8 beautiful questions…



A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.

~Warren Berger from his book A More Beautiful Question

Warren Berger also writes for Fast Company and created a list of 8 questions we can ask ourselves to help us to move our lives in the direction of our most authentic passions. Here are the questions…are you creating the life you are meant to live?

1.  What is your tennis ball? What pulls you and draws you (like a tennis ball chased by a dog)? Where do you gravitate most naturally?

2.  What are you doing when you feel most beautiful? Where and when do you feel most alive?

3.  What is something you believe that nearly everyone disagrees with? What is uniquely and originally your idea?

4.  What are your superpowers? Berger suggests determining your own unique strengths and suggests a brief film to help you figure it out. The Science of Character…8 minutes to your best future.

5.  What did you enjoy doing at age 10? Gretchen Rubin, who writes on happiness, says that the key may be in what you loved doing before people began telling you what you should do.

6.  What are you willing to try now? Get out of your head and act. Trial and error will show you your path.

7.  Looking back on your career 20 or 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished? Similar to a write-your-own-obit exercise, what do you want to be remembered for?

8.  What is your sentence? You should be able to synthesize yourself in one sentence….a whole paragraph represents a loss of focus. If your sentence contains a goal not yet achieved, then it’s time to figure out how to live up to your sentence.

I hope this gets your juices flowing. It does mine….this definitely gets its own notebook.

Have a great week!



painting in bars

images courtesy

images courtesy

paint nite2

If facebook is any indication, then everyone is painting in bars these days. Have you noticed? So many renditions of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Hawaiian sunsets and flowers a la Georgia O’Keefe posted on my wall in the last few weeks. Even the AP has noticed. I’m starting to feel a bit left out and think maybe I need to get on this. Wonder if the new bar in my ‘hood would be agreeable?

Based on my extensive research, if you do this with Paint Nite, the largest organization I’ve found, it’s about $45 plus the cost of whatever reduces your inhibitions. Check their website and choose by date, location or the piece of art you want to (try to) recreate. They provide all supplies and an artist to teach. You can also contact Social Artworking to purchase supplies and organize your own event, which means you need to teach the painting techniques from written instructions.  Eek.

Sounds like fun….anyone want to try it with me?

Keep in touch,

motivation: more than money

apparently cute is motivating...go figure!

apparently cute is motivating…go figure!

Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist (now that is a new one for me), studied what motivates people at work.  What he found is that in our ‘knowledge economy’, vs the economy born of the industrial revolution, workers are more productive and willing to work harder if they are able to see a project all the way through, rather than just screwing the same nut onto the same bolt over and over again on an assembly line. No longer is a paycheck enough to satisfy most workers.  Meaning, creativity and ownership are also part of the mix that motivates ‘knowledge’ workers. This takes me back to when I graduated from college.  I spent the first 10 years of my career in small architectural offices for the explicit reason that I would have the opportunity to work all phases of my projects just because teams, and often projects, were smaller. And each of the team member’s contributions were larger. Whereas I had a friend who went straight to one of the very large architectural firms and spent a year developing bathroom fixture schedules for a very large building project.  She only lasted that first year before moving to a smaller firm.

If you are hiring employees, or are seeking a job, here are some things to keep in mind. A workplace where you can be happy and productive requires a cultural shift away from the motivation=money paradigm.  There is more than just money required to create a positive work environment and therefore happy employees.

  1. Seeing the fruits of our labor can make us more productive.
  2. The less appreciated we feel, the more money we want.
  3. The more difficult a project is to create, the prouder we feel of it.
  4. Knowing that our work helps others contributes to our unconscious motivation.
  5. The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules.
  6. Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance.
  7. Images that trigger positive emotions may help us focus.

So, apparently the ‘blame and shame’ management style that seems awfully prevalent out there isn’t very productive. Take a note, bosses! And watch the video. Your employees may stay around longer.

Happy nearly Friday,

unexpected art: what I’m doing when I should be doing something else

my neighborhood reflected in my grandmother's piano

(my neighborhood reflected in) my grandmother’s piano

This is what I do when I should be doing something else. I spend time trolling for creativity, usually through music. Sometimes this happens at my grandmother’s piano.  Sometimes it happens when I’m searching for something else on the internet. The ideas are all out there waiting to be found.

Jarbas Angelli saw this photo of birds on wires and he saw a song.

In San Francisco, the year 2014 will be the year of the piano, thanks to Sunset Piano.  Pianos will be set in unlikely places all over the City by the Bay. And to get the party started Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn unveiled a massive sculptural installation of glass and steel pianos that are lit in sync with the music of Enrico Caruso. Music as light.

Where do you find your inspiration?  Please share!

friday nights at the deYoung


all photos courtesy

Friday nights get more interesting beginning March 28 with the opening of the tenth season of the deYoung Museum’s ‘Friday Nights’ series. Art, music, food and special events beginning about 5 (see the website for specific times each week) and ending about 8:45.

Here’s the line up for the first Friday (3/28)

  • Create a mixed-media landscape inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s summertime work from her visits to Lake George in upstate New York
  • Get to know Georgia O’Keefe a little better at a talk by Dr. Cody Hartley (the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum)
  • Learn to swing dance and listen to the sounds of big band
  • Hear from four cut paper artists about their inspiration and process
  • Have a photo taken with the good people from Smilebooth

You’ll find me in the lobby making art. Come over and introduce yourself (but no judging my work…)!  Or let me know ahead of time and we can go together.

Keep in touch,


18 habits of messy minded people

creativity takes courage

‘Imaginative people have messier minds,’ Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at NYU told Huff Post.  I believe this might be my favorite quote of all time.  And if you know me well, you can expect to be bored with variations on this theme for the next several days.  But it is an apt description.  Creative people can be very interesting and fun to be around, but also moody and judgmental.  And according to Kaufman they also share some common habits.  I’m definitely messy minded.

18 habits of creative people

  1. They daydream:  daydreaming and creativity involve the same mind processes.
  2. They observe everything.
  3. They work the hours that work for them:  work when creativity peaks.
  4. They take time for solitude:  the inner creative voice speaks when the world is quiet.
  5. They turn life’s obstacles around:  sad stories make good songs, tragic lives make good books
  6. They seek out new experiences.
  7. They fail up:  fail well and fail often.  Resilience is key to creativity.
  8. They ask big questions:  live the examined life, maintain curiosity.
  9. They people watch.
  10. They take risks:  don’t be afraid to express an idea that may later fail.
  11. They view all of life as an opportunity for self expression:  don’t follow the dress code.
  12. They follow their true passions:  motivation follows internal desires.
  13. They get out of their own heads:  seek the view from another perspective.
  14. They lose track of time:  they achieve ‘flow’.
  15. They surround themselves with beauty.
  16. They connect the dots:  they are problem solvers.
  17. They constantly shake things up:  diversify experiences.
  18. They make time for mindfulness:  meditate.

And do you know what’s really interesting?…..there are quite a few correlations to the habits of happy people.  But I already knew that creativity makes me happy.  Have a messy Tuesday!

Keep in touch,

design matters

I mix all my bread dough in my kitchenaid

I mix all my bread dough in my kitchenaid

My whole life I’ve been teased that I have expensive taste.  Maybe it’s partly true, but what is more true is that I like things in my world that are well designed.  I like to use things that work well and effortlessly.  Like my iPhone….my husband bought a ‘not iPhone’ (I won’t mention any names) and has been fighting with it ever since trying to make it act like an iPhone.



If given a choice I will choose the object that is more comfortable and intuitive to use, is more pleasing to the eye and the touch, fits the need better. Sometimes good design costs a little more, often it doesn’t.  And I’m not alone here.  Fast Company published a story this week that uses data collected by Design Management Institute from Chicago.  They studied companies that are inherently design driven and those that are not.  The companies that include design at top management levels out performed their baseline by 228%!  If you’ve been around for a while you will remember the first Apple Computer (this is not a sponsored post by Apple, I promise…I’m typing it on a PC) was remarkably ugly and difficult to use.  Then Steve Jobs made design a priority and look where Apple is now.

So the bottom line is design matters.  As if we designers didn’t already know that!

my eames chairs are comfortable and messes are easy to clean!

my eames chairs are comfortable and messes are easy to clean!