Improvised Life » work / livelihood If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:18:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jim Henson on Making Art Make Money (Money as Energy) Tue, 03 Jun 2014 23:00:19 +0000

Shaan Syed/Ana Cristea Gallery

We love puppet artist Jim Henson’s view of money, which we read about in an excerpt of Liz Stevens’  Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career:

Henson viewed money as energy, the energy that makes concrete things happen out of worthy ideas. (more…)

]]> 0
“Do What You Love” Every Day in Small Doses… Tue, 03 Jun 2014 08:49:01 +0000

Recently, Sally showed me Gordon Marino’s NY Times article, “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love”. The gist: the oft-repeated 21st century American mantra of following your true passions — instead of dull but reliable career paths — is misguided. 

There’s a hint of naïve entitlement to making “Do What You Love” the be-all-end-all answer to the workday blues, just as suggesting “Just move!” when a friend’s neighborhood turns dangerous comes across as simplistic and dismissive. Sometimes, you just can’t. At the heart of the matter is devaluing other forms of dedication, labor, work. Must we passionately love everything that we give attention to? Why?

]]> 5
Improvised Life WITH Ads (NOT) Wed, 21 May 2014 23:00:57 +0000

Sinnae Choi for Improvised Life

Lately, we’ve been mulling ways to support Improvised Life. One thing we’re sure of: we hate ads on websites, especially the big ticket distracting ones that blink and move.  And we know from our reader surveys and letters that you love that Improvised Life DOES NOT have ads. You don’t like the way they look, and we don’t like the idea the influence advertisers want to have on content.  We don’t want you to click on an article and see THIS: (more…)

]]> 6
The Human Library: Check Out People Instead of Books Tue, 21 Jan 2014 22:00:54 +0000

With libraries quickly reformulating their mission statements to survive, this innovative library believes stories are much better shared when they come from the source. At the Human Library, you actually borrow a person who has stories to tell gathered from a unique life experience.

“For half an hour, you can sit down with a prostitute, a politician, or a funeral director, all of whom have incredible stories to share…unlike a book, they’re able to answer your questions and tailor the storytelling experience to you.”

via Cara de Silva via Roadtrippers

]]> 0
Unusual Paths: Why Give Up Celebrity to Become a Buddhist Nun? Thu, 12 Dec 2013 09:48:40 +0000

(Video link here.) We love knowing about people who make the decision to change their lives radically and take a leap onto what might seem an opposite path; the willingness to change is at the very heart of improvising. So we were really interested to hear why Ani Chudrun, who used to present Top Gear, the BBC TV program about cars and driving, gave up fame in 1993 to become a Buddhist nun.

In this quiet, curiously fast-moving 7-minute video portrait, Chudrun explains what led her away from a life of celebrity, drugs and materialism to one of reflection, compassion and ritual.  (more…)

]]> 0
What To Do When Lost, Creatively or Professionally Thu, 12 Sep 2013 08:54:57 +0000 What to do when lost in the woods

Often as we curate content for Improvised Life, we’ll find that posts from different blogs and sites resonate with one another, as if finishing each other’s thoughts. Recently, an article in 99U about a driven entrepeneur feeling that his work was HIM seemed to echo what many people we know have struggled with: That their work defined them, and without it they are nothing. When the unexpected happened and either their work ended or failed, they were at sea, rudderless, feeling without an identity. The entrepeneur in the 99U piece finally realized that YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR WORK. “…you find out that your kids still love you. Your wife still loves you. Your friends still love you.”

Just as we were thinking about all those people we knew who feel lost when their professional identity changes, we stumbled on (more…)

]]> 0
messy or neat workspace: which is best for you? Tue, 06 Aug 2013 20:44:42 +0000 desk splice remodelista + einstein

Remodelista recently published the winner of the Best Reader-Submitted Office Space in their Considered Design Awards. We find the image of the office downright eerie: not a paper in sight, no evidence of…a person, the opposite of Einstein’s desk, where you could practically hear his thoughts.  It made us think about our conceptions of workspaces; what they are meant to do.

These days we frequently read articles about how to declutter your desk, as though messy desks were a plague. There is a lot of pressure to be tidy. TIDY. Yikes! Sounds like something from Mary Poppins.  Einstein himself wondered: If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Good question!

We were delighted to read 99u’s recent The Perfect Workspace (According to Science), five aspects to consider when you’re setting up your workspace, like Taking Ownership of Your Workspace, and Taking Advantage of Color, Light and Space, Make Use of Windows and Plants…(and mirrors!)

Our favorite: (more…)

]]> 5
artful improvised receipt storage (via maria robledo) Mon, 20 May 2013 17:18:21 +0000 We found this wonderful image on Maria Robledo’s Instagram. Ohhh, what a great method of storing receipts (emptying pockets or bag then-and-there.) Thrown into a space between books —some amazing ones at that— they take on a curious beauty.

We have a box in an easily-accessible file cabinet that we throw them into to collate later. Whose got time to scan and organize ‘em?

What’s your method?

Thanks Maria!

Related posts: how to store fruits, vegetables and eggs without a fridge cheap, chic, (more...)]]> 0 a busy office disappears behind hafele’s sliding wall Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:42:05 +0000 Sally Schneider's sliding wall

photo: sally schneider

For the renovation of my 1,000-square-foot ‘Laboratory’ in New York City, my mission was to open up the space to the spectacular park view AND fluidly accomodate an open kitchen, workspace, dining area, and living area. To do this, I removed a small bedroom to dramatically expand the main room and built an office area along one 15′ wall in the big space. The pressing question then became: how to “disappear” or close-off the office so I could “leave” my work? (This is the great dilemma of people who work at home; I learned the hard way that sleeping where you work is NOT a good idea.)

I discussed the problem with Scott McFarlane, an interior designer I consulted with early on in the project. A curtain won’t do”, said Scott. “It’s not substantial enough. You need to close your work off with a WALL, that will really make you feel it’s gone.” He thought for a moment. “I remember seeing a mechanism that was basically flat panels that roll on a track to become a flush wall that would conceal the office. When you rolled them back to reveal the office again, they would “nest”  in a specially built nook.”

We found the mechanism — called the Aperto 60 H Operable Wall System (more…)

]]> 6
kraft paper desk blotter and note pad Wed, 03 Apr 2013 14:20:46 +0000 Every since we wrote about artist Dieter Roth’s work tables, which he covered with sheets of thick artist’s paper so that they would capture the processes of whatever he was working on, as well as notes and scribblings, we’ve loved the idea and have used it. Recently, we stumbled on a clever iteration: use a swatch of Kraft paper as your surface. Rolls of Kraft paper are cheap (48″ x 200′ roll of kraft paper $20!)and great to have on hand for a variety of uses, from drawable gift wrap to instant dining table “cloths” and place settings .

via (more...)]]> 0 chic utilitarian diy work table Mon, 18 Mar 2013 18:02:40 +0000 Spotted on a well-worth-checking-out riff of interiors photographed by Simon Watson‘s: a cool, clever workstation make out of simple wooden sawhorses, a hollow core door, an industrial drawer unit, and a Tolomeo lamp.

via Desire to Inspire

Related posts: copy this: hinged, folding/expanding table top sawhorse tables as solution + sculpture d-i-y expandable table pt.2 (round) for holiday and other celebrations one big swell table from several smaller ones swell rigged kitchen island on sawhorses

]]> 2
cary grant gif inspiration: filng system Tue, 05 Feb 2013 03:23:01 +0000


via Tara Mann via The B-Man Collective

]]> 0
productivity tip: display completed to-do’s Mon, 19 Nov 2012 09:38:18 +0000

Like many people, we’re always trying to find ways to increase productivity without stressing ourselves out. We’ve discovered that along with the idea of being more productive and in control comes the pressure to accomplish things. I can have the effect of making us “look over the fence at other people’s greener grass” and be too hard on ourselves.

Recently, we’ve taken to periodically take stock of the big things we’ve accomplished over the year, or several years, i.e. the broad picture as an antidote to thinking we’re getting nothing done. Then the other day on Lifehacker we came across the idea of making a DONE wall, where you post all the tiny steps accomplished. (more…)

]]> 0
finding a clear work space + e.b. white on “stuff” Tue, 23 Oct 2012 10:38:48 +0000

photo: jill krementz

Although our borrowed cabin in the country was not quite as spare as Charlotte’s Web author E.B. White’s enviable makeshift work space (in his boat shed overlooking Allen Cove in 1976, pre internet), we are refreshed by going minimal for a week, in nature and quiet.

We were so intrigued by White’s utterly simple, focused space, that we browsed some of his essays. We were amused  and heartened to read of White’s eloquent stuggle with “stuff” in “Goodbye to Forty-eighth Street:

For some weeks now I have been engaged in dispersing the contents of this apartment, trying to persuade hundreds of inanimate objects to scatter and leave me alone. It is not a simple matter. I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly goods to go out again into the world. During September I kept hoping that some morning, as if by magic, all books, pictures, records, chairs, beds, curtains, lamps, china, glass utensils, keepsakes would drain away from around my feet, like the outgoing tide, leaving me standing silent on a bare beach. But this did not happen… (more…)

]]> 1