Prince and Gratitude for Today

Vitoria_-_Graffiti_&_Murals_1238

Graffiti in Vitoria – Gasteiz (Spain)

Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.  -Prince

The first live rock concert I ever attended happened December 20th, 1984. Prince and the Revolution.

I fell in love with Prince on the radio, before I ever saw him perform on American Bandstand or in a myriad of MTV music videos.

Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U, and that classic Prince mashup of a carpe diem speech and stirring spiritual Let’s Go Crazy. Great songs. Like many, I was drawn to Prince’s vibrant beats and emancipated, envelope-pushing lyrics that stood out on the ballad-heavy pop radio of the early 1980’s. Sure, there was Blondie, Madonna, The Clash, The Pretenders, or Queen for young rebellion anthems, but Prince sparkled bright even in that musical crowd.

When I found out Prince would be making a stop in my hometown, I saved up from my job at a shoe store to get tickets with a friend and made sure to ask off for that date months in advance. I didn’t have the greatest seat, more nosebleed than front row, but when Prince stepped on stage, the energy was palpable. Nobody cared about seat location. We all sang our lungs out and danced our feet off. Whatever our troubles or differences, we forgot them in the Prince universe.

The show fulfilled all my expectations. The lights, the band, the costumes, the music, and Prince.

Prince was a man full of contrasts. A stylistic showman, flamboyant on stage, yet humble and even shy in interviews. A mysterious persona, but revealing much of his inner thought life in his songwriting. Sensual, seductive, over the edge song lyrics, but a devout spiritual person who tried to get people to think past the sensuality to the spiritually sublime. He believed his talent came from God, and strove to tap his genius to the uttermost, and encouraged others to find their talents to help the world be a better place.

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Prince performing at Coachella 2008, photo courtesy Micahmedia, Creative Commons

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing called life.  -Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”

Prince continued to impact the music industry, make his creative visions reality, and help others behind the scenes to achieve their dreams, until he suddenly passed away on April 21st 2016 at the age of 57. Immediately praise began pouring in for his achievements, his talent, his genius, how he impacted the music industry, and how he would be missed. His movies, concerts, and interviews filled the airwaves and social media over the days following his death.

2016 has been a crazy year for losing cultural icons. Besides Prince, some of the famous artistic folk who have left us are as diverse a group as David Bowie, Jimmie Van Zandt, Merle Haggard, Leon Haywood, Glenn Frey, Pat Conroy, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Earl Hamner Jr., Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, Vanity, Umberto Eco, Otis Clay, Alan Rickman, and we haven’t made it halfway through the year yet. Very sad.

Why do we suddenly declare our admiration for someone when they are no longer with us? Why do we feel the need to list the ways we have been influenced or impacted by someone we never even met, and probably never thought about on a daily basis? Why do we bemoan the fact that a person with artistic talents like singers, actors, and writers have died, when death comes to millions daily?

I think the reasons are more complicated that this humble writer can fathom, but I’ll take a shot.

I think we take it for granted that our lives will stay generally the same, what we’ve come to allow in it will always be around, what we deem important at any season of our life will always be there when we want to access it. That way we don’t have to think about change, and the biggest game-changer of all, our mortality.

The ephemera of our lives has a soundtrack running in the background, and particularly in our youth, which we believe will forever be available to transport us back to those times. But the reality smacks us in the face when we realize it actually won’t. We may be able to replay the music or the movie, but the symbols of that soundtrack, the artists, won’t be here forever.

When we face that fact, gratitude, as well as grief, is a common by-product for what was, but can never be again.

I acknowledge someone else’s life by being thankful for what they deposited in my life.

But I wonder what would happen if we didn’t wait until people were gone to acknowledge their contributions to our lives? What if we thanked people, famous or not, for how their lives have made our lives bigger, brighter, happier, stronger? What if we embraced our mortality by appreciating the present?

I have a personal stake in thinking about mortality lately. Today marks one month since what should have been a normal preventative medical procedure turned into a four day hospital stay because I aspirated under anesthesia. After a scary time, I’m still here, my lungs are healing, and I’m regaining strength.  It’s not been the best two years or so for me, and I’ve probably been angry and a bit of a whiner about it, but coming close to a fatal situation has really got me more focused on taking stock, being present in the moment, and being content with God’s blessings in my life.

Who are you grateful for? What words have impacted you? What music? What talents? Your grandmother’s baking? The pop star’s music who got you through your teenage bad breakup? A book that helped you feel like you weren’t the only one who felt that way? A teacher who told you that you could do it?

What if we made a mission out of sharing our gratitude to those who enrich our lives? What would that look like in practical terms? A letter, an email, a phone call, a gift? A blog post or a tweet? A dedication of some type? The motivation to succeed at what we set our hands to do? Encouraging and helping others in our sphere of influence?

It’s easy to let time and opportunity pass, because making human connections takes effort that we don’t have the energy for. Still, I think taking the time to share our gratitude with those who bring art, knowledge, or even a little bit of kindness into our days would be a beautiful way to spread more joy in the world. And Prince would probably be cool with that, too.

More thoughts on Prince’s influence:

Laura Lee Carter’s How Prince Made My Life Better

‘Isn’t This Funnier?’ New Girl Creator Liz Meriwether Recalls The Making Of The Prince Episode

USA Today, Tavis Smiley: The Prince I Knew

How will you show gratitude today?

5 Ways To Get Rid Of Inertia In Your Life

 

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

*Knocking on microphone* Hello? Anyone there?

I’ve been MIA from this blog for a while. Quite a while. I haven’t touched my WIP for almost 4 months. I’ve lost my way. I could blame it on a lot of legitimate reasons. Continue reading

Writing and Creativity As A Practice of Freedom

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Are you practicing your freedom today?

flags, photo by kristin nador

Happy Independence Day America!

July 4th is almost here. It’s a great day to relax, enjoy time with loved ones, do something American like go on family picnics (invented by the Victorian English), eat hot dogs (invented by the Germans), corn on the cob (first cooked by the Maya Indians), slurp snow cones (invented by Italians, specifically Roman emperor Nero), go to the local amusement park (invented by the Danish), blow up fireworks (invented by the Chinese), and attend a baseball game (uniquely American). A true celebration of America’s melting pot philosophy. I hope you and yours enjoy the holiday. Continue reading

How To Stage Your Home For Creativity

typewriter on shelf

Is your home staged for creativity?

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Have you set the stage in your home for maximum creativity potential?

It’s been a year since we sold our four bedroom home in Oklahoma and downsized to a 850 sq. foot apartment in Kentucky. We were excited for the job opportunity for Keeper Hubby, but not too keen on what it would take to get there. Continue reading

Write Anywhere #81: Weekend Wanderings

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Do you ever plan to NOT make a plan?

I am a planner. I have lists, and lists of lists. It’s not that I am necessarily skilled at fulfilling the plan, but giving myself structure helps me make progress. Even with all my planning, I find myself in a general pattern of creative ups and downs. Spurts of creative productivity punctuated by dry spells  filled with frustration, anxiety, and low spirits. I’m working at being more balanced, but it will be a lifetime journey.

I don’t do well at spontaneous. It can even make me nervous. That whole facade of control, you know.

Some days though, the stars align, and I agree to throw out the list for the day. Keeper Hubby is good at helping me do that. He helps me get out of my always-so-serious mode and enjoy the moment, live in the present, and laugh at myself. Another one of so many reasons that he is a Keeper. 😉

We spent a day letting nothing in particular dictate our plans, and it refreshed my creative focus. Continue reading

Discover Your ‘First Things’ for Success in 2015

Spring Dogwood Blooming, Oxley Nature Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma photo by kristin nador kristin nador writes anywhere blog www.kristinnador.com
What are your ‘first things’?
by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
The start of a new year inevitably creates pressure to think about the past, and the future. We examine what has happened during the last 365 days, take away fine memories, or slam the book shut on an unproductive or particularly difficult or heartbreaking year. We have a finite amount of time, and time seems more pertinent as the years progress. Each year means one less year on our personal ‘deadline’, and while some feel the pressure to make the best of it, others experience guilt that they haven’t been using their time wisely up until this point.

Continue reading

100+ Ways To Maximize Your Creativity

788px-Jigsaw_(When_Art_Imitates_Life)_(8164506694)

jigsaw, (When Art Imitates Life) courtesy of russavia, Creative Commons

What are your plans for the new year?

A new writing project? Getting back to something you let drop last year? Getting healthy, working on relationships?

A new year means a new beginning, a chance to re-invent how you do life. Time to reassess, refocus, recommit. We make resolutions to stop bad habits and start new ones.

It’s also a great time to get new inspiration for your creative self. Doing something different stretches you, keeps ideas fresh, helps you explore new mindsets. I’m a list girl (just ask Keeper Hubby about my piles of lists) so I collected this list of creativity hacks with links to help fire up the sparks. Some may be simple, others harder or more expensive, but if you’re committed to having your best creative year, some of the ideas in this list could help your imagination go where it’s never gone before.

Build your brain, start new pathways of thought, break down fear barriers that have blocked your art, and have fun. My plan is to try something on this list each week, in addition to drilling down on my daily writing time. 2014 is the year to let your creativity loose!

  1. Sleep for eight hours every night.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Keep a dream journal.
  4. Create at the same time every day.
  5. Create at a different time of day.
  6. Listen to Mozart. Or Samba. Or Nirvana.
  7. Shape something (play-doh, clay, pottery, bread) with your hands.
  8. Sketch your ideas.
  9. Listen to TED talks about creativity.
  10. Spend time in nature.
  11. Attend a poetry reading.
  12. Keep yourself hydrated.
  13. Go people watching.
  14. Observe others’ power of observation: see how many days you can wear the same outfit/clothing item before someone notices. (Note: permission to wash items while testing this theory.)
  15. Learn a new language.
  16. Try Karaoke.
  17. Paint a picture.
  18. Schedule your daydreaming.
  19. Learn to code.
  20. Practice Tai Chi.
  21. Play old school board games.
  22. Write with a fountain pen.
  23. Repurpose an item in your house into something new.
  24. Fold paper.
  25. Dance like nobody’s watching.
  26. Put together a comedy routine for an open-mike night (or family night).
  27. Explore craft ideas on Pinterest.
  28. Write a short story in a genre you’ve never tried before.
  29. Play a brain game: Sudoku, Scrabble, Mahjongg, etc.
  30. Create a prompt box or file with first lines/ideas and pick one a week.
  31. Laugh.
  32. Freewrite.
  33. Walk away from a project for a while.
  34. Color in a coloring book.
  35. Wear a wig for a day.
  36. Write in a different direction on lined paper.
  37. Increase the awareness of each of your senses for ten minutes per day.
  38. Make a Pinterest inspiration board.
  39. Teach your hands something new.
  40. Visit an art museum or gallery.
  41. Spend time with some children you know. Ask them questions to get a different perspective on life.
  42. Exercise.
  43. Do a mind map.
  44. Move your eyes back and forth.
  45. Read fiction.
  46. Purposely make something imperfect. Enjoy the freedom.
  47. Start a creatives group. (Think of Hemingway and his pals in Paris.)
  48. Wake up and write.
  49. Keep a daily journal.
  50. Create a persona and take it for a walk in public.
  51. Turn off your email/computer/smartphone.
  52. Meditate.
  53. Fail.
  54. Have a well-established way to capture ideas. You’re more likely to let ideas float around your head because you aren’t afraid to lose them.
  55. Experience live music.
  56. Be a fashion maverick. Wear something you love even if it’s not in style.
  57. Enter an arts contest. (writing, photography, state fairs)
  58. Spend a day completely by yourself.
  59. Visit a public garden.
  60. Play a video game.
  61. Make a vision board.
  62. Go barefoot in public.
  63. Write a letter to someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while.
  64. Build a birdfeeder.
  65. Create a comic book character.
  66. Write a story about something you’ve never told anyone with pen and paper. When you finish, burn it.
  67. Learn to play an instrument.
  68. Memorize a passage or quote that inspires or is important to you.
  69. Declutter your desk.
  70. Declutter a room.
  71. Change the lighting in a room.
  72. Light some candles.
  73. Make a list.
  74. Expand your social circles. Meet different people, and people who are different from you.
  75. Doodle.
  76. Pray.
  77. Plant a garden.
  78. Take a class.
  79. Eat ‘brain foods’.
  80. Do yoga.
  81. Choose colors that promote creativity.
  82. Learn something new every day.
  83. Drink coffee.
  84. Time your creativity.
  85. Take a social media sabbatical.
  86. Drink green tea.
  87. Take a nap.
  88. Think about a happy memory.
  89. Eavesdrop on conversations in public.
  90. Decide there is no right or wrong way to think about a problem or project.
  91. Read biographies of successful creatives.
  92. Dim the lights.
  93. Learn about Method acting techniques.
  94. Make a YouTube video.
  95. Make an art project using only your feet.
  96. Volunteer.
  97. Watch a sunrise.
  98. Watch a sunset.
  99. Imagine the opposite.
  100. Spend time in another climate or culture. (This one takes planning and $$)
  101. Read classic literature.
  102. Take a photo a day. Try Fat Mum Slim’s photo challenge for inspiration.
  103. Make a conscious decision every day to reject perfectionistic thinking.
  104. Snuggle with a pet.
  105. Soak in a bath.
  106. Play ‘What if?’ Let your mind follow the ideas no matter how silly.
  107. Learn to knit, crochet, embroider.
  108. Watch a travel show or attend a travelogue.
  109. Solve a problem by imagining a fictional invention.
  110. Build with Legos.
  111. Watch the midnight sky.
  112. Relax.

And write. Write to let the percolating ideas flow. What will you do to be more creative in 2014?

What Diana Nyad Can Teach Us About Unwavering Passion, Writing, and Life

triathletes, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) U.S. Navy, public domain

triathletes, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) U.S. Navy, public domain

On Monday, September 2, 2013, author, journalist, motivational speaker, and endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

Diana Nyad website

Here are some interesting facts about that sentence:

Diana Nyad tried to complete this swim four other times. She finally did it.  At age 64.

Spending 53 hours straight swimming 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, facing sharks, rough Gulf Stream currents, and the stinging jellyfish that derailed her last three tries, Nyad walked up on shore and announced she had three messages:

  1.  “Never give up.”
  2.  “You’re never too old to chase your dreams.”
  3.  “It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”

Once Diana decided to chase her dream, she wasn’t going to let go. She trained day after day, month after month, year after year. Even when the dream looked crushed. Repeatedly.

See  what she says is her ‘unwavering passion’ here:

What dream are you willing to chase? What book longs to be written? What obstacle are you willing to overcome? What work are you willing to do to make it happen? 

Dreams without hard work are nebulous fantasies that float away.

Diana could have given up after her first attempt. She could have admitted to failure at her second attempt. It would have been understandable for her to determine that her dream was out of reach after her third and fourth attempt. She could have blamed the jellyfish, the lightning storms, old age closing in. She could have blamed her asthma.

But she says for over thirty years she pictured herself walking up on the Florida shore.

What do you visualize yourself accomplishing? What do you see coming to pass in your mind’s eye when reality gives a different view? What vision of hope do you have for yourself and your life?

Diana didn’t train alone. She didn’t make her final attempt to cross the ocean alone. She had a team of 35 people believing in her dream with her, supporting and working alongside her.

Writing, like endurance swimming, seems like a solitary sport, but it ultimately takes a team.

Who is your dream team? Who believes in you and your vision? Who can you lean on when dream crushers come your way?

Surround yourself with those who want to believe and invest in you and your dream.

Diana Nyad never gave up. Maybe some people thought she was crazy. But she did what she set out to do. And proved it’s never too late.

What dream will you never give up?

Advice To Your Younger Self

inside Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China, image courtesy Dmitry Fironov

inside Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China, image courtesy Dmitry Fironov

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

It’s 12-12-12, so in honor of strange happenings on unusual dates, let’s talk science fiction. Time travel to be specific. What if time travel was a reality?

Have you seen the movie Looper?

It’s an intriguing sci-fi story that explores the consequences of technology in the wrong hands. I also enjoyed all the actors in this film: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and especially Emily Blunt.

Although it has the common dystopian futuristic themes: a dark world full of bloody violence, wanton sex and drug use (oh wait, is that the future?) as well as a time travel element, the second half of the movie is not quite what you expect out of this type of film.

This movie makes you think. It makes you think about how children can be pushed down a path they didn’t have to go but for the decisions and actions of their parents. How important parents are in their children’s lives. How people can change and time changes them, and that the future is never set.

Future Joe goes through a lot to try and warn Present Joe about where his path is leading and how they will both pay for it in the end. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you can stomach bloody violence, foul language and a smidge of unnecessary nudity, it’s an intense story.

What it got me thinking about was what I would change about my past if I could, and if I could warn young me about the future, what I would say.

I would say:

Hey Younger Kristin,

Don’t waste your time, energy and self-worth trying to get the people who should accept you the most to accept you, because they can’t accept themselves. It’s not in them to accept you and love you like they should and that’s not your fault.

Keep reading everything you can get your hands on and keep learning. You are not a failure.

Trust your gut.

You look terrible in those purple dance tights and gray legwarmers. Just sayin.

Dentists aren’t all evil so let them look at your teeth.

You’re going to live past 25 so stop treating your body so badly.

Guys who always ask you for money, won’t introduce you to their friends, and tell you what ugly knees you have are guys that will never care about you, do matter how much they SAY they do.

This baby WILL grow up and do great things for God.

Life is hard just keep going because it gets better.

Money makes things easier but really doesn’t make things right.

Listen to older people. They know some good stuff even if they speak slowly.

He’s the best thing that will ever happen to you and you can trust him so say yes.

The financial adviser is an idiot. Buy the Apple stock.

God is.

Ms. Sweet is right. Keep writing.

Friends are family you choose for yourself. Choose well.

All the things you think are so important really aren’t. Important moments are like flowers that bloom, whither and the petals blow away in the wind. You will miss them if you blink. Be present.

Take more photos.

Signed,

Older and Maybe Wiser (but mostly heavier) Kristin

I don’t think I would really change anything about my life because if I didn’t go through the things I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am, I wouldn’t have the strength I have. But maybe I would let myself get prepared. As in ‘Hey, some crap is going to hit the fan tomorrow, prepare yourself ‘.

For further inspiration:

Chuck Wendig shares entertaining and salty (what else – it’s Chuck Wendig!) advice to his younger self:  25 Things I’d Like To Say To My 18-Year-Old Self

What message(s) would you send to your younger self from your future self if you could? Share in the comments or if you’re inspired write a blog post and share a link.