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Nancy – Inspired by Giving Back

22 Nov

I have been a follower and supporter of the Four Chicks for a long time now.  While I enjoy reading the stories they post and have even dabbled in creative works of my own, only recently have I been inspired to share this creativity with others.

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer for a few hours at a local food bank, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend (www.fightinghunger.org/).  While we were there, the volunteer coordinator gave us a tour of their facilities, which are amazing, and told us a little about what their organization does.  I was saddened to hear that she herself, a United States Military veteran, had been a recipient of their services.

This group, with the help of their parent organization – Feeding America, the USDA, and generous donations from and area businesses distributed over 5 million pounds of food last year, and served 44,000 people in one month alone.  Their service area includes 11 counties in the Big Bend area of North Florida.  The statistics are staggering.

  • 1 in 6 people do not know where their next meal will come from.
  • Of those, 1 in 4 is a child. 
  • For many of these children, the free or reduced breakfast or lunch they get at school on Monday is the first meal they have had since the same free lunch the previous Friday.  

I can only imagine the terror and desperation that a child who is hungry feels.  I hope I never know the hopelessness a parent must feel seeing their child go hungry or, possibly worse, depending on that child to provide food for the family.  The sad truth is that you never know what circumstances will bring to your life.  All you can do is prepare the best that you can, and hope you never have to rely on those preparations.

You may be asking yourself what all this has to do with a creativity blog.  I actually thought of the Four Chicks and their idea of finding inspiration and creativity all around us while listening to our coordinator talk about all of their different projects.  When you are battling against such overwhelming statistics and serving such a large community, you have to get a little creative.

  • BackPack Program: Children receive backpacks on Fridays with food to feed their family through the weekend.  It’s not five course meals, but it keeps them from going wholly without.
  • Summer Food Program: Children receive meals and snacks at a sponsored site.  Have you ever wondered what those children who need the free and reduced lunches do when school is out?
  • Brown Bags for Seniors: Bags of food supplies and groceries are provided for impoverished seniors.  Elderly in need are often as helpless as children.  When your fixed income doesn’t cover your basic needs, where do you turn?
  • Second Helpings: Excess prepared or perishable foods from local restaurants are distributed to partner agencies who serve prepared meals.  This not only adds to the number of people fed, but also reduces waste!
  • Food Fund Drives: Through the efforts of Feeding America, these food banks can purchase food supplies at significant discounts.  Your dollar goes further when donated directly to the organization than if you buy the food yourself.

These are just a few of the creative ways they battle against hunger.  I imagine few, if any, of their staff and volunteers consider their work to be creative.  All the same, it was a muse to this budding artist.

Inspiration and creativity live everywhere.  You may not be an artist, musician, writer, or any other traditionally “creative” person.  This doesn’t mean that creativity doesn’t exist within you.  Any time you are inspired by something, a little creativity is blossoming somewhere inside of you.  Reach for that creativity and let it guide you to your outlet.

Nancy Williams, Orlando, FL

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A New Chuck Story: Timmy — University of Central Florida

15 Feb
Timmy Walczak and his partners: budding artists in film.

Timmy Walczak and his “333” partners accepted this year’s Campus MovieFest challenge to make a compelling short film in just one week.

This new Chick Story comes from a Chuckthat affectionate moniker we’ve given to those creative Chicks of the male persuasion. Please join us in supporting this budding young writer/director artist in his dream of having his short film screened in Hollywood. Here’s how:

  1. First, read and be inspired by Timmy’s journey in creating “333” below.
  2. Then  watch his 3:33 video shown at the bottom for your own brief, engaging journey through time and space.
  3. Finally, be sure to LIKE “333” on YouTube after you watch it. The more likes, the more likely Timmy’s short film will be selected to be screened in Hollywood!    

“333” is a short film made for Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film competition. CMF gives students a chance to make a short film but gives them only a week to make it. I willingly accepted the challenge.

I knew I wanted to do something science fiction. It’s a genre that I hadn’t tapped into before, but I always had a desire to venture into the world of sci-fi. Time travel also intrigued me, and I had written a number of concept ideas. I wasn’t sure which one I was going to go with, so I decided to just combine them all.

“333” is comprised of three short stories about time travel. The film gets its name from the length of each sequence: one minute and eleven seconds, making the total length of the sequences three minutes and thirty-three seconds.

The filming process went rather smoothly. Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. When making a film, even a short film, this foreboding law is quite prevalent. One needs to use a lot of foresight to avoid potential problems. I found myself fortunate to easily take care of the few complications that crossed my path.

At the Campus MovieFest Finale, it was so rewarding to see “333” selected as a finalist and shown on a big screen. The positive reaction from the audience was equally rewarding.

The film is finished, and CMF has moved on from the University of Central Florida, but “333” is still in the running for the CMF Wild Card. Although my film did not win the Best Picture category, it still has a chance to be screened in Hollywood if it manages to get the most online views. My mission now is to promote “333” so that it can shown on the silver screen in Hollywood land.

Winifred – San Juan, Puerto Rico

15 Sep

Since I can remember, I have documented my life through pictures: what I feel, what I see and what I live.  I have had the opportunity to capture great and beautiful moments for others as well as moments that are not-so-wonderful.

On September 11, 2002 I was walking through Ground Zero in New York City, where the Twin Towers had been attacked just a year ago by terrorists.  As I was standing there watching people go through all those feeling and emotions of sadness, I discovered  the style of photography that I love and feel passionate about–street photography.

Street photography documents spontaneous situations in public locations.   It’s very hard yet fascinating to capture what you see, no matter how harsh it might be.

Photography is art!  Your eyes, your way of seeing life, to share it with others, whether they like it or not.  It’s like a painting without the paint brushes.  In today’s world with all the social media, people are able to enjoy and share their best and not-so-good moments through pictures.

Cellular photophaphy has become a tool for people to express what they see and feel.  With so many new upgrades and applications, you don’t need to be a professional to take amazing pictures and to be able to express your art.  I, too, have been bitten by the Cellular photography bug. It’s like having a camera with you 24 hours a day.  For me, it’s a way to express how I feel, no matter what time or day it is.

Within this article I’d like to share with you my collection of Cellular photophaphy called “Summer Tears.”  Each one of these pictures describes with raindrops what I was feeling during the summer.

I invite you to also discover photography in a way that expresses your emotions and creativity.

So, take out your camera or cellular phone and start sharing with the world what you see and feel in your daily life.

Winifred Toro – Street Photography and Wedding Photojournalist.  http://www.facebook.com/wtphotography

*                                                          *                                                              *

Desde que tengo memoria he documentado mi vida a través de la fotografía, lo que siento lo que veo y lo que vivo. He tenido la oportunidad de capturar los momentos más hermosos de otros, así como otros no tan hermosos.

Un 11 de septiembre de 2002 caminando por la famosa zona cero me tropecé accidentalmente por la conmemoración del acto terrorista a las torres gemelas. Ese día el recoger todos los sentimientos que ahí se vivían me ayudó a descubrir el estilo de fotografía que me gusta y apasiona; el street photography. Es duro, pero fascinante, pues captura exactamente lo que ves por más crudo que sea.

El street photography es conocido como la fotografía social o callejera. Documenta sujetos en situaciones espontáneas en áreas públicas. Es como un retrato puro de la sociedad o lo que se vive en ese lugar.
La fotografía es algo que te llena de mucha satisfacción pues es, como tu arte, tu ojo, tu manera de ver la vida y la compartes y a la gente le gusta o no le gusta. Es como pintar un cuadro pero sin pinceles. Hoy en día con las redes sociales, la gente disfruta mejor sus momentos si los comparte a través de una fotografía.

La fotografía de celular se ha convertido en una de las herramientas más importantes para las personas comunicar lo que sienten y ven. Cada vez son más las aplicaciones que han surgido para fotógrafos y principiantes por lo que no tienes ser un experto para comenzar a compartir tu arte. Millones de personas han descubierto la cámara de celular y hoy por hoy son tremendos fotógrafos. Yo también me he contaminado con esa pasión, pues es como tener una cámara, 24 horas al día. Es fascinante. Para los fotógrafos como yo, una foto, es como un instrumento para plasmar lo que sienten en cualquier momento.

A través de este artículo les comparte mi más reciente colección titulada “Summer of tears”. Cada una de estas fotos, cuentas varios de mis días de verano a través del símbolo de una gota de agua.

Los invito a que descubran la fotografía como un modo de expresión y de ser creativo, así que saquen su cámara o su celular y comiencen a compartir con el mundo lo que ven en su diario vivir. Ya verán que es muy divertido.

Winifred Toro
Publicista y fotógrafa de pasión nacida en San Juan, PR y especialista en el street photograpny y wedding photojournalist.

Caroline – Frostproof, Florida

6 Jun

This Chick Story is submitted by Caroline, the mother of Peggy (pursuingthemuse), who is pleased to have her mother involved in this community of Chicks.  In addition to the creative work she discusses below, Caroline has been a folk dancer for over 35 years.  She has also taught folk dancing throughout the years on a volunteer basis, and is currently enjoying her first paid teaching role.  

My story of creativity is something of a memoir.  And to the 4 Chicks and readers of their generation, it may sound like ancient history.

What words come to mind when you think of a computer programmer?  Nerd? Geek?  Ever think, “creative”?  To me, programming a computer is absolutely creative. 

Since this is to be a story, not an essay, let me start at the beginning.  In 1963, I was a junior in college and a math major.  Computer programming as a profession was in its infancy.  I’d never heard of a degree in computer science and my university didn’t offer one.  It had one lone course in computer programming and that was in the Electrical Engineering department.  Well, I took it.  The one working computer in the university computer lab was old even then.  We punched our programs into paper tape to feed them into the computer.   The computer’s memory at that time was undoubtedly smaller than my present-day cell phone’s.  It was unbelievably primitive by today’s standards.  But, by the time I completed the course, I was hooked.  I knew I wanted to program computers.

I went on to complete my college education with a Master’s degree in 1965.  At that time, the space program was in high gear and I got the opportunity to go to work as a computer programmer at the beginning of the Apollo project.  You know – the NASA project that sent men to the moon.  My job was to write programs for the computers at the NASA facility in Houston.  My department developed the programs that received data from radar sites all around the world, processed it, computed the position and velocity of the spacecraft at particular points in time, and displayed the results to all the controllers.  Some of the results were displayed in the Mission Control room that was shown on TV. 

When you think about it, it’s easy to see why computer programming is creative. Without a program, a computer can do nothing.   But with programs, the NASA computers could track the spacecraft and tell where it was and where it was going.  People create those programs.

For those who are not trained in computer programming, the creative process goes something like this.  First you need a definition of what the program is supposed to do. Then you do a rough design of how many different tasks there are to be done and how they fit together.  For example, receiving radar data, filtering the data to remove “noise”, doing some complicated mathematical calculations to compute the position and velocity of the spacecraft, and displaying the results are separate tasks that have to be done in order.  Each program developed in my mind as I developed the design in more detail and, finally, wrote the individual instructions.  At last, the program could run on a computer.   Working, as I did, on large computer systems over a long time, it felt as if my programs became extensions of my mind.  I could not have recreated every single instruction from memory, but I kept a detailed map of the program in my head. 

Later, I moved on to another project: developing a system to run large industrial plants such as oil refineries and petrochemical plants.   When I was working on the Apollo project, as exciting as it was, my programs were not really making anything happen in the real world.  They were processing data to give information to people. But the industrial system I worked on actually initiated commands to open and close valves or electrical circuits that controlled real physical processes in an oil refinery.    As the programs I wrote seemed like extensions of my mind, it was rather thrilling to feel that those extensions of me were actually controlling oil refineries.  To be clear, I wouldn’t know how to actually run an oil refinery myself.  Chemical engineers gave us the requirements and mathematical formulas for the programs and we wrote the instructions that fulfilled those requirements.  But, still, my “mind extension” was actually running on computers making oil refineries operate. 

I worked in computer software development for a total of 33 years; for about 20 years I was actually writing computer code.  Since retiring, I’ve continued to do creative things.  I drew the plans for the house my engineer husband and I designed and now live in.  I’m currently editing the newsletter for one non-profit organization and doing the layout for a second newsletter.  But my experiences writing computer programs for the space program and industry remain the most exciting creative endeavors of my life. 

To see my current creative work, go to www.folkdance.org and look for the link to “Florida FolkDancer Newsletters (and archive)” to see the newsletter of the Florida Folk Dance Council and go to www.friendspeaceteams.org and look for the link to download PeaceWays, the newsletter of Friends Peace Teams.

MaryBeth – Orlando, Florida

1 Jun

This Chick Story comes straight from the heart. It addresses the opportunity to create despite and amid times of painful change. As MaryBeth reminds us, any creative action forward is better than “Kybosh”!

Did you ever notice how creativity sometimes (more than not) comes from some kind of adversity? Maybe it’s the human penchant for curiosities, or maybe it’s just me. The most popular TV shows are ‘reality shows’. We slow down and watch accidents on the roads. And if you look at music lyrics, some of the most popular songs for an artist are written at the worst or lowest points of their lives.

I am no exception. It seems that I have loads to say when things don’t go right for me, or when I’m at my busiest. It’s then that I always seem to have the time and inclination to write it all down, every swirly thought in my head. It pours like water down a mountain. Pulling and pushing other things along while forming indelible creases in the ‘face’ of my spirit and along the trails of my soul. You’d think when things are ‘good’, or at least not full of turmoil, it’d be a peaceful place to be in, and to create from, but I typically don’t have much going through my head to keep the swirl going I guess. Sounds vapid I know, but it’s like a storm needs to churn up the water to get things moving. It’s funny, I use lots of water imagery in my thoughts but I was afraid of the water as a kid! So I’m trying to re-focus and come at my creative process from a place of peace and contentment rather than angst, yet it doesn’t seem to be the wellspring I was hoping for!

So I journal, and that helps to get it all out. I can extract some interesting thoughts later like, “I write when I’m angry, I clean when I’m nervous, I craft/create when I’m happy. It’s like my spiritual mood ring”.

In all of this I find my outlets and paths that constantly change. My focus for the last few years has been directing theatre, or even facilitating opportunities for others to excel or contribute their talents in new places with my introduction, (I’m an artistic Yenta!), while writing and crafting have been secondary, and acting had been kept at a far away last place. This is where the phrase “_____ is my middle name” comes in for me.

Unlike my siblings, I wasn’t given a middle name at my adoption. I remember once my mom saying “…you don’t need one, I don’t have one…”. So much for explanations! Well, not having one officially, it changes, and lately mine is Kybosh, because it’s become ingrained into my vernacular as surely as my name! Kybosh is actually a word (it may be used more in Yiddish, to my Irish/Slovak Catholic upbringing it’s not common, but I tend to glean and retain lots!) meaning: to put a stop to, halt, to prevent from continuing.

Not that I’m self deprecating or crying out for sympathy, I just tend to face the realities of my life as a pessimist in attempt to not get hurt when things out of my control change my path in life.

In my 42 years it’s been a long climb to independence as a person in an earthly sense, so I still need to work my moves emotionally as well. As I try to make plans and do some creative work, it always seems that’s when kybosh happens. While waiting for ‘what’s next’, pretty much everything is changed. It seems my directing aspect is going to be taking the backseat forcibly, and my writing and acting sides are moving back to the forefront right now. A short story from a vague idea a friend asked me to expand and write about is actually being pitched to animate! From that, other related stories are stepping into my head. Along with that, several auditions have come up and no matter what else is going on for me, since I was old enough to talk and walk, I was singing and dancing and acting like other people, so there is nothing like being on stage or in a show!

Having made the cut for one part, I’m very happy to be acting again, and the excitement of these possibilities has been giving me some positive aim as I once again seem to be perpetually changing my “middle name” to something…anything is better than kybosh!

Kimberley – Northern California

18 May

 Our latest Chick Story comes from Kimberley Johnson, an author, editor and former daytime drama actress, now collaborating with her mother in publishing anthologies.  Here, Kimberley shares a bit about her journey and some insight into the self-publishing path.  Their first book, The Virgin Diaries, may be found on Amazon both in Kindle format for only $2.99 and in print.  They will soon publish a second book.

The year 2010 marked the start of my own business.  Actually, I partnered up with my mother, Ann Werner, to create Ark Stories.  Our goal and mission is to produce anthologies exploring the human experience.  Later this year we will be adding Ark Fiction and making Ann’s fiction books available.

Our first book, The Virgin Diaries, debuted last April.  We interviewed seventy-two anonymous men and women about what it feels like to have first time sex.  The stories are split equally among gender and includes six gay stories, also equally split.  No commentary is provided, allowing readers to form their own conclusions.  The result is a completely unique book which allows the reader to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, and bear witness to one of life’s most pivotal experiences.  

Prior to my life as an author, I was an actress for a decade, appearing on the daytime drama Days Of Our Lives as a police officer for more than seven years.  On a more pedestrian level, I also worked as a sales rep for various industries including fine bone china, industrial chemicals and energy.

My decision to start in a new direction was facilitated by the crash of the economy.  I had been collecting stories on and off for six years.  My mother joined me in collecting and editing the stories and together we decided to self publish.  As luck would have it in the fall of 2009, I reconnected with Ralph Faust, a gentleman I knew from high school and he did the formatting and provided art work.

Marketing and promoting self published books has been an interesting journey.  My experience in sales and as an actress was definitely to my benefit.  It enabled me to utilize my “hunter” mentality to seek out various avenues of possibilities.  Facebook has given me the opportunity to meet and network with other artists and authors.  We exchange information and help each other.  Twitter is also an amazing way to meet and reach out to others in a very targeted way.

It is important as an author, whether you are self published or not, to utilize all the social media that is available to you.  I have used Help A Reporter Out and Reporter Connection to find people in the media looking for stories that relate to my book.  We have done numerous radio interviews and been reviewed in several publications as well as online book clubs.  It is important for authors to seek out publicity on their own because no one cares for your project more than you.

Our second book debuting May 2011 is titled Ain’t No Sunshine – Men Reveal The Pain Of Heartbreak.  Thirty-eight anonymous men were generous enough to really expose their deepest feelings about lost love and what we found is, these stories also provide insight into how they view love in general.  The stories have opened our eyes about how men process love and rather than it being a sad book, it has turned out to be most insightful.  We anticipate a lot of conversation about the content.  One thing we will do differently is stay out of bookstores.  With our first book, we were in many local independent stores.  We did realize some success with sales but not enough to justify doing it again and have found more success in online promotion.

Because the Internet allows you to reach a global audience, we approach bloggers who review our specific genre as well as reaching out to book clubs across the country.  It is a fantastic way to get our books in to the hands of our exact target audience.  So far the experience has proved successful.

Even though our books are non-fiction, I believe it is important to blog.  Blogging provides another way to allow people to get a sense of who you are and what you’re doing.  It is important to sell your product but also to sell yourself.  As a sales person, I learned that lesson.  When people like you, and what you stand for they are more likely to check out your work.

The self publishing wave is at the very beginning.  It is an exciting time and all of the authors involved are the ones setting the standards and paving the way.

My career as an author has been thrilling. I have had the opportunity to meet interesting people and, with the use of social media, I have been able to reach more than I ever could have  just a few years ago.

If you would like more information on our books, please visit our website arkstories.com.

Hellena – Los Angeles, CA

3 May

This week’s Chick Story comes from a very good friend of Eva’s (hostingthemuse).  She is a life coach and a very talented jewelry maker.   Read her story about going through life challenges and still being able to conquer your dreams.

The Leap…

I had hit rock bottom. I doubted my abilities. I had the feeling that people were looking at me behind my back and shaking their heads with pity.  I was not satisfied with my life and my work standards suffered for it.  That’s when “she” came to me. She had been patiently waiting, giving me subtle hints that she was on her way and now “she” saw that I was ready for a change.

It was August 2006 and after just two months of marriage to my husband Peter, I was in the hospital having a hysterectomy. Needless to say I was devastated – but not lost.  “She” guided me to a therapist who helped me tremendously and “she” also placed a book in my path – Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins.  Although this book was directed toward companies, it had a profound effect on me.   When the author instructed companies to find 3 things that they are really good at and focus only on them, I did that for myself.  My 3 greatest assets: my ease with public speaking, the ability to connect with people and my gift for helping people solve their problems were the things I decided to focus on and improve. These 3 things helped me to take my leap – and become one with her.

Values

I realized that by focusing on my 3 greatest assets, they would connect me with my deepest values: trust, integrity, creativity, to be of service and to honor my self-worth.    I had finally turned on the lights in my life and saw for the first time all my gifts waiting to be tapped.  Being conscious of those values made it easier for me to see when I was not honoring them.  I got mad at myself when I hadn’t done something I knew was best for me or when someone else said or did something negative to me.  Think about your values and how they connect with the work you do. If your work is engaging, challenges your intellect, is exciting and you look forward to it every day, it doesn’t seem like work.  But when your work is uninspiring and creates dissonance, you’ll find yourself dreading each task.  “She” knew my values and that as soon as I connected with them my journey would begin.

My Future Self

You see “she” is me – Hellena, my future-self.  That part of me that didn’t see me as less than but more than I could ever imagine.  It wasn’t that Hellena was boastful, it was that she knew that in every situation, good, bad or indifferent, there was something I could learn as I moved forward in my life. The key phrase being “moving forward”.

We all have a future-self – we just need to tap into it and have that discussion.  It is that part of us that does not live life by lack or limitation but by abundance and endless resources.  It does not see obstacles but rather opportunities for growth and learning.  It remembers how to dream and does it on a daily basis. It keeps life exciting.  It creates scenarios with the connector word “and” not “or”, “either” or “but”. As in “I can be successful and have a great relationship” versus “I can either have a thriving career or a great marriage”.

Yes…you can have both and much more. The key to this success are your values.  It’s also knowing your boundaries and when it’s OK to say no to take care of yourself instead of saying yes to please someone else.

Making the leap

In January 2007 instead of making a resolution, I made a declaration. From now on I would be open to whatever the universe brought my way. I also made a conscious decision to honor my 3 assets.  First, I joined Toastmasters.  Not only did I become a better speaker, but when I joined the board and served my club, I also became a better leader. Secondly, after a short track with psychology, I decided to become a Life Coach.  I wanted to work with people and help move them forward in their lives. This career path addressed assets 2 and 3 simultaneously. But as with Toastmasters, I got so much more.  I found Hellena again and she introduced me to my creative side – designing jewelry.  Creations by Hellena was born from the freedom I gave myself to believe I had a creative outlet.  And it was further enriched by knowing that creating is not about perfection – it’s about allowing something to be.

These two career choices were a major shift for me because up until then I had only seen myself as nobody special.   How could I have the audacity to think someone would trust me with their most intimate fears and dreams?  That someone, other than my family and friends, would not only love my jewelry but pay me for it?  That wasn’t my future-self making those comments.  Alas, my saboteur aptly named Mr. Fear Procrastinator started whispering nuggets of self-doubt and worry in my ear.  I admit, for a while it kept me stagnated but because I was now connected to my values, Hellena had ammunition with which to battle those fears.  She said “Send out an email blast to family, friends and colleagues and tell them about your new coaching profession. What’s the worst that could happen?”   “Email pictures of your jewelry to that boutique.  It’s only an email, what harm can come from it?” Hellena took away the doubt and allowed my talents and gifts to speak for themselves.  In both instances, I was greeted with the word YES!  And what happens when you hear that word?  You want to hear it again!  Now that my fear had gone, I could approach perfect strangers and talk to them about what I did without fear of rejection because my PASSION was leading the discussion.

And now…

My coaching practice, Core Illuminations www.coreilluminations.com has made the leap to workshops and group coaching. Creations by Hellena can be purchased in two boutiques: Twig & Willow, Long Beach, CA and Mindfulnest, Santa Monica, CA (more stores to follow). You can also find my jewelry online through my Etsy.com shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/creationsbyhellena.  As I continue to dream, my dreams continue to grow.

I look back and thank my future-self for her patience and steadfastness. I look back and thank the Universe for allowing me to fall – so that I could learn something new. I look back on those 5 years and see the many leaps I’ve taken and the growth, adventures and rewards I’ve received.  Now, Hellena and I make those leaps together…

I leave you with this: Discover and Nurture your 3 greatest assets.  They hold the keys to your sanity, health and happiness.  It is here that your future-self is waiting to take the next leap with you.  Don’t keep him/her waiting!

Hellena Jones Elbling, CPCC
Core Discover Life Coach
Core Illuminations
www.coreilluminations.com
Hellena@coreilluminations.com
Discover your True Passions and
Use them to Illuminate your World!

Hellena Jones Elbling
Jewelry Designer
Creations by Hellena
https://www.etsy.com/shop/creationsbyhellena
creationsbyhellena@gmail.com
Find Your Spirit in my Creations

Our First Chuck: Jason – Orlando, Florida

28 Apr

This week’s Chick Story comes from our very first “Chuck”, the multi-talented Graphic Designer who created our wonderful logo.  Like all those Chicks out there, we welcome all those Chucks, too–fellow aspiring artists of every stage and path who are actively seeking greater creative fulfillment.

Where to Start? – An Artist’s Struggle

A blank page. A dry canvas. Fingers lying gently on piano keys, unsure of which one to press first. An empty screen with nothing more than a cursor, mocking you with each blink; it waits impatiently for text to appear. Standing on an open stage yearning to perform; yet your body remains frozen as your mind draws a blank. Even the most creative minds come across moments like these. Is it due to a lack of imagination? Or is it perhaps a lack of motivation to propel you forward? For me, it is the exact opposite.

As most of us do, every morning I go through my usual routine:  wake up, get ready for work, grab something to eat (if there’s still time—never happens), jump in my car and go. On my journey, I come across things that inspire me, things that fill my head with so many ideas and possibilities. It could be the color gradations of the rising sun tempting me to do a painting. A radio ad or song may come on which makes me think of a song to write or gets me in the mood to create a voiceover reel. Whatever the case may be, I find myself constantly being tugged in multiple directions, not knowing where to begin. I like to think of it as “Creative Overload.”

Now I know this happens to everyone for the most part, and it doesn’t always come attached with creativity. We all have so many tasks and responsibilities that we find ourselves stressing over what to do next,  so then we try to think calmly and remember that old Russian proverb that goes, “If you chase two rabbitsyou will not catch either one.” So you think, okay, one thing at a time. Got it. Well, the only problem is when you add creativity into the equation it no longer becomes a “chore” or an “obligation.” Creative ideas become plans in your head that are backed with passion and conviction; some ideas are difficult to prioritize as they all seem so vivid and wonderful.

So which dream do you fulfill first? Which idea do you make a reality? With each new one, another emerges that seems even better than the former. Like an untamed tree the branches of possibilities become too many too quickly. I tell myself there’s so many that I just can’t choose one and the end result is: I have nothing. Sometimes in order to have something we need to accept the fact that we won’t be able to do it all, but if we choose just one idea and shut out every other idea for that moment, we’ll end up with something finished. It’s truly amazing how it’s simpler to focus on a single project and get it done, than it is to keep coming up with excuses why you have nothing to show the world. It all starts with that single idea and that blank page—that dry canvas—that empty screen.

Marilyn – Richmond, Virginia

5 Apr

Tony Karp's Muse

This week’s Chick Story spotlights an interesting, new area of visual arts called Techno-Impressionism.  The Artist’s Muse, his wife Marilyn, has inspired us Chicks, too, with the importance of creating from within, independent of the feedback and approval of others.

How does one search for one’s muse if one is already a muse? My guess is one turns inward. I’m an Artist’s Muse; my artist is Tony Karp. We’re embarked on a journey called TechnoImpressionism. It’s an interesting journey as Tony’s art is art of the future. This sometimes makes it subject to misunderstanding and even dislike.

Feedback and encouragement come in small doses with long periods of silence in between. I suspect that this is not unusual when one creates something new and different from what most people are used to.

How do we keep going you ask? Tony often quotes the I Ching which says the superior man is governed from within, the inferior man is governed by law. Tony makes art that pleases him (my opinion sometimes holds some weight), and strives to make art that is interesting.

Tony is driven by logic, I’m driven by common sense. He sees his creation in his mind’s eye before he creates it, I just start anywhere, and as I go along, I begin to see its shape and form. Between us we can both get close and step back. We’re inner directed. We have confidence in what we create. We do what is interesting to us. It is a trap to create to please your grownups. It will stop the flow – the thing that gives you that idea, the thing that propels you to create. The message here is have confidence in yourself and your work and create what pleases you.

Being our own masters leads to having fun and trying lots of different things. Sometimes we walk away and then go back to something. After having given it a rest, we sometimes realize that it is really quite good. As the guy used to say, we’re the deciders.

When I asked Tony how many images is he managing in his albums, he said around 70,000. (Each one created by him.) But only 10,000 are in his primary body of work. This huge number of images is the result of his playing and trying lots of different things. He has built a workflow that’s very organized and provides the control needed to process so many images in many different ways. Tony Karp’s art is displayed in our museum galleries, in both our blogs (his and mine) and in his journal, in print and now in our art books. Tony is totally free to create and yet has total control over the output. It’s an interesting and powerful combination. This blending of art and the control provided by technology is the foundation upon which his work is built. The work is both interesting and unique.

We encourage you to think outside the box, try lots of different things, display your creative endeavors and don’t wait for them to be perfect. Give your creativity a chance to evolve using lots and lots of iterations. A Broadway show isn’t perfect after just one rehearsal; it takes lots and lots of practice.

Around here we refer to the creative process as being in the flow, that moment in time when you start creating and it just seems to flow from you effortlessly. Sometimes it is hard to get to the point, but when you’re in it, it feels great. Believe in yourself. Your confidence informs your creativity. It brings out the best in you.

We admit that we do have a secret weapon, and that is our love. It sustains us during those times when there is no feedback. It provides the fuel that keeps us going. What we’re doing is so incredibly interesting, and we know in our hearts that we’re creating a path to the future. What an interesting way to live.

To take a peek at what the Karps are currently working on, zoom in on this sample image from their upcoming book, which is sure to provide many interesting visions of art in the future.

Charly – Whistler, Canada

21 Mar

The 4 Chicks are pleased to present this Chick Story shared by an author mentioned in one of our very first posts – An Author, A Writer, What Am I? Charly has written powerfully and personally about her creative journey on her blog, www.theelementarycircle.wordpress.com, and there she also reveals excerpts of her upcoming fiction.

When I was nineteen, I lost both my parents to cancer in the same year.  I literally started my year with two ‘healthy’ parents, and ended it with neither of them.

As the eldest child, everything fell on my shoulders – selling the house, organising Mum’s funeral, arranging probate, and making sure my fifteen year-old sister was brought up in a manner my parents would have seen fit.

At the time I was at university, studying Law at Cambridge University.  I was on the path I had always deigned for myself.  Mum and Dad had never pushed me in a particular direction, simply instructing me that whatever I did in life I ought to be happy.

After four years at Cambridge, I decided a law career wasn’t me.  All those years I’d simply been saying I wanted to become a lawyer because it ‘sounded good’.  As a child I had always dreamed of becoming a writer, but then sensible ‘adult’ness came along and pushed that dream aside.

After Mum and Dad died at really young ages, it made me rethink the way I wanted to live my life.

My parents had met when my Dad was travelling around the world.  He was British, she was Romanian.  And so travelling and languages were quite literally in my blood.

Once I was done with academics, I decided to spend a year travelling around the world.  I planned a route across South and Central America, and spent the best part of eight months on the back of overnight sleepers and chicken buses, tracing my way across a continent in the cheapest possible manner.

It was on the back of these buses that I discovered my passion.

Long journeys soon became boring, and a story idea which had itched in the back of my mind finally began to fall into place.  I set to work committing the story to Word documents, and just four months later my first novel, ‘Flicker’ was born.  From there I found a literary agent, and changed my life plans completely.  I continued to travel, realising it provided me with the perfect head space to write, and took a job in a Canadian ski village as a nanny.

Since then I’ve written two more novels, the second of which is being submitted to publishers this week.

Writing is who I am.  It just took me a little while to realise.  And whilst technically I’m still a nanny, and not a high-flying lawyer, deep down I also know I’m a writer, and that, to me, is more important than monetary success 🙂

It’s the person I know my parents would have wanted me to be.

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