Thursday, October 30, 2008

Found Art

I found this clever piece of art on one of my walks. I laughed out loud! I loved that the artist thought to include an empty cup next to the sick, hung over pumpkin. And placing the pumpkin on a step makes the whole scene more interesting. Crazy as it sounds, my encounter with this small piece of found art inspired me. I went home and wrote up a storm.

Next time you're out walking, seek art. It will inspire you, too. (Don't forget to take your camera.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beating Brain Fatigue

Does your brain ever just desert you? You're at your desk, working like mad, and then suddenly you can't think of the right word, you can't remember who you were supposed to call, and you can't seem to get anything done. Don't worry, you probably don't have a brain tumor and it isn't old age. It's called brain fatigue, and you can cure it with a walk in the park. NO KIDDING.

When we work at a focused task, like entering data or writing an essay, we use something called directed attention. But we only have a limited amount of this kind of attention. When we use it up, it's like our brain has run out of gas. Most of us try to fill the tank with a little artificial energy—caffeine or sugar. We'd do much better by taking a walk in the park or even looking out the window at a park.

Why? Using our brain's other type of attention—involuntary attention—restores our ability to do focused work. Involuntary attention is what happens when we automatically respond to things like a dog barking or the sound of rain on the window. Psychologists have discovered that natural green environments have the best chance to capture our involuntary attention and restore our ability use our directed attention.

So next time your brain gets fatigued, take a walk in or around or near someplace green. That's where I'm going RIGHT NOW.

Interested in learning more about brain fatigue and how green space can help children learn? Tune into Tara Parker-Pope's podcast on health in The New York Times

Friday, October 24, 2008

Take an Energy Renewal Break!

I've been having way too much fun playing with the pictures at
I put my daughter on Hannah Montana, my son on a German music magazine, and my husband in The Scream. My work made everyone in the family laugh—a great reward! I often recommend that clients take energy renewal breaks, something recommended in the book, The Power of Full Engagement. I think this counts as an energy renewal break! Try it and see.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Learning to Fly

Last year, my family and I watched Kiki's Delivery Service, a film about a young witch who, like other 13-year-old witches, must spend the year alone in a new town learning how to be a witch. Kiki's magical gift is flying—so she sets up a flying delivery service. At one point in the story, Kiki's confidence in herself falters and so does her flying. Kiki overcomes her fears, learns to believe in herself, and flies again.

After watching the movie a gazillion times, my daughter Elly wanted to fly. She spent many days practicing on various brooms. A year later, she's still practicing. She believes that when she finds the right broom...or when she turns 13...she will know how to fly.

Watching Elly work so hard at flying, I was inspired. How many of us dabble at a dream and, when it does not work out the 1st or 2nd or 3rd time, we give up? Too many, I think. I've certainly been there. How about you? What do you deeply desire that you gave up on...or are tempted to give up on? What's one small step you could take towards that goal right now?