A Collage, a Word, Faux Calligraphy, and a Series Links Page

October’s “Write 31 Days” is over, yet it’s not over. With so many seeds left scattered, it’s hard not to pick one up and plant it. Here’s the one that’s been tugging at my mind–this John Greenleaf Whittier quote from the collection pictured in the last blog post:

The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.”

It reminds me so much of this collage and hand lettering exercise I did sometime during this past year and don’t think I’ve shared.

Which prompts me to share my surprising great enjoyment of faux calligraphy. 

It’s “faux” because although it looks like actual calligraphy, it’s not. It’s much easier. And less stress! (And cheaper, to boot!)

I took it on as a challenge, I suppose as a means of improving my collages. But what I got was a path to relaxing, to soothing within. I don’t know why it had such a calming effect on me, but it did. I guess it’s a form of “mindfulness” exercise. You have to focus, to pay attention to the right-here and right-now, and you do need to slow down to do it. In a world where we try to do everything fast and faster, this is a gift and a boon to the inner state. I recommend trying it.

This is not the instruction video I watched. (I can’t seem to find that.) But it gives you the simple how-to in a clear way. There are other similar videos on YouTube. You might like to try it this weekend or some evening when you want to do something quiet, slow, and calming. I hope you do, and then  let me know how you like it.

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Meanwhile, in another sense, October’s “Write 31 Days” is over but it’s not over. Above, at the top of this post, and every blog page, is a master page linkwith links to all the posts that appeared in October. So if you want to revisit any, it’s even easier than faux calligraphy. Just click on the appropriate link!

Enjoy!

Day 31 Found Wisdom: Loose Seeds

I thought I would run out of bits of “found wisdom” before the month was finished, but quite the opposite is true. As I shuffle through just the remaining “clippings” from the book of quotes that provided much of the fodder for our thought mill, I puzzle over what to do with them all. I’ve been itching to do a collage; so the impulse hits me: “Collage them!”

…These aren’t exactly collages, more like random paste-ups, but here they are (most of them): a couple clusters of more seeds for you to plant and nurture in your mind at your future leisure. If you journal or blog or otherwise write, maybe some will serve as springboards to words you’ll pour out through your pen or keyboard.   Maybe they’ll just be good for pondering on a cold winter’s night by a crackling fire. Whatever, may they become for both you and me real wisdom, which is not just thought and pondered, but lived.

As a footnote I have typed them all out below with their cited sources, in case you can’t read them clearly in the photos and so that you can copy them to your own computer. 

Enjoy! 

 

[Transcribed:

“The stationary condition is the beginning of the end.” -Henri Frederic Amiel, philosopher

“The reason most people give up so fast is that they look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.” -Anonymous

“Seek your own answers in life, and not what others dictate to you.” -Jemina Akhtar, author

“If I never got to make a living doing what I loved, I’d still do it–for fun and for free.” -Susan E. Isaacs, author

“No group picture is going to have the power of an individual portrait. -Annie Leibovitz, photographer

“Sometimes you have to work hard for what you want. Sometimes, hard work is what makes it precious.” -Ute Carbone, author

“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” -Michelangelo, artist

“It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.” -Henry James, author

“The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you.” -John Greenleaf Whittier, poet.

“I am not afraid of tomorrow for I have seen yesterday, I have today and I know Him who holds tomorrow so I know tomorrow will be beautiful for me.”  -Jaachynma N. E. Agu. author

“A kite only flies if it’s tethered.” -Victor Robert Lee, author

“Be steady and well-ordered in you life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.”

-Gustave Flaubert, author

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.” -Mary Shelley, author

“If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.” -Anthony Robbins, motivational speaker

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… We are in charge of our attitudes.” -Charles R. Swindle, pastor

“It does not take many words to tell the truth.” -Sitting Bull, Lakota chief

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything else you do.” (cited as anonymous, but strangely familiar to me. See Proverbs 4:23)

“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.” -Harper Lee, author

and, just before that, upside-down:

“Someday this upside-down world will be turned right-side up. Nothing in all eternity will turn it back again. If we are wise, we will use our brief lives on earth positioning ourselves for the turn.” -Randy Alcorn, author

*****

 

 

 

 

Day 30 Found Wisdom: On Seed(ling) Planting

Last Sunday I had the chance to attend a worship service in an old, very Germanic looking Lutheran church. It was more of an opportunity than I’d guessed it would be, for I hadn’t realized the day was Reformation Sunday, commemorating Martin Luther’s pounding those 95 theses on that Wittenburg church door 501 years ago and setting in motion a massive change in history and the church itself.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

To start off with “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” accompanied by the big pipe organ, full choir, and complete (and accomplished) brass ensemble, and the sanctuary full of people singing: how wonderful that was! Not only because of that, but also the truths expressed in the commentary and sermon, it was a very moving service for me.

So later in the week, as I was sorting through bits of wisdom and wise sayings I’d cut out of books and magazines or jotted down in my journal, I was struck by what one of them quoted Martin Luther as saying. It’s here, first in this trio of quotes:

Do you find his comment as remarkable as I do: that this world changer would see such importance in such a small thing as planting an apple tree, especially if the world was about to go to pieces?

But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much his nailing of those theses was a seed- (or seedling-) planting. He never realized when he was doing that what all would grow out of it!

Nor do we with the little seeds we might plant each day: seeds of wisdom, of understanding, of care and concern, of kindness or creativity, of a word fitly spoken at just the needed moment.

So now I see it as very fitting to be winding down our 31 Days with a post about this, for aren’t all these bits and bobs of wisdom and commentary but seeds, scattered now into the air? What will happen because of them will depend partly on what you and I do with them–or, what they will do with us.  Will one of them change your life in some small, or large, way? Will one of them stick in your mind or heart and come forth just when someone else needs an insight or encouragement it expresses?

Who knows? God does, but we can’t even guess. So, as we finish out 2018 with November and December, and prepare to welcome another new year–or era–let’s not forget the importance of planting seeds, right when and where we are.

*****

Only one more post to go! And I will also (finally!) be putting up a page listing links to all 31 posts for this “Found Wisdom” project, and a link to that master page will appear at the top of my home page, for if you should want to reconnect with any of the individual posts in the future.

 

Day 29 Found Wisdom: Inspiration or Motivation?

I keep running into paradoxes in these “wise sayings” I’ve been collecting. Lots of times the two seemingly conflicting “words of the wise” have come from the same book of quotes. But they’ve never appeared on the same page. I’m the one who’s been doing that. 

Like today, with the two below…

(but we’ll get to them later…)

Truth is, I like paradoxes. I think they stimulate my brain. Especially in the creative thinking area. 

This is a good attitude to have, I learn, as I read “Seven Secrets to Unleashing Your Inner Genius” in the Time Magazine special issue on The Science of Creativity that we looked at yesterday. In fact, “Key Number 5” is “Embrace opposing forces.”

The idea is to discover how so-called dichotomies may “not really be dichotomies at all.” I think this is an especially rich thing to do with seemingly conflicting scriptures. Some of my deepest biblical insights have come from wrestling with such things till I find the harmony.

But back to the paradox at hand, the tension between the two seemingly opposing points on what stirs creativity and keeps it rolling. Is it the desire to reach a goal, sell a client on an idea, or just maintain self-discipline in keeping up a good work ethic? Or, is it, on the other hand, giving yourself freedom to dilly-dally, mind-wander, or just chill out?

The answer is, yes.

To both.

Paradox. But not dichotomy.

According to Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a researcher and psychologist who has “spent years studying humanity’s unique penchant for innovation,” the Number 1 key to help unlock your own innate creative potential is this one:

 

“Don’t force inspiration.

“Sometimes you have a deadline that compels you to be creative, or a task that requires some imaginative elements. But focusing on goal-driven production may back-fire. ‘Inspiration is not something willed. It’s hard to wake up in the morning and say, “Im going to be inspired today.” The more you try to force it, the less likely you are to start. You need to create a space for people to discover things about themselves.'”

(I also have to insert something here about how I’ve thought of the inspiration that comes from God: It is “God breathed.” And that we can’t force, but only ask and wait for.)

So Dr. Kaufman’s related Key #6 is “Let your mind wander,,,”. But His Number 7 Key is “…But home in,” in which he emphasizes the value of focused mindfulness. 

So which comes first, the (self) motivation or the inspiration? And which keeps us going? I always thought of inspiration coming first, but I think it may be preceded by a lot of mind-wandering, day-dreaming, cloud-watching… you know. Then something happens, some little observation, and something clicks in the mind, and a whole lot of things coalesce, and that inspiration becomes the foundation of sometimes astounding things to come. A later article in this same special edition tells about the “Eureka” moments that produced Einstein’s theory of relativity (seeing Bern, Switzerland’s medieval clock tower as he rode by in a streetcar); Phil Farnsworth’s invention of the TV (by his plowing a potato field, at age 14, going back and forth, back and forth): George deMestral’s invention of Velcro (by returning from walking his dog in a burr-filled woods and later examining one of the burrs stuck to his pants. And so on.

It seems like it might be good to include here Einstein’s own definition of creativity:

Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

So have a little fun!

*****

Day 28 Found Wisdom: On Your Aging Brain

I was just passing by the magazine section of the bookstore, on my way to the “rest room.” I hadn’t intended to look at magazines at all. But this Time special edition caught my eye.

The whole topic of creativity was one I’d been reading about, and learning interesting bits of “found wisdom.” (I mentioned some of them early in this series.)

Plus, I suppose this subtitle had a special draw:

After all, I’m an aging person. So I’ve got an aging brain. And I’ve been so fired up lately to pursue creativity. Is this a foolhardy notion?

There’s a whole chapter on this in this book posing as a mere magazine. And look at what new findings it talks about:

I don’t know how you react to that statement, but I think it’s stunning. After all we’ve been led to believe! As the article itself relates:

“Until quite recently, most researchers believed the human brain followed a fairly predictable developmental arc… It… reached its peak of power and nimbleness by age 40. After that, [it] began a slow decline, clouding up little by little until, by age 70 or 80, it had lost much of its ability to retain new information and was fumbling with what it had… That, as it turns out is hooey.”

It goes on to report that neurologists and psychologists are now concluding that the brain during the years from 35 to 65 “and even beyond–is much more elastic and supple than anyone ever realized.”

I just can’t help but wonder if some of those “old folks” did realize it, but no one else wanted to believe it.

What scientists are reporting is that though aging can bring about in some people “inflexibility, confusion, and even later-life dementia,” for many other people the aging process actually makes the brain work better! And it mentions some of the examples of continued creative productivity beyond the age of 70 that we should perhaps have paid more attention to, like Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Doris Lessing. (There are lots more, really.)

The article quotes UCLA neurologist George Bartzokis, who explains, “In midlife [increasingly considered to include up to age 65] you’re beginning to maximize the ability to use the entirety of the information in your brain on an everyday, ongoing, second-to-second basis. Biologically, that’s what wisdom is.”

So, I guess there was something all along to the idea of the “wise old man” or “wise old woman.”

There’s way too much information for me to relate here in a short blog post, but it involves things like the importance of not “gray matter,” but “white matter” increasing in the higher brain regions (where the “seat of sophisticated thought” is), and the use of a different hemisphere of the brain (or both hemispheres–“similar to the way you need both hands to lift a weight that you could lift with one hand when you were younger”). Changes in the brain as we age also may improve temperament in many people, which enables them to take a more mature demeanor to the the table and to deal more ably in people relationships.

Well, I love this “new” wisdom about wisdom, and creativity, relative to age. What encouragement to pursue learning, creativity, and interrelating with others, even into whatever ancient age God may enable me to reach! It makes me think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who figured out all those complex crime schemes nobody else could, when the people around her who didn’t know better just thought of her as an inept, doddering old maid. It also brought to mind this quote I’d found in my book of sayings:

And I smile.

*****