Relaxing With Time

Relaxing With Time

I feel that I am a very lucky person. I appreciate all things in life from the small such as the smell of coffee when you open the bag to make a pot to the large such as getting a job you always wanted. I do not know if it is inherently me or my experiences in life that have opened my mind to all of these essences.

I know that I am too empathetic. I used to get in trouble in school for reading when my work was all done. It would have helped if the teacher knew my work was done. I would hide my book inside the text book in order to read my newest story. Well, I would then be crying or laughing out loud and give myself away by “disturbing” the class. I have difficulty with reading and seeing cruelty. It is not so much violence; I have no trouble with action scenes or battles, it is one being cruel to another at the expense of making a victim. Yes, I was always one to challenge the bullies if they were picking on somebody. I didn’t often take my size into consideration during these situations. I would be into it and defending then wonder why I was spectacularly flying through the air. Just so you know, I am a little hardheaded. The bullies would not know what to do when I picked myself up and ran right back into them. We usually ended in a truce of some sort and sometimes even friends, including the victims. I guess with a strong sense of empathy; negotiation and liaisoning were my strong suits…..

I am telling you this as I now find myself as a retiree from my primary work with the public school system. My last position with the school system was as a special education supervisor which required enormous amounts of negotiation and liaisoning. As these are my strong suits you would think this would be a perfect position for me. On the surface that would be true; but as a member of a tax supported organization, the odds were stacked. My defendants were the students. My work was to make sure the system was doing the appropriate instructional programming for those students. You would think that this would be straight forward but the position was one of no real authority over any of the parties involved, students, staff, parents, or even my own office. Now, I can handle a lot of “gray”; however, the ability to empathize and see all sides with clarity was slowly eroding my equilibrium. I was not in it for the fight of just winning cases. I was in the job for the students. When I found myself not able to recover enough to balance one situation to another and to appreciate even the little things in life, I knew I needed to move on. So, I have retired retaining my firm belief that the public school system will be there for the students.

I am once again focusing on the little things in life, the smell of the coffee, the feel of the wind on my face, the beauty of a sunset…. I am remembering all the positives of my career in education which bring joy to my heart and rest to my mind. I am relaxing with time preparing to create another adventure to be appreciated in my life.

The Human Factor

The Human Factor

In order to draw a crowd, or more specifically sell a product/idea, the creator seems to need to link the product with some type of connection to people. In the creative world, we tend to go beyond to just appealing to our sense of “betterment”. Our sense of “betterment” would be something that makes us faster, smarter, stronger, or more gorgeous to others. This seems to be just the beginning, appeal to the self. To really reach an audience, we are reaching deep to connect on a more basic level. We need you to care, the human factor.

Advertisers are no longer satisfied with just comparing their product with others in similar capacities. They are taking that white smile and showing how it will affect your relationships, your work and your health. Beer is no longer just a cooling beverage. It is about the bond you have for your puppy and if you care for your puppy you will care for this beer.

How about if that puppy can talk and share how it is feeling? Mr. Ed, “The Talking Horse”, was released in 1958 with a well received audience. In my opinion, Mr. Ed was a human from a horse’s perspective as much as we humans could ascertain that perspective. He was very popular. Just think about some of your favorite characters over time. What about even King Kong hanging onto the Empire State Building. I was in the group who was worried about King Kong and wanted them to stop shooting at him, we cared.

Science Fiction and Fantasy have relied upon the human factor for ages. How else can they get their audiences to accept these alien cultures and characters as being worthwhile of our attention. Now, granted, the majority of them have many human physical features such as faces and limbs. We have characters such as Chewbacca who is a member of a culture that has a history of its own. And,even though the developers are replacing the story line, for those of us who have read all the stories, I still cried when Chewbacca died! Chewbacca is a more concrete example. More recently, human feelings were animated with human features and characteristics. The amazing part is that we, the audience, found ourselves caring for the “feeling” characters almost more than the humans they were representing. Who wouldn’t want Sadness to be better?

Where we seem to be ambivalent is in the area of technology. We are willing to accept many things for technology to assume human characteristics and emotions as well as humans caring for characters of technology. I do not believe the “Terminator” stories would have been so successful without the human factor. Interestingly enough, in order for more “successful” terminators to conquer, they had to be less human. We even have more positive responses to “Iron Man” because the more human like responses from the mechanical arms in Stark’s lab and his interactions with them. Of course we have all those robots we love such as “R2D2, C-3PO, Number 5 is alive, etc.”. Most of these robots were thinking on their own, problem solving and displaying feelings, just the characteristics to solicit our caring.

For some reason we do not think that those lovable robots are examples of artificial intelligence even though they are thinking and problem solving. They are still subject to the whims of the humans for being “wiped”. Not sure if that is it, but a possibility. After all, the robots do seem to care for their human counterparts as well as each other. I have no claim to have researched or read the developments of artificial intelligence. I just know in our products/ideas we struggle to define the lines of humanity and machine. We seem to want to make artificial intelligence characters the most humanlike yet depict them with the least emotions and connections. I think of these characters as sociopaths, humans without empathy or conscience. Sociopaths are depicted as our most feared criminals as they do not seem to be able to be influenced or redeemed. Often their own behavior is self destructive in the long run. They simply do not care, no or minimal human factor. This seems to be where we are mostly stuck with artificial intelligence characters which is often why they seem to be so frightening. We want them to care so that we can care to capitalize on the human factor.

Every Single Minute

Every Single Minute

My brother once said to me that he knew he was expendable by the time he was nine. My response to him was that he beat me; because, I made the discovery the summer I turned ten. I cried off and on for two weeks. Incredibly you grow up pretty fast under these circumstances. Life became more than precious to me; it resonated in finiteness. It was here where I began my crazy relationship with time.

It was with great frustration the first time I picked up an organization book. Stunned, I read that we should be multi-tasking. My first reaction was to burn the book. I have been multi-tasking since my age was in a single digit! What genius thought this up? I was hoping to be able to not have to multi-task all day long. Yet, I persevered learning a few tips on arranging things to be more efficient.

Then I got into all the goal setting books being driven by higher personal motivators. These systems are just so complex with so many different layers, I had to draw diagrams in order to know how to apply the systems’ diagrams. There were altitudes, guiding principles, levels, numbers, four squares……….one even had an elephant in it; one of my favorites. All of them accounting for time in a day, week, month, year and beyond while trying to link the higher internal human principles of actualization to time. Being highly creative and hyperactive might explain why I had some difficulties with this. I need structure to be productive but seem to fight against it at the same time. Hence, my ever seeking a system that will work for me. The strange part is I don’t seem to have a problem getting things done. Yes, I do procrastinate at times; but, it is usually because I am still working on the task in my head.

Seeing things in my head may indeed be the problem. That 3D space is just not converting to the 2D space of planning. I do not make lists well. Every time I sit down to make a list I can’t seem to remember what goes on it. I have to do a visualization exercise to bring the items to mind. I just seem to be maintaining a running record in my head of all the tasks or actions, as some systems call them, that I need to do over time. I do know that the systems’ objective is for you to get all the organizational outcomes out into a system to free your mind.

Being free would certainly be desirable. In the meantime, I will continue my exploration of organizing and managing time. Maybe, as the precious resource of time ticks away, I should be looking more into my own outcomes instead of trying to account for every single minute.


Click, click.
Click, click.
Click, click.
Click, click.
Click, click.
Wham! I smacked the pen out of the slim manicured hand. Aaaagh, crack! My head bounced off the tram car window as warm liquid spurted over my mouth.

Click, click, click, click,click, click………
“Run!” Darren whispered harshly.
Kids scattered everywhere as they heard Mrs. Drew’s high heels on the hard floor.

Above in the eaves of the attic ceiling the giant spiders lay waiting for their prey. A quiet shuffling of many feet came up the stairs.
”Quiet” whispered Lyle.
The group quickly found hiding places behind the furniture in the darkest corners of attic believing they were safe. Faintly a sound could be heard coming closer. Fast and faster it came as from many little nails.
Click, click, click. click, click, click, click, click ………….

Where do we go with each of these story events? Each passage uses the same sound for different reasons but moves the story forward in a simple way. Which direction can you take a simple click?


Through the Fog:

Billowing, cold, steamy, misty, thin, thick, echoing, hushed, fog comes with as many characteristics as necessary to describe the current mood, scene, setting, location or even a feeling. Which one often tells the story.

Panting, we continued to run over the terrain our hair dripping with the collecting dampness. They were catching up rapidly as we could hear the horses’ hoof beats on the ground. There were only humans chasing us but we would need a miracle to escape. Then then the fog rolled in.

The shapes of the cargo appeared out of the fog on the deck of the ship. Only the most seasoned sailors could manage the trek on deck in this thickness. “Breooooh”, the mournful cry of the fog horn rebounded through the air. Knowing we were near land was vital information and absolutely critical for our survival. We had the luck that our captain knew these shores and the underwater rock formations and fortunately our pursuers did not.

Trying to keep my footing as I rapidly walk through the park to my next appointment. Ugh, I stepped in the mud again. The thick mist keeps hiding the path which I thought I knew like the back of my hand. Focus. Focus. This meeting could change the rest of my life. The mist sure is billowing around the lights. Lights? What lights? There aren”t any lights in this part of the park, especially like those. Where am I……?

So, what does fog say to you?



The whole idea of layers has crept up on me slowly surfacing in my thoughts at various unexpected times. I am recalling as a child when playing in the mud on a rainy day starting a construction with a base. Using the base adding the different textures of mud by adding the amount of water I wanted to create the mud project I was working on. My brother and I would play together making comics. He was the artist drawing the pictures and I was the author filling in the dialog and commentary. Without any training at all, we worked in layers adding simple outlines first then filling in the details as we narrowed down our story. I’ve also been thinking about how nature is also arranged in layers from its tiniest components to our largest mountains although the arrangement is structured spherical. Now, of course, I am a “why” person. So I asked myself: “Why are you thinking about all these things?”

I had not realized I was actually thinking about the concept of layers until one day in one of our Infinite Cortex Creation meetings we were discussing possibly using a different production program. During our discussions, the boys were using all kinds of illustrations with grids, figures, rotations, pieces of figures, lighting, depth, shading, and angles. They were asking each other specific questions then one would bring up a project he was working on and the discussion would roll forward on the capabilities of the program again. Now, not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty adept at visualizing in 3D (How I passed organic chemistry pretty easily before there was computer modeling.). As we completed our discussion during this part of the meeting I was still “seeing” the elements when I was asked about the back story of one of the characters in Gellini. I shifted my visualizing to “seeing” Gellini without missing a beat. Whoa! Writers create in layers too.

As I saw Gellini moving through her story, she was not in a void. She was moving through a space and time creating a climate. Gellini, too, has a back story or, if you will, a history. Writers, it seems, draw on their ideas, then begin a process of developing the layers to support the story or nonfiction outcomes they have targeted. As with any creationeer process, writers differ on how they go about creating their layers per personality, training, project, process, and a whole host of other variables.

If we take a look at any “How To _____” book on almost any subject, it is broken down into layers. You may argue that a talented person does not need all those layers. I would argue back. Study any known talent’s process and discover the work that you see. There is a rare one who does not work meticulously on specific elements and are often more ruthless on their expectations of themselves than others would be. The talent may not have been able to tell you what they were doing but they were naturally developing their own process of layers. My grandfather was a gifted wood carver and broke down the process to teach other people. When complimented, he would defer and just say, he used the same process as he was teaching, he just came by it more intuitively.

A Few Thoughts

And a Few Thoughts…….

We writers write but the words do not always come easy. I am not talking about that lament, writers block. I am discussing the process of writing words that have meaning and convey the essence of their intent. In order to do this, most writers practice.

When I think back to learning to write in school, I frequently felt like a fish out of water, to use a cliche. There were all these rules. How to begin and end sentences. What kind of sentences to use. How to link sentences together. Then, oh my gosh, heaven help you if you put enough sentences together for a paragraph. Then one paragraph had to lead to another with the first introducing the rest and finally a concluding paragraph. Whew!

At first, I resisted this dogma. I just wanted to tell my stories. I guess I had enough of a natural flow that my work was acceptable. I used a pretty well developed vocabulary for a poor neighborhood school, i.e. those high influential words that teachers like. Then something happened along the way. I learned how to diagram sentences. This was fun. Seeing all the relationships of the words and the different meanings added whole new dimensions to the words. These relationships gave the words power. Not to mention I liked to draw all the lines and shapes to put the words into the diagrams.Well, if the relationships of the words to each other was a so important than maybe I needed to pay attention to some of the other dogma. What was I missing?

I opened myself up to the instruction and the power of the words and the intent of their use. It is amazing to me that that the use and definitions are as varied as the people using them not to mention the people receiving them. No matter how carefully you craft your words; the readers decide what they mean to them. This goes for simple instructions, advertising, sayings, jokes, novels to nonfiction works. So, we practice writing just like any other field, art, science or craft. We hone our words to convey our meanings, set a tone, describe a setting, have a character feel, draw you into a story or even get you mad at it, so many reasons to practice.

Now to practice, after all we are back to that grade school mechanic of the sentence starter and my resistance sets in again. There are books and books and articles and other media loaded with these things. I have this problem. When the sentence is started for me, I go blank. Back to chucking the tried and true for me. For me, I just need to let my thoughts loose! Set them free and snag one that seems interesting. Using my senses to the area around me often stimulates the next thought for description. And so a few thoughts can be the next book, game, article or just a damn good writing practice.

On The Wind

I have been thinking about the wind in many ways lately. The wind engages our senses and sets the environment for our characters or is even the character and main event of many stories.

Old man wind sighs.
The North wind blows.
A bitter cold wind aches.
A soft spring wind whispers.
The dry desert wind strips the moisture from the skin.
A putrid smell lofted in the air from the sewers.
The acrid metal tang of blood arrived on the wind announcing the battlefield.
The storm arose as the wind lashed the shutters.
The crew worked liked robots, thank the gods, as the winds howled drowning out the Captain’s orders.
The wind lifted the feathers lightly in her gentle hands.
We lay becalmed losing all hope until I felt the hairs on my arm lifted by a silent breeze.

We experience this phenomenon every day of our lives being so essential to that state of being. When working our stories it can be present as a vital part or absent as a silent partner. On rare occasions a story is taking place entirely inside as an element then even the absence can have an effect.

The wind can indicate time in eroding and changing the landscape. The seasonal locations or the erosion planes. The trick is not forgetting it is there until the storm is over.

Creating What You Know: Dali

As I have been exploring many of the questions that we use to journey through a creation as well as how a person thinks, I was sharply reminded recently of one of the most frequent pieces of advice by other professionals in creative fields. Use what you know.

Last month, Mark and I visited the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. We viewed his work from when he was young and just beginning through an impressionistic period, the long strong surrealistic period and on to a more traditional catholic/religious period. Now, prior to and since all three of our sons have become artists, we have viewed many works of many artists. I find myself becoming more “critical and objective”, of course, from my point of view!

We did not have a great deal of time so we joined a tour which is something we do not usually do. What struck me as I sifted through the tour guide’s words while gazing at Dali’s works is that Dali had a fascination with the human condition from our base needs (ingestion, digestion and elimination), emotion (terror, anger, love, joy, hysteria, mania, depression, obsession, guilt and hopelessness) and relationships often including sex. All this in the backdrop of catholic Spain.

Dali seemed to know curves and more than one way to look at a subject. He anchored this knowledge more strongly through his relationship with Gala, his wife. She evidently is acknowledged as his muse. She also appears over and over again in his works; therefore, he was using what, in this case a who, he knew to guide his creations. I do not know if this was the intent of the curated tour or just my impression but it seemed to me that as Dali aged, his final projects were more about his relationship to Gala than whatever the contracted work intended.

Our family has always loved what we have always called Dali’s “magic” pictures which are the illusions where when you look one way you see one picture and you look another you get a totally different image. Many would have a hard time looking at surrealistic art and see that Dali was using what he knew. Next time you view a creation of Dali’s look into it and I think you will see.

Remembering ……..

When creating, the advice is to use what you know. This can be disconcerting when you are trying to create about events you do not have any experience with. Recently I was reading the author’s commentary in the back of a book and this author was commended by the publisher for conveying the feel of a foreign city to which he had never been. He responded by talking about the research he had done. There was protest due to the details he had used in the story. In defense he talked about “superpowers”. I began thinking about this.

Of course he has superpowers! He is a creationeer! Did he really not use what he knew? I don’t think so. I believe he worked his art of detail into the facts of research to support the story he created. What does that all mean?!

STOP. Close your eyes and just remember how a cool breeze felt on the skin of your bare arm. Focus on that feeling. Put that feeling into your character. Move outward with that meaning for that character in that setting for your story. I do not know about you but my mind is making those memory links all the time. There is a certain type of wind and temperature where I am automatically hearing the clanking of stays on boats in a harbor. There is another and I am hearing the sounds of blades on ice. You get the idea. The “superpower” is to link those details into the researched setting in a natural way of the character’s experiences.

This author was so successful at doing this that people who lived in the location could not believe he had not been there. Using these details is just as important when creating pretend places. In order to create believability and bring your audience into your world usually there needs to be some resonance. It can be so subtle that it is not even acknowledged. Maybe that is where remembering the very essence of the tiniest detail, implied or explicit, has a place in creation.