Sore Throat – A Lozenge in Life

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Want some “sucrets” on more effective and efficient communication? This post is for you.

So, just recently I somehow incurred the wrath of a throat infection. It hurt so bad, that I could not even swallow. Talking wasn’t much fun either…so I didn’t. The less I talked, the better my throat felt. I kept what I had to say down to a bare minimum. My words were limited to get my thoughts across. And, this, my friends, is when I learned a valuable ‘lozenge’ in life……

The ability to speak…to transfer impulses of electric stimuli from the brain and out of the mouth is simply awesome. I don’t know the physical components of how the process works, but I do know that it is something that we tend to take for granted. We think. We talk. Or, sometimes, we talk before we think. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has done that, right? Fess up. I know you wanna. 😉

The gift of speech is something to be treasured and nurtured. We all have our unique approaches, styles, and methods of presenting our words, but sometimes, there are more succinct (no…you don’t have use fancy words like that) ways to get to the point and heart of the person or audience you want to connect with.

In this day of what I call our “on demand” society, we don’t always have the luxury to ramble on about a topic to get our ideas across. Instant gratification is a necessity. Attention spans are shorter. The impact needs to be immediate and effective. (and if you are still reading this, than maybe I’m doing something right. If you stopped reading this, then, well, I guess I lost your attention and you wouldn’t even know I said that because you weren’t reading this.)

What are some ways to be more effective in getting your point across verbally? (Visually is another whole topic that I will be featuring in detail in the near future. Stay tuned.)

Here are 5 suggestions:

Jargon: Speak the language of your audience. Use the terminology, buzz words, etc., that they use in their conversation.

Ask: Ask effective questions to deliver accurate responses.

Speak from the heart: Put emotion into what you are saying. Emotion combined with words can definitely get a point across. By the way, this is something that I have found can get totally lost in email communication…no emotion to back the words can lead to misinterpreted text.

On point: Don’t ramble. Spit it out. Rambling can cause your audience to lose interest.

Never doubt what you say. Say your words with conviction. Believe in the power of your speech.

Give some of these a try and I’m sure you will see (hear) your communication become more direct and respected. Since I have been trying these out, I have found that more people are listening to what I am saying.

What are some tips you have for more effective and efficient communication? I would love to hear them. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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.

Inklings Are Here

Be sure to visit the inklings section of my site.

This is the part of my site where I empty out the canvas of my mind in the morning with whatever the sandman has put in there overnight.

For me, there is nothing better than starting the day off with a blank slate.

I would love for your to share your thoughts, reactions, and comments on my sketches.

Let me know what sketches you like best, least, or if you stumbled here by accident.

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Enjoy!

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?

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……..

https://i1.wp.com/www.jasonjnicholas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/20130102-052632.jpg?resize=467%2C350

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…..

 

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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…………..

27. Shift

The basic definition of shift is to “make a change.”  We often get stuck in ruts, performing the same routines in life.  These patterns occur without us even thinking about them.  They are on automatic pilot.  My poor driving posture is one small example of what was a bad continuous action for me.  If I hadn’t made the shift in my sitting, my back may still be hurting.

Shifting or making changes can have positive impacts in our lives. Following  are just a few examples of things that can be shifted in our lives:

  • Focus: Shift the focus on helping yourself by focusing on helping others
  • Negative Patterns: Shift negative thought patterns of “I’m not good enough” to “I am perfect as I am supposed to be”.
  • Ordinary:  Shift the way you look at ordinary objects to see them in a different, perhaps more exciting, way.
  • Attitude:  Shift an attitude of “I don’t have enough” to “I have just exactly what I need”.

This is only a brief post on this topic.  For more insight on this topic, I recommend reading “Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life” by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

How are some of the ways you can make a shift?  I would love for you to post your comments below.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog in the box on the right to get emailed when I have a new post.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer

 

 

 

 

28: Milkshake

Listen up readers who read and carers who care, to the following insight I want to share. The following blurb I’m about to tell varies from zany normal. (And for you sci-fi fans, sorry, it doesn’t involve any wormholes.)

Today’s word in our journey of 42 Words to a Better You is something better it just may make. Today’s word of the day is……..

 

photo courtesy of @istockphoto/inhauscreative

photo courtesy of @istockphoto/inhauscreative

28: Milkshake

It is about time that fleets by like a ZIP! BOOM! And WHIZ!

It’s about just simply being in the moment. And about the moments of being. It’s about the Here, the Now, and the Is.

Being the father of a child and husband of a wife has given me new perspectives and appreciations in life.

Days were something that were once often wasted, like the leftover remains of a turkey basted.

Some days carelessly spent like paying the rent on somebody else’s circus tent. Or energy wasted on trying to straighten trees that were meant to be bent.

Fretting the fret that we all tend to do is like trying to walk wearing backwards shoes. Our bodies and minds pointing and aiming for one reaction, while our mis-pointed shoes cause an unnecessary distraction.

Wanting to move forwards while taking steps back can cause unwanted headaches and our supply of precious energy to lack. (No, this is not a story or moral about being “green”. We’ll leave that one to Kermit for now. That’s his scene.)

Confusion. Conundrums. Twisted and Snarled. All while we can be enjoying our world.

Simply taking a breath and letting the mixed communication go, will open up a new path, a new sort of positive flow. A flow of clarity. A sort of knowing. An innate sense of being and going where you are going.

Over the course of recent time, I am learning to focus on the now, the current moments that are truly mine. The precious moments in life that are to be savored like a fine glass of wine.

(Or for those who don’t consume alcohol try this one for take….the precious moments in life that are to be savored like the most ‘scrumdiddylumptious’ milkshake. Or for those of you who may be lactose intolerant…that’s ok, there’s no rank, simply insert your own delicious beverage into the following blank. _________.)

Experience the joy that comes from a simple laugh. Or the sweet smell of a rain that just gave the landscape a well-deserved bath.

Truly see the magic that is right before you. Right here. See it before the ‘abracadabra’ makes it disappear.

I know the saying, “Stop and smell the roses,” is so cliché. So, how about then we “stop and tip the valet”. In this case, the valet parking your car is none other than you. You are the one behind the wheel and in control. It is simply You.

I would love to hear your comments. Feel free to leave them below. Also be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on the fun.

29: Puddle

Ever get bogged down in being an adult and the responsibility that comes with the territory?  Ever lose sight of what it was like to be young and carefree?  Well, then today’s word may help to wash away these doldrums.  Today’s word in the continuing downpour of our 42 Words to a Better You blog series is………….

photo courtesy of @iStockphoto.com/buzzanimation

photo courtesy of @iStockphoto.com/buzzanimation

29.  Puddles

Sometimes we go through the 24/7 of life with our heads up in the clouds just plugging along and going through the motions.  The yen for life is overshadowed by the cats and dogs pouring down around us.  The Technicolor of life has been replaced by shades of gray (not 50.  Ha.)  I personally can relate to this being back in the scheduled world of 9-5.  I occasionally feel like my creativity level has succumbed to the daily motions.  How can we chase away these ho-hums?  Make a splash!

There is nothing more liberating than jumping into puddle.  The mere act of when your feet hit the water and the splash that results washes away all memory of being an adult and takes you back to a time when you were younger.  A time when the only thing that mattered was whether or not you’d be the last one picked for the kickball team.

Doing something silly or random and out of character can bring out your inner child.  When we experience these glimpses into our childhood, it breaks up the seemingly cloudy days and reignites that childlike yen for life.  This brief moment may just be enough to approach that daily task in a new light with a renewed sense of energy and wonder.

What is your “puddle”?  How are some of the ways you reconnect with those sometimes lost feelings of being carefree?   I would love to hear your thoughts.  Leave your comments below.  Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog for the latest updates.

 

30: Parrot (Parrots of the I-wannabe-an)

The following post isn’t meant to ruffle any feathers.  It’s meant to give new flight to bad habits.  Last weekend I had a duel with that foul scurvy dog, Captain Procrastination.  Only this time he wasn’t in the form of a 42-year-old man, he was a 6-year-old boy.  Yes. I admit it.  I tend to procrastinate.  But, I will tell you about that later.  This story is one about the leadership role we play as parents.  This brings me to today’s word in my series 42 Words to a Better You blog……..

30.  Parrots (Parrots of the I-wannabe-an)

With Santa in town for the holidays, we took our son to go and see him.  When we got to the venue, my six-year-old said, “I don’t want to see Santa.  I promise I’ll do it next year.” I asked him a few times if he was sure and he repeated the same words back to me.

Later that day, I asked him to clean up his room.  The response, “I’ll do it later, I promise.”  That night when it came time for tooth brushing time, “I’ll brush my teeth tomorrow.” This was driving me crackers!

A-ha! That’s when it dawned on me.  As in the words of the Harry Chapin song, Cat’s in the Cradle,  “He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.”  My procrastination habit was being imitated.  My son was parroting me.

Children are very perceptive.  Not only do they notice everything, but they are good at mimicking what they see and hear.  They are beginning their journey along the shoreline of life and sometimes they follow the footprints on the sand made by those who have walked the path before them.  But, who made that path? And where will it lead them?

They only person I could squawk about in this case is myself.  I need to take the helm and lead by positive example.  Sometimes we forget that we our leaders for our kids and the impressions that we have upon them.  We need to be more self-aware of the kinds of thoughts, actions, and words that we put in the bottle of life and toss into the ocean, because that bottle will ultimately come back to the shoreline.

What are some other bad habits that you see either your family or friends inadvertently parroting?  Leave your comments below.  Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and get the latest updates.  Just fill in the form at the right.

Beak out!

 

 

 

31: Improv

The heat is on! You need to come up with a great idea, or story on the spot.  Nothing is prepared.  No notes.  No words.  Nothing is scripted. Just you and the great white expanse of what lies ahead.  Oh no!  What will you do? Have no worries today’s word in our 42 Words to a Better You countdown can help with this type of situation………

 

photo courtesy of @Istockphoto.com/Peshkova

31: Improv

No, I didn’t make a typo.  It’s supposed to say “improv” and not “improve”, but you can improve your life with improv.  Impossible? I’m not inclined to think so. Improv is short for improvisation. As per the Merriam Webster dictionary, it means, “to make, invent, or arrange offhand.”

Improv performing is one of the joys of my life.  There is nothing more therapeutic than getting on stage with my friends at both Off Book Improv and Uncorked and letting the free flow thoughts come out. The real magic is that the scenes that we perform are not scripted. They are based on suggestions from members of the audience. The scenes are performed on the fly while keeping in mind a basic set of rules/guidelines.  These guidelines not only provide a framework for the comedy that ensues, but they can be applied to everyday life as well.  A well-known example of improv comedy is the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?“.

The five basic rules of improv as per the improv encyclopedia are:

  • Dont’ Deny
  • You don’t have to be funny
  • Don’t ask open-ended questions
  • Make your partner look good
  • Tell a story

For this post I am going to focus on the first rule.

Don’t Deny:  If given a suggestion from an audience member or fellow actor, you have to go with it and build upon it.  For example, if Charlie says to Lucy, “I see you brought your purple hamster with you today.”  Lucy can’t say, “That isn’t a hamster, it’s a dog and he’s orange.”  That would shut the scene down since Lucy denied all of Charlie’s suggestions.  Instead, Lucy could say something like, “Yes. I do have my purple hamster today.  He is purple from stomping grapes at petting vineyard yesterday.”  This response gives Charlie the framework to keep building upon the story adding another layer to their story by now incorporating Lucy’s stomping grapes into the story. And the process would continue.

How can this apply to everyday business and personal life?

  • Brainstorming Sessions – No denying is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and combine suggestions that may result in fantastic, unexpected results.
  • Story Building – Create stories with your children by allowing them to express their imagination and building a story upon yours and their suggestions.  We have done this and ended up with some zany tales.
  • Team Building – Allowing everybody to have input and not be shut down can bring teams closer together

You never know what will result from following the no denial rule, but being open-minded and taking suggestions from all those involved can result in amazing collaboration.

Warning….another shameless plug ahead…..feel free to click on and visit Off Book Improv and see some videos of our improv troupe in action.  You may actually LOL.

What are some ways that you get beyond the blankness of life? Post your comments below and be sure to subscribe to my blog to keep the aha blogs coming your way!

 

 

 

 

 

32: Unplug

 

Are you constantly checking your email or phone?  Do have a constant itch to check your facebook or play angry birds?  Feel like you have been sucked into the technological vortex of no return where you have lost contact with the important people in your life, including yourself?  I know I am guilty. This brings us to today’s word in our 42 Words to a Better You conversation……………

photo courtesy of @istockphoto.com/OneO2

 

32:  Unplug

One day, my family and I were sitting at the table eating dinner.  Having everybody gathered at the table at the same time is a rare treat these days.  Instead of some great family conversation, the only sound that could be heard while we ate was the clicking of my fingernails tapping on my iPhone. Quality family time opportunity lost! Ugh!

That was my aha moment when I realized I had become a slave to technology.  My epiphany was that sometimes you have to disconnect in order to reconnect with yourself and your family.

One idea for doing some unplugging and get more hugging is what we call in our house:

Unplugged Sundays.  No t.v., phones, computers on Sunday.  It’s not easy to do, and I admit that I jump on my pc late at night, but it’s so worth it.  Some of the bonding activities that Unplugged Sundays encourage in our family are:

  • Outdoor activities such as hiking or playing.
  • Creativity time for coloring, drawing, crafting.
  • Board game time.  What is more fun than sitting around the table and playing “Trouble” or “Uno”?
  • Quiet time.  Yes, it is okay to have time to bond with yourself maybe by reading, meditating, journaling.

I will admit, that not every Sunday has been a successful unplugged day.  But, I know I am on the right track when my son doesn’t get up and turn the t.v. on in the morning and also when he says, “Dad. No texting. It’s unplugged Sunday”.  If  that is a lesson a 6 year old can learn, then we, as adults, surely have no excuses.

What are some of the ways you unplug?  I would love to hear your ideas.  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you get notified when I have new posts.

 

 

 

Remember – 9/11

“Remember”

I worked in Hoboken during the summer of 1993.  One afternoon, I took a walk and decided to sketch the NYC skyline — a forever majestic scene.  Buildings and spires piercing the sky above.  Simply amazing.  Little did I know back when I sketched this image what the future would hold and how the skyline would be changed forever.

33: S’mores

Ever find yourself working on a creative project and you hit a mental block and you need “s’more” ideas?

Being an architect, artist, and writer, I definitely know this feeling all to well.  Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.  This brings me to the next word in my 42 Words to a Better You series.

 

photo courtesy of @istockphoto.com/BlueMoonStudioInc

#33: S’mores

Yes, it is Thanksgiving day.  And, yes, I do have yummy food on my brain, but more importantly, I have gratitude on my mind.  One of the things that I am very thankful for is the precious gift of creativity.  Creativity for me is the melting pot of my core being and the world around me. It fires me up!

Being a creative and looking for new ideas isn’t always as easy as just sitting around the campfire and singing.  Sometimes I get stuck in search of that next design element, that next color, or that next word.  There are lots of suggestions out there for getting beyond the creative mental block.  A topic I will continue to explore in future blog posts.  For today, let’s stick with s’mores.  How can s’mores help get you out of the marsh? Here are some ways that they help me.

  • Random Ingredients – open up your mind to randomness. Pick 2 or 3 random objects, or colors, or ingredients, and mix them together.  The results could be sweet and launch your thoughts into a new direction.
  • Collaboration – When s’mores are mentioned, who doesn’t think of sitting around a campfire and singing songs.  Why not join up with some friends and collaborate and brainstorm together.  This can help get the mojo flowing.
  • Indulge – Eat something that makes your taste buds come to life!  The rush of yum can ignite a fire inside.
  • Scout –  S’mores and scouts go hand in hand. Step away from the project you are working on.  Get outside and explore nature.  This is a great way to clear your mind.  When you go back to your project, you will feel refreshed.

I will definitely be returning to the topic of creative blocks.  Stay tuned.  One resource I would like to recommend is a a website by Todd Henry called Accidental Creative.  Check it out.

How are some of the ways you break the creative wall barrier?  I would love for you to share your ideas in the comments below.  I would also love for you to subscribe to my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!