Improvised Life » signs + reminders If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:20:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Sign from Mary Oliver Wed, 01 Jul 2015 06:25:54 +0000


This wonderful sign is a fragment from Mary Oliver’s longish 3-part poem Evidence.

As usual with her poems, there several passages that we could see on that sign board, which is, curiously, the kind used by churches.(Oh for a church where Mary Oliver is quoted and read.)

Here are some beauties, which together, make their own poem:


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Practice: Quiet Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:12:25 +0000

A friend recently told us about her practice of taking an occasional day of silence; she shuts down intrusive electronics like her computer, tv, phone, and goes through the day without uttering a word. The neighbors in her smallish town know that when she wears a button saying “Honoring Silence”, they need to do just that.  It is an ancient practice that can do much to restore balance in modern times.  Franz Kafka described it perfectly over 100 years ago in his suprising poem, Learn To Be Quiet. (more…)

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Take Your Shoes Off ? (Signs, Opinions + Warhol) Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:00:07 +0000

Andy Warhol/Christie's

We knew the Take-Your-Shoes-Off-In-the-House-thing had reached critical mass when we saw door mats for sale that say SHOES OFF in big ugly letters, and other iterations on the theme. It got me thinking about the homemade signs we’ve seen asking guests to remove their shoes, as well as the ones we’ve made ourselves over the years. Here’s a collection, a question and some ideas. (more…)

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‘Every Exit is a Start': Stefan Sagmeister Wed, 10 Jun 2015 06:59:04 +0000

The Happy Show/Stefan Sagmeister

Designer Stefan Sagmeister has been obsessed with HAPPINESS for a decade or so, doing massive research, giving talks, making a film, and mounting an exhibition called The Happy Show, An Exploration of Happiness. You can visit it virtually at his tumblr. It’s worth it. Sagmeister’s tested a lot of “happiness” theories on himself.

The very best bit to us are the exits…done three ways… (more…)

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Wondrous Spinning Gif + Anne Herbert’s Inimitable Wisdom Thu, 14 May 2015 20:06:16 +0000

We love this beauty of a gif from the great intepid gif-artist DVDP. It reminds us of the very wise words of the mysterious Anne Herbert: (more…)

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A Mime’s Curiously Visionary Design Thu, 07 May 2015 06:17:48 +0000

(Video link here.) Ikeda Yosuke is a mime who incorporates graphic design and typography into his performances. He is not a professional designer, but he practices outside-the-box thinking with everyday objects we take for granted. Here he envisions OPEN’s opposite hidden within: an example of true possibility-thinking.

More of Yosuke’s work here.

via Core 77

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Role Model: Mr. Clean Enough (Roz Chast) Thu, 30 Apr 2015 06:06:41 +0000

Roz Chast/The New Yorker

The great Roz Chast's recent New Yorker cartoon really hits home. Having once been quite a serious neat-o-phile, I've learned over the years that the principle of "enough" can be quite liberating.  It's a variation of a philosophy I first learned from a therapist friend...]]> 1
What if We Stopped? Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:42:50 +0000

Stefan Sagmeister

Yesterday, we stumbled on Seth Godin’s question “What if you stopped?“, and….

…we did stop for a minute to think about it.

What if we stopped publishing Improvised Life?  (more…)

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Christoff Niemann’s “I Confess” Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:01:15 +0000

Christoff Niemann

While we were researching recent pieces about the great Christoph Niemann recently, we came across “I Confess”, his visual confession of all the things he is (or thinks he is), and that WE TOTALLY RELATE TO.

It is a great reminder that you can be Out of Style, Out of Touch, Use the Wrong Screws, Steal Books and not able to Draw Cats or Hair and STILL make incredibly illuminating things that really need to be in the world… (more…)

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Reflecting on Difficulty: 5 Questions that Transform Thu, 02 Apr 2015 06:15:20 +0000

At the height of a recent crisis a few months ago, our friend Chris Eldredge send me this note: I’ve been reading Jack Kornfield’s “A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life” and saw this. I thought it might interest you. (more…)

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5+ Happiness Generating Questions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:50:00 +0000

As ever, Neil Gaiman nails it. But there’s a question in his wonderful words, one that many people we know have been asking themselves: What Do You Have that Nobody Else Has? What is the particular flavor/quality/aspect/talent/vision unique to you? And even more importantly, what are ways it can thrive in the world?

Ko Im over at Thought Catalog (via 99U) poses additional questions about ones SELF that he says will prompt you to discover patterns that point you toward greater happiness: (more…)

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‘Create Dangerously’ (Camus), ‘Every Wall is a Door’ (Emerson) Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:52:12 +0000


In the final paragraph of Camus’ last published essay, Create Dangerously, we found this radical idea:

One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. ‘Every wall is a door,’ Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is—in the very thick of battle. For in my opinion…it IS there…

…As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all.


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John Cage: Saying YES to Unpredictability Tue, 10 Mar 2015 06:52:01 +0000

We opened the John Cage’s enduringly great A Year from Monday and found this extraordinary set of questions*:

How immediately are you going to say Yes to no matter what unpredictability, even when what happens seems to have no relation to what one thought was one’s commitment?

The kind of YES he’s talking about is full committment: (more…)

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Holi: Throw Happiness Around Like Confetti! Mon, 09 Mar 2015 06:09:41 +0000

The Hindu traditional day of festivity known as Holi, celebrated on March 5th, is a religious celebration that has come to signify a lighthearted goodbye to winter and joyous welcome to Spring. Celebrants throw vibrantly colored powders on each other, as though blessings, in a jubilant day of transformation.  Spring is literally in the air! (more…)

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