Celebrate Library Shelfie Day!

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Libraries. Whether it’s a local school library or your community library, we’ve all been in one at least once in our lives. For those of us who have developed a deep love of words, we’ve spent many hours among the stacks. We’ve checked out fantastic books and learned, escaped, imagined, experienced, and explored the world through the words of others.

 

Many of us fear the demise of libraries, hoping they will not be replaced completely by online media. Yet in this time of Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram, which all encourage selfies, we now have Library Shelfie Day. Created by the New York City public library system several years ago, the holiday encourages patrons to snap pictures of their favorite library shelf, then post it with the hashtag #libraryshelfie. Slowly this holiday is making its way across the country, taking hold of the minds and hearts of book lovers everywhere and has expanded to include shelfies of our favorite library shelves and our own favorite shelves at home.

 

This year, Library Shelfie Day falls on January 29th. To celebrate, I’ve chosen one of my own favored bookshelves. It has been several years since I had a space to set up my eleven-foot long, floor-to-ceiling set of bookshelves my father custom built twenty-three years ago. When my husband and I moved into this, our final house, I ensured I had a wall to set them up. Forty-eight boxes of books later, I have my beloved bookshelves. I’ve snapped a picture of one of my shelves, which holds part of my collection of Agatha Christie mystery paperbacks, some of which were printed in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Why Agatha Christie? She was a highly prolific author, publishing her first mystery novel the year she turned thirty. Over the next fifty-six years, she published eighty-two mystery novels and one hundred short stories centered around her famous sleuths, six romance novels published under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, nineteen plays, two books of poetry, and two autobiographies. Her works have been adapted to film forty times, with an additional twenty-eight TV movies, three TV series, and two radio series. She is one of the most successful authors of all time, selling over two billion copies of her books. How can this not inspire authors everywhere?

 

So on Library Shelfie Day, I tip my hat to the Grand Dame of Mystery, Agatha Christie, novelist, playwright, poet, and autobiographer. What’s your favorite shelf?

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The Lost Art of Handwriting

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Writing by hand. It’s an almost outdated skill, replaced more and more with emails, notes on our mobile phones, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and instant messaging on many platforms. Planners are electronic, printed out if needed. Calendars are kept online, shared between devices. Cursive is no longer a standard staple in many schools. Typed words are easier to read, more compact, quicker to send and receive, and faster to put onto paper. Many high school students and most college students use computers to take notes.

 

However, handwriting is still the best way to contact the creative side of the brain. Many feel writing by hand taps into the subconscious in ways typing cannot, turning loose the flow of heart and soul many writers spend years trying to perfect. But I can write faster when typing. Yep, you can. Although sometimes slowing down the brain, giving it time to relax, easing into a subconscious flow, can bring images to the page you didn’t think possible.

 

Today is National Handwriting Day. As it’s also part of International Creativity Month, try an experiment. Put the computer, tablet, and mobile phone away. Pick up a pen or pencil and a pad of paper, and see what happens. Let the creative flow take you back to the days of childhood, back to the time when you didn’t just watch letters form on a screen, back to a time when you could actually feel the letters forming on the page as your pencil scraped across the surface of the paper. Write a poem. Write a story. Write a letter to someone. Write a journal entry. Let your heart and soul express, giving physical sensation to the ages old process of putting beautiful words on a blank piece of paper. The end result might surprise you.

Creativi-Tea

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As I sit here enjoying a hot cup of Harney & Sons African Autumn tea, a blend of Redbush from Africa, cranberry, and orange, I find myself reveling in National Hot Tea Day. In this third year of observance, fans of tea across the nation raise a cup or mug of this favored beverage. While consumed throughout the year, hot tea is especially comforting in the cold winter months, bringing a bit of warmth to stave off the chill of long nights and all-too-brief days.

 

Tea has been around since 2737 BC, according to legend, when leaves from a Camellia sinensis tree (where we still get tea leaves) fell into Chinese emperor Shen Nung’s water. With a long and glorious past, tea is one of the oldest recorded drinks known to man. Honored in ceremonies, used in rituals, and enjoyed for simple morning or afternoon pleasure world-wide, tea remains a favorite and likely will for centuries to come. According to a 2011 study, three cups of tea are consumed daily per one cup of coffee globally.

 

As well as being my chosen hot beverage, tea is also part of my creative process. Studies have shown humans react similarly to the historical Pavlovian dogs, who learned to salivate whenever they heard a bell. Humans can learn reactive behaviors based on specific repeated stimulation as well. I’ve learned to summon my muse by lighting a small candle on the corner of my desk and setting that lovely pot of hot tea next to it, to be savored while I write.

 

So during this National Hot Tea Month, and specifically on National Hot Tea Day, the muse patiently waits on my shoulder as I take extra time to relish the scents and flavors bursting from one of my favorite tea blends.

Celebrate Creativity!

CreativityJanuary. The month brings to mind resolutions, diets, renewed pushes on various projects, and hope that this year may be in some way an improvement over the last. However, most resolutions fail within the first few weeks. We find ourselves with too little time, too-tight finances, not enough motivation, or less-than-Herculean willpower. This year, I am foregoing the resolution roller coaster. Instead, I’m celebrating International Creativity Month.

Originally founded by Randall Munson as a way to provide “a more powerful, long-lasting opportunity for positive change,” International Creativity month, celebrated each January, has become a time for encouraging creative thinking and creative pursuits. These can include finding creative ways to eat healthier, exercise more, or find a better job. For those of us already in a creative field, it can be a time to recharge the creative juices or make creative commitments to ourselves.

How can we celebrate International Creativity Month? Brainstorm that new plot line for the next book. Try writing a short story in a different genre than you typically write. Delve into poetry writing if you’re a novelist. Experiment with a crafting medium with which you’ve never worked. Learn a new and creative way to market your work or connect with your audience. Find a creative way to make one small change in how you see and experience your own creativity, and it will energize your creative processes far longer through the year than the drudgery of simple resolutions ever could.

For my own creative expansion, I’m stepping off into the world of blogging, hoping to challenge, enlighten, and entertain others while stimulating my own creative juices. How will you celebrate creativity this month? Leave a comment and let me know.