Ask, and you might receive…

I learned a lot from watching this TED Talk by Jia Jiang. He thought about what made him fearful (rejection) and he figured out how to overcome it. His experience makes you realize, yet again, that we are for the most part good and giving people, willing to help each other. Enjoy!

Thinking deep thoughts…


Those middle-of-the-night thoughts…

I sometimes wake up at night, thinking and/or worrying. Do most women do that? For me it’s not an every-night occurrence—it happens in spurts.

When Steve and I were younger and made a lot less, I woke up worrying about money. Steve never did, and he thought I was crazy to lose sleep worrying about problems that would work themselves out. (It takes a lot to make him wake up worrying.) He was right; those worries tended to dissipate with time.

These days I am more likely to wake up thinking about how I’ve managed to do or say something stupid the day before, the week before, or farther back. I wish I could say that I always say and do the right thing. I try, but I fail often enough to wake me up—thankfully, not every night.

What gets me back to sleep is the thought that where there is life, there is hope. Every day really is a new day, with a chance to do better. Goodness knows, I keep trying and maybe someday I’ll be like those people who always seem to know the right thing to say or not say, at exactly the right time. If you do this too, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. We are each of us a work in progress :-).

Creative thoughts…

Then there are the times I wake up with creative ideas. I like this a whole lot better, even if I do lose sleep, which brings me back to the topic at hand… deep thoughts.

Most of us don’t create in a vacuum—our creativity is fed by that of others. So it makes sense to be open to new ideas, new ways of seeing and interpreting the world around us. With that in mind, I’d like to direct you to this post by Pam Holland. I especially enjoyed the video she posted. Pam is a beautiful photographer and her images do flutter around in my head. Thank you, Pam, for posting them!

I also very much enjoyed the TED talk by Béatrice Coron, a papercutter artist whose work I had not seen until I found this video (bottom of post). Her work is inspiring, beautiful, and thought-provoking. FYI: I found this talk by going to TED and searching for ‘creativity’. I’ll bet searching for ‘inspiration’ would yield wonderful results as well.

I am currently feeling my way toward new ideas, even as I work on quilts that are stylistically similar to those I’ve made in the past. Once these are complete, I can turn my attention to quilts that are, I hope, completely different for me. Until then, ideas are constantly swirling around in my head, and I’m enjoying the thinking process.

In closing, let’s all sleep well, turn off the worries, trust in a new day, and think about being creative!

Be careful with your brain…

I recently wrote about why I quit watching football. I can no longer take pleasure in watching a sport where 1/3 of the players will end up with brain damage. I have been surprised since then at just how little I miss watching the games, and at how much more time I have on the weekend. Who knew!

Anyway, I found this TED Talk by Nancy Kanwisher. She uses fMRI scans to find and map activity in brain regions, and she shares what she and her colleagues have learned. It is a short talk and very interesting. As I watched it, I could not help thinking about how lucky most of us are not to hit our heads hard enough to damage our very-precious brains.

Our son, Jeff, is a biostatistician (at Columbia!) who has dealings with fMRIs. I’m his mother, so what those ‘dealings’ are is a mystery to me. So I asked him to try to explain to me what an fMRI really is:

Basically, an fMRI works by taking hundreds of full brain images in rapid succession — a couple of seconds apart for several minutes or longer. As the video says, these images should be slightly different from each other depending on what the subject’s brain is doing. Areas where neurons are firing need more oxygen, and this difference in oxygenation shows up in individual images. In the experiment, the subjects are shown pictures of faces or other objects; by the end of observation, there are many images under each condition and the researchers ask if, on average, on particular location in the brain has a different oxygenation level for faces than for other objects.

And then I asked what he, the biostatistician did with the data. He wrote:

The stats comes in when you try to decide which image locations are different under the two experiment conditions, after the fMRI data has been collected. Changes in blood oxygenation are typically small and there’s a lot of noise in the image, so it takes some effort to pick out areas that “light up”.

Hah! I almost understand a little bit of what my younger son does!

Last but not least, here’s a comic poking fun at TED, just for grins,…


I think I could come up with one or more NED talks :-). Really, aren’t the possibilities endless? Maybe we should start a trend, youtubing NED talks :-).

How old are you on the inside?

I watched another TED Talk yesterday, this one by Isabel Allende titled How To Live Passionately. It made me smile, nod, and get a bit teary-eyed. I think this is something most of you will enjoy…

If the video doesn’t work for you, click here.

I remember a time, some years ago, sitting with my grandmother, who was in her 90s (but didn’t look a day over 75!), and my mom. We each agreed that we felt a lot younger on the inside than our age would suggest. Isn’t that true for everyone? I still don’t exactly feel like a grown-up, and I suspect that I never will.


4:00 AM…

I listened to a few TED Talks over the weekend. I really enjoyed this one!

4:00 AM is not a time of day that I want to be awake, but there are those days when I do wake up at 4. Sometimes I wake up with a new thought, or I wake up stewing about something, or I wake up with the realization that something that I thought was going well was, in fact, not. I’m apparently not the only one who has this happen at 4 in the morning.

If you can’t see the video in this post, click here to see Rives‘ Ted Talk.