Improvised Life » principles / rules for living http://www.improvisedlife.com If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:20:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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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Scared? Great. Do It! http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/29/scared-great/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/29/scared-great/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:53:32 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46160

Reading Holton Rower’s “Run Toward Your Fear” sign recently, I recalled a remark that Tom Robbins made to me years ago when I was fretting about whether to sign up to design a big, new project with a tight deadline that required a great many skills I did not have—skills I would have to learn on the job. A very scary prospect.

What if I dropped the ball and left the client hanging, (more…)

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Creativity: “A Constant, Continual Process” that Defies Age http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/27/aging-creating-constant-continual-process/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/27/aging-creating-constant-continual-process/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 08:04:43 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=46229

Erik Madigan Heck

Yesterday’s Sunday Times Health Magazine was thin…but PACKED with stunning insight and images. Themed “The Fountain of Youth”, it asked and partially answered the questions: What does it mean to age? and What are the secrets to doing it well?

The photo-essay Old Masters features luminaries 80 + years old who continue to be passionate about their work.  “They reign. ” Each one embraces the continual process of learning and growing, while ignoring usual notions of what aging looks like. (more…)

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Ultimate Aikido for Everyone http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/15/ultimate-aikido-everyone/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/15/ultimate-aikido-everyone/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:12:48 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45954

Not everyone’s a grandparent, or even a parent. But we’ve all been a child once upon a time, and have either been through the wringer or put them through it.

The invitation to a baby shower for a friend expecting her first child—a girl—asked guests to include a note in the RSVP divulging our most sage piece of advice for successful child wrangling. Without hesitation I wrote:

No doubt about it. The two most important words are: (more…)

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An Engineer’s Strategy for Getting Things Done http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/09/engineers-strategy-getting-things-done/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/09/engineers-strategy-getting-things-done/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:30:32 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45868

One of the great gifts of Improvised Life has been correspondence with readers, who are a mightily varied, creative and surprising group of people. Recently, Michigan-based engineer Kevin Neff, responding to the contest/challenge we published a few weeks ago,  has been advising me on how to rig my bed to stop it from transmitting the mysterious vibration that comes through the floor. In addition to the practical solutions — making or buying concrete bed legs of a certain, carefully-calculated weight, and sandwiching them with visco-elastic Sorbothane —he offered an excellent strategy for getting project done. (more…)

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Song for Monday: ‘Throw it Away’ (Abbey Lincoln) http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/06/song-monday-throw-away/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/10/06/song-monday-throw-away/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 07:28:31 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45766

Chris Eldredge recently sent this crazy-beautiful song by Abbey Lincoln (below). "These magic words in a magic book" seem perfect for re-entry to Improvised Life after the challenges of the past few weeks. Lincoln's lyrics could be Improvised Life's anthem and are a fine way to enter a Monday morning.]]>
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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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Noticing Gratitude http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/23/noticing-gratitude/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/23/noticing-gratitude/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 07:48:08 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45635

Sybille Palmer

A message came in from a reader today that knocked us out. It was forwarded from our friend and frequent contributor Susan Dworski: (more…)

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Poem for Monday: Ode to the Happy Day http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/22/holt-happy-sheet-rock-hole-view-shanty-town-pigeon-view/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/22/holt-happy-sheet-rock-hole-view-shanty-town-pigeon-view/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 08:11:02 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45229

Holton Rower sent us this image, and Neruda’s Ode to the Happy Day jumped into our lap right after it.

Although we’ve had some difficult things to deal with lately — everyone we know has had difficult things to deal with — we love imagining “nothing has happened to anyone“, and then being happy “just because I breathe”, if only for a moment…and then another…and then another… (more…)

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Climate Change’s Essential Questions: Why Not? http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/21/climate-changes-essential-questions/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/21/climate-changes-essential-questions/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 21:00:31 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45621

@sizeofwhales

Due to a family emergency, we couldn’t be at the worldwide People’s Climate March BUT we were there in spirit, checking in throughout the day.  We LOVE these essential Improvised Life-esque questions.

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Practice: Ask ‘What’s Not Wrong?’ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/17/shantytown-homelssness-perspective/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/17/shantytown-homelssness-perspective/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:16:24 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45304

?

The other day a friend sent us this image of a homeless person lying amidst a drawn virtual room. We have no doubt it was staged by an artist (whoever he/she is) but it still has a feeling of randomness, that life could ironically set things up that way.

There are the symbols of a cozy home, something we all want, and the harsh realities of NOT: a mattress on the street. Imagine!

We make a practice of imagining such a reality as a way of unhooking from our own lack of perspective, the “I don’t have THIS or THAT”, or “I’m not where I think I should be”, or other nullifying judgments.  No matter how tenacious those feelings, “perspective enhancers” like the image above automatically cause us to shift, (more…)

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What if Your Life Were a Painting? http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/16/paint/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/16/paint/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:14:08 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45334

?

We —our lives — are really a kind of artist’s canvas.

When we take that view, we ask ourselves:

What are we painting?

Do we paint with kindness, generosity, anger, fear, bravado, hatred, curiosity… (more…)

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Be Alert for Bad Productivity Advice http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/15/alert-bad-productivity-advice/ http://www.improvisedlife.com/2014/09/15/alert-bad-productivity-advice/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:32:20 +0000 http://www.improvisedlife.com/?p=45033

We are big fans of 99U and have found quite a few ideas that foster productivity. Some of their posts definitely do not. They got us thinking about all the “sure-fire advice” from supposed experts that we find on the internet, and how easy it is to think we’re doing things wrong.

Here’s an example:
“By waking up just 30 minutes early and jumping right into the work, we can block our mental editor from hindering the idea-generating process. “

(more…)

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