The age of technology has brought with it many benefits that are widely discussed and appreciated by human beings across the globe. Less talked about, however, is the negative impact technology has on civilization as a whole. Sure, we discuss the implications of rogue artificial intelligence or video game addiction, but rarely do we consider the effect that technology has on our creative self.
Technology definitely has the potential to stifle your creativity when not used responsibly. We as a society have come to rely on screen time and artificial intelligence as a form of distraction. When we don’t want to think, we scroll. While it may seem harmless on the surface, consistently engaging in mindless tech-centered activities eliminates our desire to spend time exploring our own brains.
Think about it. Prior to technology, our downtime was spent exploring the limits of our minds as we tried to combat boredom or repetition. Instead of filling in breaks with social media posts, we’d go for a walk, doodle, or take on a project we’d been putting off — all of which are conducive to enhancing creativity.
An article by Psychology Today posited that excessive use of technology implicitly affects attention, decision-making, and memory/learning in children. These identified areas are critical in the development of creativity, which requires focus, confidence, and a desire to develop underlying skills. These desirable attributes are instead enhanced by pre-tech activities like book reading or drawing. Technology writer Nicholas Carr has summarized the acute differences between creative-based enhancement and tech-based development in the following, illustrative way:
“Book reading is like scuba diving in which the diver is submerged in a quiet, visually restricted, slow-paced setting with few distractions and, as a result, is required to focus narrowly and think deeply on the limited information that is available to them. In contrast, using the Internet is like jet skiing, in which the jet skier is skimming along the surface of the water at high speed, exposed to a broad vista, surrounded by many distractions, and only able to focus fleetingly on any one thing.”
These skills are further inhibited by the use of technology in adulthood. The modern workforce is encouraged to focus heavily on data and statistics to drive company growth and aid in decision-making. Gone are the days when a creative brainstorm session could produce “the next big thing” in consumer marketing. In fact, an article published by the Graziadio Business Review states that “only one in four people thinks they are living up to their creative potential.”
What is perhaps most amazing about the age of technology, however, is that it begs for creative solutions now more than ever. If we all have access to the same data and analytics, if we all rely on the same artificial intelligence to spearhead our advancement, then we’re heading for a future where conformity and uniformity are effervescent. Without creativity, we lose our ability to differentiate and thus, our ability to innovate.
We are well into the giving season and I can’t help but notice the number of people bustling about shopping malls and department stores searching for the perfect gifts to give their friends and family. As I watch the shopping bags pile up, I can’t help but wonder how many of these gifts will better their recipient in the long run. How many will empower them or help them achieve a satisfying level of personal happiness? Unfortunately, the answer is probably less than I would like but there is hope on the horizon.
Research shows that experience-based gifts are on the rise in certain generations. I know this particular kind of present can be hard to define and even harder to come up with, so I thought I’d do my part and provide you with a list of fulfilling, experience-based gifts that will enhance the creativity and mental longevity of the special people in your life.
Warm Their Hearts With Wellness
The gift of wellness is often overlooked for fear of offending the recipient, but offering someone the chance to improve their health doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are plenty of ways to gift wellness without coming on too strong.
Many health and wellness coaches offer seasonal specials on their services. Consider purchasing a month-long trial with a certified health and wellness coach. The short duration keeps costs within budget for you while providing the giftee with the option to extend at the end of the month. The important thing to remember is that it’s not a gym membership. It’s a chance to work with a professional to improve motivation and define a positive path for the future.
Meet Their Needs With Music
Inspiration comes in many forms, but one of the most popular is music. What better way to inspire the important people in your life than with lyrics and melody? You can choose to go the traditional route and buy concert tickets to a favorite band or show, or you can choose to gift an entirely new experience.
Symphonies and traveling performance shows are beautiful experiences that are easy to enjoy alone or with others. Similarly, Broadway performances or interactive musicals offer a unique experience that can’t be found in a cleverly-wrapped box.
Nurture Them With Nature
The outdoor enthusiasts in your life will appreciate a gift experience that puts them in their element. You can spend countless dollars buying them outerwear and gear, or you could decrease cost and increase memorability by giving the gift of an outdoor experience.
Every nature lover is different, so how you choose to gift the outdoors will vary. Creative ideas include hiking trips or dates, camping weekends, or gardening classes. Truly motivated givers might consider a geocaching event or even a personalized treasure hunt experience.
Choose to skip the bags and boxes this season. Foster creativity and build memories instead with an experienced-based gift that comes from the heart and warms the soul.
As a health coach, it’s only logical that I’ve written posts regarding the health benefits of nature. It’s widely known that a little bit of outdoor time is enough to relieve stress, promote happiness, and reduce inflammation...but did you know that it can do so much more? Spending time in nature could actually improve your performance at work regardless of your role, but it’s particularly beneficial for leaders.
Some studies have demonstrated nature’s ability to renew and revitalize energy levels even when experienced in short doses. Mood and energy are critical components of happy, successful team members. When you outfit an employee with refreshed energy supplies, they become more productive and the business benefits.
While most leaders will never complain about a productivity boost, nature is actually capable of supplying them with so much more, such as these valuable life lessons with practical business applications.
You Have To Plan Ahead
Nature is gorgeous but it’s full of features and creatures that can be quite dangerous if approached incorrectly. Those who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors know that a cautious approach, a well thought out path, and an alert mindset are the best tools for protection against hostile wildlife or unexpected terrain. Coincidentally, these are the same behaviors that help leaders make informed decisions that protect their teams from harm.
Not All Trails Are Easy Trails
Rough terrain and potentially hazardous situations can make nature seem a bit scary but most avid adventurers know that you don’t get to see the prettiest views or make the best connections unless you put in the work. The same holds true for leaders. Navigating unknown situations with an entire team of people counting on you to keep them safe from corporate fallout can be just as scary as whatever fanged-animal is hiding behind the berry bushes. The strongest leaders know how to assess risks and determine which paths will lead their team to success without compromising the overall health of the group.
You Need An Oasis
The best part about nature is that it comes complete with picturesque mountain tops and serene bodies of water. These tranquil retreats are often the ideal place to spend a little time contemplating whatever is on your brain. It’s peaceful and relaxing. Much like these natural oasis’, leaders need a place to conduct their day-to-day business without frequent interruption. Their office or designated work environment should be free of distraction and serve as a safe place capable of eliciting their most productive state.
They say that the best leaders work for their team and not the other way around. Look to nature to improve your ability to successfully navigate your leadership role. In other words, let nature be the guide that prepares you to guide others.
Hello, my fellow creatives!
I thought instead of writing a blog post this month that I would write you all a letter. As the 2018 Topo Pino season draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on all of the creative efforts we put into it this year. Some were huge successes, and some could stand to be a bit more refined, but all of them were worth trying.
I find myself excited to see what ideas will be sparked by the inevitable off-season that comes along with New England winters. And, though I’m very much looking forward to creating some positive changes for Topo Pino and it’s vendors, I’m also looking forward to the time away from the demands of running your own business in addition to working a full-time job that I love.
You have probably heard me say it before but taking breaks is a vital part of refreshing and renewing your creativity. We can’t expect our brains to operate at 100% capacity 100% of the time. In order for us to produce our best work, we need to take mental breaks.
During the work day, this can be as easy as a quick stretch at your desk or a brief coffee run in between projects. Allowing yourself to stop rehashing the task at hand for just a few minutes often resets your mood and boosts your focus. When you finally step back to your work, it’s as if you see it with fresh eyes and an improved mindset
The same holds true for my entrepreneurial endeavors. I find that the Topo Pino off-season provides me with the much-needed opportunity to step back and relax. I know that, after a small break, I will be ready to review the previous season's successes, re-assess the coming year's plans, and rely on my creativity to guide me in the right direction.
The truth is that everyone needs a mental reset when it comes to the things that occupy most of their time, and the irony of my own mental reboot isn’t lost on me! For several months out of the year, I escape to Topo Pino to reset my brain and body after a full week at work. But, occasionally, I reverse. That isn’t to say that I won’t visit Topo Pino this winter...I love a good winter hike! But, while I’m there, I’ll be fulfilling my own self-care needs so that I am better prepared to fulfill the self-care needs of our guests when we reopen in the spring.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed as the holidays draw near or cold weather settles in, remember to schedule your own time to reset and renew. You’ll feel much better after taking some time to nurture yourself.
Oh, one last thing! We all know creative minds may rest but they never really shut down. I’ll still be publishing posts to this site regularly throughout the winter season, so check back often!
With many thanks for a fantastic season,
Co-Founder of Topo Pino
When most people think of New England in the fall their first thought is foliage. Nothing says Northeast like dense forests covered in brilliant reds, golds, and browns. But there’s more to this little corner of the country than leaves. In fact, fall is the perfect time to check out a New England fair.
Collectively, fairs are a fantastic place for creative souls to get together and appreciate all of the hard work others have done throughout the year. Many of the area fairs focus on the unique identities of the towns in which they’re held which opens the door to creative offerings not typically found in mainstream shows.
With so many creative fairs to choose from, I thought it would be helpful to outline a few of my favorites. Here are the top New England fall fairs to visit in 2018.
The Fryeburg Fair runs from September 30th through October 7th in Fryeburg, Maine. It typically attracts over 200,000 people and is chock full of interesting activities and exhibitions. There are sheep dog trials, anvil-throwing competitions, and a skillet toss! Like most fairs, it also boasts live entertainment, a parade, and 4-H exhibits.
Area creatives will love the flower show and wreath-making demonstrations scheduled throughout the week. As a bonus, Fryeburg is located on the border of Maine’s western mountain ranges so you’re guaranteed to take in some famous foliage during your visit.
Cornish Apple Festival
The Cornish Apple Festival proudly features more than 50 vendors of various crafts, photography, art, and more. It is usually held on the last Saturday in September in Cornish, Maine. Fall enthusiasts can bask in the season’s best apple products like homemade pie and pressed cider. There’s a bluegrass festival and other live entertainment events for those interested in appreciating music, and plenty of activities for all ages.
The festival is free to attend, but be sure to bring spending money along so you can take advantage of the numerous sales and specials hosted by local shops and restaurants.
All Things Pumpkin Festival
This unique event is actually more of an experience than your average festival. For a small fee, guests can hop aboard a seasonal sleigh and tour through several picturesque New England towns like Jackson Village. Creative spirits will enjoy the “Return of the Pumpkin People” exhibits on display at more than 15 area businesses, or participate in an annual pumpkin carving competition. Silent auctions, pumpkin tastings, and business open houses make the All Things Pumpkin Festival a must-attend in 2018.
This year, the festival will be held on Sunday, October 14th in the Jackson area.
Brew Ha Ha Festival
The Brew Ha Ha Festival will be held in the King Pine Ski Area on Sunday, October 6th. The craft beer celebration boasts beverages from several area vendors and includes well-known brands like Angry Orchard and Sam Adams. There are field games, board games, face painters, and a stein holsting competition to help attendees capture their fall spirit. Fresh food and live music are also available.
Admission is free, but you will need to purchase drink tokens if you plan on enjoying any of the seasonal brews at the festival.
If you’re thinking about attending any of the area fall fairs please keep Topo Pino in mind. This tranquil retreat and glamping site is ideally located in relation to many festivals and offers a quiet, private place to return to at the end of your celebrations. Plus, thanks to its proximity to the White Mountain National Forest, you can still check out that famous foliage!
There is a common misconception among many modern adults stating that your creative passion and your professional aspirations should remain separate. While that level of compartmentalization is admirable, it’s also profoundly unfulfilling. I believe that your life becomes exceptionally better when you choose to combine the two; turning your passion into your profession. I love my full-time career in finance, but I wanted to find something I could do on the side that would allow me to express my creativity in a healthy, positive way. I started by obtaining my health coach certification early on, and then realized I could share my passion with others by leveraging Topo Pino. Here’s how!
Recognition is the first step towards achieving your creative dreams. I first had to recognize what my true passions were. I already knew that I loved health and wellness, and that I didn’t want to leave my career in Finance. I knew that I cherished each and every summer spent enjoying the therapeutic nature of those New Hampshire mountains at Topo Pino. I knew that I’d always want to go back. It didn’t take me long to recognize that I should focus my creative passions on Topo Pino. It’s where I was always happiest. What if I could share that feeling with others?
The second thing I did when determining if I could make Topo Pino a sustainable part of my life was evaluate where my current skill sets, and the skill sets of those around me, lay. Did I have anyone that would be willing to accompany me on this creative journey? Did I have a unique outlook that I could use in the creation of my dream?
As it turns out my mother had spent over 50 summers learning the White Mountain National Forest area, and countless years learning important business skills from her father who ran the Cranbury Inn in Cranbury, New Jersey. Who better to go into business with than someone who shared a mutual love for the property and strong support for my dreams?
Once I had figured out the “where” and the “who” of my creative passion, all I had to do was nail down a way to make it work. This is the only aspect that is perhaps more business-related than creative minds tend to like, but it’s necessary to ensure success. To truly entwine your passion and your profession, you need to find a way to make them both sustainable.
For me, it was offering Topo Pino as a glamping site via Tentrr, a wedding venue via Mayflower Venues, and a retreat and farm-to-table culinary venue via local partnerships and word-of-mouth. All of these things have the potential to provide income while preserving the integrity of my beloved property and the revitalization of any potential clients, both of which are fundamental components of my wellness coaching efforts. They also allowed me to grow my full-time finance career in Portland, Maine, which I look forward to nurturing as I continue to foster relationships with flourishing Maine companies!
Combining your creative passion and your profession is entirely achievable as long as you are willing to spend a little bit of time and effort on critical thinking. Recognize what your creative passions are and where they thrive. Evaluate your skill sets and the skill sets of those around you, then brainstorm a few ways you could combine those skills, your creativity, and your resources to bring your dreams to fruition.
Street art has long been a part of the urban subculture. It’s acceptance as art, however, is relatively new. In the past, street art was often confused with graffiti — writing or drawing illicitly on a wall or public surface. Graffiti is frequently executed impulsively and without intention or purpose. Street art, by contrast, almost always has a purpose: to renew, refresh, and revive urban scenery.
When one thinks of a non-traditional wedding venue, rustic barns and childhood backyards often come to mind. These locations do not necessarily match the dreams or expectations of every newly-engaged couple, though. As we see the number of traditional weddings continue to decrease, unique venue options have emerged and are becoming highly sought after, giving every couple the ability to fully capture their personalities on the big day.
With that in mind, let us explore a few non-traditional wedding venue options for various aesthetic preferences and themes.
If you and your soon-to-be-spouse are plant lovers, consider holding your wedding at a local botanical garden. There is little need to decorate the space, as the luscious plant life provides the perfect backdrop for any themed wedding — from clean and classic to bohemian chic.
Additionally, since botanical gardens are often owned by the city and considered public land, rental costs will be much lower than a traditional venue.
Public and/or historical buildings
Are you and your soon-to-be-spouse history buffs? Saying “I do” symbolizes a new personal historic era. Why not pick a venue steeped in history to tie everything together? . Historical venues offer unmatched charm and significance, serving as an ideal backdrop for your wedding. Similar to botanical gardens, such spaces are inexpensive to secure, and often require little decorating due to their ornate architecture.
If you have an affinity for the outdoors, but do not want to host guests on a working farm, consider researching orchards during your venue hunt! Orchards are especially beautiful in the spring when in full blossom and also in early-to-mid-Fall when the trees are full of apples. An orchard venue allows a couple to encompass a rustic and vintage vibe while enjoying the beauty of the surroundings with friends and family.
Retreats and summer camps
If your guests are coming from far and wide to witness your special day, consider hosting them on a private, rented property. You may even be able to house your guests in one space eliminating the need for transportation to and from a venue and hotel.
Additionally, holding your wedding at a retreat or summer camp offers a unique experience to enjoy the great outdoors, explore the surrounding area, and unwind once the festivities have come to a close.
If you are interested in booking a non-traditional wedding venue — specifically, a retreat or summer camp — consider reaching out to Caitlin Crowe, co-founder of the wellness retreat Topo Pino, which recently partnered with Tentrr and Mayflower Venues!
Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has slowly transformed from a photo-sharing platform into a creative, collaborative community that strives to inspire and unite users around the globe. Furthermore, this application has also become a breeding ground for up-and-coming trends, such as minimalism and the visual representation of Hygge, a Danish concept that encompasses a mood of coziness, wellness, and contentment.
Now that 2018 is in full swing, many of us are beginning to see new, almost editorial designs cropping up in our feeds. Seeing as aesthetics play a massive role in branding and general social media activity, let us take some time to explore the visual trends we should all be watching this year.
Silence and solitude
In 2017, Instagram users saw an influx of travel and wanderlust-inspired photography, typography, and other designs. This year will certainly be no different, especially as we all begin to feel the need for peace, relaxation, and a heightened sense of wellbeing. Therefore, users will likely encounter more photos of quiet, remote locations like lakes, forests, and mountain ranges as the weather finally warms.
It is no secret that the trends of yesteryear are making a comeback today, and that is certainly no exception in the realm of art and creativity. The quiet, contemplative styles of Leonardo da Vinci and Pari Dukovic are influencing the themes of today’s photoshoots. However, modern artists are taking this opportunity to overturn historical stereotypes and replacing them with a more positive, inclusive narrative, with members of the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) community at the forefront.
Per recent research, the number of smartphones in our world is set to rise to 2.7 billion by 2019, meaning more and more individuals will be offered access to high-quality cameras and social media platforms. However, we should not expect these users to dedicate their time to gaining a following on Twitter or expanding their LinkedIn networks. Instead, their focus will likely be on citizen journalism and impact photography, both of which are concerned with shining a light on important events within a given region, as well as eliminating room for speculation by perpetuating the truth.
Over the past year or so, Instagram has been all but flooded with photos shot in crisp and bright, yet neutral, settings and natural lighting. While this aesthetic is likely here to stay, it will certainly be broken up by brilliant flashes of color, both in photographs and graphic design creations. After all, Pantone’s top 16 colors for spring are already creating a buzz in the fashion industry, so who is to say they will not influence our other creative choices as well?
Along that same vein, many artists are proving that the visual trends of 2018 are certainly not mutually exclusive. Therefore, we can expect to see more collages that strike an intriguing, yet unexpected balance between traditional photography and the bright, punchy elements of graphic design.
Clearly, 2018 will be the year creatives lay the groundwork for further exploration and expression in art and design, and encourage us all to break out of our comfort zones. It will certainly be interesting to see how aesthetics on social media continue to change, especially as new and exciting visual trends continue to emerge and inspire us all.
Everyone experiences a twinge of wanderlust from time to time, especially when we are tantalized with spring-like temperatures in the midst of winter. Unfortunately, though, embarking on frequent vacations is not an option for some of us, no matter how badly we desire to pack our bags and escape our everyday routines.
With that being said, it is entirely possible to gain new experiences without venturing too far from home. After all, we all spend so much time in our own personal bubbles, commuting to and from work, the grocery store, and so on, that we tend to neglect opportunities for adventure that are practically in our own backyards.
So, without further ado, let us discover new and exciting ways we can explore in our own hometowns.
Explore new parks in your area
One day, make it your mission to visit and familiarize yourself with the parks in your town. To keep the activity interesting, create a checklist of all of the spots you wish to discover, like the best tree to sit under and read a new book, the best pond to feed ducks, and the park with the best trails. You may be surprised by all of the hidden gems you will find sprinkled throughout your area.
Attend local events
Whether or not you are active in your community, it is likely that you have not attended every special event the area has to offer. With that in mind, carve out some time to research new upcoming events, like concerts or food festivals, that will introduce you to a new crowd of people. This will allow you to gain new experiences and expand your social circle, similar to the perks of a vacation abroad but without the expense or time commitment.
Utilize a map for a weekend
Challenge yourself to completely unplug and rely on a good old-fashioned map for all of your navigational needs, just for a little bit. Following this guide will not only improve your own sense of direction, but can aid you in discovering new trails and natural landmarks as well. While it may not be the easiest experiment to stick to, perhaps it will help you rely less on technology in the long-run.
Try quirky new activities
Whether it be zorbing — rolling downhill in a large, transparent ball akin to a hamster globe — or solving your way through a local escape room, trying out new and unusual activities is one of the best methods of exploring all your area has to offer. Plus, you will come out of the experience with new memories and stories to share as you encourage your friends and family to give it a try, too.
Clearly, there are plenty of ways you can explore and expand your horizons right in your hometown. All it takes is a bit of research, creativity, and determination. If you give one or more of these challenges a try, please be sure to share your experiences in the comments below. Or, start a conversation with Caitlin Crowe on Twitter.