37: Water guns

How many times have you got trapped in your own mind to only let the days drift by feeling smothered like a sardine in the tin of non-creativity?  I know this happens to me on occasion when there are many projects swirling around in my head at the same time.  There is solution that has worked for me to get from smothered non-creative sardine to frolicking creative dolphin.

That brings me to today’s word in our continuing 42 Words To A Better You blog series.

Word #37:  Water Guns  (okay.  it’s 2 words, but let’s just pretend that it is one.)

 

water guns photo courtesy of www.jasonjnicholas.com

water guns photo courtesy of www.jasonjnicholas.com

 

So, you may be asking yourself, “What is with this guy and his fishy references?”  Well, I’m not about to start spinning some ancient mariner yarns, but I am going to to be talking about water.  I’ve been feeling too “adult-like” lately and losing my inner child.  Which for a creative like me is a very frustrating thing.  Don’t get me wrong, of course there are times where we need to be mature and responsible adults, but there are times when we need to let out the care-free and playful  kid inside.

Here are some positive advantages that I have experienced by expressing my inner child:

  • Increase in Creativity – by “lowering your shields” (as said by many a Star Trek captain) you allow yourself to become vulnerable and emerged into the world on a new and refreshing level.  Your mind is challenged is look at and solve problems in new and inventive ways.
  • Increase is Energy – who doesn’t know of a kid that can continuously run around for hours and hours?   Being cooped up in an office or a slave to your computer all day can make you physically (and mentally) tired.  Getting outside in the fresh air and running around raises your energy level and increase your blood flow.  It’s simply good the body and mind.
  • Increase in Freedom – Something magical happens when you give yourself permission to “cut loose, footloose, and kick off those Sunday shoes”  (yes, I did just somehow channel my inner Kenny Loggins…. thank God you are not able to hear me singing now).  Your mind, body, and soul free themselves from the shackles of the 9-5 clock and are allowed to simply exist and be whatever you want them to be.  No permission is required to go out and have fun. You become the fun.

So, here is where the water guns come in.  One way I recently forced myself to get out of my own mind was to go out and buy water guns.  What a great way to get outside, cut loose, run around with my son, solve challenges (like finding the best places to hide), and simply be a 43 year old kid!

So, be playful and Live Creatively!

Action Step

Write down 3 things that ‘triggers’ your fun memories as a kid.  Take the time to do at least one thing on that list today.

I would love to hear your ideas.  Leave your comments below so that others can be inspired from you.

 

16: Observe: How to SEE the world in 3 steps.

Sitting on a park bench….yeah I know it’s the beginning of a Jethro Tull song, but this post has nothing to do with that.  (Sorry aqualung fans). 
What a fabulous day for people watching!  Softball game.  People walking, jogging, and biking.  Parents teaching their kids how to ride bikes. Its wonderful just taking a moment to kick back, enjoy, and observe the world.

 

photo courtesy of @istockphoto/skynesher

photo courtesy of @istockphoto/skynesher

This brings us to word number 16 in our journey of 42 Words to a Better You series……..OBSERVE

Observation is something that we often take for granted.  How often do we take the time  in our daily hustle and bustle to actually observe?  My guess is that it isn’t enough. 
 Observing  reminds us that we re not alone in this world.  There are other people, places, colors, smells, things.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the ME ME ME syndrome.  This blocks out the opportunity for any external stimulation — stimulation that can enhance our life experience making it amazing.
 How can we successfully engage in the  environment around us?  Following are my 3 steps on how to SEE the world.

 

§  Stop.  Simply take a moment to stop and sit down somewhere – anywhere.  The mere act of stopping puts your on life on a momentary pause while life continues around you.

§  Experience.  Experience all that is around you.  Soak in the world.  Use all of your senses.  Focus by using one sense at a time.  What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch?  Isolate and engage each sense to its fullest.

§  Encapsulate the feelings inside you based upon your observations.  By associating a feeling with an observation,  it encapsulates the moment  in your soul creating a snapshot of space and time in your mind.

So, what has been my biggest observation sitting here in the park?  Never park your car outside the fence of a softball field…. Somebody may actually hit a home run over the fence only to have your car end up catching the ball.  Egads!

 

What are some of ways you observe the world?

I would love your thoughts.  Post them below to keep the conversation going.

17: M&M’s

Today’s word in our countdown on 42 Words to a better you journey is……

M&M’s….

not only do they melt in your mouth, but they also melt the hearts of people everywhere.

 

photo courtesy of @istockphoto/plainview

 

I was fortunate enough to attend an amazing seminar event this weekend hosted by Ray Edwards, more of which you will be hearing about in a future post. At the hotel reception desk there is an M&M dispenser on the counter. Adjacent to the dispenser are small clear plastic cups. Free candy for the taking. Who could refuse?

When I first checked in, I was oblivious to the candy. Nervous about being in a strange place with absolutely nobody I knew was distracting my focus.

The first day at the seminar, I noticed a cup filled with the delicious bright-colored candy on a table in the seminar room. The person next to me offered me some.  I heard the buzz of M&M’s echoing throughout the room and halls that day.  They were a pure conversation starter.

Throughout the weekend, not only did the tables become more colorful with containers of candy l, but the entire room turned into a rainbow of pure joy and camaraderie.

I’m not sure if the hotel put the M&M’s out as a pure marketing device that would make the guests feel “at home” or if they are there as a pure friendly gesture, but who would have thought that something so simple could be so powerful in helping to bring people together.

M&M = ice breaker. Who would’ve thought?

What are some of the ways you break the ice?

 

18: Schedule

Wow!  It has been way too long since my last post.  Why haven’t I posted in a while? Honestly, time has slipped away from me.  Seconds have turned into minutes…minutes into hours….hours into days…day into months.  This year has been one big blur.  Sometimes we get lost in the blur of life neglecting the obvious.  Do you feel the same way?  If so then word number 18 in our continuing series of 42 Words to a Better You may just be one way to help with this situation…………

 

photo courtesy of @iStockphoto/STILLFX

photo courtesy of @iStockphoto/STILLFX

18: Schedule

I used to think of schedule as a negative word. I felt that schedules impeded my creative freedom.  It was like my mind was not free to roam and explore the world when I had to be “there” at a certain time or do “this” on a specific day.  After all, who wants to be a slave to the numbers on the clock and the calendar, right?

Wrong!  Scheduling is really the opposite of being constricting.  I am starting to take a careful look at my calendar these days and blocking out times not only for business related activities, but for family, friends, and myself.  I’m not saying to schedule every little detail of your life, but to at least schedule those items which are a priority to you.

Why is scheduling beneficial for me?

  • Liberation:  When I schedule my activities it frees up my mind allows it to be open for the creative process because I’m not constantly thinking in the back of my mind what I have to do and when I must have it done by
  • Efficiency: Chunking my schedule by grouping similar activities together allows me greater focus. For example, blocking out a time for writing multiple blog posts in one sitting.   Multitasking on unrelated tasks doesn’t work for me.  When I multitask it takes me longer to get things accomplished.  And the results are not as thorough as they should be.
  • Organization:  Scheduling allows me to  build in the time I need to do the things I want to do.  Nothing is getting lost in the shuffle of the daily hubbub.  I can see where and how my time is spent.

These are just a few of the benefits I have noticed so far.  I’m sure more will come to light.

We often say that there’s not enough time in life to do the things we love.  In these days of craziness, I say there is the time if we plan for it.

What are some of the ways you organize and prioritize your time so that life doesn’t slip away from you?

I would love to hear your feedback.  Please comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

19: Imagination

“imagination:
is something where your brains thinks of stuff that is not real.” – my 6 year old

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Imagination is also the holding place where ideas and visions are not only created, for me is the ultimate gift. A gift that you can truly call your own. Nobody can access your imagination. Nobody can tell you what to imagine. It’ s a private storehouse of all that you want to create and that which you want to bring to life.

I try to get my ideas out onto into some sort of tangible/visible form. This way it empties my imagination and keeps it open for more. What are some ways to capture your imagination and put it into a tangible form? Some of the ways I do this are:

1. Journals/Sketchbooks. – Wow. What a great way to capture those thoughts. The mere act of writing or drawing what is inside your head can be a fantastic catalyst to making those wants or desires come to life.

2. MInd Mapping – mind maps are a fantastic method of free flow thinking and linking those thoughts together and seeing what were once random patterns now making more sense.

3. Record your thoughts. A great way to get those ideas out of your imagination when you are driving. Use your favorite recording app on your smart phone. ‘better out than in’.

4. Create. Build. Get those inner visions out by creating or building what’s inside. when working on some design projects, I will cut pieces of cardboard and glue them together to help get the concept out of my imagination and into a tangible form.

5. Collaborate. Share your visions with other. Collaboration and feedback can be inspiring. Since December, I have been sharing a daily inkling or sketch with followers on Facebook, twitter, and my website. My goal in sharing my thoughts is to not only inspire, but to be inspired by feedback.

Although when you do this, when you put your ideas out there in the public realm, you have to be prepared for resistance from others. Resistance in the form of thins like, “what is that sketch supposed to be”, “that doesn’t look like so and so”, “that idea will never work”.

I see these types of resistance as blessings..as reminders of my imagination being a gift that I can truly call my own. I have only scratched the surface of this topic. I am sure there will be more posts about it.

What are some of the ways your capture the ideas in your imagination?

20: Cardboard Box

Here I am back with another 42 Words to a Better You post.
And here I am again; ready to be your gracious host.
While you are reading, can I offer you a piece of toast?

White, wheat, grain, or vanilla crumbled corn rye?
Why not give something new a try?

Tired of being stuck in the same house wearing the same socks?
Then continue on to today’s words……… Cardboard Box… (or card-unbored box)

shark fish

photo courtesy of @istockphoto.com/philpell

Months have passed.  Time has flown.
Situations arose that has made one grown.

Not only grow upwards, downwards, sideways and think ways too.
But grow deep ways, voice ways, and feet ways that fill more than two shoes.

Sometimes it’s so easy in life to get sucked into the microcosm of one’s own being.
An endless vortex of the “whoa is me” type of seeing.

The feeling of being boxed in your own corrugated house.
Bored by the squeaks of the same un-oiled mouse.

But there’s not need to sit there and pout.
For there’s an arrow pointing with words, “This Way Out”.

Sure it’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind and flounder.
But, need it be that way?  I merely ponder.

It’s realizing when it’s time to break out of this narrow minded focus that opens doors.
And reminds us there is an entire universe out there to explore.

Stepping back and taking fresh look through a set of new goggles,
sometimes makes it easier to see through the muck of apparent boggles.

Taking this new approach –a  blank slate sort of perspective.
Why not make it essential, not just an elective?

Choosing this approach cool thing-a-ma-wonks may occur.
(Yeah.  You busted me.  “Thing-a-ma-wonks” is a fake word.
But, hey, who is the author?)

The once overwhelming flow of the nine to five
may be transformed into a dance with a groovy jive.

What about the mish mosh of daily tasks, lists, and endless daunts?
They can be flipped on their ears and made into jaunts.

The overwhelming mountainous tasks that can dominate the landscape.
Can be broken down into small pieces like the shells from a clambake.

To quote a person from wisdom’s book of whose who ,
the ever so wise ancient Chinese philosopher– Lao-Tzu,

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
A profound lesson that under the carpet is often swept.

In summary, sum, and final wrap.
That was this.  And this was that.

A special thanks to my son who inspired this lesson.
From which he used a cardboard box to go on a space mission.

Oh, and why a fish disguised as a shark you might ask.
He’s a fish that’s ahead of his class.

For him, survival is cool.
So he’s being original and dressing to be a member of the shark school.

 

What are some of the ways you open your mind to new possibilities?

I would love for you to share your comments below.

 

21: Giraffe

Are you afraid of not living up to others’ expectations by being yourself and pursuing your inner voice desires? Who isn’t, right?  Well, one morning while sitting out on the balcony at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and enjoying watching a giraffe eating his breakfast, I got to thinking. (Yeah I know…that can be a dangerous thing.  LOL). But, bear with me.  This brings me to today’s word in our continuing expedition of 42 Words to a Better You……..

http://www.jasonjnicholas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/20130102-052632.jpg

21:  Giraffe

My family and I have been fortunate enough to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Right outside our windows, was an African savanna with lions, giraffes, zebras, oh my! I particularly enjoyed watching the awkward looking, yet gracefully elegant giraffes.  What lesson did I learn about pursuing your own inner voice from watching these amazing creatures?

Giraffes aren’t shy about sticking their necks out and going after what they want.  They extend their necks and heads up to reach their food.  Rather than waiting for their meal to come to them, they go right to the source of their nourishment.  It’s their instinct.  And, they don’t make a ruckus doing it.  They do it quite gracefully.

So, why do some of us fear taking a chance and going after what we want? Perhaps we fear making a mistake. Or we fear pursuing the unknown. Or maybe we are afraid to embarrass ourselves by looking like fools to our friends, family, and peers.

What have I taken away from that day from watching the giraffe?

  • Expressing my inner creative.  That is how I felt.  My inner voice kept telling me to share my love for creating, drawing, and writing in hopes to inspire others.  I ignored it for many, many, years and always felt a piece of my soul missing.  Out of the lesson of the giraffe, this blog was born last year.
  • Expressing my silly side. This lesson has also taught me to not worry about being embarrassed about how I appear to others when expressing my silly side.  I have now embraced my inner silliness as part of my nature.  By doing so,  I am now fortunate enough to be part of Off Book, an improv comedy troupe. See post  #31: Improv to see what other lessons improv has taught me.

Safari, so good?

So, perhaps we can learn from nature and its creatures like the giraffe and make it our inner instincts to stick our necks out and express our inner voice and dreams — to be the individuals we want to be.

Have you ever been inspired by animals or nature to pursue something in your own life?  I’d love to hear.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

23: Crayons

How many times have you had the following lack of conversation with your kids…….

Me:  So, how was school today?

Noah: I can’t remember.

Me:  What was one thing you did today?

Noah: I can’t remember.

It can be frustrating.

Go grab a coloring book or blank sheet of paper because today’s word in our  42 Words to a Better You series word just may help to bring those dull parent/children chats into living color.

23: Crayons

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has experienced this lack of feedback.  Perhaps it’s simply a case of being worn out from the day.  Or perhaps it’s a case of asking the same monotonous lead in questions.  Well, I have found one solution that has worked in our house to help brighten up the daily conversation.

Our children are just like us.  Nobody wants to get bombarded with questions as soon as they get home.  Home is a place to unwind from any of the meltdowns you may have had during the day — a place to unbox from your day.

I have learned that rather than hounding your kids with questions, sometimes you have to create an environment or activity conducive to casual chat. For me, this is where I grab the box of crayons.  It seems that some of our best talks have been had while coloring.  Here are some of the reasons why I think coloring has helped in the art of conversation:

  • Therapeutic – there is just something so tranquilizing about the act of coloring. It makes conversation much easier when there is no forced pressure to talk.
  • Sharing – not only sharing crayons, but sharing and exchange of ideas and opinions such as “what color do you think should go here?” etc.
  • Stimulating – adding colors to a white page helps to get the brain going
  • Accomplishment – a sense of accomplishment is achieved when you take a step back and look at your creation.  This makes the process positive and rewarding.

I hope today’s word “crayon” not only melted your heart, but also inspired you to sit down and enjoy a chat with somebody special in your life. As you can see, not only do crayons do their best work outside of the box, but so does thinking.

What are some of the ways that you encourage conversation? I would love to hear your thoughts.  Leave your comments below.  Also be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you get emailed when I post something new.

 

 

 

 

24: Simmer

You have a design meeting in a few days or a story that is due.  You know the overall concept of what your scope of work is, but have not put pen to paper or finger to keyboard yet.  It’s crunch time and you sit down to create and…egads…nothing!  Your other weekly assignments, tasks, etc, have prevented you from prepping for your deadline.  Well, my friend, never underestimate the crock pot of your mind. This brings me to today’s word in our continuing exploration of 42 Words to a Better You…..

 

iStock_000000561859Small

photo courtesy of iStockphoto_OG

 #24: Simmer

Well, it seems that all of my years of watching Julia Child has paid off.  And I’m not talking about whipping up a mean boeuf bourguignan, but, rather, employing the cooking technique of simmering into my everyday thinking process.

Let’s say you are going to make beef stew in your favorite slow cooker (and if you don’t have one, maybe your neighbor can lend theirs to you).  After you prep the meat, veggies, and other goodies, you put them in the crock pot, set, and forget. (Although it’s hard to forget it when the heavenly smell fills your house.)  You leave the ingredients and heat to work their magic and when the time is up…. Voiola!!!  You have a hearty and delicious meal ready for your enjoyment.

So, you are probably asking, “What the heck does this have to do anything?”  “Has Jason finally flipped his lid?

Now that you are done blowing off steam, let me tell you.  Here’s my recipe that sometimes gets me out of a pickle when I have a busy week and know that a looming deadline is on the horizon.

Let’s say I have design project due on Friday morning.  On Monday, I will prep the ingredients (scope of project) and put them in my crock pot (mind).  The ingredients in my case could be design parameters such as a second floor addition, 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, new staircase, colonial style, etc.  While I am going about my other weekly tasks, I allow the ingredients of my project to simmer in my subconscious mind.  A kind of “set and forget it” approach using the often underestimated power of the subconscious mind to begin to formulate and develop your ideas for you.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I will take a deep breath and inhale the scent of the slow cooking creation, and remind myself that there is indeed a delicious meal soon to be served.  When the timer sounds on Thursday, I open up the crock pot of my mind and am able to dish up a hearty design meal in time for Friday’s deadline.

This method may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but has worked for me on more than one occasion. I’ve used it both for doing architecture as well as writing blog posts.  In this on demand society we live in, it doesn’t hurt to have more than one cooking utensil in the kitchen drawer.

How are some of the ways that you have or can use the power of your subconscious mind to help with your projects?

Share your comments below and be sure to subscribe to my blog for email notifications when I post new stories.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

26 & 25: Ice Cream

This post is going to be short, sweet and sprinkled with some joy. I was going to save my most favorite words for the last blog entry in 42 Words to a Better You, but I couldn’t contain myself anymore. Without further adieu, here’s today’s scoop.  Today’s two scrumptious words are…..

26 & 25: Ice Cream

As some of you know, I love ice cream. I often joke that Ben & Jerry are my gods that I serve every day.  Why do I enjoy ice cream oh so much?

Well, I’ve waffled over different theories over the years. But, I tend to keep coming back to the same plain vanilla reason – memories. Indulging in a bowl of ice cream has the power of transporting me back in time to simpler, youthful days. Days when we would hit up the local DQ after playing a ball game. A time when the only responsibility had was being a kid and the road was not so rocky. A time when the dirtiest expression I ever “uddered” was “oh fudge”.

Sure, some may see this creamy indulgence of mine as a mere escape mechanism from dealing with the present moment, but, I see it as way to harness those childlike and pure feelings of my younger days and incorporate them into today’s world of split decision making. Once you become an adult, nobody is spoon feeding answers to you.  It’s easy to to feel all twisted inside having to make your own decisions.  The menu flavor board of life can seem a bit overwhelming.

It’s up to you to decide how to handle things when your brain freezes. For me, instead of melting into a puddle of unknowingness, I will sometimes approach situations by transporting my mind back to those ancient days of yor-eo sundaes. The days when my mind was less cluttered and focused on the wonders of life.  This fresh perspective can sometimes be the cherry on top that takes a potential mental licking and turns it into sweet memory.

What are some things that transport you back to your days of childhood that can give you a fresh perspective?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

27: Shift

Lately my back has been hurting.  I noticed that it would really ache after my daily commute.

The other morning, something dawned on me.  As a force of habit, I would always be seated in the same driving position with my body off center and leaning to the right.  That’s when I decided to crack my old habit and shift my body in a more upright and centered position.  I have been driving in this new position for a week or so, and it has helped me. My back is feeling much better.

However, “Dammit, Jim!”  I am not a doctor, I am a blogger.  And this is not a medical post.  This is a post about today’s word in our 42 Words to a Better You journey.  Today’s word is…………..