Monday, July 6, 2015

Creative Courage with Alex Raffi – Moments of Discovery

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

You can buy my Children's book the Sheep Counting Dream here


Click the image to order:


$15.00


Monday, December 22, 2014

I am shaving my head again to help fight Childhood Cancer.



I'm having my head shaved to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer, but more importantly, to raise money to find cures. Please support me with a donation to the St. Baldrick's Foundation. This volunteer-driven charity funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. Your gift will give hope to infants, children, teens and young adults fighting childhood cancers. So when I ask for your support, I'm really asking you to support these kids. BONUS: I'll photoshop either you or myself into any picture you like. Thank you! Click the picture of the geek above to donate.


The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives.


What makes the St. Baldrick’s Foundation unique?

We do one thing and we do it well: fund childhood cancer research. We take great care of the funds raised by our generousvolunteers and supporters to direct every possible dollar to carefully selected research grants. Whether it’s through our signature head-shaving events, partnerships or advocacy initiatives, our primary focus is to have the greatest impact for kids with cancer around the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Wild Garden of our Childhood

Take a moment before reading on and draw a picture of a person you love as best you can in 60 seconds. Then continue reading this blog.

 

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”

      Pablo Neruda

We get comfortable in our mediocrity when we grow old. We lose that wide-eyed wonder that molded us. We internalize life. We grow older and learn how to be afraid. We replace our wonder and curiosity with a need to imitate and emulate. A child, on the other hand, lives in life. Children are an open nerve, feeling life. The way they perceive the world is powerful and deep.  But they're rarely taught how rewarding it would be to keep that sense of wonder because adults encourage them to leave it behind as they did. Our want for clear, tangible results took precedence over the more critical process required to get better results, and we became content with choosing from the diversity of ideas from those around us. We lost our patience for discovery. We neglected the child within that is patiently waiting for us to empower let it guide us. There is power in that simplicity. We mistake childish perception as na├»ve or simplistic. On the contrary, there is a deep purity to childish perception. We must begin to identify that perception as qualified creative courage.

Have you ever looked at how a child draws a person? Many drawings I’ve seen were rudimentary, consisting of a circle with two dots for eyes, a big smile for a mouth, and arms and legs coming off the circle.  They look a bit like this:

Many might find this drawing charming or cute, but I’m more curious of our opinion of the process. Consider how we tend to judge artwork and apply that consideration to this drawing. We may believe that this drawing is not a good representation of what a person looks like, and we might conclude that its lack of sophistication is due to the fact that a child drew it. But if you consider that the child's intent was not to impress your notions of what a person should look like, you may begin to see this drawing differently.

Take a moment to consider what a child sees when interacting with people. They look into eyes, which are on the face. They speak from a mouth and hear from ears that are also on the face. Everything they know and see of people is on the face. Arms are there to bring food to the face and legs are there to get the face from place to place. Satisfying the needs of others does not motivate them. They are depicting their perception of what is important in the illustration of a person. The torso does not define a person; what does are the moments of engagement and tools used in those engagements. This is what is missing from our perception, as we grow older. We begin to have a need to impress others with the result of our search to communicate ideas in an accepted format, but that limits us. We edit ourselves out of reaching our creative need to find the wonderful. The richness of things we feel we can’t express in an exceptional way. How many of us have had something wonderful to share and not had the words to express them. Is it a lack of words or a preserved notion that others may not understand our idea? 

Now compare your drawing with this one. Did you express your love for the person you drew freely? Or were you focusing on creating a factual illustration of that person? There is no right or wrong way to illustrate. My goal is to make you see your creative process in action. If you see ways to expand your perception from this illustration and feel you may have stifled yourself, give it another shot. Open yourself up fully in the illustration and express what you feel. Nobody will see the drawing but you. Try your best to deprogram your fears for a moment.

We need to strive to see the world through younger eyes. We need to live with the fearless sense of expression of a child. Stripping away the binding fear of judgment will clear the path to innovative ways of seeing our creative potential.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ZEITGEIST

I remember playing in the dirt as a child and suddenly having a deep moment of clarity. Something triggered it — maybe the warmth of the sun on the back of my neck as it peaked behind a cloud — and it woke me up. I suddenly could hear the silence. I took pause for a moment and began to take inventory of the time. To this day I can remember that feeling. I can see and smell the moist black earth on my hands, hear the birds in the trees, and feel the slight sting on my scratched up knees in the damp grass. I took notice of the fact that I was young and loved by my parents and little sister. I allowed myself to be curious of my future and wondered if I would still want to dig in the dirt when I grew up. I was alone but not lonely. I was in tune in some strange way with my awareness.
You can do this right now, no matter where you are. Take a moment now to put this book down and make yourself aware of what is happening around you. Use all you senses to capture this moment and encapsulate it in your memory. Stop reading, put the book down and take in the moment. Make a mental note of what is happening, right now. Consider what you are hearing, smelling or feeling on your skin. Take it all in and let that take you to the next level of perception. Follow you intuition. It doesn’t need to be a revelation. The act itself becomes a simple revelation that will prove to be valuable at some point in your life. So, again, take a moment now and... 



Be still.




We tend to ignore intimacy with our own lives. There is real value in just paying attention. The act of pausing our distractions and considering the moments creates opportunities to see things that you may have missed that can lead you into new discoveries. We often ignore moments that are filled with learning opportunities, but when you pause, you cast a net into your life that has the potential of capturing a new idea or realization; you create a chance to learn something. Teaching and learning doesn’t only happen in a classroom or even between people. Sometimes, just being aware is enough. We miss countless learning opportunities in our everyday lives from just not paying attention.
Here is an uncomfortable question for some. How many times have you taken the time to revel in your own genius? Very often when we have just used a lifetime of deductive reasoning to solve a major problem we don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. We forget to give ourselves credit for those times we perform at our best when reasoning and problem solving. Think back on a time when you evaluated your options and came up with a solution that surprised you and those around you. At that moment, you had an opportunity to learn something through an active awareness of your action. If you begin to realize that your process of discovery and development isn’t an accident and that you can actively participate in its development by just acknowledging it’s existence, you might begin to come up with these surprising solutions more often and more quickly.
We overlook the fact that we are always our own best teacher. We only learn what we want to learn at any given time. Knowledge is a suggestion. We decide its value. Living within our moments is very important and it’s easy to take our own greatness for granted. It’s natural to be humble, but the truth is we are all amazing. Even the simplest example of deductive reasoning has the potential of growing into a breakthrough that can change your life.
One way to create a moment is to strike up a conversation with a stranger. If I’m waiting in line or sitting in a place within talking distance, I’ll try to find a reason to interact with another person. When was the last time someone you didn’t know showed true interest in you and your ideas without an agenda? People tend to dig deep when this happens. It’s a gift of chance for them, and if you’re lucky, many times this gift leads to a fascinating discussion filled with life lessons and interesting revelations. In a world filled with narcissistic distractions, it’s sometimes difficult to make time for other perceptions influence and inspired by a life foreign to your own. Every question you have acts as bait for potentially powerful data that could be used to decode a life mystery.
Gathering qualified data is important to the quality of our creative resolutions. We create opportunities to be inspired when we pay attention to our own actions. The feeling of inspiration we get is not given to us. We make a choice. We decide what is inspiring. Learning to inspire yourself can become addicting. You begin to seek out possibilities and exploring new ideas that at one time may have discouraged you. Anything you can do to stimulate your natural need of inspiration is valuable. Take every opportunity that comes your way, but more importantly, create those opportunities and always remember to experience yourself in that moment.
It may not seem like it at times, but all of us have managed to figure out how to use the most complicated technology in the known universe. The human mind is the only tool we have that truly matters. It controls our perception, memory, abstract thought, complex behavior, and consciousness. We still don’t understand it. But understanding it isn’t as important as learning how to use it, just as you don’t need to know everything about how a violin works to master it.
According to neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D.Our mindis capable of amazing things

“On average, each of the 100 billion neurons in your head has about 1000 connections with other neurons, creating a huge network of about 100 trillion synapses. Like a computer network built from one hundred trillion transistors, each representing a “bit” of information depending on whether it is “on” or “off.”
Adding up all possible combinations of 100 billion neurons firing or not, the number of potential states of that neuronal network is approximately 10 to the millionth power: one followed by a million zeros.”

Think of that the next time you allow these “bits” to manifest themselves into the notion that you can’t do something. Ignore it and get back to work. I’m pretty sure your brain can handle it.
The complexity of our intellectual capacity is evident when we dream. While asleep, we experience a story that we perceive as real. It’s as though we are watching a movie played out before us and we are part of that story. We are the actors, directors, set designers, producers, etc. We play every part, yet at the same time, we are the audience, experiencing every moment as if it’s the first time we have ever seen it. We are startled by the sudden turn of events in the very nightmare we authored. How is this possible? How are we capable of creating ideas that inspire us to consider other ideas? We have a dualism in our creative perception that allows us to reach ideas beyond our expectations, yet we treat our creativity as a novelty. It is true that we are influenced and react to idea presented to us, but are we influenced by or reacting to only a selected few of them? Are we auditing potential? If so, why? And are those reasons valid?
During a lifetime, we gather data and discover our own perceptions. When we become aware of our perceptions, it's almost as if we're learning about them from another source. We are, in essence, leading ourselves into other discoveries and opportunities. Our conscious mind has an amazing capacity to realize possibility but we tend to only scratch the surface. We are capable, through sheer will, to create and discover many potential outcomes simultaneously.
The world is your backyard. Take time to realize those moments when you dig into your own intellectual dirt.