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It’s pronounced “Uhm-ba-rella”

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

In our last creative exploration, we took on a quest for bridges. Did you find inspiration in their ability to connect and transcend when you arrived? I wonder what some of those found object assemblages of bridges looked like. More importantly, how did it feel to find and build them? One of the rewarding parts of making useful things from discarded things is how the process changes me and my perception of what has value and why.

Perhaps you found a beautiful mural under a bridge and spent some time admiring the artist’s vision…and then following them on Instagram! Whatever challenges you crossed getting to your own bridge, I hope the creative effort delivered a new perspective on the connections in your life. 

This week, as we navigate the changing seasons and the unpredictable weather they bring, our focus turns to a versatile and symbolic object: the umbrella. Not only does it serve as a practical tool against rain and sun, but it also stands as a metaphor for protection and comfort – essential elements for a creative nudge we can use tomake space for several minutes of creative activity this week. 

Let's unfold our umbrellas and explore the creative shelter they provide with one or more of these artistic endeavors:

  1. Umbrella Photography: Capture umbrellas in action – opening and closing, or those humorous moments you see someone carrying but not using an umbrella when they should! 
  2. Unique Umbrella Design: Design an umbrella using unconventional materials or parts. I once made an umbrella out of found vodka bottles and put it in a museum show last year. Think about how different materials can change the function and aesthetic of an umbrella. 
  3. Think Like an Umbrella: Design an umbrella that protects from more than just rain or sun. What about an umbrella that shields you from stress, noise, or even negative thoughts? This activity explores the concept of protection in a broader, more imaginative context.
  4. Umbrella Soundscapes: Close your eyes under an open umbrella and listen to the sounds around you. How does the umbrella alter the acoustics? Write a poem or a piece of prose inspired by this unique auditory experience, perhaps one that expresses how the umbrella creates a personal, intimate space amidst the chaos of the outside world.

In their simple function, umbrellas remind us of the importance of shelter and support is necessary for interesting creative journeys. They not only protect us from the elements but also provide a personal space to reflect, imagine, and create. As we engage with these activities, let's appreciate the umbrellas in our lives – both the physicalones that guard us against the weather and the metaphorical ones that offer emotional support for our creative outlet. 

May these creative exercises open up a world where imagination reigns, and every raindrop is a beat in the symphony of our creative lives. As you navigate through sunlit paths or rain-soaked streets, remember that your umbrella is more than just a tool; it's a companion on your creative journey.

Note: This column written with the help of ChatGPT Plus and related Plugins.