How creativity comes from the unexpected

Love this video.  

Its easy to get lost in the art and lose his words, but listen carefully. His process of creating is inspiring, and encouraging.  

“I had no idea what this animation would be when I started, and that’s really my big tip. If you’re ever feeling stuck or blank creatively, take a step into the unknown and start doing something . . . until it starts your interest or sparks an idea, and then build on that.”

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-N- Stuff  : Inspiration  : Art

Three (plus two) favorite quotes from You Are A Badass


“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”

I just finished this book a few weeks ago and, to be honest, it wasn’t earth shattering. But it was a good reminder - a great reminder even - that I am a badass, and so are you. We just need to get rid of the many obstacles that we set in our way.

To help (inspire and save you time, if you can’t read the book), here are a few write-em-on-a-notecard points of encouragement that you can post on your frig, your dash, your workspace, or anywhere else you find yourself thinking and procrastinating.

In no particular order:

  1. “If you wanna stay stuck in the same place and keep getting spanked with the same lessons over and over, be negative, resentful, and victimized. If you want to get over your issues and rock your life, be grateful, look for the good and learn . . . write your thank-you notes!” (pg 120).

  2. “Sometimes the road to freedom lies in deciding you’d rather be happy than right” (pg 125).

  3. “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse” (pg 153).

Favorite quotes that were quoted:

  1. “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past” - Lily Tomlin

  2. “We tiptoe through life trying to safely make it to death” - unknown

For more favorite quotes click here.

For more on . . .

Reading Log 2017  :  Reading Log 2018

Going Fishing : A Stop Motion Animation by Guldies

Made in the desk in his bedroom, Going Fishing is composed of 2500 still pictures (4530 taken) played in 18 FPS. It was shot with a Canon EOS 600D, animated in Dragonframe, and edited in Photoshop and Sony Vegas. The sound effects recorded with a Blue Yeti with a few downloaded from (via).

A lot of that I don’t understand, but sifting through 4530 pictures, editing and composing 2500 of those and then creating this masterpiece of a film I do understand, and I love it.

And I’m inspired by it.

As a (perhaps want-to-be) artist, these little adventures of creativity always stick with me because I’m so judgmental of myself. Who’s gonna read that? or Why does this even matter?

But then I watch Going Fishing and I’m reminded that people are drawn to people who have passion, to people who create rather than destroy, and to people who - no matter how - try to make the world a better place.

And that is an encouraging though.

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-N- Stuff  : Inspiration  : Stop Motion

Do something great


My wife sent me this photo on the same morning I listened to this podcast, Do Meaningful Work and Change the World with Adam Braun, "the CEO & Co-Founder of MissionU, a debt-free college alternative for the 21st century that CNN called 'perfect for young people who are eager to launch their career'" (via), and I truly enjoyed it. 

One of the more inspiring, or challenging, portions of the podcast came at near the 30 minute mark. It's his last interview question to anyone wanting to work for him and his ideas. The question is, "What do you consider to be your single greatest success that is unrelated to your career or your family?"

I asked this question to a few friends of mine and, as intended, it engaged us in a lengthy personal conversation about life. Mainly because we disagreed with the question, "There isn't time or energy for much work outside of my career and family!" And maybe that's okay, because the point of the question is to get to know someone, beyond the job, and find their deeper purpose, their deeper self - not what they did. Because it gets to the question of character. 

So when we struggle to find an answer outside of teaching or parenting or husbanding, that's okay, because we're not bragging about what we've done - our simple accomplishments - but the moments of growth, of inspiration, and of where we've been able to see where our work, our ideas, and our presence has been able to change the world. 

What would your answer be?


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Living   Favorite Podcasts

How to Keep Going

 image by Austin Kleon

image by Austin Kleon

I really appreciated this talk by Austin Kleon. Not only does it inspire and encourage any artist who struggles with endurance and purpose, it's also pretty poignant to life - as all good art should be. 

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?" How we answer this question is not only how we live our lives, it's our art.

But what I like most about the mindset of creativity within a Groundhog Day world is the insulation of pretending like there is no tomorrow. That there's no chance of success nor is there chance of failure, "there's just the day and what you can do with it." 

Damn. That's good.

I was also challenged by number three, "forget the noun, do the verb." 

Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without doing the work. Forget about being a writer . . . 'follow the impulse to write.' Because if you let go of the thing you are trying to be . . . and you focus on the actual work you need to be doing . . . it will take you some place further and far more interesting. 

But really, the whole thing is pretty fantastic.

Here's a list of his 10 Ways to Keep Going


"Everything you need to make extraordinary work can be found in your ordinary life. You just have to pay attention to it."

Here's a similarly inspiring chart, Successful VS Unsuccessful people, and the habits that define them.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Embracing hardships 

A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

We are all time travelers, journeying together into the future. Let us work together to make a future a place we want to visit.


Using various lines from various speeches, melodysheep has put together an truly inspirational video that celebrates the "life and message" of one of the greatest minds of our time.

He also has videos celebrating Princess Leia, Robin Williams, and science


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff   :  Inspiring Art

Born of Accidents : Free-Diving Under Ice

There is no place for fear, no place for panic. No place for mistakes. Under the ice, you need total control.

Johanna {the film} was born of accidents. Nordblad {the swimmer} began free-diving after suffering an injury; she was required to submerge in freezing water for treatment. Derry {the filmmaker}, too, suffered an accident and received a settlement, which he used to fund the film, his first directorial effort. “I wanted to do something positive from the negative,” the filmmaker told The Atlantic. “When I think back, it was quite fortuitous that accident happened" (via).

"Wanted to do something positive from the negative." I like that. Love it actually. And I love how Derry's intentionality to embrace or prepare for the negative allowed him to create - to succeed.

“This is not something you can do without a proper approach," Derry explains, "Safety was paramount. We needed a safety team in and out of the water, so we had to be very precise.” He and his team needed to be intentional.

"The main enemy," according to The Atlantic, "was the cold, which drained the camera’s batteries during the first two minutes of filming. Later, in the -16 ºC air temperature, the camera froze. Water leaked into the monitor" (via). 

Despite the various setbacks, or rather, because of Derry's intentionality towards the various setbacks, they couldn't destroy him and his team from capturing "the serene beauty of Nordblad’s sport." And there's something very convicting, very challenging, about that approach to circumstances and to life.

When days or seasons or life seem born of accidents, embrace the setbacks and make something beautiful.


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-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Embracing hardships  On Living

"I think that's love."

      Photo by @ svenbergerfotografie

     Photo by @svenbergerfotografie

“When I believe something that’s not true and I’m afraid, that fear is still real, whether what I’m afraid of is real or not. That fear is. And so I need to respect as a person the fear that they have even though I disagree with what they’re thinking that’s causing it." - Jeff Kelley

From the moment I saw the picture above I haven't stopped thinking about it, and for several reasons. One, it's a great photo. Two, it scares the hell out of me. And three, it captures most acutely the words of Jeannette Armstrong, "To see things from a different perspective is one of the most difficult things we have to do."

"We have to do." I love that. Not only because it's right and good and true, but because, at times, it seems damn near impossible. 

I'm so used to seeing myself standing on top the world, like a little conquerer, and singing along with Bob Dylan, "don't think twice, it's alright," because I've never know it to be any different.

I've never felt my feet leave the ground without returning, never considered that when I jump or swing or cartwheel in the soft green grass that I won't stay right where I am, on Earth. So I've never considered how terrifying my life on this earth actually is.

Until the photograph was turned upside down.

On the Podcast Invisibilia, a guest Will Cox say that the "unfortunate thing about human learning," is that "human brains are really good at learning things, and not so good at unlearning them."

And its because, Alex Spiegel explains, "of the way that our minds work. It is just much easier for a stereotype {or believed truth} to perpetuate itself than to be overturned. Because to change a concept, you need to get extremely consistent feedback that the concept is incorrect."

But often times, because of our busy lives or limited communities, we don't get any feedback at all. Leaving our truths unchallenged, and unchanged.

In our politics.

In our religions.

And in our experiences. 

Until the photograph is flipped a bear's life is challenged. 

After committing thirty years to the idea that black bears could be trusted, and after feeling like he proved this point over and over again, Jeff Kelley chose to see things from another's perspective and adjusted, for the sake of those who apposed him. So he could help them. Because in Eagle's Nest Township, a small community in Northeast Minnesota, a battle over the stay and safety of Solo, his beloved black bear and her cubs, was brewing.

Convinced that "they were seeing reality clearly, and that the other side was just projecting a false narrative," neither side was willing to concede. Because Jeff could lay down with his head Solo's, back while she was feeding, and be perfectly fine because Solo wasn’t dangerous, and every member of the Eagles Nest community knew this.

But others, visitors from out of town who stayed only for weeks at a time, were not so sure - they were scared, and they didn’t want Solo around. They saw Solo and her friendly cubs as “a public safety risk” and pushed for them to be moved.

"What happens when people cant agree on reality?" Speigel asks, "when everyone just digs in, and insists on their version of the world?"

Communities break down, relationships suffer, and an innocent bear dies. 

On the day authorities came to relocate Solo and her two cubs, citizens of Eagles Nest tried to rouse her from her winter hibernation and run her off, so she wouldn't be captured. Instead, she and her cubs climbed a tree. They were shot, placed on trucks, and brought to Northern Michigan. The cubs woke up; Solo didn't. 

The people of Eagles Nest started pointing fingers.

"Intolerance," and "fear, lead to this bear being killed," they argued, and those kind of people don't "fit with this community" they said.

All except for Alex. Because, as he explained, 

When I believe something that’s not true and I’m afraid, that fear is still real whether what I’m afraid of is real or not, that fear is. And so I need to respect, as a person, the fear that they have even though I disagree with what {they think is} causing it.

And so, out of respect for them, I adjust what I’m doing so that I can at least help them not be so afraid.

I think that’s love.

To see things from another's perspective can be one of the hardest things we are asked to do. It can also be as easy as flipping a photograph. The difficulty is doing something about it.

We don't all have to agree on reality. In fact, some would argue that it's best if we don't. But we can all agree that life and reality can often be terrifying, like upside down photographs, or monsters beneath the bed.

So, out of respect for the other person, let us help each other to not be so afraid; let us turn on the light!

Even if it's the hardest thing to do. 

Because that's love. 

And love keeps the monsters away.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration from Podcasts :  On Living 

Breath, by Olbinski, is a deep punch to the (creative) soul

"The moment I heard the opening thump of bass…I knew I would be using this song for my film. But then those haunting vocals hit my ears…and blew my mind. It was like a punch deep in my soul. It’s hard to explain that feeling when you first hear a song and you immediately fall in love with it" (via).

Mike Olbinksi is a storm chaser, photographer, and an overall pretty amazing artist who has inspired me more than once. And his latest work, Breath, a storm time-lapse film in black and white, is no exception. 

"About halfway through editing," Olbinski writes, "I knew the song title would be my film title as well. It was so perfect I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes for me…when I’m chasing or watching an amazing storm…I’ll realize I haven’t taken a breath in awhile. Never really thought of it until I heard this song."

As you may have noticed, for the past month or so, I've stopped writing (more thoughts on that to come). It started consciously in December because I wanted to truly enjoy and unplug over the break. I was supposed to break the fast on New Year's Eve, but couldn't because, like Olbinksi (only opposite), I've been unable to breath. So I took another two-week gulp of air and planned on perhaps another six. 

But then I came across Olbinski: "I hadn’t even planned to start working on this film yet," he continues, "but I was so inspired that I furiously began to lay down time-lapse clips. I couldn’t stop pouring over it. It was last September and I was supposed to be working on Monsoon IV, but I forgot all about it once I heard Ex Makina’s “Breathe.” It almost felt like it was made for a black and white storm film." 

Inspiration inspires inspiration, furious creativity, and moments of intense clarity where we forget meetings, deadlines, lunch, even to breath. And I love that. Because that means it comes from somewhere outside ourselves, and because when it hits, we have to saturate ourselves in it, envelope it, and then, get it out.

Like filmmaking.

Like writing. 

And that's inspiring. Beautiful. "Like a punch deep in my soul." Which I desperately needed. 

Thank you, Mike Olbinski!


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  On Creativity  :  Mike Olbinski

Where the People are.

If you're in a corner, or in a box, it's not because somebody put you there, it's because you've agreed to be in that box.


I stay outside. Because that's where the people are.


When I first watched this, I thought of my classroom and getting out in the hallways to be with the kids as they pass and walk by. Because even though I want to stay in my room, out in the hall is where the people are. And they want high fives, waves, fist bumps, and sometimes even hugs.

Then, while getting a Fat Tire from the frig, I thought of other boxes, bigger boxes, and more restrictive boxes. Boxes of religion, family, and politics. 

But mainly religion.

Maybe yours is something else.

Whatever it is, we've both agreed to be in that box. Isolated, Insulated. And safe. 

Because stepping out is entering into the unknown, and to where the people are. People who think different, look different, act different, and are different. Like kids in the hallways.

In the hallways, I lose much of my control and influence. I'm no longer the centerpiece but an outside observer. In the hallways, kids curse, make out, swap cigarettes, and fight, and I stand on the sideline, unable to do much of anything but correct what I can and say hello to those who pass. 

Sometimes though, kids want a high five, fist bump, or short conversation.

And somehow, when it happens, in the hallway, on their turf, it seems a bit more genuine because truly, they don't have to say a damn thing. They can walk by, cursing under their breath (which some do, no doubt) or ignore me completely. But they don't - not all of them anyway. They wave, smile, and sometimes stand with me and talk. And I love it because, often times, I learn things about them that the classroom can't teach. 

Like the student whose father was just arrested for dealing meth. Or the one who's having surgery on Thanksgiving day because she might have breast cancer. 

Sometimes though, they don't say a thing. They just high five, fist pump, or nod. And when it comes from the kid that I get on every single day to do some work, to turn something in and stop dropping F-bombs in my class, well, that too means a lot to me. 

And after watching this short clip, I began to wonder what would happen if I stepped out of other boxes, engaged and mingled with other people, different people, and started talking and listening and learning from them? Where would that take me? Take us? 

Probably to where the people are.

Which is just where I want to be.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  #eattogether :  Humanity  :  A Heineken commercial that inspires more than a drink