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.

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What’s on my Creative Mind II


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There’s a coffee cupped in my hands right now.
I am pensively sitting in a line of sunshine.

So here we are.
It’s 2013.
Who would have thought?
A changing world.
Dynamic.
Fast paced.
Constant activity and motion.
It seems small in its hugeness.
This globe that spins
This human, physical life that spins and eventually slows down to a stop.

Yes.
It’s my melancholic mood time.
Bear with me.
The time I take to wonder.
Why?
How?
When?
What if?
It’s the time I ponder on my kids thrown into a rat race.
Work harder!
Play faster!
Get the goal!
It’s a time I wonder if I am the creator not of beautiful things but of the very rats in the race of life.
Now before we all start crying…
Let me say that in it all,
in all of this striving.
Beauty exists.

It’s up to me to glimpse it.
To catch it as it slides through my day.
To share it.
“Mom! Look at the amazing red sky!”
“Yes, put your clothes on you are going to be late.”
(That was a moment unshared.)

Our creativity rests in the ability to see life.
The ability to sit on the step and take in the red sky.
The ability to settle in the sun and make the phone call that spreads hope.
The ability to support the teacher who is going through the divorce and love her.
The ability to know that we are vulnerable.
ALL of us.
Fragile, creative, vulnerable people.
People who have strength and ability, talent and diversity.

To know that we are not enemies.
To allow ourselves to see the story riding deep in each one of us.
The story that makes us cringe.
Yet there is always the counteract story.
The one that causes us to delight.

Our creativity is as our humanness.
In need of the hand of God.

So put down the swords and striving.
Forgive a woman her moments of weakness.
A man his moments of torment.
Slow down.
Take a deep breath.
Use your moment to do one thing differently today.

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt – taking time to feel a little wistful, yet in it there is expectation and desire.

This piece was recorded live on Kingfisher FM. kingfisherfm
It was written in the warmth and comfort of my office away from home – Brioche Café, Main Rd Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Thanks Ilsa, your space brings warmth to my soul.)

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

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…