Cheeky does it

This ad works. It makes you want to zoom in. Not for titillating reasons, you’ve already been titillated. Nope, you want to find out what it’s about.

Studio E Gallery is plop in the middle of a highly affluent area. Consequently every local high-end magazine wants to be on our counter. They air drop in by the dozens. Somebody seems to be coming by every other day with the latest round.

If you were to flip through these magazine pages you’d quickly assume the McKayla is not impressed stance. (If you’re not familiar with that meme, here’s a link explaining its origin.)

When extravagance overspills decadence on every page, your eyes glaze over like an aged donut.

It takes something original to get you to look further. Yes, sex is selling you a bit here. But it always is. No less in luxury mags. Which makes it easy to skip by quickly, even when alluring models are included.

This ad works because of idea conflation. Bringing together different concepts.

Let’s break down how they do it in this instance.

First they draw you in with the visual. That’s but a nanosecond for our overmarketed brains. 

It’s the tagline where it gets really cheeky. Where the adsters collide separate realms . . . floating the idea that it doesn’t really matter if you’re not the first . . . 

Really? What are they referring to? A car, a mansion, a lifestyle, a lover?

Now you have to look at the fine print. 

Boom. They’ve got you. They’re selling used exotic cars . . . And you nod your head at their cleverness. They made you look.

The best ideas come together from disparate elements. What can you conflate today?

For you 

Evan Griffith

What creators do

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For road warriors: A simple 10-minute roadside rejuvenation

Our mobile yurt

I road trip for art. A lot.

There’s a simple solution to staying fit while on the road. One that’s worked wonders for me over the years.

The 10-minute roadside rejuvenation method:

  • Every hour pull over at a roadside rest area
  • Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes
  • Hop out of your vehicle and don’t stop moving until it dings

Here are some simple things you can do in those 10 minutes:

  • Play: If you’re with others, a frisbee, a ball, anything that gets you moving
  • Walk around
  • While walking, swing your arms vigorously
  • Stretch (I do simple yoga poses, slow lunges)
  • Finish strong: with pushups, deep knee bends. Pullups if you can find a branch or a part of a structure to use. It really gets your blood pumping.
You’ll find yourself invigorated, ready for the next hour without caffeine or food as a crutch.
At the end of a long day’s drive, you’ll find you’ve easily worked out an hour or more.
Modern rest areas come so often that it’s easy to pull on and off in a minute. 
If you’re pressed for time, do 5 minutes every hour. You’ll be more alert and you’ll cover many more miles safely and enjoyably. 
Who doesn’t want to come back from a trip in better shape? 
(A side benefit: Be prepared for an insight onslaught while you’re driving. Rejuvenation breaks have a way of spurring massive downloads of usable ideas.)

(Have a pen and pad handy 🙂


West Texas gas station parking lot.
Can you spot the frisbee?
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Trusting the release

The bird was preening itself in this magnificent lighting but would not stay still. I held it in focus for several minutes.  
Finally, I said a prayer and simply trusted to release the shutter. 
That was the result. It’s a similar story with my best photographs. I suppose that if I deserve any credit it’s for the willingness to pick up the camera and leave the house. 
The Universe takes care of the rest. 

~ Greg NcNay

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Stoking the reality I want to live in

Have you gone missing from your own life for awhile? That’s what it feels like in part, upon returning from a month-long working vacation. 
It was adventure, for sure. Road trip, family time, meeting creatives in their lairs . . . Upon returning though it feels like a hole has been blown in my forward progress, as I wrestle to get all the parts of my life working again.
Big events can blow our routines apart. 
Has this happened to you?
What were you were working on before you went away? What were you engaged in before you were interrupted by vacation or crisis or a wedding or a funeral?
Work life is easiest to get back into. You show up, you survey the avalanche of demands, you prioritize and you get on with it.
This is what’s happening with me at the art gallery. 
It’s the creative projects and the personal routines I’m struggling with.
Want to know what I’m doing to enter that slipstream of engaged living? 
I’m stoking the reality I want to live in.
I want rich relationships. 

So I’ve scheduled time with friends.
I want health and vitality. 
So I’m inserting something physical daily.
In fact, I’m following the dictum my son blurted out years ago while acrobating around the top of our metal-framed, four-poster bed: Fun exercise works!
If it’s fun and active, I’m in.
I also want my creative work to begin in earnest again.
So I’m simply beginning. Today.
We made campfires while camping on this trip. It turns out it’s easy. 
You start small. You gather the smallest elements first. You light it. You stoke the fire. You feed it. It burns.
It’s the same with the ingredients of a well-lived life. You gather the experiences you want into your day. Your present day. This day you’re living. Today!
Each brief experience in the direction of the greater life you want to live is an ember in your fire. You blow on it by living it today. Stoke the reality you want to live in by living it in the smallest increments you can muster  . . . and watch it catch fire.
(Sooner or later your biggest problem will be controlling the blaze 🙂

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A busking mermaid

Today we’re celebrating the creative spirit in street theater: A busking mermaid and her man in downtown Stuart, Florida.
(Though it appears she rode in on a skateboard . . . )
Just one of the reasons it’s one of America’s happiest towns:

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A test of character

Do you speed up or slow down when a car in front of you indicates it needs to merge into your lane?

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9 life lessons learned on the road

We’re home again. After a month on the road, art trekking, I’m ready to dive into the next phase. 
It’s always good to reflect on where you’ve been, to have guideposts for where you’re going.
Here are 9 takeaways from life on the road, traveling through America:

1. The gap between the fit and the fat grows ever greater
More than ever the country seems to be dividing into two spheres. It’s not political as you might expect. It’s about health. 
As you leave the coastal areas it becomes more pronounced. 
California is healthier than Nevada. I’ve never seen a demographic map for obesity, but from my travels it’s most concentrated in middle America. 
Smaller communities appear to have a greater proportion of the overweight, with the noticeable exception of communities known for outdoors or health-conscious lifestyles. 
Like Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sedona, Arizona; Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 
In a website dedicated to celebrating creative living, this observation was one I wanted to skip over. But this health gap is so pervasive and so glaring a trend that it felt like self censure to hide it away.
I don’t know what to make of it except in a personal way: To refine my routines to ensure I’m in the desired category.
Life is trajectory. I want to make sure I’m surfing the arc of fit.

2. Creativity, ideosyncrasy and self-expression abound
Photographically I’ve been primarily interested in small vignettes that exemplify the everyday creative impulse. A sign. A re-purposed piece of machinery that now acts as a kind of decaying sculpture. Decorations. Yard ornaments. Interesting elements in the contemporary landscape.
What I’ve been missing are the people! My God I’ve been missing out. Out of shyness I suppose. 
You’ll know I’ve grown a pair when you see more photos of intriguing people. That means I’ll be brazenly asking people to let me take their photo. 
On this trip I passed a number of individuals individuating. Being themselves.
Specifically, I recall this moment. My son and I were walking back to our van in Santa Barbara when we passed a black guy in a fedora. I’m guessing he was 35-ish. He was striking! 
I thought to ask if I could photograph him . . . By the time I wrestled back and forth in my mind he was a block and a half away, and my son was a block in advance of me. I stood there watching both of them diminish from view.
He wore an open Cuban shirt, t-shirt underneath tucked neatly into chinos, the fedora, with short dreads bouncing underneath. There was something so alive in him I regret missing the opportunity. 
It was an opportunity of mere seconds . . . one that only required being ready. And being willing to step forward in that instant.
Which brings me to this . . . the lesson I’m always relearning . . . 
3. Ask!
Sweet Jeezy Jehosaphat I’m constantly relearning this one. This in fact may be my primary life lesson. 
Ask! Ask for what you want. 
You don’t have to be shrill about it. You can be a polite, amusing, soft-spoken asker. I’ve met champion askers . . . and they are rarely obnoxious. They are rarely rude. 
More commonly the askers tend to be thoughtful and creative. Even slyly out of the ordinary. People who ask tend to think beyond the accepted paradigm.
That’s not been me!
But I want it to be . . . .
So I’m starting with asking my own damn self to ask more. And to start with asking people if I can snap their pic for FreakyBeautiful.com.
You who are reading this can hold my feet to the fire. If you don’t see interesting people popping up from time to time in the images, connect with me. And let me have it. 
Subject line Wussy will be enough.
4. People make a journey
In Wild, Cheryl Strayed takes us along on an arduous journey traversing the spine of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Beginning in Arizona, she hiked the jagged route to Oregon with only intermittent breaks. 
Even in this solitary tale what stands out is the sweep of her personal history. Her mother’s early death. Her family coming apart in the wake of that death. The collapse of her young marriage. Her own free fall into heroin. Her hike-about was a stab at redemption. At changing her own story. And it did. 
The people she met along the way — whether ill intentioned or beneficent — stand out: Like the good Christian man who helps her pare down her oversized load . . . and insists she doesn’t need condoms. (She sneaks back and saves one.)
A solitary journey can be powerful, especially as a means to spiritual cleansing. 
Yet, still, it’s the people who matter most in your story. If Cheryl Strayed’s own story had not gone on to encompass engaging relationships it might have felt a hollow victory for her. 
I learned this deeply on this trip. 
For the second summer in a row I traveled with my family. My previous art trips were solo ventures. When I started out I had grand imaginings of the creative work I’d accomplish. Hooey! I did 95% of the driving and much of the communications en route . . . Even without my family it’s been rare to get more than an hour or two of creative work in a day.
With these special people on board, it quickly dawned on me: Why would I want to muck up the experience with a personal agenda?
So I quickly adapted, carving out a minimal creative burst or two each day while enjoying heaps of relationship time.
Which brings me to . . . 
5. Every long trip is a lifestyle, you’ve got to let it flow
Every extended trip takes on its own rhythm . . . and you have to go with it if you are to find the magic in it. 
When I travel solo I tend to rise with the sun and bug out quickly. I’m on the road before rush hour . . . when rush hour strikes, I’m off the road having breakfast . . . and from there I’m stopping every 60 to 90 minutes for a short yoga and exercise break . . . 
This was decidedly not the rhythm of my family trips, no matter how much I wished it so. The moment I learned to acquiesce to the rhythm of late nighters and late mornings, was the moment I relaxed into enjoyment. 
You know what? It evolved into a miracle of perfect timingness! We made all the necessary stops . . . with ample time for surprises along the way. See this retreat as one unplanned example.
6. If you’re laughing, it’s good
That about sums it up for every experience under the sun. It’s easy to tell if it’s good. You’re smiling. You’re chuckling. You’re letting the little things slough off.
7. Lots of stops enliven a trip
Some people are all about the miles. How many freaking miles can you go before your bladder bursts. Not us. 
Normally I’d tell you to do what I do on the solo trips. Get out and exercise every hour or so. But we didn’t always do that. Though we did stop often. Which got us moving.
It also set us up to see interesting bits of Americana and to make momentary and memorable connections.
8. Creatives inspire
On our trip we visited artists in their studios. Some artists we admired, others were not our cup of green tea. All of them inspired. 
Every time I set foot in the workspace of a creative I’m inspired. Artists work in an artform delivered via the retina; their spaces by nature are visually arresting.
Hanging out with people who’ve made a dramatic commitment to their own creative growth propels you too. 
I come away from these meetings more convinced than ever before that I must continue to seek out people who quietly go their own way. For they help me go mine.
9. Curiosity enriches everything it touches
Our son explored a riverbank in Big Sur, taking me with him. Following him down a steep embankment and under towering redwoods whose exposed roots were taller than me was humbling. I would have missed the experience if not for his sense of exploration.
It was the same with people we met along the way. By delving into the lives of some Los Angelinos doing laundry beside me, I learned about the personal impact of real estate values.
This FedEx driver feared his kids would never be able to afford the life they were growing up in.
Every life has moments of daring in it. Curiosity elicits revelations from strangers.
When people share their pivotal moments with you, the spirit of that message tucks into your soul and goes with you. 

For you 

Evan Griffith
__________________________
Click here for (occasional) notes for creators. 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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Sanctuary, often

Sanctuary, wherever you can find it
That seems to be my number one impulse.
It only dawned on me just now that I seek solitary space every day. And often throughout the day. 
There might be some who can’t benefit from reflective time, but I haven’t met them.

It’s more than just about renewal — which of course, is critical. It’s about reconnection. Connecting back to what matters most. 
Who do I want to be in the world?

What am I creating through my attention and action?

What do I want to create most?
Sanctuary, wherever I can find it, gets me there.
Every single time I emerge from private communion I feel myself lightened. I feel the light in me suffusing my vision. I feel lighthearted . . . and a lightness of being . . . You could call it blissed out or connected or amped up or in tune . . . and you wouldn’t be wrong.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
The above photos are from a surprise glass shrine we encountered on our travels. In seemingly nowhere Nebraska this structure appeared — when you see a glass sanctuary built for reverence amidst the fields of Nebraska, you have to stop!
We pulled off at the next exit and wound our way back to this place. Called the Holy Family Shrine it coalesced because several individuals — unbeknownst to each other — had a similar dream. 
Though it is meant for Catholics, the space is welcoming to all. The entirety of its purpose is so one can enter into a personal spiritual space.
How beautiful is that?
And how beautiful is this — my wife Ann coming out from her own meditation in the Shrine.
#FromTheRoad

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An invitation to purge

Today I created a big effing mess. 

We’re in Indiana on the last leg of our monthlong workcation. After dropping off my wife and son at the senior care home for her parents, I drove over to a gas station for some diesel fuel for the van and ice for the cooler.

While angling the cooler to drain the water in it, everything shifted. The veggie tray with dip burst out of its container spewing itself all over the contents in the cooler.

I reacted with the usual epithets.

Colorful as they were, they didn’t get me anywhere. 

Then I picked out a gobbed-up bottle of something. Then another. The dip and cut-up veggies slimed every single thing. Drink bottles, lunch meat, cheese, peanut butter, grapes, blueberries  . . . surprisingly the only unscathed item was a small bottle of mayo. 

Surprising because everything looked like slathered mayo except the mayo.

Fifteen minutes into the cleanup I realized: This is an opportunity to purge

Here we were, 3.5 weeks into our monthlong jaunt and the cooler contents hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned.

So item by item I wiped each one clean, set it aside and dove back in for another. Till the only thing remaining was gooey, sloshy, viscous ooze clinging to the insides of the cooler. 

Dozens of paper towels later, it was all cleaned up. Purged of the unnecessary, organized better than since we’d set off. Lickety spickety clean too.

Every crisis is an invitation to purge. It’s an opportunity to reorient. To pare back. To simplify. And finally, to reinvent.


When cancer struck my wife, it was an invitation to healthier living.


When the crash nearly took our business asunder, it was an opportunity to rethink our business model.

Yes, these situations were under extreme duress, but the purge and reorganization that followed set us onto better paths. With better outcomes.

Franklin, Indiana
#FromTheRoad

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When love starts a thing: Park City, Utah

This is a close-up shot of a tree in Park City, Utah. It’s festooned with shoes of all kinds. Boots, sneakers, hiking shoes, trail shoes, water clogs, even sandals. Footgear of all stripes. 
The entirety of this small stand of trees is similarly outfitted. An uncountable number of shoes dangle from the branches. Some of them at impossible heights. Who has that kind of hurling prowess?
Most commonly a pair of shoes are tied at the laces and flung into the tree canopy, coming to full stop when they snag on a limb.
I came across this spectacle along a pathway adjacent to our hotel. When I asked the woman at the check-in counter about the shoes, she countered:
“Do you want the myth or the truth?”
Me: “Both, of course!”
The myth is that a couple hikers almost lost their lives on an expedition . . . and were so jubilant upon reaching civilization that they flung their hiking boots up into the trees to celebrate. Over time, others followed suit and it became a trend.
The truth worked better for me. A newly-wedded couple flung their tied-together shoes into the trees, symbolic of their now-joined life adventure. Very quickly it became a thing. People tossed their footwear up into the trees by the dozens.
Now, once a year, volunteers ascend into the trees to dislodge the shoes. They donate hundreds of shoes to a local charity each year. 
How freaking cool is that?!
Exuberant love made an impulsive gesture. Others picked up on the act. Now it continues year upon year, awing those like me who happen to pass by, benefitting scores of people who can put those shoes to use.
Who knows if those original lovers even know what followed in their wake?
When love starts a thing, watch out—
#FromTheRoad
Park City, Utah

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