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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Acting Like A County Singing Envelope Was One of the Best Creative Experiences of My Life

Our Fancy 1st Place Trophy for the 2005  24-Hour Video Race
Back in 2005 I took part in The 24-Hour Video Race sponsored by The Video Association of Dallas. My part, specifically, ended up being to dress in a foam rubber envelope suit and sing a really silly country song in a mailbox, and who hasn't wanted to do that before? We won first place that year and the experience remains one of the most fun, creatively satisfying 24 hour periods of my life. (I now understand why - which I'll share later.) As the VAD celebrates the 10th year of the race, they've chosen the top ten best videos from past races, and ours, "Lick It & Stick It" ranked #4.

The experience was exhilerating, crazy, fun, challenging, creatively fulfilling and our team was comprised of some of my favorite friends and family in the world! Plus, we got all the free Red Bull we could drink, which wasn't essential, but a nice bonus given the circumstances.

And, here were the circumstances – we had just 24 hours to concept, write, shoot and edit a video using the following criteria:

Theme:  First Class
Prop:  Quick Newspaper
Location:  Mailbox
Line of Dialogue: I thought that was fixed a long time ago.

Given this criteria at midnight, we then began our endeavor by sitting around the kitchen table drinking Red Bull (and, admittedly a beer or three) and brainstorming. I wish I had the video footage of that! Given the fact that we're an opinionated lot with strong personalities (and wills!) it's a testament to our love for each other that we not only won, but didn't kill each other before doing so. Within a few hours we had developed our concept which actually slammed the other major product sponsor that year – Quick Newspaper.

Then began the real work of shooting the footage and in our case, creating a human-sized envelope costume, green-screen special effects, as well as writing and recording a song. The editing process began the following evening and went right up to the point we had just enough time to drive to the drop-off location and turn in our video about 10 minutes before the midnight deadline. I get a little jazzed just thinking about it all even now!

All these years later, I finally understand why the 24-Hour Video Race is the ideal creative contest! Looking at it through the lens of being a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach®, I saw the light.

First, you have a short, specific time-frame in which to accomplish your creative task - 24 hours - that's it, not a second more. We creative types are first-class procrastinators, over-thinkers, and let's-try-it-this-way-too-ers – so giving us a 24 hour deadline is genius!

Secondly, we're given a place to begin. By having the location, prop, line of dialogue and theme, we had a jumping off point and didn't have to create out of thin air. It was just enough structure to get us started.

Thirdly, we had the support of working in a group. (And a really funny, intelligent, talented group at that!)

And finally, we all gave ourselves permission to have fun! That was the ultimate goal, not to win, but to have fun creating something that others would have fun watching too. You be the judge - how'd we do?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How One Bullet Sparked Creative Chaos and an Amazing Creative & Spiritual Journey

One Bullet 

Story and illustrations by Karen Blessen 
Originally published in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday, August 17, 2003

How I wish that each and every one of you could have joined us Saturday, April 30, 2011 when the Creative Oasis Day Trippers™ visited the art studio of Karen Blessen. An artist, writer, humanitarian, promoter of peace, spiritual seeker and gracious hostess, Blessen welcomed us into her Deep Ellum space to share the story behind and the future hopes and dreams for her "29 Pieces" project.

The story that she shared with us was one of the most beautiful examples of "creative chaos" of which I've ever heard. The idea of creative chaos as we share it in Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching® supports the notion that creativity is a non-linear process. While linear thinking goes from A to B to C to D, non-linear thinking, or creative thinking, goes from Q to Venus to Peacock by way of glitter and winds up on your front doorstep at midnight with a bottle of champagne.

Karen Bless & Jill Allison Bryan

In Blessen's case, she was on a fabulously successful creative path making a living as a graphic artist and illustrator, having won many awards, including a Pulitzer Prize. She created the illustrations for the campaign that helped revitalize Times Square in NYC. She felt blessed to have a career using her creative talents for writing and art. Then it happened. One bullet sparked a series of events that would change her life forever. 

After a young man was shot and killed in Blessen's front yard she searched for a way to process the unthinkable that had happened. Over the span of three years she interviewed as many people as she could that were affected by the random shooting. The end result is the story "One Bullet" which ran in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday, August 17, 2003. (See her graphic illustration at the top of this page with a link to the entire story.)

Even after the somewhat cathartic experience of conducting the interviews and writing, Blessen was still filled with anger, sadness and questions that couldn't be answered. A friend suggested she try Passage Meditation. "I felt like a duck who'd be searching my whole life and finally found the pond," says Blessen of her immediate connection to this type of meditation. 


Memorizing and meditating on sacred texts led to the next steps of exploring them on a deeper level in her journals. The wellspring of words and images that this effort produced became the nucleus for her 29 Pieces project. 

Cleave the heart of a raindrop, a hundred oceans will pour forth.

I encourage you to visit the 29 Pieces website above to learn more about Blessen's incredible vision for this project which includes a permanent public space to house 29 enormous sculptures interwoven with spaces for reflection, fellowship and creative and spiritual practices. I as said, creative chaos at it's most beautiful.

Creative Oasis Day Trippers(tm) taking a closer look at the 29 Pieces models
As usual, there were some lovely connections made and serendipities experienced during our Day Trippers' time together. Trish had just come from a celebration at the Dallas Public Library where she had found a book she thought Blessen was meant to have as she seeks to bring her enormous vision for 29 Pieces to life. 

Serendipitous Sharing
If you'd like to know when and where will be going for future Creative Oasis Day Tripper experiences please subscribe to my Creative Oasis blog via e-mail. Send me your e-mail if you'd like to join the list to receive monthly invites and information on all things Creative Oasis! Until next time, how will you allow yourself to open to the infinite possibility of creative chaos in your life?

All the best from my creative oasis to yours,