Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring cleaning

If your mind is cluttered, clean your house.

A friend of mine gave me this quote recently and it really describes my mind and house at the moment: uncluttered and clean. We had some major remodeling earlier in the year and the dust was horrible. So I've had a college student come twice a week to help me clean. As she dusted furniture and mopped floors, I've been emptying closets. I made $52 at a recent yard sale with friends and I've taken several, large boxes to a local charity thrift store.

I didn't think my mind was cluttered before I started this spring cleaning but as I've rearranged, straightened and reduced the "stuff" in my home, I've noticed a corresponding lighter spirit. Now there's not the nagging little voice telling me to clean instead of write, or file papers instead of make paper. Hmmm. Maybe I'm on to something here. Try it.   

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thinking about thinking

Yesterday, I read about William Kamkwamba,a young man from Malawi who at fourteen built a functional windmill from junk. It reminded me about a story a classmate told me in college. Her twelve year old son was not doing well in school. So what did his parents do? Take away privileges until his grades came up? Send him to an expensive after-school tutoring center? Put him on drugs so he wouldn't act out his frustration?

No, they bought him a camera. He then had a reason to bring together all he needed to know in school. His camera, in the time before digital cameras, helped him focus on learning; the technology of lens and shutters, the chemistry of photographic development, the need to be able to read well to learn more about photography. He wanted to give his photos as gifts but his allowance was limited. So he learned the math to measure and cut wood and his parents bought him a miter box so he could make frames for his photos. He could relate his new-found love of photography to his education.

I've been reading a lot about right brain/left brain thinking lately. And my thought is this: we need both. Our society sometimes seem to reward left brain over right brain thinking But to be creative and successful, we need a little of both. We need to look at old bike parts and see electric light bulbs shining or understand F-stops to capture the beauty of a sunset. We need to marry technique and vision.

So what have you tried lately?