Let Your Artist Lead And Capture The Wow with Cynthia Morris
On what she loves about Paris, how the city inspires her and brings out her creativity, and about how to let your artist lead and capture the wow.
I’m delighted that today our guest is Cynthia Morris, an acclaimed creativity coach, author and artist living in Denver, Colorado. Cynthia believes that we all have the impulse to create. She coaches writers, artists, and entrepreneurs to make their creative dreams an exciting reality. Through her company, Original Impulse, Cynthia leads creativity workshops in the US and in Europe. She is also the author of the Paris novel, Chasing Sylvia Beach and the how-to guide, Create Your Writer’s Life. Cynthia has also published several eBooks on creative travel, most recently, Visit Paris Like an Artist. Her newsletter, Impulses, has been published since 2001, inspiring people across the globe to be more creatively expressed. She talks about how to let your artist lead, how to allow your artist come out and capture the wow.
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Thanks, Clare. I’m very excited to be here.
I’m so pleased to have you on the show. You have an affinity with both the place that you live in and with an alternative city that’s on a different continent. Tell me about those two places and what they mean to you.
Paris is something that has captured my imagination since I was a girl. I started studying French when I was 14. I always dreamed about being in Paris, being in a bigger city. I grew up in Ohio, out in a rural area. It was very, you could say boring, you could say calm, you could say mellow; completely the opposite of dynamic, thriving, urban environment. I always dreamed about living in New York or going to Paris. The when I was 17, I did go to Europe. I went to Paris as part of my French studies and completely fell in love with it. Imagine being 17-years-old and seeing your first big city and it’s Paris. I think that’s partly why Paris holds a place for me because it was my first city. It set the standard, all those other cities didn’t really have a chance. Speaking French is something that is really fun for me. I started studying when I was 14. We’re talking decades now of studying French. It’s just really fun for me. I love words. I love wordplay. I’m a mimic. Going to a place that’s full of all that beauty and dynamism and the historical precedence by so many other creative people, there’s just so many reasons I love Paris.
What three words would you use to describe Paris, if that’s possible?
Beauty, elegance and style. I guess those are some surface words. It seems like the orientation of the city is around elegance and style and beauty, from the buildings to the window displays to the sidewalks and the lamp posts and the manhole covers, all those details. If you’re paying attention, not just, “Look, there are the large tourist sites,” but every detail. I go there every year. I’ve been there every year for the last 17 years and I turn a corner and I’m stunned, I’m stopped in my tracks by something. I think that’s part of what I love about it. It keeps you awake and engages that part of me that’s always thirsty and hungry for the interesting, the beautiful, the creative. It’s constantly being fed that.
Paris to me is a very walk-able city. I come from London. It’s a huge place. It’s a big urban sprawl. It’s such a treat to go to Paris where I can walk really easily from one end of the city to another. Or you could stand on the Metro platform and you can see the next station through the tunnel. That’s how near you are in many cases. What’s one of your favourite Paris walks?
What I do when I go to Paris is I’ll choose something that I want to see, either a café or a shop or a museum or a gallery, something, and I’ll make my way there. Now I bike in Paris. I use the Vélib’ bike system. I’ll bike to that neighbourhood and then I’ll park the bike and walk. I’ll use the anchor point, the place to explore that neighbourhood because I’ve learned that where there’s a hip coffee shop, there are other interesting things, other shops or galleries or even street art. Any neighbourhood is a great walk.
I will avoid the wide boulevards for the small side streets. The boulevards with their chain stores and the fancy shops are really of little interest to me because they’re loud, they’re noisy. I could be in London often, “Look, there’s H&M, there’s Zara.” It’s not interesting. What’s interesting is the side streets. They’re quiet. There’s a sense of I can drop in and inhabit the place more. I will randomly come across a cute little shop or a little café that is much more inviting. Despite my passion for thriving, throbbing, urban environment, I’m an introvert. I like quiet spaces. I’m always, even in Paris, seeking out the pocket gardens, the little spots. This is one of the things that Paris does so well. There are all of these public spaces, benches, and even if it’s just asphalt and some benches, there are places where you can pause and sit and reflect and take it in where people gather. I love that about Paris.
Do you feel that these opportunities to pause and reflect are really instrumental with the creative work that you do when you visit Paris?
Absolutely. One of the things I think is vital for creativity is the ability to slow down and even to stop and take it in. I go hiking here in Colorado and I know a lot of people like to hike up a mountain and just go, go, go. I like to walk and then stop. Let me just sit on a rock and just let it in, absorb the smells. The minute you stop and pause to take things in, suddenly now the sense of smell comes on, and I can smell things and now I’m hearing more. That ability to pause is the ability to tune in to all of your senses. You’re going to see more and experience more. When I said reflect, to reflect on what’s actually happening. Another great place to pause is if you go to a museum or a gallery or even a shop and you’ve just taken in a bunch of input.
I always have to go afterward and go to a café or sit down and make some notes and reflect, “What did I see?” It’s the digestion. You’re digesting it. When you have those places to pause, especially if you’re highly sensitive or introverted, it’s not super fun necessarily to be in an urban environment. That’s why I’m looking for those little pauses, those places, whether it’s a café or a place you don’t have to pay any money. I love that because it’s just for the people. Anybody can sit on a bridge or pause on a bridge or sit in a park. That’s so important about Paris, those public places where you randomly encounter someone or something. It’s absolutely vital to have those moments where either the environment is inviting it or you are saying, “I’m going to just pull over and take a two-minute breather or I’m going to pull over and sketch that little detail that I saw.”
One of the things that I’m really interested in is how we can get more slow, introduce slow into these that cities that we live in where we’re all addicted to speed. The side street is the perfect place to just adjust your pace and absorb what’s going on around you, rather than be hurried along with the rush of everybody else. Is there a hidden gem, a little secret spot that you return to that you’re happy to share with us when you’re in Paris?
Yes. I don’t really go very much to the places where the tourists gather because it’s not that what’s to be seen there isn’t beautiful, but it’s often very crowded and that’s where pickpockets are and a chance for crimes. If you go up to Sacré-Cœur, which is that basilica at the top of Paris in Montmartre, if you make your way to it, if you go and have a lovely view out of the city because it’s incredible, and then turn face the basilica and then walk to the left of it and around the back, go all the way around the back. There’s little park and people are picnicking there and you have a great view of it from behind. People are doing Tai Chi there and they’re picnicking there. It’s a great little place to rest.
Then if you keep going in that neighbourhood behind Sacré-Cœur, there are all these little side streets that are so quiet, so interesting, and you swear you’ve dropped back into the 19th century; cobblestone streets, hardly any cars. You’ll start to see some interesting sculptures and other parks. You wind your way around and go down to Lepic and then you’re starting to get back into a little bit more of a populated area. I take my groups there all the time because it feels like you’re getting away with something. Just right there a million people crowding and jostling for the same view, when you can come and see something that’s not necessarily a spectacular vista but it’s a smaller sense of pleasure.
Talk a bit more about what you do when you’re with a group in Paris.
I lead these workshops that I call Capture the Wow. I’ve been leading them since 2005. They change every year and evolve as I change and evolve. Really the upshot of it is to go to Paris or any other place where I’m leading them and be an artist for the week. Let your artist lead. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making art. There’s a part of you, the creative part, I just like to call it the artist because that’s just easy, that has a different approach to life. Her agenda is different than your everyday agenda. She’s not about efficiency and getting there quickly. She’s all about slowing down, “Let’s take a look at that,” and indulging. I think of it just as indulging the senses. “I’m going to linger here a little longer. I’m going to eat this pastry for lunch even though I know that’s not the proper protein and proper nutrition but it’s essential savouring.”
I lead a six-day workshop in Paris where really that’s our focus. We use some creativity tools that I’ve cultivated with my own artists; keeping a journal, keeping an illustrated notebook. Rather than always be taking photos of things, you’re slowing down and capturing it with a haiku or a word sketch or a sketch or a collage. The notebook is our ally that leads the way through this process of slowing down and savouring more. Afterward, you have that notebook as a way to remind you of that. It’s a memento that shows you what your artist loves, what she’s drawn to, what she appreciates. By the end of the week, people leave with a real sense of more of themselves, “This is what I love. This is what lights my creative bonfire. This is what illuminates my creativity.” That they can then go home and take into their lives at home.
When you are having an artist date of your own in Paris, what kind of things inspire you to take out your pen or your paints and create something beautiful or interesting or memorable in your notebook?
The things that inspire me in Paris and elsewhere are architectural wonders and not necessarily like seeing the Upaka. That’s amazing, but I’m not going to really be able to capture that. What will get me to take my notebook out is more of a detail like a lamppost or those great Art Nouveau, the Metro or even just, like I mentioned, a manhole cover or a bench or just those little things, flowers. I’m always attracted to natural beauty in the city and then people. I’m so fascinated by people and how they are and how they move. I bike mostly now in Paris, but I do take the Metro still. That’s a great chance to practice sketching people.
As I’m quickly sketching somebody because they’ll likely get off at the next stop, I’m also just appreciating them and noticing them and curious about their lives, “Who is this person?” I just get a little boggled when I go to dense environments because I’m like, “All these lives, all these stories, what is this person doing? What do they care about? What’s big for them today?” Sketching, I don’t go up and ask everybody those questions but making sketches of people is somehow a way to see them and honour them and whatever they’re about. I get to just capture that person in that moment and give them some respect and my attention.
That also sounds like a moment where you’re very, very present. You’re absolutely present in that moment. That feels very mindful to me. Do you have any particular morning routines or mindfulness practices to help you thrive in the city as somebody who’s a creative soul?
The pause is big, just stopping and getting a café. Wherever I’m at, whatever city I go to, I’m finding the cafés that serve good coffee and food. That is a place in the city that gives me that chance to touch in with the taste and the flavours of that place and how people there live and relax. I do have a sketching stool that I sometimes bring with me and that allows me to sit down and savour. The journal, when I’m travelling and when I’m at home, that is my practice of mindfulness and attention. I call it an ally. It’s an ally that allows me to stop and put what I’m experiencing into the pages. It slows me down. It’s also then a very important part of my practice as an artist. “What am I seeing? What am I noticing? What catches my attention?” will then feel later work. That’s important whether you’re a visual artist or a writer. People do this all the time, “I just had a great thought, let me write it down.” Write it down. A lot of times, we’re using our phones to write it down, that’s fine; whatever process you have.
In my Capture the Wow, I have these different guidelines. One of them is master your capture. However you capture your inspiration, your insights, your ideas, their connections, figure that out. It could be a paper notebook, it could be a note application on your phone, it doesn’t really matter, but you have your way to take what you’re experiencing and put it somewhere and digest it intellectually or creatively. That’s very important. I love hearing how different people do that. Everybody’s got their own way. With regards to your question, the main practice I would say is keeping a journal.
That’s interesting to me that you encourage them to capture the wow but that the method doesn’t matter. A lot of the work that I’m interested in is finding a way to reframe our digital lives so that we‘ve got more time and headspace for real life. I’m interested to learn a bit more about your relationship with your digital devices, with your social media communities. How do you find the balance living in a city, whether you’re at home in Denver or whether you’re visiting Paris? How do you find that balance in the city with your digital life?
It’s so great. When I am teaching, it is definitely analogue and not digital. Paris, it was only I think 2014, three years ago was the first time I actually had my phone when I was there. I had a plan that had data and phone. Imagine everything before then with just no phone ever. That helped train me to be reliant on myself and my senses and using the journal as a way to capture things and a map, not an app. It’s really important because the apps can steer us wrong. Now, there’s a Metro app that’s wonderful. Sometimes, it’s really helpful to just look something up and find out where it is and are they open. I have learned that, I don’t know if it’s from all that time without the phone, but I really know that life is not on the screen, especially when I’m in Paris. You pay thousands of dollars to get to that place. You do not want to be on your phone.
Clare, something I only learned last year, I finally learned that I am not a simul-share person. I am not eating something wonderful and then taking a picture of it and posting it right then. I am not doing it in the moment. I don’t like it. It’s not fun for me. It’s not who I am. I don’t need to share what I’m experiencing right now with the world. I tried it with Instagram Live, stories, a video on a bike in Paris. I’m like first time, “Let me try this.” I’m biking around, zooming through the loop. I’m like, “Okay, no.”
When I finally just stopped making myself wrong for not constantly posting pictures of myself in Paris or what I was doing in Paris in the moment, it felt much better. I’m much more likely to post something later in the day. In the moment, I’m in the moment. I want to be living there and experiencing it. I don’t want my phone out because it’s a slippery slope. You get your phone out to post in Instagram, then you’re looking to see who likes you, then you’re commenting on other people, and then while I’m here, let me get another dopamine hit and see if anybody emailed me. How about another dopamine hit? Let’s go over to Facebook. Then I’m like this is not in any way nourishing, whereas in the moment looking around in the world is nourishing.
When I’m out travelling, I don’t really look at my phone very much. I just have a couple of apps that I use. There’s a willingness to be lost. I like to get lost so I don’t have to look at the map always to see where I’m going. I find that’s a real buzzkill. It’s like making love and constantly be looking at the manual to see what’s the next move. You’re really not there enjoying it. I’d rather make love to the world with my attention and my expression. It’s the same at home. I just don’t find that much satisfaction from being on the phone.
For me, it’s really important when I’m exploring a new place to just be in that lovely vibe. I’ve just come back from a month in Bali, which was absolutely luxurious and delicious and creatively inspiring. I didn’t post anything about it. I took lots of photographs and there’s lots of stuff that I do want to share but they’re reflections after the fact. That’s for me and if it’s of value to others then that’s great. I didn’t want the moment to be interrupted. Also secondarily, one of the things that is super important to me when I’m in a new place, whether it’s a city or not, is to get lost. You don’t want to get too far lost and you don’t want to end up in a dodgy spot, but to just follow your instinct, to look at that side street that looks curious and quirky, that there’s something that’s interesting, to take a few steps down there. Maybe it will take you ten minutes longer to get to the point that you really are heading for but you might find something wonderful along the way. Maybe it’s a detail in the cityscape. Maybe it’s the great cup of coffee in that fantastic café that then becomes a favourite. It might be that you have a chance conversation with somebody. Those are the moments, for me, in cities, including my own, that are most valuable: the getting lost, being open to possibility, and trusting that you’re not really lost, you’re just having a little exploratory detour. All good things will come.
I’m sure you’ve had this experience where it’s most often when you get lost or say, “I’m going to go down there,” that you discover that thing that is perfectly aligned with what you have been working on the synchronicity or the serendipity. That’s when that happens. I remember I used to have a boyfriend who was an engineer type. We were travelling in Rome, “Let’s go down here.” I just followed the gut instinct. He’s like, “Why?” I’m like, “There is no why. We are just going. There is no logic here.”
You’ve got to trust your instincts and stay safe also, that’s important. There are times when I walk down a street and just after the initial curiosity, I’ve decided I don’t feel totally safe so I’m just going to turn around and it’s okay.
Whereas if you were on your phone, you would have subverted your intuition and instinct to the app. You’re not even in the world, you’re a ghost walker because you’re looking in your phone and you’re much more at risk of somebody maybe harassing you or worse whatever. I do feel safe in the world. I just am very fortunate that I am safe in the world and I think it is because I’m alert and awake and aware and in tune with my instincts.
One question that I have for all my guests is how do you feel about doing nothing? Does resting make you feel anxious? Are you afraid of boredom? What do you think about this idea of just being bored in the city?
I don’t think it’s possible for me to be bored in the city. How do I feel about doing nothing? I don’t really feel very comfortable with that frankly. I will only do nothing when I’ve reached Saturday or Sunday. Yesterday, it was Sunday and I just woke up, I just was exhausted. I was a blob. I didn’t want to do anything. It took a good couple of hours to get going. It’s only when I’m very tired that I would get to a nothingness state. The way I do “nothing” is reading fiction or sketching and playing in my journal, just playing, just making marks and not trying to get anywhere. It’s a gentle attention and focus that isn’t really doing anything for the sake of getting anywhere. Reading fiction is my number one way to just completely stop and rest and let myself be carried away.
I find that in any city in this digital world, there are lots of moments in between throughout the day, lots of down moments where we pull out these mobile devices that we have on our personal times because we’re afraid of being bored. We want to be entertained and we’re afraid of being left alone with our thoughts and also afraid, God forbid, that someone might make eye contact with us and we might have a moment of human connection. For me, these moments in between are really, really important for me to make both creative connections, real life connections with human beings. That’s one of the things that’s really important is embracing boredom at the bus queue, in the coffee shop queue, wherever you’re in line in these small gaps in your day.
We might have a different way of thinking about boredom because those scenarios that you described, being in the queue, to me, those are just chances to see more. You can stand in the same place for ten minutes and see a million different things. Just look up, one thing, look up instead of looking down at the ground or down at your phone. If you look up, “Look at that cupola on top of that building. There’s a naked man up in that window. Let me look at that a little bit.” There’s so much to see. In the post office line, definitely, or that kind of line, that’s where the sketchbook is a great ally. I don’t know if it’s just replacing the phone as another distraction. I’m really good at drawing people from behind so standing in line is a really great place to sketch people from behind.
Boredom is really difficult for us. We’re very uncomfortable with it because basically you’re just stuck with yourself and your thoughts. That’s why meditation freaks people out so much, the thought of sitting down and just being with yourself and nothing. People say, “I’m so uncomfortable. I’ve got all these thoughts. I just can’t take it.” Welcome to you. This is you. We’re all like that. We do fear the void and the nothingness of any given moment. It’s just quick, hurry, stuff it with as much inanity as we can. The thing about the phone, I love it. I’m not a Luddite and I’m not against it. Like you, I know that there’s a proportion that’s good. I just don’t understand. I can look at Instagram or Facebook, I can’t just take it for very long, “I’m done with that. I want to be just in the world. I don’t want to be in hundred other people’s worlds.”
When you say about, for instance, being in the post office line and getting out your sketchbook, in those moments of potential boredom, it seems to me that that’s still an opportunity for some connection, whether it’s you’re connected mindfully with your creativity and your inspiration at that point or that somebody may comment on what you’re doing which may spark a conversation. Does that happen often?
No. Not in the post office so much. There’s a definite tense environment there and part of what I try to do is not be tense. In different environments, people will comment. It seems like in line, I will be the first person to make a comment to somebody next to me. In a café, if somebody sees me sketching, they will maybe make a comment. It seems like there are certain environments in the urban landscape where it’s more okay to just randomly interact. I don’t know if you experienced that or not.
It’s really interesting, I haven’t thought about it in that sense. I’m someone that is always sparking a conversation with other people. If people make eye contact, then I might make a comment. If they want to have a conversation, then I’ll engage in it. If they’ve connected with me but they glance away, then I interpret that and respect their privacy. I have to go and pay attention over the next few days as to when that happens.
There’s a really great book that you probably have read. If you haven’t, you’ve got to get it. It’s called When Strangers Meet by Kio Stark. There’s a specific distance or inattention that we give when we’re in a public place. When you’re passing somebody on the street, I used to think it was not on a crowded street. If there’s just you and one other person passing the street, I always wanted to look them in the eye and say, “Hello.” Just give a friendly greeting. She talks about all these studies where you see somebody from a distance, you assess in an instant are they safe or not and then you act accordingly. It’s a sense of civic politeness to give them space, to not engage. She talks about different environments and different ways where you do engage, where it is easier to talk. You’re going to love the book. It’s a TED book and it’s just fascinating.
I shall look forward to checking that out. I want to just jump back to your life in Colorado and just briefly talk about how your life differs when you’re there and the things that you do in Colorado when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. What are the default practices that you return to, to help you feel calm and well when you’re there?
It’s something I’ve thought about a lot. “Why don’t I live in Paris? Why do I just go there and why do I live in Denver?” Lots of reasons. First, it’s legal for me to live here and it’s not legal for me to live in Paris. That’s one major issue. Because I do go back and forth frequently, I do a compare and contrast. I live about three miles from downtown Denver. I live in a neighbourhood, mostly single-family dwellings, tree-lined street, it’s very beautiful and quiet even though it’s close to downtown and it’s close to a main street. The thing that strikes me, the difference between Paris and Denver is Paris is just so dense. You walk out on to the street and there are just people everywhere and dogs and bikes and motorcars and scooters and all that. Denver’s not so dense. I can go miles. If I go in the right direction and I go along certain side streets, I can go miles without encountering anyone in a car or a bike or walking. Maybe ten cars in a two-mile trip and that’s amazing because there are these side streets that aren’t very populated.
When I came home from a recent trip, I was just a little creeped out because it almost felt like a ghost town. “Where are the people? Where is everybody? Why aren’t they out?” It can be good, it can be bad. That’s one thing. There’s just much more space, which can feel really nice when you’re biking or walking. I don’t feel the urgency, not that Denver doesn’t have a lot going on. Denver is actually quite a thriving, creative community and there is a lot going on, but it doesn’t have that same urgency that Paris or other cities have that I should be out there, that I’m missing things. That’s good because I need to get things done. I have my business that I’m running and my own creative projects. The way I see it is I go on these trips and I gather a lot of inspiration and then I come home and I’m able to work on my projects in my studio in my office. The lack of distraction helps me to focus and get things done.
A couple of years ago, I lived as a creative nomad in Europe, travelling around. It was great. I found it very hard to actually focus on and finish and launch projects. There’s a lot of time taken up with finding the right plane fare, finding lodging, figuring out where do I buy a safety pin. Just those little details to the big details, that all takes time. You don’t have to do that in your own town so much. Last thing about Denver, you asked about different practices. It’s easier for me to go to my yoga studio, I know where to go, I know when classes are, I play tennis and healthy food. Those physical health practices are easier to maintain at home in Denver.
There is still room for the inspiration that I get when I travel. I do go to find new cafés. I bike passed a new café the other day, “I’ve got to go there. I’ve never been there.” I was with a friend visiting from out-of-town Saturday. I went to five different places I have never been. I was like, “I’ve never been to this shop. I’ve never been here. I’ve never been in this restaurant.” That was great. The stimulus is still available if you’re willing to go to a different neighbourhood or try out a new shop. I’m doing that all the time because I do need that sense of new. Even when I was in Paris last year, I stayed there for two months and recognised I’ve got my neighbourhood, I know all this place in the neighbourhood but I went just a little out of the neighbourhood on the bike and I saw something new and I felt the dopamine in my brain or the serotonin and feel good, “Something new!” I’m always trying to balance that: the comfort of the known and the excitement of the new. I need both.
That’s what’s a beautiful thing about living in an urban setting, that no matter how well you know your city, any city or town is ever evolving so there’s always something opening, something closing, new people arriving in town. It’s a living, breathing thing in one sense that always makes it interesting if you are looking for it, which sometimes we don’t when we’re so busy caught up rushing around town. Just one or two final questions: Have you ever gotten really burnt out living in the city whether that’s Denver right now or whether that’s a city you’ve lived in the past? What happened?
Before I answer that question, I want to say something about the rushing around and the difference between when you’re travelling and home, that I think isn’t obvious but an important thing. The economic impetus is very real and a differentiating factor in how we are. When we’re at home, we’re getting things done. We are generally in make a living mode. We do have an agenda. The economic agenda is pretty strong. When we’re travelling, we step out of that mode and so there’s more space for that. We need to give ourselves credit for the differences in that there’s a place for each one.
To your question about being burnt out, I lived in Paris for seven weeks a couple of years ago. I was dog sitting for a friend. It was wintertime. I became disillusioned with Paris. I had some market vendors rip me off in ways that I just didn’t understand. I was sold a desiccated bulb of garlic. I didn’t notice it there but I got home and it was just completely unusable. I was like, “Why would somebody sell you this? How could that be a good thing for anybody?” I just didn’t understand. I felt disillusioned. Also the crowded nature of it and you have to push in a way in some settings. Paris taught me how to be very direct; you just walk down the street and you get on the Metro. There are certain settings like when it’s a crowded street, you don’t just float around looking up at the sky. You have to go with the flow. This is why I said I step away from the crowd so I can slow down.
There was that time when I felt, “If I lived here, I would turn into a mean person,” because you just have to have that taking up space. You have to claim your space when you’re getting on the subway or when you’re in a shop or when you’re in those situations. There’s a directness that’s required. I just was afraid that I would become tough and bitchy and mean to be able to survive. I left after the seven weeks. I didn’t feel that when I was there last year for two months. What do I do to combat that? Just getting a break. One thing when I travel even if it’s for a week or for months, is to give myself permission to just stay home and do nothing and to fight that imperative, to get out there and see things. “Right now, I’m just tired. I just want to relax at home with some tea.” It’s very hard for us to give ourselves permission to do that when we’re travelling because we’ve set this up so we can go out there and see things. If you’re just constantly going and exhausting yourself, that’s just not desirable either. Giving myself permission to rest and step back helps.
I think that’s really, really important. It’s saying that you know what your body and your mind needs at any given point and doing what you need to feel good and to stay feeling good and well. I like that. One final question, Cynthia, is what are you curious about right now?
What am I not curious about? I’m constantly nosy and curious about everything. In terms of my work, I’m curious about why some people have an easier time devoting themselves to their creative projects than others. What does it take for each individual to do that? In terms of the urban environment, like I said, people are just endlessly curious. “What is that person doing?” I have this crazy idea to go to a café wearing a lab coat with a clipboard just so I can go around ask everybody, “What are you working on? I’m conducting a study. What are you working on now?” I always want to know why are those two people together. Is that a work situation? How did they end up together? What is their relationship? I’m also in a bigger picture: What are the barriers to connecting in public? Sometimes cafés seem very easy to connect with people and other times everybody’s just got a wall up around them. How do we foster those random connections and openness? The short way to say it is, “Why are we closed and when? Why are we open and when? How do we cultivate more connection in those public spaces?”
I want to know the answer when you’ve conducted your field work. You have to come back and let us know what you discovered.
I really would love to do that. I would have to be very courageous to do that.
I think you’re a super courageous woman. Look at all of the creative progress and changes you’ve challenged yourself to undergo and that you’ve shared and inspired with other people. Thank you so much for doing that. It’s a really motivating thing and to see that courage and generosity is a really powerful thing to share with the world. Cynthia, thank you so much for being our guest today. Please just finally, let us know where can we find out more about your work?
Thanks for having me on. This was a fun conversation, Clare. I really love what you’re doing and talking about cities and creativity. It’s right up my alley. My company is Original Impulse and my website is OriginalImpulse.com. Everything I’m doing is there from webinars, my books and my art. It’s all there.
Thanks so much, Cynthia.