Linky Dinks: Is Creativity Routine or Ritual?

I have never actually considered myself to be a creative person, if you can believe it.  I am a teacher, and that involves a lot of creativity, but as a performer, well, I am a performer.  I don’t go around writing piano solos – I merely play other people’s creative works.

But in college, my piano teacher disagreed with me.  It’s one kind of creativity to create an original piece of music, but there is a different kind of creativity required to interpret someone else’s original piece of music, practice it and perfect, and then perform it and make it your own.  My college piano teacher is a highly intelligent woman, and so I won’t disagree with her, and I guess I am a creative person after all.

And after reading this article from the Creativity Post, I do feel a bit more like I fall into the “creative” category.  There is absolutely a routine (or a ritual) involved in preparing oneself to perform.

I don’t think I have ever fallen onto the ‘ritual’ side of the argument – for myself, practicing piano is a routine, but what is the difference between a routine and a ritual anyway?  If I wake up every morning, go to the bathroom, take care of my dog, fix myself a cup of tea and play the piano for an hour, isn’t that a ritual?  Or is it just a routine?

And routines and rituals aren’t just for us creative types, either.  Everyone has a “zone” that they can get to when they work.  You know, being “in the zone,” and getting a ton of work done, whether it’s writing, painting, accounting, or sales.  Do you get there out of routine or with a ritual?  Do you have to create a space for yourself?  Or can it happen anywhere, at any time?

Linky Dinks: How to Take a Sabbatical


I repeat – this is not a herald of things to come.

However – I realize that there are people out there who maybe need to take a break from their jobs.  Maybe because their jobs are just not as awesome as mine is.  Or maybe because certain life events have changed their point of view.  Or maybe, or maybe, or maybe.  There are probably a million reasons to take a break from your professional life.  And, of course, Lifehacker gives you the plan to make it happen.

This isn’t “hey, here’s all the reasons why you should take a break from life.”  This is, essentially, “hey, here’s how to do it and not be a homeless bum.”  TO summarize: figure out the why, when, how, and what.  Figure out why you are choosing to take the sabbatical, plan when it starts and how long it will last, how to cover all your expenses while you are on your break, what you’ll do with all your new free time, and most importantly, how to exit the professional world and enter your sabbatical world.

Sure, there are some people out there who have pretty ridiculous and amazing jobs like myself, and there are even some people who have jobs that while they are not as exciting, are still pretty awesome.  And for some people, maybe they just need a break from the every day grind for longer than just the standard two weeks paid vacation per year.

That Lifehacker article is for those people, and if anyone reads it, gets inspired and embarks on a new life adventure, I will be so happy to know that I shared it with them.

And now for something completely different: Sharing is Caring

Mom and Daughter CollaborateI’m an only child, so while sharing is not exactly a foreign concept to me, it’s definitely something that doesn’t come.. naturally, I suppose.  So maybe that’s why this collaboration seems to make sense to me.  First, mom Mica Angela Hendricks starts the drawing.  Then she hands it off to her daughter, who finishes it.  The results are pretty unexpected, yet still artful and interesting to look at.

See all the pics and hear a little more about the process here.

Linky Dinks: Be Crazy Good, not Crazy Weird

Check this video from A Box of Crayons and Positively Positive.


I think this is a really interesting technique that could be adapted to a number of situations and ideas.  One example: What is the most cost effective way to accomplish something vs. the most extravagant way?  What is the quickest way to do something vs. the longest most drawn out way?  The possibilities and applications are endless.

And now for something completely different: Chimpanzee Art

I’m just going to leave this right here.

Chimp Art

Please, do not go on about how art is so simple that even a monkey can do it.  I will not have it

What strikes me about this is how much I actually like this and am enjoying this.  Art, like m
usic, is one of those universal languages.

It makes me think about how my poodle comes to listen to me practice the piano.  It’s not coincidence, either.  Very often, when I am practicing piano, she doesn’t just come to hang out in the room, which you  could explain as her just chilling out and being a poodle in the same space where I am practicing.  She very deliberately will come to the living room and sit on this old green recliner that used to belong to my grandmother. This is the only time she will sit in that chair.  What does she do while sitting in this chair?  Chew on a toy?   Groom herself?   Nope.  She’ll just lay there and listen.  I’ve never noticed her fall asleep, so I presume she is more or less actively paying attention.

It makes me wonder what art she may like, or what art she may create.  It makes me wonder about playing music at zoos and pet stores for the animals.  It makes me wonder what else we may have in common.

Linky Dinks: Learning from Kids

If I have learned anything – ANYTHING – from being a teacher, probably one of the most important lessons I have learned is that my kids will teach me just as much as I will teach them (if I pay attention and let them, of course).

And as this cute gallery from Mashable will show, one of the most important things that make kids awesome is their ability to dream without limits, and play wholeheartedly.  And, of course, that naps are way, way important.

Linky Dinks: Think about this Ladder for a Minute, will ya?

This little thought experiment has been hurting my brain.  So OF COURSE I wanted to share it with you all.

It has to do with the speed of light, mostly, which I do more or less understand, but when you couple it with the passage of time, and our perception of time, my brain goes a little wibbly-wobbly.

Why yes, of course, I just made a Doctor Who reference.  If not now, when? 

Linky-Dinks: Lifehacker Helps You Get it Done

Ironically, I can waste a lot of time browsing Lifehacker’s website. However, I recently came across this one article that answers the question, “How can I stay motivated and finish my school work?” and simply had to share it with you all.

I know, I know, many of you who read this blog are long out of high school and college, but the guidance provided could easily be adapted to anyone in any work situation – even mine, with its crazy schedule!

The main points: take care of yourself – eat well, sleep enough; schedule your day better; know your learning style; play around with productivity styles; assess your level of burnout.  You might be thinking that, jeez, Miss Anna, this is all a lot of common sense.  But remember that time you stayed up all night to finish that term paper, and all you had to eat or drink was ramen noodles and coffee?  It sure seemed like a good idea at the time, but remember how you crashed out afterwards?  When you’re stressed out, you know you don’t make the best decisions for yourself.  They get you through a situation, but they may not have been the best means to an end.

Doing seemingly simple things like making sure your fridge is stocked with healthy snacks or scheduling  social events for yourself may seem like they won’t have that much of an impact on your work day, or that they may even take away from your work day, but in the long run, they are really gifts that you are sending to your future self to make sure that he or she is taken care of.  A healthy, well rested body can work more attentively.

Check out the whole article for TONS more information.  And be sure to check out some of the related articles as well.  You could read for hours on productivity methods.  Which.. again.. is just kind of ironic.

I was a busy little bee

(fun – and short – story: the title of this entry was almost “i was a busy little beet.”  you’re wondering why i didn’t keep it, and honestly, so am i. the end.)

A new feature that I wanted to add to my blog this school year was sharing more links.  I read a TON of blogs (though I already know I will probably only be sharing links to articles from only a handful) and want to share some of what I read.  My blogs are from all over the place, but I am going to try and pull them all back somehow to being creative, or being musical, or being with kids.  I hope you’ll indulge me, and I hope you’ll find these articles as interesting as I do.

There are a few articles, however, that I want to kick September off with.  One I had actually already read a few months ago, and then I stumbled onto it again.  How to Escape the Cult of Busy.  (see how I used the word “busy” in my title?  i’m ironic.)

This article, when I first read it, instantly struck a chord.  I so often just say that I am busy and leave it at that.  I don’t try and out-busy other people, and I am not just saying, ‘oh, I’m busy,’ to blow people off, though I am, more often than not, legitimately busy.  Sometimes I just try not to get into it because I don’t want to explain my job and random hours, and feel a little awkward telling my friends about children they’ll never meet, unless something truly exceptional and awesome has happened.  So it’s just easy to say that I’m busy.

But am I?  My work hours really are very random, so I probably have the same amount of free time as everyone else does, just in variously sized chunks spread out over my week.  It just seems like I’m busy because, oh, I technically have four jobs (if you don’t count being awesome, then i have five).  But my four jobs only bring me to about 50 hours worth of work each week, so I’m not really that much more busy than anyone else.  So this year I’ve decided to stop saying I’m busy.  I’m not busy.  At least, I’m no more busy than anyone else is.

Which brings me to these next two article.

Please Stop Complaining about how Busy You Are and also Busy is the new Lazy.

Please.  Everyone is busy.  It’s not just you.  If you’re lucky enough to have a job, then you’re just as busy as the rest of us (and I have a few friends who are unemployed at the moment, and they seem to be legitimately busy as well).  Maybe you are really busy.  But try to put it into perspective.  You know who’s really busy?  The president.  Are you as busy as he is right now?  Oh, you’re not?  That’s what I thought.  I don’t mean to be snarky about it, but I think a little perspective is in order.

Maybe you only seem really busy because you’re giving yourself reason to be busy.  Remember “busy work” from grade school?  Maybe you are giving it to yourself.  Maybe you should follow the tips in this article to figure out what you need to stop doing so you can be less stressed out at your job and in your life.  And if you think you’re really stressed out, then you should stop what you’re doing and read this article over at Lifehacker because while I am sure you know that stress is not a good thing, I’m not sure if you knew exactly how stress affected your body, and of course it’s not in a good way.

So hopefully this year you can be less “busy” and focus on getting better work done.  This is my wish for *myself* as well as for all of you out there.  And one last link for you all, what to do in some of the time you’ll be freeing up from your schedule: Nap.  The world could use some more naps.