The Week’s End // A Roundup of Important Reads

Hello friends and welcome to the weekend. I’m a little late, but if you’re still looking for some interesting reads to check out while you relax, look no further, I got you covered. Here are the things I found important, inspiring, and interesting enough to share this week:

Day without a woman
Day Without a Woman

Support diverse stories.

Because diversity isn’t easy.

Is America great again yet?

Trumpcare

You may want to marry her husband.

In conversation

Biology > Ideology

Extreme vetting is already a thing

It’s not a fucking debate!

“In moonlight, black boys look blue”

Life sucks

Daylight savings is stupid.

Super cute printable self-care checklist :)  // @Aloebud

What do you think? Have you read, watched, or written an interesting thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly? If so, drop a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out :)

***

This list was originally sent out along with this morning’s newsletter: The Silence in our Stories + some of my own existential musings. Check it out and subscribe! :)

Featured image via Unsplash

Progress Not Perfection, 2017

I thought I would skip this whole New year’s Resolution thing. I thought I would just keep going as I have been going and hope that December 31st, 2017 would find me better off than The year before. I thought I was wise. There is no “new year, new me” after all. I am smarter than that, I am better than that…or maybe I am just afraid.

This past year was a hard one. There was so much death and disappointment. There was so much I thought I was sure of, but I learned in the end that we are all living on much shakier and shiftier ground than we knew. I finally learned what I thought I knew,  that the world is big and scary and indifferent. So, I thought, why eve try?

But of course we should try, we should always, always try. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t at least consider what the new year could bring if I tried hard enough. Progress, not perfection is my mantra but progress cannot happen without a willingness to examine where you are, and an occasional course correction and I suppose that is what New Year’s Eve is all about.

So, here it is, my dreams and goals for 2017, a year I hope will have more good and less bad than 2016.

Yoga and less sugar. I hate physical activity, and I hate thinking about what I eat, but I am getting older now, and things have got to change. I’m not going promise a whole new lifestyle, but I promise to start I promise to try out a Yoga habit and to be more aware of the amount of sugar I am consuming.

 

30 books, for real this time. I failed my reading goal this year, but I don’t care, I read way more than I did in 2015, so I am happy. This year I am going to have a reading plan, a list of specific books to read so that I don’t waste any time.

A new direction in writing. This year I am going to be very busy. I am going to be working more hours at work, and I am going to spend more time writing. I want to put together a collection of poetry. I want to work on this novel and possibly start on a sequel for next year’s NaNoWriMo. I want to write more on science, philosophy, and current events too. I hope to do everything I can to start getting paid for these words too.

Snail mail! I have always wanted a pen pal, and I think 2017 is as good a year as any to get one. I love snail mail and paper products, and I’d love to have a reason to start making things and sending them out to someone. I need a reason to experiment I suppose.

Weekend trips and a real vacation? I want to see new places, eat new foods, and breathe new air. I want to stimulate my mind and make some memories. I want to get out of this town and see the ways that other people live. I want to slow time and see the world.

I will never be a real artist. I had to choose between language and art and writing was something I could never let go of no matter how much art pulled. So, art will be regulated to nothing but a silly thing I do when the words don’t come so easily. I look forward to sharing my doodles with you.

Do scary things! There are two things hat give me terrible anxiety, and they are two things I need to be able to do if I want to start changing my life in real and meaningful ways. I need to meet new people, and I need to get over my fear of driving. Every day next year I will do one scary thing. I will tweet someone I admire, I will share ugly drawings, I will ask for help, I will drive to the store, and I will submit work wherever I can. I will do the thing!

I know that even though a new year starts tomorrow that doesn’t mean I am instantly a new me. I know that change takes time and hard work. I know that I need dedication and motivation. I know I have to be flexible and let myself fail a few times too.

Tomorrow I will still be me, but I will try to be a better me. Maybe I will make it and maybe I won’t but I will treat January 2nd the same way, and January 3rd, 4th, 5th, and so one all the way to December 31st, 2017. A new year is a new chance, and so is every day of that.

I hope we all make progress. I hope we all find what we are looking for, learn to love ourselves and each other, and come out a little better than we hoped. That would all be wonderful, but even if we all just survive with our hope and curiosity intact we will have accomplished more than most.

Good luck to you all in the coming year.

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter on life, love, and suffering (:

Featured image via Unsplash

Today is the Day America!

Hello, America. I know it’s been a long, stressful, and often frightening ride from the primary races until now but soon, very soon, it will all be over. Today is election day, and we can all finally make our choice and move on.

I had planned to come here and remind you what was at stake and who the better candidate was but I’ve changed my mind. At this point, most of us have our mind’s made up, and there is very little anyone could say to sway us to from our candidates.

If you believe Trump is the candidate shown to be the liar with dangerous ideas about where the country should go, you know you are smart, informed, and compassionate and nothing will change that.

If you think Hillary has come through all her years of hard work and experience, fighting tooth and nail to do what she believes is right, and is still less qualified than a man who has lied and defrauded people his entire professional life, there is nothing that can save you from your ignorance.

If you believe the candidate that has been shown to be the candidate of choice for the sexist, the racist, the homophobic, and the xenophobic is the one who will bring America back to her former glory, there is no way you will see anything that isn’t filtered through your blinding privilege.

If you want to move this country toward a future where hatred, fear, and paranoia dominate our media, our elections, our view of the rest of the world, and their view of us, there is nothing I can do. I cannot give you empathy nor open your heart.

The time has passed for making our arguments and begging one another to step into the light. The time has come to let the chips fall where they may.

One thing we all can agree on is the importance of our vote, no matter who it is for. I am here to encourage each and every one of my American followers to get out there and cast their ballot for the candidate who says she will work to bring us all together again—whoever that may be.

Make sure your voice is heard, and make sure your voice is calling for a future where America is a place of positivity and compassion, for all!

***

If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter :)

Featured image via @SillyRepublicans

 

Monday Motivation // Act Like the Person You Want to Be

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. From now on Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. All the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore. This is our second chance, and this time, we might just get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves.

For me, this Monday is turning out to be a sweet relief from the stress and sickness I experienced all of last week. Already I feel better, my workload is lightened, I have energy, and I am focused. Today, I think, will be a good writing day. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for it either. I am over 4,000 short of my NaNoWriMo word goals and still figuring out where my plot is going and who the hell these characters actually are.

“Tell yourself first of all what kind of person you want to be, and then act accordingly in all that you do. For in almost every other pursuit we see this to be the course that is followed.”

— Epictetus, Discourses

For a long time I have day-dreamed about being the kind of person who wakes up early in the morning, drinks a ton of coffee, and writes anywhere from 500 to 2,500 words in my sophisticated home office until noon. I would then eat a healthy lunch and spend the early

I would then eat a healthy lunch and spend the early afternoon hours doodling, listening to podcasts, blogging, tweeting, and reading. The dog and I would walk around the neighborhood before dinner and my girlfriend, and I would spend the rest of the night on the couch in front of the TV. I’ll wrap up with some desert and journal writing.

This is my ideal day and I’d very much like to live it every day. It will be a long time before I can do it—if I ever can—but I live it as closely as I can in the hopes that not only does practice make perfect but that the steps I take trying to live that way now will get me closer to my perfect vision later.

I wake up early and even though I have to go to my day job rather than my sophisticated home office, I still pretend. I am lucky enough to work at a job when I am often getting paid when there is no particular task for me to be doing. Plus, the hours I do have are split-shift, so I regularly have large blocks of time to write when my mind is at its most creative and productive.

I write, I drink coffee, I eat lunch, I go for walks, and I blog and tweet, all in as close a proximity to the time I wish I could be doing them from home.

I am lucky that my life allows me to spend a great deal of time pretending I am already the writer I hope to be one day.

In addition, I talk about writing and the kind of life I’d like to live as often as I can. I tell others what I am doing and why. I encourage them to get in touch with their creative sides and to daydream and pretend they are living their perfect lives already too. I do this because I see other creatives do it. They did it for me. They say the secret to being the person you want to be is to accept that you are that person now and to live accordingly. What better way to accept a truth than to spread that truth around?

I try to be a writer, a real writer, in all that I think and do. I want to be a good person, a successful person, a fulfilled and proud one too. I strive to think of myself as already being that person and day by day, minute by minute, the more I do it, the more I change, and I can see now that one day soon I won’t have to pretend so much anymore.

This week I encourage you to the same. Do it for you, but do it for me too. The more I see it, the more I believe it, and I need a dose of faith to keep it going.

***

So yeah, I have a newsletter. Sign up, k? :)

Looking for a NaNo buddy? Add me: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/lsmblr85

Featured image via Unsplash

Stop Acting So Small

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. From now on Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. All the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore. This is our second chance, and this time, we might just get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves.

From now on Monday’s are our new favorite days!

As for me, this Monday is yet another hectic and disappointing one. I had hoped to take the day to work on NaNoWriMo prep but my day job had other plans. This week will be another busy one, just like the last, and I will be starting NaNoWriMo off with an already packed schedule. But, around here we do our best to find solutions rather than give up, and I’ve decided that—for the first week at least—I will be doing much of my writing from my phone and on the run.

I got this!

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

― Jalaluddin Rumi

I will admit, I have not prepared for this monumental undertaking nearly as much as I had wanted to. I nearly gave up at least ten times before I have even begun, but I found a way to stay positive, motivated, and energized. I have made the writing smaller and made myself bigger.

What I mean is, the writing is not going to be good, but I am a good writer for writing it.

No first draft is great, so I hear. I am going to vomit words onto the screen, and the are going to be ugly, smelly, and awful for everyone involved. Saying that does not make me a bad writer. Writing the words makes me a better writer than a whole lot of people out there who have never begun.

I am writing. I am a writer. I am writing a book and no matter how big or steaming the pile of crap I come up with, at the end of the month I will have something to be proud of.

The writing is small. The writing is nothing—for now—and I am great. I have something to say. I have a story to tell. I am a goddamned creative genius on the road to recognition and fortune! I will write the best novel history has ever seen!

Okay, maybe don’t make yourself too big. Maybe I am just a no-name blogger/aspiring writer, trying to make something out of nothing. A world where no world existed before, a hero who is everything I would hope to be, and a story that no one has ever read before. A story that makes people feel and think, and if I am any good at all, hope a little too.

Or maybe it will turn out to be a pile of crap nothing can be salvaged from and it will be the next book, the one shaped by all the lessons I learn in the next 30 days that will be the greatest novel the world has ever seen. Or maybe just a good novel that one reader really loves. Either way, I’ll be happy.

So to all of my NaNo peers, please remember how wonderful you are. Do not let the writing get the upper hand. Do not let the story tell you who you are. Do not let the words intimidate you. You are a goddamned creative genius! You are brave, you are smart, and you are writing the best pile of crap this world has ever seen!

Who’s with me?!

P.S. For those not breaking themselves to write a novel this month, this pep talk still applies. Just replace writing with anything you are trying to do. You can do it. You are smart and brave and you’re being here is a miracle. Do not let the work make you small. You are great for doing the work!

***

So yeah, I have a newsletter. Sign up, k? :)

Looking for a NaNo buddy? Add me: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/lsmblr85

Featured image via Unsplash

Give Compliments That Matter

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s imagine that Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. Let’s imagine all the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore and that we’ve been given a second chance to do it all again, and this time, we might even get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves, and for thinking about the changes we want to see in the world. Monday’s are our new favorite days!

As for me, this Monday has been off to a rough start. I went to bed late last night and failed to get anything ready for this morning, so I struggled. I lost important papers, I had to wait for clothes to dry, and I forgot to set my “5-minute” warning alarm and left the house a little late too. I’m doing my best to remember that the day is far from over and that it’s never too late to reset my mind and mood. I plan to take a walk, then eat lunch, and forget all about the shitty morning.

caroline1_1280v2
Caroline Caldwell

I came across the above image on Tumblr last night, and I fell in love with it. It took a while but I finally the source, the artist, and an Upworthy story to elaborate on the artist’s motivations.

Apparently, Caroline Caldwell “decided that people needed some ideas for how to compliment each other on things besides looks and physical appearance.” So, in collaboration with Van Nguyen, she created a public art piece to remind us all that there is more that can be, good about a person that what is on the outside.

I’m not very good about giving compliments. I didn’t exactly grow up in an environment where people said nice things about each other. Giving and receiving compliments makes me feel very anxious, uncomfortable, and sometimes, pretty panicky. Looking around and listening to the way people talk to each other and interact I get the feeling I’m not alone in this.

Complimenting someone makes us emotionally vulnerable. We fear either our compliment will fall flat or be rejected, or that it will be misinterpreted. We are afraid to give away our feelings for another person when we aren’t sure that the other person feels something of equal value for us. We don’t want to care too much. We don’t want to get attached. We don’t want to open our hearts, not even the tiny bit it takes to show someone we see something good in them and to thank them for bringing that good into our lives.

It’s a shame we’ve all become so bottled up and afraid. Life shouldn’t be like this. I should be able to say nice things and have nice things said about me without it being a big deal. None of us should ever feel unsure about what it is our loved ones love about us, and no one we love should feel insecure or unsure how much or why we love them too.

This goes for everyone in your life. Tell your mom why she’s great. Tell your sister what she means to you. Tell your wife what she does that keeps you coming back. Tell your kids why you are proud of them. Tell your friends why you choose them. Tell your coworkers how they brighten your day. Tell everyone you think something good about what that good thing is.

The catch? Do your best to make those compliments about something much, much more than looks and appearance.

Yeah we all like to look good, and we want people to notice and tell us when we do, but I’ve noticed that when people are comfortable giving or receiving compliments it is nearly always about what we look like on the outside. Those compliments are too easy. Let’s dig a little deeper this week okay?

If complimenting doesn’t come easily to you, give yourself permission to fudge it up a few times in the name of practice and progress. It will benefit you in the end, yes. Your relationships will become stronger, and people will feel comfortable to open themselves up to you too but remember you aren’t really doing this for yourself. You are doing this so to make others feel better. You are doing it because it makes this world a happier and healthier place to live in.

If enough of us resolve to be a little nicer and let ourselves be a little more vulnerable every week, we could get very far in a very short time.

***

 

If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter :)

Featured image via Unsplash