Friday, February 16, 2018

Spur Your Creativity By Not Working

If you read my blog last week, which was a bit "involved", (but I hope it gave you some great ideas for your own creative pursuits), this week's - not at all "involved" - should help even more.

I find that so many people today get totally caught up in their working lives, and claim they have no time to pursue social interaction of any kind. Personally, I cannot imagine wanting to work all the time.

Looking forward to having a friend or two over for the evening, going to a movie or a play, travelling to both new places and familiar ones, or even just spending time with my best friend, R.J.; these are just some of the ways I choose to buoy my spirits, and give me renewed ambition.

It's a proven fact that allowing yourself down time makes for a healthier, longer life, but that isn't the main reason I make sure that those times are just as important to me as my working hours. I know that, without them, my creativity would suffer.

To be truly creative, you have to open yourselves up to discovering new things, sustaining friendships and family connections, reading books that challenge you, give you new insight and understanding, or simply feed your imagination or your dreams.

No complicated plot here: to be good at creating, you just have to relax enough to re-energize. I know it will result in your being much better in your work. Simple, fun, and makes me always look forward to each day because there's going to definitely be some personal, fun time that's a part of it.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Fun Way We Achieve Creativity - And Productivity As Well

I am often asked what "secrets" my husband and I have to being creative, and productive. A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson appears on the bottom of all my emails: "Success is living life on your own terms." Now that saying always gives me focus, but I'm never sure if it resonates or speaks to everyone on the question of how we get things accomplished.

That said, I saw an interview with James Clear the other day on CBS This Morning that R.J. and I both identified with.  I realized he gave a perfect description of just what we continue to do in our creative lives. Clear has just written a book titled "The Physics of Productivity" - now that's quite a scientific title, but stay with me. This is actually a fun - as well as useful - concept.

He explains that most people set a goal for themselves that, by its nature, can become overwhelming to achieve. He advocates starting with "two minutes" of investment toward that goal. For example, if you want to take a run each day, just focus on tying your running shoes. Just start. That will set you off on your run because small wins make you want to keep going or, as Clear puts it; tiny habits lead to productivity.

While mastering this idea, you must remember that habits matter. Habits, he says, help you embody what you want to be. By reducing the amount of time you spend doing mindless things, you increase your productivity. Small wins make you want to continue. Just do something! He claims that if you reduce your unproductive habits by 1%, you will be 37% more productive in a year.

I'll give you some examples of how I've changed work habits, and seen the results he talks about. I make lists each week of the things I need to accomplish. Each day, I choose 2 or 3 and begin to take small advances to eventually accomplish them by the end of the week. I'm able to focus more because I've changed habits that resulted in frustration at not "getting things done".

One of the most important habits I curbed was waiting until 9 a.m. to turn on my mobile phone, and I  turn it off at 5 p.m.  Family members and close friends know to reach us by our landline phone outside of business hours. In addition, I do not check emails, except at the beginning and end of the standard work day. I learned that I can still function if I do this, and my productive and creative sides  concentrate more on the goals I'm determined to achieve.

These are just two of many ways R.J. and I have updated our "mindless habits", and I can assure you  it definitely makes it easier for us to be what we want to be, and with a much more positive outlook. Author James Clear calls it "mico-progress". I encourage you to check out his online newletter (he has over 400,000 subscribers), or search "CBS This Morning James Clear interview" to listen to his workable ideas.

For next week's blog, I'm going to talk about how the "social side" of our lives enriches our creativity as well. 


Friday, February 2, 2018

Sharing Our Stories in a New Way - We Hope

Dedicated readers of this blog (thank you!), and followers of R.J. on Facebook, especially his videos each Friday afternoon, are all people whose interest, enthusiasm and opinions about our creative endeavors are much appreciated.

We both experienced happy evidence of those loyalties this past Sunday at the Santini Library in Aurora, Illinois. It was a scheduled presentation, with the two of us sharing our career memories of Walt Disney World's early years, coupled with projected images of same.

The library set up a fantastic venue for us in their 3-story glass atrium, and provided ample screens, mics and seating (as well as having done wonderful publicity for the event). We had twice as many people as were expected - that was gratifying - and all were attentive and engaged.

Our favorite part of the afternoon occurred after our presentation when we got to meet, talk to, pose for pictures with, and autograph our books for so many of our followers and guests, who ranged in age from pre-teens to the seasoned mature. It's nice to have a chance to hear about their experiences and memories of Disney encounters.

Such gatherings require a good deal of planning and preparation, and we have to do the "legwork" to interest venues in these types of events. This library was welcoming, and went above and beyond to make sure all went perfectly; that is not always the case.

So, R.J. and I have been thinking about an alternative, and more intimate, way to spend time with Disney fans and devoted followers. We would like hosts to provide their private homes as venues, inviting a small number of people, who would pay a nominal amount for an evening with us presenting our 45-minute words with pictures, and then enjoying social time with the guests, which could include a meal or drinks and snacks, whatever the host would like to do.

These gatherings would have to be within a few hours of our Chicago area home, and we would only do a few each year. All of this is still in the planning stages, of course, but we are excited about this idea, and will keep you updated. If you have any ideas of your own, or would like to consider hosting one of this events, please send me an email at or leave a comment on this blog site.

2018 will not only see us publish (in the fall) another WDW book, but we hope it will launch a fun way for us to meet, greet and enjoy spending time with Disneyphiles!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Blatant Self-Promotion Today

For those of you who saw R.J.'s Facebook vlog last Friday, you know that I was on it with him, and that's why I didn't do a blog. The Friday before that, R.J. explained that we were busy setting up a display at the local library, advertising our upcoming live presentation this coming Sunday - so neither of us posted on social media and no blog from me. But, I'm back!

The live presentation at the Santini Library in Aurora, IL, is taking place on January 28th from 1:30 to 3 p.m.  RJ and I will talk about our careers at Walt Disney World, in conjunction with photos projected on a big screen. We've done these types of appearances several times, and really enjoy them. We answer questions from the audience after the presentation, and then personally sign any of our books that guests purchase. Great fun!

In today's publishing world, it is definitely incumbent on authors to constantly use any viable method possible to promote their work. Indie publishers often don't have the staff or the budget for such things, and, besides, readers like to hear from the writers themselves. We are happy to oblige.

If you're in the area this weekend, please come join us. It's free, and the venue is beautiful - even the mid-winter weather is cooperating, with sunny skies.

Thanks for enduring this shameless "ad", and come back next week for something of substance.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Back To Work - With Time Off for Renewal

My husband and I reveled in the non-working days we spent between Christmas and New Years. Even though we did have some much needed time off the first week of December, we had come back to face a stressful two weeks of work and obligations.

We love what we do, but even so, we have learned that it's really crucial to reward ourselves with renewal time on a regular basis. Whether that means taking a trip, as we did a month ago, or just spending a week with no agenda, no commitments (other than a relaxing evening with a friend or two), and just enjoying doing fun things together.

This past Tuesday, we returned to our respective work spaces; R.J. to his sunlit studio, his easel and laptop, and me to my cozy little study upstairs, surrounded by so many visual reminders of friends and family, my accomplishments, and my goals - all of it never fails to rekindle my positive spirit, and make me smile. Being self-employed requires one to be self-motivated as well, and being in my study always achieves that.

So, even though we have a full agenda for 2018, R.J. and I have a strong resolve to "give ourselves a break" on a regular timetable. That can mean not working weekends, for example, but it can be as simple as spending a day together doing something just for us.

Tomorrow will be one of those days: it is my birthday, and I can't think of a better time to be with my best friend - my husband.  My suggestions for the day are not scheduled; we'll just enjoy being together, wherever we happen to be.

I guess what I'm try to say is that I highly recommend giving yourself permission to "escape". Whether that involves a planned trip, a relaxing way to celebrate, or just a spur of the moment thing, you won't regret it - and I guarantee you'll be better for it - truly.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

As regular readers know, R.J. and I took the last two Fridays off from vlogging and blogging (sounds like some kind of winter sporting event when written like that!), and we both needed the rest after an extremely busy, creative year.

We weren't idle, though. We drove to Florida, visiting dear friends overnight, both heading south and returning home. They live in Louisville, Kentucky.  Arriving near Orlando, we were able to spend two relaxing days with another couple we've counted among our group of treasured friends for many years, but hadn't seen in a long time. That was time well spent, for sure.

The next four days were our personal time together, just the two of us. And where did we choose to spend it? In a place that has never failed to put us into the Holiday Spirit: Walt Disney World. When I worked there, I would always marvel at how the Parks, hotels, and public spaces could all become - literally overnight - places of Christmas enchantment!

R.J. took numerous pictures of the many Christmas trees (my favorite was the one in the lobby of the Grand Floridian hotel), as well as the touches of the Season everywhere, from garlands to illuminations to trimmings on light posts. The Magic Kingdom's castle was covered in white LED lights on all its spires and roof lines, given the nightly impression of magical snow. How could one not be looking forward to Christmas with all that inspiration, coupled with the attractions and sights that always help me forget the real world for a bit.

We did do a bit of work, making notes every now and then about things we plan to include in our new book, but we intended - and succeeded - in renewing with each other. It's one of the reasons our marriage has lasted so long. We make a point of indulging ourselves periodically with fun times and/or travel that serve to give us new energy and creative resolve.

We've been back home for a few days, and we are busily decorating our home for Christmas, I've sent off my Christmas cards today, R.J. is completing some paintings that will be Christmas gifts, and next will come my cookie baking and prep for Christmas dinner. As an added addition to our favorite time of year, the day we got home we had our first snowfall of this winter!

I hope all of you get to enjoy some restful moments like ours. They truly help, I feel, to better appreciate the joy, peace, and gifts of the Season.

My next blog will be on January 5th, 2018.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Working Sabbatical Notice

I should have posted this last Friday - my husband did on his social media sites - but I forgot. This will be brief.

Due to a working schedule, an appearance schedule, and busy research for the WDW history we're creating, both R.J. and I need a couple of weeks to just focus on those elements. That means I will not have a blog for the next two Fridays (and obviously didn't have one last Friday!)

My next blog will appear on Friday, Dec. 15th, and I should have a fun one that day. Stay tuned!