Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge" - A. Einstein

Professor Einstein is always a special featured "guest" at my "Enhance Your Creative Power" talk for artists and solo creatives. He will be there this Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 6pm
Linger Cafe and Lounge
533 Atlantic Avenue
between 3rd and 4th Avenues

Albert Einstein, as we know, was a scientific genius. He was also a very, very creative person. As a youth, he had a reputation as a troublemaker and delved into a variety of careers that included vaudeville comedian and solo symphony violinist! After some meandering, he eventually found his way back to his true path which was science and math. He is known for many wonderful quotes, among which is one that I really REALLY like! "Imagination is more important than knowledge." This is an amazing quote, especially coming from a scientist!

But we're talking about Albert Einstein! He used his imagination to turn science on its head .... I'm sure he had a storehouse of knowledge, from his education and his work and his research. But knowledge alone couldn't have served his purposes for what he was trying to discover. He knew that it would take stretching beyond what was already known to come up with a theory that would explain his hunch about space being curved, thus developing his theory of relativity. He pictured himself riding a light beam through space and this imaginary journey led him along a curved path. He then used his mathematical wizardry to prove how that could happen. Pretty creative, right? At the time, there was no evidence anywhere for such an idea.

Using his imagination and his other skills he found a way to prove something that must have seemed impossible at the time; that reality, on a certain level, exists on a quantum level, and has properties that exist in a very different way than we perceive with our senses!

He was at times a misfit, even a ne'er-do'well in some people's eyes. Someone who, as a child, did not speak fluently till he was twelve years old and had been thought to be mentally impaired and yet became one of the most revered scientists of the past century. Ask yourself, now: What seemingly impossible thing you could start to investigate using your imagination to picture it and your skills to bring it into being?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Best Little Appliance In The World

I am a vegan. And for a while I described myself as a raw vegan. I always feel really good on a "high" raw diet of at least 75% raw fruits and vegetable. Excess weight drops off and I have a lot of energy. To be a raw vegan, the most basic and indispensable food preparation appliance is the blender. There are other things that come in handy in the raw vegan's kitchen but the blender is the first, best and most versatile kitchen appliance. You can literally whip up some AMAZING dishes with the trusty blender. This past year I have been living SANS blender and while I missed having one, I just didn't get around to getting a new one. During this time I remained a vegan, but I was eating a lot of cooked vegan food. I knew having a blender would make it easier to make a huge variety of delicious raw concoctions, thereby making it easier to maintain a high level of raw-ness in my diet, but I still didn't get around to it. Until last week, that is. Last week, Wednesday to be precise, I finally bought a new blender. I can't even tell you how exciting it was. Before I rushed home with it, I stopped off to get bananas, strawberries and some other goodies to make a smoothie with. Then I rushed home and promptly did just that! It was one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted. I'm having amazing smoothies, at least once, sometimes twice a day now, everyday....I will run some delicious smoothie recipes in a future post. For now, I am just happy to be able to say that I am back to being a mostly raw vegan again....and it feels good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying Too Hard

Just last night, I was thinking about the term "trying too hard." Often, when you keep "trying" to do or get something and don't seem to succeed, people will recommend that you stop trying "too hard." This is one of those ways that deep spiritual concepts show up in many people's everyday thoughts. Without realizing, perhaps, what they are referring to, they are acknowledging that when one "tries" to do or attain something, one is actually affirming their feeling separate from what it is they desire. The advice to "stop trying too hard" is a "disguise" for finding your oneness with everything. That is the "secret" to attaining your hearts desires. When you want to lose weight, find love, achieve in your career, build relationships...all these things elude the person who sees them as separate from themselves. If you see them already as a part of you, you relax into that knowledge and your behavior will demonstrate that you have indeed stopped "trying" too hard. Grasping for anything, in its various permutations is usually considered socially unattractive, but underneath that is the truth that it demonstrates a belief in lack and separateness. Next time you feel that familiar tension that means you are trying hard to "get" something, relax, rest in the knowledge that it already exists in your world and trust it to move toward you when you stop trying "too hard."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crazy Nicknames You Give Your Cat........Here Are Mine

The photo above catches all three of my cats. As you may have read in my previous posts, I lost 2 of them this winter. 99 (who sits in the light beam in the photo) had cancer and I had some time to prepare for her passing in December. Less than two months later, Mr. Sweetie (who is probably chasing a piece of tin foil behind the garbage can on the right) fell ill. There were so many complicating issues with his health that I had to make a sudden, very painful decision right there at the vet's office. I miss them. To celebrate both of them, this post is actually about their surviving sister, Saturn (who is in the foreground of the photo.)

I think that anyone who has a cat and who loves them in that crazy way that cat owners do (you know who you are!) probably has a lot of names for their cat beyond the "official" one. For example, my remaining kitty's name is Saturn, but here are some of the other names she is called on a regular basis (in no particular order):
Cuddle Bunny
Cuddle Monster
Cuddle Bug
Bunny Cat
Sat Sat
Satty Watty Doo Da

I think that covers it. And may I add that I am totally UN-apologetic about this. Do you have some nicknames for your cat? Let's hear 'em! Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Listening Meditation For Artists and Solo Creatives

I've always loved just going into parks and sitting quietly with the elements of nature around me. Even if I was still right next to a busy street! A few years ago, I began to develop a "listening meditation" while sitting in the park that I realized was fun as well as calming. I found it to be a great way to take a breather from intense work or when feeling anxious, tense or in need of a break in general. It is the kind of meditation that can really deepen the more you do it.

Read through it first. This is a long description, because I wanted to describe the subtleties and nuances of it. But the actual meditation is simple and easy to do.

First of all, start by going for a walk. That is always a great way to decompress from tension or worry. Breathe deeply from your belly. Walk to a place where you can be in nature. This can be a park, even a small one...You can actually do this anywhere, even a coffee shop, but it's especially nice out near some trees. Just be sure you can sit quietly without being disturbed. Let your eyes focus in a relaxed way as far into the distance as you can, such as at the sky, down the road to the furthest house you can see, or at the tops of trees. We usually do work that is close up, so this distance-focusing will help balance and relax the eye muscles. Be very gentle about it.

Keep breathing in a relaxed, yet deep way, down into the belly. Whenever you feel ready, start to listen to the sounds around you. Very slowly, and with gentle attention, begin discerning what you are hearing. Use your attention to distinguish the different bird calls you hear. You may be very surprised to realize there are quite a few different birds in the trees around you, all making different sounds. Then focus on what else you hear. Is there a road near you? What sounds are there? Different motors from trucks and cars, the sound of brakes or car doors? How about human sounds? Laughter, babies, women, men? How many dog sounds can you hear? There are also things like tree branches rustling, a paper bag blowing by, a chair being scraped across concrete. See if you can give your attention to actually counting the different sounds you hear (this is just a guide, no need to try to be exact!) Just sit quietly, listening and gently attentive for as long as you like.

This meditation can have a few benefits.
- It quiets the mind (in spite of being about sound!)
- If you feel agitated or anxious, it gives you something specific yet calming to focus on outside of yourself.
- It demonstrates the incredible abundance that is all around you all the time. All you need to do is draw your attention to it.
- It can give you a tremendous appreciation for the subtleties of the sense of hearing.

That's it! I hope you enjoy playing with this "listening meditation." Let me know what you think after you've tried it by leaving a comment. I would love to hear how it worked for you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Creativity, Taking Risks and Fennec Foxes

This animal is called a fennec fox. And this drawing was part of a talk I gave to artists twice this week. The talk was entitled "Enhancing Creative Power For Artists and Solo Creatives." One of the points of the talk was about the need to be willing to take risks, to maybe even look ridiculous. Case in point: For literally eons, Mother Nature hasn't seemed to worry about looking ridiculous at all when she designed the many incredible, yet real, creatures on this planet. In fact, she seems to throw caution to the wind. Mother Nature seems to believe that, like trying on clothes at the store, you just can't really tell till it's on. So elephant noses, hippopotamus heads and fennec fox ears demonstrate that you just never know. I did this drawing of a fennec fox for my talk, so that the little critter could be a symbol - the poster child, if you will - for taking risks and letting the results stand on their own. Here's to you and your creative experiments. Take risks, climb further out on that limb and give that crazy idea, whatever it is, a go.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Looking Inward. . . Creative Introspection

I once worked as an Assistant Art Director for a magazine that did interviews around the country. When the reporter came back from doing the interview, we would discuss which photos to use. Once, a conversation between a writer and myself revolved around deciding which direction we should face a portrait photo on the published page. Should the person face left? Right? We were going back and forth about it and he joked, "Why don't we have him look down?" Pretty funny statement for the dry material we were dealing with. To which I replied, "Why don't we have him look inward?" Ever the unwilling mystic, these kinds of statements would slip out of my mouth at times.

Up to about a hundred years ago, people were very, very busy growing their own food, protecting their homes from wild predators and making their own clothes and furniture to think about much else. That kind of focus then was applied to our jobs in the factory and office as culture shifted in that direction. Up until relatively recently in human history, there were usually just a few, isolated individuals who seemed, by some stroke of fate or luck to be able to not have to worry about the daily grind and could indulge in creative and quiet observations about human potential and higher concepts. They were assigned the societal role of "creative type." Yet they were simply doing what we all, always, have had the potential to do, if there had been any energy at the end of the day.

Often, "looking inward" involves prayer or meditation, for which people have traditionally had leaders that taught them how to do those things; what to think about, what the mantra was, who the ultimate hero in the story was, what your focus should be etc etc.

Clearly this is changing. We live in a beautiful new world which is becoming more so everyday, where each person can be their own "guru/priest/teacher/healer" going on their own inner journey to find their spiritual and creative gifts. This is fantastic. Still, it doesn't mean that we don't need teachers or guides. Taking that journey and looking inward has, like it always has had, a lot of ins, outs, ups and downs. It can be good to have a guide or teacher, or more than one at varying times in life.

But one of the most important things to remember when seeking a guide is that the seeking begins within you.

The questions start with you.

The answers will ultimately be found within you.

You may think that looking within yourself is too "simple," or too "close" for it to be significant on a journey as epic as your own life. In truth, inside is where the most promising treasures are waiting for you to discover them, as your true life journey unfolds.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Beloved Cat, 99, The Love of My Life, Gone But Never Forgotten

This is from the summer of 2009 of my beloved cat 99 looking out the window. What I love about the video is that the bright light coming through the window throws everything into shadow making a symphony of silhouettes accented with that patch of blue sky right at the top. (....and my studio, instead of looking just messy, looks interesting and mysterious....)

What I also love about the video is that I even took it. Because about 15 months later, last December 23, 2010 (a year almost to the day that this video was originally posted to Youtube) I had to put my most beloved cat 99 to sleep. She had an aggressive cancer, which she was able to live with for about two months after being diagnosed. This gave me time to spend with her and to adjust to her eventually being gone, time I really needed with her. 99 was a special cat... very smart....and there was a very special bond between us. She found me in 1995, on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, as a 6 week old kitten, and it was true love ever since. It has taken me over two months since her death to even speak of it online, but there you have it. The video is over a minute, and being almost without any sound (the sound was on, there simply was no sound around us during the taping) it has the quality of being like a meditation.