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Monday, January 25, 2016

"Who are you?" The North Star Questions



I created this image in 1998--inspired by The North Star book that I published the year before. Once I started thinking about the journey--it was hard to STOP thinking about it.  

 Where had I been? 

 Where was I now? 

Where was I going?  

Where was that I wanted to be going

That last question was THE big North Star question. Just making a few degrees change to the course can land you in a very different place eventually. Ocean navigators know this well. 

Oddly, during my school journey, we rarely seemed have much time for "North Star" thinking. I DO remember being asked:  "What did you do on your summer vacation?" It was the standard, back-to-school chestnut which at least asked me to share a bit about me beyond the classroom. There were, to be fair, a number of teachers along the way who did care about me, but it was rare that the curriculum supported them being able to get me thinking and writing about who I was and what was going in inside my head.

The North Star Interview

I rounded up a few North Star questions for you.  There are plenty more. You'll probably start thinking of them yourself once you get rolling. Your answers will help create a great snapshot of who you are--who you are becoming.

1. What is something important to you?


2. What special talent do you have?


3. What place has special meaning to you?


4. Who has helped you find your way?


5. What do you hope to do someday?


6. What do you need to be more happy?


7. What is a big dream you have--if reality wasn't an obstacle?


8. Who have you helped along the way?


9. If you wrote a book about your life up until now what would the title be?


10. If you wrote a book about your future what would it be titled?


Your answers will lead to more reflection and perhaps writing, drawing, painting, and singing. It might help you choose the next book you read or film to watch--or film to make! 

It's totally up to you. 

Your path. 

Your journey.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rescued Poem


I found this in my studio among my journals. A road-weary little journal. The cheapest kind you can buy in a drugstore. This page had obviously been almost washed away by rain. Or melting snowflakes--seeing that it was a Boston winter of 2003.

It took some effort to decipher:

There will be
stretches of goodness,
like rivers of wheat fields,
and occasional
storms, sudden
and angry
demanding.

Words. A moment in time. 

Almost lost to rain or snow.

The result looks tears-ish. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

How to Recharge Your Spirit in One Easy Step



How do you charge your creative "batteries"? 

Well, for me there is one easy way: connect with kids.  

On most days, I am busy in my studio creating books and films--but when I am lucky enough to break free and venture into schools--I experience the joy of "connecting the dots" with my audience. (Well, half of them anyway, as I try to create my picture books for all ages.)

Schools usually have me do several assemblies where I speak to a few hundred students at a time which I enjoy immensely, but it is after the "big show" is over when I get to connect with kids in an informal way. Some teachers let their kids linger a bit and they get a chance to connect. They bubble with enthusiasm, rattling off comments and asking questions. Timid kids get their chance to share with me. Their insights always delight and inspire me. It is amazing what they pick and what resonates with them. It is a reminder to me that kids are philosophers and deep thinkers. Some are comedians. They are creatives. Idea generators. Poets.

I was at St. Peter's School in Lincoln, Nebraska where the photo above was taken. I was swarmed with kids and tried to connect with each student the best I could. One student asked me:

"How old are you?" 

I paused trying to think of a clever answer.

A bright eyed lad named Nicholas jumped in to answer for me.

"You are as kind as when you were a child, as nice as you are now--and as wise as you will be in the future." 

Stunned--I just smiled--and said, "Yup--you guessed it." 

Batteries: recharged.