Dixie Darr

Archive for June, 2007|Monthly archive page

In creativity, Learning, spirituality on June 25, 2007 at 7:25 am

Queen Bee

(Bee keeping) is an unruly, benign kind of agriculture, and making a living by it has such a wild, anarchistic, raffish appeal that it unsuits me for any other, expect possibly robbing banks.

Sue Hubbell A Country Year

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd made my list of all-time favorite books when I first read it several years ago. I have since discovered that every woman I know who read it also loved it, so I was delighted when I found the CD version on the shelves of my local library last week. Listening to the book in my car seemed like a great way to revisit a beloved book, and I’m enjoying it just as much the second time through.

In the spirit of synchronicity, I was not surprised to see a story about bees on CBS News Sunday Morning yesterday. According to the report, Bees first came to North America when the pilgrims brought them to Plymouth Rock. While most people fear bees and their potential stings, they may be a miracle wonder drug. Bee stings can alleviate pain from arthritis, headaches and shingles. Alexander the Great, Confucius and Hippocrates all used bee stings for pain.

You don’t have to get stung, however, to reap the benefits of bees. Bee pollen is widely touted (although not scientifically proven) to help with weight loss, relieving allergies, increasing energy and slowing the aging process. I swear by beeswax in my lip balm and hand cream.

When I woke up this morning with excruciating arthritis pain in one hip, I thought about bees. I don’t know a doctor like the one interviewed on the news, who keeps a box of bees in his office for application to afflicted human body parts. Nevertheless, I believe in signs, and I think the signs might be directing me to take another look at bee therapy. It couldn’t hurt.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

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In creativity on June 20, 2007 at 8:10 am

Capturing Youth

“Children laugh an average of 400 times a day, but adults laugh an average of only 15 times daily.” Stephanie Young

One of the secrets of being creative is to retain or regain a childlike sense of playfulness and wonder. Einstein was famous for it. Picasso pointed out that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Award winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns invites young people to work on his films because “They haven’t yet learned ‘the right way’ to do things, so they come in with wide-open creativity.”

Carlos Santana had the same idea when he recorded his album Supernatural collaborating with top young musicians and it became his most successful album ever.

When you’re stuck for new ideas and need a fresh point of view, talk to a young person. Invite student interns to work on your projects. You might discover that you learn as much from them as they do from you.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

In creativity, Learning, spirituality on June 19, 2007 at 9:35 am

Building Boxes

“I don’t feel alive unless I’m learning, moving, changing, growing.”

Eric McDougall

Thinking outside the box is one of those clichés that has been overused to the point where it has lost all its meaning. Now author Harry Beckwith says that we should forget about thinking outside the box because it’s just too hard. Instead, he suggests, we should push out the edges of our normal way of looking at things and grow our box.

“If you read Vanity Fair, read In-Fisherman. If you read Tattoo, pick up an Architectural Digest. If you read People, scan The New Yorker. If you attend the theater, catch a NASCAR race (not least of all, because of its immense appeal). If you’d never dream of watching ballet, listening to bluegrass, or going to a county fair, go.

Tinker with your box. Buy an orange sport coat and a pair of red suede shoes; see what changes. Grow a bigger box.”

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

In self-employment on June 13, 2007 at 9:06 am

Something Happened

“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.” Douglas Adams

Sometimes being self-employed feels like nothing continues to happen no matter what you do. You have to keep marketing and developing products and expecting to happen and, suddenly, something does.

So far this week has been like that for me. After a long dry spell when I sent out proposals, went on interviews and submitted writing samples, I’m beginning to get some results. Monday, I got a new teaching assignment, and yesterday the training company that I work with called with an opportunity to teach a workshop at a conference. I can hardly wait to see what happens today.

I breathed a sigh of relief, but I know that I can’t let my guard down. I need to continue putting myself out there. I have plans for a monthly newsletter/press release to help establish myself with the media as an expert in creativity. Since I can’t find a graduate certificate program in creativity here in Colorado, I plan to develop my own. And I’m thinking about joining the Professional Speakers’ Association.

As best-selling author and career counselor Barbara Sher said, “Perhaps the best reason to plan is that following a plan gets you out into the world. If you go to the library and look up articles, call people, join organizations, go to appointments, something can happen to you.” On the other hand, beloved western author Larry McMurtry pointed out, “If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.”

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

In creativity, Learning, spirituality, work, writing on June 12, 2007 at 6:47 am

Step Lively

“Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes too.” Anonymous


I started walking for exercise, but quickly learned that the benefits went far beyond the physical.
Walkers have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other killer diseases. As a result, they live longer. Because walking increases the blood flow to the brain, it also alleviates depression and hones thinking skills. Walking, of course, is one of Julia Cameron’s basic tools for improving creativity in her classic book, The Artist’s Way. The others are morning pages and artist’s dates.

When I get stuck in a writing project or wrestling with some other problem, walking helps. Some speculate that the rhythmic and repetitive movement of walking balances the brain. I’ll buy that, and I will also argue for walking outside. Walking in nature activates the senses as I feel the wind and sun on my face, smell the roses or the river, see the changing seasons and listen to the birds. You don’t get that from using a treadmill and listening to your iPod.

It’s raining this morning, so I have to delay my walk until later. I will go out, however. Last winter, when a huge early snowstorm clogged our streets and sidewalks for weeks and made walking treacherous, I went more than a little stir crazy. No less a scholar than Soren Kierkegaard advised, “I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” Maybe your best thoughts are just a few steps away.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

In creativity, Home on June 11, 2007 at 8:17 am

Chaos Theory

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”
– AA Milne

My artist’s date this weekend was a garden tour sponsored by the Conflict Center. Normally, this annual event is a favorite of mine. The gardens in my working class neighborhood are not the overly designed and manicured gardens of the wealthier parts of town and that is fine with me. These gardens require more creativity than cash and typically feature recycled materials and plants acquired from friends and neighbors. As acclaimed dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp said, “Whom the gods wish to destroy they give unlimited resources.” Nobody around here has unlimited resources.

This year, I was a little disappointed. The gardens were more ordinary, not the exceptional examples I enjoyed in previous years. As usual, my favorite garden was the one that was crammed full of plants and artwork, with something interesting to look at no matter where your eyes lit. If you’ve seen my house, you already know that I’m the opposite of a minimalist, although the simple and serene Japanese style garden with incense burning throughout was also nice. For me, it would be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

One of the best things about a garden tour is the ideas it gives me about what I can do in my own yard. This year was no exception. My yard has suffered from neglect the past couple of years while my focus turned to, among other things, my dad’s declining health. Yesterday, though, I took another look at it and found a few things I could do to reclaim it from chaos. My neighbors will be happy to hear it.

If you don’t have time for a real artist’s date, take a few minutes to watch this amazing Women in Art video.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

In creativity on June 7, 2007 at 8:17 am
To Sir With Love

Sir Paul McCartney’s new album, Memory Almost Full, came out this week and he’s all over the telly promoting it. I admit I was not pleased to hear that Starbucks sponsored it, feeling as I do that the ubiquitous Seattle coffee franchise is the personification of evil on earth. Still, it’s Paul McCartney, a man I’ve been in love with since I was 16 and who can simply do no wrong in my eyes.

When he married Heather Mills, I was dismayed that he chose a woman younger than at least one of his daughters, but encouraged that she was not a bimbo. Her charm and spirit of adventure won me over during her tenure on Dancing With the Stars. Of course, by then, their marriage was through, and I saw another chance for me to hook up with my idol.

I offer my students a guaranteed A if they can put me in touch with Sir Paul. After all, with only six degrees of separation, I’m bound to encounter someone who knows him, right? When I was sixteen, he was too old for me. Now, it seems, I’m too old for him. Life’s just not fair.

You can listen to excerpts from the new, critically acclaimed album here.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary this year of the Beatles’ most famous album, Sgt. Pepper, I put the album cover image on my monitor.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

In creativity, Learning on June 4, 2007 at 8:22 am

Change Agent

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Milton Berle

I’ve been planning to change my accounts from the downtown bank I’ve used for thirty years to a small local bank within walking distance from my house. With direct deposits and ATMs, I rarely go to the bank anymore, so it was easy to put off making all the changes necessary to switch banks.

Last week, I had an insurance paper that needed to be notarized and wanted to avoid a trip downtown, so I headed to the little community bank in my neighborhood. They informed me that they only provided notary service for people who had accounts there. Since notarizing a signature takes less than a minute (and I was perfectly willing to pay for the service) I thought their policy was unfriendly, to say the least. I decided that I wouldn’t transfer my accounts to them after all.

Still trying to avoid a trip to my bank, I went to the local branch of a huge national bank which holds my mortgage. This branch was much bigger than the first one I went to, although still small by most standards and still within walking distance from home. Unlike the other one, they were extraordinarily busy. I waited for almost 45 minutes to see a personal banker who was also a notary. As I sat waiting, my anger grew and I swore I would never come to that bank again. When the banker finally got to me, she apologized for the long wait and treated me very well. My insurance paper turned out to have some questionable language and she had to call the insurance company to find out exactly how to complete the form. My anger started to cool.

After completing my form, she told me that because of my mortgage, I qualified for free checking with no minimum balance and free checks, a much better deal than either my current bank or the one I was planning to switch to. Because of the banker’s calm and friendly attitude in the face of my anger and frustration and because she offered me great service, I will probably transfer my accounts there in the very near future. She was a woman who definitely had the ability to turn a sow’s ear (me) into a silk purse. That’s an amazing talent to have and one I hope to cultivate in myself. Who knew you could learn something about creativity from a banker?

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved