Category Archives: Try Something New

My own Boring Project…

Not Elon’s Boring Company, but I’m taking a clue from a book that had a deep effect on me a year ago, Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project. Chris funded his own sabbatical immediately after graduating college. He was always passionate about productivity. Given this period of freedom, he brainstormed One Hundred Ideas for being more productive.

He was his own guinea pig. He tried each idea, then evaluated as objectively as he could whether it had benefitted his Productivity.

Chris is very generous, allowing anyone to repost his content an make it their own, with due credit, and for purposes that aren’t about making a profit.

So I’m going to experiment on myself, inspired by his post

5 fascinating things I discovered by making myself bored for a month

For one month, I chose a different task to deliberately make myself bored for an hour each day.

I’ve been feeling a bit bored lately—only, I’ve been making myself bored on purpose. Recently, I spent 30 straight days making myself bored for one hour each day.

But we also experience significantly less boredom with all these devices in our lives. We’re more stimulated than ever before; overwhelmed by a barrage of email alerts, Facebook notifications, and news updates.  -Chris Bailey

I’m a huge fan of Chris Bailey’s book, The Productivity Project. Reading his excellent blog, I discovered that he had been experimenting with boring himself, not because he liked the feeling, but because he knew there was something deep and productive about doing nothing while in the doctor’s waiting room, not spending every moment on a flight jamming music, food, and video in to avoid the horror of doing nothing.

I do a lot to avoid boredom myself, especially late at night when I’m not sleepy. As I’ve started to use reminders to limit my own Screen Time (F.lux app on my computer, Night Shift on my iPhone), I’m having more empty moments that I don’t rush to fill.

Trying out Chris’ process:

Step 1: a list of boring things to do for one hour each day, with a new experiment every day for a month.

Brainstorm what makes me bored. Excruciatingly bored. We will all have unique elements on our lists, with some overlap. Take a photo of each item on the list as I do it.

  1. Watch grass grow.
  2. Eat a big bowl of brown rice, with nothing on it, one grain at a time. Do nothing else while eating.
  3. Use Google Maps to choose the slowest route with lots of traffic, heading toward a random spot.
  4. Staring into a tide pool for one hour without moving.
  5. Sorting each piece of paper in my home that is visible without opening a drawer.
  6. Rinsing every dish and glass I own, drying them with a towel. Putting anything I haven’t used in 3 months into a box.
  7. Dusting every tool I own, and putting them in a labeled box. (1 box is for Donate).
  8. Walking a meditation labyrinth for 1 hour alone.
  9. Listen to a friend without speaking for 1 hour.
  10. Watching a Bergman film with sound turned off and no subtitles.
  11. Spend 1 hour in a Sensory Deprivation tank.
  12. Talk to someone for one hour, listen, only say, “Oh, I see.” “That’s interesting.”
  13. Attend a meeting or MeetUp without saying a word for one hour.

To be continued…

What am I hoping for? Mindfulness. Insight. Awareness of what really matters to me.

I’d like to get to the root of why I move from project to project.

Why do I have to run out of my studio? And how can I get art and other work done while I live there. What is going to make my new space whatever/wherever it is different.

Time for art needs to come in uninterrupted blocks.

Moving On, Moving Up

Moving on, moving up. (Creativity in Relationships)

I have a lot going on with my creative life, the growth of my business, and a newfound desire to spend a lot of time around interesting people.

But lurking in the background is a big issue: how to let go of a close friend who mysteriously disappeared without saying goodbye. We are often within a mile of each other, and he’s not hostile, just young and distracted by a job and lifestyle he must find glamorous. It would be easier, and more typical for me to break with anger. But I’m not going there. Instead, I’m reminding myself that I also need to have Creativity in Relationships.

I’ve listened to my own inner creativity guru, and come up with some solutions.

I sent a carefully considered Farewell note. I was really wishing to NOT need a reply, or a rebound anger would be O.K. Just to not be hooked into patching things up and getting close again.

I got a contrite reply to my farewell, and I dared to be hopeful. I wrote to say thanks.

Then I got a note where the walls went up. Reading between the lines the message seemed to be, “You are sort of important, but friends (what was I?), my need to work 60 hours a week, and doing everything I can to deal with all my stress, take precedence.

So finally I know this is over, and to get through the loss, I’m doing two things. Delving into my study of meditation, and using a self-psychology technique called The Paradox.

I hope sharing this helps other people seeking to get someone departed off their mind.

The lovingkindness (Meta Bhavana) meditation* has long been a favorite. Often, this departed friend was the person I used to focus on in stage 2. I cared deeply for him. But now that things have dissolved, maybe can move back to Stage 3, the neutral person, and for a bit, he may need to be considered in Stage 4, a person where there is difficulty/friction (after all, I still wish him well).

Meta has enhanced my compassion for other people. It has relieved my tendency to be very self-focused. Meta helped me immensely four years ago when I had my dog dying at the foot of my bed while my mother having psychotic episodes due to dementia. Yes, that was a bad time.

Not long afterward, somewhat magically, this new friend appeared in my life. A door opened after doors had closed.

To the best of my ability, I move on connecting with people, trying to be as generous as possible, trying not to blame or lash out when dinged by being ignored. Those are great intentions, but sometimes this lost friend is still too much on my mind.

Familiarity with the ‘stuck’ feeling, I reached back to a technique I learned when I was studying to become a therapist. It’s called the paradoxical method and works well with incessant annoying repetitive thoughts.

While it isn’t appropriate for all forms of addition, it can help when one is having trouble Letting Go & Moving On.

Simply put, my wiser self told me… (Paradoxical Instruction)

“O.K. You can’t stop thinking about the friend, because you didn’t get to fight it out, and it is a good thing, it’s growth for you not to duke it out. And letting your inner parental voice yell out you to “CUT IT OUT,” that won’t do any good.

So let’s agree that you get to think of this lost friend in any way you wish to but it has to be on a schedule. In fact, I require that you do this. Be sure to think about him 2 times per day for the next 30 days.”

“Think of the disappeared one each day at 11 am for 6 minutes; then at 11 pm, be sure to think of him for another 6 minutes.”

This helped. (Thanks, Inner Creative Guru). I wasn’t in a state of anger or sadness. My mind would drift toward thoughts of the friend who was now a goner, but I noticed it wasn’t time yet. I’d do that in 20 minutes. Usually, I got involved in something else by 11 am, and then I’d say, “O.K., 11 pm, then.” After a couple weeks, it was a matter of fact thing to say, not now, maybe later.

Paradox: It’s not total magic, but it helps.

And it is no coincidence that now that my giving up is firm, I am moving on, and moving up to put my energy into new people, to focus on my own creative work, to teach, & to connect with young people without wondering if there is a generation flakiness.

I’m excited by my plans to move to a new home, where I can enjoy being out on lively streets, and I’m going to give of myself to people who are AVAILABLE and communicate their appreciation of me. To the best of my ability, I will form interdependent connections in which I and the other person flow back and forth between the SEEKER and SOUGHT* roles in a manner that is playful and accepting.

*Get an excellent audio version of the Meta Bhavana meditation: “Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love” by Bodhipaksa. If you don’t already have an Audible account you will receive it for free, just for giving them a try.

**More about this subject in a future post.

Creative Growth SoCal MeetUp

We just started a MeetUp which will feature events from art, design, and architecture tours to creative classes for everyone–no need to feel you are a great artist.

We currently have three MeetUps scheduled in October 2017. There will be plenty more listed soon. Some of the events come from things that have been done in a class called, Visual Thinking: art + Innovation.

On October 14th, Creative Growth SoCal MeetUp will visit two of the most interesting galleries in L.A.; Edward Cella, and Blum+Poe.

The Land Art Road trip…

Showing a film called Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art to my Visual Thinking students last week, inspired me to start planning a trip to some of these remote large scale creations.

The list begins with a reservation for Walter de Maria’s LIGHTENING FIELD in New Mexico, on to the Great Salt Lake for Smithton’s SPIRAL JETTY,  and then Heizer’s DOUBLE NEGATIVE in Nevada. It makes sense to mix in National Parks, roadside oddities, and whatever else turns up in my research.

Looking forward to further inspiration at the LACMA exhibition of the historic  Dwan Gallery, which opens March 19th. Virginia Dwan was a key supporter of these projects, and many others.

Land Art Road Trip – departure

I was chomping at the bit to get on the road, but had to wrap up some client things. I wanted as much freedom and impulse as possible, so I only had my reservation for The Lightening Field on May 9th. I booked that on February 1st at 5am. Waiting those 5 hours past the reservation opening meant I barely got in.

I was sure that whoever else got up to make a reservation for the cabin would be interesting; some sort of Art Fanatic, for sure.

It has been 5 years since my last vacation. I hope I never wait that long again. Thanks to Yelp and the Priceline App I was able to travel well, never booking a room or campsite more than a day or two in advance. My first two nights at the painfully hip Moxy Hotel in Phoenix were at a 72% discount. It was strategically located near a James Turrell Skyspace that I hadn’t seen before.

Turns out I had the Air Apparent (even geniuses making awful puns) all to myself, and it was a quarter mile from the Moxy. Arriving at dusk the stone/metal perimeter bench was surprisingly comfy. I liked the detailing of this site specific artwork, and I think much of that was due to the aesthetic of a brilliant Arizona architecture, Will Bruder.


Starting the road trip…

Ironically, the day before my road trip, this site got hacked, an issue I wasn’t able to fix until yesterday. I’ve been having a great time. On the first day I drove from San Pedro to Tempe, Arizona. I got a deal on what turned out to be a very trendy hotel, right next to James Turrell’s recent “SkySpace” at Arizona State University.

I visited “Air Apparent” both nights I was in Tempe. Wonderful, evocative. Strangely, I pretty much had the work to myself for an hour at dusk.

Go where you would’t go.

Today I had a lot of mundane tasks, some interesting, some not, but I opened a book* by Eric Maisel, my creativity guru, and trusting the right page would fall open, I saw this exercise under the heading, “Anxious Situations.”

Invent a character to go where you wouldn’t go.

Think for a minute about the sorts of places that, because of your personality, principles, or upbringing you would never venture into.

*A Life in the Arts, p.77, in a chapter titled, “Of Moods and Madness.”

Here is the entire instruction: “Think for a minute about the sorts of places that, because of your personality, principles, or upbringing you would never venture into. Invent a character with the sort of personality traits, principles, or upbringing that would allow him or her to venture into one of those places. Follow that character there. Describe the setting in some detail and indicate why the character is successful or comfortable in that setting and why by contrast, you are not.

My bold, alternate self, flew to Germany to storm the Olafur studio, and politely, firmly insist he becomes part of the (dream) team. After being rebuffed a few times, he was invited to join them for a meal and was shown around the office, where he saw some amazing new projects in development.

A Mobius inspired staircase by Olafur Eliasson Studio.
A Mobius inspired staircase by Olafur Eliasson Studio.

Beautiful Food: a project for Visual Thinking classes

In order to get my students to understand that visual composition matters in everything from architecture to army uniforms to advertising and art, I’ve added a new assignment, called Beautiful Food.

Beautiful Food Composition Project PDF

Junk Food made Fancy
Tartar of hand-cut Hot Rod, egg yolk, and “intense pickle” Doritos, by Jacque LeMerde

And here are the excellent results from the students of Art 350 / Visual Thinking…