Creative Tip: Take a Walk

Blessed are the Curious

“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” This darling print is available on Etsy.

The weather outside might be frightfully cold, but bundling up and taking a walk is a wonderful way to ignite your creativity and fresh thinking.

According to a research study at Stanford (I feel so smart just saying that), a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking versus sitting down. No wonder Beethoven was said to have taken long, solitary walks through the valleys of Vienna, and Henry Thoreau claimed that his thoughts began to flow ‘the moment my legs began to move.’

Taking things a step further (sorry for the pun), business innovator Nilofer Merchant delivered a TED talk where she suggests something called “walking meetings” to help ideas flow better.

Why walking works

There are several theories about how and why walking works so well for expanding creativity. Among them include the fact that exercising elevates your mood, which in turn helps open your mind to creative ideas.

Another thought is that walking requires you to take a break from the task at hand. Letting go of the need to produce something allows you to absorb information and ideas around you. This incubation period is easily activated by walking.

Although the exact reason still remains a mystery, research shows that you can boost your creative skills in as little as 10 minutes of walking each day. So why not lace up those tennies, grab your sketchbook and take a spin around the block? You never know where the path will lead you.

Step it UpWhat’s your favorite creative tip? Let me know and I might feature it in an upcoming post! Remember to use #CreativeTipTues on Instagram or Twitter, or tag me @Katejandersen.

Have a creative day!

-Kate

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Creative Tip: Embrace the “Yes, And…”

Improv Tips

More great thoughts on this topic at 99U.

Most improv classes teach the importance of “yes, and…” It means when something is given to you (a line, a prop, a gesture), you accept it and add something new. So if someone hands you a bike helmet and says, “Let’s fly to the moon,” you don’t look at them with crazy eyes and reply, “Um, nooo.” You might say, “Yes, and let me grab my elbow pads and oxygen tank.” You keep the momentum going and see where it takes you.

Embracing “yes, and…” is perhaps one of the best lessons in creativity – and life for that matter.

When it comes to creativity

Always be accepting of ideas that are shared by others or come to your own mind. Your instinct might be to shoot down ideas that defy logic, but some of the best and most creative books, photographs, paintings, movies, recipes, or gadgets didn’t always seem reasonable or even plausible at their inception.

Think about how services like Skype would have sounded in a brainstorm: “What if people could login to their computer and be able to see and talk to their friends who live out of state – without any phones?” Someone was willing to say, “Yes, and what if it worked internationally?”

When given the chance, always be willing and courageous to add your “and.”

Wedding PictureThis translates to relationships, too.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary, and I think about how much improv happens in this life that Brandon and I are building together. From the moment I said “yes” to his proposal, we’ve been adding “ands” ever since. Before we knew it, “Kate and Brandon” turned into, “…and babies, and a house, and a rabbit, and a new job, and a move…” It hasn’t always been easy, but our willingness and courage to accept each other – while being willing to add new experiences – has certainly made the journey more exciting. A little humor never hurts, either.

Here’s to more “yes, ands…” in your life!

Reflection questions:

  • When was the last time you said “no” or shot down an idea?
  • What would have happened if you said “yes?” List all of the possibilities, even the crazy ones.
  • What’s an idea you’ve been afraid to share? Write it down and add a “yes, and…”

Feel free to share your thoughts and use #CreativeTipTues or tag me. I’m on Twittter and Instagram as @Katejandersen.

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Thankful Thursday: New Paint!

This week I’m thankful for finally getting our bedroom painted. Brandon and I have been wanting to freshen up the color for quite some time and other things kept cutting in line – like replacing the dishwasher and tires on the car. You know how it goes.

So this week it finally happened. We scheduled our favorite paint guy (Kim Valentine for anyone who lives in NWA), and I came home from work yesterday to the finished product. It was so worth having my clothes and bedroom furniture sprawled all around the living room for two days. Even if I was heckled by my kids for the amount of clothes I had shoved into my closet.

For the color we went with Quiet Moments from Benjamin Moore. The description on the website says, “Tranquility seems to ooze from this light, blue-gray that inspires moments of quiet meditation. This soothing shade creates a look of elegance and simplicity.” Um, yes, please. I’ll take several gallons – for my entire house.

The color is perfect with our bedding, too. We have the Charlie Paisley from PB. If you can’t find me for a few days, I’ll be the one sleeping in the tranquility of quiet meditation.

Charlie Duvet

Charlie Paisley Organic Duvet Cover from Pottery Barn

Oh, one other thing I’m thankful for this week (and actually discovered in this painting process) is Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Whaa? Where have these been all my life, and why hasn’t anyone told me about them sooner? Magic EraserWe had a few scuffs on our doorways and closet shelves that were driving me crazy. The freshly painted walls made the scuffs look even worse. They looked dirty and just wouldn’t wash off – or so I thought. Enter, Magic Erasers. A few good swipes and just like the name says, all of the scuffs were erased. Magically. Needless to say, I was wiping practically every surface in the house. I swear, if they ever want to do one of those cheesy infomercials on how awesome they work, sign me up. No pride here.

So those are some of the highlights of the week so far. I’d love to hear some of your discoveries and what makes you feel thankful. Comment on the blog or post on Twitter or Instagram using #ThankfulThursday so everyone can share in your happiness.

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Creative Tip: Enjoy the Season!

Christmas kindness

Designed by The Neat Nook

There’s no question the holidays are a special time of year. I love catching up with friends, eating good food, and exchanging thoughtful gifts.

If we’re being honest, it can also be a bit stressful. The weeks leading up to Christmas are hurried and hectic. There’s the decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, shipping, entertaining, and sometimes traveling to be done. When you’re a momma, you also have school plays, church pageants, class parties and teacher gifts to manage. Whew!

How does anyone stay calm and joyful with so much business going on? It’s not easy. That’s for sure, but if you have the right mindset, you can stay fairly calm through it all.

Try these five quick tips and see if you feel a difference. They won’t guarantee rock star parking at the mall, but they might help you ease up on the horn when someone snags your spot.

  1. Check in with yourself.
    • Stop in your tracks when you’re feeling stressed, and take note of what you’re doing. And I mean all the way down to the verb. Does baking pies from scratch and making the crust look like a string of holly berries (like the picture you saw on Pinterest) send you spiraling into tears? If so, change the plan and simplify. Get the premade crust or better yet, order from your favorite restaurant and call it good. No one will judge you.
    • Also notice what activities make you feel energized and creative. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy these things! Personally, I could wrap presents all day long. I adore playing with papers, tissues, boxes and bows. I would swap wrapping presents for making homemade pies any day.
  2. Do only what you can (and want) to do. Delegate the rest.
    • Write down your entire to-do list so it’s out of your head – where it only stresses you out.
    • Cross off anything that doesn’t fill you with joy and is also unnecessary. Synchronizing your outdoor lights to music – when you’re not technically savvy – would fall into this category.
    • Put a star next to anything you love and that only you can do – such as attending your child’s Christmas play.
    • Find a way to delegate or simplify the rest. Enlist a crafty cousin to make a few small gifts, or pay a neighbor with treats to help hang your lights. Get creative!
  3. Stay within budget.
    • One of the biggest stressors this time of year can be money. Plan a realistic budget that includes all of the details (like stamps for those adorable cards you ordered).
    • Keep track of your receipts as you go, so you know where you stand. If gifts are getting out of control, switch gears to something handmade or repurposed. If you’re thoughtful about the present, it will be appreciated – regardless of the price tag.
  4. Make a new friend.
    • Empathy can go a long way when you’re standing in line waiting to pay at the register. Strike up a conversation with the person in front of you and you might realize just how lucky you really are this holiday.
  5. Be kind to yourself.
    • Whatever you choose to do this holiday, make sure it makes you happy.
    • Don’t try to do too much, and certainly don’t try to make everything perfect. Perfection is unrealistic. If your 2-year-old won’t stop pouting in the family picture, let it be. If you burned all of the cookies for the school party, feed them  to the ducks and pickup some store-bought goodies. Serve them on one of your prettiest plates and you’re back in business.
    • The bottom line is, give yourself a break. And have a glass of wine while you’re at it. You deserve a happy holiday just as much as anyone on your gift list.

Cheers, my friends! Here’s to the most joyful and relaxed Christmas season, yet.

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Pause to Play!

Play MemeHello, my sweet creative friends. I have a fun tip for this Tuesday. It’s all about play!

It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle of our adult responsibilities that we don’t think about stopping to have fun. I’m totally guilty of this. Sometimes the thought of watching a funny video, learning a joke, or taking a trip to the park seems as indulgent as a bubble bath in the middle of the day – especially with so many tasks on the “to-do”.

But being playful is incredibly important. Even if it’s just a few minutes jamming to your favorite song in the car, feeling this kind of joy can do wonders for your spirit. I absolutely love this quote from author Dr. Stewart Brown,

“The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.”

It’s essential to our well being to take a few minutes each day to laugh and play like the child we once were. Brown also says, “Play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy…and is at the core of creativity and innovation.”

There’s no better time than right now to embrace your inner child and do something fun. You’ll be amazed at the way your mind starts opening and your heart starts feeling.

Here’s an exercise to try.

Grab your journal and make a list of five things that makes you feel playful. If that feels hard, think back to the last time you laughed. And I mean snort-laughed in the air like you just don’t care. Where were you, who were you with, or what were you doing that made you have such a great reaction? That might give you some ideas.

Pick one of your five activities, schedule 15 joyful minutes, and go do it! Then write in your journal about your experience.

  • What did you choose to do?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • When was the last time you did this activity? If it’s been awhile, why haven’t you done it sooner?
  • What can you change in your current schedule to make room for more play?

I hope you’ll give yourself permission to have recess today. Have fun and let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you!

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Notice the Small Things

IMG_4512

Design from The Neat Nook

This week, I encourage you to notice something small and seemingly ordinary, yet that strikes you as beautiful. If you can, take a picture of this object. Write a caption about what makes it stand out. Post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #CreativeTipTues so everyone can see what you discovered.

Why is this important to your creativity?

What you’ll notice about this exercise is you’re forced to live in the present moment. Suddenly you’re not thinking about what’s on your mind or what’s next on your to-do list. You’ll find yourself immersed in the details of life as it stands in front of you.

Here’s an awesome list of seven reasons to be present, which I think you’ll enjoy. Obviously #2 rings true to my heart.

Being fully present is one of the best ways to tap into your creativity.

Once you start slipping into the past, ideas about what has been done before start to creep into your thinking. Perhaps there’s even judgment attached. Going the other direction, it’s easy to leap into the future with worry about deadlines and expectations. All of these thoughts block new ideas and shut down possibilities. Staying in the “now” keeps you focused and aligned with your true creative potential. So the best gift you can give yourself (creatively speaking) is to put yourself smack dab in the present and just see what develops.

Have fun searching and creating! I hope to see some of your images online. Remember to tag #CreativeTipTues or message me on Instagram @katejandersen.

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Try Something New. Anything.

It’s Tuesday! That means I’ll be sharing a creative tip today. This post was inspired by my sweet and amazingly talented friend, Leslie Sisti. We work together at a PR firm where we both get to share our love of creativity and writing. Leslie has been a fashion blogger of A Blonde Ambition for several years now and has become wildly successful. She’s the real deal, friends. When I told her I wanted to start a blog, she kindly offered tips, encouragement and even a chance to guest blog to help get things going. There aren’t enough flowers in the world that could properly thank her!HeaderTrans_zpscb139c50Here’s where I tried something new.

As nervous as I was, I took up Leslie on the offer to guest blog. (It’s posted today, so be sure to check it out.) While I’ve been a copywriter for decades and even led teams as a creative director, you’d think writing a blog would be as easy as breathing. Somehow, trying my hand at this feels entirely different. I’m usually writing on behalf of clients. So while the words are mine, the message always belongs to someone else. There’s a veil of protection in case someone doesn’t like the work. Or strangely enough, if someone loves what I’ve done, I can smile in the background and not have to take center stage. So, blogging. It’s personal. It’s honest. It’s imperfect. And most importantly, it’s something new for me.

I’m excited for the journey. My hope is you’ll join in my adventure and be inspired to try new things, too. It doesn’t have to mean quitting your job or planning a trip to France (although I’d LOVE to visit my dear friend Kristina!) Enough small adventures will lead to big discoveries. Here’s an inspiring TED Talk by Matt Cutts that shares his adventure of trying something new for 30 days.

New things can include writing with your other hand, taking a different route to work or buying plantains instead of bananas. What will happen is you’ll start to notice patterns about the things you choose – and the things you love. You’ll hear your inner voice. You’ll see your confidence grow. Perhaps most importantly, your true self will emerge. And that’s good for everyone.

What the world needs...

Graphic designed by The Neat Nook.

Go try something new today and tell me about it. Comment, email or post it on Twitter, Insty or Facebook using #CreativeTipTues.

My love and cheers to you all! – Kate

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Creative Tip Tuesday: Carry a Sketchbook

SketchbookA sketchbook is an important tool for anyone wanting to live a creative life. Please know, being creative doesn’t mean you have to work as an art director, painter, photographer or fashion designer.

Creativity simply means “involving the imagination or original ideas.”

Any endeavor in life could surely benefit from the use of your imagination or original ideas. So, let’s get sketching!

Here are my top three reasons to pick up a sketchbook today.

  1. It gives you a safe place to explore. You don’t have to publish or show this book to anyone. Allowing yourself to experiment and make mistakes is one of the best ways to foster creativity.
  2. It allows you to capture ideas immediately. This is important so you can take action right when a thought or visual idea strikes.
  3. It becomes a source of inspiration. If you’re feeling stuck or bored, thumbing through your sketchbook can prove to be an uplifting exercise. Look at all of the ideas you’ve had, allow yourself to see them in a new light, and be amazed at how much better you feel.

Your sketches don’t have to be fancy by all means, they just need to communicate your ideas. Your book can include favorite quotes, pictures from magazines, and even your grocery list. The main thing is to have fun, explore, and capture your thoughts.

Tips to get started.

  • Skip or purposely scribble on the first page. This will help you avoid the fear of the blank page.
  • Buy an inexpensive book so you don’t feel obligated to have highly important or valuable ideas. (I bought the one pictured above from Walmart)
  • Allow yourself to be messy. Feel free to scribble, drip paint, and glue stuff together. Just promise not to judge yourself or tear anything out!
  • Always carry your book with you. If you buy a book roughly the size as your favorite device (iPad, computer, etc.) it’s easier to tuck it in your bag and carry it with you at all times.
  • Give yourself an assignment. Here’s one to get you started:

Think of a situation at work that’s bothering you…not enough support, too many meetings? What would this situation look like if it were personified as a monster? Draw it. Now, what features could you add to make it more approachable?

Speaking of monsters, be sure to check out @jonhuckeby on Instagram. He’s a fantastic illustrator who doodles the cutest fuzzy fellas.

If you need more inspiration, here are some great doodle sketches on Pinterest.

I’d love to see some of your sketches if you’re open to sharing! Tag them with #CreativeTipTues on Twitter or Instagram so I can gather and share in a future post.

Happy creating!

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