Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: creativity

This Grateful Season – New Project

Today a really great work opportunity moved forward with a YES from those above me.

I’m still nervous that it’ll get snagged by red tape or shut down, but I am enjoying this moment while I have it. Success. A new project. Work supporting my bigger ideas.

And I am feeling the inkling of longer-term projects – this one today, writing for another site, training for a 1/2 marathon and doing 2013 Project Life. H is so busy with grad school + work, I need to fill my own time. Having my sister with us is really awesome (she cooks, she cleans, she walks the dog and she entertains me) but eventually she’ll move out (fingers crossed).

Mercury went direct on Monday. This is a good thing. I can feel the upswing, the movement, the energy churning again.

I tweeted this before, but I’ll write it again here: Today was a good day.

____________

For the month of November, I write each day about something I’m grateful for and call it Grateful Season. It’s my way of reviewing the amazing year I’ve had and helps me focus on blogging during the crazy holiday season uptick. Feel free to join me – just make sure you let me know!

Life Isn’t a Support System for Art

Last week, before I left for my road trip, I finished Stephen King’s On Writing. I’d borrowed it from friends a few weeks before. Somehow I started reading it without any intentions to and it grabbed a hold of me again. This is one of only a few books (less than 5) that I’ve read more than once.

I’ve noticed my tolerance for crappy books is down and my need for reading is up ergo I have permission to quit books. Gasp. This used to not be granted to me by me. Oddly, at the same time my interest in rereading books increased. Tried and true, I guess?

King draws you in with the bits of his growing up, being a younger brother, writing at his desk in High School. This time around his whole near-death experience went by in only a few pages. Poof. In my memory of the last time I read it… and when was that… the description of his pain and recovery dominates. It’s conversational. It’s funny. And it’s educational. I learned practical advice that I don’t get by writing here in my room, alone. Like, how to delete as many adverbs as possible. But also advice you can apply to any pursuit – life, really – of starting small and being smart and working hard.

He also seems wildly in love with his wife, which I just adore.

Note that I’ve never read a single Stephen King novel, but I like this book. It makes me want to read his novels, but I do feel a class issue there for me as a reader – that his novels are somehow unworthy of my reading time – which you’d think is an opinion this memoir would alter, being so well written, but no…not yet anyways.

Maybe I just need to start with the right one…  Any suggestions?

____________

p.s. After I published this, the space on the side of the “published” bar had a Stephen King quote – I kid you not! Funny universe, really funny.

Therapy After Therapy

Today I went for a little retail therapy (after my traditional therapy appt) at Urbanic Paper Boutique. Definitely spent too much, but it was worth every penny. 5 wonderful people will be getting some sweet mail in the next week, I have two new pens, one new journal, a polka-dot role of washi tape and a sweet smelling candle to burn.

I haven’t spent any money at a paper store since I bought guitar valentine’s back in January (another awful sluggish time), so I don’t feel too bad. Writing encouraging notes to people I love is great self-care too. Give what you’d like to receive.

Sometimes I think my sole (soul) purpose in this life is to reflect people’s light back to them.

It’s important I record these fluctuations so that I can come back and revisit my own guidance for support. I’ve felt great like this before and I’ve felt shitty like I did the past month. Maybe it was Venus in Leo as that planet just shifted yesterday. I kid. Kind of…

Obviously life has ups and downs, but I’m really proud of myself that I worked this knot free on my own. Well, not without help but that I was my own best support, finally, and once that clicked, I felt better.

So, yes, I’m feeling better. Tomorrow’s a very full day with work tasks, meetings and celebrating a friend’s birthday. Hoping the energy release continues.

Did you feel a shift in energy this week? xo

Lonely to Lovely

Monday I wasn’t feeling so hot, but I tried to make the best of it. I thought it would pass.

Tuesday I didn’t feel much better.

Be it pms, the moon phase, 9.11 memories, too many work loops left open, feeling a bit too tired to deal with other people’s energy – whatever. It was crap. I knew it was OK, but I couldn’t shake it off either.

As I wasted time Tuesday morning on Instagram, I saw a friend post a few pages from the creative book Steal Like An Artist. I commented:

Omg yes! I may need to borrow. Or we should have coffee / creative book swap time.

As soon as I wrote that, I felt excited. That’s exactly what I needed! Creative, coffee, friend time. I was lonely! Miss loves-alone-time wanted company. Who knew?

So I texted said this gal for a coffee date. It felt odd, putting myself out there. Like I was 12 years old – come out and play? We’ve gotten coffee before but we’re not, like, friends friends. I know her through work, and from college, but at the same time I’ve never been to her apartment…

Magically, she texted back she could hang after work. My mood soared. I felt motivated to do my work. I had something to look forward to. And being that I’m not seeing my therapist this week, it was 100% what I needed.

I’ve mentioned before, but deep conversation is part of the things that make me feel complete. So this hang totally hit the spot. And that night H and I went out for Yogurtland and by Wednesday morning, I was a new person. Or back to normal. However we can celebrate it.

Did I mention my friend is pretty f-ing talented too? Check her out.

A Creative Signal

Currently, I have an obsession with Jad Abumrad, radio host and producer, founder and co-host of Radiolab (also here).

This creative person, his thoughts about what he does, and his execution of these ideas are all coming to me this month as I feel a swarm of creative ideas myself, ones that I’ve been pushing aside, even blatantly ignoring because lack of head space. Most attempts I made back in the spring fizzled. Conversations took place, but nothing was shipped.

The wedding and subsequent honeymoon needed to launch first. One thing at a time.

Now that I’m back (a month tomorrow), my mind is abuzz. There’s a definite video project to hash out via my job, blog ideas for here, video and photo recap of honeymoon and wedding, article ideas for another contact, blog ideas for work, a personal minibook, a presentation to be produced, and maybe the video project could also be a podcast…?

And I’ve realized two things about this swirling vortex of creativity bubbling under my being:

  1. It’s all about telling stories: mine, yours, theirs
  2. I need larger swatches of time to create than I’ve ever needed before

My approach is to map things out on paper, breaking things down into steps. Allowing myself to draft 300 words and let it sit. Organize photos for an hour, then stop. Work on something else then revisit. Take on one thing at a time, even one major task per day. This afternoon I transferred 8gigs of video to a fresh hard-drive.

Like all energies, I am riding this wave as far as I can take it. This doesn’t feel manic or anxious. It feels focused and productive. My goal: to complete at least one of these creative ideas before the momentum breaks.

________________________

If you’re interested, here’s a few of my Jad Abumrad resources – I actually have yet to read the Transom article, but I plan to give myself another large swatch of time to do so soon.

Light, People, Energy (Photographic History)

Last Thursday, I took the day off. I’d worked the weekend before so it was much needed. I dragged H to the Annenberg Space for Photography for the “Who Shot Rock and Roll” exhibit.

It was awesome.

Growing up, I was placed into music, the way that babies are placed into pools. I was a strong paddler. Both of my parents grew up playing and pursuing music in small degrees, and so how could I not be the next in line for that fame? But I’m not sure I ever chose it myself. When it comes to music, I’ve always felt like a fraud. I’m not sure that relationship will ever feel natural.

But when prompted to “think back on your childhood – what did you really enjoy…?” music is the correct answer I can give, with a capital “C”. The truth is, photography is my secret lover.

As a kid, I took random rolls of film with disposable cameras, documenting my day, cataloguing stuff, capturing my family and friends. It felt easy and simple. No thinking needed.

In 8th grade, I took a photography class complete with a film camera, contact sheets and dark room processing. At 15, I convinced my parents to buy me a Canon SLR. I took photos of my friends and started to understand framing and color. There was power in stopping a moment in time. (I damaged that Canon when it flew out the window of my friend’s truck the morning after a prom. For someone who is quite organized, I have a tendency to bang up and break my possessions).

Right around the time my Canon got busted up, my life took a sharp turn down the year from hell. By the time I entered college I’d lost most of my ability to express myself creatively and photography disappeared. Yes I took pictures, but many of our photos from those early years H snapped. In fact, we used his digital camera for all of the time we were both in Boston, and usually only for big moments – trips, celebrations, visits.

Somewhere in the past few years, photography snuck back into my life. I’m not sure where it started, but my iPhone became a lifeline. Different blogs pointed me in good directions – Susannah Conway, Andrea Scher and  Dooce. Then it was DreamLab, Unravelling and Photo Meditations classes online.

Spring forward to today and I’m a photo-taking machine. I’ve posted 180+ pics on Instagram in less than 2 months. My feed is a curated list of photographer’s I respect and admire. People who I learn from, because I want to get better. I’ve borrowed my brother’s DSLR and have plans to borrow it again, this time armed with a one-day class. I have a friend teaching me Photoshop. I stalk Tracey ClarkBrooke Schmidt and The Noisy Plume. I bought an Olloclip.

Photography is the only creative pursuit where I do not feel ashamed, dumb, stupid or useless.

I know there is so much to learn and I have yet to execute the visions I have in my head, but that’s the key – I have visions! I have ideas and pictures of how I want my photographs to look. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, and I’m in love.

So attending this exhibit felt more like pushing the needle forward a bit. That I was there to revel in the medium but also to learn, to absorb photography from a new angle, to soak in inspiration. The prints from the 60s were the most inspiring, not because they were of iconic musicians like the Beatles, but because they were so honest and straight-forward with the life they were capturing. There was no unrealistic color, no photoshopping, not much editing. It was all about light, people, energy.

And if the new life that I’ve built for myself in the past few years is anything, it’s all about light, people, and energy. xo

Making It Happen

It’s been 2 weeks since I received a new pang of inspiration.

First, it started with my colleague asking for help with his daughter and her first interview (ever) for an internship. When he started writing down my suggestions, I felt a rush. He apologized for interrupting my work. No, no – I assured him – whatever this brainstorming thing is, I would love to get paid to do it.

The next day I woke up to find a voicemail from a contact who’d had a “career epiphany” and wanted to talk it out… with me. I spent over an hour chatting with him. That evening, I was a sounding board for my brother who is trying to move his internship into a full-time position. I was talked out but satisfied.

A mere four days later, I met a contact at Internsushi for lunch. I love meeting up with this gal – she and I have a mutual understanding of the struggles of communicating the work environment to newly graduated students. We’ve both worked with interns, companies in demanding creative fields, students and navigated our own careers. Plus, her man plays for the Phillies and mine is from Philly, so yay.

As we chatted about GenY, work habits, recruiting, start-ups etc she began jotting down a few things I said. Again, that rush. She said I should talk to her boss. That they’d love to use some of my experience and ideas for their site. Wowza.

Now in the middle of the 2nd week, I had a phone meeting with another contact who was talking out her work load, contact management and general productivity flow. My suggestions came naturally (as I’m dealing with the same shit storm). It was like mentoring and it felt awesome.

The next day, I was on the phone discussing an opportunity to write content for InternSushi. I took notes, my heart racing with excitement, and told them I’d draft up a list of ideas by Wednesday and sent it over.

Just before, a day late, I sent a 3 page PDF brainstorm of ideas for their feedback.

And to top it all off, yesterday I had coffee with the above contact who’d had the “epiphany” and realized that, holy crap, we could be doing our original idea of videotape interviewing people about their careers in the music industry but we could also do a podcast.

See, I’ve had all of these ideas percolating, swarming in my head. I keep listening to podcasts, reading books, meeting with people, and this just adds to the ideas. But I don’t know where to put them. And yet, just as quickly as the multitude of ideas came swooping in, so did the content buckets. Maybe I do need another blog… maybe a podcast would work… and then there’s the guy who can help with the video… and oh, you wanted to write content officially, here’s a platform.

I guess I’m making it happen, and let me tell you, it’s scary shit. Which is why I have this video on repeat.

I’ll keep ya posted.

Practical Spring Magic

As the Sun enters Taurus, I can feel the urge to dig deeper, be a bit more solidly on the ground, and hold damp earth in my hands. To focus on tactile items and tangible actions – books, kissing, taking the garbage out, strumming a guitar, folding clothes, scrubbing the bathroom, being spooned. Practical. Daily practices. I feel the restraints and confusion of Mercury retrograde loosening their hold.

While I’ve been taking time for restful self-care, I’m sensing that there is a new current running beneath me:

“What matters, really, is creating, which is not something I could’ve said even last week, but it’s becoming very clear. Self-care is actually not enough. ‘Taking-in’ is not enough. I need my own output for my own stuff. But what? Create what? I don’t think it matters. All of it is so important – the act of it being the lifeline I think I need. It’s not about what I ‘have to do’. It’s not about ‘work’. And it’s not about what I create either. I think my soul is freaking out because I’m not giving it time. I’m just not. All week was some good self-care, some stuff I didn’t want to do and lots of social output, and yet, no actual creating. I’m still in a shadow phase. I’m still feeding that need with other people’s books, podcasts, thoughts, language, songs – even their stories – about songwriting and creating…” (morning pages 4.21.12)

This is the uncomfortable noise running under the past few weeks. I don’t feel completely awful and depressed, but I also don’t feel at ease – each day is a bit of a struggle in the most boring ways. I’m hiding out, ignoring emails, reading a lot of Harry Potter, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I’m not moving forward.

My self-care is lifting me up, but I’m not using that energy for a personal “greater good”. Instead, I think / worry / panic about all the shit I should be doing with this energy – paralyzed by those “productive” items on my To Do list – and not allowing myself to explore my imagination. I’ve given myself permission to rest but not to create. To quiet my left brain but not receive from my right brain. I’m allowed to save up my energy, but I’m not allowed to use it unless it’s to do something “practical” a.k.a “productive”.

But the most practical thing I can do for myself is to create. And so, I am taking a cue from the cycles of the sun and working to transfer “creating” to the practical side of my life. Small daily actions create change. I’ve seen it work over the past 2 years, from allowing myself to just be, to not weighing my worth against my work, to taking more self-care and now, to this new phase – filling my days with creating, with the beginnings of a new season, following the patterns of spring, like the birds and the bees and the seeds on the wind.

Never Let Me Go

It’s no surprise that I devoured “Never Let Me Go” in 6 days time, a book about memory, childhood, betrayal and love. That during these 6 days, I told my therapist more about the sharp experiences of my growing up than I have in the past 3 months combined. That I told two other friends similar snippets. That the names of the girls who tortured me in grade school, all 3 of their names, finlly came back to me in one fell swoop.

Nicole … Clare … Emily

The book was very much along the lines of Atonement (my #1) though nothing about this recent book’s events shocked me. And where I threw Atonement across the room in a fury, I trusted NLMG’s narrator fully, as she let slip more and more details about her life, as if she were an old friend relaying some long ago, yet important story about her past.

It was an easy and relaxing read – maybe because I read most of it over an extended weekend trip to San Diego (yay 6+ hrs of alone time), or maybe because I knew enough about the story to not be disturbed. Reading is so essential to my self-care practice, and this book felt like a slow walk through a field. All of this is not to say that the author wasn’t doing literary acrobatics. To create a story with a devastating reality, and tell it in a language pure and simple, it must have taken a ridiculous amount of work. But I guess not even half of the story is settling in yet, and maybe that’s the point.

I tried to eek out some posts last month, and it’s not like I didn’t think about writing, but the doing is so different from the thinking. As I scrolled through the last few posts I’m shocked I even got those few up. I’m disappointed as I lost an opportunity to share my life it as it happened.

This just-finished novel floats in some fuzzy layer of my understanding, absorbed by osmosis, and mirrors the way these past 6 weeks have unravelled. It’s as if the novel dredge up some quiet memories of my own and it’s hard to differentiate my own vision of a hazy, grassy field from those described in the book. My nostalgia, both my longing and aversion for childhood, floats in the ether. And it calls to light that love is something that happens in the moments of our lives, which are so fleeting and sometimes poorly timed, and we can’t go back. We’re here and then …gone. And this is what calls me to write.

PTO

This is what a day off looks like… and since I never take them just for me, I made sure anything I did was purely for me. A-maz-ing.

Sleeping in till 7am. Waking up without an alarm.

Writing morning pages with the doggie sleepily looking on. 3 pages of long-hand, snapping a few pictures in the quiet. Exhibit A:

Feeding and watering both myself and the pup. Then out for a 3 mile run with lots of stops for him to sniff and pee and me to catch my breath. Listened to “Fresh Air” interview with Louis C.K. It did not disappoint.

Then on to a real breakfast, now that we have a kitchen full of groceries. Not since Thanksgiving has the fridge been this full. Fruit, eggs, spinach and a few corn tortillas. And lots and lots of reading.

I spent most of the morning reading – blogs, Harry Potter 4 (which I finished!), and few other books on the e-reader. I spent it cuddled up in an arm chair with this guy:

I didn’t check email, Twitter or Facebook. No TV or phone calls. Hell, I didn’t even leave the house. I showered around 1pm with the intention of taking myself out for writing and coffee, but just didn’t want to go. Lunch was eaten in too:

It involved a whole avocado, an entire tomato and more tea. Literally, wholes foods.

I perused Liz Lamoreux’s blog, especially her journalling videos, Chookooloonks’ blog, and got lost in the depths of Nothing But Bonfires‘ site before fiance was home and I was cooking dinner. Then it was crafty time, which is so-not-me normally but what can I say? I’m pretty inspired by Elise Joy’s blog lately, and I figured, I feel better when I make things, so why deprive myself of this tiny pleasure?

They’re going to be valentines. I’ve sent Christmas cards for the past 5+ years, but this past year it became something that needed to fall off the list to make room for things like work events, wedding planning and, um, sleep… so when I saw this adorable pack at Paper Source, I just had to have ’em.

Not sure how many hours it’s supposed to take, but I hope to get them out in the next few days. Luckily, this week is wide open in the evenings, so I’ll be making my way through the project. It’s important to note that this type of thing can so quickly become a “to do” that I’m working to keep it a “project” and not a “have to”. Something fun and relaxing, not torture. Something that will make other people happy, but is filling my well at the same time.

I don’t know why I didn’t just take a day off last week, when I needed it. Wasn’t acknowledging it somehow. That old “knuckle down” habit. So glad I did. I can feel another day would just be amazing, but tomorrow I’ll be able to return to work with energy, knowing that I took care of myself today.