Milking Cows, Taking Walks And Getting Excited

Grant Wood once said, “My best ideas have always come to me while milking a cow.”

The Iowa artist undoubtedly was playing the “Aw, shucks” card for the benefit of a local newspaper reporter, for I doubt if he had milked a cow the morning he started painting “American Gothic.” Odds are Grant Wood never milked a cow after he left the family farm and headed toward the bright lights of Chicago.

Where, I should add for the benefit of you Arts & Crafts trivia collectors, in 1913 he worked at the Kalo Silver Shop, one of the premier Arts & Crafts silver shops, as well as with a friend, Kristopher Haga, who left Kalo the following year to form his own short-lived silver shop, the Volund Shop.

The point Grant Wood was attempting to make, while poking fun at himself and the gullible newspaper reporter, is that ideas are more apt to occur to us when we are not sitting at our desk, trapped in a cubicle or staring at a blank computer screen.

Part of my morning ritual is a walk around our six-acre hayfield with our two dogs, Jasper and Daisy. Doesn’t matter if its snowing, raining or blowing, they look forward to our morning jaunt as much as any child headed for Disneyworld.

And so do I.

With a couple of cups of coffee pumping through my system and no visual distractions, such as a stack of unpaid bills, an unfinished project or a sink full of last night’s dishes, my head kicks into high gear, generating ideas and mapping out a plan for the day.

My entire walk doesn’t take more than twenty minutes or so, but by the time we’re back at the house and walking up the stairs to my office atop our two-car garage, I’m pumped and ready for the day.

I’m still not able to paint an American classic, but I often come back with an idea for a seminar topic, a small group discussion or an article for this website.

And the good news is you don’t need a milk cow or even a hayfield. A lap around a city block or down a small town street – anywhere away from your house and your work – is all it takes to start the day excited about something.

And getting excited is a great thing to happen.

Until next Monday –