More and Less

February 20, 2010

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours. ~Swedish proverb

Who could argue with that bit of wisdom? It got me thinking: What do I want less of? More of? Here’s my list. Hope you’ll share yours.

Eat less; move more.
Keep less; toss more.
Waste less time; write more.
Fret less; smile more.
Fear less; love more.
Sit less; walk more.
Acquire less; give more.
Look inward less; look outward more.
Work less; play more.
Ignore less; help more.
Complain less; express gratitude more.

What do YOU need less of? More of?


January 7, 2009

It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self. ~Donald Winnicott, as quoted in Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts (p. 50)

More play, more fun, more laughter in 2009! On Saturday I will gather up my toys (scissors, papers, pens, paints, glue, trims, stamps, fabrics) and spend a couple of blissful hours being creative. And it will be play and process. I will not be afraid to make bad art!

How will you discover yourself this week through play?

Free Time

February 24, 2008

…the Chinese pictograph for busyness is “heart killing.” ~from Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight

Whenever we have a little free time, most of us seek some form of amusement. We pick up a serious book, a novel, or a magazine. If we are in America, we turn on the radio or the television, or we indulge in incessant talk. There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves….Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, not talking or singing songs, but just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves.  ~J. Krishnamurti

Today I celebrate space, free time. In addition to my work, which includes a lot of travel and a 3-hour commute 3 days a week, I am taking two post-Master’s classes this semester. So it is rare these days to have hours without busyness and obligations, but today I have virtually nothing I have to do. No “heart-killing” for me today.

I find that order, space, and free time are helpful in stimulating my creative impulses. So I will first tidy my office and then surround myself with the tools of creativity: paper and pencil, my favorite books, art supplies, and other familiar playthings. Even the computer is a tool for creative work if I refuse to be seduced by stumbling upon new Web sites, playing computer Scrabble or checking e-mail.

Later, I may “walk in the fields and woods…observing things.”  Or practice yoga and mindfulness meditation. How do you use free time?

P. S. This is a quote that belongs with my previous post on the ineffable creative process:  Art criticism is to the artist as ornithology is to the birds. ~Barnett Newman


February 3, 2008

To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life.  ~Gelett Burgess

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.  ~Rabindranathe Tagore

Life is too important to be taken seriously.  ~Oscar Wilde

Three ways of saying, “Lighten up!”  Tagore’s words also point to the ephemeral nature of life. If we don’t laugh now, then when?

Sure, there’s plenty to be distressed about. But satire can help us bear (and hopefully change) those things:

(Imagine a “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” clip here. Every time I try to bring one in from YouTube it disappears. If you can help, I’d love to hear from you!)

There is also much about life that is fun, light, playful. May I notice those things more readily, laugh more easily, and make play at least as important as work in my life.


October 29, 2007

Spontaneous creation comes from our deepest being and is immaculately and originally ourselves. What we have to express is already with us, is us, so the work of creativity is not a matter of making the material come, but of unblocking the obstacles to its natural flow.  ~Stephen Nachmanovitch, from Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts (p. 10)

I adore this book, maybe because I need it so much. If you are fascinated by the creative process, as I am, don’t miss the elegant prose of Nachmanovitch. Unblocking the obstacles to natural flow has certainly been the work of my life so far, and I don’t feel as though I’ve made much progress. The moments when I do feel the flow are the moments I am truly alive. And those moments sometimes appear in the unlikeliest times and places. How do you play? How do you unblock the obstacles to your creativity?