Tag Archives: passion

TANGO! Review February Power Word

28 Feb

TANGO! Unleash Your Passion or Get off the Dance Floor

27 Feb
The Seduction Dance

My tango takeaway: passion + practice = progress!

Let me preface this post by affirming that I am a happily married woman. That said, I recently found myself in an intense tango with a stranger whom I had only just met. I was drawn to this new partner under the most unlikely of circumstances, but the passion took over.

Okay, let me explain this metaphorical tryst before my husband of seventeen years installs secret spyware on my laptop. For months, I’d been plodding through a rather unpleasant scene in my novel, seeming unable to finish it. My character had to face a lot: a major death, charges of murder, a funeral, and above all, her own secrets. I seemed to be writing in circles, deleting more than I added most attempts and feeling, like my character, doomed.

Lunge back to my real life, the one without imaginary friends. A real-life friend and neighbor began to make me aware of details regarding plans underway to rezone schools in our county. I just didn’t have time to get involved, I thought. Besides, my friend and many others like her seemed well informed and fired up enough to fix any problem; I was confident they’d work it all out for the best. But then she insisted I should come to a school board meeting, that many of the proposed plans broke up our neighborhood and had my home and many others going to a school that would not allow my son to walk or bike to school like my daughter had done.

The fire was lit.  “One Neighborhood – One School” had become a rally cry among my neighbors and others asking for neighborhoods to be kept together while saving walkers and bikers, one which I thought summed up my new-found position as well. After attending a rezoning meeting, I was suddenly overcome with a desperate desire to do something, and to do it quickly, before the plans were finalized and set in stone. Sixteen haiku poems and a theme song poured out. My 11-year-old daughter helped me turn the song into a music video, which was reviewed by one newspaper reporter and even featured on local TV.

Chaines turn back to my imaginary world. Yesterday I finally finished that 3,000-word scene. It’s as if dancing with a new, intense passion reignited my long-standing, deeply desired passion of putting down this story. I’m as committed to it as I am to my marriage. Both take work, I know, and passion is what keeps each of them alive.

Here are some TANGO! rules of engagement I’ve learned. And a one-two-three-four…

  1. You gotta have passion. This is rule numero uno. En el tango o en la vida, your passion is what will propel your creativity. Lack of a driving passion bordering on obsession leaves the dance or the work flat. Just watch the first few episodes of Dancing with the Stars in any given season. While every contestant is learning the fundamentals of dance upon which they will improve over the course of weeks and months, those who cannot tap into their inner passion are always the first to go. It’s why even Pamela Anderson’s long legs couldn’t save her from losing to Drew Carey in week one last fall. The judges described her dancing as needing more “intensity.” That’s passion: intense, vibrant, alive.
  2. You gotta have technique. In dance, technique refers to the thousand repetitions of precise steps and combinations in the classroom that improve over time until they become second nature. My ballet mistress calls this desired phenomenon muscle memory. So it is with exercising our brains. The more we write/paint/compose/sew/take pictures/make films/create, the better we write/paint/compose/sew/take pictures/make films/create, and the more natural it becomes to do it.
  3. You gotta have structure. Practiced technique is tested with structure. Literally the beat and time of the music dictates when you do what. Lunge on one, snap head forward on two, wrap free leg around partner’s hip on three, be dragged gracefully on four. In real life, we call them deadlines. And we need them every bit as much as a dancer needs a rhythm. Trust me, it’s much harder to improvise dancing to a 3-minute song than to learn prescribed choreography and perform it.
  4. You gotta know what you want. In tango, the dance of seduction, the couple wants their mad attraction to come to its final pleasurable, um, climax. With the school rezoning, I knew what I wanted with easy clarity, perhaps because it was for my kids. For myself, it’s a lot harder. It’s too easy to get distracted by the necessary to-do’s of the day to forget that writing my novel isn’t another chore. It’s something I chose, something I want to choose to work on consistently, because it’s something I really, really want.

And so at the end of our month of TANGO!, I’m reminded of another group of awesome chicks, the Spice Girls, whose Wannabe lyrics make a great springboard for comments. So what’s your zigazig ah?

[You:] Yo, I’ll tell you what I want,what I really really want,
[4 Chicks:] So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
[You:] I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
[4 Chicks:] So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
[You:] I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig ah!

Our First Guest Chick

24 Jun

The 4 Chicks are delighted to welcome their first Guest Chick!  Shelby is a talented photographer in the Orlando area.  Here, she discusses with the Chicks how she ended up on this creative path and what she loves about it.  To see some of Shelby’s amazing work, visit http://www.simplyshelbyphoto.com.

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.

Dating My Manuscript

10 May

It’s like when I first dated my husband back in the day. All day long my thoughts were consumed with him, and every moment that I wasn’t with him seemed wasted. I thought about him nonstop, and just looking at him made my knees weak and my pulse race.

Now I have those same “newly dating” feelings again…with my manuscript.  One of the tasks in chapter 2 of Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World ask questions related to what you would do if you had unlimited funds and unlimited time. Well, I don’t have either – not by a long shot. I have a great part-time job and three kids that keep me very busy, especially considering one is a toddler. In the past I have said I’m “too busy” to write, to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. In fact, the last book took years to complete. But suddenly, I’m finding myself “dating” my manuscript. I started writing this book just over a month ago and almost sixty thousand words later, am still going strong. I don’t have the time, but I’m finding the time. Any chance I get – whether it’s at night when the kids go to sleep, during my baby’s nap, in the car (not as driver, obviously) – I’m writing.  So while it would be very nice to have unlimited funds and unlimited time, I’m not letting that stop me from pursuing my passion for writing.

And to my husband – I continue to have those same feelings for you today as well. Thank you for your patience as I disappear most nights with laptop in hand. One day soon you’ll have me back…

…unless there’s a sequel, of course.

Inspiration from My Young Author

24 Feb

While sorting through my 10-year old son’s papers from school, I found a writing prompt that he wrote a few days ago. Topic: Write about the most ideal job for you when you grow up.

He wrote about becoming a writer.

Now of course he mentioned that people “make a lot of money by just writing books” (I neglected to tell him that it’s the minority that don’t need a full-time job on the side), but most of it focused on his passion for writing. He wrote that he gets inspired by reading awesome books and is going to “work hard in college and get a writing degree so I can be a writer, and then write away.”

While I could barely contain my pride at his choice of careers, it was what he told me when I approached him that really made me smile: “Hey, mom, I want to be a writer like you, because that’s really cool.” Ah…my darling son, if you only knew how much you inspire me.

He is now writing a story called “The Silly Way a Giraffe Got 2 Horns.” And I am now going to pick up my virtual pen and continue on my own writing project…

”Write away.”

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