Change or Die

Some dill in the potI’ve been on a spectacular journey of the mind and career lately. I’m a writer and media girl trained in old media in a dizzying new media world speeding forward like a bullet train. Some days the mass of new things I’m learning makes my brain explode. I want to take a couple of digital natives, and it would only take a couple, and syphon some of the agility and speed and knowledge and ease of navigating the technological leaps right out of their head, click control/C, and shove it into my brain.

When I walked into a theater to see the Academy Award winning movie The Artist, I had no idea what to expect. It’s about a dapper fellow who was at the top of his game as a star in silent films in the day when talkies had yet to be invented. Technology changed and with it the nature of work and his success in his art. He tries a new thing and fails, then despairs. Finally, he tries yet another approach in his changing genre alongside someone who believes in him and helps him leave his comfort zone, adapt to the changes and do a new thing with his innate gifts.

When I walked out of the theater I pitched my popcorn bag and said to my friends, “Here are three words about the meaning of that movie. Change or die.”

It’s easier, far easier, infinitely easier, to keep doing what's comfortable, but I don’t want to be one of “those” kind of people who pine for the golden past while skidding my feet to stay in the present. I don’t want to be stuck in a silent film, lamenting the obsolete.

Change or die.

Which is no choice at all, just a realization.

I’m pushing myself to learn and adapt and here’s the thing. I am totally fascinated. My career is changing and my mind is growing, which of course is the best part.

I pine only occasionally now, like when the number of new things I’m trying to learn at once edges me toward brain explosion, so I take an adaptation break and stick with the known for a while, but not too long. I find I love taking my hard-earned experience, body of knowledge and skills, my passion and ways of doing things, and mashing it in with the new. What a fascinating time to live. What a spectacular journey.


The Effort of Creativity

colored pencils

Making things isn't easy. Sometimes I sit at my desk thinking about the various projects in process that I want to take to the next step, and I can’t seem to make myself do any of them.

My tools are ready, at my fingertips. The curser blinks, pencils are sharpened, digital files of sound waves wait for me to release them from my recorder. Little pieces of art in words and voice lurk in my brain.

I have a few great ideas, I say to myself. Well, they could be. Good ones anyway. Of course I actually have to begin. Or begin again. Or pick up where I left off.

Instead, sometimes I look up and realize I've been staring at my computer for, um, awhile. Why is this so stinking hard? Then it hits me. Every project right now is in a stage that requires creativity.

Beginning to create isn't easy because it requires overcoming mental, physical, and emotional inertia.

Creativity is challenging because of the sheer energy required to make something out of nothing.

But making something out of nothing is worth the effort.

Thinking about this when when it's tough to begin, or sustain, the work I love to do reminds me to speak much kinder to myself. And I’m not sure which is the more important insight: acknowledging the effort of bringing into being something which wasn’t before, or feeling the fruit of being kind to myself.

10 Reasons to Write in Your Books

Do you write in the books you own? Some people feel that marking up a book or horrors—dog-earing it— is heresy, but here are 10 reasons why I can’t imagine reading a physical book without a pen or highlighter in hand.

For most of us with average memories underlining passages that inspire or facts we want to retain increases the odds of remembering more of what we read.

Combining the tactile act of writing with the cerebral act of reading helps engage more deeply with the material.

Tangibly connecting with the ideas and mind of the author sharpens our thinking.

A beautiful sentence or paragraph deserves to be honored with yellow highlighter, pencil marks, and ballpoint under typeface.

Writing in the margin makes reading become a conversation we have with the author.

We leave a remnant of our interaction with the book. For us to return to later, for those who come after us to have a glimpse of how we thought.

It’ part of the map of our becoming. Coming back to sections or lines we’ve highlighted or notes we’ve made in margins reminds us of the point in our journey that we were at when we read that book.

It makes a book ours alone; every mark says “this is what mattered to me.”



We have a visual, thumb-through-it record of what was important to us that can be pulled off a shelf now or in 30 years, regardless of tech developments.

Our interaction with a book is more valuable than a pristine page.


So highlight, underline, bracket, circle, star.

Use exclamation marks, draw happy faces and sad faces and open mouth circle faces on parts that jazz you, make you smile or frown or shock you.

Sass back to the author in pencil when you disagree. Even better, love on the author with your pen when you think they’re brilliant.

Leave a record of what moves you.

Ink the questions that the ideas raise.

Writing in my books is a pleasure, the gift of thinking given back to the author, a little love letter in the margins.

What Should We Do With Our Gifting?

I never expected Whitney Houston and famed music producer Quincy Jones to give me a eureka moment about using my gifts, but they did. After all, I’m the seventh grade talent show entrant to Whitney’s jaw-dropping Grammy win, a lemonade stand to Steve Jobs’ Apple.

Nonetheless, any measure of gifting is still a skill and talent wrapped in an innate ability, honed with training and practice.

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