How to Be Creative in a World Full of Sellouts

Sometimes when I travel, I find a takeaway, which is a souvenir for my brain. It can enlighten me and inspire a new way of thinking. This time, it included thoughts of creativity, originality, and its risks in a world where selling out is common. That invisible souvenir was even better than the sunglasses I bought!

Susie in Sunglasses

Lots of ideas floated around in my head after my California trip. I had been inspired by what I had seen and experienced. LA is a place where being different is embraced from fashion trends to lifestyle and everything in between. I really love its creative people. Their energy is contagious!

With stops at The Broad, a contemporary art museum, the art district in Downtown LA, and a conversation with a clothing designer, the five days filled me with all kinds of inspiration.

A famous Warhol in The Broad.

IMG_7504

But what was it about art, design, and the freedom of expression and how Californians wear clothing that kept my brain bouncing?

I was trying to reconcile it with what I’ve been seeing online, lately.

While surrounded by duplication, there’s a risk in originality, right?

When perusing Pinterest, I’ve noticed many blog posts that are super similar. Some promise huge increases in stats. Others, on how to make money. The similarities don’t stop at content. Their blogs are almost carbon copies.

Were they really successful or just snake oil salesmen? The straight-up bait-and-switch bloggers won’t get anywhere. What I do know is there are millions of lifestyle bloggers writing the same posts. Many will quit in less than a year when they become frustrated with their results.

Lari Pittman’s mural behind Jeff Koons’ Jim Beam Train at The Broad.

Abstract art at The Broad

Why should I care?

Like most bloggers, one of my goals is to increase views. I had been tempted to blog a bunch of bullet-pointed travel posts since I have tons of photos. They would do very well on Pinterest, which is becoming a huge traffic generator for bloggers.

After writing one about California, I laughed. I set it aside for a few days and then reread it and laughed again. “No way,” I said out loud to no one. I couldn’t blog it. My brain told me so.

Brain: Don’t do it. Don’t follow the crowd just to blow up on Pinterest.

Me: Why not sellout a little bit for a few extra clicks? This post would totally blow up. (That’s good, BTW. It means my post would soar with lots of views.)

Brain: Because it’s not your brand. Continue being original and creative. Be you!

Me: But being original and me? That is so risky!

Brain: That’s what it’s all about. How do you think the super bloggers became super? By being like everyone else?

Me: …no…

Brain: Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to want to increase views and followers, but do it in a way where you don’t sell out. You’ve spent almost seven years building an audience. You don’t want to turn them away for more hits. Your goal is to write books while continuing to blog.

Me: I totally get that. So can I write about my travels as long as I make them personal stories?

My Brain: Sure, and don’t forget to include all the dumb stuff you do. Readers love that.

Me: I have tons of material.

Brain: Yeah, I know.

It took almost a week, but I finally wrapped my mind around my souvenir.

If you’re a musician, artist, writer, blogger, or any other creative person who is producing content or a product, make sure to capture a part of you in what you create. Originality is key. Duplicating what’s already popular almost always ends up being a mere shadow of the original. If you’re interested in a popular idea, personalize it somehow. Experiment. Come at it in a new way. Turn it upside down. Put it on your head and wear it for a while. Play with it.

Readers want to be entertained, educated, or inspired. The hardest part is to get them to click. It’s our job to give them something new to think about.

Wondering what to create? Ask yourself these questions:

Who are you? What is your unique perspective or what are you trying to say that’s different from everyone else? Where are you from? What’s your story? What are you afraid of? Why? It’s probably holding you back from your full potential.

Fear is deadly to creativity. Be courageous and unlock your brain. You might be surprised by its crazy ideas!

This is my brain on inspiration:

An illustration of my brain on inspiration.

 

My brain is super crazy. Ask anyone. Especially when it’s filled with invisible souvenirs!

Do vacations inspire you? Are you creative? Do you go out of your way to avoid fear or do you face them head on?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

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18 Best Blog Tips: New Ways to Promote Your Blog, Increase Traffic, and More!

How to Be Discovered on WordPress!

Oh, Cali, How I’ve Missed You! A Photo Essay

Two Jews and a Blonde or Partying in Downtown Los Angeles

How to Avoid Major Failure

Have you ever engaged in a difficult activity and lost focus when distracted by someone much better, then failed in a major way? I have. Many times when attempting to fulfill a goal and while ice skating.

Failure happens when we attempt to reach a super tough goal but focus our attention on something else.

It can be as simple as an off-hand glance or a quick comparison. A distraction that causes doubt can result in SPLAT! We hit the frozen lake HARD.

After watching the movie Hans Brinker when I was a kid in Madison, Wisconsin, I wanted to skate just like him. Santa provided the ice skates and Dad drove our family to Lake Wingra.

I was sure I’d glide just like Hans. My mom laced the hooks on my skates in the warming house while some skaters chatted on benches and others clomped past on their sharp blades. Once on the ice, I lost my confidence. My parents pointed out the sharp teeth on the front of my skates. I tentatively pushed ahead.

After a few steps, I looked up as another skater swooshed by. Down I went. I quickly learned that concentrating on my feet was necessary to complete my goal of staying in the upright position. This spared my poor posterior.

Changing my gear

Years later, I tried hockey skates. Seduced by the dark sturdy leather, I asked a friend, Jim Mullen, if I could try them. He and my friends cracked up laughing as I stepped forward and faceplanted on the ice. The toothless blades made pushing off so awkward. After a few quick smackdowns, I switched back to my old skates.

How to avoid crashing and burning

The Winter Olympics

A year later, Jim tried out for the Olympics. He drove to the trials with other skaters like Eric Heiden.

When Jim started his speed skating trial, he flew ahead of the pack. How far ahead, he didn’t know. With the finish line right in front of him, he looked over his shoulder to check. Continue reading

This New Approach to Resolutions Really Works!

resolution illustration

I’ve been through a few years of good intentions which paved my road to resolution hell. Even though I started on the right path to check them off my list, I wound up in the shadows of monolithic deadends while overwhelmed with disappointment. I’m done making traditional New Year’s Resolutions and have a new approach to share with you. It really works!

resolutions illustration

 

It all started two years ago when I topped my list of New Year’s Resolutions with a deadline to traditionally publish my first book. As the end of the year approached, I felt that super sick sinking feeling of failure by not achieving my top goal. My children pointed out that I can’t control my fate if it’s in the hands of others.

Last year, I made resolutions including all the projects I wanted to complete. This time, I was in control of the list. What could go wrong? I skipped down the verdant path under sunny skies until I lost my brother and a demon washing machine took control of my life. I missed most of the writing contest deadlines and bummed out.

Enter the Bullet Point Journal.

When I discovered bullet point journaling, I began to make short-term goals and planned 7-10 days in advance. Each week that I used it, I stayed on task and accomplished twice as much. Plus, I crossed off a lot of random chores and goals like meditating and exercise too.

Bullet Point Journal

Build good habits.

This year, I’m taking a different approach. Instead of finishing writing projects as a goal, I want to write more consistently, improve my work/play/exercise balance in life, and continue a routine which I started in the last quarter of 2017.

Create space for being creative.

It’s easy for me to crush writing deadlines, but I loathe forced wordcounts. Instead, I’m focusing on time management. With the help of that beloved bullet point journal, I carve out time to write every day. It really works!

Continue the challenge of becoming fit and strong.

One of last year’s goals that I actually attained was to finally rehab my knee after a partial knee replacement. I had tried physical therapy and working out on my own, but made very little progress. My legs atrophied after a partial knee replacement and became very weak. Without strong legs, the rest of my body weakened.

Then I hired a personal trainer to meet once a week. It made a HUGE difference! I’m still on Anastrozole to blow estrogen to bits (what my breast cancer ate), but it also blows up bone, so lifting weights has an added benefit for me. Weight training is important for everyone since it prevents osteoporosis along with burning fat and the obvious, building muscle. I weigh more this year, but grew a lot of muscle and lost some of the flab around my waistline.

This is the first year I can wrangle the humongous plastic bins full of Christmas decorations. I have enough for ten households. I surprised my husband, Danny, when I took down all of it in an afternoon and stacked those monstrous containers in the basement. He was pretty stoked! He used to be the wrangler of the household.

I won’t face monolithic deadends if I don’t build them.

New Years Resolutions 2018With this new approach in place, I won’t be disappointed with the twists and turns of life’s journey during 2018. I like the idea of building good habits, carving out creative space, and continuing to make exercise a priority instead. A bullet point journal full of activities and short-term goals will result in progress towards completion of projects at its own pace. As long as I keep moving forward, that’s enough for me!

New Approach to Resolutions

Do you make resolutions? Have you tried bullet point journaling? Do you like the idea of short-term goals and habits instead of traditional resolutions?

Click for more of the Wild Ride!

Related posts:

A Tiny Tale of Terror or How to Train Your Resolutions

My Resolution Failures and Why You Should Join The Big Chill in 2017

Super Easy Bullet Point Journaling

I Celebrated a Birthday but Failed to Save a Life.

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

Need Inspiration? Read the Blessed Projects!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this year’s Blessed Project. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these amazing, heartfelt, and inspirational posts. Each one uplifted me in its own unique way. They will inspire you too!

No matter what happens in my wild life, I have always been able to see the beauty of the world that surrounds me. Each smile, sunset, memory and light-hearted moment have reminded me of my blessings. I have a lot to be grateful for!

 

 

Here’s the list of everyone who participated and their entries. I know you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!

Count Your Blessings – Aggy from Inspired Life 101

Ode to 2017 – The Blessed Project– Fall Musings

The Blessed Project – Sarcastic Bohemian

Only Positive Vibes – Blessed Project 2017 – Rated by Hanna

My Blessed Project – Ivalaine Oracles and Adventures

The Blessed Project 2017 – Yogaleigh of Not Just Sassy on the Inside

The Blessed Project – Pain Pals

Christmas Blessings | 2017 – Phoenix’s Life

The Blessed Project: Holiday Season 2017 – The Good Life Concept

All The Ways My Cup Runneth Over –  Must Hike Must Eat

Blessings for All Seasons – Lynn Kelley Author

Grateful – Cozy and Sage

Warm and Fuzzies Comeback Blessed Moments – The Wish Factor

Hygge for the Holidays – Lutheran Liar

And mine! Join the Blessed Project and Get Featured! – Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride

It’s not too late to join us! Write a list of your blessings and drop the link in the comment section. Click on others and fill your heart with hope. We would love to read your Blessed Project too.

Don’t blog? Post your list on Facebook or Instagram. It’s a super positive experience. Everyone who sees it will feel good too!

Please share this post and spread the joy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Are you feeling blessed or stressed?

Inspiring Blessed Projects

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride.

Related Posts:

Join the Blessed Project and Get Featured!

Join The #Blessed Project!

The #Blessed Projects are in! You will laugh and cry…

How to Have a Hygge Life!

When I learned about Hygge and what it meant, I wanted to add more to my life here in Colorado.

Hygge is a Scandinavian word, pronounced hue-gah, used to describe an extraordinary moment during an otherwise ordinary day by being aware of the feeling of coziness and charm in order to slow our fast-paced life.

The word blew up in 2016 and was soon added to American dictionaries. Life has become more stressful for a lot of people. Hygge focuses on what makes you comfortable and happy. As the northern hemisphere slides into winter, I am all about Hygge moments.

Hygge can be experienced through a solitary or group activity. I’ve seen many examples, from wearing pajamas while sipping hot chocolate and reading a book, to small gatherings with friends.

Hygge’s definition depends on your unique lifestyle. Colorado is known for its active people.  When I’m not tapping away on my computer, I’m looking for outdoor adventures. I tend to shoot through life in hyperdrive. It’s important to slow down and enjoy its simplicity.

It’s snowing here in the mountains and I’m having a Hygge moment right now!

How to add Hygge to your lifestyle

My Colorado Hygge moments:

Some of my Hygge moments could be enjoyed by anyone in the world, others not so much.

Spend time with friends.

October Haunted book club at my house included eating appetizers in my living room. See the ghost, (Wendi) on the couch? Cooking dinner ran late so we had extra time to catch up! Our group has been together for more than fifteen years.

Haunted book club

Stop to enjoy the view.

No matter where you live, you can find and appreciate beauty. Instead of rushing down the sidewalk, check out a building’s architecture, the nature that surrounds you, or the clouds that scud across the sky. Embrace life when you can.

On the way back down from the mountains last weekend, my husband, Danny, and I drove to Echo Lake located below a 14,000-foot peak, called Mount Evans. As the sun set behind the mountains, the thin ice proved reflective and breath-taking in its texture.

Echo Lake, Colorado

Do what makes you happy like decorate for the holidays.

I have boxes filled with Halloween and Christmas decor and unpack them whether we entertain or not. Being surrounded by my favorite decorations makes me feel warm and happy.

Take time to make a meal.

Instead of inhaling food, it’s important to sit down and enjoy meals. I can smell the bacon sizzling in the pan. Okay, I’m really salivating now…

Mountain breakfast

Take a break.

To warm up and rest my muscles when I ski, I pour a hot chocolate and relax in the lodge. I prefer to sit near a window while enjoying the sweet concoction.

A Hygge Day in Colorado

Watch Memories on my iPhone.

I discovered a great new way to embrace special moments. I may be the last person to find “Memories” at the bottom of Moments in my iPhone’s photos. It’s a slideshow that includes snippets of video. Now I realize how important it is to delete pictures of my feet since it sometimes includes them. Ha!

Take a bubble bath in or outdoors.

I had a tough workout last Wednesday and took a hot tub to silence the screams of my minuscule muscles. The hum of the motor and the rush of water always soothes me.  I love watching birds flit from tree to tree and always watch for wildlife. A mountain lion and lynx have been spotted recently. Whoa!

Sometimes a friend joins me. So, I know hot tubs are no place for dogs, but she jumped in and finally lost her curiosity. Ha!

A friend in the hot tub

Light a candle or stoke up a fire.

In Colorado, most fireplaces are gas since we have a problem when heat inversions which trap pollution in the atmosphere. I love to flip the switch on my gas fireplace and mellow out in pajamas while watching the flicker of the flames. Or if the fire danger is low, have a bonfire with friends or family. Tell a ghost story or two. Surely you will experience a Hygge moment when you cuddle in a blanket and a shiver ripples up your spine.

bonfire

Meditate.

Insight Timer is a terrific app for tuning out the world to center and release stress. You can choose from guided and unguided meditations. It is good for the body and the soul. Find a warm, comfy space and peace-out for ten minutes. Enjoy your Hygge moment!

Create.

When our brains unlock creative flow while writing, painting, drawing, or when engaging in any other arts or craft activity, a sense of peace is released. Embrace this amazing feeling. Be aware of what you accomplished!

NOTE TO SELF: Start on this year’s Christmas card. Tick, tock…

illustrated christmas cards

Bake!

Ever since my kids went to college, I’ve baked a lot less. Making cookies and cakes for two can be hazardous to one’s waistline. Now that the weather is colder and the holidays approach, I yearn to bake bread and rolls. There’s nothing like the accomplishment of creating while the heavenly scent rises from the oven. Yum!

 

Cooling on the racks.

Spend time with family.

Since my son lives in California and my mom lives in Wisconsin, the moments we share are precious. Being an empty-nester, I truly cherish the time when everyone is home. I try slow down and live in the present moment, like this one.

Courtney, Grandma, and Kelly

Last night, I took a long hot shower. While wearing my favorite fleece pajamas, I made a cup of Sleepytime tea. I flipped the switch on the gas fireplace and slipped under the covers to read a book. Roxy cuddled next to me and kept me warm. After my Hygge moment, I slept really well!

I can’t wait to celebrate our family birthdays and holidays in November and December.

Lots of Hygge moments ahead! Onto that Christmas card…

 

Had you heard of Hygge? What are your favorite ways to bring a sense of comfort and coziness to your life?

Click for more adventures on the Wild Ride!

Related posts:

Join the #Blessed Project!

My 50 Faves and How to Join!

Backpacking Challenge in the Rockies

Brainstormed Design Ideas for the Future

I’m a writer, illustrator, and child of the 1960’s. What do I know about designing for the future? I grew up with Star Trek and could relate to its creator, Gene Roddenberry. What we have in common is imagination. When I was a kid, I used to have a recurring dream where a Polaroid picture would move like a video for about five seconds. When I saw Harry Potter for the first time, I loved seeing the wizards’ newspapers. Moving photos on paper. I’m still waiting for that.

All technological breakthroughs start with an idea.

Creative people are the indispensable cogs which jump start the design engine. With the ignorance of engineering and technology, they can brainstorm all kinds of crazy ideas. I am the queen of crazy. There are no rules for imagination. So here goes.

Windows for the World

We all love windows. I can’t imagine living in a home without them. What if you had to create a livable environment in an undesirable location? It may not be cost effective to have windows. Homes built in extreme climates like in the Antarctic, Arctic, desert, or Mars could have live feed windows. A camera mounted outside could project the image inside on a faux window/television screen. This would provide the link to the outdoors needed for mental health. Mine especially. It could be programmed to provide a completely different picture if the environment wasn’t so great like in heavily polluted areas or looking at a building’s brick wall.

The creators of LG Ultra put their screens to the test. Continue reading

Back in the Water for #SharkWeek

Kelly and Susie Santa Monica Beach

The crashing of the sea drowned out my beating heart as I stepped into the waves with my surfboard. I would share this massive body of water with all kinds of sea creatures including sharks. The last time I surfed, the rhythmic waves in Costa Rica made standing up on a board as simple as standing on a picnic table. That board’s width and length helped too. This time would be different. The foam board would be gentle on my knee if I smacked it, but its narrow width and my still wimpy left leg would make balance squirrelly. I was stoked for the challenge. 

I have never been at ease when black water swirled around my body. I’ve spent a lot of time in lakes and had been nibbled several times. But a lifeguard stood on the Santa Monica beach while helicopters watched from their perch in the sky. I had no fear of sharks. 

What happened here? Continue reading