On the road (again)

I’m on the road again. For a short art trip through the South. Ahhh, the sweet smell of diesel exhaust. The chirp of car alarms in a rainstorm. The gaggle of chain stores clustered at highway intersections . . . 
(The photo above was my first landfall in Georgia.) 
It’s easy to make light of the commercial homogeneity of America . . . Yet for every highway exit crammed with the services you welcome, there are three with none of those. 
If you want to escape the standard Gas Food Lodging options, you can.
It’s analogous to the way we live our lives. If I want to escape the regularity of my days, I can . . . 
. . . take the long way home
. . . call a long-lost friend and skim the decades between our last conversation
. . . find a small service to perform some anonymous somewhere (a favorite is to take just a minute to clean up a public restroom, leaving it a wee bit better for the next person)
. . . take a walk in a new area
. . . look passersby in the eye and say hello
I can day trip from my regular life with just the smallest effort.
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No List Sundays



I relish lists. I get giddy striding through my day leaving the corpses of crossed-out tasks bleeding on the page.

I’m a fan of tracking my 5 Daily Practices. 

(Body, Vision, Spirit, Connection, Creative)

I love my planner. Or did. Now I’ve moved in fits and starts to digital organization. With a cheat sheet for my topmost priorities.

Never more than three though:

“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”

~ Jim Collins

In the past couple of months I’ve experimented with something new: No List Sundays.

You could call it Listless Sundays but that’s not quite the connotation I’m reaching for. Though after a particularly grueling week, listlessness can be a resurrection strategy.

The No List Sunday idea is to have one day of the week free from all self-imposed obligations.

In order to achieve No List Sunday I tend to max out Saturday

Oh Saturday! I cram it all into you. The cleaning, the projects, the errands, the laundry, the overflow from the week that’s begging for finality . . .

Which makes No List Sundays relaxing in an almost surreal way. They’ve been rejuvenating. Beyond what I could have imagined. 

On a No List Sunday I don’t even glance at my planner . . . I don’t jot a few things down to weave into the spaces of the day. 

The intention is to connect. With my forever lover woman wife. With our joy boy. With my possibility partners breakfast trio. With friends, family, countrymen . . . 

Most importantly to connect with what I can only call my soul source . . . 

I connect daily in a soul fulfilling way. In meditation. In prayerful thought. In appreciation. In declarations. In service.

But you know this . . . steeping in open time without an agenda draws to the surface what is hidden. Unfocused time wells up what is important. It also opens a deep spring of merriment. 

I always come away from open time feeling merrier. I come away feeling groovy.

The problem is, I’m not sure I can sustain it. Sundays are such a good catch up day!

I’m writing this post with two intentions.

The first is to share it with you, in case you’ve found yourself on a 7-day treadmill with no exit points. You too might enjoy Connection Sundays (an alt title, in case you’re looking for one :).

The second is to convince myself by seeking to convince you of its benefits to carry on with this practice that has enriched my life so greatly.

(Yes, a little dastardly . . . but really, isn’t that at the base of why we blog? To remind ourselves of what works and why . . . )

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Want to spark your creative best? Check out this little book: 
Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


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The power of polarity

I’ve found experiencing an intense negative situation is frequently the catalyst for something extraordinary.

The intensity causes an equally fervent dream to take hold — to be in a better place. 

Once I release the grip of fear — once I discharge it’s emotional hold — I am released quickly toward the realization of that now flowering desire.

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The infection that runs through generations

Last weekend my son had a sleepover for his birthday. It was great fun, lots of boisterousness, whooping it up, Nerf gun wars and more.
As is common with 13-year olds, they tested the boundaries of language. Profanity crops up more and more in their banter, especially with two of the kids.
While I was in another room on my laptop I heard one of them say, “You dirty n****r.”
I stopped breathing, my stomach tightened in revulsion.
My mind leapt to the father of that kid. Crap, I thought, another generation infected . . .



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That Goodwill bag in your closet

What’s the best way to simplify and to give?

Goodwill. Or any other charitable organization that accepts physical item donations.

By decluttering . . . and donating those items . . . you are doing both at once.

Placing a Goodwill bag in your closet . . . makes donating automatic. It’s easy then to Kondo your closet and home. 

It’s what we do.

When I come across an unused, unloved item, in the bag it goes. 

Each time I fill a bag, I place it in my car — to drop off the next time I drive near Goodwill. And of course I immediately place another bag in the closet.

Easy does it. Make it easy and you find yourself doing it.

Remember master tidier Marie Kondo’s number one rule:

If it doesn’t spark joy  toss!

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for a soul tonic via email, once or twice a month.

Want to draw out your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


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The improvisational treefort

Look how lovingly, how painstakingly the builder of this treefort worked to incorporate the limbs of the tree.

That’s organic. Creating on and around what’s there.

It’s a perfect metaphor for the creative life. You as a creator build upon what is already there. You incorporate whatever sprouts in your path.

Your path isn’t avoidance, it’s incorporation.

For you 

Evan Griffith

What creators do

__________________________
Click here to join the fast-growing subscriber list, for the best of The World Is Freaky Beautiful, once-ish a month, maybe.

Check out this little book about sparking your creative best: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Alternative workspace: Library version

Bibi McBarky Butt

I like sleeping around. For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed falling asleep in places other than my bed. 

It was so commonplace in college for me to be found snoozing in unusual spots that it became a meme. My tightest buddy from college still brings it up.

I’ve slept in other people’s beds of course, but those are stories for another time. 

<wink>

More adventurously it’s been in any ole nook I could squeeze myself into or onto. Bean bags, hammocks, grassy knolls, against trees, on discarded tires, on a pile of laundry. In cars, vans, boats, campers. On carpets, throw pillows, beach towels, chairs not meant in the slightest for sleep. Against a backpack or briefcase. On the bank of a river, on a picnic table at a rest area, curled up in a cave, in the hollow of rock on a cliff.

I’ve even managed to nod off in a kayak while on open water. You have to slink down as far as you can go for that, position your paddle perpendicular across the cockpit with your arms resting on it . . . and then pray you’ll wake quickly should your head loll and body sag too far in one direction.

It’s always best to awaken before the splash.

I’m a napper, there’s no wrong way to do it. 

It’s the same for your creative work.

It turns out that changing up your work space does wonders for spurring creative thought.

Because of a home renovation project I sought alternative work spaces for a few weeks. I may touch on other locations in the future but today I have to extol the virtues of the library. 

(The food court at the mall is a good one as long as you have grazing discipline.)

A couple of hours in a library spurs immersion. 

This post on the homeless but not bikeless guy came about because of those library sojourns.

A library has all the amenities you’ll want for accomplishing good work: 

  • wifi
  • clean bathrooms
  • quiet, sweet quiet
  • comfortable but not drowsiness-inducing chairs
  • desks or tables to work on
  • electric outlets
  • clean bathrooms (important enough to mention twice)

Best of all is the intense focus occurring all around you at a library. Everyone is deep into their own work. There’s a hushed hum of concentration that draws the best from you.

If you like being around people while you work, but not so much that you want to actually speak to them, the library’s for you.

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Want to spark your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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The improvisational now

The world depends on structure. Loose or tight, everyone’s life has its own rhythm. Even when you look at the lives of those who abhor organization and routine you find it.

I have a contrarian friend who is most dependable. We can count on him to be late. We can count on him to miss his tax deadlines. He is dependably ever re-organizing after the mess overwhelms. He dependably watches a great number of movies. He routinely overrides cues and goes to bed too late.

That’s all true, but so is this . . .

This freewheeling friend can also be counted on for long, engaging conversations on many subjects, from bathroom mishaps to societal progress. 

This friend can be counted on to take a long walk with you whenever you need it. 

He will be there repeatedly throughout your days in the way no one else is (But you, Ann! But you 🙂

And for sure you can be certain in any given week he will have left the greatest range of messages on your voicemail that anyone will leave in your lifetime, from silly to profane to profound.

I’m thinking of the rhythm of our days because my hours became unmoored from structure recently. Things were left undone. More than that, my system collapsed.

I’m in recovery now, re-assembling piece by broken piece.

Here’s the curious part: When I looked closely the structure wasn’t gone — it had simply shifted.

It turns out I’d merely shifted priorities without knowing it: Instead of engaging my daily practices I was breathless to keep up with the daily political mayhem.  

Normally I’m able to keep the cacophony of the world at a low hum in my days. Not now! I’m rabid with fascination.

I substituted creative work for fascination with this year’s wild and disruptive presidential race.

The solution?

My new structure is one of accommodation. I’m creating space for political overload. I’m interested; it’s important; I refuse to repress the urge. 

Denial wouldn’t work anyway. My mind is far cleverer than my will. Especially a will enfeebled by lack of desire for a strong will (in this instance). (Hell, who am I kidding, in so many instances.)

The accommodation is this: 

1. I’m returning with vigor to the creative and physical practices I’d been shirking . . . 

2. . . . By forgoing reading books for now. I’m imbibing politics instead. 

That’s the tradeoff: No books, lots of politics. For now. Until, like an ice cream junkie, I’m sickened by over consumption, throw up from too much of it . . . forcing a change in my ways.

Books might be snarky about where your attention went slumming, but ultimately they’re a forgiving lot. 

Unlike a lover you done wrong, books will always take you back.  

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Want to spark your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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The 3 Ls of expressing love energy

In Burn Baby Burn, my little book about unleashing your creative potential, the central theme is expressing love energy.

Though there are details galore in the bookito about forging a simple, daily creative practice, the core message is about the power of love energy. Specifically how focused bursts of this potent force in the direction of your dreams unleashes creativity beyond your known boundaries.

Though you’ll have to read Burn Baby Burn for the context — for the stories! — here’s a short primer on what expressing love energy feels like.

To be fanciful, we’ll call it . . .  

The 3 Ls of Love Energy

Lift: When you express love you always feel lifted up. Others feel the lift too. There’s an immediate and soulful uptick when love energy is expressed. 

Have you ever been in a tense work situation . . . where someone was able to break through the entrenched dynamic and bring about a resolution? 

Whether it’s done through humor or insight or creating a bridge between opposing viewpoints, there’s some kind of compassion at the heart of it.

When I worked on Wall Street, Charlene Raytek — a woman I considered my mentor even though she was a couple years younger — would break through logjams through empathetic questioning.

It wasn’t that she found a solution necessarily, it’s that her soft questioning combined with attentive listening gradually opened a pathway.

Often that’s all you need, something new to attempt. 

Her gentle queries lifted us out of circular thinking. You may not think that’s love, but it is. She didn’t come in barking commands, she came with an open heart. 

(And an incisive mind. That’s a particularly good combination.)

You know good ju ju’s in the air when everyone comes away on a higher frequency.

Lightness: You know how you feel when you fly a kite? Or play with a young child? Or hear a favorite song you haven’t heard in a long time? 

You feel light. You feel as though gravity has loosed its bonds. 

Just this morning I drove a forever friend to the airport, so he could fly up north for an emergency operation to remove a cancerous growth on his leg. It was sudden, unscheduled. This could have felt like an imposition but you know what I felt the entire time — an enveloping lightness of being!

Laughter: Watch Angelina Jolie in a video while she’s touring a refugee camp sometime. What you’ll notice is how much laughter is going on. Smiles abound. Grins and giggles go pandemic.

My brother and his kids have spent time helping out in African and Haitian missions. It’s the same there. When I see the photos what stands out is not the misery of the situation, but the joy that’s being sparked. 

Look for these things: Lift, lightness and laughter. When they are present love energy is being expressed. 

When they are absent, it’s not. 

When you infuse love energy into your work all heaven breaks out.

For you 

Evan Griffith

What creators do

__________________________
Click here to join the fast-growing subscriber list, for the best of The World Is Freaky Beautiful, once-ish a month, maybe.

Check out this little book about sparking your creative best: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Further confirmation the backpack is the new briefcase

I was sitting down with an engineer who’s become a project manager . . . for engineering projects across teams and across multiple companies.

His bag of choice: The humble backpack. 

Yes, the backpack is the new briefcase. The new messenger bag too.

This guy flies across the country working on multi-million-dollar ventures. He’s in meetings with top executives, with factory workers, with engineers, with vendors, and in-house personnel.

Why did he revert to the backpack from a briefcase? 

For all the same reasons outlined in the link above: comfort, stability, capacity, durability, light weight, balance . . . 

One of the great trends in this era is comfort over status. The suit and tie are disappearing in all but the most uptight professions. You can choose the tools that make the most sense  like a backpack  over the ones that confer conventionality.

Effectiveness is winning out over appearance. And that’s a good thing. 

From baristas to tech execs to the guys who wave signs from the sidewalks, what works matters more than conformity.

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Add a little creative soul to your life. Click here to join the subscriber list for — you know — the occasional thing in your inbox.

Want to spark your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


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