Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

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This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity

Kwanzaa begins with Unity. Is there any value that should resonate more with all of us? Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African American strengths and values. I’m not Black, so I can’t presume to speak for Black people (other than as an ally against racism).

But no American of any ethnic background can afford to spurn the idea that unity is a paramount value, and sadly lacking in the USA right now. In this historical moment, all of us could afford to learn a few things from our Black neighbors and friends.

I don’t believe I did justice to the first day of Kwanzaa, back in 2017 when I wrote my first post about it. I squeezed it in between two other “holiday thoughts,” about the day after Christmas and Boxing Day. Both have their place, but Kwanzaa deserves to stand alone.

This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”
Image by, and courtesy of, Jeffrey St. Clair. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity and so Should We

If you think about it, unity is what brought us together as a nation in the first place: unity against outside tyranny. We were perpetuating our own egregious tyranny over the enslaved Africans whose labor our white ancestors stole to build a lot of the young country. But at the same time the founders (apparently unironically) set forth principles of equity and justice.

The very foundations of this country were uniquely well-adapted to building a multicultural nationality. Emphasizing freedom, equality, and justice for everyone under the law was radical stuff in the 18th Century.

And it’s still radical stuff today. We set ourselves up “from the get-go” for a lot of trying and falling short. We are a multicultural republic, stitched together both by force and by choice. And we are perpetually certain to come up against opposing views competing for space and dominance.

The background of this square image is a charcoal drawing of four hands and forearms in a roughly square alignment, where each hand grasps the wrist of the person to their right. Superimposed over the drawing, it says, “’Unity is Strength, Division is Weakness.’ – Swahili Proverb.”
Courtesy of United We Stand on Facebook. See Credits below.

But Beginning is Not Enough

If you look at the whole principle as outlined in Jeffrey St. Clair’s design, the idea is “to maintain unity in family, community, nation and culture.” That’s no small feat. And it’s definitely not something we can do alone. That takes commitment. It takes grit, it takes communication, and it takes a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated, like-minded people.

Kwanza begins with Unity, but it continues with six other principles that ground and support and make unity happen. This holiday celebrates strong Black people living in a vibrant culture – but no single segment of our multicultural republic can flourish without a broader unity.

Here in the USA we’ve managed to let ourselves be drawn into warring camps, to the extent that we’re in serious danger of losing it all. Can the “democratic experiment” we started almost 250 years ago survive? Not without Umoja. And not without Black people, White people, Native people, immigrants from all different communities and everybody else in this country joining together in our own self-defense.

This is a dark red square image with a length of woven Kente cloth across the bottom. At the top it says “@SanCophaLeague,” Then “Black Unity is key. ‘Get organized and you will compel the world to respect you.’ -Marcus Garvey.” In the lower left, just above the cloth band, it says, “Facebook.com/SanCophaLeague.”
Courtesy of SanCophaLeague. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins With Unity, but the Series Continues

I have spent a lot of time this week going back though my old series of Kwanzaa articles and updating them for today’s standards. 2017 was 6 years ago, which is an eon or so on the Internet. Now they’re ready for mobile devices, and I’ve tried to optimize them other ways, as well as expand them into fuller explorations of the topic. Along the way, I’ve also worked to improve the illustrations in both quality and relevance.

So please take a look at the rest of the series in their new format! Take them in order, or skip around if one or another takes your fancy: See Self-Determination on Day Two, followed by Working Together and Investing Wisely. From there, explore Empowerment through Purpose, and Creative Healing. Appropriately enough, on New Year’s Day Kwanzaa Ends with Faith to Take that Step . . . whatever you determine those steps should be in the coming year.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair, via LinkedIn’s Slide Share for today’s Umoja: Unity design. I really loved the “Unity is Strength” quote-image from United We Stand on Facebook, and I also loved how the quote coordinated with my topic today. It was a little harder to track down the SanCophaLeague’s exact image, which I first found on Pinterest. I figure it’s got to come from them since their name is all over it, but even Tineye Reverse Image Search didn’t turn it up. In any case, Thank you!

This quote image from Thomas Kinkade says, "Balance, peace and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them."

Struggling to balance

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

If you’ve been following my blog this month, you know I’ve been struggling to balance a range of unusually urgent demands on my time. As January draws to an end, I can close the book on several of those tasks, but the underlying challenge persists. always have a lot to do.

This quote image by an anonymous writer says, "The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you've lost it."
(Image courtesy of EnkiQuotes)

Don’t get me wrong. like it that way. But it makes me vulnerable to overload, if I need to take on extra stuff. Whenever I can, I try to anticipate when I’ll be most busy. Then I’ll either work ahead so I’m prepared, or cut back some obligations so I don’t drop any balls.

This quote image from Gary Keller says, "Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls--family, health, friends, integrity--are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered."
(Image and quote from Gary Keller courtesy of EnkiQuotes)

Working ahead is great in theory, but in practice it doesn’t always go as I hoped. Rescheduling till later isn’t always an option, either. Then I end up struggling to balance all the stuff I need to do.

(Image and quote from Betsy Jacobson courtesy of EnkiQuotes)

There are lots of demands to balance

Balancing the demands of family, friends, and health needs with work is especially difficult when you’re doing work you’re passionate about. Or even work that’s necessary to support the work that you’re passionate about. Support work includes things like running Amazon ads to sell my book, or supporting my platform by blogging.

When you’re struggling to balance everything, even doing the research that will enable you to outsource some of it may take time you don’t feel you have!

This quote image from Jessye Norman says, "Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself."
(Image and quote from Jessye Norman courtesy of EnkiQuotes)

Thing is, nobody can “do it all.” Many of my friends have begun to retire. They don’t always understand why I can’t just spontaneously drop everything to do something fun, even though I’m “home all the time.” 

Do you get enough sleep? Eat nutritious, healthy food? Exercise enough? All of those things take time. All are essential to health. How does a person on deadline after deadline prioritize?

When I was younger, in the season of my life when I was rearing small children, I couldn’t write or make artwork as much as I do now. Anyone who thinks it’s easy to keep up the creative work when you’re also the primary on-site caregiver for a small child either has never actually done that, was guilty of child endangerment through neglect, or didn’t get as much creative work done as they claim.

A seasonal balancing act 

No matter what season you’ve come to, in my experience you’ll still find yourself struggling to balance the load from time to time. But the struggle is worth it. For a person who does creative work, the creative work can be the thing that keeps you going in tough times.

This quote image from Thomas Kinkade says, "Balance, peace and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them."
(Image and quote from Thomas Kinkade courtesy of EnkiQuotes)

The creative work keeps our juices flowing. But the ultimate creative challenge is how we meet the challenge when we’re struggling to balance the demands.

How do you meet that challenge? How do you manage the balance? Please share thoughts, tips, or questions in the comments, if you’re so inclined.

IMAGE CREDITS: All of these quote-images came from the same source, for once! I am deeply indebted to EnkiQuotes’ page of quotes about work-life balance. I literally couldn’t have created this post without them! Many thanks!

This illustration shows a cartoon of a running man in a suit, along with the words of Lewis Carroll: "The hurrier I go the behinder I get!"

The hurrier I go . . .

Yes, you remember correctly. did have a really short post last week, too. Then as now, it’s a symptom of the (annual review) season. And I’m afraid that “the hurrier I go the behinder I get” is my current life, for real!

This is not exactly a complaint. In general, I like being busy. My Beloved and I realized several decades ago that if we don’t have anything to do, we’ll soon dream up new projects. This can have its downside, of course!

This illustration shows a cartoon of a running man in a suit, along with the words of Lewis Carroll: "The hurrier I go the behinder I get!"
Quote by Lewis Carroll (image from Rose Bowen)

Results of a fertile imagination

The ability to think up new projects means I am rarely bored (I figure if I’m bored, that’s on me. There’s always something to observe or think about, if you don’t depend on someone else to entertain you. Of course, some situations do minimize or even stifle stimulating inputs). But it also means I sometimes over-book myself

Whenever I realize I’m meeting myself coming and going, and getting that “hurrier I go” feeling, it’s usually because I start feeling overwhelmed. And what makes me feel overwhelmed is a lack of time to stop and think

A fantastical ideal

I know the stereotype of the decisive leader is that they just instinctively understand the right thing to do. They’re so quick-witted, they can spot the solution right away. 

A whole bunch of colorful gear wheels of many sizes create the shape of a human brain in this illustration.
Gotta keep the wheels turning! (image by MediaEd, via Chris Drucker)

But I’m a novelist. I can spot a fictional creation when I see one–and nobody’s an infallible, quick-witted leader unless they’re both intelligent and they regularly find time to think through what’s coming next. It may not take them long, and it may come as a jolt of gestaltat least sometimes. 

But one way or another, the consistently astute leader has to take “Think Time.” When I get too harried and start that “the hurrier I go the behinder I get” feeling, I know I’ve shorted myself on crucial “Think Time.”

What is “Think Time”?

Why, that’s elementary my dear. Literally. That’s when the concept of “Think Time” frequently is taught: in elementary school. But it works at any age, because it’s good human psychology. When I was teaching I learned that if the teacher asks a question, then enforces a three-second delay before students can answer, several positive results happen.

Students ask fewer questions, but the questions reflect better thinking. The number of “I don’t know” answers and blank stares go down. Over time, when consistently used, “Think Time” (also called “Wait Time,” but I believe “Think Time” says it better) is associated with rising test scores

Granted, I normally want to think for longer than three seconds about the problems I’ve encountered. I want multiple minutes to meditate upon the way forward. So let it be a sign unto me! Anytime I start muttering my favorite Lewis Carroll quote, I should know what I need to do.

Because “the hurrier I go the behinder I get” is no sane place to live.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to Rose Bowen, for the illustrated Lewis Carroll quote, and to the no-longer-viable MediaEd, via Chris Drucker’s “How to Organize and Run a Mastermind Session,” for the “brain gears” illustration. I appreciate both of them!

These are most of the books we donated to the local library, so they'd find good homes and we didn't have to haul them across literally half the continent. (Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt)

The Library Liberation Project

My son and I (with occasional help from my Beloved) have embarked upon a project we’ve long dreamed about. We call it the Library Liberation Project. When we moved into our current home (30 years ago come June 1), I declared that a back room addition the previous owners had used as a rec room was to be the Library.

Some of the family couldn’t imagine what we’d do with a whole room just for books, but others laughed and said, “It’s perfect!” And for many years, it was a good study and writing space, with my office tucked in a back corner amongst the stacks.

Here's a corner of the Library in 2004. Yes, it usually looked a lot more lived-in, but we were getting ready for a party, so I even dusted and vacuumed!
Here’s a corner of the Library in 2004. Yes, it usually looked a lot more lived-in, but we were getting ready for a party, so I even dusted and vacuumed! Sixteen years later, the lamp, the chair and the coffee table have passed on, but we’ve added lots more bookshelves. And loads of other stuff.

Some days I’d walk into my library, take a big, blissful sniff, and revel in the scent of being surrounded by books. Somehow ebooks just don’t smell the same. The Library was a place of liberation back then.

Tragedy strikes. Repeatedly

About a year and a half after I took the picture above, our family began a sad but inevitable process. My brother-in-law Warren died, at way too young an age, at the start of the summer of 2005. Before the end of that season, I’d also lost one of my aunts.

By 2007, stuff had begun to pile up.
By 2007, stuff had begun to pile up.

went to California with my father to settle my aunt’s estate. It was small and relatively simple to handle. But I would benefit from that apprenticeship in the years to come. Aunt Betty was also a writer, and I brought a few of her things back home with me.

They took up a small corner in the Library, but that would only be for a little while. Till I got photos digitized and organized, and went through her papers. The books from Warren found homes on the expanding board-feet of bookshelves. The art supplies and fun boxes and bags . . . well, I’d figure out a good place soon.

Another loss, another deluge

The next year my mother died. Gigi and I struggled to get her house cleared out and ready to sellNot sure what to do with all her stuff–and too heartsick to face sorting through it–we hauled it all to Kansas City.

Some went into storage, and some to my house. Gigi didn’t have room. She was still cleaning out the home she’d shared with Warren, and struggling to deal with abrupt widowhood.

By 2009, the burgeoning piles of stuff in the Library were accumulating at a much faster rate than I could keep up with it.
By 2009, the burgeoning piles of stuff in the Library were accumulating at a much faster rate than I could keep up with it. The Library was beginning to need Liberation, but I already had too much to do.

Piled higher and deeper

My mother also had a library in her home. She’d managed to confine it to one long wall of floor-to-ceiling books in her house, but when she passed away, my library suddenly had a whole new wall’s worth of books to assimilate. Yes, I got rid of a few. But Mom had some really cool books!

I only discovered later that some of the stuff from Mom’s house had originally belonged to my grandparents. And some of that had belonged to their parents or siblings. I had unwittingly joined a grand family tradition of accumulating inherited boxes full of stuff.

The year after that, my father-in-law passed away, and my mother-in-law began to downsize. More things arrived at our house, bit by bit. Year by year. And the Library took the brunt of it.

My kids went off to college and took some of the excess furniture–but a few years later they came back. With all of the same furniture, plus lots of new books. Then my other aunt became ill. My daughter went out to California to care for her, but eventually that aunt, too, died.

The California tsunami

And left us all her stuff. This time I went out to stay with Signy in my aunt’s condominium for several months, while we sorted through decades of accumulated wonderful things. Yes, she also had a full wall of books, but I was out of space and then some (of course, I still brought some of them home).

I read all I could, and wrote several blog post book reviews while I was at it. If you’d like to read them, I reviewed The Keepsake byTess Gerritsen,  The Sentry by Robert Craisas well as The Innocent and The Sixth Man, both by David Baldacci. We donated a large trove of hardback thrillers and mysteries by well-known authors to the local public library (they were delighted) before we left town.

These are most of the books we donated to the local library, so they'd find good homes and we didn't have to haul them across literally half the continent. (Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt)
These are most of the books we donated to the local library, so they’d find good homes and we didn’t have to haul them across literally half the continent. (Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt)

Donation mania

That wasn’t all we donated. We never found a good auction company or estate liquidator, and the Realtor was eager to get the place emptied so it could be staged. So we made lists and lists and lists of donations for tax purposes, and then we donated stuff. Clothing by the bales and bags, some of it designer items. Household goods till the local donation center personnel began to recognize us. We even found a place to donate much of the furniture.

But we still had to rent a 16-foot box truck to get the rest of it out of her place. Who knew a three-bedroom condo could hold so much stuff? We hauled it to Gigi’s place first. She didn’t take exactly half of it, but she took a lot. Even so, what was left was enough to swamp the remaining clear spaces at our house.

When we arrived home from California, emptying the truck loaded up our living room. It deluged our dining room. And let's not even talk about what it dit to the Library. Except, not talking about it didn't make it go away.
When we arrived home from California, emptying the truck loaded up our living room. It deluged our dining room. And let’s not even talk about what it dit to the Library. Except, not talking about it didn’t make it go away.

Stop! Stop!

But wait. There’s more! My mother-in-law moved into a nursing home. My father moved from his large home at the lake to a smaller place, then to a condo near us. In both cases a select few cherished or useful objects arrived at our place, along with other stuff that “needed to be gone through.”

We kept trying to live our lives, throughout all of this. To build businesses. Write books. Deal with medical emergencies, and my daughter’s chronic illness. We kept intending to go through all the stuff, but there was never time.

Well, now it’s time.

The Library Liberation Project is ON. We broke down and rented another storage unit last October. The one from last decade, after my mother died, had long been cleared out and closed, and we’d hoped to handle further inflows “in-house.” So, yeah, we caved. 

At this point, it's hard to find any floor space at all in our once-spacious Library (the pet fence is up to deter the dogs). If ever a Library needed Liberating, it's ours!
At this point, it’s hard to find any floor space at all in our once-spacious Library (the pet fence is up to deter the dogs). If ever a Library needed Liberating, it’s ours!

Retreat to the caves!

But we needed some slack. We were like one of those sliding-tile puzzlesbut with no empty space to slide a tile into. The rental’s not cheap. When I say “we caved,” I mean that literally as well as figuratively. Not far from our house is an underground storage facility in a repurposed mine. The good part is that it’s naturally temperature-controlled. You may also have seen it featured on my friend Lynette M. Burrows’s blog.

In 2020, we hope to reclaim our Library for real. We got a slow start in the last quarter of 2019, but we’re determined. But The Artdog needs a better StudioWeird Sisters Publishing needs a real office, and the Gephardts may not be as reliant on the “dead-trees versions” of books as we once were, but we want our Library back! And the Library Liberation Project will (eventually) get us there. We hope.

2020 vision

You may periodically receive updates on our progress in this blog space. You may also periodically see fewer or shorter entries, as I juggle the time requirements to factor in the Library Liberation work. We didn’t get into this situation overnight, and it’ll take a lot of time and hard work to get us out.

I hope by talking about my quest, I may encourage you to tackle any accumulating problems that may be developing in your life (before they get this bad!). Or perhaps you may just enjoy laughing at the crazy woman with a knack for inheriting mounds of interesting stuff. Either way, I hope it’s interesting.

IMAGE CREDITS

Most of the photos in this blog post were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt. The one of my late aunt’s collection of thrillers and mystery novels was taken by Tyrell E. Gephardt. Feel free to reblog or re-post any you may find helpful, but please only do so with an attribution and a link back to this post. Thanks!

Will you or won’t you Na-No-Wri-Mo? Here’s something for both sides.

The Artdog Image of Interest 

One more thought as we approach National Novel-Writing Month, AKA Na-No-Wri-Mo. Remember: one week from today, it starts! But I have to admit that this is usually my strategy!

IMAGE: Many thanks for the ever-wonderful Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her Will Write for Chocolate blog, for this cartoon!

It’s getting on toward time. Are you ready?

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Each year in November, it’s National Novel-Writing Month, AKA Na-No-Wri-Mo. Each year in October, I consider participating. Will this be the year?

IMAGE: Many thanks to Errol Elumir’s blog NaNoToons and the Na-No-Wri-Mo organization for the use of this cartoon.

No casual snapshot

The Artdog Image of Interest

Because who doesn’t love a great mountain picture in mid-July, this is an image from National Geographic. Do you recognize the mountain?

This photograph is no casual snapshot. It shows a breathtaking 360-degree view of a tall, pointy mountain in the middle of a snowy mountain range.

If you said “Everest!” you’re right. This actually isn’t one picture, however. It’s 26. And it’s no casual snapshot.  

Photographer Renan Ozturk prepared for eight months. Then he and his team trekked high into “bring your own oxygen or you will die” territory to launch a specially-modified drone.

This high-altitude photog and his even-higher-altitude drone achieved the amazing feat of a 360-degree panorama (if you join the left and right edges of the picture together, they match), and it was a nail-biter to the bitterly cold end.

Not only has Everest been a particularly deadly mountain to attempt this year, but the intense cold at that altitude was a battery-killer, too. Ozturk had at most 15 minutes of flight-time . . . and that’s if the wind cooperated. Which it almost never did. He and his team racked up a lot of failed tries before they nailed it. 

The words "Perseverance: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" are reversed in white on a royal blue background in this image.

This is how the pros make it look easy. You thought this was just a beautiful mountain picture at first, didn’t you? 

Eight months. 

Bitter cold. 

Technical innovation. 

The Death Zone, for pity’s sake!

So, next time you’re embarked on a creative journey and start getting discouraged, remember Renan Ozturk! (and don’t forget your oxygen). 

IMAGE CREDIT: All honor, reverence, and awe are due to the intrepid Renan Ozturk and his intrepid team, on assignment for National Geographic, for this astounding image! Dude, you are amazing!

I also want to thank MEME for the, um, meme.

Report from the Swamp Thing

Some reports come from me as the Author Ascendant; this is a report from the Swamp Thing.

On normal weeks, I like to write a thoughtful post about something that’s caught my attention or is part of a series, on Wednesdays. I think of it as my “main” post of the week. 

This has not been a normal week

This photo shows a beautiful sunny day in the swamp forest surrounding Colakreek in Suriname, as well as three people swimming in the dark waters of the creek.
The “The almost black water of Colakreek in Suriname is popular for recreational swimming,” according to the photographer, a person using the name Forrestjunky. Of course it is.

Becoming a Swamp Thing

The past two days have felt like wading through a metaphorical swamp. In the fullness of time, this’ll be “old hat.” I keep clinging to that thought. But anyone who’s gone through the process of bringing a book into published form knows how much fun the “maiden voyage” is (not).

It seems like I’ve been dragging my dinghy full of dreams through muddy waters and masses of mangroves. As if I’ve waded through waist-deep bayous of online forms that ask arcane questions, the like of which I’ve never had to answer before. 

This is a photo taken during the annual Riverland Dinghy Derby in Australia. It shows a man in a helmet leaning over the front end of a red dinghy, as it cuts through green water in the middle of a swampy grassland. What we can't tell is that the boat is traveling at speeds up to 50 mph, and that guy is effing crazy to stick his head out like this, holding down the front of his boat.
This guy is not dragging his dinghy–he’s holding down the front end. We Americans have no corner on the “wild and crazy” market. This is a photo from an Australian event, the Riverland Dinghy Derby, during which two-man crews race through a swamp at speeds up to 50 mph. My efforts this week never reached a parallel velocity.

I’ve striven to raise coherent, properly-formatted graphics up out of the muck of previous musings and hastily-jotted notes. I’ve fended off biting swarms of glitches, frozen forms, and rebooted programs. And I’ve beaten back time-sucking leeches of error messages that come with opaque reasons that offer little insight about how to address the flagged problem.

This photo shows a line of mangroves, which look like brown mats of roots rising out of fairly calm brown water, with vibrant green, spearhead-shaped leaves opened upward to catch the sunlight.
Real mangroves are incredibly valuable plants, bridging land and sea, and doing way more than their share to sequester carbon, stabilize the land, and provide natural breakwaters from storm surges. These grow “on the banks of Vellikeel river in Kannur District of Kerala, India,” according to photographer Lamiot.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Swamps and wetlands are really valuable, essential ecosystems. Far from being “wastelands,” they are among the most vitally important natural places to preserve. But your average human is generally at a disadvantage in that terrain. 

Evolving to Thrive in the Self-Publishing Swamp

We bipedal land-mammals would navigate them better if we really were Swamp Things. It is my aspiration to someday be a publishing-website “Swamp Thing,” who floats past the flotsam and parses the particulars with ease. But in this report from the Swamp Thing, I’m still wearing my swim fins.

This is a screen capture of the front, spine, and back covers for my paperback book, as formatted into their IngramSpark template.
Here’s a screen-capture of the project that ate most of my day. Finally uploaded, but still under review. The cover artwork is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee. The rest of the design and art direction is all my fault.

All joking and metaphor aside, however, I’ve finally made it to the point where I’m hovering on the brink of offering What’s Bred in the Bone for pre-sale and Advance Reader Copies. Stand by. There will be another report from the Swamp Thing soon! (Even if I’m still just starting to grow my gills).

IMAGES

Many, many thanks to Forrestjunky and Wikimedia, for the right to use (and in my case crop) the photo  of Colakreek in Suriname. I also appreciate New 99.1 Country from Ft. Collins, CO, for the photo and story about the Riverlands Dinghy Derby–oh, what a “hold my beer and watch this,” moment that race must be. And finally, I deeply appreciate photographer Lamiotand Wikipedia, for the permission to share a photo of some of the Kannur District’s mangroves. As noted in the caption, The cover artwork is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee. The rest of the design and art direction is all my fault.

How to stay creative

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Angelou had good reason to know this truth. Like love, like generosity, like any attitude, discipline, or craft that you practice, the more you practice it, the richer your store.

This image shows an ink-drawn portrait of Dr. Maya Angelou on a lime green background, along with a quote from her that says, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

IMAGE: Many thanks to Brain Pickings, via The Fox is Black, for this image and Maya Angelou quote, featuring artwork by Lisa Congdon.

Faith, meet challenges!

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Against a backdrop of a wave seen from underwater are the words of a quote from Muhammad Ali. He said, "It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself."

Creativity requires a certain measure of boldness. Any time you put your original creation out there in the world, you put a part of yourself on the line. 

Doesn’t matter whether it’s a thought, a dance, a story, a piece of artwork, an invention, your own performance skill, or what. That takes courage. It takes faith. It takes believing in yourself, and being willing to publicly fail. 

Publicly failing sucks. It hurts. But it doesn’t inevitably happen. You take a risk. And when it doesn’t fail–when it succeeds, and you succeed, and the world is a better place because of your creative vision–that’s about as sweet as it gets.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Brainy Quote for the image combined with the quote by Muhammad Ali.

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