Archive for the ‘Imagination’ Category

Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten” [G. K. Chesterton].

Think back to when you were a child and you had a favorite story book. Do you remember?

It was the one with the smudges, dogged pages, and worn cover.

It was the one you spent hours reading. You were amazed by the illustrations; delighted by the story; emboldened by the hero’s courage. You cheered as the enemies became victims of magical plans.

One of my favorites books was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Mickey Mouse in the title role. I loved the story of a young character, home alone, misusing his power. Sure, it was great fun at first but, as my friend says, “Too much laughing leads to crying!” And before the young apprentice could wreak more havoc or create another army of servant brooms, the sorcerer returns and saves the day.

Once upon a time we believed that all things were possible. That dogs could talk and spiders could spell and a mouse named Mickey could cause brooms to come to life and cows could jump over the moon.

But somewhere along the way we stopped believing in things we couldn’t see. We came to believe that magic and fairy tales were for children. We outgrew the belief that dreams could come true.  And although we were still compelled to fight dragons (as adults we give them different names), we no longer expected to win the battles.

Life can be like that.

The truth is, you still have within yourself the power to storm castles, slay dragons, save the day, and change the course of your life. Magic still exists. The adult-version is called self-confidence and action, belief and positive attitude, determination and courage.

What story will you write today? One where you are banished to the tower in a distant castle? Downtrodden, held hostage by unfulfilled expectations and disappointments? Waiting for a mysterious stranger to come and save you?

Or, one where you grab life by the tail, fight your hardest, slay the dragons, and make dreams come true?

How could your life change if you had the courage to take one step toward your future, instead of putting things on hold, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive?

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales
whose gates are guarded by dragons:
we must fight in order to conquer it.
~ Alexandre Dumas

Be willing to go after what you really want. Fight for it. Slay the dragons. Be determined! Realize “you may have to fight a battle more than once to win” [Margaret Thatcher]. That’s okay . . . keep fighting . . . victory will be worth it in the end.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much I dream can I be” [Karen Ravn].

I’m currently attending a two-day staff retreat at Oglebay Resort in West Virginia. Monday was team building; Tuesday is slated for meeting and planning time.

As everyone gathered for our first session, we were handed a list of items we needed to locate for our “photo scavenger hunt.”  As we read over the paper, you could hear groans all around. The space is vast — more than 1,700 acres.

The 10-item list was complicated. One example: In the gardens, locate a “critter” and snap a photo of the entire team singing to it. Another requirement: everyone on the team needed to climb a tree and act out a scene from Romeo and Juliet.

You get the idea. Large areas to search for specific items, lots of effort required.

The last instruction the teams received was to be creative in our approach.

My team embraced creativity!
We questioned.
We imagined.
We created.
We discussed.
We investigated.

(What we didn’t do was trek all over the place, wasting valuable time and energy, in an attempt to find exactly what was written on the list.)

Much to the chagrin of the other teams, we used brains over brawn, got creative with the requirements, discovered new possibilities, and completed the scavenger hunt in about 30 minutes.

We spent the next hour relaxing in rocking chairs on the lodge porch, enjoying the mild Autumn weather, waiting for the other teams to return. Which they eventually did, tired, sweaty, out of breathe, and a bit annoyed with our creative approach to rule interpretation.

All this “hunting” started me thinking about all the things we “hunt” in life.

The perfect Christmas gift. The best price. A government bail-out.

Meaning in life. A fulfilling job — well, in some cases, any job. A piece of advice.

A soul mate. A restored relationship. A day off. A misplaced key.

Love. Peace. Joy.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Justice. Kindness.

Health insurance. The fulfillment of a lost dream. More money.

A new idea. An open door.  A boost of confidence.

An answer. New clients. A short-cut. A miracle.

It doesn’t really matter what thing you are hunting.  If you keep searching for it using the same old routine, you’re probably not going to find it. You’ve probably heard one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Maybe what you need is a shot of creativity. Consider what could be. Think about things differently. Try a new approach. Think, as they say, outside of the box. In fact, why don’t you just blow the walls off the box, challenge the rules, break through the barriers, jump over the obstacles, and run full steam ahead yelling, “Catch me if you can!”

Read a different author.  Make a new friend. Ask some unusual questions. Start a blog. Learn a new skill. Paint with a different color. Mix stripes and florals. Develop a “non-traditional” approach.

Take time to imagine the possibility that implementing one new idea could create.

Your goals are within reach.
You might just need to take a different route to get there.

A truly creative person rids him or herself of all self-imposed limitations”  [Gerald Jampolsky].  Interesting to think about it . . . many limitations are self-imposed.  Creativity in thought, action, and approach will help you demolish the restrictions that are keeping you from finding that thing you are seeking.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking” [Albert Einstein].

I’ve been thinking . . .

About the condition of the world.  And of this country. And of our state. (Today was election day.)

I’ve been reflecting . . .

On the choices I’ve made. And the possibilities around the corner. And the future stretched out ahead of me. (What will my tomorrow look like?)

I’ve been wondering . . .

About my friends who have lost jobs. And those who are about to lose jobs. And wonder what will become of all the unemployed. (Will the jobs ever return?)

I’ve been contemplating . . .

My next steps. Important decisions. If the reward is worth the risk. (Well, I’m already this far into it.)

I’ve been hoping . . .

That the outlook will be brighter. Things will come together. A spectacular intervention will save the day. (When is that white knight arriving?)

I’ve been helping . . .

Those who need encouragement. Friends seeking a new outlook. People who need assistance getting there from here. (Too many folks are stuck.)

I’ve been reading . . .

That I never need to eat alone. That the world doesn’t owe me anything. When at all possible, Orbit the Giant Hairball. (So many books, so little time!)

I’ve been celebrating . . .

New clients for a friend. Birthdays and anniversaries. Amazing opportunities. The start of a new adventure.  (There is good news out there, if you’re willing to look for it.)

I’ve been anticipating . . .

A visit to Fallingwater. The release of a new web site. An upcoming dinner party. (I hope it’s worth the wait!)

I’ve been working . . .

On a new writing project. Reformatting resumes. Cleaning up the flower beds. (It feels good to wake up with a purpose.)

I’ve been planning . . .

Because the day is coming. The opportunity is on the way. My destiny is calling. (I can hear it!)

I’ve been thinking . . .

Well, “as long as you are going to be thinking anyway, THINK BIG” [Donald Trump].

What have you been doing?

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience”
[George Bernard Shaw].

All in all it was a much better day than I had planned or even hoped for. I accomplished so much, and I am happy to report that most of the items on my “To Do List” now have a line through them.

But now, 10 minutes into tomorrow, I pause to look back at yesterday and I am a bit unsettled.  A big mess of unexpected landed right on my head late in the day.  In the midst of all my progress and efficiency, I was blindsided by “one of those days.”

I’ll be honest, “those days” can be somewhat difficult to foresee, but you know them when you see them — and sometimes you can see them coming down the pike from a long way off.

And somewhere toward mid-afternoon, well before I knew that “one of those days” was approaching, my sister called and invited me to get out of the house, enjoy the great weather, and join her in a walk at the park.

When I said I was much too busy to leave my work even for two hours, she said, “Well, I hope I don’t die tragically, because then you’ll be sorry.”

To which I replied, “I would be sad even if you died in a non-tragic manner.”

And she said, because she always has to have the last word, “Yeah, but when you die tragically, it’s just so . . . tragic.”

And then we had a good laugh about dying tragically. Which, in itself, when you think about it, is just weird. Nonetheless, I still couldn’t go on a walk with her.

And then, in the middle of my recounting a story to my husband about a very cool thing that happened to me earlier in the day, he interrupted me to ask if I thought his jeans were too long. Which makes no sense, because my story was very important and his — not so much.

And when I received the bit of news that turned my great day into “one of those days,” and I wanted to get discouraged because sometimes it really doesn’t seem like hard work pays off, I happened to see my latest Twitter post from this afternoon, which read — “Even if you are facing mounting disappointments or failures, now is not the time to give up hope or lower the dial on your determination!”

And I had to chuckle at how my online optimism was lifting my real-life sagging spirit.

And then, I continued writing and thinking long into the night — way past my usual bed time.  Although, come to think of it, my sleeping habits have been really messed up for a while, so I’m not sure I even have a usual bed time any longer.

I used to be “Miss Early to Bed and Early to Rise.” Now, I’m “I’ll get to bed when I can, get up when I have to, and take a nap if needed to keep going.”

And now, when I think about it,  even when you throw in the unexpected “one of those days” zingers, I had an exceedingly awesome, abundantly more than you can ask or think of kind of day. I guess it’s all how you look at it.

Kinda cool.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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. . . There are rules that every artist must abide by. You will never succeed if you break them” [Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel].

I’m currently reading the biography of Dr. Seuss. I enjoy learning the life stories of people who inspire me. I want to know about the path they have traveled, those who have influenced their decisions, and the challenges they have overcome.

How did they do it? Why did they do it? I’m intrigued to understand how their family or education or experiences conspired for or against them. I look for sparks of inspiration that I can claim and use in my own life. Which brings me to Dr. Seuss.

As a child, I wasn’t aware of his drawings or the unbelievable adventures of The Cat in the Hat. Fortunately, as an adult, I have come to thoroughly enjoy his work and extraordinary talent.

Two years ago I was introduced to Dr. Seuss, the artist, while visiting Stephen Clayton Galleries on Coronado Island during a visit to San Diego with my sister, Dawn. There were so many unique and unusual Seuss paintings and sketches, I became infatuated. I truly felt like a kid in a candy store — with the candy being the colorful and untamed imagination of an incredible story teller.

The story of Dr. Seuss’s life is quite interesting, and filled with unexpected twists and turns. The quote I used to begin this post was uttered by his high school art teacher, as he was struggling to find inspiration in a vase filled with “tired old daises.” Seuss had simply turned his tablet upside down to draw from a different angle. (Oh, the horror!)

Obviously, in her mind there were rules that should apply to everyone. These rules were meant to create conformity, comfort, and a means to a certain end. Perhaps this art teacher felt uncomfortable coloring outside the lines, so she prohibited anyone else from straying beyond what she deemed unacceptable.

“My goodness, whatever will people think,” she probably thought to herself, “if I allow my students the freedom to express themselves in ART CLASS?” (Do you hear the absurdity in that question?)

Ever encounter people like this? You can identify them by their comments: “We’ve always done it this way,” or “We can’t just allow our employees the freedom to do ______________ (fill in the blank) — it’s too dangerous or not prudent or who knows where it will lead?”

So small-minded, fearful people, make extravagant and unnecessary rules which demand compliance and destroy commitment, while employee creativity, satisfaction, and enthusiasm is swept to the floor like useless eraser crumbs.

Be aware that others aren’t the only ones who have a way of minimizing our contribution. We often sabotage our own efforts by establishing ridiculous rules for ourselves. Don’t let your fear, or concern about what others may think, create limitations that choke your brilliance and imagination.

We set boundaries for safety.
From fear. Because of habit.
Test them. See why you drew them.
Push against them.
Break through them.
Feel the exhilaration.

~ Patrick Lindsay

Take a step outside the line. Use all the colored pencils in the box. Speak out. Step up. Find the resources. Use the good paper. Discover a new way. Show your very best work. Take a risk. Turn the drawing pad upside down.

Don’t keep your ideas and dreams and songs and colors penned up inside — let them run around off their leashes! Who cares if the neighbors get nervous?

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right” [Bob Basso].

Why not inject a little fun into your day? Look for opportunities to turn the mundane, boring, or ordinary into a reason to laugh, share a giggle, and have a good time?

A while back, I worked in an office that had a kitchen area with a large Formica countertop. Even though we had purchased a cutting board, it was apparent that not everyone felt compelled to use it when slicing their bagels in the morning or their fruit at lunch. Long pale gashes marked the dark laminate. What to do?

We would have loved to install a hidden camera to catch the offenders, but, alas, our small budget barely covered the cost of a cutting board. There was no way we could justify an “eye in the sky.”

After some heated debate during our monthly staff meeting, and several options being discussed and tossed, we decided to post a sign to remind folks of their thoughtless, lazy, and damaging behavior. For whatever reason, I was elected to take lead on creating the sign. (Could it have been my keen wit that propelled me to project manager?) Regardless, here is the sign that appeared in the kitchen later that day:Be Responsible.

We made our point, without forcing the issue, creating ridiculous rules, or initiating a ton of unnecessary communication to announce the problem, outline the issue, detail the consequences, and threaten action.

We had some fun with the absurdity of employee behavior, and the countertop abuse stopped.

Problem solved.

I recently found another great example of someone having fun while creating a perfunctory document. The following text appears on a form employees sign when they are given keys to the office. It reads:

  • I will not loan the key(s) to anyone.
  • I will not use the key(s) as a toy.
  • I will not let my children or pets play with the key(s).
  • I will not lose the key(s).
  • I will not use the key(s) as a screwdriver, chisel, or lever.
  • I promise to guard the key(s) with my very life.

If I fall short on any of the above, the Company may lay claim to any of my children, pets, or prized possessions, (but only one from only one category).

Obviously, someone with a sense of humor took the time to craft a document that took a “by-the-book-legal-said-we-must-have-this-form-on-file” into something that was entertaining and humorous. Don’t you want to be associated with an organization that looks for ways to manufacture fun? I know I do! Why not make a commitment to create that kind of culture — at work and at home.

We’re all so busy with the deadlines and details and corporate dysfunction that organizations breed, we often convince ourselves that there is absolutely NO TIME FOR FUN. Are you serious? Don’t take your boring attitude to work one more day! Today’s the day to break open the can of good times you were saving for your birthday, or the weekend, or the next holiday, or whatever, and use it all up!

Isn’t it time you shared a funny story, turned boring into fun, and mundane into hysterical? Look for the humorous, play a practical joke, post a comic in the break room, mix some merriment into your day. “If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good” [Dr. Seuss].

Do you know what time it is? It’s time to put the fun back into dysfunctional [Mary Engelbreit].

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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A few weeks ago I joined a local writing club. It’s been quite fun and educational. One thing I have learned is that putting your work (translation: you) out there for the group to comment, question, and inspect takes a lot more courage than blogging on-line . . . where most everything I write sounds terrific because I am the only one sitting at the computer and providing the critique!

Homework assignments were distributed at our last meeting. Mine was to write something — anything — that was atypical of my style and audience. Initially, I resented being forced out of my comfort zone. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) But I have to tell you, this assignment has caused me to stretch and think in new and different ways. It was surprisingly fun and exhilarating, and I really enjoyed the process.

Although it can be scary, daring to embrace something new has a way of opening your creative mind in ways that few other things can.

For my assignment, I elected to write a piece in first person that might appeal to young readers. My completed “assignment” appears below. I welcome your comments!

I wanted to try something new today.

I had a great idea visit me.

It was big and bold and bright and colorful.

I felt brave just thinking about the adventure.

I knew it would take me to new lands,

where I would see new sights,

meet new people and

sing new songs.

I excitedly prepared for my journey.

I gathered my strength and courage and daring,

a map, some snacks, my iPod, and a cute pair of shoes.

I carefully packed everything in a brand new travel bag,

personalized with my name.

I fed the fish, patted Lucy’s head, and headed out the door.

I was so excited that I did a little dance

on the patio, where no one could see.

The birds approved and sang out

their encouragement.

I was on my way.

Before I reached the end of the block,

and broke free from my neighborhood,

I saw Mrs. Greystone, in her garden, tending her flowers.

Just like always.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

Excited to continue, I quickly explained my adventure and

the great things,

the wonderful things that were waiting for me.

I proudly showed her my bag, packed with everything I would need.

I pointed out the map, and the snacks, and my shoes.

I was prepared. I assured her.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed.

“You can’t safely get there from here.”

She told me stories of others.

Others who had tried an adventure.

They, too, had packed their bags.

And made plans. And had dreams.

They left – never to return.

“There are Big Bad Wolves out there,” she said.

“They roam around huffing and puffing.

“No good can come of you having an adventure.

“Why, it’s not safe.”

I thought about what Mrs. Greystone had said.

Maybe she was right.

Perhaps I wasn’t prepared.

Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing.

I felt foolish.

I peeked in the pocket where I stashed my dream.

The colors had changed from bright and bold to muted and gray.

They no longer looked new and enticing.

I looked in my bag and discovered

that the strength and courage and daring I packed

had evaporated.

You can’t get far with only snacks, an iPod and shoes —

no matter how cute they are, I thought.

The hope to see new people and places and songs and lands,

that had started me on the adventure in the beginning,

were now replaced by

dread and fear and sadness.

The handles of my new travel bag, strained under their weight.

Reluctantly, I turned around and slowly returned home.

The bag was heavy. My spirit was sad.

The once-bright adventure had dissolved into dark disappointment.

I wanted to try something new today.

I had a great idea visit me.

It was big and bold and bright and colorful.

But then I remembered the danger and the warnings and the Big Bad Wolves.

So, I stashed my travel bag in the back of the closet.

I allowed fear and dread to come and sit near me on the sofa.

Lucy curled up at my feet and went to sleep.

I decided it was safer to stay where I was, with what I know.

My life is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

Neither good nor bad. It just is.

When dreams knock at my door, I now refuse to answer.

Danger is lurking out there, in the beyond —

in things I don’t know, in places I haven’t seen.

It’s not safe to dream.

I know.

I’ve heard the stories.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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