Improvised Life » books + zines (mindset) http://www.improvisedlife.com If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:13:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 A Poem for Starting A New Year or Day or Hour http://www.improvisedlife.com/2015/01/05/a-poem-for-starting-a-new-year-or-day-or-hour/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2015/01/05/a-poem-for-starting-a-new-year-or-day-or-hour/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 07:31:43 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=47478

One of the best gifts we received for Christmas was Mary Oliver’s book of poems Blue Horses. No matter where we open it, we find a few words that reminds us of a way of living and seeing we’d like to follow. (The epigraph features the remarkable Kabir quote, above.)

Here’s a catalyzing fragment from the poem “The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac”: (more…)

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Holiday Strategy?: Abundance Without Attachment http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/12/17/holiday-strategy-abundance-without-attachment/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/12/17/holiday-strategy-abundance-without-attachment/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:16:19 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=47232

Siglio Press

For those wondering how to navigate the lavishness and commercialization of Christmas, we recommend "Abundance without Attachment", Arthur C. Brooks' New York Times' op-ed in which he tells of the three principles he's learned for handling the painful contradictions of the season and of our aspirational era. ]]>
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An Intro to ‘Bird by Bird”s Brilliant Instructions on Life http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/12/16/introduction-bird-bird-instructions-life/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/12/16/introduction-bird-bird-instructions-life/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:05:57 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=41611

A while ago, Brain Pickings posted on Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, for our money one of all time BEST books about the creative process. Although we’ve written about the book ourselves — including our crazy-favorite quote about being “flanged” — Brain Pickings offers a trove of excerpts that make a fine introduction if you’re not familiar with the book. Here’s just one: (more…)

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Basho Haiku for Cabin Porn http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/25/bashos-cabin-porn-haiku/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/25/bashos-cabin-porn-haiku/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:27:20 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46749

Claude Guérin.

The other morning, we opened our favorite book of haiku to this astonishing three lines by Basho, written in the 17th century.

       Life in this world—
a makeshift hut
       like Sogi’s.

 

Such pleasure, contentment, and wonder in a simple makeshift hut made us think of ones we’ve admired at Cabin Porn(more…)

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The Beauty of Unfinished…and Asking for Help http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/12/beauty-unfinished-asking-help/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/12/beauty-unfinished-asking-help/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 23:44:04 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46691

Amanda Palmer/Maria Popova

This image of musician Amanda Palmer in Brain Pickings reminded us how beautiful walls intentionally painted in a rough “unfinished” line can be.

But the real gift was this little video of Amanda Palmer talking about why it is so difficult—and can be so healing — to ask for help, which is the subject of her new book, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. Check this out: (more…)

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Gary Snyder’s Buddhist Grace http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/06/gary-snyders-buddhist-grace/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/06/gary-snyders-buddhist-grace/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 09:22:13 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46564

We’ve come upon this passage about saying grace before a meal many times while flipping through The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations and each time have thought, We need to do that, to at least think it if not say it aloud. Snyder’s view is just right. It may be especially resonant now that we are receiving food every week from Essex Farm in northern New York. We are cooking and eating with the seasons and are astounded weekly by that abundance that we are lucky to have. In hearing of what goes on on the farm, we feel like we somehow are part of it, aware of the weekly harvesting of vegetables, gathering of eggs, careful, mindful slaughtering of animals.

In The Practice of the Wild, Snyder puts eating in a much bigger context that we find deeply connecting and comforting. His grace is about taking a moment to think about our food and to express gratitude for the hugely creative force behind it, which we are part of: (more…)

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Maira Kalman’s Favorite Things (What are Yours?) http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/04/maira-kalmans-favorite-things/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/11/04/maira-kalmans-favorite-things/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 09:31:24 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46501

Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman’s latest book My Favorite Things is already proving to be an enduring beauty on our morning reading pile. It features more than fifty objects from both the Cooper-Hewitt and Kalman’s personal collections — an Ingo Maurer lamp, Rietveld’s Z chair, a pair of Toscanini’s pants, photographs Kalman has taken of people walking towards and away from her, to name a few —with Kalman’s handwritten reflections on their meaning.

The strange little book is a meditation really, on the ways rooms, hats, shoes, things of all sorts, resonate in our lives, inside and out. We find opening it anywhere gives us an excellent shift of view with which to start our day. (more…)

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Marie Kondo’s Philosophy of Decluttering http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/30/marie-kondo-philosopher-declutterer/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/30/marie-kondo-philosopher-declutterer/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:55:03 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46396

Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has taken Japan and Europe by storm. And it seems, it is in the US as well. What sets Ms. Kondo off from other decluterring experts is her underlying philosophy that dictates the work of “tidying”.

An article in the New York Times outlined Kondo’s two basic, somewhat radical/spiritual, tenets:

Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service and… (more…)

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When Things Fall Apart, They Come Together Again http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/29/things-fall-apart-2/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/29/things-fall-apart-2/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 06:54:47 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45745

Sally Schneider

Last week, my dear friend whose hospital stay strategies we documented a bit in June ended up back in the hospital for a rather scary heart procedure. Test-after-test indicated dire problems that had to be taken care of NOW, ASAP, STAT!!!!

While helping him navigate challenging tests and meetings with the doctor, my 94-year-old mother passed away in her sleep, about a perfect a passing as you could ask for. But a blow nevertheless.

It’s been a week of very wild life, each moment unpredictable. (more…)

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James Baldwin on Making a Leap http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/22/james-baldwin-making-leap/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/22/james-baldwin-making-leap/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 22:00:05 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45143

Richard Avedon/The Avedon Foundation

From our friend Marella Consolini:

I recently read an interview with James Baldwin in a 1984 Paris Review. To me, fascinating under any circumstance, but of course thought of you because of his mention of a deep and personal leap. Details:

Was there an instant you knew you were going to write, to be a writer rather than anything else?

BALDWIN: Yes. The death of my father. Until my father died I thought I could do something else. I had wanted to be a musician, thought of being a painter, thought of being an actor. This was all before I was nineteen. Given (more...)]]> http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/22/james-baldwin-making-leap/feed/ 4 Extra Long Ribbon Book Mark to Mark Many Pages http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/18/extra-long-ribbon-book-mark-mark-many-pages/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/18/extra-long-ribbon-book-mark-mark-many-pages/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 21:00:51 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45555

Sally Schneider

Last weekend we bought a big fat book of Pablo Neruda’s odes for a dear friend’s birthday gift. Loving to improvise the presentation of our gifts, we went to our collection of found ribbons and wrappings wondering what would strike us.

A very long, thin green ribbon gave us the answer: it would become a 3-foot+ bookmark that could wind in and out of the book to mark the odes we wanted our friend to read first, so that they too would become a kind of gift. (more…)

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Ikea’s Knockout Video on the Power of a Book http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/08/ikeas-knockout-video-power-book/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/08/ikeas-knockout-video-power-book/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 22:03:08 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45276

(Video link here.) Ikea’s creative team is rivaling Apple’s…AND using Apple’s classic myth-making approach to its latest technology to describe the…power…of…a…BOOK.  This brilliant ad for IKea’s 2015 catalogue lays out just why REAL books are so wonderful.

With thanks to Susan Dworski for making sure we watched a video we’d ignored!

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Tiny Pink Cupcake ATM is Brilliant Lateral Thinking http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/02/tiny-pink-cupcake-atm-lexington/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/02/tiny-pink-cupcake-atm-lexington/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:00:23 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45060

Sprinkles Cupcake

This little pink ATM in NYC is restocked with yummy cupcakes every night offering 24/7 access to cupcakes. We love the application of the essential idea of an "ATM" to something completely unexpected: cupcakes instead of cash. Why not? ]]>
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Random Find: Klee’s Tree House via Little Free Library http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/07/22/random-find-klees-tree-house-via-little-free-library/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/07/22/random-find-klees-tree-house-via-little-free-library/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:47:19 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=44358

Paul Klee/Pasadena Art Museum

Recently, when a Little Free Library was set up in the park across the way, we discovered an unexpected pleasure of these little  public leave-a-book-take-a-book libraries. In a public setting, when you least expect it, in the most random way possible, a book opens in your hands, as Paul Klee (Art for Children Series) did recently. (more…)

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