A Hamster In The Hand

 

I’ve been taking school pictures this season and had the opportunity to include this adorable mascot the other day. Artie even got a badge made, though I imagine he’d chew it up given the chance.

It’s nice to know there are still classroom pets out there. I know there is a possibility of animal harm with this, but I like to think we have become more sensitive to animal care as a society, and trust that teachers have both the best interests of students and the class pet at heart. A lost class pet is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, not to be invited into your life lightly.* You learn to like, adore and love something that carries responsibility with it, not an object but a living thing that doesn’t argue you with you like a friend or sibling.

That’s one of the great things about pets. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you can get a taste of it. There’s a shared responsibility, and honor even, in seeing to the animal’s well-being, whether it happens in class or on occasions where a family has to take care of Mr. Fluffy over a break or holiday, if not a rotating weekend schedule. Plus you get to learn how stinky things get without regular cleaning.

It gives you a chance to see that the world is bigger than your tiny sheltered corner. That animals are sometimes unpredictable in their responses even as they have predictable habits. As are humans.

For children there is the vital opportunity to develop compassion for a creature that might not need our help if it were in the wild, but deserves our mercy and respect when we cross paths with it.

And just maybe, that becomes a deeper thread and we learn to maintain compassion for larger creatures, fellow humans and nature itself, even when things seem ready to turn on us, because we are all partners in one large complicated ecosystem.

—–David

* Unless you’re in a sitcom.

P.S. Our family had gerbils when I was a kid. I still have fond memories of breakfast times when we made tiny little pancakes for them, and they would hold them in their little hands and eat.

A Hamster In The Hand was originally published on Creative Uploads

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How’s Your Perspective?

As a photographer and father, I strive to see the world from as many angles as I can.

For images, it’s to see or show something new, fresh or compelling.

As a parent, it may be to keep my kid safe or find our way to a new adventure.

In all cases, even bringing video and writing into it, it’s about not limiting myself or my audience to one perspective. Even if you can only see one side of things you should recognize that they are often three-dimensional and imagine what you might see if you were someplace different.

Creative uploads perspective parking lot

Lately to put this in practice with my daughter, when picking her up I don’t tell her where I parked, I simply text her a picture from what direction I think she will be coming from. I am forcing her to recall her surroundings and see them from a different perspective.

It is a conscious choice on my part, as well as being a fun game. And I do hope that it affects her thinking in other areas, sort of a behavioral psychology experiment. I know it affects mine in personal and group situations, and specifically increases my sympathy for others, if not my agreement with them.

I’m looking forward to the day when she approaches me from a different angle than I expect. And I’m hoping I can still see it from her point of view.

—–David.

P.S. Sometimes I give her clues when there are multiple options (her school has three typical pick up locations), like the size of the parking lot, or the compass directions which she hasn’t bothered to memorize yet.

How do you force your child or yourself* to look at familiar things in a different way?

(* Or your child within!)

P.P.S. The featured photo is from a day I was driving and my daughter said how much she liked the rain so I opened the moonroof for her … Ha! Looking at things from a different angle indeed!

How’s Your Perspective? was originally published on Creative Uploads

Sharpen Your Skills

Sharpen your skills. This is usually meant in a very specific way, whether you are studying something technical and precise, or aimed at a specific field or job.

But as a Renaissance-minded creative, or jack of all trades, or generalist, as you might call me, I see that it can apply to anything, which can make it hard to decide which skills need to be sharp.

Creative uploads pencil sharpener sharpen your skills

You can sharpen all of them. not all at once. But if you choose tasks and interests that you like, try to pick one where related skills overlap. This lets you sharpen the same skills but with more bang for your buck. Plus, that efficiency will help when you need to work on a skill that is more specific to a required task. Especially mentally, having covered several areas already reduces the stress of having to focus on one thing and make other things wait.

If you’re trying to build your muscles or exercise more, you should have a regular exercise program, but you could substitute helping people move furniture or rearranging and reorganizing your house and garage. Any excuse for lifting things is using your muscles right? *

Just make a habit of it. Being aware of what you’re doing and how it can affect your other desired skill sets.

I can type, I play piano and guitar, and I’m good at massages. All of these things use my fingers and hand muscles, and I try to improve my dexterity by changing angles, styles, or even switching to my weaker hand when doing simple tasks, which has improved my left hand bassline playing on the piano, for example.

When I quit my cubicle-based job to be a stay-at-home father for my daughter years ago, I joked that I was leaving a tiny workspace with randomized duties and a diminutive boss who would yell to get his own way, always decided he was right, and didn’t listen or care what I was saying, to take exactly the same job but with no commute.

I have used my corporate skills throughout her childhood, from organization through quality control, presentations and conflict resolution.

If you’ve been a stay-at-home parent and are reentering the business world, or joining it for the first time, realize that you can use those lessons that you learned at home with no commute everywhere else.

We are all children at heart, and the ones with less heart show their childishness even more.

The only thing missing (unfortunately) is the opportunity to call a timeout. But you can chuckle inside at the silliness of it all anywhere you go, and your sharpened skills can cut through anything.

—–David.

P.S. I miss regular pencils and that cool wall sharpener. I miss the smell from sharpening, the texture and feel of the pencil, the shading you get from holding it at an angle, and having an eraser that takes away your mistakes. I do like the convenience of mechanical pencils, until they run out of lead and you realize that you can’t just get up from your desk, walk to the wall and grind them for a few seconds so that they work right again, especially when you’re out of lead refills.

* Full disclosure: Currently recuperating from a car accident, I am taking any excuse for not lifting things. But it will come back to haunt me, as I have gained 5 pounds already.

Sharpen Your Skills was originally published on Creative Uploads

Hello! Been Very Busy

Being busy is great.

Being very busy is kind of annoying, because while you might be enjoying what you’re doing, you also would like a little time to do other things on your to do list, or your screw around list.

Oh well. This guy gets it.

Creative uploads psycho pigeon

Technically though, there is no such thing as being “too busy.” If you think you’re too busy, you are simply very busy and tired of it.

And yeah, I felt too busy much of the summer. Mostly it was video projects, editing , and doing work around the house . Really it was more of a mental busy-ness, trying to track and organize and schedule everything to avoid stress.

Once you get up in your head like that, but don’t have enough available time to cross any one thing off of your list because you have to bounce between each one, that’s when you feel too busy.

So I stole a little time from my schedule to turn my tasks into projects, meaning that I broke up my list into smaller pieces that I could cross off, either mentally or physically, without having to focus on a single thing and then be totally behind schedule on something that became more critical. That way I could see daily or weekly progress and also the light at the end of the tunnel.

Also, as a serial procrastinator who learned to be more productive by realizing that if you like to put things off —

Tip: You can put off less important things with almost the same satisfaction as the critical ones, which makes people around you much happier with the results

— I discovered that if you have too many things to do and not enough available time, given deadlines, then you don’t feel like you’re putting other things off (joyful procrastination). Instead you feel that you can’t get to them and the most important ones just sit in your head (stressful consternation.)

But apparently the people who say the only way through is through have a point.

And the videos turned out great.

So I guess that’s my silly rant on how to make your busyness work with whatever business you have to deal with .

—–David.

P.S. And remember it’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes, whether doing things for others is how you experience it, or if you want to stay up late and watch your own TV show and everybody’s going to bed.

Or go grab some fast food.

Hello! Been Very Busy was originally published on Creative Uploads

Conflict and Resolution: Well, Excu-uuuse Me!

Storytellers like to say that all stories, good stories, have conflict and resolution. There is a challenge that confronts the hero, and by the end of the story you have some closure — either the hero has new resolve or a solution has been achieved.

There are exceptions of course, sometimes that hanging thread makes for an emotional coda.

The hanging thread is what I’m here to talk about today, why, for this example, I don’t always post regularly.

I’m going to skip the usual excuses, and keeping with the tone of this site find the explanation and use it to target a solution instead of using it to get out of the real work.

If the unexamined life is not worth living, then you need to maintain the distinction between understanding yourself and making excuses for yourself, even if they sometimes use the same words. 

My current obstacle is that I am short on time and my intermittently limited motivation sometimes lets me trade something I want to do (like create a quality blog post) for something I also enjoy (like watching one of the television shows stacked up on my TiVo.)

The irony of it is, if I wanted to be as casual in posting as I am about watching TV, I could post all day, but sort of snarky, throwaway, funny, clever or biting posts are the landscape of my Tumblr and Twitter feeds. This blog was built to have more weight and introspection, so it takes longer than one would imagine to create what I consider a “quality post” — my measurement not yours — so sometimes it feels like a bite of time I can’t take.

But this project is also about building habits: creating, editing, confessing and publishing.

So I’m not going to resolve, or promise, or anything. But here’s a post. It’ll help me when I come across it again, and maybe it will help you. At the end of the day excuses don’t count for much if anything, but explanations that lead to understanding and creation do. So there will be more posts, and sometimes, they should be shorter, because, well, poems range from haiku to Dante’s three-volume “Divine Comedy.”

—–David

P.S. But for the record I have a presentation that I need to work on, a long music performance to edit, a spreadsheet of data to process which will actually earn me money, housework, and a full TiVo and Netflix list. Oh and it’s bedtime and I really like to sleep. (Not on normal people’s schedules, though)

I also have better habits now than I used to, and that gives me the confidence that I will be able to get all of those things in a manageable order.

P.P.S. Ha, I can’t post tonight because of technical errors out of my control!

Conflict and Resolution: Well, Excu-uuuse Me! was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Don’t Have Writer’s Block, You Have Writer’s Block

No really, I don’t get writer’s block. There’s always another idea.

Oh, you want a specific idea in a narrow set of parameters, like a blog post maybe, that provides some sort of example or instruction with a smidge of encouragement and a pinch of humor?

Sure. In the meantime, here’s an unrelated picture I took on a trip. Not a metaphor.

Brick wall building creative uploads

Nice, huh? Wait, seriously, you don’t think that’s a brick wall, do you? I mean there are windows and a door — clearly you could get through it unless the windows are closed and the place is locked.

Or you could break a window, pick the lock, and tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev.

I really don’t get writer’s block, and neither do you. So don’t embrace the delusion that you do. That freezes you in a giant bear hug that keeps you from moving any direction.

Some things I embrace instead:

  • Procrastination
  • Depression *
  • Television
  • Anything Amusing
  • Laundry
  • Long Naps

My point is if you need to “not do,” try that out for a little bit. You don’t have to put a timer on it, but be reasonable and then start doing again. I don’t think I get “writers block,” because I could write whatever it is I need to, if I just started doing it, at least a first draft.

Like today: I wasn’t writing a post because I didn’t start thinking about a post because I wanted to do something else. I had stepped outside the process flow.

And then I wrote a post, because I started writing the post.

Now the simple fact that the draft probably needed editing and cuts, like chopping off the first paragraph or so to get to the point quicker — even if I threw everything out and started over again — that’s not writer’s block, that’s editing, and editing is part of the process of writing.

Calling it “writer’s block” is making an excuse for not doing something because you feel like doing something else instead.

In the same way, writing is an excuse for not screwing around. (Or when you are really good, an excuse for not doing housework!)

What do you love more at this moment? Do that thing. Then switch. But switch soon-ish, especially if you have a deadline.

—–David

P.S. I call this methodology “proactive procrastination.” Yeah, I may put off a priority but if I get something else out of the way , it won’t interrupt me or be an excuse later.

* Depression can be a small dip or a giant cliff, either way it’s a speed bump even if it’s not “clinical” depression. It’s a lower energy that doesn’t feed you.

I enjoy it as a break because it’s never felt permanent for me, but — and I’m not a qualified source here — if it’s not “temporary” for you, seek help from someone who can guide you to a shovel or sherpa and climb out of it at least once in a while. Even night gives way to day with persistence (and yes, vice versa) and with regularity.

P.P.S. A slightly related musing from the archives, and this watch again post on procrastination.

I Don’t Have Writer’s Block, You Have Writer’s Block was originally published on Creative Uploads

Morning People Are Cheaters

Yeah, I said it. Oh, must not be a morning person… well, duh!

Maybe I’m a morning person on the wrong side of the planet? How about that?

Maybe I’m a night person who just realized that morning people slept in from yesterday afternoon. It would certainly explain why they are so peppy and excited to start the day. They’re several hours behind everyone already, why wouldn’t they enjoy that, as they pull one over on the rest of us?

Maybe these dawn-conscious non-zombies aren’t morning people at all, but rather coffee-buzzed caffeine-dependent addicts looking for their next hit, eager and ingratiating only because their barista “dealers” demand obedience and graciousness?

Or robots. Yeah, is robots is a possibility.

I think it’s one or all of these, but I am still investigating. Good night for now. *

—-David

P.S. This picture was taken exactly as I found it, it’s gotta mean something.

P.S.S. And I’m just having a little fun. I do not consider myself a morning person, not because I am a cranky monster at dawn, but because I am clearly, biologically, a “night loving person.” I often stay awake long past midnight without getting particularly tired, regardless of when I got up that day, and I love to sleep in when my schedule permits.

Although for the last few months (and going back to when I was a paperboy) I was quite capable of getting up ridiculously early, like 5 o’clock in the morning, and functioning quite well without ever drinking coffee. It’s just not my preferred method of operation, and it’s often a grind after four days in a row since I don’t usually go to sleep early to make up for it! But it requires a task to call me out of bed, whether I love the task or not.

* As I write this everybody else in the house is going to bed and I will still be up for several hours, because I just don’t tend to fall sleep easily. I used to think that made me an insomniac, but I can sleep once I get there. Here’s one tip: I stopped beating myself up for laying in bed awake, and just enjoy the random pre-dream state. When that doesn’t work, I get up and briefly do something interesting and creative that takes little energy and try again later. I know for those of you whose tight schedules don’t permit, that’s unfair advice, but at least don’t beat yourself up for not falling asleep Enjoy your unique ability to experience a different state of consciousness, kind of like the preshow of dreaming.

Morning People Are Cheaters was originally published on Creative Uploads

Why Is Special Event A Caution Sign?

I didn’t mean for a metaphor to hit me over the head while I was just driving down the street, but seriously. Stop Special Event Ahead Caution! Creaive Uploads

 

As creative types, we will often take any excuse to detour around things, just dropping our good habits for a few minutes or hours or days. The delighted and self-destructive among us love when special events intrude on our schedule and we can throw everything out the window. We also hate that, because it means that we ‘ll need to make a new schedule at some point, and right now maybe stop thinking about our vague current idea or whatever we had planned.

That sure sounds like it calls for caution. I mean you’re on this road to get somewhere, right? And you’re being forced to change your route or get stuck in “traffic” that will slow you down.

But special events are special – it’s literally in the name. And if you want to be artistic or just enjoy yourself, special events are often an event worth the experience. Even if they totally suck by the end of it, you have a story — at least in your head or for the next party, or maybe even for a song or a film or a collection of pages.

So no, I don’t know that special events need caution. Feed your stuff, by feeding yourself.

And certainly understand the limitations and obstacles that they may present. But as someone who doesn’t mind being social yet still will try to avoid an event because it doesn’t seem “important enough,” or sometimes feels like it’s an excuse to not do the work you promised yourself you were going to do that day, or it costs money and you think you can save yourself into prosperity… Well honestly, those are all pretty good reasons/excuses.

But not all the time. Too many excuses gets you too good at excuses.

Too many special events makes them less special.

Strike a balance, and use caution, but don’t just stop.

—–David

P.S. I still remember seeing author Fran Leibovitz on David Letterman talking about how she was at a party that she don’t want to be at because she would literally take any excuse to avoid writing. I thought it was hilarious and honest and I took it as advice. And it is some of the worst advice for a writer I have ever heard. (Not that she intended it to be advice.)

Things I ignored:

  • She’d actually already written something and been published before that, so perhaps she was entitled to relax on occasion.
  • She ended up with a story that she could tell on a TV show, so she wasn’t entirely wasting her time.
  • I have no idea what she wrote and was plugging, and
  • I do not own any of her books

But I love her. https://www.facebook.com/franlebowitz/

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fran_Lebowitz

Why Is Special Event A Caution Sign? was originally published on Creative Uploads

I’ll Read This Again: How Blogging Teaches You To See – Taylor Pearson

Taylor Pearson Mini-Essay – Learning To See

It’s a interesting look at the fear and feeling that you have nothing to say, and pushing through to find your voice and what you want to talk about. And to build a habit.

Frankly, his essay could just as easily be: how to talk to strangers, or how to climb a hill, whatever.

Give yourself a reason or an excuse to try something, then try something. Provide some impetus to complete a critical step. Then psychological relevance makes you see it everywhere, and turn it over in your head and actually see the other angles. Even interact with others with similar interests.

—–David

P.S. So do you stay up late catching up on posts and pages that get you excited and feel inspirational so you get something pleasant off the internet before you go to sleep? I’ve often used television for that, sometimes reading. But how do we keep that little spike of happiness from keeping you up even longer? Personally I am still trying to figure out how to capture that feeling in the morning when an alarm goes off and what I love most in the morning is staying in bed longer….

I’ll Read This Again: How Blogging Teaches You To See – Taylor Pearson was originally published on Creative Uploads

Keep Your Gears Turning

Bunch of Gears TurningIf you want to be creative, be creative. You can be creative in your head, washing dishes, walking down the street *, talking,  writing, singing, thinking.

You don’t have to do it constantly, you should just do it consistently, even is just occasionally.

And if you don’t get a kick out of it, that’s your solution. Okay. Myself, it charges me up.

Now if you want to share that creativity beyond your typical environment, build it up as a habit, then take that creativity and use it to come up with the next step.

How should I know what the next step is?  I’m just blogging. Hey…

THAT’s a step. Putting it down somewhere shareable, or reproduceable, or as a shape that can be molded, or a sketch that can serve as a blueprint…. Taking it out of your head in a way that you can hand it to someone else and say look, or don’t look. Laugh. Feel. Growl.

Anyway, it’s just an idea I had.

——David

* What Monty Python knows about walking…. Silly Walks sketch

P.S. Sometimes creativity is stupid. So what. Sometimes it seems to require bravery, or maybe just foolishness. SO WHAT? Keep the gears turning. They can raise the corners of your mouth into a smile, or a smirk. Keep it moving.

 

 

 

 

Keep Your Gears Turning was originally published on Creative Uploads