Creative Sparks

Posted on May 9th, 2012 by & filed under Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

AYWM 15: Journal Prompt – Bright Ideas: Cultivating and Capturing Good Ideas

by C. A. Kobu on April 9, 2012

In last week’s post, we talked about fearless living and looked into ways for working our courage muscles.

(See my response to the prompt here: )

This week, on the other hand, is all about ideas and creative sparks.

The exciting theme of this module is “Bright Ideas: Cultivating and Capturing Good Ideas.”

As Michael Michalko says,  (I found this to be poetic and profound. . .)

“When you surround yourself with images of your intention—

who you want to become or what you want to create—

your awareness and passion grows.”

My awareness and passion grows. . . yes!  I recall my mantra . . .

“I commit my passion to my cause, knowing that passion is the power that creates new life, new joys, and new accomplishments for myself and others.”

And ideas are the marrow of creative intention.

At the same time, they are the wild horses of our minds.

They hate to be fenced in. So if you want to capture them and help them grow into beautiful projects, you have to use other methods.

This week, I got together with Dyana Valentine, who is a fiery instigator and idea midwife, and Tom Evans, who is known as the wizard of light-bulb moments. We discussed methods for sparking creativity, capturing ideas and turning the right ones into projects.

I’m Not Sorry

By Dyana Valentine

There is something I really want to say to you about the way that we could decide to move through the world.

We could decide that today we would not apologize for who we are.

We could decide that every time we say, “I’m sorry,” today, we say, “Wait, wait let me think about that. Am I really sorry? Or did I mean excuse me? Or did I mean I’m afraid?”

Let’s clarify what we mean by that.

And lets move through the world without apology where it’s not due.

What is your story of “I’m not sorry”? Write about it.

(See my response to this prompt here: )

Think about the creative ideas you’ve executed (or thought about executing) so far and those you are cultivating today. Which ideas are you not sorry about? Express your feelings by writing or painting about not being sorry about your ideas and sticking up for them.

The rest is me. . . Okay, here I go!

I feel the need to expand on the creativity portion of the prompt.  I wrote about not being sorry which was empowering and sustained me for awhile.  But to move forward with the A Year with Myself exercises, I wanted to discuss cultivating my creativity and following through on my ideas.

Here is one example that comes to mind of how I was not sorry for my idea and for sticking it through.  The way my husband and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary came about in a somewhat unusual process.  There were many options and we discussed it from time to time over the past year.  We talked about going on a trip, taking a romantic holiday, going out to dinner, taking the family out to dinner, hosting a dinner for a larger group at a restaurant, lots of things.  We finally made a decision that turned out to be a great idea, one that became a creative gift for me. 

My husband suggested that to cut costs we could have a small dinner party at home with our family and a few friends.  I think my eyes lit up because I could almost see my excitement reflect on his face.  To him a small dinner party is no big deal.  Friends, family and food.  Fantastic!  To me, there is no such thing as small, and “dinner party” has the word party in it, it’s implied.  I am having a party!  Yay!  I love parties!

I starting cooking up some creative ideas right away.  I bounced some thoughts around with my most creative cohorts.  My best friend, Chef Holly Markman (of ) and I talked about what could be served and she agreed to help. My brother-in-law, who dabbles in decorating and is an event coordinator, asked me my all time favorite question. . . (cue the dramatic music!)

“What is your theme?” 

(Hee, hee – of course I have already thought about this!!) 

“I want either Parisian or Tuscany.”  I answered.

He was in.  We decided on “A Tuscany Dinner Party.”

The rest of the family offered their support and promised to help clean up and set up so we could have the sit down dinner in our back yard. I immediately started making the guest list, working out a menu, the whole routine.  I’ve got this down and I couldn’t be happier!  My all time favorite creative outlet is event design.  I’ll get an image in my mind of how I want it to look and feel and I don’t stop until I’m there. 

This dinner party idea had been a wild horse in my mind for a very long time.  I pictured our family and our closest friends all together, sitting outside in our backyard at a beautifully dressed table, under a canopy, aglow in candlelight, eating a delicious meal.  It was not what my husband was imagining when he uttered the words, “dinner party.”  Perhaps he just said, “dinner at home.” I heard dinner party because that was my heart’s desire.  And he was fine with it.  My design came to be with a lot of help from our loved ones and it was a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary!  My celebration started the moment I started planning!  I may have spent too much time, money and effort on what was supposed to be simple and cost efficient, but. . . I am not sorry!

Christopher Taylor Lopez, photograhy

What is in Your Diaper Bag, Baby?

Posted on May 8th, 2012 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

Here is a question for those of you with babies. . .

“What’s in your diaper bag?”

You may be asking yourself, why does she want to know this – her kids are teenagers!??

That’s it exactly!  My kids are way, way, way out of diapers and well on their way out of high school and I am out of touch on the new stuff for babies.  When I get invited to a baby shower, I have no idea what a new parent wants or needs.  Most of the stuff I thought was cool when I had babies has been replaced by newer products.  But, I wonder, are they better?

I asked my friend at work, Jeff Beam, a few questions.  Jeff’s beautiful wife, Kelly, had just given birth to their baby girl, Lynnox, a few weeks prior.  I had a lovely conversation with this sleep-deprived first time father on his first week back to work.  He gave me some insightful, however sleepy, answers.

MM:  What were your first impressions of becoming a parent?

JB:  I was blissfully ignorant.  I felt ready, for sure.  I thought, “this really isn’t that bad, my baby is great!”  Then, the sleep deprivation set in.  I went from thinking; this is magic to what the hell is happening?

MM:  Have you found any baby item particularly helpful or useful at this point?

JB:  We were given a small backpack with compartments from the hospital, a good supply of diapers and a changing pad.  So far, that has been very helpful.

MM:  What is your favorite gift you have received for baby? 

JB:  For me, it’s the Boppy.  We use it constantly.

MM:  They still have those?  I loved mine!

JB:  It’s great!  We also received a rocking chair that is perfect for Kelly.  She sits in it as she is breastfeeding.  My wife’s comfort is most important.

MM:  What is the best piece of advice you received when you were expecting that has proved to be most helpful?

JB:  I can’t remember right now, everything is foggy!  But my friends have told me that taking care of a baby is easy.  When they cry, they need something.  It is like I am putting together a puzzle.  It’s just a matter of figuring out which piece of the puzzle I am missing.

MM:  Do you have any advice, based on your experience so far, to give to other new parents?

JB:  Always have a change of clothes and plenty of diapers! (MM – for those “explosions!” Right!  I’ll never forget that!)  To new fathers, I would tell them what I do is remember my responsibility is my wife.  Making sure Kelly is okay is my job.  We are a tag team.  I am ready to step in.  Take the time off and stay home from work for those first few weeks.

MM:  Is there anything you need now, other than sleep?

JB:  We could use some help with meals, we are both exhausted and too tired to cook!

My (unofficial) advice to Jeff. . . if you think you are too tired to cook now – wait until you have three teenagers!!!  Seriously, have you heard of ordering in?  It’s great!

Officially, it was an honor to talk to Jeff.  He was in love with fatherhood.  He was in love with baby Lynnox and most importantly, even more in love with his wife.  He is a wonderful father (and diaper changer!)

I was glad to hear that The Boppy is still a favorite for new parents.  It is a great product.  Way better than using a pillow.  That’s what we did back in the day, you know.  When my nephew was born, he was the first grandchild and there hadn’t been a baby in the family for about 15 years.  We all passed that child around on a pillow like he was going to break if we touched him!  It was symbolic because he was precious and we cherished those moments.  It was useful because a baby needs to be propped up and cushioned.  They are hard to hold on to at all times.  The Boppy helps and is comfortable for the adult as well as the baby.

I used my Boppy for feeding and holding my babies when they were very little.  They come in cute designs.  Mine was black and white.  That was big back then.  Now they have them in pretty patterns or you can get a plain one and they have slip covers you can buy separately.  I went to The Boppy website and found they have lots of products besides just the pillow and you can order online.  The prices range from $19.99 for a slip cover to $44.99 for a travel pillow.  They also have those cute play gyms and mats that are a great and useful gift for $24.99 – $74.99.

There are many new products and some variations of the standard product and all are useful and make terrific gifts.  My favorite is and always will be The Original Boppy.  Every family should have one!  In fact, I wish I had one now.  I would still use it!  It could be helpful for my aching back!  Seriously, I was very impressed that The Boppy company thinks everyone should have a Boppy, too.  And they are doing something to make that happen.  They have a goal of donating $20,000 worth of Boppy® Pillows to moms in need with Nurse-Family Partnership.

In case you haven’t guessed . . . if you invite me to your baby shower, you’re getting a Boppy!

This article was written as a Guest Post on Stuff Parents Need

by Melissa Reyes

May 7, 2012

Costume Design

Posted on May 7th, 2012 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

The play is based on a game called Grim Fandango (a guy who was a bit of a wise guy when he was alive is caught in a limbo-type place trying to work his way into heaven, but in order to do so, he has to help save other souls…not as heavy as it sounds). It’s in an old Hollywood type of setting. The costume pattern is for a 50s roller waitress (short circle skirt with tulle petticoat and a little hat), but we will be styling them to look like art deco bell-hops. The costumes are for the dancers.

These are the guidelines I was given to make skirts for the middle school play:

I found a pattern we would like to use for our skirts. It is on a blog site that I have included below. We will be needing 8 skirts total. (Turned out to be 14 skirts which took me four nights to make.) The material, ribbon (for trim) and the elastic should be coming in the next few days. I don’t think I have enough time to see you today, but I will definitely stop by on Monday to talk and show you what we want. It’s basically a black circle skirt with a simple 2 inch, exposed elastic waist band. There will be a trimming of ¼ inch silver ribbon about 1” above the edge of the skirt. If you have a surger, you could just surge the edge or perhaps just zigzag it if you’re using a regular machine. That way, we can avoid making hems. Whatever it takes to make it easier and faster for you.

So, here’s the link. Looks easy and fast.

It was! Once I got the hang of making the pattern it was a piece of cake. I actually used math! It was fun figuring out the circumference for the waist from the measurements of the girls.

The skirts came out really cute! I loved making them! I don’t have a surger and I did turn the edges to make a hem. I also used the trim at the very bottom and sewed it on at the same time when I sewed the hem.





Mother’s Prayers

Posted on May 4th, 2012 by & filed under Be Inspired, Poems

A Mother’s Prayer

Thank you, Lord,

for bringing my children into my life.

Help me guide them and teach them through example

to lead lives of wisdom

and strong, loving faith.

Please let them learn

to serve you always

in thought and deed.

And remind me, Lord,

to always be there

for my family

as you are always

there for me.


Mothers Plant the Seeds of Love 


Dear Mary,

Guide us so we grow strong in wisdom and grace.

Give us sight to see the talents God has given us,

the will to develop them,

and the generosity to share our talents with others.

Instill in us the desire to constantly learn,

the goodness to serve generously,

and the courage to follow where Jesus calls.

We pray for these blessings for ourselves,

for our children,

and for all of our family.

Grant us a Mother’s Blessing

and a Mother’s Care,

now and forever.


Goldenberg’s 10 Rules of Spectacular Failure

Posted on May 4th, 2012 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Somethin' Different

If you want to learn how to succeed in business, you have many options. Read Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and you’ll learn “it’s all small stuff.” You can find pearls of wisdom for a successful working life in the daily musings of social media and new age guru Seth Godin. And if you want to give your confidence and career a jolt, try a cup of Jeffrey Gitomer’s tasty Sales Caffeine.
Sure, you’ve got innumerable options to learn how to succeed in your professional life. But is anyone teaching you how to be a spectacular failure? I don’t think so.Failure has become a lost art. Why, if it weren’t for Congress’ fine example, we might have not even have a role model for abject failure.But it doesn’t have to be that way. I can teach you how to be a successful failure. If you follow my 10 Rules of Spectacular Failure, I can practically guarantee you’ll end up unsuccessful, disappointed and lonely. And if you never bathe, you’ll smell bad, too.

So, if a lack of success and accomplishment sounds like a good career move to you, read on. Discover how the secrets of showing up late, banal thinking and lack of courage can lead to your utter downfall.

Goldenberg’s 10 Rules of Spectacular Failure

1.   Give up.

Abe Lincoln Logs

It was recently discovered Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin made entirely of Lincoln Logs

This is the easiest Rule to master. There’s so little to do. Just give up. No matter how easy or hard the challenge, you just need a “That’s it, I quit” attitude. It may help to remember the motto of those who never made it to the top: “When the going gets tough, get the hell out of there fast!”

Abe Lincoln was a successful failure in the early part of his life. In his youth, he went to war as a captain and returned as a private. He failed as a businessman twice and lost eight elections. Eight elections! But he refused to give up. And look where it got him.

2.  Listen to others.

This one’s a little tricky. When others tell you you’ll never succeed, you may hear a voice inside your head that says, “Go on. Give it a shot. What have we got to lose?” Ignore the voice or you’ll end up like Walter Elias Disney, a newspaperman from Chicago.

Walt Disney and the Seven Dwarfs

In his autobiography, Disney revealed the Seven dwarfs were all drug addicts. Happy, Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful and Grumpy. Doc was the dealer.

Walt Disney was fired as a newspaper editor because he was told he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Now he could have thought to himself, “They must be right. What was I thinking? Maybe I am a little Goofy.”

But he refused to believe his ideas were “Mickey Mouse.”  The rest of his life he went from one job to another, in movies, then in TV, and eventually he ended up in a theme park. What a life!

3.  Believe you can’t.

If you want to be a successful failure, you’re going to have to ignore any signs of self-confidence. Cover over any potential you have with self-doubt, negativity and denial.

I’m warning you, if you don’t follow my advice, you could end up like little Albert from Ulm, Germany. Albert didn’t speak until he was four and he couldn’t read until he was seven. People who knew him thought he was handicapped, slow and would never amount to anything.

Albert Einstein

When the world’s greatest scientists couldn’t understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, he reportedly stuck out his tongue out and said, “Na na na boo boo!”

No wonder he was expelled from one school and refused admittance to another. He should have realized he was the definitive under-achiever. But Albert Einstein let his confidence get the best of him, relatively speaking. In the latter part of his life, Einstein was forced to make a living the only way he knew how, by posing for posters with his tongue stuck out.

4. Be afraid of failing.

Here’s a surefire way to become a failure. Just be afraid to fail. Let the challenge scare you so much, you give up and give in. Ignore the advice of media and motivational guru Seth Godin who said, “Failure isn’t fatal. You’ve got to fail to succeed.”

Henry Ford was a spectacular failure for much of his life. At 15, he dropped out of school and became a farmer. He failed at that and became a mechanic. He failed at that and started repairing clocks and watches.

He failed at that and went back to farming. Even when he tried to invent a “horseless carriage,” he failed time

Henry Ford drives an early car

Henry Ford drove a Model T in his first automobile ride, but was unable to reach his destination because Motel 6 hadn’t been invented yet

and again, at one point losing all his investors’ money without producing a car.

But Henry Ford was never afraid to fail. After all, he had so much practice. He eventually produced a workable car, the Models T & A, and an assembly line system that revolutionized manufacturing. See? His life went nowhere.

5. Don’t be curious

Studies have shown that successful people seem to be curious about the world around them. They ask a lot of questions and explore everything. They love learning and live in a state of wonder, surprise and delight

Conversely, many people who fail are not that interested in discovering or exploring all the world has to offer. So avoid exposure to new people, places and things, and find nothing that inspires you, and with any luck at all you’ll fall flat on your face and never be heard from again. Steven Spielberg was an inquisitive child. I’m not exactly sure what he did with his life, but I know he spends a lot of time in movies and apparently “phoning home.”

STAN: He must have changed his meds.
HARRIETT: What are you talking about?
STAN: Golberg. Goldenberg. Whatever you call him. The hack who writes this blog. Dr. Suess must have upped his medication.
HARRIETT: Dr. Suess?
STAN: Dr. Suess. Dr. Scholls. Dr. Pepper. Who knows what quack Goldberg is seeing now?
HARRIETT: I don’t see what you’re complaining about. I think today’s blog is very well written.
STAN: That’s just it, Harriett. I like the old Goldenberg. Oops, sorry, I got his name right. He was all over the place. You couldn’t follow his ADHD-addled brain from one paragraph to the next if you were Scotland Yard.
HARRIETT: So you liked it better when he was hard to follow, disjointed and all of the place?
STAN: Sure, it was part of my master plan. I figured eventually his so called brilliant Readers would kick his a** outta here and they’d ask me write the blog.
HARRIETT: You? (HARRIETT DIDN’T WANT TO BE MEAN, BUT SHE COULDN’T HOLD BACK A LAUGH.) Was there any more to your master plan?
STAN: Well, I thought maybe, if I were writing this blog, you’d fall in love with me, marry me and we’d settle down and have a baby.
HARRIETT: But Stan, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re not real! You’re just some character in Jack’s head. You’re imaginary!
STAN: So, then we could have an imaginary baby.
HARRIETT: And how would you propose we do that?
STAN: I don’t know. I guess we could start with imaginary sex.
HARRIETT: Hmmm. Imaginary sex? I think I like that idea. You mind if we go someplace where the Readers can’t see us?
STAN: Sure.


STAN: Harriett, I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship.
HARRIETT: Don’t push it, Stan. I just goin’ for the sex.


Where was I? Oh, I remember.

6. Be too old to succeed.

If you’re 50 or above, why not just admit your productive working days are over. They’re kaput. Finito! Stick a fork in you, you’re done! Use your time to complain about those young whippersnappers who have texted your career into oblivion and get in line early for the 4 p.m. blue plate special.

Something went terribly wrong the first time Col. Sanders tried to invent KFC and instead he created White Castle

Of course, that’s not what Harland Sanders did and for a most of his life, he was anything but a success. He tried his hand at numerous careers including steamboat pilot, streetcar conductor, farmer, service station operator and insurance salesman.

At the age of 40, Sanders cooked chicken dishes for people who stopped at his little service station in Corbin, Kentucky. Fifteen years later, that business failed too when Interstate 95 rerouted traffic.

Did Harland Sanders give up? Was he too old to succeed? Nope, at age 64, he took his secret recipe for “finger-lickin’ chicken” and, with a $105 check he had from Social Security, he started selling franchises in Kentucky Fried Chicken.

As it turned out, Colonel Harland Sanders didn’t just have a bucket list of things he wanted to accomplish, he had a bucket filled with chicken. Hold the gravy!

7. Don’t stretch your limits.

Why challenge yourself? If you want to fail, just accept the hand nature has dealt you. If you continually challenge yourself, you’re liable to succeed in spite of yourself. The world is full of successful people who refused to follow this sage advice.

Michael Jordan

Although Michael Jordan gave up Knock Hockey to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team because of a lack of athletic talent. Comedienne Lucile Ball was dismissed from drama school because she was “too shy to put her best foot forward.”

And then there was Thomas Edison. A teacher told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He advised Edison to “take up a simple profession that wouldn’t tax his limited abilities.”

If Edison had refused to stretch his limits, we’d all be sitting here texting by candlelight and playing Angry Birds in the dark.

8. Let a disability hold you back.

Nobody’s perfect, but many people suffer from severe disabilities that should, for all intents and purposes, threaten their ability to succeed. If you’ve got a physical or mental illness, no one would blame you for  giving in and giving up.

Throughout history, many people who’ve failed at failing refused to let their disability hold them back from what they wanted to accomplish. Alexander Graham Bell had a learning disability, Cher has dyslexia, President Franklin Roosevelt had polio and Ludwig Van Beethoven was deaf in the latter part of his life.

9.  Be the problem. Not the solution.

A lot of people have mastered this Rule. You probably work with some of them. You know the type. They bitch and complain all day long, but never offer up a suggested solution. What a perfect way to fail.

Senator Robert Kennedy inspired generations of Americans when he re-quoted George Bernard Shaw’s line, “Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?

If you want to fail and see others fail around you, identify the problem, complain out it, then do absolutely nothing to solve it.

10.  Oh, Damn! I’ve failed to come up with the 10th Rule of Spectacular Failure.

What can I say? Sure, I wanted to come up with 10 Rules of Spectacular Failure, but I just gave up. Anyway, it’s not my fault, it’s somebody else’s. It was too hard, too difficult and I just didn’t think I had what it takes to get the job done. Besides some people told me I’d never come up with Rule #10. Guess I proved them right. At least I’m successful at something.

Miz Melizsays:

February 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Dear Jack,  I loved this! I think you are a nut and that makes me love you more! You know you have reached Rock Star status when these things start getting passed around at work! I got it in my email at work today. Someone had edited out the Stan and Harriett bit and sent it to everyone in their email contact list that is working on a fundraising project together. Lighthearted and inspirational!! Brilliant! I asked if I could re-post it on my blog. The sender did not know the original source. . . so I Googled “Goldenberg’s 10″ and I am so happy I did!!
Do you have any advice for a relatively new blogger looking for an audience? And . . . May I re-post your brilliant list on my blog at ?

  • March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Miz, Thanks for your great comments. What higher compliment could I aspire to that to be deemed “a nut” joining the ranks of Jerry Lewis, The Marx Brothers and, of course, Fil Bert. I checked out your blog quickly, but will come back and take a more careful read. It’s looks like it’s very well done and yes, you ARE a writer. Also, I’ll come back and post a more detailed comment later. I really appreciate hearing that my blog was passed around your office even if they did cut out Stan and Harriett. TTYL Jack

  • Miz Melizsays:

    March 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Jack! I am glad you took my calling you a nut as a compliment as it was meant to be! I believe we are all nuts and it is the new normal. Some of us are tough nuts to crack and others are real nut jobs. . . but you are like Mr. Peanut, quite the gentleman! Thanks for looking at my blog, an honor for me, truly! I have made a few changes and I am gearing up for guests posts. I would like to include your 10 rules and seeing how it is being passed around anyway, I am sure it is okay. However, I will wait for the okay from you personally. I look forward to hearing from you soon, fondly, Meliz

  • March 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Hey Miz,

    It would be an honor–see it works both ways–to have you run my 10 Rules of Spectacular Failure on your blog. And if you need to cut out Stan and Harriet since they may be taken out of context by some Readers (don’t know why), that’s OK. Stan has been threatening to not appear on my blog unless I pay him, so whether he comes back again or not is a mystery, even to me. I just hope Stan stays well and doesn’t get in a skiing accident, get amnesia and then forget who he is. Hey, it could happen! Jack

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