Improvised Life » principles / rules for living If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:13:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wener Herzog’s Brilliant + Questionable Advice Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:33:58 +0000


We are always interested to read advice of creative, original thinkers AND to see what of their wisdom we DON’T buy. We’ve learned the hard way that one size does not fit all. If we are going to forge our unique path, we’d do well to try out what we’re not sure of, embrace what works or rings true, and say no to what doesn’t.

Which is exactly what we did with the great Werner Herzog’s 24 compelling rules for filmmakers, found on the back of his latest book Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed(more…)

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David Foster Wallace: ‘You Get To Decide How You’re Gonna See’ Wed, 21 Jan 2015 07:56:25 +0000

(Video link HERE.) We are KNOCKED OUT by this brilliant video of a thoughtful excerpt of the commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005. It’s watching every bit of the 9 or so minutes, even if you have to do it in chunks throughout the day.

His message is essential. We’ve included a short bit here. (more…)

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Little by Little, Fill Yourself with Good: Rick Hanson’s TED How-To Mon, 19 Jan 2015 08:09:03 +0000

Rick Hanson

Psychotherapist Chris Eldredge sent us this powerful TED talk of neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson‘s simple technique for transforming our hardwired negative patterning (also known as Negativity Bias). We thought 13+ minutes might be too long for our busy selves, but Hanson’s talk flies by, and we found ourselves with a useful practice we can do anywhere, anytime.

The gist: People more readily TAKE IN negative things that happen to them; incorporating the positive takes a simple 20-second technique. Although the back story is illuminating, you can cut to the chase at 7:12. (Video link HERE.) (more…)

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The Many Powers of “Listening” Thu, 15 Jan 2015 08:14:34 +0000


Chris Eldredge sent us this image of “Écoute”, the massive sandstone sculpture by Henri de Miller in Paris’ jardin des Halles, near the church of Saint-Eustache. In French, Écoute means “listen”. It got us thinking about just how powerful a practice listening is, and how varied its powers are: (more…)

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Embracing NOT Knowing Wed, 14 Jan 2015 07:11:00 +0000

Sally Schneider

A few weeks ago, we met an old friend for dinner who had recently lost his wife of sixty years. When we’d called to tell him we’d heard the news and to offer anything — to bring him food, come by to give him a hug, take him out to dinner — THAT’S what he said he wanted: to have a good dinner, a cocktail or two, be out in the world. Somehow he snagged a last-minute reservation at a very good restaurant at the height of Christmas season. We arrived to find him wearing a button that said “I don’t know”(more…)

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Vibrating Bed Fix #438: Homemade Concrete Block Bed Legs + Sorbothane Tue, 13 Jan 2015 21:00:10 +0000

Sally Schneider

Since I last posted the Vibrating Bed Mystery Contest Update in October, I’ve tried MANY solutions to toning down the vibration that shakes me awake in my bed each night. Sleep-deprived and desperate, I pursued fixes by trial-and-error while entering into deep research into the nature of vibration, how it travels, what materials amplify it…very esoteric stuff for a lay person. (The image below of a vibration made on a Chladni Plate is a beautiful symbol of this complex problem).

I discovered that part of the extreme difficulty was due to vibration traveling from the floor UP through the bed. It is MUCH easier to tame a vibration at its source, say, from a piece of machinery under which you can put vibration-absorbing material. Since I knew it would take a while to find the source of the vibration, if ever, I wanted to get the bed calmed down and get some sleep.

An engineer who had worked at the Mayo clinic took an interest in my dilemma, which led to a BIG adventure (more…)

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A Cranky Sardine’s “Improvised Life Moment” Tue, 13 Jan 2015 08:32:25 +0000 Marella Consolini, who has been reading Improvised Life years, sent us this email:
The evidence of the impact that  Improvised Life/you have had on my life is such that there is a new name that I have for certain types of experiences — “An Improvised Life Moment.”


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Alicia Nunez House: “A Balanced Personal Ecosystem” Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:00:44 +0000

We recently stumbled on two images at Aqqindex simply titled “Alicia Nunez house”. We were knocked out by the feeling of the space and its many interesting ideas: concave ceiling and angled walls, built-in niches, bricks positioned sideways, a long ledge for sleeping and reading with more niches…the living area steps up, from shiny dark tile to a rough puzzle of pale stone, the dark stone of one wall integrated by the geometry of the fireplace…

We’d never heard of Alicia Nunez. We looked her up to discover that she is a Barcelona architect/designer. We are stunned by her “Philosophy/Our Offer“: (more…)

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We are Charlie Mon, 12 Jan 2015 07:52:41 +0000

Thibault Camus AP

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The Practice of Seeing Through New Eyes (Proust + LSD) Thu, 08 Jan 2015 09:37:04 +0000

This quote reminded us of a stunning video of a 1950's housewife who took part in an early LSD experiment. As the drug takes hold, she glories in the colors she sees and says "Everything is one. Can't you see it?" Without taking LSD, we find there is still a great deal of unexpected beauty to see IF we practice noticing what's around us.]]> 0
2014 Through Viral Videos: Our Takeaway Wed, 07 Jan 2015 07:53:06 +0000

(Video link HERE.) 233 viral videos from 2014 spliced together make quite a view. We turned the sound off and watched people leaping…dancing…flying…balancing…mastering…diving…risking…challenging themselves physically…

What about challenge? we wondered. We thought of the many difficult situations we faced this year that were internal and not filmable with a Go-Pro Camera: they were our private challenges.

And that reminded us of the incisive and liberating comment a reader left some time ago: (more…)

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A Poem for Starting A New Year or Day or Hour Mon, 05 Jan 2015 07:31:43 +0000

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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It’s a New Year: Imagine! Sat, 03 Jan 2015 01:02:49 +0000

(Video link HERE!) The lovely GIF we saw at Hedwiggen, below, suddenly made us flash on John Lennon singing Imagine in 1971, over forty years ago. The video he made with Yoko Ono, with its image of the opening up of the dark, shuttered rooms of a house to light, resonates still. We think of all that happened to them both: the terrible tragedy from which Ono kept emerging with her art works and expressions of peace, and daring SCREAMS. Over decades, she has continued to turn dark to light (embracing aging and even being a bad dancer).

So, though when we first read Imagine’s lyrics, we thought it as super-idealistic and pie-in-the-sky-ish, we realize that it’s not. (more…)

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Holiday Strategy?: Abundance Without Attachment Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:16:19 +0000

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. ]]> 0