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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 14, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
The Secret for a new generation, Imagination Transforms Everything helps readers to harness the transformative power of our imaginations. Using a voice-driven personal narrative, scientific research, and practical exercises, debut author Andrea Kasprzak introduces the concept of “intentionally imagining,” which entails taking time to disconnect and daydream, using journaling to track those daydreams, and turning them into intentions to fulfill our goals.
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Hi! I’m Andrea, but you can call me Ands.
You likely don’t know who I am, but you might feel like you have a better idea once we’ve gone on this imaginative escapade together.
I’ve been obsessed with books, art, and make-believe for as long as I can remember. Born in the 1980s and raised in Michigan, I grew up before social media on a diet of fairy tales, romantic fantasy films, and music videos. It was a gentler time back then, one that allowed for innocence and encouraged wide-eyed exploration. As a child, I was most comfortable deep in the clouds of my own imagination: writing stories, videotaping Barbie soap operas, dancing to records in my mom’s wedding dress, and calling Nintendo customer service to pitch ideas for new video games.
Reading was my favorite way to spend time.
I fell asleep each night in a sea of library books. The books were everywhere—on my nightstand, in stacks against the wall, on the floor next to the bathtub. I loved them all: J. R. R. Tolkien, Sylvia Plath, Roald Dahl, R. L. Stine, Jane Austen. But I wasn’t just limited to books. I devoured anything I could get my hands on—the backs of cereal boxes, street signs, JCPenny catalogs, men’s magazines, travel brochures, the Sunday funnies.
I was—and still am—a voracious consumer of words. I also wrote compulsively. I knew early on that this line of work would be challenging and that one was more likely to die in a gutter than to make a living off writing. Yet still I went for it wholeheartedly. Born into a family of healers and helpers—social workers, special education teachers, speech pathologists—I had no writer mentors other than the authors of the books I loved.
But for me, this was enough. All I needed to know I could learn with help from my library card.
I didn’t really have a choice. I went nuts if I didn’t write. Writing is my way of making sense of the world. It’s a release for all the electric energy that whirls around inside me.
In high school, I didn’t fit into any group. I was a floater—I wasn’t part of a clique but rather butterflied around from group to group, none of which really felt like home to me. As a result, I became one of those invisible kids. I was fully absorbed in my own ideas and aspirations. I didn’t play any team sports or act in any plays or even join any clubs other than the school newspaper.
I was just me.
I spent many nights alone in my bedroom cutting up magazines, listening to music, and reading other people’s interpretations of lyrics on SongMeanings.com.
Desperate for some sense of community, I fell hard for America Online message boards—specifically, the “Whims of Fashion” on Seventeen magazine’s channel. Every day I would dial up via the modem and type to a group of girls based all around North America. Long before Facebook was around, we were writing our own form of status updates in posts that we referred to as “dailies.” Each day, we’d copy and paste the same form and plug in our stories.
Here’s what a daily looked like:
Listening To: “Did you say no, this can’t happen to me”—jeff buckley
Wearing: BCBG white fitted tee, Gap jeans with the waistband cut off, Adidas Superstars
Eating: Egg white omelet with olives and cheddar, Diet Coke
Thinking About: i’m in love with this guy Aaron who played guitar in my school’s variety show. he came up to me in the library smiled and threw a book with sex in the title at me. what does it MEAN? he sang this song in the variety show. it was about mad hatters and Cadillacs with this guy Matt who i used to work with at a steak restaurant. we both bused tables. Aaron’s so cute but i’m scared of him. i think he’s had a lot of sex and he was dating this girl who looked like Winona Ryder for like three years. I used to have a locker across from his. I wallpapered my whole locker in photos of Leo DiCaprio and pretended I didn’t even know he was alive. I hope we get together before he graduates.
We stream-of-conscious shared about heavier stuff, too: eating disorders, breakups, sex, mental health, family issues. This went on from ages fourteen to twenty-one. I only ever met a few of these girls in real life, but I felt like we were kindred spirits.
On the board, there was no like button. Our personalities were reduced to words. But it was through these words that we found the freedom to express the truest, most vulnerable versions of ourselves. We lived such different lives—our locations, ethnicities, and backgrounds varied—yet through our sharing of stories, we discovered new connections every day. We each became characters in the board’s main story, every girl dutifully writing her part at the end of the school day.
The “Whims of Fashion” became my diary. More than that, it was a diary that wrote back, in its own beautiful chorus of foreign yet familiar voices. For me, it enforced the importance of story, words, and connection.
Another thing that I loved in high school was predicting Next Big Things, and the secret recipe always seeming to involve some combination of authenticity and honesty. A bass-playing boy wearing a robot helmet in our high school talent show inspired me to go to the office and get his schedule. I showed up at his art class, wanting to profile him for my journalism class.
I wasn’t alone.
A week or so later, his band was discovered during a performance at a local art gallery by Jack White. They went on a world tour. I never heard from or saw him again. But this forecasting thing became a reoccurring pattern.
“They’re going to blow up, just wait,” I would tell a friend.
It happened time and time again.
One guy went from college radio to winning a Grammy a month later.
Another sold a screenplay for six figures.
And a girl crush went on years later to get a book deal for her illustrations.
I’m not trying to take credit for others’ brilliance. I just had some knack for spotting diamonds in the rough. This daydream-forecasting pattern led me to pursue a career as a lifestyle journalist. I was drawn not to being a critic or breaking hard news but rather to listening to fascinating humans. I enjoyed finding a creative way to share others’ stories. The thrill of discovery is the quickest way to feel more alive.
If I was intrigued, I easily imagined that others would be too.
One of my early jobs was at a female-founded magazine called Venus Zine, which spotlighted emerging female artists. Our mission statement was “Before It Goes Pop.” Back then, there weren’t too many publications that focused on telling the stories of female artists, so being a part of one felt exciting. The publication prided itself on profiling women such as Feist, M.I.A., Cat Power, Joanna Newsom, and Peaches right before they launched to tremendous success.
My next job took this predictive ability one step further. In my role as San Francisco city editor at yet another female-founded company called DailyCandy, I was no longer limited to red carpets or emerging artists. I had permission to bounce in and out of any world I wanted: seaweed foragers, tea shop owners, restauranteurs, superhero tarot card readers. Every day provided an opportunity to go on a brand-new adventure.
I wrote a bar roundup as a mock-up reality TV script. (“This is the true story, of two lifestyle editors, photographed during a bar crawl. Find out what happens when two writers stop being polite and start getting real.”)
A pickling venture drew inspiration from Star Wars. (“Cuke, I am your father.”)
A green juice company got spun into rap with the help of my friend Megs. (“You know we chug ’em, love ’em, need ’em. Labels go ’head and read ’em. Talking ’bout, what’s the season? Every day they press and peel them.”)
Each subject took me into a completely different reality that I never would have been able to experience on my own. I’d pitch the story to my editor, change my clothes, and opt for a passenger seat approach to the ride: “Show me what a day in your world is all about.”
When you’re able to experience people, situations, and ideas with a neutral, free mind, you open yourself up to new connections and ways to communicate this information.
The challenge each day was not only discovery but finding a never-before-written way to bring the story to life. I became skilled at forming strange connections in my mind and incorporating them into my work.
All this world warping did wonders for my personal life too. I had always been a believer in impossible things, but my story subjects expanded my awareness of what was possible in fascinating new ways. I began to write out and imagine my own story lines, the mere scribbles in my journal resulting in new boyfriends, vacations, jobs, housing situations, and so much more. I developed intentional imagining, working with countless friends, colleagues, and small biz owners to help them blueprint seemingly bonkers daydreams into real life.
Perhaps you are still curious about how I am qualified to write as an authority on daydreams and the imagination?
The truth is, I am not an “expert.”
I am only an intensely curious human. I open myself up to situations and challenge myself to wonder about every person, place, or concept that crosses my path. I believe that when we eliminate what we think we know to be the truth, we can hold a wide variety of perspectives and tap into a sea of creativity. Beautiful and innovative ideas find us easily. New thoughts and ideas have room to drop into our minds.
Back to the Book. WTF Is This Book?
This is an activity book for adults.
Genre: experiential potpourri.
We’re working with the imagination, remember? We can do whatever we want.
If you don’t believe me, watch your kids, nieces, or baby-sitting clients at play. The less sense it makes, sometimes the more fun it is. With this book, feel free to skip ahead to whatever interests you.
Here is the structure of each chapter:
• Narrative: stories from my life that show intentional imagining in action
• Application: quips from science and Big Idea people cobbled together to make you go hmmm…
• Activities: invitational activities that will put you into a more imaginative head space
If viral videos are any indication of where we’re headed, books are about to become much stranger in the future. How can they not? People today have the attention span of amoebas.
Books are portals into others’ minds. And the mind cannot be limited to a single genre. Why does it frustrate us if a book veers off the map a bit or, better yet, takes a secret back road where, if we actually open our eyes, we can see the best trees?
Just as with people, we can get a lot from books when we let them go buck wild. Who knows. Maybe we secretly want to be caught off guard.
This makes me think back to a conversation I had not so many years ago with a sixty-year-old window artist. This man was like the Bill Cunningham of window art. He had been at it for years. He wasn’t married. He had no kids, pets, or known vices. He was just all about the window design.
“Back when I started out people loved looking at the diamonds,” he told me matter-of-factly. He folded his arms across his chest.
I rolled over on my bed. At the time I was living on a mattress shoved into the corner of our meditation instructor’s plant- and flower-filled living room.
“Oh, yeah?” I asked. I was always hungry for conversation with anyone when it came to new ideas. I probably would have brainstormed with a parakeet if it knew how to talk back.
“But now they stand outside the window and wonder, but what does it do? What do you mean what does it do,” he squawked. “It’s a diamond!”
I think it’s fair to ask the same question of this very book you’re holding in your hands right now.
But, what does it do?
With so many options today, we’re reluctant to commit to anything anymore. We don’t want to just read a story. We want to be dazzled, entertained, advised, inspired, uplifted, encouraged, charmed, and educated with every flip of the page. We want validation that we aren’t alone in our strangeness and desires. We want to get inside someone else’s mind and have our woes remedied—or at least to forget them for a short while.
I can’t promise to solve anyone’s problems with the words in this book. But I can aim to provide an adventure that has a little something for everyone.
Make This Book Your Own
You probably haven’t had your own mental space since your first diary back in middle school. Here, in this playbook, it’s just us.
Me and you.
Well, along with some shout-outs from researchers, scientists, professors, and anyone else I found interesting and could convince to speak with me for an hour or so.
You and I will write this imagine-your-own-adventure book together. I’ll play the big sister role—I’ve been one for pretty much my entire life, so it’s not really a stretch for me—and go first. Then, I’ll turn the pages over to you.
On the pages of this book, we will write about romance, the city you may like to wake up in next year, how you wish you could make money. We’ll daydream about the clothes that you can’t wait to wear and rewrite your saddest stories until you realize that is all they are—stories that can only continue to hurt you if you give them permission.
Be as creative as you want. You can open up to a random page or skip to the sections you care about right now. There are no set guidelines, no cookie-cutter rules. These exercises and stories are merely meant to open you up to the idea of seeing your immediate reality through a more expanded and enchanted lens.
When Did Your Imagination Last Lead You to Something or Someone You Really Wanted?
I’m talking about the real cuckoo bird stuff here:
You saw a photo of a sunset online and decided to be beach-bound and barefoot before it was time to break out the winter jackets.
Your friend sent you a Snapchat story of her love feeding her like a baby bird and you suddenly decided that you, too, harbored the dream of having a romantic interest lovingly baby-bird-feed you.
You clicked on a random shopping site, saw an outfit, and knew that you’d wear it to the company’s holiday party, even though it was way out of your price range.
Tricky to think of something? Maybe you’ve spent the past few years solely expressing yourself in memes and GIFs. Are we losing our ability to recognize an original feeling? To indulge ourselves in daydream?
Do you even remember the last time you were alone long enough to actually fantasize?
And by alone, I mean truly alone. Just you and your mind. That’s it.
This playbook advocates for you to spend less time out there and more time in here. It’s an invitation to welcome back both your weirdness and your wildness.
What Is the Imagination?
To be honest with you, I don’t know either—at least not in a way that I can fully articulate in just a sentence or two. The imagination is big. It is as vast as the universe. It has no rules, zero limitations. In the imagination, we can free-play our ideas about the world, our peers, our feelings, and our futures.
We forget about the imagination from time to time, and then, when we’re in total darkness, it finds us again. “You’re not stuck,” the imagination tells us, laughing. I like to imagine that it sounds like the Cheshire Cat. “You’ve just forgotten that it’s all unknown, but that there is a way out of every hole.”
If the imagination had a Facebook wall, it might look like:
Ursula Le Guin: “The imagination is an essential tool of the mind, a fundamental way of thinking, an indispensable means of becoming and remaining human.”
Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress and giving birth to evolution.”
Ray Bradbury: “Imagination should be the center of your life.”
Henry David Thoreau: “Our world is but a canvas for the imagination.”
Carl Sagan: “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
Now, before we begin, let’s get one other truth out of the way. The imagination isn’t all la-la land. It can get really dark.
The imagination can take us to highs and lows, sometimes within the very same minute. For most of us, it’s easier to go to the places that we don’t want. If we aren’t carefully directing it with intentional imagining, the imagination can serve as a powerful incubator for our deepest fears.
This is also part of our work.
This book will serve not only as a safe place to daydream but also as a reminder that we have to steer our own ships. We must work every day. The work entails concentrated pen-to-paper writing. It involves raw, wholehearted authenticity and at times almost unbearable vulnerability. It requires full presence with others and with ourselves.
But we’ll get into the importance of rewriting harmful narratives later on. For now, let’s just bop back into fantasy.
But I Don’t Know How to Imagine Anymore!
The sad truth is that we really do lose the use of our imaginations as we age. We fail to grasp that imaginative play is actually an ageless exercise. It still has value long after we tuck away the childhood toys and outgrow the dress-up clothes. And contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to splurge on art supplies or sign up for pricey classes to ignite it. We just need to spend some QT with it. In order to get the ball rolling, we first need to have the desire.
Scientists have proven that with age, our ability to tap into our imaginations tends to decline. For example, take the case of psychologists Alison Gopnik and Tom Griffiths, both professors at the University of California, Berkeley. In Gopnik and Griffith’s experiment, participants of various ages—preschoolers (four- and five-year-olds), older children (six- to eleven-year-olds), teens (twelve- to fourteen-year-olds), and adults—were presented with and asked to explain different scenarios. The first was a box that lit up when you put different blocks in it and the second was a story they told involving two girls, one who approached a skateboard and the other girl who avoided a scooter.
The study found that most adults gave the obvious explanations. When it came to the machine, the preschoolers were the most creative. In response to the social problem, the preschoolers were more creative than the six-year-olds and the adults, but the teenagers were the most creative group of all. A simple reason for this may be that as adults we tend to veer away from exploring creative and seemingly bizarre explanations.
Instead, we consult what we’ve believed to be true about the world so far. We look for experiential references to our problems (i.e., solutions that are fairly close to the norms we already know). But what do we lose as a result of this conditioning?
I propose that only through an uncharted exploration, when we are brave enough to take a chance on the unknown, will we stumble upon something great. It could be a new business venture or friend. It could be a romantic partner who we never expected would be our match. It could be the discovery of a hobby we formerly believed we would hate. When we allow ourselves to be more playful, to be open-minded and uncensored, then we invite in all sorts of grand thoughts.
Did you know that we each think an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day? Write this statement on a Post-it note and stick it on your ceiling:
The power of my imagination is always available to me.
No matter what awful situation we’re in, there is always a way to take a step forward. Whenever we’re in doubt, scared, or lost, we can put pen to paper and create a new idea. Through this practice, we have the power to bring forth whatever we want into our everyday lives. We can imagine anything—you are the pilot, the bird, an essence adrift. What does your plane look like? Do you have an outfit? Do your feathers have multiple shimmering colors? Does your essence float like air, burn like fire, or flow like water?
I implore you to devote some time, every day, to the imagination. Science acknowledges the efficacy. Let us believe too!
We all have an imagination, and yet we are so rarely encouraged to have any fun with it.
Strengthening Your Imagination
Your imagination is like any other muscle. You wouldn’t immediately jump into a ballet class and expect to launch into the splits. Think of this practice as going to the gym for your mind. It is likely you are out of touch with this way of thinking. But the more that you do it, the more your memory of how to do it will return. Training the imagination involves time, practice, and a willingness to look at life through a different lens—at least for a short while.
Here are my favorite tools:
Music. Music is the true companion for intentional imagining. These two were born to be together. You must listen to music while you intentionally imagine. Music offers freedom to dream. Through music, we have access to realms, patterns, hunches, feelings, and intuitions. Music allows us to fantasize in a way that transcends words. Be cautious about what you’re listening to, though. Make sure that the lyrics are in sync with your desires. And get creative about how you listen, too. My friend Astrid loves to “Magic Box.” She opens up two YouTube videos, one, say, of a documentary, such as the film about the Cobra Gypsies in northern India, mutes it, and then soundtracks it with the second screen set to music. There are no rules about what goes with what, but she finds that hip-hop pairs extremely well with old cartoons, such as Hey Arnold!
Nature. Find room to dream in nature. Mother Nature is the number one artist. Notice insects and animals. Observe plant life. Get curious about mushrooms, puddle shapes, and the clouds that you see. Pay attention to the sky and to the stars. Nature is an outlet we can all plug into at any time, and best of all, it’s free.
Engagement. Filter all information, ideas, and insights from the perspective of an observer. In moments when you’d likely grab your phone and disconnect—in the doctor’s office, stuck in traffic, sitting on a packed bus—challenge yourself to view every situation as a treasure hunt. Observe where you are as if you’re about to write a scene about it in a story. Pay attention to how your stomach feels after you eat certain foods. Think of new color names for the shoes of the passengers on the subway. The more awareness you have of your immediate environment, the more easily you will be able to make connections that enhance all aspects of your life. There is poetry to be found no matter where you are, even in the places that you don’t enjoy.
Listening. Listen even to people with whom you believe you have nothing in common or who you think you may not enjoy. Our judgments block us from true connection. We really aren’t that different. Empathy, or the ability to feel, imagine, and relate to the experience of another, is excellent for engaging the imagination. Empathy is about resonating with what is going on in the subjective world of another. When you empathize with others, you feel what they are going through as if you were too. Being empathetic takes practice. You need to work at it. To do this, listen without fixing. Suspend judgment. Put yourself in the other’s shoes and connect. The heart of imaginative attachment is looking at a situation from that person’s point of view. Hold all your beliefs and plug yourself into his or her reality.
Celebrating. Far too often we spend more time bashing what and whom we hate than paying note to what we love. Write a thank-you to your mom, your mail man, the writer who shared a poem you liked on her social media account. The more you do this, the more you’ll find what you love, what interests you, what serves your goals and your mission, to be everywhere.
You’re probably wondering, What is this imagination stuff going to do for me?
I have to pay my phone bill.
I have a work deadline.
My partner’s pissed off at me.
I’d invite you to put down the phone, take out a blank sheet of paper, grab a pen, and see what happens. Write out a story that you want to live, just for fun’s sake. Here are some that I’ve seen come true for friends IRL:
Sometime within the next year, I live abroad somewhere fantastic.
I run naked under the stars.
I buy a stroller for my cat.
I eat fresh strawberries in my PJs and stare at the moon.
The cute stranger I see reading on the bus is my next great love.
How you want to work with your imagination is up to you. You can really tune into yourself and define what—in your own words—it means to be alive. And if you’re like most people, that probably means something entirely different from moment to moment, year to year. Instead of remaining attached to what was or has always been, you can throw yourself into an entirely new circumstance and see what happens.
Those of us who regularly work to develop our imaginations understand its importance. Our imagination is a place to breathe, to recreate, to re-create so that our current reality doesn’t swallow us whole. Our imagination holds the key to understanding what we really want. In our imaginations, we can let go of expectation and imagine what we dream will play out in life.
In accepting both our wishes and our fears, we are able to remain neutral, hopeful even. We find the power to overcome. We begin to transcend the past and discover creative solutions for the future.
The Roots of Intentional Imagining
Intentional imagining takes its inspiration from a term coined about sixty years ago by a psych prof named Jerome Singer. Singer was the granddaddy of all daydreaming. He pioneered so many terms for mind-wandering back in his time your head would spin.
- On Sale
- May 14, 2019
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Seal Press