Improvised Life » principles / rules for living If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:24:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2 Ways to Listen that Will Change Your Life Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:03:10 +0000

From Seth Godin:

You can listen to what people say, sure.

But you will be far more effective if (more…)

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How Vivian Maier Defied the Norm and Made Her Secret Art Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:37:11 +0000

(Video link HERE.) In the March 31st New Yorker, Anthony Lane asks a compelling question in his review of Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary about the nanny who, during the 50′s and 60′s, secretly photographed the street-life of Chicago during her time off. It was not until years after her death that her enormous body of photographic work was found. Writes Lane: (more…)

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It’s NEVER Too Late to Start Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:17:20 +0000

We recently stumbled on this great sign at Funders and Founders, a website of infographics about entrepreneurship.

We are startup evangelists and infographic authors. Our mission is to inspire everyone from engineers to moms to do a startup. 

YES! We are great believers that “it’s NEVER too late to start”, the key word being START. When people hear the word entrepreneur, they usually think MONEY…as in startup to make $$$$$$$.  But entrepreneurs can have a variety of goals, way beyond the making of money. The word entrepreneur comes from the French means “one who undertakes”. We know lots of people doing that: (more…)

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Being Okay with Not Knowing Where You’re Going Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:14:26 +0000

Joan Miro

We know a lot of people who are in big changes in their lives. The work they did for decades has disappeared. Or, they  simply feel a powerful need to move into new territory in the way they work or live or create. The central locus on which they relied is changing and they are once again without answers. Because life IS change, and that is the deal.


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Paralympic Role Models Wed, 09 Apr 2014 08:52:16 +0000

Perhaps more interesting to us than the Sochi Olympics was the Sochi Paralympics that occurred in mid-March. We started to write “People with serious disabilities from more than 40 countries competed in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling.”and thought better of it. The word disability doesn’t seem right. (more…)

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Ferran Adrià: Creativity Needs Rest Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:58:36 +0000

Sally Schneider

Yesterday, we thought we had set our favorite Arabia tea cup down on the edge of the bathroom sink, only to hear it smash into the bathtub. Okay, we got the message, we thought: SLOW DOWN. We take small accidents like that as warnings that we are too distracted to be present.

But we got the REAL message the next morning while scanning websites for illuminating ideas, images, and info that would resonate with Improvised Life: CREATIVITY NEEDS REST.  (more…)

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Embracing our Mortality to LIVE MAKE GROW Tue, 18 Mar 2014 08:12:39 +0000

Sally Schneider

In a recent New York Times, 36-year-old Paul Kalanithi wrote How Long Have I Got Left about his diagnosis of terminal cancer, and coming to terms with his doctor’s inability to tell him how much time he had left: The reason doctors don’t give patients specific prognoses is not merely because they cannot..[but because] ...the range of what is reasonably possible is so wide….Yes, you will die. But one wants a full pound of certainty, and that is not on offer.

Kalanithi eloquently addresses how he learned to live aware of but NOT knowing, with the gravest of uncertainties: (more…)

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More on the Meaning of Olé, from Elizabeth Gilbert Mon, 17 Mar 2014 08:31:50 +0000

Esteban Perez Abion

After we wrote about the meaning of the murmers and shouts of Olé we heard at a stunning Estrella Morente concert,  reader Hannah alerted us to Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk ,”Your Elusive Creative Genius”, in which she speaks about the origins of Olé, and why the “Olé’s” we heard sounded like “Alé”. We excerpted a clip from the longer talk, with a quote, below. Beautiful: (more…)

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Estrella Morente and the Meaning of Olé Thu, 13 Mar 2014 08:39:08 +0000

(Video link HERE.) The other evening we were invited to a concert of Andalusian-born Flamenco singer Estrella Morente, whose incredibly expressive, passionate and complex singing is legendary in Spain. We noticed that as Morente sang, members of the audience would occasionally say “Olé” (pronounced alé). Morante and her accompanists — three clapping as percussion, two playing guitars, one drums — would also utter “Olé “when one of them was performing particularly moving or daring passages.


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Fantasy Facelift Redux: ‘It is better to look forward and out’ Thu, 06 Mar 2014 22:00:03 +0000

Carlos Otero Blanco

Our recent Fantasy Facelift post got quite a response, including a number of emails from readers. One particularly wise and moving one came from our friend Ellen Silverman, who has been working on various photography and video projects in Cuba. Here’s what she wrote: (more…)

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The Practice of Waiting is Part of Making Thu, 06 Mar 2014 09:06:43 +0000


Over the years, we’ve learned to embrace the practice of waiting — patiently — knowing that things will change and become unstuck, or simply are moving by another timing, that is not the one WE WANT. Sometimes, there is nothing else to do but wait.

Waiting is part of the many steps of making: a non-action that can very important action. But ‘non-action’ can be difficult to describe, since ‘doing nothing’ can be a time of hidden fermentation and unexpected ideas. So we looked up WAIT. In the definitions, we found words (in bold) that made a little poem: (more…)

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Why Movement is THE Best Productivity App Wed, 05 Mar 2014 23:30:50 +0000

Josh Eisen sent us a compelling Linked-In post by trainer Beth Kanter citing the latest in neurocognitive research that finds MOVING YOUR BODY is a great built-in productivity app.  She confirms what we’ve discovered ourselves as we sit for hours writing Improvised Life every day. Josh put it into words:

improvising to figure out supporting working rhythms, and the ingredients you’ve discovered for success: movement, stillness, eating the right things, exercise, good light, good sleep. Most importantly, how to listen and learn your personal rhythms which can, and do, change from day-to-day and seasonally… It’s all about finding a work rhythm from within (more…)

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Improvised Life’s Unfolding Path (+ Principles) Wed, 05 Mar 2014 09:09:46 +0000

Yoshinaga Yasuaki

I found this image from the great Miranda July in the early archives I created when the idea for Improvised Life was just forming. It’s from an installation called The Hallway that July made in Tokyo in 2008: a 125-foot hallway lined with 50 hand-painted wooden signs that act as an internal voice.  The signs raise questions that must have been on my mind as I contemplated a LEAP (more…)

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The Thrilling Adventure of Familiar Frontiers Tue, 25 Feb 2014 09:42:33 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Mickey Smith is a surf photographer from Cornwall, England whose six minute video of wave riding in the ominous North Sea is a stunning, nail biting, vicarious experience for urbanistas and land-locked couch potatoes. But diving beyond the hair-raising visuals, listening to Smith’s philosophy of life is what makes this clip intriguing.

Smith says, “I never set out to be anything particular, only to live creatively and post the scope of my experience through adventure and passion… (more…)

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