Groucho Marx said it well: “Don’t let the fear of the thorn keep you from the rose.” We’ve all experienced moments in life when we have been pricked by thorns in our quest for life’s beauty and goodness. When we have taken risks and been hurt as a result of our bravery.
There are always going to be those times Continue reading
A bus station is where a bus stops.
A train station is where a train stops.
On my desk, I have a work station.
Today? My desk is a work station.
[A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the second part of a sentence is unexpected in a way that gives one pause and causes one to re-frame the first part of the sentence.]
Autumn is here and “the weather” is officially transitioning into a new gap — a “fortunate combination” of longer nights, shorter days, weaker sunshine, and cooler breezes. The sun has lost some of its edge and the sunsets are migrating south — streaking the sky with their palette of perfection.
I sometimes wonder how so many days can slip by me with so little recall of significant events. Perhaps this is nature’s way of easing me into a new gap of deliberate appreciation. The inevitable onset of winter Continue reading
I caught myself fretting this morning. Fretting about nothing, really. In an attempt to distract myself and put all of this fretting aside, I now sit here in one of my favorite coffee shops and, the same as most days, put words on paper. Rarely do I sit here and do nothing. Mainly I think. Ideas and memories and perceptions are tossed around in some Binary Amphitheatre of the Surreal and the Real, whirling them around and shooting them out onto the page in salad-spinner style.
I find myself in this divergent universe . . . Continue reading
Here’s to Mondays and dancing and the Bee Gees. What a great way to spend your Monday morning . . . tapping your toes and Continue reading
Barbie Paper Dolls. Oh my. How I wanted these! Of course I look back on this grand desire of mine and I wonder why. I ask myself why this wonder woman with the impossible figure, cute clothes, and a long string of suitors so caught my attention . . . but maybe I just answered my own question. Barbie was, and very well might still be, the paragon of Cool and Smart. A model of Beauty and Sophistication. Fun and Adventure.
And she had the cutest clothes and shoes. Maybe it was this that so drew me into her Barbie world of pink Corvettes and hip pool parties. It was only implied that Barbie was wealthy, but how else could a girl be so cool, perpetually-unemployed, always ready to party, and have any boy she wanted. Her Funhouse did not come with a bundle of Barbie-size funny money, but we could all imagine her taking a bath in a tub of $100 bills. In short, Barbie was pretty danged cool to a little girl living in a North Dakota farm town.
In an effort to assist me in my realizing the Barbie Dream, my Big Sisters made us our own homemade paper dolls. These facsimiles may have failed miserably in the Cool Factor, but they made up for it exponentially in the Effort Department. While Mattel was not about to go busting down our door to rob us of our yet-to-be-patented North-Dakotan version of Barbie (a doll that swore freely in Polish, wore galoshes, and whipped up funeral hotdish to take to the church in her Barbie kitchen), the Dakota dolls earned an A+ in creativity and fine craftsmanship.
The dolls were made by meticulously cutting out desirable models featured in magazine advertisements, which were then glued to the equivalent of light poster board. I remember the girls using the light cardboard insert that came packaged with my father’s new shirts or the empty cereal boxes from the kitchen. Gluing the models to the cardboard was cause for concentration. It involved using the just-right amount of glue to prevent bubbling and wrinkling in the wrong places. We’re talking Knock-Off Barbies here with the end goal of Barbie Perfection, and the dolls could not afford an unseemly bubble or wrinkle in an inappropriate place.
After the glue had thoroughly dried, the laborious task ensued of cutting out the outlines of the dolls and the tricky spaces between the arms and the body for those models who held their hands on their hips. This was all done with blunt-tip school scissors and a pair of dull sewing shears that my mother kept by her sewing machine. We could not afford fancy craft knives, and our parents were not about to entrust the Big Girls with a box cutter. They used what they had, and I have to hand it to them for keeping a steady hand. While it would have been easier to have dolls with their arms glued to their sides or completely away from their bodies, the Big Girls were committed to their craft and kept the arms-akimbo models alive in our collection.
Next came the clothes. The dolls were traced to typing paper, and then cute dresses and pant suits were drawn and colored. My sisters had this process down. I suspect that there was a fair measure of failed attempts before they learned to put the doll face down on the paper so that the tracing lines could not be seen in the dress or top. Again, those arms-akimbo spaces had to be cut out carefully from all fashions. I now know why so many of the outfits were sleeveless — thus removing the necessity of cutting those spaces out of fragile paper.
And all I can say is a resounding Chapeau! to my sisters for learning how to place the fold tabs just so, ensuring that the dolls’ outfits would stay put and not just fall off. I am sure that Ken would have appreciated the latter consequence, but the big girls were fashionistas who wanted their designs to remain on the dolls. It was a lesson in critical thinking and trial-and-error, is all that I can think. I remember when one of my big sisters learned that if you cut the fold tabs with an added angle, the clothes stayed on even better. I fully expected this sister to go on and become a Barbie-style engineer, such were her talents with the Barbie clothes. Such was not the case, but she grew into one sharp cookie when it comes to design.
The sisters made faux-mink stoles and evening gowns. Gingham dresses and sweater sets. They made outfits for a picnic and for the repetitive First Dates with Ken. All I can say is Ken must have had a lot of imagination to create the illusion of a first date over and over and over. Either this or Barbie had suffered amnesia as a result of crashing her pink convertible. Still, either option explains why Barbie didn’t stray from Ken. Ken kept the relationship alive.
Ultimately, the dolls cut from the ads became templates for my sisters moving on in the design world and creating their own paper dolls from scratch. These dolls included Barbie’s trademark ponytail swirl and other popular hairdos at the time. They drew faces on the dolls and cleavage that would peek out of an evening gown. Some of the faces represented some of Modigliani’s or Picasso’s earlier work, but I didn’t care. And in spite of knowing that these dolls were a far cry from the delicate-featured authentic Barbie paper dolls, they certainly made me feel included — like I was part of a Girls Club that was all about being creative with what we had and not focusing on what we didn’t have.
Looking back, I wonder if I didn’t intuit and recognize a Deeper Authenticity in the paper dolls that my sisters made. What started out as Barbie knock-offs became their own style, their own brand. I remember them discussing which models from the ads would make a better sample or how to make a more tab-friendly swim suit. Perhaps it was the fashion discussions or watching their faces filled with preoccupation as they cut and traced that drew me in. Perhaps it was the girl-power camaraderie to which they allowed me, littlest sister, entrance.
I remember the dolls’ edges becoming mildly curled from an over-zealous pencil tracing the dolls one too many times for the Fashion Department. Once the edges on a doll began to curl, the clothes didn’t stay on so well . . . so new dolls needed to be made. And I, being the youngest and most lacking in fine motor skills, received the cast-off dolls. Talk about a win-win.
My preference now? What I wouldn’t give to come across some of the paper dolls that my sisters made. Alas, our house suffered a fire after we moved into town from our drafty, roomy, once-upon-a-time boarding house on the prairie. No paper dolls were recovered. But they live in my memory. And in my admiration for my big sisters who knew how to get creative when resources were scanty. I thought I wanted fancy and new and Mattel-sanctioned dolls that every other little girl in the consumer market had . . . but what I really wanted, and received, was the love from the Big Girls who were nice enough to include me in their World of Fashion and Creativity. Thank you, Sissies. I remember your creative kindness. It is the sort of thing that I will always want and treasure.
This is a good-to-watch TED talk from James Altucher.
His main points are really good to note:
If you don’t make the choices in your life, then someone else is going to end up making them for you. Someone else is going to end up making the choices for you, and they aren’t going to be as good as the choices that you make for yourself.
Failure is unpleasant. View it as an experiment.
4 distinct things that were working for him when he was on the way up:
1. Take care of your physical health: Sleep well, eat well, exercise well, laugh more. Make improvements incrementally that will improve your physical health.
2. Take care of your emotional health: Be around people that you love and trust and be around people that love and trust you.
3. Spiritual/creative gratitude: Complaining is draining. Express gratitude. Look on the sunny side.
4. Use your idea muscles. Use a waiter’s pad. Write down 10 ideas every day. Become an idea machine.
5. Share your ideas. Come up with 10 ideas for someone . . . for “x.” Give your ideas away with no expectation of them sharing back with you. Life changes by spreading your ideas like currency.
Interesting ideas. I especially like the idea of writing down 10 ideas every day and then giving them away. Altucher promises that life will change if we are generous with our ideas. Sounds good to me. For someone who keeps notebooks in every bag, purse, and pocket, I especially like #4. Now . . . the trick will be how to give them away.
I am not sure how this will materialize into action — this idea of giving away ideas — but I like the idea of thinking of ideas as currency. If ideas are currency, then many people I know and love are rich and wealthy. Idea Rich. I like it.
Woot! This makes me wealthy beyond wonder. Do I have ideas? Yes. I have been told that I have too many ideas and not enough follow through. Hmmmmm . . . maybe this is someone speaking who is simply envious of my wealth. Someone who wishes that s/he, too, could come up with a real purpose for dark matter or who could contrive an extraordinary purpose for eggshells or who could invent a gizmo for churning garbage disposal waste directly into the garden as compost.
Ideas. They are the things that grow and that grow us. We conceive them and then are oftentimes daunted by them. Who wants them? What do we do with them? How do we implement them? How do we move them out of notebooks and into the hands of people who will develop them into reality?
After all, I read once that there are Innovators and Implementers. And rarely shall the twain meet. I am an Innovator. It only follows that it is time to find an Implementer. Caution All Implementers: Ideas Ahead.
I don’t know. This is all tricky stuff for an Innovator. We are idea-based, not roll-up-your-sleeves-based. But it is time to start giving Ideas away. Perhaps not entirely unsolicited. I don’t want to wax eloquent to the stranger next to me on the ferry about my brain storm for the next Super Bowl ad . . . I can see them switching seats now. But I actually have one. It involves breakfast cereal and babies and all sorts of action moves. There. I just gave away one of my more brilliant ideas. Sweet! Only 9 more to share before the day is over.