Creativity, Rule Breaking, and Growing Down

Mastering the art of when to break and not break the rules is a never-ending exercise in creativity. As creatives, we live with the privilege of learning that tightrope walk.

Today’s my birthday.

I’m 36.

I used my birthday money to buy this…

Birthday Helicopter Yes, it’s a remote control toy helicopter.

Yes, I’ve played with it a lot.

Yes, it’s amazing.

Some justification. A friend posted a quote on my Facebook Page today by Chili Davis, a Major League baseball player: “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” Chili Davis.

Chili? His name is Chili. No, for serious. I checked it. It’s for real.

So yeah, I’m just following Chili’s advice. (Said that in my head a few times… “I’m just following Chili’s advice.”) I’m gonna break a few rules, make a few, and keep a few rules this year to keep my creative juices growing.

~I’ll do my best work this year rather than rest on my laurels.

~I’ll learn what my ‘my laurels’ are.

~I’ll love better.

~I’ll keep rules, break rules, and sometimes make my own rules.

~I’ll live like a disciplined rebel with a cause.

~I’ll not just dream about ideas; I’ll do the dream, and take the steps to see the idea grow into a reality.

~I’ll explore like a toddler, dream like an adolescent, and work like a ‘responsible’ adult.

Today may or may not be your birthday, but we can always focus, define, and set the tone for our lives as we walk that creativity tightrope.

How are you growing down, growing up, and keeping the balance of rule keeping and rule breaking?

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Celebrating Mistakes

There are multiple mediums of artistic expression: oil on canvas, word on paper, film on screen, status update on Facebook.

Regardless of the medium, at times our initial vision may get distorted by a glitch (or two) during the creative process. The clay is too dry. The paint is low quality. Writer block. Fear. In the case of a Facebook update intending to be clever, the distortion emerges because of not proofreading.

The Pumpkin Roll Problem

A simple example, and yet it proved a point to me:

Our blunders often create something unexpected.

Isn’t that what we want as creatives? We love the unexpected. Something new. Something fresh. Something surprising and refreshing. Sometimes we must allow ourselves the grace to make mistakes during the process. If we don’t, we will never create. We will never share. Others will never enjoy our work.

Conversely, when we do give ourselves grace in the process, we enjoy the immense satisfaction of creating and sharing our work. It’s very refreshing. Very rewarding.

Isn’t it time to dive in? Time to make some mistakes? Time to blunder?

Who knows, the end result may be more interesting, beautiful, and unique with the mistakes than without them.

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Friday Light: McDonald’s Dollar Menu Temptations

I’m weak. Like a girl at a hip-swiveling Elvis concert. Can’t say no. Willpower shot.

I hear from within me a whisper of sinister rationalization:

You deserve a break today.

To which I answer “yes. Yes indeed I DO deserve a break today.” And then another voice…

You want it, you need it.

Another answer of “I do want it, and yup, I do need it.” But then, the voice goes one too far with…

I’m lovin’ it.

Sitting here in my office, I realize I’m having an inner dialog with slogans from McDonald’s. Dang marketing department.

Generally, this self-talk happens in a matter of seconds and transpires just before lunch, which, of course, is already packed. I have an apple, a healthy wrap with 46 grams of fiber, and even some Greek Yogurt for dessert. Healthy, yes, but I want the trash food. I want the warm, gooey goodness that can only be found on a McMenu.

I’ll indulge in a McDouble from time to time, ordering it without cheese to make myself feel that I’m still cutting out some of the ‘unhealthy’ calories. Like I’m both auctioneer and buyer at the same time, the script often reads like this:

Auctioneer: I have a lovely McDouble on this pristine, plastic encased menu. I’ll start the bidding at one dollar.

Me: That’s not really even food. I’ll feel terrible after I eat whatever that thing is but I deserve a break today don’t I? Hmmmm. Ok I’ll take it.

Auctioneer: Going once, going twice….

Me: I’ll take it if I can have it without cheese. That’ll make it healthy. Right?!

Auctioneer: Sold to the man with weak willpower.

On my better days, I arrive having already eaten my healthy lunch. I’m just at McDonald’s to get out of the office for a wee bit. They have free wi-fi. They also have Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m a hero. I’m out of the office. I get a treat I love. I haven’t indulged in the McDouble McProblem.

After two (or three) free refills I have enough caffeine in me to levitate back to the office. Thanks Diet Dr. Pepper. Thanks McDonald’s.

Calorie Free McTreat at McDonalds

What are your midday temptations? What marketing department tantalizes your subconscious… and wins?

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Friday Light: Big, Superfluous Words Make Us Seem Smarter

As creatives, we’ll often bend toward the serious side of life. Our temperaments embrace the melancholy, rainy day, James Taylor-esque “You’ve Got a Friend” sadness that, for some reason, makes us feel comforted. Not happy, but comforted.Sometimes we gotta chillax. In an effort to blend balance into our creative lives, I introduce to you Friday Light.This will be a weekly series each Friday to smack the melancholy in the tooth, laugh a little, and deliver a non-alcoholic buzz.Let’s get chuggin’.Confession: I sometimes like to appear smarter than I really am. Rather than using colloquial language, I’ll toss in some three, four, and five syllable words to dazzle. Have you ever used “big words” just to impress someone?Words like these…

  • Pretentious. Even using the word ‘pretentious’ is, in itself, pretentious.
  • Colloquial. See above. I used it a few sentences ago to make myself appear shiningly brilliant.
  • Nebulous. I’ll toss this one into a sentence when describing concepts and ideas that aren’t specific. As in: “I like the direction of this project Fran, it’s just a bit nebulous at present.” Just saying the word ‘nebulous’ raises my IQ. I’m sure of it.
  • Any Medical Terminology Picked Up from WebMD. As in “yeah, it was a post-roital laceration on my dorsal vertex.” Of course, peons who haven’t read WebMD feel their intelligence quotient drop with each and every syllable of our verbiage.
  • Verbiage. It’s pretentious to use the word ‘verbiage.’
  • Moot. Like a judge on Law and Order, we’ll refute irrelevant information and use the word moot. Check this out from the dictionary: “it is moot whether this phrase should be treated as metaphor or not.” That sentence doesn’t even seem like English.
  • Ambidextrous. I get a one-two punch out of this one by both saying the word and demonstrating as well. For some odd reason, I have no trouble shooting pool with either hand. Though I’ll probably not win the game, my opponent is astonished with my vocabulary and my ambidextrousness. Makes me feel better about myself… just like listening to James Taylor.

How are we going to keep it light today?  Suggestion box below… just leave your tips in the comments.