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Sparks of creativity can come from so many experiences including gratitude and joy, loss and devastation, and even total destruction. On this episode, Susan and Laura discuss some incredible creative works inside these topics, including the shocking play “Madea,” which was given a new life by director/performer Fiona Shaw on the BBC, the devastatingly beautiful book “Wave” by author and economist Sonali Deraniyagala, and even a special hidden gem embedded right into our very own Spark File website. Join us in celebrating the human possibility of creativity.
'Tis the season, everyone! The 4th season, to be exact! Time to jump back into our spark files and share some creative inspiration! This week we're just dippin' our toes in and teasing out a few of the topics we're gonna cover in the coming weeks!Remember, if you hear something that piques your interest, you gotta take it and make it!Happy creating, y'all!
For everything there is a season, friends! And this season is winding down. Time for a brief respite. But, before we go, let’s talk season highlights! And we’ll leave you with an excerpt from In Your Light by Rumi...“I know you're tired but come, this is the way...In your light, I learn how to love.In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you,but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.You and I have spoken all these words, but for the way we have to go, words are no preparation. I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.Let it dissolve in your ocean.A mountain keeps an echo deep inside. That's how I hold your voice.Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”  
Makersode: Lynne Cox

Makersode: Lynne Cox


Long time listeners will know what a joy this episode was for us!In the way back times, Susan introduced us to a human spark named Lynne Cox - a celebrated athlete who set swimming records around the world and achieved astonishing feats of strength and endurance (including swimming with a baby gray whale - eighteen feet long! - in open waters)She is internationally famous for swimming the world’s most difficult waterways without a wet suit, and she is able to endure water temperatures so cold they would kill anyone else.Lynne is the acclaimed best-selling author of Swimming to Antarctica and many more books, including her upcoming Tales of Al.She is also a beautiful human being who recognizes and celebrates all forms of athleticism and creativity in others!And this week, we got to talk to Lynne!! Join us as we explore the creative mindset of Lynne Cox - her resilience, gravitas, discipline, imagination… (make us stop because we could go on and on…) 
John Lennon said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”This week, we admire the imagination and, frankly, the balls of @connorratliff, creator of Dead Eyes podcast.Connor created an unbelievable podcast experience in order to solve what he calls “a very stupid mystery that has haunted him for two decades: why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in the 2001 HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers.”Instead of running from the experience, he dove directly into the mix of emotions surrounding the event  - confusion, shame, humor - and found a very entertaining way to explore it all.He took a perceived ‘failure’ and created a new (and very satisfying) ending to the story.In other words, he gave himself quite possibly the best “Let Me Try That Again” that we’ve ever seen. By taking charge of ALL the stories of perceived failure, Collin has empowered us all to rewrite the ending.And we are here for it.
Makersode: Marc Janowitz

Makersode: Marc Janowitz


This week, Susan and Laura got to hang with bad ass lighting designer and friend, Marc Janowitz, whose holistic, dynamic lighting designs illuminate a story and light up an audience.His bold, no holds barred lighting transforms comedians into a rock stars and rock stars into gods.Tune in to hear how Marc approaches designs for concerts for My Morning Jacket, The Lumineers, Fun., and many others, and comedy specials like Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Flight of the Conchords, Bo Burnham, theatre shows like Blue Man Group and Forbidden Broadway and so much more…
This week, after experiencing unexpected loss, Laura and Susan discuss the role of grief and friendship, and the bittersweet and inevitable intermixing of joy and heartbreak along this journey we call life. Inspired by the genius of Brene Brown, Karen Walrond and Susan Cain, Laura and Susan agree with the conclusion that our broken hearts connect us all. And as creators all we can hope to do is make works of profound sadness and beauty. Break our hearts. Use all of the pain. Like Marcus Aurelius said, “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it”
This week, Susan and Laura had the distinct pleasure of unpacking the mind of Mike Michalowicz, the man Simon Sinek claims might be “the patron saint of entrepreneurs”.We have to agree.He’s a saint, but our kind of saint -  comfortable with subversive humor served with a dash of profanity. On a mission to end entrepreneurial poverty, Mike changed our lives (and the way we think about making a living) with his book, Profit First. He has done the same for millions of other entrepreneurs as well.If you want a fresh, bold perspective on earning a living as a creative entrepreneur, please tune in! Mike is a joy to talk to, and life-changing to learn from!
Whether the war in Ukraine is causing feelings of unease, uncertainty, or outrage, there are creative ways to activate and support. There are ways to use your talents and resources for the power of good.Tune in this week to hear of creative acts by artists and others to support our colleagues in Ukraine. If you’ve wondered how you can put your thoughts and prayers into action – this episode is for you!
Everywhere you look these days there is a con going down… Inventing Anna, The Tinder Swindler, The Dropout, The Puppermaster, Super Pumped, WeCrashed… Con artists are having a moment.  Tune in this week to learn more about the hustle, and how you can avoid being a “sucker”, a “stooge”, or a “gull” – Better yet, turn the confidence game into an inspired spark!
Tired of the “starving artist” trope? Sick of the storyline that says “I’m creative and eccentric, I’m no good with numbers” Isn’t it time you felt a sense of personal agency over your finances? You are smart and capable. Tune in for some tips on how you can be even smarter and more capable.
You know that voice in your head? The one that drives you crazy sometimes? The one that points out your flaws and re-plays your mistakes over and over? What is the point of that voice?Tune in this week as we gain an understanding of how to tame this voice, and put it to good use, thanks to Chatter: The Voice in our Head, Why it Matters, and how to Harness it by Ethan Kross.
Sit back and marvel at this true tale of limitations inspiring ART as a survival job in less than ideal circumstances.That’s right. The Florida Highwaymen turned to art to elevate themselves and their community out of poverty while reflecting the beauty of Florida landscapes.These master painters (some trained and some self-taught) captured the beauty they saw around them, and supported their community with the profits. Dive into the lives and the legacy they painted for themselves…
Want to know what every single creative can learn from the development and launch of Wordle, the simple and most unexpected game of the century? Recorded riiiiiiiight before Wordle was sold to The New York Times, we can still learn how creating for an audience of one, making your work accessible and so much more relates to everything we hope to share with the world.Listen in.  
You have undoubtedly heard her unforgettable voice on hits such as “Everybody, Everybody”, “It’s Raining Men” and so many more.But Martha Wash had to use her voice to fight to make sure you knew her name.Tune in to find out how Martha took the record labels to task for abusing the demo track system.Martha paved the way for all artists - to make sure they get paid, and get credit for the talents they contribute.Trust us, you’ll be singing HER praises once you hear how she put her voice to work for the powers of good.
If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through your feeds or combing through google search results thinking “there must be something more out there”, well, this episode is for you!Laura and Susan dive into the concept of “Rewilding Your Attention” - the phrase was coined by Tom Critchlow, shared by CJ Eller and then expanded up on by Clive Thompson. And the bat signal was seen by @thesparkfile.Let us look for the small, weird things. And then let us pass them on.
This week, snuggle up and join Susan and Laura as they delve into Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May.If you've ever wondered why we feel a pull to retreat indoors and slow down as the days get darker - look no further. It is not your imagination, and it is very much a necessity that we take time  to quiet our minds and slow our rolls, so that we can look inward and heal, and maybe even learn to hope again.If you are struggling (any time of year), consider giving yourself the gift of wintering.
This week, Laura and Susan dig into this taboo topic and explore how and why shame  keeps us from talking about money, and sometimes even doing anything about money. But valuing ourselves for the amount of money we have accrued has not always been the norm, in fact, it is a rather new framework.  Listen in and imagine a time when we valued ourselves, our communities and the quality of our lives by a different standard.
Sometimes a spark is so surprising, so complex and thought provoking it can stun you into silence. And so it was when Susan shared Operation Paperclip with Laura.As outlined in the book, Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen, information on this secret United States intelligence program was recently de-classified and we are now all learning about the plan to bring Nazi Germany scientists to the US to harness their intellectual resources.Defenders of the decision to welcome the scientists here have argued that the combined knowledge of these rocket scientists and nuclear scientists could have ended up in the hands of the Soviets, if the US had taken no action. Others wonder what are the ethical and moral costs of allowing their unimaginable war crimes to go without punishment or accountability.This is a #dark spark. Listen in to try to make sense of it all.
What keeps us from writing those pages we say we WANT to write? What keeps us from taking that first small step toward our goal? What keeps us from doing anything at all related to our creative vision?Why, its our dear ol’ pal, Creative Resistance.This week, Laura and Susan dive into the warm and cozy distractions that keep us safe from the consequence of risk - creative risk, that is. These tactics show up anytime we are close to creating something of meaning or significance and make for damn sure we don’t go anywhere near it. Are we supposed to say thank you? The answer is more complex than you think…
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