Here are some of my favorite memes from this year:
Full disclosure: The suggestions listed below may only work for full-time writers and artists or the unemployed. If you have a day job, you might find this article frustrating. Or, you could try utilizing the information below on your days off, or implementing only the tips that fit your situation or schedule.
- Get up. Yeah, I know, it sounds obvious; but if you’re not doing getting up before 9:00, maybe you should try it. Going to bed before midnight helps.
- Drink a glass of water. Your brain won’t work well if it’s under-hydrated.
- Pray, meditate, or read something inspiring. For me, it’s a chapter of scripture. I read, pick out a passage that speaks to me at that particular moment, and rephrase it in my own words in my journal. Then I pray and ask God what He has for me that day, and ask Him to guide me.
- Go to the gym. If you don’t belong to a gym, hop on your bike, work through an exercise video, jog, climb stairs, practice yoga, lift dumbbells, or take a walk. If you’re not doing something that requires total concentration, let your mind wander. Observe what’s going on around you. People-watch. Listen to birds sing. Free your brain to collect inspiration.
- Clear your mind with freewriting. Even three minutes of dumping your worries or just writing down whatever silly thoughts enter your consciousness will help your creativity emerge.
- Plan what you want to accomplish this day. Be reasonable. Writer Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, recommends giving yourself a small assignment, something that would fill a one-inch square picture frame, something that moves you forward without overwhelming you. Consider all the things you are obligated to do, and figure out a way to accomplish your daily chores while still giving you time to work on your art.
- Eat a healthy breakfast, preferably containing protein. I generally have a cup of coffee and some yogurt while I read my Bible (see #3). Hint—a donut or four cups of coffee do not constitute a healthy breakfast. Fuel yourself for productivity.
Once you’ve done these seven things, you’ve already overcome some of the worst barriers to creativity: inertia, apathy, hunger, thirst, and lack of motivation. Now get out there and make something beautiful and amazing!
This month I have a milestone birthday. I’ve renewed my driver’s license, enrolled in Medicare (though I’m deferring my Social Security for as long as I can), and I’m beginning to collect my teacher’s pension.
I’ve been around the block a few times in my sixty-five years on earth. I’ve learned a lot of stuff–the hard way, through trial and error. Let me share my accumulated wisdom with you. Indulge me; I’m old. Maybe you’ll learn from me and avoid making the same mistakes I made.
Photograph by Dark Dwarf
- I don’t know as much as I used to. I’ve forgotten a lot.
- Your life will never be trouble-free.
- Be happy for other people’s good fortune. Don’t know how to do that? Smile. Say, “I’m so happy for you!”
- No matter how hard circumstances get, they become more bearable with time.
- When you screw up, apologize. Without making excuses.
- If you make $32,400 per year, you are among the top 1% of wage earners in the world. So stop whining.
- If you can’t sleep, get up and clean the house.
- After your shower, rub the skin around your fingernails with your towel, and push back your cuticles. If you do this every day while your skin is soft and soggy, you’ll never get hangnails, and those little slivers of loose skin next to your nails will just rub right off without bleeding or hurting.
- A couple of drops of argan oil in your hair after washing will make it shine and make your brush glide right through it.
- Water is the best thing you can drink. Squeeze some lemon juice into it.
- Tell your friends and family that you love them. Every day.
- Acknowledge excellence.
- Shop the clearance rack.
- Donate things you don’t use to charity.
- When you bring in the mail, stop at the recycling bin and toss away all the junk.
- Before you buy something, ask yourself, “Where am I going to keep this?”
- Don’t make a joke at someone else’s expense.
- Be polite to everyone, even (especially) when you’re angry.
- If you’re learning to play an instrument, practice every day.
- Read for enjoyment every day.
- Borrow books for free from the library.
- Read to your kids from the time they’re babies.
- Dance regularly. And step it up as you age. Dancing is great exercise for the brain.
- Don’t ever use a “recreational” drug. Just don’t.
- Never do something you know you shouldn’t.
- Wealth comes with complications. Freedom comes with having just enough to share.
- Find a cause you believe in and support it as generously as you can.
- Who cares if what you have is “dated”? If you like it, it’s perfect.
- Most of what’s on television is garbage. (Do I sound like a geezer yet?)
- Walking is excellent exercise. Bring your device so you can listen to music or take photos.
- Buy a couple of pieces of good-quality, classic clothing every year. Consider it an investment you can wear for a long time.
- Save money. Contribute to a 401K or invest in mutual funds or ETFs. Be smart about your future.
- Attending college in Europe is less expensive than attending college in the United States.
- Be a life-long learner. Pursue topics that interest you.
- Cultivate friends who are older than you and ones who are younger than you.
- Don’t buy a bigger house than you need.
- Don’t buy a lot of stuff. Possessions are overrated.
- Learn a second language. It will broaden you, and raise your IQ.
- Support public education. Free quality education for every child is the mark of a great nation.
- Obey police officers.
- When you see car washes put on by kids to raise money for organizations and charities, let them wash your car and donate generously.
- Pray every day. Start by thanking God for all His blessings to you. Pray for our president and our country. Pray for people who are suffering.
- Check your gas tank every time you get in the car. Fill it as soon as it gets down to the last quarter.
- Once a month see that your tires are properly inflated, your oil is clean and topped off, your coolant (or antifreeze) reserve is full, and your windshield washer is topped off.
- Call your parents.
- Surprise a friend with a card. The kind you mail with a stamp.
- Save your receipts until you use what you bought or the return/exchange date has passed (longer if it has a warranty).
- When your kid is tall enough to touch the bottom of the inside of the washing machine, he’s old enough to be responsible for his own laundry.
- You don’t do your children any favors when you do all the cooking and cleaning. Part of your job is to train your kids in the skills they need for everyday life. Give them chores.
- Take care of your health. Do it for yourself. Do it for the people who love you. Or at least do it so you won’t be a burden on society.
- If you give raisins to a baby, be sure to cut them first. (I have a not-so-happy story about my first baby and raisins…remind me to tell you about it someday…)
- On the back of photographs, be sure to write the names of the people who appear in the pictures. (If you save your photos online, tag the people, or caption the photo.) I don’t care how sure you are that you’ll always remember the significant people in your life; I guarantee when you’re as old as I am, you’ll forget some names. My mother told me to write down names on the back of baby pictures. I was positive I’d remember which one was which. (Mom was right.)
- You can’t do every good thing. Be selective about what you commit to.
- When you have a long-term project, break it down into manageable steps and schedule a completion date for each step.
- Children aren’t born knowing right from wrong. You have to be deliberate about teaching them. Encourage them to consider how their actions affect others. It’s sad when you meet adults who never learned to do this.
- New cars are expensive. Preowned cars can often be relative bargains. I’ve had good results buying fairly new cars with low mileage from reputable dealers. Often these are cars that were repossessed because someone couldn’t make payments. It’s ironic that I benefit from someone else living beyond their means.
- When someone is grieving, say, “I’m so sorry.” Don’t try to cheer them up–sometimes well-intentioned words just make the hurt deeper. Be present. Listen. Hug. Cry. Send a card. Send flowers or a donation to a charity. Don’t say, “Call me if you need anything”–people don’t like to impose on their friends. Instead, follow up in a few days with a specific offer of help–run an errand, cook a meal, babysit–or ask what you can do.
- Don’t use electronic devices after dinner. Either you’ll spend too many hours online and go to bed later than you should, or the light emitted from the screen will interfere with your body’s sleep cues. Either way, you’ll be tired the next day.
- Tell your (or your children’s) teachers, pastor, and boss what they’ve done that you especially admire or appreciate.
- You can do nearly anything you set your mind on, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
- Set high standards for yourself, but make them reasonable. Determine a code of ethics. Become a person of integrity.
- What will people remember about you when you’re gone? Work toward what you’d like your legacy to be.
- Learn the names of the employees at the retail stores you frequent. Greet workers by name, and commend them for good customer service. You’ll make their day, and you’ll be rewarded with continued good service.
- Whenever you think of a perfect gift for someone (or for yourself–sometimes people ask what you would like), write it down. It’s good to have a little notebook for this purpose. Flip through it from time to time so you remember–maybe the item will go on sale.
- It doesn’t matter how long you live, just how well you live. Work hard, but eliminate unnecessary stress. Find ways to add fun to your life. Smile. Laugh. Use the good china sometimes, even when you’re not having company. Stop and admire beautiful things. Love someone. Learn something new.
Your weekly fix of artistic inspiration.
- House block quilts.
- Palm paintings.
- Advice about creativity.
- A closer look at Gustav Klimt’s painting, The Kiss.
- How to get really good at something.
- I am such a terrible mother. I never even thought of doing this. My girls are now in their twenties and thirties. Maybe when (if) I have granddaughters…
- Photos of Jersey City and Manhattan. (As a former Jersey girl, I get a little homesick when I see scenes like these.)
- Do you have too many books? Maybe not.
- Amazing footage captured on a security camera and the science behind it.
- Art with an expiration date.
- How an engineering student became a children’s book illustrator.
- What do you see in the clouds?
This week’s dozenly dose of creative articles:
- Personally, I love reading young adult novels. Here are this year’s best sellers.
- Breathtaking blue quilts.
- This looks like a great workspace setup.
- Photos of surreal beauty and long-past glory…
- Did you know you can cultivate habits that make you smarter?
- These dishes give me the creeps, and yet I admire their artistry.
- Don’t fall into the comparison trap. Would you believe Henri Matisse felt he did not measure up to the other artists of his day?
- Kauai is on my bucket list, but one of my favorite artists is there now.
- The ultimate artist DIY—making your own paints.
- Inspiration for writers.
- Beautiful illustrations by Tina MacNaughton.
- Map of the world, redesigned to eliminate distortion.
Nine articles, mostly art-related.
A dozen beautiful things to ponder on a Good Friday: