Sunday, April 13, 2014



Saturday, March 29, 2014

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

This post is an excerpt from an article on The Huffington Post which I saw on one of my favorite blogs:  The Lettered Cottage on 3/8/14

As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional).  In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways, and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works. And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine.  And it’s not just a stereotype of the tortured artist – artists really may be more complicated people.

They daydream.
 Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time.

They observe everything.
 They see possibilities everywhere….that becomes fodder for creative expression.

They work the hours that work for them.
 …individuals with high creative output will often figure out what time it is that their minds start firing up, and structure their days accordingly.

They take time for solitude.
 …this links back to daydreaming – we need to give ourselves the time alone to simply allow our minds to wander.

They turn life’s obstacles around.
 Many of the most iconic stories and songs… have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak – and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art.

They seek out new experiences.
 …intellectual curiosity, thrill seeking, openness to your emotions, openness to fantasy.  The thing that brings them all together is a drive for cognitive and behavioral exploration of the world, your inner world and your outer world.

They  fail up.
 Resilience is practically a prerequisite for creative success. Doing creative work is often described as a process of failing repeatedly until you find something that sticks.

They ask the big questions.
 Creative people are insatiably curious – they generally opt to live the examined life and even as they get older, maintain a sense of curiosity about life.  Whether through intense conversation or solitary mind-wandering, creatives look at the world around them and want to know why, and how, it is the way it is.

They people-watch.
 They’re keen observers of human behavior.

They take risks.
 Creativity is the act of making something from nothing.  It requires making public those bets first placed by imagination.  This is not a job for the timid.

They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.
 Creativity is nothing more than an individual expression of your needs, desires and uniqueness.

They follow their true passions.
 They’re motivated to act from some internal desire, rather than a desire for external reward or recognition.

They get out of their own heads.
 …inducing psychological distance -- that is, taking another person’s perspective or thinking about a question as if it was unreal or unfamiliar -- can boost creative thinking.  

They lose track of time.
 Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness.

They surround themselves with beauty.
 A study recently published…showed that musicians – including orchestra musicians, music teachers, and soloists – exhibit a high sensitivity and responsiveness to artistic beauty.

They connect the dots.
 If there is one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it’s the ability to see possibilities where others don’t – or, in other words, vision.

They constantly shake things up.
 Diversity of experience, more than anything else, is critical to creativity.

They make time for mindfulness.
 Creative types understand the value of a clear and focused mind – because their work depends on it.  Many artists, entrepreneurs, writers and other creative workers have turned to meditation as a tool for tapping into their most creative mind.

Written by Carolyn Gregoire
Photo:  cover shoot Kid's Gotta Do CD titled Parade (Matt Kalicky & Dave Lyden)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Four Hangers and a Radio

My dear friend’s parents were moved into assisted living.  In the course of a short month, or to them the longest month of their lives, my friend’s Mom died and her Dad didn't want to go on without her.  Her Dad is a stable, loyal, hardworking, sturdy and steadfast Mainer in his eighties. For this man to be reduced to such sadness was difficult to accept and witness.  

Their home up north sits on a hill overlooking potato farms, fields, and an occasional long road.  It sits empty.  A lifetime, their life, haunting those walls and mounds of snow in the front yard. 

There was basketball and skiing.  There were seemingly endless mornings, days of work and school and college. Days of winter, days of summer, heat, cold, sun, rain.  There was love and laughter, tears and frustrations, meals and Christmases and birthdays, and wonderful whoppie pies – a recipe that can’t be shared because it’s a family secret. 

My friend’s Dad was an avid reader.  He loved history and to learn.  Now, his eyesight is nearly gone.  Of course, it’s to be expected that what you use the most would get used up in eighty-odd years, but it is the cruelest of hoaxes, isn’t it?  To lose what you covet the most, what brings you the most pleasure, to have your pleasure taken from you, your eyesight, your physique, the love of your life.  You once thought her the most beautiful girl in the world and over years and years, you watch her age and wither and fail. 

As my friend, her sister and brother emotionally left their home for the assisted living facility that day, they watched their father carry four hangers and a radio.  Some furniture would be brought to their apartment once they got through the waiting list and their apartment became available; the kids carried his suitcase of clothes.  Her brother watched his Dad settle into the passenger seat of their car, deflated, defeated, sad. 

“What’s the point?” her brother asked of her… or maybe just to himself. 

“You work and try and push hard your whole life and this is what it comes down to?  Four hangers and a radio?” 

The entire family shifted that day…the day they walked their parents away from home and into assisted living.  

Photo:  Mount Washington, NH 

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Last Day

So, the night before we flew to Savannah, Georgia, to bring my second son to college, I made one of his favorite meals – shrimp scampi, garlic toast, blueberry pie.  

I spent the entire day with him – shipping the bike with some unexpected set-backs that were OK since we had the whole day.  We packed the 52-pound suitcase – otto, gotta shave 2 pounds out of there.  We packed it business-like, no emotion for either of us as I suggested the electronics, the nice pants and tie “just in case,” the chargers, photos of friends…and what about the photo of the four of us? 

And then he wanted the graduation scrapbook, just like his older brother had when he left for college.  But there was no way that was going to fit.  

Some things needed to be left behind….. 

I suggested he call his grandparents for five or ten minutes to let them know we were off.   And when that didn’t pan out due to our own errands and then spending a couple hours with his friend before leaving, I suggested he email the incredible mask drawing he just completed on his tablet.  I said his grandparents (and I) would love to have it.  It was a gorgeous drawing. 

Although I think sometimes Facebook makes me sad and feel inadequate and addicted, the comments from “friends” about Ben’s leaving really bolstered my spirits and my courage.  All can be good.  My “friends” reminded me of that.  

All their enthusiasm for where Ben is going and what Ben is doing…and how right it is for him….got me in the right (needed) frame of mind to close the suitcase, get on the plane with him, breathe deeply, and take this next leg of the journey, one baby step at a time.

Photo:  waiting....Portland International Airport

Friday, February 14, 2014

Drunk on Love....Is How I Want to Live

(This article was also posted on Valentines Day)

A little background -- in 2014, I’ll be married 28 years to a man I dated for 11 years prior.  We met at the age of 13; we are turning 52 this year. 

He is still my confidante and best friend.  No one will love me more deeply than he has – not even my own mother. 

I don’t know why the universe presented this man for me, first time out of the gate.  I don’t know where we found the fortitude to understand what “relationship” meant so young, but we both intuitively knew.  We knew the work it took, every single day – the patience, the kindness, the loyalty.  And we’ve both worked at it for thirty-nine years. 

 Now the story -- I love the country band Little Big Town. 

On an early morning run in January, 18 degrees (balmy in Maine after a winter of negative temperatures), I listened to their new song, Sober, oh, maybe twelve times in a row.  The entire two miles.  I tend to do that when something gets in my head. 

While listening and running on that gray winter morning, I laughed, smiled, sang out loud (badly) and thrashed my arms.  

This is what came to mind as I listened:

When we got married, Frank wanted our wedding dance to be This is The End by the Doors.  You can imagine my smirking face at that one.  I didn’t think so.    

Second choice – Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones.  The romantic in me loved that he suggested that.  Mick sings “wild horses couldn't drag me away….”  Wow.  Is that what he was thinking?

But nada.  I couldn’t, at the tender age of 24, have The Rolling Stones sing our wedding song.  It just didn’t fit, I thought. 

And yet, for 28 years, I’ve remembered that, and you know what….it does fit.  It should have been our song….because it was what HE was thinking.  And that he was thinking that was just beautiful. 

Silly me.

Now, Little Big Town in 2014 sings this song, Sober, that I run to and, for me, this is our wedding song at our 28 year anniversary.  All pretenses have fallen away and now it’s just real.  Our love is not a dream or a hope; it’s our reality.


I want to walk that line a little crooked
And live my life a little on the rocks
Laugh at every time I fell
Not afraid to make a fool of myself
And keep on dancing when the music stops

Cause I love being in love
It’s the best kind of drug
Drunk on the high leaning on your shoulder
Sweet like wine as it gets older
When I die, I don’t want to go sober

Oh, when I die, I don’t want to go sober

You’re like drinking from a never ending bottle
When I think it’s gone, there’s always a little more left
Lay back with you, and close my eyes

Let the big old world just spin on by
And saying your name with my last breath

I love being in love
It’s the best kind of drug
Drunk on the high leaning on your shoulder
Sweet like wine as it gets older
When I die, I don’t want to go sober

Oh, when I die, I don’t want to go sober*

What I know for sure at this age is what John Lennon told us so many years ago – all you need is love.  Love has opened the space that allowed me to become the person I’m meant to be.

Loving someone isn’t necessarily easy; it isn’t always romantic….but I’d rather be drunk on love than anything else because it fills me up.  I can let down my defenses, be silly, sloppy, sad.  I can laugh, stumble, and know someone is there to pick me up if I need it.

If I can die inebriated with the passion we’ve shared, the commitment, the effort, the ups & downs weathered as a team – what more could I want? 

Love may not be rational or on the straight and narrow….but that’s the beauty of it.  Drunk on love, as messy as it may get, is how I want to live. 

At 52, when I hear Little Big Town sing it, I get it.   

*Little Big Town. "Sober." By Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna.
Tornado. Capital Records Nashville, 2012. CD.

Photos:  Paris and Chartres, France

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I've always loved the snow.  

The changing of the seasons is so suited to my personality.  I used to think the seasons of renewal, heat and lethargy, dying and decay, and then solitude/darkness, were suited to all humans' personalities just like the change from night into day back into night.  

However, as I've aged, I've become more open minded, and in the process learned that not every one thinks like I do or feels like I do...which is a good thing.  That's what makes our world and our relationships with one another workable and pleasurable.  How boring it would be if we were all the same. 

For me, winter is one of my better seasons.  

As someone who craves solitude and works creatively, pulling inward is invigorating, not lonely or depressing.  What I've seen, experienced and felt all summer, I stew on, chew on, reflect and remember, and visualize during the winter months.  Summer is when I live it; winter is when I ponder it.

In summer, I feel compelled to be outside whenever the sun is out.  Our bad weather in Maine is the majority of the year, so I cannot miss a moment of the warmth and the sun of summer days.  I wouldn't take, what I consider, the luxury of working quietly and creatively inside, on a summer day. 

...when winter arrives, I'm ready for it and know it has its place in my psyche and my day-to-day activities.  

For me, winter holds a valuable and treasured space.    

Photos:  Marginal Way, Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Personal Buoyancy"

Having just read the most captivating article in the January 2014 issue of Maine magazine about Dr. Edison Liu, President and CEO of Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, I have latched onto and borrowed his term for his unique theory on “doing good”  --  personal buoyancy.

Now picture a lobster pot bobbing on the frigid winter waves or a large red metal buoy in Casco Bay that the island ferries navigate around.  Their buoyancy allows them to be fluid, going up and down with the tides, not rigidly cemented.  They go up, they go down, again and again. 

Dr. Liu says in the article:  “What’s best for you in your life?  Being three feet under water or thirty feet?  We each swim best when we’re buoyant.  To find your personal buoyancy you have to know what your composition is and what equipment you have that allows you to swim.”

At middle age, I’ve become too rigid.  Past experiences have begun to weigh me down, and I’m carrying them as though they were the truth.  When I was young, I was more the sponge – taking it all in, trying to determine the truth.  I was learning and growing.  After so many years, I’ve come to some conclusions…..when I think perhaps I shouldn’t have.  I know now they’re not necessarily true.

I should remain the sponge.  I should let some of the weight of these beliefs go and try to return to the innocence of the novice.  The novice bobbed along the waves – fluid, with an ability to bounce back quickly, forgive, change course.  The novice had a demeanor of buoyancy….and hope, optimism.

My 2014 resolution has morphed.  I now seek buoyancy – knowing what I’m composed of and what my equipment is so that I can float…and ultimately, fly.

Photo:  Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine