Category Archives: Creativity

MORE

Lots of people are posting their One Word for 2013, so no, despite the title of this post, let me assure you, More is NOT my one word for 2013. I don’t know what my word for 2013 is yet. It may take me until February or March to figure that one out.

But yes, this post is about more.

MORE.

It does looks pretty materialistic, doesn’t it?

But I’ve been thinking a lot about more lately. Thinking about all the things I’d like to have more of in my life in 2013. Like:

MORE Reading

I started 2012 with four very broad, general intentions. And as we approached 2013, I was happy to see that I’d managed quite well with two of them: writing and meditation. And not too badly with the third one, exercise.

But I didn’t do as well with my fourth intention, reading. I had maybe TWO stellar reading months out of 12, which isn’t the greatest track record around. I’d like to change that this year.

Since the whole intention thing worked well last year, I thought I’d throw reading into play again this year. And guess what? I’m off to a good start! Yes, despite slogging my way through several deadlines that have prompted me to delay all my New Year resolution-ish posts until now, I’ve actually managed to read quite a few books already.

And readalongs! I’ve never participated in one, but this year, yes, I’m going to participate in at least one readalong. Jill at Fizzy Thoughts is hosting a readalong of Stephen King’s The Shining in February and Little Women in March. The Shining! Little Women! I mean, really, it’s irresistible.

So yes. More reading, and some fun readalongs.

Which brings me to:

MORE Reviews

Lately, I’ve been writing less and less reviews. I’d sit down to write a blog post, and I’d always have something non-review-ish that I’d rather write about.

But this past year, I realized something. Now that I have access to the Toronto Public Library, which I find to be quite well stocked in terms of my personal reading purposes, my TBR list has grown by leaps and bounds. With such a wealth of enticing books calling my name, I’ve been choosing what books to read based mostly on (1) the reviews and recommendations of other bloggers and (2) the reviews and ratings on Goodreads.

And recently the thought struck me: surely writing reviews is a way of giving back to this wonderful online community of readers, who so generously share their thoughts on the books they loved, the books they thought were so-so and the books that they really didn’t like. If other people’s reviews have helped me, then my reviews might help another reader somewhere, right?

So yes, I will be writing more reviews. I’ll post the longer ones here, and I’ll try my best to write short mini-reviews of as many books as possible on Goodreads.

And speaking of gratitude:

MORE Appreciation

This one is courtesy of the lovely Judy Clement Wall, a truly inspiring woman who’s doing a wonderful gratitude challenge right now. 30 days, 30 acts of (expansive, unabased, downright mushy) gratitude. Doesn’t that sound so lovely? (And if you’re into postcards, like I am, make sure to check out her lovely doodled postcards at Etsy.)

As Judy puts it:

I’m not talking about a gratitude journal here, or a jar, or a meditative ritual. Those are great too, but what I’m talking about is more communal. I’m talking about concrete, outward, unmistakable acts of heartfelt appreciation.

It’s writing something nice with the tip you leave in a restaurant. Telling someone’s manager what a great job they did for you. Writing thank you notes and sending ardent, immediate gratitude texts. Emailing a favorite author, blogger, artist, speaker, teacher, activist to say how much you appreciate their work. Calling someone to say, “the world is better with you in it.” Hand making a card. Treating someone to coffee. Giving, without reservation, your conscious, focused, undivided attention because someone you love deserves it.

I love the sound of this! I will be doing #lettermo next month anyway, writing a letter, note or postcard a day, so I’ve been thinking, why not start earlier? Why not start now? And why not make those letters, notes and postcards full of appreciation?

And maybe, just maybe, a little bit art and doodling too:

MORE Art and Creativity

I admit it. I say this every single year, but somehow 12 months whizz by and during that time I never seem to have the time to sit down and draw or paint or doodle.

That’s going to change this year. No, seriously, it is.

I may do a doodle a day. Start an artist’s journal. Learn to use my new camera properly. Bring gel pens to my world-building notebooks and add a splash of colour to my characters’ lives. Glue things with abandon. Sign up for pottery classes again. Learn to sketch. Draw mandalas again.

I figure, if I say so here, out loud, and boldly, with that MORE for emphasis, surely, surely, it will happen, right?

And there’s MORE. Only I can’t remember what the other things are, although a long list of them has been running through my head the past few days (of course when I sit down to blog about them, they disappear into the ethers). I’m sure they’ll come to me later. You know, when I’m not sitting down to blog about them.

But these four MOREs are the big ones for me right now.

What about you? What things would you like more of this year?

My Rumi Quote Book

Photo 2012-02-06 11 59 29 AM

I’ve been having such a fun time with my Rumi Quote Book. I keep it beside my bed, and work on it every morning. It’s meditative and creative– a perfect combination! Plus, counts as being Creative Every Day.

Rumi Quote Book

I doodle around each quote – what I really like about being creative this way is, I never have to worry about making a mistake. There are NO mistakes in doodling, right?

(I do have to work on my lettering, though.)

I figure I’ll have the book filled up in about six months, doing a bit of a page every day …

From My Shelves: Ten Books for Creative Inspiration

Thank you to Joy Weese Moll, for suggesting that I put together a list of books ideal for creative inspiration for this month’s BAND (Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees) discussion of books that support goals and resolutions. It was a great idea, and I’ve had a blast this past weekend going through the books on my shelves, picking out the most creativity-inspiring books!

One of my intentions for 2012 is to be more creative – and to add a nice dose of commitment to this intention, I also signed up for the Creative Every Day challenge. I’ve been doing fairly well with this “be creative” goal of mine, but one thing I’ve discovered: it’s much easier to do something creative every day if I prepare myself for creativity.

Preparation for creativity requires two things: materials, and inspiration. It’s easy to get together the materials you need, once you’ve been inspired. So creative inspiration is key!

These are all books I pulled from my bookshelves; some of them I’ve read, some of them have been hanging around waiting (often for quite a while) for me to read them. I spent the weekend looking through a huge pile of books (I am notorious for being unable to resist these kinds of books) and ended up with this list of ten creativity-inspiring books.

1. 52 Projects: Random Acts of Everyday Creativity, by Jeff Yamaguchi

52 Projects: Random Acts of Everday Creativity

52 Projects is the companion book to the 52 Projects website. It’s worth reading through the projects because even when a project doesn’t particularly tempt you, you might find yourself coming up with appealing variations on the theme. Here’s one for book lovers (who aren’t adverse to writing in books, that is!):

Write in the margins of your books. Underline your favorite passages. Then, make sure to donate the books, or sell them to a used bookstore, to put them back into circulation.

2. Journal Bliss: Creative prompts to unleash your inner eccentric, by Violette

Journal Bliss

This glossy, colorful book is filled with ideas for your journal – if you’ve never incorporated art into your daily journal, you’ll come away with ideas for some fun things to liven up your pages. What I liked best about this book is its emphasis on doodling and drawing. I love the idea of creating my own fanciful lettering, too. And here’s something I could definitely make use of:

Start a file, box or scrapbook of flourishes and interesting doodles that you like clipped from magazines, junk mail or catalogs. Then, refer to your inspiration collection whenever you need ideas for your own doodles.

3. Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain, by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield

Caffeine for the Creative Mind

This thick little paperback is beautifully designed and great for just flipping open whenever you’re in need of a bit of creative inspiration. While the book is meant for graphic designers, it’s easy to change things up and transform the design-related exercises into art or writing ones. There are lots of photography prompts, too, for those days when you just want to play around with your digital camera.

Here’s one for those who love the zombie genre:

As any sane person will tell you, there will be a time when the area we currently live in will be overrun by hordes of flesh-craving zombies. Naturally, we have all prepared for this inevitability, correct? Of course we have. The task today, in case this vital piece of preparation has eluded your usually comprehensive safety regimen, is to devise your zombie survival plan.

4. Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life, by Keri Smith

Living Out Loud

Not only is this colorfully illustrated book filled with fun creative activities, there are also pages for you to write on or doodle in, game boards, fold-out pages and even sheets of stickers. It reminds me of a kid’s fun book – for adults!

Recipe Box of Secrets: Be your own research project

We are all collectors at heart. Creating a Box of Secrets gives you the chance to explore and to research things that will help you see the big picture when you need perspective.

5. The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 exercises to liberate your writing, by Bonnie Neubauer

Write-Brain Workbook

Unlike most books of writing exercises, The Write-Brain Workbook is designed to be written in. The pages are colorful and visually appealing, and each exercise also includes a bonus exercise entitled “Take the Next Step”. While you can read through the exercises from beginning to end, it’s definitely a book to flip open to a random page and ready, set … GO! Here’s the exercise I opened the page to just now:

You are a disgruntled Tooth Fairy. You can’t understand why Santa and even the Easter Bunny get more attention than you. You just visited twins who expected $20 per tooth. Start with: “I can’t believe …”

6. The Imagineering Workout, by The Disney Imagineers

The Imagineering Workout

The Imagineering Workout is filled with creativity tips from members of Disney’s Imagineering team. (Even a stroll through all the job titles is fun; can you imagine being a “visioning consultant”?!) Direct from the “How to use this book” page:

The Imagineering Workout is designed for those who are interested in shaping and toning their creative muscles. It’s written from the collective practice, wit, and wisdom of over one hundred Imagineers – each creative and yet each different in their creative expression. As a result, this book is a collection of exercises, note cards, write-in cards, jotted notes, journal pages, and illustrations that capture aspects of the creative process and routines Imagineers use daily to keep their creative muscles in the best of condition.

7. The Creative License, by Danny Gregory

The Creative License

The Creative License is all about living a more creative life, and Danny Gregory shows you how by focusing on drawing and journaling. The book is motivating and inspiring; it reminds you, you can do it. Here’s what I know: It really doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to draw – drawing is a skill that can be learned. I know this because I didn’t know how to draw. And then one day, I decided to learn. And it was fun. And then I stopped drawing. Now I’m ready to start again. If I can learn to draw, you can too!

We’re going to start by developing one of your creative skills. It’s a skill that you had when you were small but now almost certainly think you have lost. It’s a skill that will immediately begin to stretch your mind, to transform how you see the world. It’s a skill that takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.

You are going to learn to draw.

Yikes! (Gulp!)

8. Creative Is A Verb: If you’re alive, you’re creative, by Patti Digh

Creative Is a Verb

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m in love with index cards. I use them in my writing, I use them to jot down quotes, I use them to brainstorm. In Patti Digh’s Creative Is a Verb, you journey back to your creativity with a few simple materials: a black pen, and a stack of 3X5 unlined index cards. And the Creative Challenge exercises come in two versions: word and image. So whether you’re a writer or an artist, there’ll be something in here to fill your creative well.

This is a book about waking up to the beauty around you – the beauty of seeing more and living more deeply. What emerges from that equation is art. Not Art with a capital A. That kind of Art scares me because it takes us out of the doing (writing to write, painting to paint) and right into performance, comparison, sales. I’m talking about art with no capital. The art that is your life. Artfulness that only you can create, that is uniquely, incredibly yours.

9. The Crafter’s Devotional: 365 days of tips, tricks, and techniques for unlocking your creative spirit, by Barbara R. Call

The Crafter's Devotional

Don’t worry if you’re not very crafty; I’m not (I’m a menace around glue guns), and opening The Crafter’s Devotional at random, I came across lots of things that inspired me. Even the crafty techniques that are sprinkled throughout the book are doable – fun for creative self-challenges (although you may have to research specific techniques a bit if you’re not familiar with the process involved). And there are more than craft techniques here; you’ll also find lots of quotes, artist interviews, creativity prompts and entries that just make you think and engage.

Revisit Childhood Crafts: Today’s task should be a fun trip down memory lane. Visit your favorite craft, toy, or art store and buy a kit for a craft you used to do as a kid. It could be bead looming, a miniature potter’s wheel, paper dolls, or sequin art. It may not look exactly like you remember, and the materials may have changed, but try to find a kit that resembles something you liked as a little child.

Buy the kit, take it home, and do the craft.

10. Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists : 52 creative exercises to make drawing more fun, by Carla Sonheim

Drawing Lab

This is probably the book I’ll turn to the most this year for the Creative Every Day challenge. There are a ton of creative project ideas in the drawing exercises in Drawing Lab, and best of all, your drawing skills will improve as you work your way through the book. I think this is also a great book for choosing something creative randomly. Flip it open and see what you find.

One suggestion I loved was Doodling on Steroids. You’ll need ten pre-selected drawing implements (markers, pens, pencils – anything that you can doodle with) and an audiobook (yes! an audiobook!). Here’s what you do: doodle while you’re listening to the audiobook. Don’t concentrate on what you’re doodling; focus on your audiobook. Switch your drawing tool every minute or so, making use that you use all ten of your drawing tools.

When your book or podcast is over, take some time to study your doodle drawing. You will likely learn some things about yourself, such as that you like purple or you are drawn to patterns and shapes more than to identifiable objects. These types of insights can be valuable as you endeavor to tease out your individual style.

These books are great fun to have around, and very inspiring. What titles would you recommend for living a more creative life?

My Mid-January Goals Update

One of the perks of blogging is the truly awesome accountability tool it can be. It’s mid-January already (four days past the mid-point, actually) so what better way to motivate myself goal-wise than post this little update?

So how have I been doing with all my new year goals? Well …

This week has actually been the first week I’ve found myself in sync with my daily goals. The first week of January was virtually a write-off – but then again, I knew it would be, and my expectations weren’t high. The second week turned out to be a little busier than I’d expected, with some new deadlines turning up on my desk that I hadn’t anticipated.

This week, though, has been great. The kind of week that had me saying, “Ah, this is the life …”

So, excuses aside, here’s how I’ve been shaping up with my daily and weekly goals:

The Dailys

1. Read. I finally got my Toronto Public Library library card last week, and to say I felt like a kid in a candy store as I ambled through TPL’s ebook site is no exaggeration.

image

So, after a rough start at the very beginning of the new year, I’ve been doing quite well with my daily “Read” goal; I’ve just finished Alan Bradley’s The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite a while now – and I have quite a few more books waiting for me on my iPad.

2. Write. I’ve discovered something about myself: the hard part for me isn’t the actual doing, it’s the “getting to it”. I’m just so skilled at procrastination, it’s quite amazing. But if I can get myself to actually sit down and start something, it’s actually kind of hard to tear myself away.

That’s what’s been happening with my writing. My first project of the year is revising and editing my mystery WIP, 120,000 words of which have been sitting on my hard drive, gathering dust, for the past four years. I’m implementing the index card method for all of my WIPs this year, so the first step was to go through my draft and get all the scenes down in index cards. I finally finished this task last night, and I’m now looking at a stack of 98 cards that contains the bones of what I’ve written so far.

Next up: filling in the gaps. I’ll be brainstorming more index cards, as there were quite a few gaps that needed to be filled. Also, I realized I needed more suspects; it’s not so much that it’s clear whodunnit. It’s more like it doesn’t seem likely that anyone did it, and as a reader, I enjoy mysteries the most when there are a lot of possibilities, rather than none at all. So I’ll be adding in my red herrings the remainder of this week!

3. Create. I did well initially with this goal. Participating in the Creative Every Day challenge was a great motivator. But then my intentions went a little wayward in the second week of the month. This week, though, I’m back on track.

image 

Here’s what I’ve discovered: since I’ve been in a habit of letting my creative side slide the past three or four years, in order to create a new habit of being creative every day, I need to prepare to be creative.

It sounds a little counterintuitive – after all, isn’t creativity supposed to be spontaneous? Well, not necessarily. And what’s been working for me is putting together a concrete list of creative projects, and prepping the materials for them so they’re within easy reach.

I’ve been having the most fun with the Secondary Character Bank I’ve been creating. Since I’m not counting my writing as part of my Creative Every Day challenge, it’s a great way to incorporate a writing-related activity into the challenge. And I’m finding it’s also a juicy source of inspiration for more stories!

4. Meditate. I can give myself a prize for this one! I’ve been very good with my Meditate goal, although most days I only meditated for about ten minutes. But ten minutes is far better than no minutes, right? Plus, this week I’ve been aiming for 15-20 minutes. Small steps really do gain momentum!

The Weeklys

My weekly goals right now are: blogging, exercising and experiencing. (Given the flexibility of my DIY Moleskine planner, I’ll likely be adding and deleting from these weekly goals.)

So far I’ve met the blogging one (yay!). I’ve totally sucked with the exercising one (which started out the new year as a daily goal, so you can see how far I’ve tumbled with this one). And I’ve really been doing well with the experiencing one.

By “experience”, all I mean is getting outside and doing stuff. During all those years I spent in the suburbs, I rarely ventured outside unless it was to drive to the grocery store or the mall or Costco. I didn’t walk much at all; everything was always a drive away, and as for the neighbourhood, well, you can only walk around the block a few times before the scenery of house after house after house gets a bit boring.

But I’ve been getting out quite a lot the past few weeks, and what I’ve been loving is how so many things are within walking distance!

On Tuesday, as part of a homeschooling event for our youngest, Dylan, we attended one of the Free Noon-hour Concert Series programmes at Roy Thomson Hall: the Bach Children’s Chorus. It was simply beautiful, and the bonus was being able to walk home from the concert!

So that’s my mid-January update. How have you been doing with your 2012 goals and resolutions?

Creative Every Day 2012

imageI am super-thrilled to be participating in Leah Piken Kolidas’s Creative Every Day 2012 Challenge. And a little nervous, I must admit – because you all know me and my track record with those pesky little things called “challenges”.

(And for all my bookish friends, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be breaking my self-imposed “Hi, I’m no-reading-challenges Belle” tradition of the past three-odd years – because this is, after all, my year of Commitment! Discipline! Doing! Being! Living! Reading! Just saying.)

I joined the Creative Every Day challenge because I want to invite more creativity into my life. I’m pretty well near burnout with all of my indexing deadlines, and have gotten into a terrible habit of making only work a priority, and not any of the other things that matter to me. 2012 is the year I’m changing this.

According to the challenge page:

Creativity is meant in the broadest sense, so it doesn’t have to be something art related. Your creative acts could be in cooking, taking pictures, knitting, doodling, writing, dancing, decorating, singing, playing with your kids, brainstorming ideas, gardening, or making art in the form of collage, paint, or clay…or whatever!

So I’m going to be creative about being creative! It’s going to be an anything-goes challenge for me. :)

(I’m not including writing as part of my #CED2011 activities, because I’m making writing a priority this year and I have a separate goal to write for at least 20 minutes every day.)

Today is the first check-in of the year, and in a way, I guess you could say I’m not off to a great start. I didn’t create anything yesterday – but on the other hand, I planned it that way. I had a pressing deadline that I simply had to get done. Also, the first weekly spread in my DiY Moleskine planner starts today, January 2, so it made sense to not worry about goals and such on January 1, and start today. (Don’t you just love my logic?)

So what creative thing have I done? A group of my friends have been selecting a “word for the year”, and my friend Ahmee, emailed our little group this morning suggesting: “Take your word and fill a page with it.”

So I did. I dug up an old visual journal (with all of TWO spreads filled, one done in 2004 and one done in 2005 …!), flipped to the first blank spread, and filled the right hand page with my word for the year:

Photo 2012-01-02 1 15 27 PM

No, I didn’t try for any sort of artistic effect. I’m planning to get back into the creative mode gently and easily, and if I try for something pretty or colourful, I’ll just increase the pressure on myself, which is probably a surefire way to make sure I don’t fulfill this challenge.

So I opted for something simple. A frame, a few ink smudges, and my word of the year. In a visual journal that I hope I’ll fill lots of pages in as the year progresses.

I’ll be posting weekly updates on Mondays (there’s the “commitment” word again. And “discipline”. We shall see, right?), so you can all keep me accountable!

What about you? What challenges are you planning to participate in this year?

Planning for 2012

planner

It’s that time of the year, when the new year approaches and you find yourself sitting back and taking a look at what you want to accomplish in the twelve blank, fresh-and-new months ahead of you.

Except that I normally don’t feel this way until I’m actually IN the new year. Usually, right around this time, I’m coping with burnout from too much work and the stress of not being prepared for the coming holidays.

Not this year. Yes, I’ve been crazy-busy. No, I’m not at all prepared for the holidays. I mean, I’m not even fully unpacked yet! You’d think I’d be too overwhelmed right now to be planning for the new year, but surprisingly, I’ve been feeling energized lately. I’m not sure why.

And I’ve also been realizing the aptness of that old adage, “if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

Our whole recent decluttering experience has shown me something really big: what I want isn’t more “stuff”. What I want is more time to do the things I want to do.

I’ve always been extremely resistant to the idea of getting my life organized. Resistant to the idea of having a day planner and to-do lists. I felt it was my way of being free. After all, I still got all my work done. I’m very good at meeting deadlines, which is probably the main reason I’m so busy with work around now, when the textbook publishing industry is finishing up books for the next academic year. And I do it all with a minimum of scheduling and no lists to speak of.

Sometimes, when you know yourself well enough, saying, “No, that’s not for me” is a really good thing. But you know what? Sometimes, when you step back and take a look at the strength of your resistance, and the reasons you’re resistant, you finally see that you’re pushing away something that might actually help you to get where you want to go.

I think that’s the story around my resistance to more planning, to giving myself more direction.

2012 is a big year for me. There are a lot of changes coming up – not just with my lifestyle, but also with my work and my writing.

Not only am I in need of getting organized and productive – I WANT to do it.

Yes, the resistance is gone. (I think …)

All of which is my really long-winded way of saying, I’m ready to plan for 2012. And so I’ve been looking around at all the ways I can do this. My options?

1. A conventional planner. Like one of the datebooks you can get from Staples. Or something like the Daytimer system. Or, if I wanted to go whole-hog, a Filofax system. (Believe me, I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the Filofax site …)

2. A DIY planner. There are all the wonderful free printable planner options at DIY Planner – if you’ve been thinking about developing your own time management/productivity/planning system, this is the site to check out. There are loads and loads of printables for you to mix and match to fit your life.

As you can probably tell, the more I looked into things, the more I was leaning toward the DIY planner idea.

But something still didn’t feel quite right:

First, I don’t like writing in a binder.

Second, I need a LOT of flexibility.

Third, I love Moleskines and I want a planner system that lets me use a Moleskine.

Fourth, I have a pretty unique life. I have to fit in freelancing elements, book writing and marketing, homeschooling and blogging. Not to mention all the things I want to do, like more writing, art, puzzles (yes! puzzles!), meditation, and having daily adventures. All of that requires a lot of customizing.

Fifth, the system I use has to feel creative. I’m not going to be happy just ticking off items and scheduling things in.

So I’m brainstorming a system that is absolutely and completely designed for me. And I think I’ve come up with something that just might work. It involves a Moleskine. The discipline of weekly planning. And yes, even some of the elements of the wildly popular Getting Things Done.

And despite all of this, it lets me be highly creative.

Which is one of the things I want to make time for. Creativity.

So I’ve ordered my Moleskine (I wanted a grid one, and all of my blank ones are either lined or plain). It should come in a few days. And if I actually go through with creating this perfect organizational system for me, I’ll post about it, with pics – mainly, to keep me accountable.

It takes 30 days (well, some say 21, but I’ll go with 30 to be on the safe side) to form a new habit. Accountability has always been something that helps me stay the course.

So there you go. I’m planning for 2012.

What about you? What are your plans for the new year?

Angry Birds and Creativity

Dylan and his Angry Birds creations

Whenever people talk about kids and video games, you don’t often hear much said about being creative, but I was thinking today about all the ways video games enhance and support my eight-year-old’s creativity.

Take Angry Birds, for example. If you’re not into video games at all, Wikipedia tells you all about the phenomenon that is Angry Birds. In a nutshell, Angry Birds is an extremely popular puzzle-based video game that first debuted a few years ago as a game app for the iPhone. It’s grown a lot since then, and is now available for other mobile platforms as well as PCs.

Around here, it’s not just Dylan, my eight-year-old, who’s a fan of Angry Birds. Most days you’ll find both Dylan AND Daddy passing Daddy’s iPhone between them as they replay Angry Bird levels. They both wait for updates eagerly, and it’s always cause for celebration when an update appears in the App Store.

A few weeks ago, Dylan was thrilled to discover one of the vending machines outside a favourite Chinese vegetarian restaurant had changed its offerings: little Angry Birds “stuffies”. He now has three of them, and they occasionally get pulled out and played with in various Angry Birds scenarios.

And yes, there’s both creativity and hands-on, tactile, play going on when that happens.

But Dylan does even more with the whole Angry Birds concept.

Every night, after his bedtime reading, he has “drawing time” in bed. Armed with a lap desk, reams of paper, and a bag of Crayola Pipsqueak markers, most nights you’ll usually find him in bed designing and drawing Angry Birds “levels”.

We have a whole stack of these now (he’s been doing this for about three months, and he draws new levels at least four times a week, so that adds up to a whole lot of levels). I asked him to pick out one of his favourites for you:

Angry Birds

It doesn’t end there, though. When Dylan finishes drawing a level, he calls my husband up to sit on the bed with him and they PLAY the level. Don’t ask me how they do this – despite the fact that I’m very fond of video games myself, Angry Birds has never enticed me enough to give up some of my time playing it.

All I know is, a whole slew of sound effects floats out from Dylan’s room, along with a ton of laughter (not exactly conducive to a sleepytime bedtime environment, I  know …).

Dylan carries the whole Angry Birds thing even further: he’s built Angry Birds scenes out of LEGO. He’s recycled toilet paper tubes, cardboard boxes, scrap paper and other bits and pieces into new levels.

Basically, he’s built Angry Birds levels out of just about anything he can get his hands on. And once he’s done building the levels, he plays them.

The other day, while decluttering the house, I found a stash of plasticene I’d picked up at one time or another for some long-forgotten kids’ art project. Dylan was thrilled with my discovery.

“So, what are you going to make?” I asked. I pulled out a craft book on making things with plasticene that we had on our shelves. “How about a whale, like this? Or maybe a bee?”

“Nah,” he said. “I know what I’m going to make.”

You guessed it, didn’t you? Yes, Angry Birds.

Plasticene Angry Birds

Now he’s trying to figure out how to film an actual scene using one of his plasticene levels so he can upload it to YouTube …

C is for Catch-up: Daughter, Early Rising and Fun (and that takes care of D, E & F)

If you take a peek at the latest posts by those participating in the A to Z Challenge, you’ll see a lot of “F” posts today. As I mentioned, yes, I am woefully behind.

But Joe gave me some great advice yesterday – he suggested doing a series of small posts to get right back in the game. I liked the sound of that!

C is for Catch-up

And then I thought … well, I’m on C, right? So why not a Catch-up post?

Why not indeed? So here we go!

D is for Daughter

My daughter recently produced, directed and filmed this music video for friends of hers. It looks so professional!

E is for Early Rising

I’ve had a great deal of success setting out intentions in this blog. So I thought I’d try out a new intention. After those crazy months of heavy deadlines just a few months ago, my system really fell out of sync. I was going to bed at 3 and 4 in the morning, and getting up at 10 or 11.

I am a bit of a night owl, but I’ve discovered that when I get an earlier start to my day, not only do I feel more productive – I think I actually AM more productive. (Anyone else feel this way too?)

So I’m going to set an intention here to start getting back into the rhythm of early rising again. Well … earlier rising, I guess I should call it, since to me, that means 8:30 am or thereabouts!

F is for Fun

And finally, I’m back on track for today. And I’m going to cheat a little bit. I really enjoyed writing that little scene that I posted as my “B” post, and I’d like to try doing more of these as I play the A to Z Challenge this month. The only thing is, I now know that it’s easiest for me to pull out my writing prompts and let my subconscious work on things, and for that, I need time.

So I’m going to try just pulling out new prompt cards at the end of each day’s post, to prepare me for the following day.

And since I had such fun writing from the prompts yesterday, I think drawing my prompt cards right now should qualify as fun!

So here are the prompt cards and the one archetype card I’m going to be using in my next A to Z Challenge post (G is for …), which I will be posting on Monday (I’m taking a hiatus from A to Z posts on the weekends).

The prompts:

1. yelling for help

2. dirty

3. magazine

(Yes, this was the order in which I pulled the cards … )

From the archetype deck:

Implies the unknown: ignorance or desperation; evil

I’m getting the same “You’ve got to be kidding me!” reaction I felt when I drew the last set of prompt and archetype cards.

This will be interesting …

Wednesday Play: Blogging from A to Z & Wishcasting Fun

So I came up with another idea for a regular topic for a post. Again, I can’t promise anything; we all know my track record when it comes to things like, um, being consistent and disciplined.

But I do love my ideas, and as always, I can’t wait to implement them. So I’m thrilled to now introduce Wednesday Play!

My intention with this new Wednesday theme is to prompt myself to add some creative fun to my life at least once a week.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2011

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Has this ever happened to you? You’re wandering around online, happily reading lots of blogs, both old favorites and new-to-you ones (because you simply can’t resist clicking through on all those lovely links). You see something that looks interesting, and without really thinking it through, you jump right in and sign up?

That’s what happened to me yesterday, when I came across the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2011 at Tossing It Out.

And after I added my name and URL to the little linky thing, I was wracked with self-doubt. And okay, a smidgen of guilt, too.

What on earth did I just do?? (I wailed this silently to myself. No, really. I did.)

Those of you who’ve known me for a while will know why these feelings came up. (And in case you’ve forgotten, the phrase “reading challenge” might ring a bell – as in, the year I signed up for a gazillion and one reading challenges and failed to complete a single one. Or even as close in time as last month, when I signed up for a three-week comment challenge right before three weeks of intensive deadlines took me away from this blog.)

This morning, though, I woke up and realized, not only am I going to fully participate in this challenge, but I’m going to have a creative blast doing it!

The challenge requires that you blog through the alphabet throughout the month of April, not counting Sundays. The choice of topics is up to you; you just have to theme each post according to the letter of the day.

So here’s my plan: I’m going to spend between now and April working on making up a batch of writing prompts and Inspiration Deck cards (if all goes well, I should be posting about my Inspiration Deck next Inspiration Monday). And in April, I will do something creative for each day’s post, based on a prompt, some inspiration cards and the letter of the day.

It’s going to be fun! And the best part of the challenge will be getting to know new-to-me bloggers and their blogs.

What about you? Have you joined the Blogging from A to Z challenge?

Wishcasting Wednesday: What do I wish for my home?

I have been wanting to participate in Jamie Ridler’s Wishcasting Wednesdays for ages, and when I woke up today, it felt just right (not to mention, it’s such a good fit for Wednesday Play).

Jamie is a fabulous creativity coach from Toronto; she writes the most uplifting posts, and I’ve been a fan of her blog for a long time now. If you’ve never checked out her posts, you’re in for a treat: Jame Ridler Studios.

So here’s my very first Wishcasting collage. I had a blast making this. My seven year old happily cut and pasted right next to me, so it was quite magical. I paged through magazines, ripping out anything that called to me.

And what did I discover? I want to bring the outdoors in. And of course, I want to live by the beach, on the ocean.

Wishcasting Wednesday: What I wish for my home

So that’s my Wednesday Play. What playful ideas have you been toying around with this week?

Inspiration Monday: Love, Prompts and Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately. And since this is January, the month of fresh starts, I’m coming up with a lot of new intentions. One of these intentions is living an inspired life.

I love feeling inspired; too often inspiration tends to come when I’m deep in deadlines (like I am this month). But I’d love for inspiration to come no matter what I’m doing. So I’m setting a soft, gentle intention to be inspired every day.

Not that I’m committing to anything, but it occurred to me that a regular weekly post about inspiration might help me with this new intention. And what better day to write about inspiration than Mondays!

The Love Project

image

One of my favorite bloggers, Judy Clement Wall, has embarked on The Love Project, and she invites all of us to participate along with her.

“I want to spend one whole year consciously, unabashedly, fearlessly spreading the love. It sounds easy and, of course, it should be. What’s easier than love, right? But I  know better. I know how life, and bad guys, and deadlines, and sleep deprivation can get in the way of good intentions, so I sat down and mapped it all out – a new way of spreading the love for every month in 2011.

January is the month of “spontaneous connection.” My goal is to spontaneously connect with someone new every day.”

This sounds like such a delicious idea to me! In her first follow-up post about The Love Project, Judy’s shared what the first ten days of The Love Project has felt like (in a nutshell – magic!); she’s also posted the calendar she’s mapped out for her year of love.

(Photo Credit)

Writing Improvement Tools

I posted last week about Janel’s fabulous Bowl of Inspiration – it’s a special bowl she made that’s filled with writing prompts. Last week, Janel wrote another fabulous post that gave me such inspiration: Writing Improvement Tools 2011.

I’ll be making my own Inspiration Bowl (it will be more of a Writing Inspiration Box, because I have this soft spot in my heart for beautiful boxes). I love Janel’s Idea a Day concept, and plan on doing it with my Writing Inspiration Box beside me.

(Did you notice the future tense of the previous paragraph? Unfortunately, I have so many work deadlines lined up for January, I’m not sure when I can put all of these wonderful inspirational ideas of mine into being.)

Art Prompts

I wrote previously about my intention that 2011 be my year of creativity. It’s been a long time since I last dived into art making; my paints and papers have been calling to me for a while, and up until recently, I’ve been ignoring them.

But I’m ready now to get back into art making. This past weekend we took down all the holiday decorations, and while we were putting them all away in our storage room, I decided it was high time I pulled all my art supplies out of storage. So we did – four big Rubbermaid bins filled to the brim with paper, paints and pastels, embellishments, glues. I’m going to have so much fun going through them!

And to top things off, I came across this post about Art Prompts at Cloth Paper Scissors (one of my favorite art making magazines).

Writing prompts, art prompts – I’m all set for a creative 2011!

Commenting Fun

Blogging can be so inspiring too, and it’s so much fun finding new blogs and making comments on posts that call to you. So last week, I decided to sign up for the Comment Challenge 2011. Yes, it started last week, but I don’t think it’s too late to start. I signed up but then a deadline stepped in, so I haven’t done as much commenting as I’d planned – but there’s always today, right?

Tumblr Inspirations

bluemoon A few months ago, when I was at the start of my really busy work season (aka deadlines upon deadlines upon deadlines), I realized I needed to make sure I had some time just for me every day. Even if it was only a few minutes.

I came up with this solution: I created a Tumblr blog. It’s filled with beautiful pictures I reblog from other Tumblr users, plus I post the occasional quote that I come across and love.

So here it is: BelleEnchanted Inspirations.

And Tumblr-ing is so easy! Once I got the blog set up, it really only takes me a few minutes a day, and I come across so much beauty, it helps set the tone for my entire day.

As a bonus, I only ever do my Tumblr-ing from my iPhone! So I’m not even stuck at the computer while I’m doing this.

(Photo Credit: artwork is mine)

Snowy Walk

Snowy Walk

I was in a bit of a funk yesterday, so last night, my husband and I decided to get all bundled up and go for a walk around the block. It’s been quite cold here in Toronto, but we’ve also had beautiful sunny days, and last night was a gorgeous wind-free night.

We had such a good time, we’ve decided to try and get out for a walk together on a more regular basis. It was good to see the stars and the lights inside and outside our neighbors’ houses and watch our breath puff into the night air.

(Photo Credit)

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So these are the inspirational links, thoughts and ideas that filled my life this past week. What about you? What inspirational things have you come across?