Tag Archives: creativity

Procrastination’s Weak Rebuttal?

It may be time to toughen up the exterior a bit, so it reflects more ideally the fires burning within. I can’t say that many of the posts here have been very much of the aggressive nature, but is it now time? Rage, rage, rage.

It started with innocent chatting over warm drinks that must include honey, but then it somehow it came around to some heated debate about the merits of a blog with procrastination as its title theme. I was urged to changed the title because it automatically predisposes readers to have a certain expectation when they visit, and usually those impressions are not overly positive. And if the focus is on the writing, on a variety of creative and current event topics, then it all gets consumed under that overhanging shadow of procrastination. Writing that has nothing to do with procrastination would get unfairly interpreted under that rubric.

Furthermore, they say, we would waste too much time trying to pigeon hole or slot writing into some relation with procrastination when the topic had no business even being in the vicinity. In addition, we would have our hands tied and be forced to write about procrastination every odd post even though there is no reason to. (I guess they wouldn’t approve of this current post I’m crapping out right now) And this would take valuable time away from other more important writing. Then they went on a psychological bent: It’s as if even when there are no procrastination issues, we purposely seek them out and create procrastination problems for ourselves!

By this time, I was the only one finished my drink with honey because the others were too occupied expressing their views. If the drink wasn’t warm enough to begin with, I am sure I was easily able to reheat it to the boiling point within my intestines. However, by the time the steam was able to make its way back up my system towards my mouth, it all dissipated into the form of mild voice that asked weakly, ‘So what is wrong with this procrastination rubric?’

Oh, and then the chorus came! All together in tremendous chorus! The chorus came raining down in unison! They said people often don’t go too close to the actual writing because they are turned away by the monstrous label. They fear being bombarded by a big group of postings in high pitched voices lamenting and commiserating about how so and so didn’t do what, and how such and such didn’t get what done, and a whole bunch of it’s okay, it’s okay, you’re okay, I’m okay, it’s all okay, you’re human kind of discourse.

Finally, I stood up. I stood up to them, or maybe just stood up in front of them. And said confidentally, “I have to go to the washroom.” Must have been the drink mixed with honey. Instead, I went home and browsed through all the posts to try to spot themes of ‘I’m okay, you’re okay…’

Maybe I should tone down my aggressiveness?

-pat

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Silence Does Not Mean Assumed ‘Procrastination’

I am sorry. Since starting this “Procrastination Post” blog, in its current form, this has been the longest lag in between writings. I guess with the up front, obvious title of the blog, it already contains a ready made excuse for the gaps. Maybe it sets up the dismal expectation to expect many intervals of stunted growth, regression, stops and starts, and in inordinate number of apologies.

Sorry, I am not going to apologize, and I cannot accept our ‘Procrastination’ title as a motive to provide a convenient reason and acceptance of failure that is inevitable. I cannot. It’s as if we purposely put this label in bold font right out front, carrying placards to set the bar real low in order to minimize the impact from the fall when we trip.

No. I must insist that it is to the contrary of all these assumptions. It is to show, explore, consider what value can come out of digging ourselves out of the hideous hole we started with. And that we refuse to accept our predicament and struggle even more desperately to fight and climb. And that we will write to reflect light on another side of our world underneath. Our label is not something to trip over, step on, nor to foreshadow a message of upcoming weakness and disappointment.

And if I am, in fact, simply incriminating myself in this latest post and providing more evidence to fuel previous assumptions, then at least we can still be the prosecutors of our own guilt.

Thanks for your patience over past couple of weeks, knowing that even while we are silent, we are still writing and digging even more profusely than what can be sighted here.

-pat

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The Danger and Importance of Expectations

When stuck in my own vicious cycle of procrastination for a long time, sometimes I get so habituated into the comfort of delay and using rationalizations automatically that they do not seem unreasonable or give off any warning signals. I find that in these cases, watching others, and their various manifestations of procrastination can then help give reflection on what I do myself in other contexts.

When seeing another person put off doing something for the wrong reasons, and diluting life in the process, we obviously are aware how counterproductive these behaviours can be. Maybe this can stir within us the action to change these very same behaviours that we display ourselves but have chosen to ignore for so long.

I was talking with a diligent student about her portfolio assignment. Her first set of entries are due later this week and we were discussing ideas about how to present it creatively, emotionally, symbolically, and in a way that shows evidence of work and experience, as well as progression of improvement and reflection on what the student learned from her experiences.

Throughout our discussions, the student was very animated and showed emotion and depth when telling stories from her childhood that she thought worthwhile to include in the beginning part of her portfolio to show how they influenced her thinking of today. We then thought together about possibilities on how to present it on the pages. Various images, drawings, and photograph suggestions came up, and the student was enthused about the creative potential and how meaningful this project is.

However, her tone changed when talk started focusing on the specific deadline and answering some of the required questions given by the teacher. She decided to give up on themes of presentation and style, and creative story telling, and instead decided to give short answers to answer directly, or maybe just do a traditional essay format. I encouraged her to try combine some of her previous ideas of pictures and symbols along with the traditional writing method, but she was reluctant.

Her reasons knocked me back a bit, but also woke me up to some of the fears that people have. She admitted that the teacher encouraged creative thinking and use of other material to supplement answers for the portfolio project. The student, from our previous discussions, obviously enjoyed creative work and finding, and interpreting meaning from stories and using pictures as symbols and metaphors. Despite all this, she reasoned that “I can’t put in extra pictures and other materials for this first entry. If I do, then the teacher will expect that I will always put in extra, and what if I can’t in the future? I better just do it safe and directly, and just get it done.”

Suddenly I realized, if this student is saying something like this, then in classrooms all over the world, many students are thinking similar thoughts and a lot of potential is being stifled. The grip of fear and worry can be so strong that a student may avoid producing something that is meaningful by focusing on the future expectations of others. Attention is taken away from current content to hypothetical implications. Furthermore, maybe even more tragic, is that many of us see high expectations as negative and something to fear. If a teacher expects to see creative thought and critical thinking in unique forms, then that can push the student to keep pushing her thinking in future projects.

Unfortunately, for those who struggle with anxiety that may lead to procrastination and putting off tasks, we seek out safety to avoid expectations.  While there is a feeling of danger in others’ expecations, and our own, they are also places and new heights that we can reach within that are not possible without expectations.

-Pat

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Whose Dreams? (,but ……….)

Often we hear a lot of expressions in our work surroundings relating to ‘teamwork,’ and ‘sacrificing for the common good,’ and ‘being unselfish,’ and ‘taking one for the team.’
These words usually have me feeling all pumped up, persuaded, and just ready to turn it up a notch with my head down ready to steamroll fatigue.

Then I read something from another perspective that was kind of sobering and put a bit of damper on my whole being. It asked us to think about all the energy and time being put into work, and whether we are contributing more to our boss’s dreams or to our own dreams? Or, even more painfully, in fact whose dreams are we fulfilling, if anyone’s?

A lot of us enjoy work, are treated well, but with life’s window increasingly getting smaller over time, and this existentialist question about ‘whose dreams’ welcoming our return home every night, how many people do you think can say they have come close to entering the world that they dream? Or do we too easily accept that dreams are something that we don’t actually do? Of course we see in the media, and read about all sorts of people becoming what they dreamt, but if were to take a more representative sample of the common folk commuting on the train each day, then might the question of ‘whose dreams’ cause a lot of hurt?

Or, is this just life? And the majority are for the most part, pretty happy, when you ask them in general, but always with a big BUT… inside their soul. In the window that is before us now, let’s climb and jump right through to complete and live out our sentences that come after ‘but.’ But, even better, turn these sentences into exclamations!

-Patrick Law

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Creative Anti-Theft Devices for Vehicles

Strolling across a large parking lot, we can see vehicles of all shapes and sizes. We can probably also make out a variety of anti-theft devices as well. For the higher-end cars, they obviously stand out, and the security systems are probably top notch. We can see why they want to spend just a little bit extra to protect what they already spent a lot for.

Then there are the middle level of vehicles that often come equipped with some kind of basic security feature, perhaps an alarm, or perhaps keyless entry, or perhaps the driver bought something to hook around the steering wheel.

What about the rest of us? The next level, or the lower level, of vehicles which do not obviously draw much attention in parking lots, except for its lack of features and overall ugliness. I would argue that it is also important to consider anti-theft devices for this group, especially this group, because with less disposable income, they probably could least afford to lose what they have. They may also have to use their vehicles as make-shift storage because of lack of space elsewhere.

For this group, obviously pricey anti-theft devices are out of the question. I have experimented with a few economical means of making my vehicle a deterrent towards theft. I carry a lot of coupons, so it’s important to keep these out of view. If you have too many, then at least hide the conspicous ones that have the word “FREE” on them. No matter how undesirable the vehicle itself is, “FREE” will draw the attention of anyone.

Another method I use is to put scotch tape on chips and ‘spider’ cracks on my windshield, instead of fixing each chip or replacing the entire windshield.  Sometimes by putting my frugality and resourcefulness right up front, it shows to others that I’m just trying my best to keep it together, and it may even stir some reflective emotions among passersby.  It’s definitely a ‘band-aid’ solution, but it’s less costly than surgery.

And if we must carry a lot of materials in the vehicle, and it can’t be fit in the trunk, I try to use partly torn cardboard boxes, garbage bags, and even old cereal boxes. If someone does want to take a look, and pry in, go ahead; however, with the time a thief will have to take to get through all the mess to find my gold, rookie hockey card, and NFL football, the cops would have arrived or the thief may be too fatigued to run.

Happy driving and peace of mind parking!

-Patrick Law

 

 

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Making Use of the Blood We Read

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So, at first glance, nothing glaringly special about this picture. Looks like the text to some story or a reading assignment for someone. However, let’s take a closer look at the bottom right. Can you maybe squint and make it out? Certainly, the color is different. Looks like a smattering of blood. It is. It really is.

I guess, we can leave it at that and just say, ‘So what?’ But as most visitors have found out by now, we never seem to just leave it at that here at this blog. Sorry. The blood must be considered and reflected upon. In fact, while helping a student prepare for a reading comprehension test, this blood stain provided a valuable opportunity to practice more critical analysis skills.

First, right away, there was immediate comic relief. That’s the first meaning derived from the student. He started laughing uncontrollably when coming to the conclusion that a previous student who had used this text must had been studying with such intensity to cause bleeding. Was he pressing the page too hard? Was he picking his lip while thinking about literary devices?

Not letting go, we went further and investigated the exact location of the blood stain. Was it saying something? Evidence? A hint? It was! It really was! It drew our attention to the word “But”, which indicates an important turning point and change in the story.

Then the discussion revolved around how used books have a more personal quality to them. There’s a feeling of attachment to the previous user, a sense of connection, where we feel the pain and struggles of those coming before us.

For me, I know how much I love receiving handwritten letters from a person who ate while composing them. I massage the grease stains with all my senses, trying to taste the entire context of that time and location.

We have to wonder, how did the blood-stained student perform on the reading exam? Was this stain meant to be passed along to us? Are we studying hard enough when we have not yet contributed any red? Or is it indicative of how much stress students are under these days?

Despite asking a lot of questions, we did not have any answers, but the ‘blood’ definitely added some life and stimulation to fatigued eyes.

-Patrick Law

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Winter Window Art: The Amalgamation of Light

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Please do not get angry at me for putting this picture up, especially those of you in Calgary. In Calgary, after a lengthy winter with lots of snowfall well into spring, we are finally having a string of more seasonal conditions with warmth and sunshine. Yet, here I am posting a picture that is more suitable in the archives of winter?

I hope folks don’t think I’m putting another jinx into the weather system and summoning the clouds to make a return. Admittedly, I am a winter fanatic who is suffering withdrawal from the slopes, so maybe this picture will ease my symptoms a bit. While it slightly massages my cravings, perhaps you see it more as a nightmare. No worries. Then use it as motivation to value and appreciate the spring/summer as intensely as possible.

Another reason for this image is to encourage us to try to find the positives of any weather pattern and attempt to interpret the creations of our climate creatively from any vantage point. Here, even in the extreme cold, it can still give us the delight of a snowflake design frozen into a delicious pattern upon the window. It’s as if art has paid a personal visit, and invites us to see the potential of weather in a different light. In this specific picture, the freezing imprint catches our gaze just long enough so that we can notice the juxtaposition of our indoor lighting reflected and crossing paths with rays from the outdoor world. What normally is separated is melded together into a new view, available from our own personal windows.

Since I am having difficulty with spring and summer, can someone suggest to me a picture in these seasons to touch my soul?

-Patrick Law

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