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What Is a Stuffed Animal?

A stuffed animal isn’t just a toy that sits on the shelf alone. It’s a series of stories that unfold over time. It is surrounded by friends, and central to the friend group is the person who has adopted the stuffed animal and its friends.

Stuffed animals can spark the imagination. They allow the person to create stories around the group interaction. These stories help the person deal with situations that may be painful or confusing. These stories may also help the person find a place in the world.

Each animal in the group will have its own personality: the confidante, the antagonist, the shy one… The imagination soars with each new story that the stuffed animal inspires and becomes a part of.

Our handmade stuffed penguins are built to last and made to be cuddly, warm and friendly. Our sincerest hope is that, as the person grows, our penguins will be there to listen, to provide playful encouragement and to be a friend for a lifetime of memories.

Children know the power and pleasure of stuffed animals. If you’ve forgotten, let our penguins help guide you back to childhood and all the wonder it can bring. If you haven’t forgotten or you have a child in your life who needs a soft friend, our penguins make the perfect gift. Find the penguin that is right for you or a friend and embrace your inner child.

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Episode 9: ‘The Twilight Zone’ Perchance to Dream

Charles Beaumont’s first episode for “the Twilight Zone” explores the power of the imagination. It’s main question: “Could someone imagine him- or herself to death?”

The mind is undoubtedly powerful. It creates much of our reality. Self-fulfilling prophecies, the placebo effect, the law of attraction, “If you can dream it, you can do it…” These are the ways the mind bends reality.

When the psychiatrist’s new patient shows up in his office, the patient is concerned and facing a catch-22. If he goes to sleep, his dreams will deliver him a shock his heart can’t withstand; if he stays awake much longer, his heart will give out. He tells the doctor that the doctor won’t be able to help him. The patient has already made up his mind, all that’s left is for his body to figure out how to fulfill the reality the patient sees.

The same is true in our lives. How we think of something is what it becomes, and we can imagine both good and bad things. When someone doesn’t call you, do you imagine something like a car wreck or do you think his or her phone has run out of battery power? If it’s the first, they may not be in an accident, but your body reacts in the same way as if that person had experienced something terrible. You face worry and stress even if nothing has happened. Removing worry from the equation is hard, but if you can achieve it and face reality as it comes, you’ll be healthier and happier.

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The NeverEnding Story: The Great and Terrible Power of the Imagination

In 1984, “the NeverEnding Story” posited that human imagination was being destroyed by a power that brought “the Nothing” on Fantasia. The hench-Gmork doesn’t reveal the power that is behind him before Atreyu kills him. Fantasia is saved by the wishes and imagination of one little boy and his Luck Dragon.

How would it fair now when the dark side of the imagination is called upon to foster fear and create lies? Imagination is a double-edged sword. For as much as someone can imagine all the good things that can happen, it is easier and far more likely for people to imagine all of the bad things that could happen. You can imagine being rich and poor, but what do you imagine more often?

Imagination is a tool that you can harness or let run wild. You have to choose the scenarios that you will give power over your life. The more you think about the bad things, the more power they will have. The more you think about the good, the more power they will gain, and each will manifest itself in Fantasia and in your life.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Join us on our Patreon page!

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A Question of Imagination

An alien

You can’t imagine anything you haven’t already seen. If the imagination is the combining element of the human brain, then it stands to reason that if there’s nothing to combine, you cannot imagine it. I read about an experiment where scientists asked people to draw an alien. They could draw the alien however they wanted, but it should be as different from life on Earth as possible. The people that were asked to draw these aliens still created creatures with legs, arms, eyes, and/or mouths. Some made amoeba like creatures. At least one left the page blank and said we couldn’t see it. Regardless of the instructions, people couldn’t imagine life on another planet without referencing life here on Earth.

So, it’s your turn. Grab a sheet of paper and draw an alien that looks a different as possible from anything on Earth. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (I mean, seriously, as long as you bookmark this page, you can always come back and find this article and continue reading after you’ve drawn your alien.)

After thinking about this for the past couple of days, I gave it a go. I tried to draw an alien that doesn’t look like anything we have on Earth. It’s difficult because of the diversity of life on Earth. It’s also difficult because the creature is designed out of context. What type of planet does it live on? How does it survive? How does it experience the universe?

It’s difficult enough for us to imagine how other life here on Earth experiences the universe. What our dogs and cats thinking about? Is it just ball, ball, food, master, and food, sleep, sleep, food, servant? I know my cat dreams, but what is she dreaming about? Those are our domesticated pets. Put us in the alien environment of water and we just think fish are stupid, or we use excuses about how all animals are to be dominated by mankind. We don’t empathize with creatures we consider below us, and that’s true for people to.

If you weren’t born into poverty, it’s probably pretty difficult for you to imagine what it’s like to be poor. “Let them eat cake if there’s no bread.” “Why don’t they just get a car and drive to work?” “They’re all lazy and don’t want to work hard.” Poor people are often seen as something less than human by the people in the socioeconomic sphere above them, and it makes it difficult to empathize with someone who can’t afford their medication, doctor’s treatment, rent or food. “They should get a job” even if they’re already working three jobs. “They should get an education,” even if they are already working three jobs. “They shouldn’t have kids if they can’t afford them.” Seriously, who can afford kids? The hospital bill alone for a newborn without complications is enough to put me off my tea.

There are ways to fix the problem of a lack of empathy. Reading books is a start. Watching documentaries could help. After all, a lot of people can empathize with the rich because that’s what they see on television, in films and in music videos. Get experiences that are vastly different than your regular life through volunteering – at a soup kitchen, at a shelter, with an outreach group. Start seeing other human beings as being the same species as you and seek out to engage with them.

This is one way to begin improving your imagination. You can imagine a horse flying because you’ve seen horses and things that fly. You’ve seen things that float, so you can imagine a horse flying in that way. It’s not a big leap to think of a horse jumping and missing the ground. It’s gone back centuries. Once you can imagine a horse flying, you can imagine anything else flying. However, to bring something into being that you have no way of imagining is impossible. Whether for art or for life, you have to start with a base of knowledge before you can use your imagination to create something new and hopefully better. Leave your alien in the comments below or share it on Facebook and Twitter #penguinate.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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The ABCs of Creativity: Imagination

The ability to conjure of visions of the future or past is essential to the work of imagination, which forms the basis of creativity. With imagination, you can envision anything. Whether it’s a better life, a job with more money, or a purple cat who disappears, your imagination is what you use to think about the future. Imagination can also be used to think about what could happen in the future that isn’t good. So, even if you only think about the worst things that could happen, you’re still using your imagination. The trick in creativity and learning to live a better life is to get the imagination to work for you.

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it” – William Arthur Ward.

If you want to improve your life or the world, you have to know what that means. By imagining a better life, you can plan the steps it takes to get there. By imagining a better world, you can describe it to others, so everyone knows what it will look like and they’ll want to get there. How do you use your imagination better?

  • Write Down Your Dreams: Keeping a dream journal will allow you to harness the imagination that flows when you’re asleep. Keep the journal and a pencil near your bed; write down your dreams before you do anything else.
  • Make a Wish: In “Pure Imagination,” Gene Wilder sings about the world he created. He starts with making a wish. You can do the same. Make a wish, see yourself with the wish, now imagine how you got there.
  • Find a Mentor: Wilder invites the group to come with him and view what he’s created. It’s a jumping off point for a group of arguably unimaginative kids and adults to begin to explore their own imaginations.
  • Track Happy Accidents: Sometimes, you’ll misread or misspeak. Use that to jump into your imagination. Keep it written down.

Of course, imagination isn’t the only thing you need to achieve a better life. You’ll need to work to bring it to life through creativity, innovation, trial, error, and perseverance. For more on creativity, purchase “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Pure Imagination lyrics
Hold your breath.
Make a wish.
Count to three.
[Sung]
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination
We’ll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy
Explanation
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing
To it
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing
To it
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

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The Internet Killed My Creativity

Untitled Mosaic by Cathy Cooke

by Cathy Cooke, BCHN, BBEC

When I was kid growing up in the ‘70s, I remember creating elaborate stories in my head about far away lands I’d only heard of in books.  I remember playing in the woods in our backyard and pretending to be a soldier in the army – more specifically, being the first woman ever drafted into the army because my skills were so imperative the Corps’ success.  I had the most amazing journeys to places like China, Africa, the deserts of Saudi Arabia, all without leaving my backyard.

Fast forward to May of 2000, and I was still enjoying adventures to exotic places.  Four years after graduating college, I was dreaming of joining the Peace Corps and imagined myself living among the villages in places like Kenya or Angola.  I could picture it in my head: the dirt floors, the thatched roofs, the smells of Injera cooking on a wood stove.  I don’t know if that’s how it really was, but it was fun to pretend.  Maybe it was demeaning or naïve, I don’t know, but my imagination was strong and the creative urge inside me was fulfilled.

Over the next few years, I found myself becoming more involved with emails and looking up information online.  If I really wanted to know what life was like in Kenya, I just put it into a search engine, and wham, there it was.  And no surprise, it wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined.  Instead of debating for hours with friends about a particular topic, exercising my mind to see different points of view, employing creativity to construct a new argument for persuasion, or trying to use my brains flexibility to understand all sides, we’d simply look it up online, and the conversation was over.  No heated debates into the wee hours of the morning that often left us with a better understanding of the other side and agreed upon points of view.

It makes me sad really.  I want my brain to engage, to work, to be flexible and creative in these conversations and daydreams.  But it doesn’t happen anymore.  I don’t have to imagine, or think, or create, because I can just Google it, and that ends the experience.

I have found the same to be true for my artistic abilities.  I have always enjoyed doing crafty and artsy things.  In the early 2000s, I took up mosaics.  I remember walking outside for inspiration, looking into street-corner shops, in backyards where children played, on the nearby trails or at the plethora of activity happening in the trees and sky.  Certain colors and combinations of shapes would send my mind off to a place of wild creativity… “what if I combined that purple color with a deep red for an intense October sunset…”  I made some really unusual but pretty cool mosaics back then.  But with the advent of Google, I found myself looking online for ideas; it was easier than going outside.  And do you know what happened?  My mosaics looked flat, lifeless, or like I was imitating someone else, mostly because I was.  I was no longer exercising my creativity, because it was just too easy to look online.

This also makes me very sad.  It makes me sad for myself that I turn to the easy way too often, and thus, miss out on all the amazing things the natural world has to offer.  And it makes me sad for all the youth that never got the chance to imagine, create, or dream about what life is like in the Amazon or the South Pole.  They’ve never had a chance because the answers have been in front of them the whole time.  What kind of art will these kids create?  What kind of stories will they make up?  Where will they get their inspiration?

I have been known to say “If I could snap my fingers and the Internet would have never existed I would do it without flinching.”  I mean that with complete conviction.  Not only do I have an issue with the health impacts (EMF exposure, blue light, bad posture, poor social development), but also because it killed my creativity.  I know I have the power to remedy this.  You’re right, I could just get off the computer and go outside and find my inspiration again.  The problem is that in today’s high-tech world, we have come to rely on the Internet for the large majority of our communication, personal and business transactions.  I run a small business, and if I want that business to be successful, I have to be online a good portion of the day.  I don’t want it to be that way, but it’s the unfortunate reality of living in 2019.

Of course, I do admit to the benefits of the web, increased access to education and information, entertainment, social connections, etc.  But, is that worth what we have lost?  Not a chance.  I am a human being with needs that go beyond food and shelter.  I don’t need to see pictures of what Angola looks like.  I don’t need to connect with all ten of my friends from the 1st grade again.  I don’t need to be able to watch a marathon of “Mad Men” on Netflix this weekend.  But what I do need is my sanity, feeling fulfilled, and nourished.  The Internet does not provide this for me.  My daydreams, imagination, friendly debates, walks in nature and exercising my brain’s creativity, that’s what fulfills me and nourishes me.

So yes, if I could, I would snap my fingers and the Internet would disappear. And then I would have my exotic trips to far away lands, conversations until the wee hours of the morning, and some fantastic mosaics that are full of unique imagination.  It would give me back my creativity!  And that would be worth it.

Cathy Cooke, BCHN, BBEC
Cathy Cooke, BCHN, BBEC

Cathy Cooke BCHN, BBEC, is the owner of Whole Home and Body Health where she helps people to realize their potential through health interventions related to diet, lifestyle, and environmental concerns including air quality and EMF mitigation.  You can find out more about her services at wholehomeandbodyhealth.com, or by contacting her at cathy@wholehomeandobdyhealth.com

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The Seven Secrets of Creativity

Penguinate creativity book

You are innately creative. It’s in your genetic coding. Schools, systems, jobs and fear may have burned a lot of your creative ability out of you, but you can get it back. Here are the seven secrets of creativity:

  1. Exercise Imagination: Gene Wilder sang it best – “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” Stop the video games, shut off the TV, get rid of Netflix. To exercise your imagination, you need to create the story yourself. Read a book. Have a tea party with dolls. Avoid the hot lava monster. If you have children, play with them and let them be right. Study how they use their imagination. Add to the play with “Yes and…” Join an improv comedy troop. Free paint, free write, keep an imagination journal. Ignore your internal editor; Elly Brown says to “Fire that guy.”
  2. Play: Go outside and be a kid again. Play on the playground. Find an old game you loved and a couple of friends to join you. Make a tough job into a game. Have a playful attitude. Make all the dad jokes. See how you can manipulate word through puns and imagery.
  3. Think Deeply: Learn about a new subject. Don’t just spend 20 minutes researching it on the Internet. Go deeper. Examine a TV episode or movie. Think all the thoughts about it. Start with whether or not you enjoyed it. Why? What was the director trying to say? Was there a star who stood out? Was there a quote that touched you as truth? Was there a fact that you thought wasn’t right? What surprised you? Research those things.
  4. Make Connections: Creativity happens at the intersection. Steve Jobs said that creative people weren’t smarter, they just had more dots to connect. Each of those dots was an experience that the person had and thought deeply about. Combine things that may seem absurd and see what you can make from them.
  5. Embrace Failure: When you’re doing something new, you will fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not doing something that is creative. It’s okay to fail. Embrace it and learn from it.
  6. Learn from Mistakes: A mistake can be a valuable lesson if you learn from it. Don’t make the same mistake twice, make new ones every day. If you make a mistake, laugh at it and move on, or figure out how to profit from the mistake.
  7. Take Action: You might be the most creative person in the world, but until you make something it won’t matter. Take action on your ideas and move forward with it. The world needs you and your positive creativity. Paint, write, sing, do science, whatever it is that helps you be more creative.

Creativity is the essence of humanity. It is tempered by fear and the need for safety. Through of the shackles that fear provides and create. The more you do, the easier it’ll get. If you need a creative mascot, get one of our handmade penguins!

Want to learn more about creativity and improve your creative process? Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Try “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Or just check out these links to articles on my blog.