Category Archives: Business & Education

Shared Post: The Progress Principle…

What do you think motivates employees? When I ask this question to my clients, typical responses include incentives, bonuses, promotions or awards. In fact, there is an entire consulting category dedicated to helping companies maximize employee retention, engagement and productivity through compensation and rewards strategies. If you are interested in doing just one simple thing […]

via The Progress Principle – Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work — DRH Group

Shared Post: How technology can make our kids better learners…

“Instead of making kindergarten like the rest of school, we need to make the rest of school (indeed, the rest of life) more like kindergarten.” — Mitch Resnick I have Mitch Resnick (or, more specifically, his published work) to thank for sending me down the rabbit hole of innovation in education a few years ago. Mitch Resnick (aka […]

via How technology can make our kids better learners: MIT Media Lab’s Mitch Resnick on raising digital creators vs. consumers — The Innovative Parent

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Too Old’ or ‘Too Young’ to Be Creative

Read Julia Cameron‘s entire article on Motto 

Ours is a youth-oriented culture. A glance at the tabloids tells us of the exploits of the young. There is not as much of a platform for the artistic achievements and accomplishments of the older or even the middle aged. We falsely believe that creativity belongs to the young, and so, when we pass a certain age, we tell ourselves we are “over the hill.” We ignore the fact that many artists create well into what might be called their “dotage.”

The idea that creativity fades with age is false.

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a book on creativity called The Artist’s Way. Over four million people have worked with that book. I have taught many live classes and have often found my just-retired students to be the most poignant. Setting out to write a book on creativity and aging, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I discovered that many of us have a fiery passion we long to express in our golden years. As we turn our hand to the page, crafting a memoir of our time on the planet, many dreams surge to the fore. It is not “too late” to begin their pursuit. Often, our life’s experience gives us a “leg up” in creating meaningful art. Comfortable in our own skin, we may find the gift of candor as a passion that has been brewing for decades pushes to the fore with energy and conviction.

We are taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic. Nonsense.

Internalizing these destructive messages, we believe we’re “too old,” decide it’s “too late.” But “I’m too old” is something we tell ourselves to save ourselves from the emotional cost of the ego deflation involved in being a beginner.

In the moment of creation, we are ageless. We feel both young at heart and old and wise. “Artists work until the end,” my photographer friend Daniel said to me recently. Yes, they do. This is why retirement from one career— even if it is our major career—is not, by any means, “the end.” Because the act of creating something, anything, renders us timeless, because the act of creation is led by that inner, youthful part of ourselves, we continually reinvent our lives through our art. The capacity to create is as innate as our very life force. I would even say that our creativity and our life force might be one and the same.

Julia Cameron is the author of more than 30 books, including The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World, Finding Water and, most recently, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.

Mapping Creativity in the Brain

See the original post by KYLAH GOODFELLOW KLINGE  at theatlantic.com.

The writer Edith Wharton, a self-professed “slow worker,” dismissed the idea of easy creative triumph. “Many people assume that the artist receives, at the outset of his career, the mysterious sealed orders known as ‘Inspiration,’ and has only to let that sovereign impulse carry him where it will,” she wrote in her 1925 bookThe Writing of Fiction. The artistic impulse, she continued,  was instead achieved through “systematic daily effort.”

edithwharton
Photo from creativebuzzing.wordpress.com

But while she championed diligence, Wharton was also driven by something she found more difficult to describe. Writing in The Atlantic in 1933, she sought to explain that “central mystery” of spontaneous creative expression—the “teeming visions which, ever since my small childhood, and even at the busiest and most agitated periods of my outward life, have incessantly peopled my inner world.”

“It is as impossible to fix in words,” she wrote, “as that other mystery of what happens in the brain at the precise moment when one falls over the edge of consciousness into sleep.”

There are many types of creativity, but in recent years, researchers have begun to understand more about the kind of creative flow Wharton described—the state that today is colloquially referred to as “being in the zone.”

In a 2008 study published in the journal PLOS, Charles Limb, an otolaryngologist at the University of California, San Francisco and accomplished jazz saxophonist,and Allen Braun, a speech researcher at the National Institutes of Health, designed a clever way to observe creative expression in the brain: an fMRI machine with a specially made musical keyboard. The two men recruited six professional jazz musicians for the study; while in the fMRI, the participants performed musical exercises ranging from a memorized scale to a fully improvised piece of music.

LIMB6-saxaphone550
Photo from hopkinsmedicine.org

Watch Charles Limb’s TED Talks

Observing the musicians’ brain activity as they performed each task, Limb and Braun found that when their subjects improvised, a region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) became less active. Like a neural mother hen, the DLPFC is connected to planning, inhibition, and self-censorship; its deactivation has been suggested to play a role in altered states of consciousness such as daydreaming, meditation, and REM sleep. (A separate imaging study published in the journal Nature in 2012 found a similar lulling of the DLPFC during freestyle rap.) This pattern of brain activity, Limb and Braun wrote, may be “intrinsic to the creative process,” which “can apparently occur outside of conscious awareness and beyond volitional control.”

Their findings support a fundamental model of creativity developed by Arne Dietrich, the author of  and a professor of psychology at the American University of Beirut. Dietrich argues that the brain’s prefrontal cortex is central to creativity, and depending on the particular creative activity, the region will either significantly slow—as it did in the jazz study—or ramp up.

In other words, creativity is necessarily a variable phenomenon. At times, it’s the composer’s strict pen: intentional, revisionary, critical. And at times, it’s the spontaneous new melody: unconscious, experiential, flexible. So what determines which creative path a person takes in a given moment?

Earlier this year, Limb co-authored a new study led by Malinda McPherson, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard-MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology, to address that missing element. The study also asked jazz pianists to improvise in an fMRI scanner; this time, though, the musicians were instructed to first review photographs of a woman wearing a positive, negative, or neutral expression, and then to try to match the photo’s mood with their improvised melodies.

paul-simon-paul-simon-improvisation-is-too-good-to-leave-to

The results were somewhat surprising. McPherson’s team predicted the creativity-related DLPFC deactivation from the previous study would be found equally in the negative and positive improvisations, but it was much more pronounced during the happy trial. The researchers also found that the negative-photo improvisations showed greater activity in certain brain regions connected to cognitive control and reward; specifically, there was increased connectivity between the insula, an area that controls visceral awareness, and the substantia nigra, an area responsible for reward and pleasure.

Broadly, McPherson’s findings support Dietrich’s argument that creativity doesn’t stem from one easily definable process or brain pattern. The results also indicate that “emotion has a huge effect on the way our brains can be creative,” McPherson says. Positive emotion, for instance, seems to be related to a deeper state of creative flow. Her findings also seem to indicate that unhappy artistic expression requires more conscious restraint than happy music—but may also be, on some level, more rewarding.

“Sadness in art is perplexing,” McPherson says. “People love performing and listening to sad music, but generally try to avoid sadness in other areas of their lives.” It may be that the arts give us the chance to safely practice and experience a range of emotions, she says—or, as Wharton writes, to experience feelings “quite unrelated to the joy or sorrow caused by real happenings, but as intense.” Sad music, then, could be especially pleasurable because the musician “knows that the sadness is coming from the art, and not from any other loss,” McPherson speculates. Happy art, on the other hand, may allow a deeper creative flow because it carries less emotional risk, even if it also means less of a reward or release.

But Dietrich advises caution in extrapolating too much from McPherson’s study or any neuroimaging research on creativity. “Even for the wilderness of human thinking, creative ideas seem to be deliberately designed to defy empirical enquiry,” he says, adding that some ideas pitched as neural explanations for creativity have “completely failed” to produce coherent results. Dietrich remains skeptical that fMRI-bound improvisations are an accurate representation of truly freewheeling creative flow. Even so, he says, the McPherson study is a “genuine addition to the literature.”

Of course, the more questions that are answered, the more questions arise: Do the findings about jazz improvisation apply equally to other forms of art and music? If there are distinct paths to creativity, how can we steer our brains to enter a state of creative flow? What happens to the brain during those more deliberate creative efforts, such as revising an artistic work?

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Southern Komfort Brass Band December 23, 2014 at Duling Hall in Jackson MS. Photo Credit: LaTonya Miller

As they move forward, Limb and his colleagues are working to both deepen their understanding of musical improvisation and extend the research to other areas of creativity. “There are so many deep and critical questions when it comes to the neuroscience of art,” he says. “It may take a while before we are able to unify the knowledge across disciplines.”

5 Creativity Books Everyone Should Read

In 5 Creativity Books Everyone Should Read Dean Bokhari gives us some awesome resources designed to help anyone maximize creative potential. That is, anyone dedicated enough to cultivate their desired talent. Innate or otherwise. Click the link above for Bokhari’s original article. It’s a quick and entertaining read.  In it he takes a realistic look at the creative process and briefly explains what you’ll gain from each book.  If you don’t need any convincing, shop Bokhari’s list below and dive into these gems now by selecting the eBook versions!

E-Reader’s Rack Vol 8: Independence

red hot and boom

Red Hot and BOOM!
by Various Authors

The Red Hot Authors present Red Hot & BOOM! A Sizzling Hot Collection of Stories. Celebrate Independence Day with Ten Books from Authors who will Heat Your Summer Nights!, You will fall in love with the characters!

  1.  ALL HAT NO CATTLE by Randi Alexander
  2.  FOR LIBERTY by Rene Folsom
  3.  COME WITH ME by Sable Hunter
  4.  WHITE CHOCOLATE CHERRY by Graylin Rane
  5.  SCORIN’ ON THE FOURTH OF JULY by Cassandra Carr
  6.  ONE LAST RODEO by Michel Prince
  7.  STARS AND SPARKS by Christin Lovell
  8.  FIRECRACKER! by Desiree Holt
  9.  SPARKS FLY by Mari Carr
  10. RETURN TO HER by Alexandra O’Hurley

Category: Romance & Holidays
Price: $0.99 Originally $9.90
Expires: Jul 10, 2015
Get it: Amazon

clutter free

Clutter Free: Small Life Changes
by Lynn Hall

Want to de-clutter your home and live in a stress free environment, but feel like you do not have enough time? You can! Take back your life! This book is about having a plan for getting your life and things around your house under control. Learn which items to keep and which ones to let go of which is incredibly vital when you are attempting to de-clutter your home, reduce your stress, and simply streamline your day-to-day life.

Category: How to & Home Improvements
Price: $0.99 Originally $7.99
Expires: Jul 10, 2015
Get it: Amazon

flight

Flight
by Alyssa Rose Ivy

With over 175 five-star reviews on Amazon: Allie is spending a summer in New Orleans when she meets mysterious and enticing Levi, who takes her on a supernatural journey that will cause her to question everything she thought she knew.

Category: Teen/Young Adult
Price: Free! Originally:$0.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

saturday night widows

Saturday Night Widows
by Becky Aikman

In this “testament to the durability of the human spirit” (People), Becky Aikman shares her struggle with grief and her gradual adjustment to life after her husband’s death — with the help of a group of women known as the Saturday Night Widows. “An unexpected delight, rich with wisdom and laughter” (The Washington Post).

Category: Non-Fiction & Women’s Studies
Price: $1.99 Originally $9.99
Expires: July 19
Get it: Amazon

dump dinners

The Absolute Best Dump Dinners Cookbook
by Rockridge Press

Dive into this mouthwatering guide to everything from soups and salads to pastas and frittatas. With 75 delicious recipes that require minimal prep time, this book is ideal for the busy home cook!

Category: Cook Books/Quick & Easy
Price: $0.99 Originally $3.99
Expries: July 9
Get it: Amazon

attitudes of gratitudes

Attitudes of Gratitude
by M.J. Ryan

Want to feel healthier, happier, and more complete? Learn to practice gratitude every day, with proven techniques that might just change your life! “This little book is an elixir for the soul” (New York Times bestselling author Kathy Freston).

Category: Self-help/Motivational
Price: $0.99 Originally $14.95
Expires: July 7
Get it: Amazon

E-Reader’s Rack Vol. 6: Memorial Day Weekend Reads

fallingfor

Falling for the Marine 
By Samanthe Beck
Chloe refuses to date military men — but when sexy helicopter pilot Michael ends up on her massage table, their chemistry is too powerful to resist. Don’t miss this sizzling USA Today bestseller with over 700 five-star ratings on Goodreads!
Category: Erotic Romance
Price: $0.99 Originally: $2.99
Expires: Unknown
Get It: Amazon   Apple iBooks Google

bbq

The BBQ & Outdoor Grilling Cookbook 
By Scott Cooper
Winter’s finally over — it’s time to break out the grill! This mouthwatering cookbook offers easy, delicious recipes for everything from seasoned steak to herb-sprinkled fish, along with irresistible sauces, tasty side dishes, and tantalizing desserts.
Category: Cooking
Price: Free! Originally: $3.99
Get it: Amazon

warbond

War Bonds
By Cindy Hval
Even in the depths of World War II, love found a way to thrive… This moving book tells how 30 remarkable couples came together in wartime — and forged bonds that would endure for life.
Category: General Nonfiction
Price: $1.99 Originally: $14.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon   Apple iBooks

grounded

Grounded
By G.P. Ching
Growing up in an Amish community, Lydia Troyer is secluded from the outside world. When she seeks medical help for her father, she discovers a secret government study to end the energy crisis that thrusts her into a pivotal — and perilous — role. A riveting dystopian novel!
Category: Teen and Young Adult
Price: Free! Originally: $2.99
Get It: Amazon   Apple iBooks Google

lestwe

Lest We Forget
Brian L. Porter
Brian L. Porter will take you into the center of the action in this poetry collection, and make you feel as if you are really there. One minute you’ll find yourself in the cockpit of a bomber, limping home damaged from a raid over enemy territory; and the next in a dogfight over the Kent countryside during the Battle of Britain. His grandfather and father having served in the army during WW1….
Category: Nonfiction
Price: $0.99 Originally: $3.99
Expires: May 26, 2015
Get it: Amazon

ethan

Ethan
Celeste Hall
Ethan knows that his entire race hovers on the brink of extinction. Strict laws that have protected their species are now being challenged. Laws created to prevent demons and humans from consorting outside of the Dream. But there is something about Madison that draws him in, despite the consequences.
Category: Paranormal Romance/Erotic Romance
Price: FREE! Originally: $2.99
Expires: May 28, 2015
Get it: Amazon Apple Kobo B&N SmashWords Google

purge of

The Purge of Babylon 
By Sam Sisavath
After creatures of the dark nearly destroy humanity in one blood-soaked night, a small band of survivors fight their way to safety. Help awaits in the countryside — but the journey will test them in unimaginable ways… With over 550 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Category: Science Fiction
Price: Free! Originally: $0.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

home to w

Home to Walnut Ridge 
By Diane Moody
After leaving a nightmare job, Tracey returns to her Tennessee hometown, where she discovers surprising secrets, unlikely romance, and a fresh start. A warm and uplifting tale of faith, love, and second chances with over 200 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Category: Christian Fiction
Price: Free! Originally: $3.71
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

thefree

The Free 
By Willy Vlautin
A disabled Iraq War veteran, Leroy survives by escaping into an alternate reality — while Pauline and Freddie, who work at his nursing home, endure their own harrowing struggles. A “heartbreaking” novel (Booklist) with nearly 350 five-star ratings on Goodreads.
Category: Literary Fiction
Price: $1.99 Originally: $10.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon   Apple iBooks Google

against

Against the Dark
Carolyn Crane
Today’s Deal is a Thriller Suspense by bestselling author, Carolyn Crane. An anticipation and a nail-biting suspense. Angel Ramirez left the safecracking game five years ago, and she?s worked hard to make amends and build an honest life. But when a beloved aunt is kidnapped, she must reunite with her girl gang to acquire the unique ransom: Walter Borgola’s prized diamonds…
Category: Romance, Myster/Suspense
Price: FREE! Originally: $3.99
Expires: May 28, 2015
Get it: Amazon Apple Kobo B&N SmashWords Google

inadmissable

Inadmissible 
By Tamer Elsayed
Tamer came to America to pursue his dreams — but when a youthful mistake landed him in legal trouble, he discovered the dark side of the US justice system. “An intelligent, honestly written memoir of immigration” (Kirkus Reviews).
Category: Biographies and Memoirs
Price: Free! Originally: $2.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon  Apple iBooks

identity

The Identity Switch 
By AJ Winters
What if you could make big changes to your life by starting with a few small things? Learn how understanding your own psychology can help you achieve even your largest goals!
Category: Advice and How-To
Price: Free! Originally: $0.99
Expries: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

buriial

Burial Ground
By Michael McBride
When Hunter’s body turns up in Peru, his father flies down to investigate the murder. But he’ll soon wish he’d never set foot in the rainforest… Perfect for Michael Crichton fans.
Category: Action and Adventure
Price: Free! Originally: $2.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

deceptive

Deceptive Cadence 
By Kathryn Guare
Conor McBride disappears into a false identity to find the man who betrayed him — his own brother Thomas. He wants nothing more than to bring Thomas home, but he’ll soon find himself facing danger and conspiracy in a foreign land. A mesmerizing thriller about family and redemption.
Category: Thrillers
Price: Free! Originally: $2.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

dyingfor

Dying for the Highlife 
By Dave Stanton
Jimmy Homestead has a checkered past, but he hopes to leave it all behind after winning $43 million in the lottery. Instead, he’s followed across Nevada by old enemies and so-called friends… Can PI Dan Reno keep him out of harm’s way?
Category: Mysteries
Price: Free! Originally: $3.99
Expires: Unknown
Get it: Amazon

Have your read any of these featured books? How would you rate it? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Word of the Day + Repost: The top 10 words of TED2015

Great top 10 list here from TED Blog. But the word that caught my eye is “retronym,” used in number 9. If you click the link it takes you to wordnik.com which defines the word this way:

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
  • n. A word or phrase created because an existing term that was once used alone needs to be distinguished from a term referring to a new development, as acoustic guitar in contrast to electric guitar or analog watch in contrast to digital watch.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
  • n. A new word or phrase coined for an old object or concept whose original name has become used for something else or is no longer unique (such as acoustic guitar where guitar used to mean this but can now also refer to an electric guitar).
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
  • n. a word introduced because an existing term has become inadequate

Read user feedback on this word over at wordnik.com and see how TED Blog uses it in the post below. While you’re at it store these 10 words in the back of your brain. You’re sure to see and hear them again in the coming months.

TED Blog

Erin McKean shares the top 10 words of TED2015. Her #6: placemaking, from Theaster Gates' TED Talk. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED Erin McKean shares the top 10 words of TED2015. Her #6: placemaking, from Theaster Gates’ TED Talk. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

TED is about ideas worth spreading, and these often come wrapped up in words worth knowing. Here are some of the great words from TED2015:

10. Neurodiversity. From Steve Silberman’s talk on the history of the autism spectrum. It’s a word that began popping up in 1998, and it means “the variety of configurations of the brain, especially with regard to autism.” A word all neurotypical people should know.

9. Kinetic attack. From David Rothkopf’s talk on the global threat of cyberattacks. Kinetic attacks involve moving parts — think bullets and bombs. This phrase is an example of a retronym.

8. Court-scraper. Heard at a lunch to celebrate the publication of The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings by Marc Kushner. The context: “But not, of course…

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