Archive for the ‘education’ Category

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.

The Glorious Walk


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Last night my boys and I were settled, drinking tea and
reading a couple of pages from the book ‘Boy’, Roald Dahl’s story of his childhood.
Roald Dahl brought so much sparkle and intrigue into my childhood.
Of course “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” stands out, as does
“Danny Champion of the World” and the unique strangeness of his book,
“James and the Giant Peach”.
I have in turn, managed to pass the love of his writing on to my sons.
One of the stories that intrigued me from the book ‘Boy’ is a story about his father Harold.
This Norwegian and his brother Oscar ran away from their tiny village close to Oslo
to make their fortunes.
Bravely, the two decided to go to different countries as they wanted to make their fortunes separately and not rely on each other (if it had been me I’d have hung onto my brother).
One went to France, the other to Wales.

Through shear hard work and determination both men made masses of money
and developed a love for the beautiful, even though they lived far apart.
Roahl Dahl’s father had an interesting quirk,
he would take his wife on what he called the “Glorious Walks”.
The “Glorious Walks” would happen primarily during her
last three months of pregnancy (they had 4 children).
Harold Dahl’s endeavour was to find areas of particularly beauty for his wife to enjoy and admire.
His thoughts were that somehow the child in her womb would experience
the wonder through her, thereby growing up with an eye for beauty.
What a sweet, romantic and creative gesture.
This busy, shipbroker magnet also made time to carve.
He carved frames, objects and their homes magnificent mantelpiece which still stands today.
He didn’t wait for beauty to come to him, he went out to seek it,
to create it – plus he ensured that his family were included in the adventure.

My son has been drawing in his spare time.
They are the weird and wonderful drawings of a 12 year old.
He has been getting into a genre of focussing on drawing some pretty weird creatures.
His drawings are good.
The subject matter, a little dark.
Now understand me, there is nothing wrong with drawing weird creatures,
however I realised that he was not tuning into that which pleases the senses and the mind.

So I gave him the beauty challenge.
It’s easy to draw a scary face, we all can do it,
the challenge is to produce a rendering that makes a heart leap with joy.
Yesterday he came home and proudly showed me a design he’d done in his free time at school.
Now I know pleasing design when I see it and this boy had tuned in.
He’d dug a little deeper.
And as for my heart?
Yes, it felt great pleasure.
Will he still draw weird creatures?
Of course!
More importantly was that I saw HIS pleasure.
I saw his opening up.

So my challenge to you today is to dig deep and tune into beauty.
It is easy to see what’s wrong with the world around you.
Maybe you need to take a “Glorious Walk”.
Maybe you need to chat to your children about the sheer joy one finds in beauty.
Turn your head.
Go out and get Roald Dahl’s book ‘Boy’ from the library.
Read it to your family.
Read it for yourself.
And…
Know that you are creative, it is there waiting for you.

This is me, Tania Ahlfeldt and I am encouraging you to walk gloriously .

(Below is a picture of the Gypsy Caravan he bought for his children to have fun in,
he also wrote his book “Danny Champion of the World” in it.)

www.roalddahl.com/

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Back to the Future


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One of my favourite movies of all time has to be Back to the Future.
What made it even more special was that the lightning hit the tower on the 26 of October 1966, the day my husband Alan was born.

We have dutifully turned our children into Back To The Future freaks and I must say that I often love to imagine what the future holds.

My gran remembered riding on an ox wagon.
She remembered the novelty of getting a home telephone.

Last night as my one sons struggled with maths and the other did the carpet role while I was asking him his spelling, I did some multi tasking.
I googled “Jobs of the Future”.
These boys in my living room will be living in a world far removed from mine if technology does what it promises and increases by a million fold in the next 5 years!

It turns out that the British Government was just ahead of me! (don’t you just love it when they do that?)
They ordered a study on “Jobs of the Future” to be conducted by a select group of thinkers and futurists.

How interesting was the outcome.

Here are some of my favourites:

Body part maker: Will grow living body parts from your DNA.
They say there’ll be no need for a Para-Olympics by the 30’s.
You will be able to replace your organs as they wear out.

Enter the…
Elderly wellness consultant: As an aging population increases in size due to longevity breakthroughs, we’ll need folks to tend to their physical and mental needs.
Enter the…
Memory augmentation surgeon: (me first please!) These surgeons will have the task of boosting their patients’ memory.

Nano-medic: Nanotechnology is changing healthcare.
A nano meter is one billionth of a meter in size. In the ideal situation, nanobots — possibly powered by the charged particles in your blood will move through your body delivering medications or fixing your ailments. Invasive surgery could be a thing of the past.

Space pilots, tour guides and architects: Space tourism will need space pilots, tour guides and the architects that will allow them to live in lunar outposts.
This gives new meaning to “Mommy, Mommy I want to go into tourism!”. “Yes, dear just make sure you stay on this planet will you?”

Vertical farmers: The future of farming is straight up.
Vertical farms, much like tall parking towers, situated in urban areas will significantly increase food supply as more of us stay on this planet for longer.

Climate change reversal specialist: Regardless of what you think about human-induced climate change, it’s clear we’ll need scientists who specialize in altering it.
Enter the…
Weather modification police: If weather patterns can be altered and adversely affect other parts of the world, law enforcement will be needed to keep things legal. (Bruce Willis better start having his organs replaced, I see a new career path up ahead.)

Classroom avatar manager: Intelligent avatars will replace classroom teachers, but the human touch will be needed to properly match teacher to student. No more buying chocolates or sending the teacher flowers!

Alternative vehicle developers: Goodbye, internal combustion engine.
Zero-emission cars will need smart people to design and manufacture them as will the flying car.

Narrowcasters: As in, the opposite of “broadcaster.”
Media will grow increasingly personalized, and we’ll need people to handle all those streams.

Virtual clutter organizer: Now that your electronic life is more cluttered than your physical one, you’ll need someone to clean things up — including your e-mail, desktop and user accounts. (Mmmm my computer is all choked up.)

Time broker/Time bank trader: What’s more valuable than precious metals, stones or cold, hard cash?
Your time.

Social ‘networking’ worker: A social worker for the Web generation.

Branding managers: These already exist for celebrities, but now everyone needs a “personal brand” so others can easily digest who you are and what you stand for. (That sounds exhausting to me.)

Wow!
The head whirls.
I imagine how my gran would laugh her little laugh if I had to share these with her.

All that I am certain of is that to face our future we have to place our hand firmly into that of our Creator and utilise the creativity HE has placed in us.

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt, opening your future career options.
But seriously I do need that memory augmentation!

Is it Really Possible?


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I admit to living a life where I know that the possibility to be a better human being sits there waiting for me.
It’s as though there is a better me standing alongside, waiting for me to turn and become her.
I feel choice but all too often I live in my life pattern (the one that doesn’t work for me).
I can live it over and over and over.
It’s as though I become comfortable in my defective reactions or resonses to people and life.

Do you think that we hold the possibility of magnificence in us?
The possibility to be magnificent husbands or wives, magnificent parents or friends, staff?
The lingering feel that we could be a magnificent boss but if only the workers would change…

The art of possibility is seeing with a creative eye, what could be.

Remember God brooding over the earth?
Imagine if He’d said, “Pity, nothing can be done with that swirling mess.”
He saw what it could be and he acted.
The art of possibility is something you practise.
Possibility is a verb.
It’s the thing you do.
It is an act!

Do you know that every time you open your mouth you are in a place of leadership?
You can either lead people into your downward spiral or you can take them with you into the place of possibilities.
This can be hard when we face difficulty, when we face a daughter with ADD or a husband who is indifferent.
It can be hard when we face a wife who is in emotional crisis, a mother with Altzheimers, or staff who are disgruntled.
It is hard when you face financial crisis.
But the choice is fairly simple…
Bitter?
Or better?

The famous conductor Benjamin Zander told a story of two shoe salesmen who were sent into Africa in the early 1900’s.
The one telexed the company in England to say, “Disaster, nobody wears shoes over here”.
The other telexed saying “Yreka! Endless opportunity! They have no shoes…”

Can you imagine the first guys face?
Disgruntled.
A furrow in his brow.
Shoulders hanging.
(I call it the thundercloud look.)

Now think of the other guy.
Eyes shining.
Excitement in his voice.
An air of what’s up ahead as he struts down the street observing with the eye of possibility all the dusty feet around him.

They both faced the same situation.

The one closed in.
The other opened up.

Which one are you?
Which one would you rather be?

We all live knowing that possibility lies on the horizon.
Most of us have had life knock us around more than just a bit.

Can you say yes to using your God given creativity to open up?
Or are you content to say, “Disappointment! They wear no shoes…”

This is me, Tania Ahlfeldt and I am straining against the complex pull to close in, but today I choose to follow the God who says that all things are possible.

How to live before you die…


 

Steve Jobs The iPODFATHER

 

I confess…
I am addicted to TED talks.

I watched this piece – one of the first TED talks ever
and felt inspired enough to share this with you.

Does destiny find us?

You decide.

http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html

 

Interesting Brain Stuff!


Photo: dailyactor.com

This is Tania Ahlfeldt and we’re talking creativity

I was reading a piece written by actor Nick Nolte
he was discussing the creative process with regards to acting
and he summed it up something like this.
There was an experiment done with mice.
The scientists were trying to find out how mice grew
dendrites in the brain.
Now dendrites function as “antennae”, they serve as the main apparatus
for receiving signals from other nerve cells.
The experiment was to find out what conditions caused
the brain to really grow.
So they took one mouse and put him in a cage and gave him
everything he wanted.
The second mouse they gave everything but he had
to run on a treadmill.
The third mouse they put him in a cage and twice a week they took him out and put him through a maze.
This maze was quite something, he had to go up a pole and he’d be twenty feet above a tub of water, they put a lot of edge into it.
One these mice died they MRI’d their brains and afterward studied the dendrite growth.
The mouse who had everything didn’t grow a single dendrite!
The mouse who walked the treadmill grew dendrites but didn’t connect them.
The mice that had to survive the maze grew a lot of dendrites
and connected them all!
The fact that he had to embrace uncertainty was actually a creative process.
Nick Nolte felt that everytime he took on a new role,
the uncertainty and fear he faced – the fact that he could fail is what grew him creatively.
Many of us never grow creatively as the fear of failure stops us in our tracks
and keeps us on our couches.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt and I’m trying to get off my couch!

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