Tag Archives: creativity stories

Creativity: Taking risk & stretching self

How do you think about risk?

Do images of hang gliding or dying on Mount Everest come to mind? Does it mean an activity where one false move can mean death for you? The truth is risk doesn’t need to involve danger. Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty. “Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, unmeasurable and uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty” says Wikipedia. Risk can be defined as “activities with uncertain outcomes.”

The ability to take calculated risks is an essential human trait, crucial to our development. Our risk-taking ancestors were the successful survivors who took chances to adapt to their changing environment. And today, the same principle applies, “To grow, we need to experience challenges — whether we’re 4, 14, or 40” says psychologist Michael Ungar. I’d add–until our dying breath.

Facing things that make us uncomfortable has advantages, whether we succeed or fail: we become more emotionally resilient, confident, satisfied, and engaged with life. We don’t have to parachute from a plane (thank God!) to reap the benefits of taking risks. Choosing to be creative everyday means taking some risk. Any time we pay attention to areas of our life that feel challenging, lacking or intriguing to us– we can choose to take some risk. Whether that means being open to the universe to find a new mate after a divorce or to change our artistic medium in order to better express ourselves on an easel. We embrace the adventure of uncertainty. “Do one thing every day that scares you,” Eleanor Roosevelt said.

Will taking a risk cause anxiety? Yes!

Researcher Hans Selye found there are actually two kinds of stress: Distress is a negative stress and eustress is a positive stress. “Eustress,” or healthy anxiety motivates or focuses our energy. Healthy anxiety is “just right” anxiety; the kind we need to be creative. Too much anxiety becomes toxic to our performance, paralyzing it. Too little anxiety is toxic as well, as it puts us in an “I’m bored” state. So the level of risk we choose to take should include “just right” anxiety for us. This will look different for you than it does for me, but for both of us, it will involve a “stretch” from our head, heart or gut center (or all three).

Pioneer Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard explains in his 1844 treatise that anxiety is the dizzying effect of freedom, of paralyzing possibility, of the boundlessness of one’s own existence. He writes, “Anxiety is altogether different from fear and similar concepts that refer to something definite, whereas anxiety is freedom’s actuality as the possibility of possibility.”

We intuitively know that our best learning occurs just beyond our comfort zone from our heart, head or gut perspective. That’s what happened to me when I left my corporate job after 19 years. I had to take a big risk, relinquish the golden handcuffs, and take a leap of faith into the deep unknown. Through the process I discovered more passions: living off the grid in the mountains, building a rustic cabin, trail running on old mining paths and meeting my soul mate whom I would marry. There is always a sense of satisfaction that emerges from trying something entirely new and proving ourselves to be capable of the task. Creativity is born!

Perhaps the coolest benefit of taking a risk is that it’s simply fun. Neuroscientists explain this bliss with biochemistry: New, challenging, and risky activities trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that’s part of the brain’s reward system. Call risk taking the ultimate antidote to boredom. It’s the best way (I am aware of) to wake up and feel fully alive. We can have a say in our destiny—by taking a risk– versus being dominated by our circumstances. Indeed every chance we take teaches us something about ourselves and leads us mysteriously along our long term creative path.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. As Vincent van Gogh said, People are often unable to do anything, imprisoned as they are in I don’t know what kind of terrible, terrible, oh such terrible cage.”

Any risks you’ve taken you’d like to share– that reaped you creative benefits?  Was the risk from a head, heart or gut perspective? Happy risk taking.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Read more in my book and my website: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut.

Writers–A must watch interview–S.King & GRRM

This is a great video of Stephen King and George R. R. Martin interviewing each other that you simply must check out. Why? Well first of all– they are two great authors of our time.

King has published 54 novels and six non-fiction books and has written nearly 200 short stories. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine. His novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was the basis for the movie The Shawshank Redemption which is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for 7 Oscars in 1995

George R. R. Martin is best known for his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was later adapted into the wildly popular HBO dramatic series Game of Thrones. Martin has been called “the American Tolkien”and Time Magazine named him one of the “2011 Time 100,” a list of the “most influential people in the world.” GRRM (as he is known) lives in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico– we are blessed by his very generous community presence and participation!

Second of all–these two authors have opposite writing styles: King writes several books a year and Martin infuriates his fans due to his slow writing pace. This leads Martin asking King a question he’s always wanted to know regarding his writing process.

It’s a great example of how there is NOT one writing style that works: On one end of the spectrum some authors work freely–“organically,” and on the other end–other authors structure detailed outlines (skeletons) that they follow and add dramatic meat to (like James Patterson).

Enjoy the highly entertaining conversation between these two funny characters: At nearly an hour-long, this spontaneous and friendly interview dives into the details of both author’s writing crafts. The two discuss each others work, aspects of their personal life, writing interests and more. Warning: there is profanity.

Which of these two authors do you more resonate with and why? Please do share your thoughts about their interesting discussion.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

King, Rowling, Angelou: How to Write Successfully

Do  you love top 10 lists? I find them hard to resist on topics I’m passionate about. Today I have chosen three videos of top 10 rules from three iconic writers: Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Maya Angelou.

Every time I watch Stephen King “live” I find myself laughing out loud–really loud!–the writer comes off as an extroverted stand up comedian. King needs little introduction, he is an American author of contemporary horror, science fiction, and fantasy and has sold more than 350 million copies. A favorite King quote of mine is:

Stephen King’s Top 10 Rules For Success: Be sure not to miss #10!
 


Ms Rowling is a British superstar novelist and best known as the author of the unprecedented Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. In 2004, Forbes named her as the first person to become a billionaire by writing books! A favorite Rowling quote of mine is:

 J.K. Rowling’s Top 10 Rules For Success: Don’t miss her #4 insight!


Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She’s best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. For me she pierces the heart with her words–always poetic–and so inspiring they sweep me away. I simply adore Maya Angelou! My favorite quote of Maya’s:

Be sure not to miss #10 of this Maya Angelou video!

I thank Evan Carmichael for making these useful and heart-felt video collages. Its simply amazing what you can find on the internet–from creative people for free–for inspiration!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

Happy Independence Day! Surprising facts about July 4th

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY America!

AMERICA–We are celebrating a very special day symbolic of US!

Many may not know these interesting (!) FACTS about this unique day–DID YOU KNOW?

Continental Congress actually approved the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain on July 2. But it was on July 4 that the Declaration of Independence was officially signed in 1776.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence made July 4 our official independence day, but also the deaths of two of our founders cement it. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, former U. S. presidents, BOTH passed away on July 4th in the same year, 1826. They were bitter political enemies–until retirement, when they became close–writing each other more than 150 letters. Even more amazing is that both died by a difference of five hours and both knew that the other was on their deathbed. Their intimate and intellectual genuine friendship is an inspiration. We can move–upward and onward–beyond petty politics!

July 4 is also Liberation Day in Rwanda. The Rwandan Genocide ended this day in 1994 and birthed a new government. Heroes in Rwanda’s Patriotic Army overthrew the Hutu’s regime. This date also started their trajectory of success to the present day and beyond.

What do July 4th and Mount Everest have in common? George Everest was born July 4th, 1790–after whom the world’s highest mountain is named. This is the favorite mountain where so many are willing to die to climb to the peak! Such wonder and breath-taking beauty!

What else is unusual about July 4th?

The usual date of Earth’s “aphelion,” when our orbit is furthest from the sun is—you guessed it! –July 4. There is that mighty and symbolic independence again!

Also coincidentally, on July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a great story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

It has been estimated that 150 million hot dogs will be eaten in the US in today’s celebrations. (I didn’t say we have good taste…)

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT–JULY 4TH IS OUR AMAZING DAY… ENJOY IT!

And I’m sending lots of love out to (especially) the ladies of Rwanda, this is YOUR day. Sending joy and success to all today!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

What has 8 eyes?

Spiders seem to define the ultimate in creativity. True spiders of the order Araneae are the largest group of carnivorous animals on Earth!

YES, ALL SPIDERS ARE PREDATORS. They hunt and capture prey–mostly other insects and other invertebrates, but some large spiders may even prey on vertebrates such as birds.

Why are spiders fantastically successful as hunters? There are many reasons. One might think it is because most spiders have 8 EYES. Even so, the fact is few have good eyesight. Instead they rely on touch, vibration and taste stimuli to navigate and find their prey.

This jumping spider’s main center pair of eyes are very acute. The outer pair are “secondary eyes” and there are other pairs of secondary eyes on the sides and top of its head. Photo by JJ Harrison

Head of a Net-casting Spider, Deinopis. Photographer:Reg Morrison

Most spiders detect little more than light-dark intensity changes. Some spiders have median eyes that detect polarized light and they use this for hunting.

Eye shine from a Wolf Spider, Photographer: Jim Frazer

Spider’s eight eyes are typically placed in two rows, on the front of their carapace. Their direct eyes, or AME, differ markedly in structure from their other indirect eyes (ALE, PLE, PME). The direct eyes appear dark, whereas the indirect eyes usually have a layer of light reflecting crystals, behind the light sensitive retina, giving these eyes a silvery appearance.

Tropical Jumping Spiders are spider specialists. They prey on both hunting and web building spiders. Photographer: Robert Jackson

The following are more stunning photographs of the jumping spider, captured by macro photographer Thomas Shahan.

For a few spiders, good vision is vital for hunting and capturing prey and for recognizing mates and rivals. They include the day active jumping spiders (Salticidae), the flower spiders (Thomisidae), the wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and net-casting spiders (Deinopidae), more often seen by twilight or later at night.

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You may ask “why 8 eyes?” Burke museum curator Rod Crawford explains, “It almost certainly has nothing to do with the 8 legs… While 99% of spiders do have 8, almost 1% have 6, and a few have 2 or 0. All harvestmen and solpugids have 2… The functions of the 4 different eye-pairs vary widely among different groups of spiders. Details would be a whole dissertation in itself.”

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You guessed it–there is no universal answer as to why spiders have 8 eyes. We’ll just leave it with, “mother nature has her reasons,” and why not for ‘just’ beauty’s sake? Or for curious photographers to discover?

Yes it is true, we need nature more than nature needs us. Please share what you think about spider eyes–and especially your theories as to why they have eight eyes. And of course your photographic techniques for capturing their glory.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

Can organizations be creative?

Have you ever been at a corporate off-site or other workshop/offering where the result of the initiative fell flat? The intent was good; but there were no new meaningful insights. It was scheduled rather than organic. Our brains had time to predict the future, and the potential for novelty disappeared. Transplanting the same mix of people to a different location, even an exotic one, then dropping them into a “new” conference room usually doesn’t work.

No, new insights usually only come from new people, new environments, and new incubations; any circumstance where the brain can’t predict what will happen next. In short, by creating paradigm shifts in our three centers of intelligence: our heads, hearts and guts.

It is possible for employees, supervisors and managers to “wire” creativity into their organizations by drawing upon the three centers of intelligence. But do organizations have heads, hearts and guts? Resoundingly– yes they do!

The Ted talk below succinctly illustrates “collaborative visualization”– this is a “head based” technique to begin with (using our imaginations) that quickly can lead to creative action (gut based). If the visualization taps into our heart’s passion, then it can lead to a triple intersection (of head, heart, and gut intelligence) creativity. 

Organizational cultures reflect back the top people driving them. You can learn more in my recent book. I include diverse case studies such as, Apple Corp, Exxon/Mobil Corp, Saddleback Church and more.

What do you think about “collaborative visualization” as an organizational approach? Any hope for it working in your organization?

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life in my recent book. I invite all to become the best version of themselves at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Lady Liberty: Repression, Art & Metaphor

Our lady love, the U.S. Statue of Liberty, was created through inspired repression, collaborative art and poetry–standing for defiant resistance, independence, and ultimate victory. She is magnificent, but how did she become a symbol for outcasts of the world–how did this art-piece evolve into such a grand living metaphor?

This is a story of ideals, resolve, collaboration, a sculptor and a poet. It took 21 years for this idea to become a reality.

It was first proposed by Édouard René de Laboulaye (the president of the French Anti-Slavery Society) at a dinner in 1875: His idea was that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the site and build the pedestal. Laboulaye was an ardent supporter of the Union in the American Civil War and said: “If a monument should rise in the United States, as a memorial to their independence, I should think it only natural if it were built by united effort—a common work of both our nations.” He hoped that by calling attention to the recent achievements of the United States, “the French people would be inspired to call for their own democracy in the face of a repressive monarchy (of Napoleon 111).”

Laboulaye by Nadar: He was the originator of the idea of a U.S. monument

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor who was also at this dinner, was inspired by this “proposal” and it was he who pitched a massive sculpture design to influential people on his first trip to America. Bartholdi’s hometown in Alsace had just passed into German control, which motivated his own keen interest in independence, liberty, and self-determination. The statue would commemorate the centennial of American independence. When he arrived at the New York Harbor, he focused on Bedloe’s Island (now named Liberty Island) as a site for the statue because he was struck by the fact that vessels arriving in New York had to sail past it.

Larger than life Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, Sculptor of Statue of Liberty in 1880

Bartholdi and Laboulaye considered how best to express the idea of American liberty.  A significant female icon in American culture was a representation of Liberty, derived from Libertas, the goddess of freedom widely worshiped in ancient Rome, especially among emancipated slaves. A Liberty figure adorned most American coins of the time. Also artists of the time commonly used Libertas as an allegorical symbol of republican ideals. A figure of Liberty was also depicted on the Great Seal of France. Bartholdi wanted the statue to have a peaceful appearance and chose a torch, representing progress, for her to hold.

 1880 Liberty Gold Coin

Bartholdi made the first sketches for the statue during his U.S. visit and continued to develop the concept upon his return to France. He also worked on a number of sculptures designed to bolster French patriotism after the defeat by the Prussians. One of these was the Lion of Belfort, a monumental sculpture, to honor the locals’ persistent resistance of a Prussian siege. The defiant lion, 73 feet (22 m) long, displays an emotional quality characteristic of Romanticism, which Bartholdi would later infuse into the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi’s Lion of Belfort

Bartholdi made alterations in the design as the project evolved. He initially considered having Liberty hold a broken chain, but thought it too divisive after the Civil War. Instead she rises over a broken chain, half-hidden by her robes. He finally settled on a keystone-shaped tablet for her left hand to evoke the concept of law. Although Bartholdi greatly admired the United States Constitution, he chose to inscribe “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” on the tablet, desiring to associate the date of the U.S.’s Declaration of Independence with the concept of liberty. He decided on many details, such as a height of just over 151 feet (46 m) for the statue, and the symbolic seven rays in the crown representing the Earth’s seven seas.

Bartholdi’s design patent

Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. It was rumored in France that the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after Bartholdi’s mother.

The statue’s head on exhibit at the Paris World’s Fair, 1878

In 1881 Auguste Bartholdi contacted an engineer named Eiffel to help him build the Statue of Liberty to withstand significant wind stresses. Eiffel devised a “spine structure” consisting of a four-legged iron pylon to support the copper sheeting which made up the body of the statue. Eiffel would later design the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

In 1885 the statue was formally delivered to America. Fundraising for the pedestal was difficult for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. A newspaper publisher named Joseph Pulitzer came to the rescue by urging the American public to donate money towards the pedestal. His newspaper, New York World, raised over $100,000 in six months, enough to finish the pedestal. The majority of contributors gave less than a dollar, securing Lady Liberty’s destiny as the people’s prize. Pulitzer published the names of each person–all 125,000–who made a contribution in his paper.

Unpacking of the head of the Statue of Liberty, which was delivered on June 17, 1885

“The New Colossus” is a sonnet that American poet Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 as a donation to help raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

It is a stunning fact that Bartholdi’s gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to international republicanism–but a poet reinvented the statue’s purpose–turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.

One immigrant who arrived from Greece recalled, I saw the Statue of Liberty and I said to myself, “Lady, you’re such a beautiful! You opened your arms and you get all the foreigners here. Give me a chance to prove that I am worth it, to do something, to be someone in America.” And always that statue was on my mind (Sutherland, Cara A. (2003).

In October 1886, the structure was officially presented as the joint gift of the French and American people, and was installed on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. It was the largest work of its kind that had ever been completed up to that time. The statue’s completion was marked by a parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

Bedloe’s Island in 1927, showing the statue and army buildings. The eleven-pointed walls of Fort Wood, which still form the statue’s base, are visible.

There is a presentation tablet that honors “the Alliance of the two Nations in achieving the Independence of the United States of America and attests their abiding friendship.” A group of statues stands at the western end of the island, honoring the men and woman closely associated with the Statue of Liberty: Two Americans—Pulitzer and Lazarus—and three Frenchmen—Bartholdi, Eiffel, and Laboulaye—are depicted.

In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UNESCO “Statement of Significance” describes the statue as a “masterpiece of the human spirit” that “endures as a highly potent symbol—inspiring contemplation, debate and protest—of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy and opportunity.”

Liberty Island, credit photo by D. Ramey Logan

Lately our lady has been depicted as weeping or hiding her face in shame… so symbolic and dear she is to us! She is leveraged to express our emotion over distressing current events we fear will change what our country stands for. She is a most powerful metaphor.

We should remember that this icon originated at an idea-inspiring anti-slavery French dinner, which motivated a sculptor to imagine a statue of a woman holding a torch burning with the light of freedom. The sculptor hoped this would also inspire his home country to freedom. It took 21 years for this idea to become a reality and a living, beautiful metaphor of freedom.

Credit: New York Times, Hodgson photographer

Please do share what the Statue of Liberty means to you. Many thanks especially to Wikipedia for helping me piece this story together!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

Awed by Eagle Huntress Photography

I recently viewed the Eagle Huntress documentary in utter awe by the beauty and sweeping photography filmed on location in Mongolia–not an easy place–and wondered how on earth did they film it?! I was shocked to learn that it was filmed by only two people–not 200 people–thanks to modern technology! The director of photography, Simon Niblett, succinctly sums up the equipment they used to accomplish this extremely challenging feat in the video below:

Aisholpan, a teenage girl from a nomadic family in Mongolia, in “The Eagle Huntress.” Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

The film is a masterpiece due to the photography: It follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains with her father to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an expert eagle hunter. It was filmed in real time, there was no re-shooting of scenes, which makes this feat even more amazing. It chronicles how Aisholpan rises to the pinnacle of this tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries.

With her father Nurgaiv’s help, Aisholpan learns how to train golden eagles, and then captures and trains her own eaglet. Although she faces disbelief and opposition within this exclusively male tradition, she becomes the first female to enter the competition at the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

 Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

The Altai mountains are ruggedly gorgeous. Renowned photographer Asher Svidensky said, “I knew I had to find another way and tell a new story that was not yet told in the snowy Mongolian mountains. I tried coming up with new ways of photographing the eagle hunters. Should I use different lenses? Ask them to perform tasks other than hunting? How could I tell a more interesting story than the usual “Even today, there are eagle hunters in Mongolia”?

Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Modern Mongolia is a relatively young unitary sovereign state in East Asia that exists from just after the fall of communism in 1990. It is landlocked–sandwiched between China to the south and Russia to the north. Today’s Mongolia is going through a transition – it’s no longer communist and is not yet modern. Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic; horse culture is still integral. The film beautifully captures this uniquely nomadic way of life.

Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Against all odds, Aisholpan ends up winning the competition, and her eaglet breaks a speed record in one of the events.

 Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Most of us have not visited Mongolia. This is a wonderful British-Mongolian-American collaboration to document a heart-felt story. It is the winning photography team–of two!–who brought us this rugged land, and an understanding of the lifestyle of its adaptable nomadic occupants. The dialogue was in the Kazakh language but the photography connected us all.

Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

What I loved about 2016 and What Not So Much

Wow, 2016 was an ever-eventful year. I want to share with you what awed and delighted me the most… and what did not.

My #1 delight of the year was: It was a five-year journey to our solar system’s gigantic planet of Jupiter, but NASA’s Juno spacecraft stunned us by nailing it right on time! To celebrate its accomplishment, Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit on U.S’s independence day–July 4th. Juno will probe beneath the obscuring clouds of Jupiter for the first time and study its auroras. I was in awe as I watched this event in real time online–along with the scientists at NASA–the tension in the room was palpable and so was the sheer joy of Juno’s unbelievable performance seen in this AWESOME VIDEO:

The returning data and images of Jupiter to Earth will keep scientists busy for many years. What will we learn about Jupiter’s origin and what will it mean for Earth? Jupiter already sucks up monumental space junk so that it does not slam into us, what else will we learn about our friend?

                                                              Jupiter Aurora

This is why I love King Jupiter so much: Earth is a nice place to live precisely because of Jupiter’s overbearing gravity. It acts as a super-sized gravitational shield to planet earth. It keeps incoming space junk, like comets, away from our inner solar system. Just think about what that asteroid did to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago!

The whole world was watching when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fell apart and its pieces crashed into Jupiter in 1994, leaving Earth-size scars that lasted a year. That’s Jupiter doing its cosmic job–better it than us!

It was high time we visit our fearless BIG, BIG-brother whom protects us from many spooky cosmic thugs–hip, hip hooray to NASA for this in 2016!

My #2 delight of the year was: Another NASA launch, which happened on Sept. 8 that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system. This one is the FIRST asteroid sampling mission called the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). The spacecraft (with the very un-sexy name) is designed to reach the asteroid Bennu in August 2018, and then return a sample of it to Earth in 2023.

Illustration of OSIRIS-REx collecting a sample from asteroid Bennu

Why should we care about Bennu? Bennu was selected from over 500,000 known asteroids by NASA’s selection committee. It was chosen due to its close proximity to Earth, the low Δv required to reach it, an orbit with low eccentricity, low inclination, an ideal orbital radius, and it has loose dirt on its surface. Asteroids smaller than this typically spin too fast to retain dust or small particles.

Whittling down from 500,000 to only 5 asteroids: Finally, a desire to find an asteroid with pristine carbon material from the early solar system, possibly including volatile molecules, organic compounds and amino acids reduced the list further to just five asteroids. Ultimately Bennu was selected between these five due to its potentially hazardous orbital impact to Earth. So YES Bennu is one special asteroid! Very COOL NASA VIDEO follows this journey:

My #3 delight of the year was: NASA in 2016 formally started an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe. Called the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), it will aid researchers in their efforts to understand–by far the biggest secrets of all–dark energy and dark matter.

WFIRST will also discover new worlds outside our solar system– known as exoplanets. This is because NASA is STILL searching for another planet like earth, which could be suitable for life. Will they ever find it is the question–they have verified 1,284 exoplanets to date–none of which are the least bit hospitable. This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. Credits: NASA/W. Stenzel

Regardless of absolutely no success to date to find an earth look-alike, NASA scientists won’t give up searching for life outside our solar system. They analyzed the Kepler space telescope’s “planet candidate catalog” and identified 4,302 potential planets to investigate. You go NASA–if they find one it will be the greatest discovery in all of the history of mankind!

Those are my top 3 WOW things to happen in 2016. NASA is by far the coolest government agency in the USA. Not only do they explore the galaxy and probe the heavens, they develop innovative technology and collect data on climate change. NASA has put a man on the moon and helped launch the collaborative International Space Station. Their mission is WOW: To “reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind,” and so far they are doing a stellar job.

What’s on top of my list for the lousiest of 2016? The death of facts: Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that politicians have thrown out “facts” in favor of who can spread “delusions” or straight out lies the most effectively. The worst U.S. political election process I’ve ever witnessed in my years, my mom agrees and she is 88 years old. We can only hope an election that yucky is never repeated again here or anywhere!

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Second on my list of not so great: 2016 saw the ranks in rock ‘n’ roll heaven quickly swell, as David Bowie, who died at 69 after a secretive 18-month battle with cancer, had just released Blackstar, the album that would serve as his final LP; Keith Emerson, the outsized co-founding keyboardist in Emerson Lake and Palmer, committed suicide at 71 in March; Leonard Cohen, one of the most acclaimed songwriters of the rock era, died in November at the age of 82. He had just released You Want It Darker, the 14th album in a career; Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, died April 21 at age 57, after being found unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park, his home and recording studio in Minnesota; And British superstar George Michael was found dead in bed on Christmas day–just to name a few. RIP rockers, we LOVE you and the music you created!

Third on my list of not so great? America is deeply, deeply divided about serious issues–and certainly about what kind of leader(s) we need. Who will help us to find common ground? If you live here you know what I am talking about. For the first time since I can remember I’m looking at 2017 with more consternation than hope… but I still have hope. Yes by these three shall I abide: Faith, Hope and Love. I end this 2016 reflection with–the greatest of these three is Love. God bless you all!

Thank you for reading my post. I am a writer and consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Commitment: Photographers, Writers & Ants get it!

Today I want to ponder the idea of “commitment”. William Hutchison Murray (1913 –1996) was a Scottish mountaineer and writer surviving and enduring during the World War II era. I love this quotation by Murray about commitment, which occurs near the beginning of his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951):

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back–Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

The first draft of Murray’s work was written while imprisoned on the only paper available to him – rough toilet paper. His manuscript was found and destroyed by the Gestapo. Murray’s response to this loss was to start again–despite his near starvation diet–and his belief that he would never climb again. His rewritten work was finally published in 1947. His book is credited with helping to inspire the post-war renaissance interest in the mountain climbing sport… and he did climb once again.

Jimmy Chin, Adventure photographer

So what does Murray, photographers and ants have in common? COMMITMENT. Ants are my metaphor for commitment as they are true survivors: They are as old as the dinosaurs, have already survived a mass extinction event, have conquered almost the entire globe, their total population make our 7 billion look weak… I could go on–but you get the idea–they have survived and thrived through their persevering “social” ant colony commitment.

Bridge by Andrey Pavlov

Andrey Pavlov is a Russian photographer that takes photographs of ants in stunning poses along with some help of props that make the images more fantasy-like. Have you seen his ant photographs before? They aren’t artificially rendered using Photoshop or CG software. They were created through patience and COMMITMENT, waiting for the right moment when the ants would move into the desired position.

Statue of Labour by Andrey Pavlov

The photographs in this picture gallery may look like they have been Photoshopped or assembled with dead insects, but the ants in these images are very much alive. Pavlov spends hours setting up fairy-tale scenes. He studied ants, and saw that they all follow a very specific path when they’re working. So he put his props on their trail, and photographed the insects interacting with his miniature ‘stage sets’.

Do not interfere with the driver! and more Photos by Andrey Pavlov

Andrey says: “I chose ants because I respect them and their way of life. They care about their children and look after the elderly.”

Andrey says: “I used to work in theatre which was a big help when it came to making props…”

What does commitment mean to you–from a head, heart and gut aspect? Please share! I hope that you enjoy these photos and the photographer’s commitment it took to create them. They certainly give me creative inspiration and enjoyment… and make me ponder “commitment.”

Thank you for reading my post. I am a writer and consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.