Things to do when you are bored

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


Or this…

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


The New


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,
possible courses of action.
Your mind rolls them out –
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
The flush toilet
A warm bean bag
Parmesan cheese
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.
Let me pluck this duck and stuff the feathers into grain bag and then I’ll put my head on it….
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


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?

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?
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.


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.


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.

The Story of a Tongue


There is a man.
He is a renowned chef.
He started a restaurant in Chigago called Alinea.
As restaurants go, Alinea is placed around 6th in the world.
And the man?
His name is Grant Achatz.

Now Grant’s restaurant is intensely specific.
An integral part of his offering is his tasting menu.
This is where you can taste delicious, tiny morsels of food.
To put things into perspective for you, his tasting menu costs
in the region of $219 – $265!

The man prepares some serious food.
People go there to indulge in new sensations,
to taste new tastes, new blends, new combinations.

Grant got cancer.

Can you guess where?
Of the tongue.

The diagnosis?
Remove it.

It like a perfume maker being told to remove his nose.
It’s the deaf composer.
The runner without legs.

Grant refused.
After visiting doctor after doctor, he finally found one that preformed a very specific
combination of chemo and radiation.

He reports that it was as if he had harsh, sever sunburn in his mouth,
down his throat and on the outside too.
To his dismay – he lost all his sense of taste.

What do you do in a situation like this?
How do you cope when you hit a wall that is black and hard?

Well Grant insists that this was the time that he drew on his true creativity.
He carried on going into work at his restaurant, but worked 10 hour days instead of 14
and he continued to design tasting menus.
With no taste!

This time he used his imagination to conceive the ideas instead of his tongue.

Grant got a fellow chef that he trusted to do the tasting and actually broke new ground
in the land of taste.
As his imagination kicked into high gear Achatz found inspiration in his temporary disability, deciding that it would turn him into a better chef.

Grant says the whole experience has transformed his cooking.
Its allowed him radical leaps.

Grant Achatz is now cancer free
He has his tongue.
His sense of taste has returned.
He is a better chef than ever before.

And Grant Achtaz knows that there are no guarantees.
He knows that his illness ignited his imagination.

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt and I cannot help wondering if Beethovens deafness ensured that he wrote brilliant music, or if losing your tongue means finding it?
And of course, I cannot help but wonder what your lack and your creativity can do for you today.

Above photo: Courtesy of link below, click to find out more.

Above photo: Courtesy of link below, click to find out more.

It Really Helps To Know Who You Are


So school is out and kids are holidaying!
I bravely pulled out an old etching of mine and
started to rework it into something new.

I’ve added red ink and white chalk.
I’ve added pencil and words from the newspaper.
The result is a mixed media type of artwork.

It sits, a work in progress on my dining room table.
It felt good to put my hand to something and try to put into
practise all that I preach.
You know the “don’t fear – just do it” mentality I am often on about?

I realised that when I was at art school years ago,
I was intent on producing works that could sit nicely on a lounge wall.
The need to produce ‘pretty’ sat nagging at my shoulder.
It was a struggle because “producing pretty” doesn’t come naturally to me.
Producing passionately … now that’s another story!
Trying to be who I wasn’t was exhausting.
It took the joy out of my exploration of forms and textures.
It removed the passion.

To imagine that I could create something that turned out fairly ugly
but taught me loads, just went against my good girl mentality.
Of course I love and believe in beautiful art or craft.
But to explore… now what does that mean?

It means to travel through unfamiliar territory in order to learn.

Unfamiliar – that which is not known.

But we like to KNOW don’t we?
Giving ourselves over to mystery could just be too much.

The art work on my table exudes passion.
It’s walking me into new territory.
It’s not pretty.
But I am exploring –
sometimes with my breath held…

What is it that you need to explore?
What territory is beckoning?
What is holding you back?
The unfamiliar is scary.

And what is it that we really need to know?
I believe two things.
KNOW yourself.

Go out and learn.
Go out and be passionate.
Go out and explore.
You can even do it ‘prettily’ if you want to.

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt and I have red ink on my fingers…

Letting Go


I wrote this a month ago and it’s aimed at parents, but I feel that those of you without kids can still learn a lot about letting go.
(Over controlling in the office environment anyone?)

The past two weeks have been intensely creative for our family. We have experienced tests galore and more! There have been two orals with large posters and 3D renditions of an Egyptian sarcophagi, a cartouche, plus a sphinx!
I look forward to the weekend ahead, my husband has been tasked with taking me to movies as I need to forget the stress that goes with project week!

Part of my stress lies in letting go.
I often speak about letting go and then consciously have to put it into practice.
My one boy in particular is like a bull, I virtually have to grab him by the horns and wrestle him to the ground to get him to stay put and on track.
I find myself itching and virtually sweating blood as he does his task.
The reason?
Well, I want to grab that Pritt and do it for him of course!
I know that I can wield a scissors faster, glue faster and paint faster.
He stands and pours wood glue onto paper as though the paper is thirsty for it.
He makes all sort of weird boy sounds (if you know what I mean) and constantly has strange desires to pick up the dog poo or jump on the trampoline in the pitch dark.
I love it when I hear his breathing getting even and he settles in and does the job.
I love it when I see his creativity flowing.
I love it when he pushes for his way.

Most of modern parents try and do these projects for them.
I think that often moms should get the marks not the kids.
I learnt a very interesting thing while homeschooling him a year ago it’s called “working at the elbow” and that’s what I try to do with projects – I work at their elbows.
When you are at the elbow you don’t physically do the work but you take a directors role.
You can give these kind of options:
“Try and decide between the red, yellow or green.”
“Use both hands when you type.”
“Google this, what do you see?”
“How does it look to you?”
“I like it!”
“Try giving it enough space.”
“Can you make it stand out more?”
“Well done!”
“The glue is dripping onto the carpet!!”
Keep in mind that it’s a directorship role and even directors need to know when to put a lid on it!

There was a little boy pacing outside school the other day stressing about all that he had gotten wrong.
I put my arm around him and assured him that we have to get it wrong lots before we learn to get it right.
We have to get it wrong lots before we learn to get it right.
Eina, isn’t it?
Getting it wrong.
Getting it wrong has become a virtual sin, especially in the perfectionistic world of school.
As parents, we strive for our kids to get it right.

It is in getting it wrong that we are faced with other avenues, when we have an opportunity for the light bulbs to come on.
It is in getting it wrong that the real learning can start.

And so become the guide and not the doer.
Be at the elbow and stop trying to be the hand.
Give creativity a chance to flow even if it is crooked…
Know that getting it wrong is often the road to getting it right.
And get that glue wiped up before it dries on the carpet!

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt encouraging you and encouraging myself, to stop trying to do it all – creativity can be crooked and letting go can be a beautiful thing.

Ps: The word ‘eina’ is an expressive Afrikaans word for ‘sore’.

Have You Heard?


I was trawling the net and came across a true story that really made me think.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin.
It was a cold January morning.
He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.
During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing.
He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again.
Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy.
His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.
Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time.
This action was repeated by several other children.
All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while.
About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.
No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world.
He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston.
The ticket price averaged $100.

This is a real story.
Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, o we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it?
Do we recognise talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

What do you think about that?

Right now, stop where you are.
Look around.
Tune into your creative eye.
Find the bright berry, red in a thicket of green.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt encouraging you to listen, to look and to see.