The kitchen, outpost of creativity!

The kitchen stands as one of the home’s last physical creative spaces. Whether you are following a recipe, working from memory, or just winging it, you create something! Yes, your experience will vary, e.g., ingredients available, improvisation skills,  social media distractions, and time available. Let none of these reasons stop you. No one ever starves to death because they lacked an ingredient, used the wrong pan, or couldn’t find the recipe. You may not always eat well, but you will eat. And try to remember, fun and enjoyment improves taste.

I think of the kitchen as my Zen garden. I roll up my sleeves and use my hands for something other than typing. The chopping, the dicing, the mincing, it brings a bit of balance to my day. I am in control and a sense of order materializes. Ingredients, unlike email, do not just suddenly appear. Kitchen technology advances slowly, e.g., mixer to electric mixer. If you don’t have an ingredient, you improvise. If you can’t improvise, you

The Internet has no smell. In the kitchen, you knead the bread, punching and turning. You see it rise. The smell fills the home, thereby adding to conversation, e.g., “when’s the bread going to be done Dad?” You hear it tear as you break the bread apart. As you eat, you notice the texture, the mouth feel, and the taste. Your olfactory organs experience a rhythm for a brief moment and life is good. Don’t try this with computer chips.

Think of the kitchen as the original social media. We cook to eat, live, and grow. Yet, how much more interesting is it to cook for an audience? Feedback is immediate and often abundant. You learn about the lives of family and friends. Stories get told. Faces will be made. You discover people’s tastes, their comfort foods, and definitely their limits. You add spice where you can and a bit of zest always helps. You might even succeed in making the unappealing, appealing. Think brussels sprouts and a 10 year old boy, I recommend bacon!

We learn by doing, not watching, not talking about it, and rarely just by reading. Put down the computer and head to the kitchen. If you can’t put down the computer take it with you.  If you can challenge yourself to be able to create something that makes people, including yourself, happy, you will possess friends all your life.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 
― Julia Child


Filters, Fire Walls, Productivity, & Tea

blockage2Recently I found myself in Beijing reflecting on the question of “filtered” Internet. In my case, no, Youtube, Google Drive, New York Times, Diigo, Twitter or access blogs. Even my trusted VPN proved deferential to the great firewall.

Now, I love China. I spent 17 years of my life there. We both grew up together. I learned how to manage change, when to press forward, when to step off, and when drink tea. It’s an art form that we all need to practice, the stepping off, not the tea drinking. Beijing is part of me and I definitely am a better person because of it.

So I asked myself, what if your regular workflow no longer flowed? What if suddenly your regular tools did not work effectively? Would your life or your work be less meaningful?

Upon extensive reflection and numerous cups of tea, I decided, no, your life would potentially be even more meaningful. You would find a new workflow. You would find new tools. Yes, it would take time. You might be less efficient, possibly be a little less informed, and you definitely would be a lot less entertained! Yet, these could be good things.

You would learn a lot about yourself. Life moves pretty fast and with a changing learning curve, you need to be able to size up a situation quickly. You need to know your boundaries, both hard and soft. With limited resources, you would be better at judging your capacity. In an Internet of limitless possibilities, it is easy to get overwhelmed and a little lost.

It would be frightening. Your trusted tools/friends might leave you at any time. You would need to be open to taking risks. You would be responsible for something that works in a new way or possibly does not work at times. You would definitely shore up the troubleshooting and problem solving part of your resume. You might even find yourself asking, “Do you really believe in a process or a particular product? Is this really worth my time?” Nothing like a little challenge or change to illuminate the obvious.

Creativity and innovation would flourish. Outcomes would still need to be reached and decisions made. Responsibility does not end when someone filters your Internet. It would force you to think and use your imagination to accomplish tasks. When you continually meet challenges, you become accustom to alternative ways, other points of view, and any help you can get at all. Often the Internet gets in our way and slows us down.

cupofteaIf you find yourself in an Internet filtering or constantly changing situation, focus and self-discipline are your allies, not to mention a strong cup of tea. Concentrate on the how and the why and less upon what is no longer available or what you lost. If you can navigate change and balance creativity, innovation, and imagination, you will ensure life long learning. Knowledge is a process, not something you can Google!