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Posts tagged ‘creative’

Beachside Motel – Chapter 1 (edited version)

The moment you think that you have the words to describe everything, you hear music.

The sound of a trumpet off in the distance filled the air as if painting it with brilliant colors, bouncing off of the waves, splashing onto the shore. Veronica stood motionless. Her evening gown dusted in sand and salt sprayed on by the wind and the Gulf, and the translucent fabric clung to her—a violet second skin, shimmering under the moonlight.

“You match the surf!” a voice called out from behind her. “Look at you. Your dress sparkles like the waves,” and the voice was chetgetting closer, but there was no image of him in the dark. Veronica looked down at her arms, and it was true, the violet shimmer of the fabric on her dress was a perfect match to the moonbeams dancing on the waves. “Are you real or a part of the water?” the voice said softly, now coming from directly over her shoulder. Veronica could feel his breath on her neck.

Though startled by the stranger, Veronica didn’t turn to look at him this time. She felt enchanted by mystery, praying that maybe this stranger was from her dream. Maybe he’s the trumpeter, handsome, strong, kind with soft eyes and made of mystery. A mystery she longed to keep secret for as long as possible.

After a few moments of silence, she turned, and no one was there. The buildings in the background were blacked out. It was three a.m. and not a soul seemed to be awake but her. Except, yards away was a beachside motel with a neon vacancy sign lit up out front, blinking in the dimly lit window of an office. The trumpet’s songs resumed in muted tones.

The reality of the buildings, the structures and solid features framing the other side of the beach transported her back to reality with a vengeance. She felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come. She felt nauseous, angry, humiliated, defeated, and a wave of despondence overwhelmed her. The three bottles of wine she consumed on her own a mere hour ago seemed to lose all effect. The intoxication was no use in dulling the pain any longer, and Veronica fell into the sand, dry-eyed and silenced as if her emotions have strangled her. She sat alone gasping for air, clutching the sugary white sand that poured out through her fingers.

Just then, something broke. Inside of her, a sharp pain crescendoed as if a glass had shattered and scratched the inside of her skin and began shooting outward, tearing her flesh, just under the surface—she became cold. The beads of sweat all around her body formed from the Florida August heat felt as cool droplets of rain while memories bombarded her brain, and her own breath betrayed her. All she could do was exhale.

Her mind played out the night’s events in vivid frames beginning wither husband, Jason, backstage, waiting for her after the opera. She was a stunning Carmen, with Bizet’s notes carved carefully in her voice—every tone embodied an intense characterization—that emanated a reality, transporting the audience into another world.

After the last curtain call, and the roars of the crowds died down, Veronica was beaming with joy. Seeing Jason backstage, she melted into his arms, snuggling intimately against his neck, then suddenly realized that his arms weren’t even around her, and his head was stiff and fixed forward. She felt as if she was embracing a concrete wall. She was. She grew cold and silent, gathered her things and left quickly behind him, sitting in the car with a knot in her stomach, not knowing why, but she felt immensely fearful just the same.

The next frame was of Jason uttering his only words, which followed a long stretch of silence in the car ride back to the hotel. “Oh, by the way, I’ve filed for divorce. And I’ve moved our money. You won’t find it, so there’s no need for you to contest it. I think you have $4,000 in your checking account. I’ve left you with that. Thanks for agreeing to selling the house so quickly. It would have been uncomfortable if we needed to deal with an arson investigation and insurance settlements. This way, it’s all neat and clean. We don’t even need to talk past this point. Our attorneys will handle everything. See? It’s clean. You should be happy—I’ve made this pretty easy on you. Okay, here we are,” he finished pulling up to the hotel as the valet opened her door.

Veronica sat there staring at Jason, then whispered sheepishly, stuttering a little, “What?”

Next frame—Jason twisted his neck around with his chiseled jaw clenched, eyes stern and black, glaring into hers filled with tears, and he said simply, “Get out.” She did.

Veronica gathered herself up, and she walked to the motel office. No one seemed to be there; the door was locked, and no one answered as she pounded, just needing a place to rest.

She remembered seeing a hammock near one of the motel windows, and she figured that would do until dawn, which was still several hours away.

A sense of dead exhaustion overcame her, and she clung tightly to the old sea grass woven hammock and climbed into it, drifting off to a shallow sleep. The sound of the waves crashing over and over again against the surf took her mind to a place of uncommon stillness—a soft quietness within. A peace she hadn’t known since childhood. And she dreamed in soft colors.

About an hour lapsed, and consciousness swept in, waking her to a sharp pain in her thigh. Her plump flesh pressed uncomfortably against the strong ropes, she shifted her weight over to the left to relieve the pressure, but her foot got stuck. Trying to shake it free, her hand fell through another opening in the hammock, and she found herself twisted and tangled like a dolphin caught in an unforgiving net.

Veronica then thrust all of her weight—a solid180 lbs.—onto one side, spinning her body, leaving her hovering over the sand, face down, still caught in the ropes. The hammock seemed to have won the battle, and as far as she knew, it might have won the war.

Moolit_Beach_No longer feeling too peaceful, and the scorching Florida heat returned with a vengeance, she hung there, sweat leaking from every pour, her evening gown shrunk onto her flesh like plastic wrap. Not a soul seemed to be awake; even moonstruck lovers had found their way indoors for the night. There wasn’t much hope for a rescue, and her handbag was yards away with her cell phone tucked safely inside. Veronica tried to fight back tears of frustration and discomfort, and she failed.

As she tried to wipe her now slimy nose, she managed to finally free her hand from the ropes, and it fell to the sand below onto something that felt rubbery and cold. Curious, she dusted off the sand covering the object, revealing a hand—a dead hand, gray and shriveled, with a gold Rolex strapped to the lifeless wrist, still ticking away.

Veronica screamed.

Stress Buster Series Part 2 — CREATE — 7 strategies to reduce stress

Here are 7 CREATIVE ways to effectively deactivate stress…

There’s no joking around about the seriousness of stress. At the very least it eats away at us, preventing us from enjoying life fully. At its worse, it is deadly—a major contributor in obesity, high blood pressure and other critical health conditions and diseases as well as mental illnesses, including problems with alcohol and other drugs, anxiety disorders and depression. It even has been linked to many instances of suicide. Tame the beast—take action to help manage stress.

  1. Daydream—you may often hear advice about meditation, and that certainly has its place, but… daydreaming has become a lost art by far too many. Stare at the clouds, gaze into the water or just simply stare off into space. Let your mind wander and imagine yourself in dream lands, surrounded by people you enjoy or off on your own to explore and revel in creative bliss… all inside your own skull.
  2. Write—oh stop worrying; no one said you need to publish this, but you just might want to once you’ve done it long enough. Just get the stuff stuck inside your head and your heart outside and take a look at it. Go ahead and write about what’s scaring you, or not. You may choose to write a better story; one where you are empowered and actively achieving all you desire. Or, even still you may choose to channel your inner voice, and give it a platform to express spirit, wonder, gratitude and grace. Or… all of the above.
  3. Draw—I don’t care if your version of a Renoir looks exactly like blotchy, lumpy diseased stick figures. Draw something—groupings of circles, an abstract of the horizon at dusk, a blade of grass or leaves, clouds… anything. The point is to explore expressing yourself non-verbally. We relay far too much on words and give them far too much power in our lives. Here is an opportunity to explore the connections between your eyes and your hands in a creative fashion. Use a pencil, your favorite pen or go wild with pastels, colored pencils or even crayons. Have fun and explore
  4. Sing—whether you’re a nightingale or more closely resemble a quacking duck, put your favorite tune in your head (or go ahead and queue it up on your Mp3), and sing that song! Fill up your body with air and let sounds reverberate through every atom that makes you… you. Don’t be shy and activate your whole self in song. Throw all of your energy into making music—the very expression of your own breath.
  5. Dance—that’s right, get down and get jiggy with it! Or slip into some Ravel and go on point if that’s your pleasure. Experience music as an expression of your whole body. Oh come on no one’s looking. And so what if they are? Make them envy your joy! They should feel so free.
  6. Create—just start and go! Have you ever wanted to sculpt? Play the piano? Paint a mural? Write a story? Compose a song? Choreograph a dance? Just start. You may not like where it takes you at first, but you started! That’s more than most people ever do. Great work! Now, keep doing it, and by accident, if you keep doing it enough and work on doing it a little better each time, you’ll find at some point—you’re actually kinda good. Maybe ever great! But that will never, ever, ever happen… unless you begin.
  7. Pretend—pretend you’re somebody else. If you could be a different type of person… you might walk differently, speak differently, behave differently… dress, attitude, habits, preferences… all different. Even how you choose to spend your day might be different. For one morning, afternoon, or one evening, go somewhere where no one knows you, and go BE that different person. Keep your name, and please do try to keep your sanity and return to reality once you’re done with your “trip,” but also do take note of all being that alter ego taught you. How were you treated? How did you feel? Did you see things differently, value different things and take notice of different things than you normally would? Were your interactions with people different? Overall, how did your experiences differ, and what lessons from this experience can you incorporate into your real life and real personality to be an even more authentic, happier and empowered you?

Activating your creativity helps to deactivate stress by opening a portal for that negative energy, and with you and your creative spirit serving as the conduit, you have the power to turn the negative energy—STRESS—into a very positive energy—ART.

kandinsky - transverse line (copy)

kandinsky – transverse line (copy)

Stress Buster Series Part 1 – PERCEPTION – 7 strategies to reduce stress

Here are seven ACTUALLY EFFECTIVE ways to deactivate stress.

There’s no joking around about the seriousness of stress. At the very least it eats away at us, preventing us from enjoying life fully. At its worse, it is deadly—a major contributor in obesity, high blood pressure and other critical health conditions and diseases as well as mental illnesses, including problems with alcohol and other drugs, anxiety disorders and depression. It even has been linked to many instances of suicide. Tame the beast—take action to help manage stress.

  1. Experience—everything tends to work out no matter how badly I worked to screw it up
  2. Looking Forward—decide to do one thing every day that you look forward to doing (going out for a drink, watch the sunset, watch a movie, spend time with a friend, write a story, paint…)
  3. Positive, Creative Intelligent & PLAY—surround yourself with positive, creative, intelligent and playful people and spend enough time alone to stay sane
  4. New Beginnings—Know that there is an ever-present opportunity to pick up and start over
  5. Nature—never lose your connection with the Earth, and go for a hike, a swim in the ocean, climb a tree, play in the rain, sit or go for a run in a park, exercise outside, sail, stare at the horizon across the water; it’s the connection to the planet that reminds us of the infinite nature of our true reach and how insignificant humanity is and thus our problems…
  6. Quiet—spend time in silence: mind, body and spirit; profound calm creates a space for creative thought and for the imagination to run wild; day dream, meditate… whatever speaks to you
  7. Enjoy—remember that very little is all that important anyway, so enjoy!

stress

Ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying

This post is all about titles–so, it will be a brief post. Another list of 7:

Ethel the aardvark

  1. What’s in a name? Everything! It’s your first hook to your audience and potential audience. Get their attention! It also is a hyper-brief summary, description and perhaps a foreshadow of what’s to be found in the content.
  2. Creativity is good in a title, but what’s more important is its impact and accuracy. Sometimes getting too creative can destroy the objective–confusing people hardly ever makes a good title (there are very, very, very rare exceptions–like the title of this post… Ha!).
  3. Brevity: one word, two, three, four, five–powerful titles. Beyond that, you’re writing a tag-line or something else.
  4. Title as starting point: It’s okay to start your [article, story, novel, play, etc.] with a title and work from there. However, once the full work is created, and the full spirit of it is surging through every cell of your body, go back and examine your title again. Strengthen it, change it, tighten it… make it a necessary part of the whole.
  5. Examine other titles of things–all kinds of things: books, essays, headlines, short stories, movies–what made certain titles stronger than others? What did you like better about one over another? What can you learn and what knowledge can you apply from examining other titles?
  6. It’s a boy!!! Remember–you truly are giving your work its first name, similar to naming a child. Make sure you love it–that it means something to you for you to say it, repeat it, call it and scold it.
  7. “Ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying” is a fictional title made up by the geniuses of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Paul Wilson–internet radio guest on Rhino on Air’s “Write At Five”

Hear local advertising mogul Paul Wilson of WILSONMedia as Paul talks about the creative process and the business of communications along with his Memorial Day benefit concert with his brothers. Paul joined us live at the Rhino on Air studios for our radio show “Write At Five” where we interview local (and sometimes national) guests for a weekly radio show all about writing. Listen in here: PODCAST http://rhinoonair.com/?p=1920

Paul Wilson, president WILSONMedia

For the love of St. Petersburg

I spent a few hours at the Manhattan Casino Saturday morning with a few creative minds and community leaders, and if you ask me, they are one in the same. Here we had an opportunity to come together and explore what loving St. Petersburg is all about with For the Love of Cities author Peter Kageyama.

Mayor Bill Foster said of the event that he has big hopes for this concept. He wants people to become more engaged in the City of St. Petersburg, and he wants “love missionaries.” Foster said, “It’s about the little things—the things that make St. Petersburg not just a destination and home. Not just a place where people work and live but a place where people work to feed their habit—the habit of St. Petersburg.”

But what does it take for a community to fall in love with its city? Kageyama talked about “love notes.” Love notes are little things that make your community unique, light you up, make you smile and have you coming back for more. He mentioned Studio 620 and Free Fall Theatre as notable “acts of love” in St. Petersburg.

Other aspects that create a lovable city are bicycle-friendly and dog-friendly cities, and St. Petersburg is both of these, mostly. Kageyama also asked Saturday’s participants to write down and come up to the mic and share what they love about the city.

Mostly, there was a common theme of parks and the waterfront. The arts, museums, the people, small businesses and the history of St. Petersburg also made the list. From here, the interactivity of the participants picked-up, including working in teams to come up with themed t-shirt designs.

From cradle to retiring—what matters in St. Pete?

What do certain demographics think of St. Petersburg—a 15-year-old, a retired person, a married couple with children, a young professional, a college student and a business owner? The teams that worked on t-shirt designs were asked to work together again to explore what was valuable to specific demographics.

There were some common themes such as crime and safety being top concerns spanning all demographics. This does not imply that people consider St. Petersburg to be very dangerous, but crime and safety remain top concerns for all demographics.

Top things that certain demographics within the city like are the beaches and entertainment and ease of access to community, business and government leadership. Also, things that many demographics agree are needs for the city include higher-paying career opportunities in fields such as technology and green energy.

Specific demographics did identify specific needs for their station in life such as more daytime activities for retired persons and more arts education available for youth, especially as programs are being cut within Pinellas County Schools.

 It’s $500 of love

If you had $500 to create a “love” project for St. Petersburg—what would it be? Participants worked in teams to develop projects that would have a $500 budget. Some great ideas were developed such a Family Friendly First Friday in North Straub Park—an idea that can be incorporated into an existing city event and expanded upon for $500.

Once these ideas were developed and presented to all, everyone voted on which idea they liked the most. Family Friendly First Friday not only won the vote but also received an anonymous donor who has agreed to provide the $500 to make it happen. Here are some of the other ideas:

“I am a native of St. Petersburg, and ‘for the love of St. Petersburg means a lot to me,” said Clarence Scott in closing remarks of this summit. He encouraged all of us to not only spread the word about the great work done today and all the great ideas developed but also to spread the word about the great city St. Petersburg is saying, “ Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.”

Peter Kageyama ended the day with a book signing opportunity, having books, t-shirts and lively discussion all available for those interested in For the Love of Cities.

Peter Kageyama

Also posted HERE on SaintPetersBlog, published 2/20/2012

The Rise of the Creative Class: leading talent often means getting out of the way

 

 

Itay Talgam at TED 2009

The greatest conductors on leadership & managment. Cultivate the BEST talent, then let them do their job. How to lead, direct, correct… Different styles:

http://www.ted.com/talks/itay_talgam_lead_like_the_great_conductors.html

Itay Talgem is one of the world’s most esteemed conductors, and in this TED Talk, he breaks apart leadership skills of other world-renowned conductors. It’s fascinating in and of itself, but it’s more enlightening when thought of in terms of business and project leadership and management. Also, community and cause leadership–it is critical to cultivate and nurture the creative class in a style that helps them bring the best they have every time. Conductors have been doing this well for centuries. Let’s take a lesson from the best.

Archaic management styles of blind obedience and linear hierarchies reap the worst in productivity and progress within your workforce. It’s time for every business and leader to change from this mindset or risk becoming miserably irrelevant. The most valuable thing a leader has to give is to empower others to lead, but if you’re stuck in the ineffective beliefs of traditional role delineation where insecurities and power-mongering run amok within leadership, you essentially create an oppressive regime. Here, creativity and buy-in become stifled amongst your team, and this directly erodes productivity and progress. You create an army of mindless drones instead of a team of empowered, creative problem-solvers and critical thought leaders.

One of two things will happen if you put too many restrictions on creative professionals: 1) they will flee from you or 2) they will produce drab uninspired work. If you want them to create the masterpieces you hired them to create, step back a bit. Let them tinker and make mistakes (as long as the mistakes aren’t too costly), and they will produce masterpeices over and over again for you and your company.

What leadership style speaks best to you? Are there any lessons you’re taking away from viewing this presentation? Has it changed your thinking in any way?

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