The Space You’re In


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It’s a fact.
Every space we walk into envelopes us.
Remember the Sub A classroom and the smell of chalk?
A hospital ward.
The drab office with files a little dusty.
Your grannies home.
Early morning in the garden.
The spaces we enter into give us a feeling.
Good, sad, uplifting, depressing, creative…

As humans we create the spaces around us.
Our homes.
Our offices.
Our classrooms.
Some have the financial clout to get others in to create their spaces.
Some not.
The spaces we create have a voice.
They tell someones story.

I remember visiting a Xhosa village and watching as a woman dipped her hand into a mixture of cow dung and water.
This she reverently smeared onto her floor.
It sounds distasteful.
In reality it was beautiful.
With her fingers she made patterns on the floor.
When it dried it was fresh and welcoming.
In actual fact the floor was an artistic welcome mat for all who entered.

Right now I am sitting in a ray of sunshine
Fresh, warm ciabatta toast with butter and marmalade has been placed before me.
A foam topped coffee is in my hand.
Swing music plays
The fresh morning enters through the open door.
This space is a mix of modern and nostalgic.
A chandelier hangs through barn-like wooden beams.
I come here to work.
I sit in this place and feel that my creativity is heightened because of the context of where I am.

Look at the space around you now.
What is it saying to you?
Open a window.
Put on some music.
Brew that coffee.
Clean up the dusty files.
Rearrange furniture
Small changes can have a big effect.

A woman used dung to make her home more welcoming!
Dung…
That is the ultimate in ingenuity.
The quality of being clever, original and inventive.
We are all of those things as humans.
Don’t shy away from the originality that is you.
We all have the ability to think creatively and independently .
So take a moment.
Notice the space around you
Set out to find a place that inspires you.
Set out to make your space a better place to be

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt and my creative space of the moment is here at Ilsa Coles Brioche on Main Road Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa – my office away from home.
Go on, dig in and find your space.

And go and like my Facebook page called Love Your Art Teacher Today, lets encourage the working creatives in our midst…

The Operation


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Last year this time I started my year off with the word vulnerability.

It can mean openness or exposure.

Every time we step out into the fields of our creativity we experience a form of exposure.

Whenever we open up, we render ourselves vulnerable.

That can be scary.

So many stay locked away and don’t give of their creative ideas, or plans.

To manoeuvre your way forward – often takes bravery and courage.

A letting go of perception and a trampling of fear.

This year I have started my year with another word.

Gratitude.

I came across a blog by an exceptional woman, Ann Voskamp.

It is called a holy experience.

This woman has issued a dare.

Find 1000 things to be grateful for.

I have taken the challenge.

To find these things one needs to open up.

Become exposed to the incredible world that God has unleashed around us.

To see in the micro and the macro.

Gratitude can be found, staring at a mountain.

In the feel of your wife as she lies behind your back at night.

It can be found in a bird that walks through your kitchen door to peck at a lone crumb.

That first cup of coffee in the morning.

The way your sons smooth brown arms hug you.

Your daughters grin and thank yous.

It’s found in Christ.

It’s found in grace given and experienced.

When your team plays really hard.

When the check out lady smiles at you.

When the man carries your shopping.

It’s in the tasting of sour that you can be grateful for the sweet.

It’s in experiencing lack that you can be grateful for the provision to come.

Gratitude is a creative operation of faith.

Look around.

Be curious.

Seek it out.

Look in unusual places.

Relook the mundane.

Find it.

Do not let it escape.

Choose.

There’s lots.

Live GrateFULL.

a holy experience

Things to do when you are bored


Creatively speaking you could draw on your fingers…
Try this.

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Or this…

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More to follow…
Send your own finger drawing pics to me please!

‘Greatitude’


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I love my Unstuck App.
This is what they shared with me today.
The creative genius of being grateful.

There’s not a single downside to gratitude — except that it’s easy to ignore.

When put into practice, gratitude creates a virtuous circle.
It fosters contentment, joy, respect, and connection to our world and the people in it.

Gratitude makes us feel good inside.
And when we share it, other people feel good inside.
And you know what happens then: The feel-good-insiders send their goodwill to more people, who in turn start feeling good inside. Good feelings boomerang everywhere.

Now if that sounds too absurdly optimistic, consider this: Free-flowing gratitude can help you get unstuck. “Feeling good lubricates mental efficiency, making people better at understanding information and using decision rules in complex judgments,” writes psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book Primal Leadership.
Translation: It makes you smarter…

The rub is, we can’t just hit-and-run with gratitude — you know, give a little to get a little.
Any feel-good spike we may achieve will quickly erode.
But if we consider and express gratitude regularly, then we can maintain our good feelings.
It’s a matter of creating the habit.

Here are a couple of ways to get you started – gratitude is great, lets make a habit put of it!

1. For a job well done, be the one who publicly gives credit to all the contributors.

2. Make a list of things you take for granted, like running water and supermarkets, and then imagine your life without them.

3. Find out what someone’s favorite hot beverage is and buy one for him — and let him know why.

4. Smile at someone.

5. Say something kind to the coworker who gets on your nerves.

6. Show handmade appreciation for long-term friendships: a custom playlist, homemade cookies, personalized T shirt, framed photo of you together.

7. When someone gossips, pay a compliment to the person under scrutiny.

8. Buy a membership to a museum you wouldn’t want to live without.

9. Let someone cut in the grocery or coffee line if they seem like they really need it.

10. Care for the outside space you spend time in (hiking, picnicking, lying on the beach) by leaving it better than you found it.

11. Tell someone she looks nice today.

12. Mail a handwritten letter to someone who’s made your life better in some way, big or small.

13. Show patience with a person who is having a bad day.

14. Create a holiday and name it after the person who means the world to you.

15. Put a nice note attached to your tip in the coffee shop tip jar.

16. Leave a sweet Post-it note on the bathroom mirror for a special someone to find.

17. Donate what you can — time, money, or goods — to causes that you believe make the world better. Some to consider: Goodwill. Your local food bank. National Military Family Association. World Wildlife Fund. The Children’s Aid Society. Books for Africa. Project C.U.R.E. Habitat for Humanity. Environmental Defense Fund. You can find many more at charitynavigator.org.

18. Turn to someone you know and say, “I’m glad you’re here.”

19. Listen without distraction to a friend who needs listening to.

20. Send your pal a funny card or ecard.

21. Share your knowledge.

22. Write a note and put it in a lunchbox.

23. Participate in websites that are dedicated to gratitude, such as The Gratitude Jar, Gratefulness.org, Happy Rambles gratitude journal, and Thankful For.

24. When you someone offers you a compliment, say how much you appreciate it instead of deflecting it.

25. Invite a neighbor over for a meal or a glass of wine.

26. Reach out to someone just because.
Not because it’s a special occasion, or you need something, or you’re organizing plans — but just to check in and say hi.

27. Leave a personal voicemail instead of texting.
There’s a powerful intimacy about the human voice.

28. When offering criticism, preface your comments with something positive about that person or his or her work.

29. Publicly compliment a friend on Facebook, Twitter, at a party.

30. Tell your folks how lucky you are to be their kid.

31. Keep a birthday calendar so you can wish people well at least once a year.

32. Energy is infectious! Be enthusiastic about plans, projects, and events.

33. Once in awhile, take on a task that usually isn’t yours.
For example, make the morning coffee and serve it on a nice tray, even if that’s your partner’s “job.”

34. Offer to babysit or dog walk for a friend who seems stressed out.

35. Reach out to important people in your life when something big happens. It’s always nice to be among the first to know.

36. Pick up the bar tab for a friend who is going through financial difficulties.

37. Think of a favor someone once did for you and try to pay it forward (offered a networking opportunity that helped you get a job; assisted with a move; coached you through a difficult break up).

38. Write a note to someone’s manager to report great service.

39. Wear, use, or otherwise acknowledge a gift in the presence of the gift-giver.

40. If there’s a blog or a website you love, send an email to the authors to say how much it means in your life.

Go out there, practise gratefulness daily and watch your world change.

Of Course the World Needs Logic!


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So there I was, standing on the edge of a soccer field.
Watching my son pretend that he was in a glass box.
There wasn’t that much happening on the field at the time.
The boy pressed his hands against an imaginary glass box which
the looks of things was all around him.
Much like the pride some moms feel when their sons score a goal –
I said to myself, “Look at that dear boy using his imagination!”

Creativity starts there – in the imagination.
When I observe our world, I see that God has a pretty fantastical one –
what with millipedes, atoms, rhinos, space and our diversity as humans.

To imagine is to form a mental image or concept.
Without it, not much would be invented – ever!

I read up on the remarkable Einstein the other day.
I’ve always pictured him being immersed in science and numbers.
What I discovered was that in actual fact, he was a man immersed in imagination.
Old Einstein felt that he was enough of an artist to draw freely upon his imagination.
He made the beautiful statement that logic will get you from A to B, but imagination?
It will take you everywhere…

How often do you turn down the volume on your imagination
and turn up the volume on your logic?
Of course the world needs logic,
but it’s desperately thirsty for more inspired imagination.

By saying these things I am not talking about just winging it,
and vaguely taking off in flights of fancy.
I am talking about living within the great story of a creative life.

The great story is that we were created with the power to imagine.
Every grand act starts with one single moment of imagination on the soccer field,
in the shower, just before falling asleep.
Imagination is where your brain can play and create.
It’s where God can inject his desires…

Part of our story is that we live life sandwiched between knowledge and mystery.
We live between beauty and ugliness.
We live between faith and confusion.
Between domesticity and wildness.
The child and the adult.
Love and brokenness
Pain and comfort.

But as humans, we have the ability to know and to imagine.
That is glorious.
That has no limit.
It rings of vistas.
It rings of freedom.
And you, were born for it.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt and I believe that there is power in your imagination.

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

The New


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Your creativity is your natural resource.
Let’s think ideas.
Ideas are unending.
You will have new ones throughout your life.
As the one fades – a new one miraculously takes its place.
That is creativity in action.
These mental impressions,
suggestions,
thoughts,
possible courses of action.
Your mind rolls them out –
naturally…
It’s the canvas of the brain.
Creative action that sits above your shoulders!
Now some of us tune into new ideas pretty easily.
Others not.
What is your take on the new?
How do you feel when someone sprouts,
“I have a good one!”
Your life is surrounded by the brainwaves of others:
The telephone
Electricity
The flush toilet
A warm bean bag
Parmesan cheese
Chocolate
Your motor car
A feather pillow
Everything around you had its first spark.
The primary flash.
That moment when someone knew…
And then took action.
Mmmmmmm…
Let me pluck this duck and stuff the feathers into grain bag and then I’ll put my head on it….
Oooooooo…
At one stage perhaps we were a first idea in the mind of God.
A good thing.
Dynamic and generous,
He acted.
So don’t hold back.
You can act on your good idea.
Even if it is just a word that you speak.
It might just make the world a different place.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt – encouraging you to play with your natural resource.

The Springbuck and I on the (com)plains of an African queue


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So I did it.
I decided to get input.
Put myself out there.
Do a course of sorts.
Conquer the fears.
Prove to myself that I can do it.

Here I am firmly lodged in a Crash Course on Creativity with Stanford University.
I am getting my input.
Sweating to give output.
I am stretched.
I am facing my fears of not good enough.
Can you really do this?

Tsk!
Worry and trust don’t mix.
A bit like oil and vinegar.
Mine separate then form a murky pool as they are beaten into each other in a frenzy.
Extreme knowing sits hip to hip with the melted whine of “How do I do this?”

It was my second project and we had to go on a silent 30 min walk of observation.

What did I see?
No, really SEE?
Smell?
Think?
Feel?
Could I move into a newness with all that I observed?
And then the task at hand was the creation of a mind map.
A thought chart.
A planning of notions.

My heart raced and I immediately pictured myself queuing at the dreaded Department of Manpower.
There would be no walk in the park for me.
I would be Springbokkie.
Springbokkie could jump in and put of the queue at will.
Springbokkie would be on the alert for all that happens around her.
She would settle in with the other animals and jump before the lioness gets her.
And so here are Springbokkies thoughts and above is her map.

I queued.

Voluntarily.

At The Department of Manpower!

The dreaded DOM queues held me for just a while.

Queues get a bad rap you see.

In their grip, people shake their heads, roll their eyes and mutter to strangers.

There is a strange camaraderie in being stuck in a queue.

A line of humanity moving towards a single purpose or goal.
(God help you if you push in)

I pat queuing on the back.

I look it in the eye and rest in it.

This time of having to stand still, inch forward – observe.

A time to rest and look.

To see.

Absorb.

Take in.

Filter the nothing’s from the something’s.

Smile and nod instead of moan, moan.

The very act of going against the queues usual, irritated, foot stomping grain is a creative one.

To turn it on its head.

Laugh in its queue face and lift the spirits.

To resist clucking the tongue at the fact that there is only one teller at the end of glaring hoards.

To see the possibilities.

The unspecified qualities of a proposing nature that queuing holds.

To breathe and enter into queue world.

Filled with moments of just being.

And spaces of just seeing.

You try it.

(I was Springbokkie, or a Springbuck,

Slow walk, stand, sitting,

On the (com) plains of an African queue.)

And I was right – in the end this project was NOT a walk in the park…

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt fast, run, walking in a onslaught of creativity.

The above piece was recorded live for Kingfisher FM at my beloved office away from home – Brioche café. The intense hospitality and Dans great coffee keeps me going on many a day.
My love of “bokoppe” (and I mean that in the most contemporary way) plus Ilsa Coles awesome Brioche T-shirts was inspiration for Springbokkie.

My Crash Course in Creativity


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I did it.
Along with thousands of others globally I joined up to do Stanford’s Crash Course in Creativity.
My first project was a book cover with title and sub title and a basic bio.
I got Vovo Telo to make me a heart shaped loaf of bread and photographed it on site for my book cover.
The 200 word bio is below.

It was 1970.

I remember the chiffon of her skirt.

Knees gritty with a dusting of flour as I played at her feet.

The smell of hot oil, ‘koeksisters’ frying golden brown.

The feel of her skinny legs as I held on.

Her floor – the place of my imaginings.

My vast world.

Remember the open joy of thought?

Thumping my way through the garden.

It’s a jungle out there…

I the heroine, boyish in my endeavour.

A wood panelled room and books on my bed.

Books.

Books.

Books.

Me sliding in the imaginings of others.

The art room – my pencil and brushes moving.

Military Service.

Yes!

Boots on my feet.

Balloons in my head.

Hear me laughing inside at the absurdness of it all?

Art school.

Striving to keep others happy.

Travel.

Wanting to cram Europe into my soul and carry it with me always.

Love.

Oh, the love and with it marriage.

Enter the creation of my innovative personal space.

Both in heart and home.

Career

I’m plunging, diving, thriving in publishing madness.

Drowning in creation.

Motherhood.

How innovative are we?

Look at what we made…

Gratitude.

Pain.

Challenges.

With God love and creativity still seeping.

Leaving smudges everywhere.

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