Getting creative at Christmas….

It’s the Eve of Christmas Eve, and I know some of you are still out there shopping.  I also have a couple of items yet to pick up, but… there are creative options. A few years ago, a friend of mine and I decided we should give each other “events” or “moments” for Christmas instead of things. (we still can’t help giving a wee thing… old habits die hard)

As a kid growing up in a very creative family we made it a rule that we had to make at least one gift. This became the funnest part of our gift giving, because it nurtured our creativity, and also made us a tad competitive in a very fun way. I am very grateful we had this ritual.

When I got into the performing arts my gifts changed colour (I still like making things). One of my favourite gifts to do was researching good short stories and recording them on tape so my parents would get personal audio stories.

How can you turn your skills, hobbies, or interests into a gift?

You can make gift certificates that give your receiver a 3 dimensional proof of your future gesture.

1. Escort you on a Spring Hike with a hot chocolate at the best viewpoint. (take a thermos)
2. Read a story aloud to you, before going to sleep at night, for 10 nights of your choice. (start researching stories)
3. For your artist friend, take them for a gallery tour, with a good cup of coffee and discussion at the end.
4. Take your friend/family to a play, or to some live music. (this might cost a little bit, but so much fun!)
5. Offer to clean, vacuum, or spruce up a friend’s place. (could be a real treat for a friend/family)

Our favourite gift from Peter's sister, Sue!

Examples like these are fun, unexpected and can kick-start your imagination. And, you won’t have a horrendous credit card bill at the top of the following year!

What do you think? Any ideas to share?

And, under what Christmas celebratory category do you fall? Read more at “Buffoon Droppings”.

Merry Christmas, and remember, breathe and enjoy your loved ones first and foremost!

Breathe, & find the gems of joy… Merry Christmas

Thinking Outside the Box… far outside

We live in a world, or a culture of power-points, hand-outs, workbooks, slides (still), video presentations, and so on. Some of us, and maybe some of you, might respond to a more visual, 3 dimensional moving presentation? I love the “thinking outside the box” of John Bohannon’s following presentation – throwing in a little right brain energy into a left brain explanation.

How could you use the artistic way in your work, your office, your company a little more? Do you think it could re-engage your employees, or spice up your colleagues? In turn, do you think productivity might improve? Could it be more fun and productive? Just asking!

Thank you, TEDtalks…


Technology & the Arts… and maybe other fields?

When I started my first business, HotScarves, I had to learn about the Internet and it’s possibilities for marketing. The graphics art enthusiast in me enjoyed the idea of composing, designing, and writing for my humble website. It was the beginning of a long, exciting voyage.

A different business later, Buffoonery Workshops, and deeper into the website world, I came face to face with Social Media. That’s where I felt compelled to draw a line. I’m an ARTIST! I can’t do this! I’ll be on the computer too much! I don’t want to do this!

But I did. I had to. Otherwise, I would be missing out on exciting marketing tools, and ways to connect to the global world. A few years later, I’m a social media zealot, and even coach others who were like me at the beginning!

The following article, however, discusses another level of connecting with others on the Internet. “Crowd-Sourcing” is a phenomenon that can excite the input of many others for a variety of projects. And, I don’t think it is limited to just the arts. What do you think?

Here’s a little video to help define crowdsourcing before you read the article:

Crowdsourcing Creativity

By Naina Singh

At a TED talk earlier this year, Aaron Koblin, an artist “specializing in data and digital technologies”, began his talk by drawing attention to a tweet from a media theorist: “19th century culture was defined by the novel, 20th century culture by cinema, the culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface.”

Now let’s deter ourselves from contemplating how we live in a world where tweets have become the new medium for philosophic aphorisms. Instead, let’s contemplate the interface, which means “a common boundary or interconnection between systems, equipment, concepts, or human beings.” Some thoughtful seconds later we can begin to comprehend the importance of the interface and how it has provided the world with numerous platforms for communication, the most important of them being the Internet.

Being Connected …decreasing envy & sabotage?

How unpleasant is it to work beside someone who pretends to get a long with you, but ultimately is sending a deep green cloud drifting your way?

I am not unfamiliar with that feeling of someone close by making things difficult because of envy. I just didn’t realize it at the time. “Who would be envious of ME?! Good grief!” When those same people became happier, and even joyful, when I was going through a rough period, I knew this was NOT normal! Even worse, when gestures of sabotage were delivered with the goal of spoiling a good moment occurred, it was time to zoom away.

"Buffooning Envy..."

A challenge if you are stuck working with someone of this nature!

Years later, I think, what if we had “buffooned” or played together in some boisterous way? Would that have improved our “togetherness” and ultimately our working relationship?

Do you have experiences of this nature? How were they solved?

The following article got me pondering the benefits of playing with our workmates!

Envy Begets Sabotage in a Disconnected Workplace: Study

By Evelyn So, Epoch Times:

Managers take note! Envious employees are more likely to engage in workplace sabotage if they have low social identification with their co-workers, new research from North America suggests.

“We often hear that people who feel envious of their colleagues try to bring them down by spreading negative rumors, withholding useful information, or secretly sabotaging their work,” study co-author Karl Aquino of the University of British Columbia said in a press release.

Read rest of the article by Evelyn So, Epoch Times

Conviction… before creativity and innovation…

HotScarves or Buffoonery?

Years ago, after a back operation that stopped me working part-time as a costume set supervisor,  I started a little business called HotScarves. I’d send you to the website, but… it ran away to the outer world of lost websites.  I had worked hard on my creation, a heated fleece scarf, but after many scarves my energy was waning and my “conviction” was dropping.

Teaching Buffoonery at VFS

Teaching Buffoonery at Vancouver Film School

I was doing it for the wrong reasons. Money. And, that’s not enough.

I had a little chat with myself, and dug deeper into my soul. I returned to my love of acting, of directing and designed the workshop I now offer. Buffoonery Workshops.

Okay.. that’s the reader’s digest version, but that’s all you need to know, for now. What is important here is that my conviction for my service is a hundred fold more than my cozy fleece. I’m excited, passionate, and I love stirring up the Buffoonery in every one. It’s a freeing activity, and even soulful. My attitude and staying power is strong, and I believe it’s all about that word in the following brilliant article: Conviction.It is the driving force to our creativity.

Is your conviction strong in your working life? And, what is it?

Why conviction drives innovation more than creativity

By Doreen Lorenzo, president, frog

In business circles, “creativity” has become a buzzword to describe a desired trait among employees. But to innovate, conviction is more important.

FORTUNE — In business circles, “creativity” has become a buzzword to describe a desired trait among employees. It’s widely believed that having creative thinkers on staff will boost overall team levels of innovation. Yes, creativity can lead to a surplus of original ideas. But when it comes time to sell those concepts internally, and then later take those ideas to market, creativity is not enough. More important is conviction.

Look at the most-admired business leaders today. They tend to resist compromises, even when faced with widespread skepticism or even complaints from customers. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s young founder, is known for the exactness of his vision, which drives each design or software tweak of the social networking software that he created, despite the now-requisite uproar each change incites among Facebook’s 750 million-plus users (whose own convictions, it should be noted, help drive subsequent iterations and privacy policies of Facebook).

Read the rest of the article by Doreen Lorenzo at CNN.Fortune

To Play or Not to Play…. that is the question?

Recently in Vancouver, Canada, a big controversy arose because of- quote from article: The Vancouver Sun:  “ping-pong, air hockey, foosball, archery, bocce, shuffleboard, Frisbee golf, volleyball, basketball and the Frisbee game Ultimate.”

And more:

“Other suggestions included playing games like Pictionary or Scattergories, learning to play the Chinese tile game mah-jong, going for a hay ride or a trail walk, or relaxing and chatting at a campfire.”

(Sounds like a lot of fun…. oops)

These actions took place, or were encouraged to take place during the Professional Development Days for the Eric Humber School of Vancouver. It did not go over well with B.C. Teachers’ Federation. And, according to the Vancouver Sun, was deemed “regrettable” by B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert.

When I read this article, my heart sank, and then I laughed at the absurdity of the seriousness of it. If the B.C. Teacher’s Federation had read Stuart Brown’s book, “Play- How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul“, they might have been praising the choices of Eric Humber School. I sure would have.

Indeed there are many studies that prove that “playing” is a healthy necessity for our survival, and a big boost for employees, revealed in much more productivity. Hmmm…. And, as Geoff Johnson from the Vancouver Sun pointed out in his article, “Play Day for Teachers Not Out of Place in Big Business World“,  the corporate or business sector are realizing the opportunities their companies have if they allow their employees to play, and ultimately get more innovated.

Check in with some of the companies who like to play and see how they’re doing. Google, Microsoft, Vancouver local 1-800-GotJunk embrace and reap the benefits.

“Production matters now, but creativity is the source of all growth.” “Play is the mother of invention.” – Stuart Brown, from his book “Play…”

Do you have opportunity for play in your work? Would love to hear about it!

Happy Participants in Buffoonery Workshops


Just Showing Up & Creating…

The below interview caught my eye. I suppose it did because of a pact I made with myself earlier this year. June 3rd to be exact. I was on the plane heading back East and to what I knew was going to be a challenging situation. My parents, both unwell, needed help. I am an “only child” so it was going to be tough.

I prepared myself mentally on the plane. I asked myself what I could do to help keep me grounded and still feeling like me. “Write.” A voice told me to write everyday, no matter what. “And, write a poem everyday, no matter what.”

And that’s what I did. It was therapeutic to show up to my nightly ritual, but a little tougher to show up to the poem. But, I did it. And, it helped as I swirled around with my parents in a mix of doctors, hospitals, social workers, psychiatrists, home care, nurses, care facilities, and angelic friends. Sometimes it was one in the morning, in complete exhaustion that I arrived at my journal.

Actually, I’m surprised I fulfilled my pact. (Most of the poems are probably crap, but, you know, what? Some of them are kind of good.)

But more importantly, despite everything, is that I proved to myself that no matter what, if we just show up, we can create. Even if we don’t feel like it.

It’s time for me to return to that discipline. Want to join me? What do you think?

Creativity Is Hustle: Make Something Every Day

“Doing something start to finish each day not only helps you get over the fear of starting a project, but also the fear of finishing one,” explains Mike Winkelman, an animator and VJ known as Beeple, and creator of Flying Lotus’s “Kill Your Coworkers” music video. On May 1, 2007, he decided he was going to complete an art project every day. He hasn’t missed a day since — he calls his projects “everydays.”

Read the rest of the article by: Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

Laughter.. how could it not be good for you?!

I was so happy to stumble upon the following article thanks to the fabulous Daniel Pink‘s tweet.

Any study that promotes laughter as a good thing makes me happy. I grew up with a good sense of humour, and lots of giggling as a result. I am grateful I was “easily amused” as was told many times by friends. (I didn’t care as I had way more fun than them, anyway!). Unfortunately, a lot of us lose our easy humour as we grow older. (not everyone) So… going out of your way to re-discover those laughs is a good thing! Buffoonery anyone? Haha!

Would love to know what makes you laugh? And how often do you laugh?

An irresistable bouffon!

An irresistable bouffon! (photo by Chara Berk Photography)

Scientists Hint at Why Laughter Feels So Good

Laughter is regularly promoted as a source of health and well being, but it has been hard to pin down exactly why laughing until it hurts feels so good.

The answer, reports Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford, is not the intellectual pleasure of cerebral humor, but the physical act of laughing. The simple muscular exertions involved in producing the familiar ha, ha, ha, he said, trigger an increase in endorphins, the brain chemicals known for their feel-good effect.

His results build on a long history of scientific attempts to understand a deceptively simple and universal behavior. “Laughter is very weird stuff, actually,” Dr. Dunbar said. “That’s why we got interested in it.” And the findings fit well with a growing sense that laughter contributes to group bonding and may have been important in the evolution of highly social humans.

Read rest of the article by James Gorman

The Power of Day Dreaming… & no electronics..

Do you ever allow yourself to just sit and stare? Years ago, I used to love long bus or train rides for day dreaming and letting my mind wander. It was definitely a favourite pastime.

Witnessing nature stare

Witnessing nature stare... Ucluelet, BC

These days it seems harder to find those moments as there is always something to DO, and always something close by to DO it with. Even my short bus rides into Vancouver can be filled with emailing, catching up on a phone call, or reading. Even on the toilet there is something close by to read if you are in there for a longer moment.

When do we actually stop, and do NOTHING? And, does “nothing” have to be a bad word? I know I have this underlying guilt if I’m not being productive, so sitting becomes more challenging. Arg.

The following article is confirmation, justification that sitting, daydreaming, and allowing the muse to finally slide into your otherwise bizeeee brain is a very important, and good thing!!

Switched-on world is killing creativity, expert warns

By Claire Connelly

  • Switched-on world is killing our creativity
  • Anthropologist says we need boredom
  • “Creating a space for creative thought”

MOBILE phone use and instant access to the internet from almost anywhere could be stifling creativity, according to Australian born cultural anthropologist, Genevieve Bell.

“I wonder if it means we don’t have enough time to imagine things”, Ms Bell told

“I think there’s something really powerful about one’s own imagination.

“We do a lot of consuming but where’s the moment where you develop your own point of view?

“Where’s the moment where you synthesize what you’ve been thinking about, where’s the moment where you react to it, where you create something that echoes it or that challenges it”.

“That’s a much harder thing to do.”

Read the rest of the article by Claire Connelly…

Saying Thanks Goes A Long Way…

How are things where you work, or with the clients of your own business? Does your boss thank you, appreciate you, allow you to play, surprise you with a bonus now and then? And, if yes… how does that make you feel? If you are a CEO, how does it feel to give your employees a little extra? And, as an entrepreneur, do you treat yourself sometimes as a way to thank yourself for all your hard work?

When I worked in the film industry as a costumer, I could always tell when we were working for a good producer (boss). The cast and crew were happy, and would go an extra mile.

A nice thank you from producers on "The Highlander"

A nice thank you from producers on "The Highlander"

And, maybe it only took a surprise dessert on the catering truck to do it! And, lots of thank yous! Or, maybe just a simple “how are you doing today?”.

What companies do you know have nurtured a reputation for being “good to work for”?

I like the following article by Barbara Bowes that addresses this subject.

Just say THANKS Employee appreciation enhances productivity, creativity

There is a well-known saying that suggests employees who leave an organization do so because of their managers.

What these managers are doing to drive employees away is often not well defined. However, my experience suggests that many employees leave because they do not feel appreciated and do not receive sufficient recognition from their manager. This feeling of not being appreciated eats away at one’s morale and if not dealt with, the sense of despair and dissatisfaction will eventually act as a major factor in the decision to leave.

Read the rest of the article by Barbara Bowes