

Evan Griffith
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Click here for occasional notes to your inbox on creativity, spirituality and whee! Once or twice a month.


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Seinfeld on life and comedy and why spareness serves you

From Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow, in which Apatow interviews comedians about their process . . . and how they made it.

In this interview excerpt with Jerry Seinfeld not long ago, Apatow recalls the first time he interviewed Seinfeld. (It was pre-Seinfeld, the hit TV comdey, and Apatow was only 15 years old):

Judd: The other thing that I remember about our interview is that your apartment had nothing in it. Like, it was not decorated.  

Jerry: Oh, I was a minimalist from the beginning. I think that’s why I’ve done well as a comedian. 

Judd: No distractions. 

Jerry: If you always want less, in words as well as things, you’ll do well as a writer.

For you 

Evan Griffith

What creators do

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Daymond John: The power of broke

Our current success at the art gallery rose directly from the ashes of the crash.

The things we changed or were forced to change enabled our resurrection from financial collapse. Traveling around the country myself to exchange artwork with artists — to save money on shipping — opened my eyes to what was working.

I came across artists that were selling even in the economic ruins. We brought them in. We slashed personnel and costs. We negotiated a new deal on rent. We halved our own cost of living by selling our dream home and moving into one at half the value.

We’re slowly evolving this smaller home into a dreamier home.

Ann has re-committed to her own artwork. She’s selling like never before. And it’s so much more fulfilling! 

Though it took several years, we moved to a new business model. One where the person who sells the artwork is the same person who physically installs it. 

This makes for greater versatility in a given day for the team . . . and goes a long way to eliminating boredom from tight repetition. There’s more life in the day. There’s more variety.

And it’s simpler. Fewer people to manage. Greater growth opportunities for each team member.

All around it’s more fun. 

Leaner, funner, growier — what’s not to like.

Daymond John of Shark Tank fame calls it The Power of Broke.

“Whether you’re a struggling entrepreneur or running a huge corporation, money is never the answer to a problem. It’s the by-product of finding a solution.”

~ Daymond John, quoted in Success Magazine
For you 

Evan Griffith

What creators do

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Unsimple

I’m a loud advocate for simplicity . . . because I’m too often unsimple. Which is not the same as complicated. 

Unsimple is when I shoot off in too many directions at once. Complicated is what happens after I’ve unloaded my unsimpleness into the world . . . and I have to live up to my (too) many obligations. 

Complicated is inviting two girls to the prom and they both accept.

Unsimple is the impulse to do two things at once without considering the consequences. Like when first asking not one girl but two . . . 

Things get complicated when I come from an unsimple place.

An easy gauge of unsimple living is how late I’m running. Most of the time I’m on time. When I start to run late it’s because I’m trying to cram in too much . . . 

Unsimplicity builds on itself. I start to feel out of whack and I overcompensate by attempting more in a shorter time. 

The cure is to stop. Re-assess. Bring it down to the one most important thing . . .  

I’m feeling it now. Unsimple. It’s a frustrating and dispiriting place. It’s unfun. Uninspiring. And unnecessary.

Unsimple can’t be cured by anyone else but me. 

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One thing, not two

Explore a keen observation in this excerpt on the power of subtraction — or put another way, the power of an intensely narrow focus:

I began working with our top people individually to build their careers and businesses. Out of habit, I would end our coaching calls with a recap of the handful of things they were agreeing to accomplish before our next session. 

Unfortunately, many would get most of them done, but not necessarily what mattered most. Results suffered. Frustration followed. 

So, in an effort to help them succeed, I started shortening my list: If you can do just three things this week. … If you can do just two things this week. … 

Finally, out of desperation, I went as small as I could possibly go and asked: 

“What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” 

And the most awesome thing happened. Results went through the roof. 

After these experiences, I looked back at my successes and failures and discovered an interesting pattern. Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too. 

And the light came on.

Gary KellerThe One Thing

For you 

Evan Griffith
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Click here for occasional notes to your inbox on creativity, spirituality and whee! Once or twice a month.

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Schedule for the reality you wish to inhabit

 

On Sunday mornings I’m part of an unholy triumvirate that meets for breakfast. It’s an informal thing. We suss out inspiration. We share insights. We spur each other on. We search for solutions to the perplexities confronting us.

Scott is an engineer and speaker (on personal and spiritual growth). Mike founded a bioneurofeedback center (to improve body and brain without drugs). Then there’s me. The outlier in the arts.

As we were leaving Mike tossed out a question you don’t hear often:

So, what will be your next insight this week?

He fleshed it out a little more. He was asking me to imagine what insight I might be struck by . . . in advance . . . and to spill it out now. 

Though tantalized by the question, nothing leapt forth.

We parted ways after sufficient nothingness poured forth from me.

Mike’s question about a potential insight for the coming week must have been playing in my demi-consciousness . . . . Because as I was heading to the Goodwill drop off I was gobsmacked with an answer to a scheduling dilemma.

(A quick note to explain why I have a scheduling dilemma: My work life has changed dramatically. 

I’m at the gallery in the mornings, overlapping with our gallery director. Then it’s off for a business errand or two in the early afternoon. For the latter part of the afternoon I’m in my home office, working from there. 

This is a new rhythm for me. 

One I’ve dreamt about for months. Now it’s here. Yay. And I’m trying to figure out how to handle it.)

The dilemma is what to schedule and when for my home office afternoon.

As I was driving an idea spoke so forcefully to me I had to pull over and record it:

“Schedule for the new reality you wish to inhabit.” 

“Specifically, schedule in your creative work as if that is how you are making part of your living. A significant part.” 

“Some part of the reality you wish to make real must be scheduled into your day.”


Normally I cram in a little creative work in the mornings at breakfast when I’m not meeting someone — and then it’s left to piecemeal in at the end of the day.

The solution to my scheduling dilemma was there: 

Schedule in some creative time in the afternoon.

In it was also the sense that the art gallery work would flow even better with a creative break wedged in.

Earlier in the week I mentioned to Mike I’d had an epiphany . . . one decades in the making. 

That there’s only one principle of creation: Live it

Live whatever it is you seek to create in your life. Live it. Breathe it. Embody it.

This Mike-spawned realization came because he asked for my next insight before its arrival. And as completion to the deeper understanding from earlier in the week: to better live my creative jones.

Since I’m creating a robust creative career, this new insight rounds the circle.

“Schedule for the new reality you wish to inhabit.” 

Maybe this will have some resonance for you too . . .

For you 

Evan Griffith
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Stephen Nachmanovitch on William Blake . . . and the implications of free play as fundamental to creation

An excerpt I think you’ll enjoy from Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch:

William Blake made a curious and interesting remark: 

“Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules.” 

We usually think of virtue as something that stems from following rules rather than impulse, and we usually think of acting from impulse as acting wild or crazy. But if Jesus had followed the rules of conventional morality and virtue, he would have died old as a loyal citizen of the Roman Empire. 

Impulse, like improvisation, is not “just anything”; it is not without structure but is the expression of organic, immanent, self-creating structure. 

Blake saw Jesus as the incarnation of God, acting not according to the fixed expectations of someone else’s limited ideas but in accord with a deeper, bigger Self, beyond consciousness, the wholeness of the living universe, which expresses itself impulsively, spontaneously, through dreams, art, play, myth, spirituality.

It’s an intriguing premise . . . that expression spiritually or creatively, on any scale, has as much to do with free-wheeling improvisation as it does with rules and structure. More so. And on a cosmic scale.

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