I’m gearing up for a return.
During last year’s Chicago Innovation Awards, I learned of the Makers Lab– a space in the Chicago Public Library (Harold Washington branch) featuring new technology and workshops. The best part? It’s all free. I’ve been trying to get in to classes since November.
And I finally did.
Two weeks ago, Amanda and I (and her baby bump) headed to the lab to create 3D cuff bracelets. After placing together shapes in TinkerCAD software, we picked our plastic color and watched a printer create crazy designs. I had no idea how insanely cool and efficient 3D printing is. Seeing other objects the team put together, I was completely mesmerized by this animal figurine with moveable legs, and the fact it was all built on the same plane. No assembly required.
Last week, a few of us from work went over to try the Laser Cutter printer during the Name Plate workshop. Using a program similar to Illustrator, we created our words and phrases. I went with “Write On” as a not-so subtle reminder/encouragement for the desk.
Below are photos from the first visit making bracelets. My bracelet printed in a boxed printer, so you couldn’t really see what was going on. Thankfully, Amanda printed in the open space!
It was above 60ºF. It was a Monday. The motto was: just make contact.
The roommate and I took advantage of a twilight session at the driving range last night. Despite living within one block from this place, I had yet to head over there. We could find no excuse not to go after a hard day at the office and beautiful evening weather.
The last time I picked up clubs was a few years ago when Mom, Grandpa and I were together. Despite the fact Grammy and Grandpa gave me golf lessons (either for my 13th or 16th birthday), I still have much to improve in the way of my game.
Needless to say a tradition is set. Though today it’s 30ºF, so we may have to wait a bit for our next venture.
With the paddleball at my desk, I’ve mastered one traditional way of hitting them…up. Then, I received the challenge to master hitting/paddling down. It’s been a struggle. With near eye trauma. And now I’m finally there. Though the Simon Birch face still has a cameo to tell the world I’m not quite sure I’ve got this.
I’ll admit it. Some days, I just don’t know what to write. Despite receiving briefs and direction at the office, I still just stare at that blank page completely unaware of what I should do. It’s an extremely unnerving feeling, though one I’ve learned to just accept and run towards, not away.
While in New York at the Creativity Workshop back in June, we filled out postcards to write promises/advice to ourselves to remember what we learned. I received that postcard last month, and didn’t really think much of it. Just tacked it to the wall, occasionally catching a glimpse when my wandering eyes at my desk needed to refocus. I also made a commitment to practice automatic writing every day. Needless to say, that too has proved much more difficult to keep up as well.
But that all ends today.
I recently learned of this organization out of South Africa called Writers Write. They offer classes and tips and tricks to strengthen and build a Writer’s skills. Seeing as I won’t be heading to South Africa anytime soon, I can still gain some inspiration from the group with their tweets for “Daily Writing Prompt.” I feel these are going to help me keep my Creativity Workshop promises and get me out of the blocks.
While out to lunch with some co-workers, I saw something I haven’t seen in years. And I just had to buy it, despite not using the said product for years.
Coke in a glass bottle.
What a difference it made in the chaos of the work day.
I’ll admit, I was one of those who never really used LinkedIn. Or looked at it. But then I started getting hooked to “Influencer Posts” that cover a variety of topics from various levels in the professional world. Last week, Arianna Huffington posted Hemingway, Thoreau, Jefferson and the Virtues of a Good Long Walk and it really got me thinking.
Maybe those guys (being Hemingway, Thoreau, Jefferson and the slew of others mentioned) were seriously on to something. I’ve often turned to walks during stressful times. Times to catch up with friends. Or just times to escape it all. And often, these happen along the lakefront. Though for some reason, it’s only during the fall and spring (maybe that chill in the air slapping you in the face has something to do with it). But it’s my first defense when things get rough.
Take for instance this past week at the office. A colleague was seriously overwhelmed and after seeing her walk by my desk, I followed up with a Gchat message saying: “Want to take a walk?” Even though we never went outside, it still helped. To get up and just walk away for a bit to gain a little perspective, but more importantly, a little distance. I’ve made a point to just pop into offices instead of calling people, just for the chance to get some mobility into my day.
I particularly enjoyed the quote from Gregory Berns in Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently when he writes, “new insights come from people and new environments — any circumstance in which the brain has a hard time predicting what will come next.” That to me sums up why around that 2:30 hour at the office, I’m craving somewhere for my legs to carry me. Sitting makes me feel stuck. Sitting makes me feel like a lump. And how is one supposed to be creative in that kinda of setting?
Below is an infographic from Mind Yourself Chicago on the importance of getting out there, for less than an hour. So feet, sandals, flip flops and boots, start walkin’.
So becoming a copywriter that reads on the bus commutes was a smart idea.
“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as [reading, writing, and playing with puzzles] across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” says study co-author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, senior neuropsychologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.”
This past week, I spent time in New York City attending The Creativity Workshop. After getting the supplies list that included sketchbooks, I was a little nervous. Writing and cutting and pasting? I can handle that. But physically drawing objects, people, places?! I was insanely intimidated.
These drawing assignments challenged us to go out into the world, find someone and draw. Then after you were done drawing, you had to write a story. Either what they were going through at that specific moment in time, or their inner life. I found the writing part helped me shape my drawings. As I sat there thinking I had completed the drawing, all of a sudden I’d see something new from my story and need to add to the sketch.
That’s the number one lesson I’m taking from this course, that creativity is never finished. Even as the deadline hits and the pitch/concept goes out the door. Everything’s still a work in progress. Too often I think I look at that looming deadline as the be-all-end-all. And that the project, along with the ideas, just stop.
I’ve also learned to silence that inner critic of mine. That voice telling me as I’m typing, writing, creating to self-edit. It was hard at first to ignore it, but through loads of automatic writing, I’ve managed to quiet it down. After all, that’s what the editing’s process is for; why do double the work?
One of my favorite exercises was taking a blank piece of paper and just drawing lines and squiggles for about 10 minutes. All while you closed your eyes and held your pencil in a new way. It was extremely freeing and really challenged your imagination as you “remembered” where you’d already made lines. Then you opened your eyes and started to make sense of the squiggles by finding objects/shapes in the chaos. It was challenging at first as you forced yourself to make sense of it all, and then I found the more you just glance and scan, the easier it was to “see” something.
Our class was about 25 students from 12 different countries. It was insanely inspiring to hear the stories, the drawings and the thoughts of people I never would have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate alongside. And there was even another Hannah in the mix (from Saudi Arabia).
While I’m never really one for negative-based language, this was our mantra (from Samuel Beckett) throughout the class and it really did help me move past that inner critic that’s so used to being heard.
“I didn’t know the city at all, but I was so happy to be in New York I cried. I was so excited.”
Very rarely do I travel alone. Or rather, very rarely do I travel alone where I stay at a hotel all by my lonesome. I’ve been fortunate enough to always have a traveling companion or a friend/family member eagerly awaiting me to step off the plane. Even when studying abroad, I made a friend, we met at the airport and experienced the hilarity of our situations as we attempted to find our apartment together. But that will all change come June when I head out to New York. And navigate without a smartphone. Cue the maps.
I’ve always had this weird pull to New York, despite not spending much time in the city. As a kid, without knowing exactly what the job entailed, I wanted to be a Broadway producer. It just seemed like the job that would mix a little business with some art. And one I could spend my days completely enthralled with music. My latest stint to NYC was with Amanda last year, though we didn’t really venture north of Midtown. As this trip is happening for a creative recharge, I’m excited to find other ways outside of class to gain some inspiration and insight.
A few years ago, I saw this The Sing for Hope piano installation. Pianos are placed throughout the city and available for you to come and play a little tune. And what do you know? They’re back at the beginning of June. So I will step up and play the Ladage Family Staple: The Garbage Man (at least I think that’s what it’s called…) the minute I see one.
And last year, I saw this intriguing exhibit in London Rain Room. It’s a room where it’s raining and when you walk in, the rain stops. You essentially control the weather. I’ve been waiting for this exhibit to make its way to the States and it has! Finding its home at MoMA and on exhibit through July.
Our classes have us visiting other locations and destinations for keynote addresses and projects, though if there’s a hidden gem, pray do tell!