about the improvised life
‘the improvised life’ isabout doing MORE with LESS…NOT striving for perfection but for personal expression, fun, creativity, and unique solutions. It presents found ideas from every field: art, technology, design, cooking, music… and applies them to everyday living. It is meant to to surprise the mind daily by challenging the usual view.
‘the improvised life’ is about making and creating with whatever is at hand - improvising as a daily practice. It starts at home and works outward into the world. While it focuses on the practical, it also encompasses intangibles like intuition, fear and how to tap your inner artist. At heart is the belief that anyone can improvise; it’s a mindset that can be cultivated, first by simply orienting yourself to the idea of improvising, and then by connecting to resources, ideas, and examples that foster it. We hope that ‘the improvised life’ will provide daily inspiration for your own brilliant ideas - to create, invent, be resourceful, make it up as you go along, in every part of your life, from design and cooking, to travel and work, to spirit and celebration…
What is Improvising?
Improvising is ultimately about magic, the kind of magic that happens when you say: What would happen if I did this? …whether it’s using a beautiful piece of fabric to add a jolt of color to a room or figuring out a way to turn a folding bike into a shopping cart, or drawing on the sidewalk with chalk for the first time since you were a kid; when you see someone figure out how to make their small space better, and are inspired to re-imagine your own place, all by yourself; or when you discover a completely unexpected way of fixing a problem instead of calling an “expert”, finding that you knew the solution all along, you just needed to give yourself permission to try.
Improvising allows an incredible freedom—freeing your mind and your spirit from “the way things should be”, or have to look, or the rules that dictate that you do things a certain way. It’s dynamic, always changing, adapting to the way you live; it’s the opposite of so many “lifestyle experts” who insist that you must have these pieces or this look to live a elegant, stylish life, rather than asking: What kind of life do you want to live? Let’s find the way into that life, and let’s do it with passion and fun and creativity.
It took us a long time to learn that experts and artists aren’t the only ones who can rely oncreativity, gut feelings, trial-and-error, and dexterity with power (or any other) tools. We found out we had all of this inside of ourselves—all we needed to do was tap into it, and exercise it with as much curiosity, openness, and creativity as we could muster ourselves.We let go of the expert voices of you MUST and replaced it with you CAN.Once we did that, we found out we were living closer to the way we had always imagined, tailored to what our heart and soul hungers for in daily life.
We also discovered that improvising is a powerful operating system. Once you start using it, it guides you to the solutions you’re looking for, and puts you on a path that’s full of richness and discovery. It’s THE operating principle that courses through many popular alt-lifestyle movements like doing-it-yourself; living sustainably; viewing limited money, space or materials as a challenge rather than a defeat; questioning assumptions. The improvised life encompasses them all, and more.
Who are “we”
We are a community of friends who believe that improvising is a way of living that yields endlessly interesting and illuminating results. We hope you will join us by posting comments and sharing your own improvisations.
Sally Schneider is the creator of ‘the improvised life’ and writes most of its daily posts. She has worked as a journalist, editor, syndicated columnist, radio commentator, teacher, stylist, small-space consultant and professional chef; she once wrangled 600 live snails for an Irving Penn photograph. Her very improvisational work has been the laboratory for this blog. Please check out her award-winning cookbooks A New Way to Cook and The Improvisational Cook.
Ellen Silverman is a photographer whose work has been featured in numerous books, magazines and ads. She’ll be documenting projects and stories for ‘the improvised life’ when only her eye will do.
Lydia Wills‘ job is to help creative people do the work they were meant to do. She’s an all-around advisor to ‘the improvised life’, with a special focus on textiles and sewing. We love her guest-posts.
Nina Saltman is ‘theimprovisedlife’s project and construction consultant. She gives advice on the practical and logistical side of some of the improvisations we feature. A carpenter by trade, she has worked in construction for thirty years. She also knows a lot about gardening and ceramics.
David Saltman is ‘the improvised life’s editor-at-large.
Pamela Hovland‘s wise sensibility is woven into the very pixels of ‘the improvised life’. We often transform her cool ideas into posts.
Holton Rower is an artist who is so knowledgeable about how things work, so resourceful and innovative, that we could devote a whole site just to his improvisations. We’ve been tracking his ideas and creations for years and feature them often on ‘the improvised life’.
Maria Robledo, who made most of the images in Sally’s books and food writing (among a ton of other beautiful work), is responsible for the lovely iPhone photos of the impromtu improvisations going on in the Rower-Robledo household.
Cara De Silva is a writer, ethnographer, editor, speaker, consultant, and scholar (food; Gypsies; New York; and 16th century Venice are among her research subjects). We rely on her vast network and vision to alert us to improvisations the world over.
Anthony Giglio is a journalist, sommelier, and author of Food & Wine Wine Guides, Cocktails in New York and Mr. Boston’ Official Bartender’s Guide. Above all, he is a master of the fete and deviser of brilliant, simple strategies for celebrations both grand and low-key.
This blog was designed by Pamela Hovland and Iris Shih. It was developed by Megan Woo.