Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5 ways that creativity is like breathing

A Sage was once asked, what is the secret to a long and satisfied life?  He answered, "Keep breathing."

Inhale slowly, hold it, exhale slowly, empty your lungs, inhale slowly....the creative breath flows through each of us.  Do you feel it?

Stack Of Books by thephotoholic

1.  Its important to breath in deeply.  When I plan a creative project, I start by researching on the Internet, in books, to see what has been already done with the idea that I have.  What techniques have already been used?  What innovations are others making with this medium? What parts of what I see do I want to borrow in my project?  Its like an immersion course in the idea.  I have a huge library of books -- historical books, art books, theological books, craft books, natural field guides and cook books.  I have a book case just devoted to fiber arts  -- hand spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, natural and chemical dyeing and basket weaving.  As I plan a new project, I take a deep breath, and dive into the books looking for ideas, culture, history, and aesthetics.  Creative people need to love books.

2.   Its important to hold your breath.  Once I've immersed myself in the idea, looking at it from different angles, I leave it alone.  Like holding your breath, I write a few notes or sketch a few diagrams. Sometimes I'll write a quote or two, into my journal.  It looks like I'm not working.  It feels like I'm not working, while I allow my mind play with it, think about it.  I may work on other projects.  I keep the journal close and add notes when more information surfaces, but I hold the thoughts for a few days, or weeks, while they germinate and begin to grow.   Like holding your breath, creative people need time to think and imagine, to work out solutions to perceived problems.

3.  Its important to exhale slowly.  When I begin work on a new project its like exhaling.  I gather my materials, pick a time when I can work uninterrupted and I can think holistically and I begin the project, keeping the journal handy.  Often at times like this the creative flow strikes and the temptation is to rush through and "conqueror the project" -- like a big sigh.  But when I remember to slowly exhale, and methodically enjoy the deep satisfaction of creative work the project goes more smoothly and it is more aesthetically pleasing. Creative work is more satisfying when we remember to savour the moments of creativity.  -- And it saves frogging a design later, or forgetting to write down an instruction.

4.  Breath in deeply again.  Part way through the initial stages of a creative project, its a good idea to look back through the notes and check out the innovations that others have made in the same medium.  I check out Face book, blogs, websites and magazines for more ideas once I make a good start on a project.  I like  to see what fresh ways that others are using the medium, or finding solutions to problems I might encounter in the design process.  It gives me renewed energy to bring the project to completion.  This is especially important if I am working on a series.  Its easy for me to lose momentum after the first of several similar projects are completed and I can see my ideas in material culture.  Seeing what others have already done helps me keep my focus and gives me new energy to complete the work.  Creative people need the fresh energy that looking at the innovative work of others brings.

5.  Exhale slowly again.  Finishing a project is like exhaling.  You pour out your energy, love, emotions into your work, and finish it for an audience or a buyer.  But a creative person needs to breath in and out, in and out -- to begin another project and see it completed.  There may be many unfinished projects in the project bag but each one is at a different stage -- breathing in, holding your breath or exhaling slowly.  The creative life is a satisfying life.  Keep breathing.

Back to you:
What kind of books, articles or experiences allow you to breath deeply and energize your creativity?
When you feel stifled in your creativity what do you do to breath fresh air and start the creative wind blowing again?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Conversation Evolves

I am in transition.  My 14 years of homeschooling my own children is at an end.  I am a grand mother -- although I rarely see my son or his family -- so my fantasies of what life would be like in grandparenthood have not born out in reality.  I find much pleasure in my organic fibre farm, dye garden and linen patch and also in communicating my exporations to you through this blog.  But I wonder are you finding pleasure in reading what I'm saying?  Is this conversation I'm having with you through the blog, meaningful to you?  What topics do you enjoy reading about here?  What articles would you like to see addressed here?

Blogging is a conversation.  Tell me what you think.  I'm all ears.
Blogging is essentially a conversation, where I share with you the things I'm thinking about, researching or attempting and you tell me if you've tried the same thing, or if you find inspiration in the post, or even if it missed you completely.  I would like to find ways to engage you more in the conversation.  Tell me what you think.

Friday, May 20, 2011

10 tips to get the most from your natural dye garden

Natural dyes are a sustainable and magical way to colour your own creative textiles.  Since textile dyeing is a major water pollutant, switching to natural dyes that you grow yourself is one step you can take to walk softly on the earth and lessen your carbon footprint.  Further when you dye your clothing with natural colour that you grow yourself, you develop a beautiful bioregional colour palette that is vibrant, distinctive and evokes pleasure whenever you see it.

One roadblock to realizing the full potential of a natural dye garden is timing the harvest of the plants so that their dye potential is optimal and the fiber and fabric at hand when the dye pot is ready.  I hear so many friends who planted a dye garden, only to miss the enjoyment of the colour because they weren't ready to dye when the plants were ready to harvest.

Here are some tips that I use to get the most from my natural dye garden:

1.  Create an outdoor dye studio.  

It can be a temporary shelter or a permanent fixture to your outdoor area, but having a well ventilated place outside, near a source of heat and water, is a must for getting the most out of your dye garden.  A 10 x 10 canopy for shade and protection from inclement weather, well anchored, would suffice.  A gazebo or outdoor workshop would be even better.  There should be a source of heat -- a wood stove, a hot plate or gas burner or even a barbecue.  The heat should be at counter level, so that you don't have to stoop to use it.  There should be water at hand -- even a garden hose with a spigot control will work, or a rain barrel.  Other minimal equipment -- a table or counter that is heat proof, tongs, sticks, measuring spoons, shelves to hold pots, jars, mordants and assists or a secure cupboard if there are children or pets around. 

The aroma of some natural dyes can be overpowering so you don't want to simmer them in your kitchen.  Also some require prolonged simmering that can really cramp your space if you need to cook in your kitchen as well.  So having a dedicated outdoor area for dyeing will mean that you will have more space and time to dye.

Some natural dyes require long steeping or a fermentation time and you don't want to be kicking them around your kitchen.  Having a dedicated dye area will allow you to give them the time that they need to give up their treasured colours.

2.  Have a large store of dedicated dye containers and use them.

Coaxing the colours from natural dye plants is a slow process, often requiring premordanting, fermentation, or long soaking.  Some colours require body temperature water and some high heat.  Some natural dyes, like walnut, need a year long steeping to yield their optimal strength to the dye bath.  Having lots of dye pots, jars, and plastic containers, well organized in your dye area, will allow you to have several vats on the go, to get the most from your dye garden.

Solar dye with St. John's Wort

Fermentation with Goldrod flowers

Garage sales, ice cream parlours, bakeries and restaurants are all good sources of large, lidded containers that can be repurposed for your dye playground.  Any container with a lid that you can lift when full of water, is a viable container to keep for natural dyeing.  Stainless steel pots are most often recommended for natural dyeing because they don't add to the mordant effect of the dye process.  However, copper, iron, tin  and aluminum pots will add their own nuances to your colour palette and should be exploited to their maximum potential.  Plastic ice cream pails with lids are perfect for those plants that require a long steeping (walnut, madder) or a fermentation (indigo).

In addition to containers, keep a store of rusty nails, copper pipes, old rail spikes, tin cans to wrap into textiles for flower pounding experiments.  Buttons, smooth stones and elastic bands will be useful as resists for your indigo dyeing as well.

3.  Recycle water

 Water should be reused when ever possible.  The water from your mordant bath can be reused for the next textile to be mordanted, over and over again, until it is too cloudy to see the pot bottom.  Water from your dye bath can be reused for paler shades and then brought to pH 7 with the addition of vinegar or baking soda, as appropriate, and used to water plants.  Plant residues can be composted.  Rainwater can be used for natural dyeing but hard water from a well or natural spring may add its own nuance to your natural dye palette.  Calcium rich water yields especially bright yellows and greens.

4.  Plant Perennial dye plants.
Many very generous dye plants are perennial and so can be root divided to expand your garden or shared with friends.  In my mountainous area, with frost any day of the year and a very short growing season, I appreciate perennial dye plants that start growing as soon as the Spring pushes back the snow.  These plants are faithful and can be divided in Spring or Fall to expand the choices.  Golden rod, madder, dyer's chamomile, bedstraw, yarrow, mint and st. john's wort are all perennial in my climate.  Your list might be expanded.

Golden Rod in August at Joybilee Farm

5.  Give more space to blues and reds. 

There are many plants that give various shades of yellow, but only a few plants that give reds and blues.  Reds are needed for purples and oranges.  Blues are needed for purples and greens.  The only blue yielding plant that I can grow in my climate is woad.  We are working to improve the indigo yields from woad, but for now, we grow a large patch so that there is lots to give us a full palette of blues and greens for our clothing.  Woad can be concentrated to yield dark blues like indigo or you can dye with the plants for paler shades.  If you can plant a higher yielding indigo plant in your climate -- do.  And allow as much as a third of your dye area to it.  Japanese indigo is a good choice in a temperate climate with good warmth in the summer.  If you are further south, go for indigofera tinctoria.

Isatis tinctoria gives softer blues than indigoferra tinctoria

Madder  requires a dedicated space for 3 to 4 years to grow strong, thick roots for dyeing reds.  It should be kept well weeded and fed some lime once in a while, ashes, and composted manure for good root development.  If you live in a warmer climate than I do, you will be able to mature seeds on your madder plants and have enough to share with friends.  You can expand the madder bed by dividing the roots in the fall and beginning a new bed.

Ideally you should have 4 madder beds growing, and plan to harvest 2/3rds of the roots of one bed each fall.  Madder can be dried for later use so dedicate 1/3 rd of your garden to madder and other red yielding plants.  Bedstraw and wild madder will yield less intense reds but are also good choices for expanding the red potential of your dye garden.  Like madder, you will use the roots to dye with.

Those further south might look into prickly pear and wild cochineal scale insects as part of their dye garden.

6.  Harvest the weeds, and windfalls too.  

 Many weeds, leaves and branches will yield colour and tannins, which are necessary for dyeing plant fibers.  Don't overlook the wild bounty, while you cultivate your own dye garden.  Don't use a plant that you can't identify -- so have a good botanical field guide handy when you go for a walk.  Many hedgerow trees are rich in tannins and windfall branches are a good source.  Some plants like mullein are also rich sources of tannins and yellow dyes (use an alkaline steep to get the most colour).

One rule of thumb is that if the plant has a strong scent it will probably yield a dye.  The aromas of natural dyes are one of the benefits of this craft.

Don't limit yourself to a boiling water dye bath -- try wrapping recycled fabrics in plant material, pounding it with a wooden mallet,sealing it up in a bag, and allowing it to ferment for days, even weeks.   India Flint has made this flower pounding technique famous in her book, "Eco Colour".

Or try solar dyeing in those jars that you recycled from the restaurant in town.  Water, and plant material, plus your textile and some rusty nails or a tin can.  Put it in the sunshine and forget about it for a week or more.  If you don't see colour immediately, try shifting the pH of the water slightly with the addition of ammonia, baking soda or citric acid.

7.  Interplant to encourage bees.

 Bees and pollinators will encourage your garden to yield its best.  Plant strongly scented flowers like marigolds, and calendula in with your woad, and madder.  The flower heads can be harvested for good yellows later in the summer, and the roots will discourage soil nematodes from harming your dye plants.

Other dye flowers that give good yellows can be planted in banks with the aim to provide bees with food through out the season and encourage them in your garden -- early spring woad flowers (don't plant if woad is noxious in your area) from just 2 plants will give you enough woad seed for a few years of planting and enough to share with friends.  Dyer's chamomile will bloom all season.  Marigolds, black eyed susans, will yield late summer flowers, along with goldenrod, with its sweet honey scent. 

8.  Plant annuals and biennials that self seed generously 
Dyer's chamomile
Although some natural dye plants, like woad, should not be left to self seed -- or you will have a major noxious weed problem -- many natural dye plants can be allowed to self seed and their progeny moved in Spring to a new position in your dye garden.  Dyer's chamomile, dyer's chrysanthemum and weld fall into this category.  All three give strong, fast yellows and self seeded plants have the earliest possible growth for your climate, a good indication of when the soil is right to plant them.  This saves you work and gives you a head start on your dye harvests.  That will allow you to space your dyeing over the season, instead of having a crunch to get it all done in September, just before frost.

9.  Recycle worn out clothing and have a store prepared for the dye pot

One of the hinderances to fully exploiting the potential of your natural dye garden is running out of things to dye.  Unlike chemical dyes, natural dyes keep giving up their colour for several dye baths.  Yarns and wool fleeces are standard dye materials.  However, other textiles can also be renewed in the natural dye pot.  Silk blouses, worn t-shirts, worn cotton dress shirts, knitted sweaters can all be redyed with natural dyes to give a new purpose to an old garment.  Worn cloth can be dyed as is, or cut into strips for knitting and rag woven garments and accessories.  Knitted sweaters can be unravelled and the yarn skeined and tyed loosely for dyeing.You can overdye previous colours or use a colour remover to give a fresh base to the textile.

You may find it easier to premordant your textile before tearing into strips to ready it for the dye vat, or tear into strips and then skein to get it ready for mordanting or dyeing.  Don't worry about getting an even colour.  The mottled areas are part of the natural beauty of repurposing a textile.

A good stock of these prepared textiles can be kept in a lidded container in your outdoor dye studio, ready to take up the last dye molecules of your weld vat.  Shredded paper or linen tow, from your own linen fields, also makes a great dye take up to catch the last bit of dye from your pot.  Prepare a good stock ahead of time, premordanted, and store in plastic containers to be ready when you need them.

10.  Keep a dye garden journal with samples.

Don't forget to record the season in a dedicated dye garden journal.  Draw pictures, include photos and dye samples.  Your dye samples become a record of your bioregional colour palette.  Write your techniques and experiments down.  Record where you planted each item so that you can practice rotational planting and remember exactly how long that madder bed has until you can harvest it again.  In the cold, snowy winter, while your garden is buried and you are spinning by your fireside, you can revel in the sure knowledge of a coming summer, by flipping through your dye garden journal and seeing the solar energy in every dye sample.

What hinderances do you have that prevent you from fully exploring your bioregional colour palette in natural dyes?  

What colours have you found for your own bioregional colour scheme, so far in your explorations?

What's your favorite colour and do you know how to coax it from natural dyes?  

Have a look at my website.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Local colour from Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes from Joybilee Farm, weld, and woad

Today I started a weld pot from some dried plants that I harvested 2 years ago.  The bright sunshine yellow is weld.  There is dye in the leaves and stems.  Lots of dye.  It is a very generous dye plant.  Extract the colour by bringing a pot to the simmer.  Do not boil.  Turn off heat and let sit until cool.  Strain and reserve liquid.  Add more liquid to the spent leaves and repeat.  Add both liquids together for your dye session.  Add a bit of baking soda or washing soda to the dye pot when you are ready to dye your fabric.  All natural yellows dye better with the addition of a mild alkaline.  Permanent yellows are rarely soluable at a neutral pH, so you need the mild alkaline to allow the yellow dye molecules to be soluable in water.

This is on cotton T-Shirts, mordanted with Myrobolan and then Alum, before dyeing with weld.  The blue is from Spring woad -- plants that are already sending up their flower shoots.  We extracted the dye from fresh leaves and stalks and then reduced it using thiourea dioxide.  Again it is on cotton, but the blue is unmordanted.  If I had used wool or silk the colour would have been darker. 

The green has been mordanted with myrobolan and alum and then put into the woad vat only. The myrobolan is a source of tannin.  It is steeped in a cold pot for a few days and then rinsed before mordanting with alum -- 1/4 cup per 1 kg. of cotton fabric.  The alum is simmered for one hour and then the fabric is allowed to cool in the alum pot.  The fabric has a slight green cast after both mordants and the green became darker after a dip in the woad vat.

These fabrics will become beach bags.  The dyeing takes longer to do than making the beach bags.  I am getting a lovely effect by using some carved blocks with gold and silver gutta to over-pattern the natural dye colours.  You can just barely see the gold gutta printed on the weld dyed cotton.  It really shimmers.

Belle and Bubbles

Good night.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dyeing T shirts for a no sew shopping bag -- A Kool afternoon project

I found a kool pattern for some T-shirt shopping bags thanks to a link from Kris.  I raided Robin's undershirt stash, for that pile of shirts that he doesn't wear because they are too worn.  I got an indigo vat steeping in the outside dye kitchen and invited Kris over for lattes and a craft party.

While I waited for Kris to show up, I washed and bleached the Tshirts and put them on the clothes line to bleach in the sunshine.  Kris arrived with her homeschool family and we enjoyed a cup a latte together and then grabbed the t-shirts and wound buttons into the fabric for a resist.  Into the indigo vat they went -- at least 3 times.  Indigo doesn't require a mordant, so this was a quick job.

My friend, Kris, and her T-shirt shopping bag, dyed in the indigo vat.
Kris' bag has one large hole in the bottom.
I have 3 small holes in the bottom of my bag and closed the gap with a braid.

The handles seemed long, so I knotted the ends.

This blue is natural indigo from India. The woad plants from last year are still in the garden and have had some clear days and lots of water and they are beginning to send up their flower shoots.  Now is the perfect time to pull them up and use the leaves for a woad dye vat.  And I want to try using the roots this year, too, and see what the roots have to offer.  So we'll have to try that next.

I also want to make some green and yellow T shirt bags.  Some natural plant dyes require a metal salt to make the dye permanent on fabric -- that would be almost any other colour but blue.  The usual metal salts for wool, silk and other protein fibers are alum (an aluminum salt) sometimes called potassium alum sulphate.  It is acidic -- which is good for protein fibers.  You need to simmer the fiber in the alum solution (usually at 10% wof or up to 20%).  You need to be careful not to use too much alum or it will make the fibers brittle and sticky.  Finer wools require less alum than silk.

But when dyeing cotton with natural dyes -- these T-shirts are 100% cotton -- we mordant with a combination mordant alum - tannin - alum (using 1/2 the necessary alum in each alum bath).  That's 3 mordant baths to get cotton ready for natural dyes, if you aren't using indigo or woad for blue. 

India Flint suggests that sea water contains a percentage of alum and can be used as a mordant.  Nice if you live near the sea -- a local source of mordant.  I live near an abandoned railway track with junk piles of old railway spikes, rail tie connectors and other rusty iron paraphenalia.  I also live in the shadow of a mountain, famous for its derelict copper mines.  Extracting the iron mordant from rail ties or the copper from rocks requires an acid or strong alkaline solution, which then must be neutralized before using it as a mordant on your fine fiber.

The source of tannin changes the colour of the fabric which further affects the colours of the dyes.  There are plant sources of tannin as well -- galls, barks, willows, pomegranate rinds, charcoal, and other things to experiment with.  There is also the possibility of using calcium in the form of whey, or calcium carbonate (also mined nearby).  I haven't started to experiment on other mordants yet but its in the plans for this summer.

Have you experimented with using locally sourced metal salts to mordant your natural dyes?  Tell me about your experience in the comments section.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Your invitation

This is your invitation to attend the Gallery Opening of:
Magnus Opus -- Hocus Pocus, magical works by the members of the Boundary Artisan Association

12 professional artisans from the Boundary region have collaborated with a showing of their best work for this show that will run from May 14 to August 6, in the West Gallery room at Gallery 2 in Grand Forks.  These are just a few of the exceptional works that will be on display for this show.  Plan a viewing into your visit to Boundary Country this summer.

"Amber" by Jill Gunnarson

"Sunflower Kitchen" by Tracey Jory

"Cathedral Grove Panarama" by Elliot Teskey

"A Murder of Crows" by Erika Von Bank

"Mother-Daugher Jacket" by Chris and Sarah Dalziel

"Anarchist Summit" by Leta Bak
After the show ends in August, join us for the Boundary Artisan Studio Tour, a free, self guided tour to the studios of these talented artisans, on August 13 and 14.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Are you within my fibre shed area?

Kirsten sent me a mapping tool that will generate a cicle on a map of any radius.  Here's the tool if you want to find 150 miles (242 km) around your location.

This is my fibreshed:

If you are within my fibreshed and would like to play please comment on this post and we will collaborate.  The first project is a fashion show on August 6 at Joybilee Farm.
Entries for the fashion show should be sourced from fiber grown within the radius of this map, be designed and created within the circle of this map and ready for our models to wear.  Our American friends are welcome to join in.

There will be prizes in two categories - Fashion within the Joybilee Farm fibreshed and Fashion within your fibershed.

This may be the start of a long term collaboration.  If you'd like to join in the fun, please comment.

There is also a Saltspring Island local fibreshed project:
Contact Terri if you want to get involved with the Salt Spring Project.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Local colour in our regional fibreshed

"Every place has a local-colour. This colour is significant within a region and can be best understood as permeating indigenous material. The specific hue of a local-colour can become synonymous with a historic, cultural or regional identity. However, in our modern epoch, we are less aware of these connections due to the consumeristic tendency to provide a repeatable brand which has made it all but impossible for our daily objects and materials to still connect us with such a local narrative.

This narrative is important in that it provides ways of defining worth, and worthlessness outside the industry-controlled concepts of supply and demand, and setting quarterly trends for the consumer. When a person works long and hard to create something, its personal value is assured. That value is not diminished as it is passed from one generation to another. In bestowing that effort on a material of local significance, the effect is even more strong as it becomes something of value for the whole community.” -- Christopher van DonKelaar - artist

I was asked recently whether natural dyes were an important part of the parameters of a "local fibershed".  My thoughts about the importance of natural dyes have been shaped in a large part by the journey I've walked with my daughter in exploring woad-indigo.  We learned that industrial textile production is one of the largest polluters in the world.  That the dyeing and laundering process causes sickness, debilitation and crop failures downstream from the factories where these works are carried out.  That artisans using chemical dyes suffer from sickness, cancers and skin diseases and that these problems didn't disappear when our culture's clothing needs moved off-shore -- they just impacted a different culture.  The textile workers of today are like the charcoal burners and woadies of yesteryear.

Dyer's chamomile

In my journey with Sarah through history, in our study of dyes and textiles, we saw that the colour palette dramatically changed with the discovery of mauve.  And the textile palette exploded with chemical dyes.  Some of these caused death and sickness to the ones who wore the clothes.  Others changed the culture of society.  For instance, where red was once the colour of the wealthy and the rising middle class, once red came from a chemical bottle -- the wealthy shunned it and the prostitutes took it on.

Woad dyed wool, silk and mohair

Colour evokes a story of a culture.  And to move from the natural colours that reside in an area in the form of plants, minerals and insects -- to a bottle of dye powder -- changes the story.  We lose our identity.  We become like so many copies of a magazine folio.  "Little boxes on a hillside, little boxes made of ticky, tacky" goes a song describing the non culture of modern life.

Colours from locally grown Isatis tinctoria

Our local fibershed will embrace our local culture.  As Mr. van DonKelaar states, local colour is sacred to a region and has cultural value.  Each regions fibershed will look a little different -- different fibers dyed with different colours that steep in a different water.  Did you know that each location's water is a bit different and has a chemical fingerprint so that researchers can pin point the provenance of a bottle of water?

Tapestry with yarns dyed with Isatis tinctoria leaves

In SE Asia the local dye plants are rich in blues, reds and purples.  Many cultures are defined by a local indigo plant and deep, shiny blue defines the cultural garb of the population.  In Scotland the clan colours were once defined by lichens, woad and bedstraw -- giving earthy greens and blues, madder reds and crottle browns.  Local colour is also aromatic and garments are perfumed by regional scents left behind by the dye plants.

What does the colour palette of your region look like?  How does your local water affect the colours that you can produce in a local fibreshed?

You can learn more about Joybilee Farm on our website.

Monday, May 02, 2011

New Beginnings - Time is my friend

This is our first week of Not Homeschooling.  Sarah is working on her university course and I am free to pursue my passions.  Wow!  What a gift!  Time is my friend.
Just have to open that gate and walk through.  Where will this new adventure lead?

I started a free online course for creative people this week -- The Creative Pathfinder .  Its a course to help you focus on your dreams, step out of the mire of the mediocre and do "Great Works".  So far it seems to be a lot about time management, and paying attention to the things that give you joy, so that you can do more of them.  It is a 6 month course that gives you a module every week, with an article, a work sheet and other online resources to teach you how to apply what you are learning to your creative life. It really is "free".

Homeschooling is a non schedule.  There are hourly interruptions and its difficult to focus intensely on a creative endeavor and really zone out on it -- an essential aspect of creative endeavor when you are the teacher/coach. Since Sarah started her high school I made a commitment to surrender to her needs for high school so that she could receive the best possible education uniquely suited to her gifts, personality and learning style.  I channelled my creative energy for her benefit.  Now she can pursue her own path, benefiting from the investment in hard work she has put in over the last 4 years.  I am here if she needs me, but my goals and focus are changed.  I can pursue my creative calling.  I hope I don't get lost in this new endeavor.  I hope I don't waste my life in triviality.  I want to make a difference and so I am pursuing this short course to help me face this new adventure with confidence.

One of the tips I've found helpful so far, is to manage your emails by putting them off till tomorrow.  I find I'm checking emails several times a day.  Its so easy to get lost following interesting rabbit trails (links) and suddenly finding I didn't do what I really planned to do in a day because I was "checking emails".  This tip is to file all important emails -- ones that you need to respond to or read -- into a folder -- and then take time to respond or read tomorrow.  Tomorrow you respond to those emails in the folder and take action.  But the emails that come in on that day go into a new folder for the following day.  Suddenly the infinite number of emails that suck away your daily energy become finite and manageable and you don't overlook anything important.  So I am going to implement this right away.  Today I caught up on the backlog of emails that I didn't have time to answer last week.  Today's important emails are filed to be responded to tomorrow.  And I will have more time for the things that are really important to me.

Here’s an outline of the course topics:

  • your career goals
  • creativity
  • productivity
  • career paths
  • networking
  • marketing
  • sales
  • managing money
  • intellectual property
  • motivation
  • communication and influence
  • collaboration
  • managing others

On the journey you’ll learn:

  • why following your heart makes sound business sense
  • the four most powerful types of creative thinking
  • how to handle a creative block – when you’re supposed to be the creative pro
  • why opportunities just land in some people’s lap (and how you can be one of them)
  • the most effective ways to make a living from your creativity
  • why having a resume could handicap your career
  • how to turn your website into a magnet for new business and career opportunities
  • the weird and profitable properties of intellectual property
  • how to sell without selling out
  • what to do with all the money you earn
  • why other people seem so weird – and what to do about it
  • how to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds
What steps are you taking to befriend time in your creative pursuits?

Do you have any time management techniques that give you more time for creativity and allow you to reliably enter the "creative zone"?