Anxiety into Art

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a hard one, I won’t lie. I spent a portion of the weekend in the doctor’s office afraid and in pain. I am okay now, mostly. My symptoms are still here, but I got the reassurance I was seeking. I will be fine for now. I came away with information and medication and a whole lot to think about. I’m feeling just a little better today, but I am on edge, wondering when it will get bad again.

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

― T.S. Eliot

My anxiety, as a result of all these health issues, has been uncontrollable. I worry about my body. I worry about medication. I worry about what I am eating. Food has become my enemy, and every meal is stressful. I worry about how I am impacting others and what people think of me. I worry about work and how I can cope away from home.

Breathing isn’t working. I am losing sleep, and I feel myself becoming isolated. In just a few weeks I have stopped writing almost entirely because I am either too tired or worrying so much I can’t focus. I miss writing, even just for myself. I want to do something I love again.

So why can’t I use this pain and anxiety for writing, for art? I can’t breathe or meditate my way out, maybe I need the opposite. Maybe I need something that requires more effort. Maybe I need to pull my pain out by hand. Maybe I need to dig deep in the dark and work for my relief.

Maybe I need to fight for it.

I don’t know exactly what form this writing will take or where it will go, but I think it’s just what I need. It feels right to hurt through writing and sharing rather than all alone and in my own head.

This week, if you’ve been feeling anxious, afraid, angry, or alone, pull that pain out and make something of it. Push, push, push yourself to move forward until you feel better or you collapse in exhaustion. Then get back up when you can and make something more. Write, paint, and sing all about what hurt and don’t worry about what people will think or what it all means. Just express yourself.

Take what you hate about yourself, what you work so hard to control, and let if fuel your creativity. If nothing else it will at least be a change of pace and offer some distraction.

You might even be able to work magic, do the impossible, and turn hurt into hope and joy.

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Featured image via Unsplash

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Use Your Art to Fight Back

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

For me, this Monday has been off to a rather plain and average start. Actually, thinking back just now it’s been a rather good start to the week, in the way that no news can be good news. Nothing has gone wrong. The weather is beautiful. I’m somewhat motivated, or at least I am optimistic. Plus, I have a few things to look forward to, like a movie party this Friday and a three-day weekend.

I do have a lot going on in my head, a lot of worries, anticipation, a whole lot of questions, and a few attempts at answers. I’m hoping it all can be leveraged for writing.

I’m learning to love my inner turmoil.

“Anytime you start to feel overwhelmed by the shitshow that is humanity’s impact on people, animals, and the planet, anytime you see that sentient cheeto’s awful face, anytime you think you cannot leave the house because the world is too hard, think about the art, performance, music, books, films, that made you want to be alive. Think  about how those artists, like you, felt overwhelmed by their life and time but they made the thing anyway. Your future audiences need your work.”

Beth Pickens, from her zine Making Art During Fascism. If you would like a copy just contact her and let her know, she’ll send you the PDF for free.

Last Friday I spent the later part of the day catching up on podcasts, and one of my favorites—Call Your Girlfriend—featured an interview with art consultant Beth Pickens who talked about creating and being creative as a form of political engagement.

Since the election, so many of us feel lost. Battles we thought we had won must be fought all over again even as new obstacles appear on the horizon. We may be feeling a little discouraged, run down, depressed, and angry. I know I am.

I want to do something, but I don’t know what. I don’t have a ton of money or time to give, and I feel bad for being unsure if I should give at all. My girlfriend and I are trying to plan a wedding, we have a house that needs work, and we are thinking about kids….one day, maybe. We have a dream and a plan, and I had hoped to put every dollar and minute toward that goal.

I feel selfish for saying that.

What kind of person am I that I can’t pull back from my personal life and look at the big picture. So many people throughout history gave their time and money so that I could live a better life, I should do the same. I should give back. But every time I think that I think of my girlfriend and the future we want and I can’t break the promise I made to her that we would have that perfect home and family one day, and I go on feeling bad.

But then I heard Beth Pickens talking about art, and her zine, and after, I contacted her and asked for a copy. I printed and folded it at work and read it as soon as I got home.

In it there is a questionnaire and a lot of it focuses on what you can give through your art. There is even a question about what you are not willing to give. It’s about how you should just keep doing what you are doing and do it for yourself and for the cause. It’s about doing what feels right.

Reading this little pamphlet made me realize that what I am already doing can help. I am already fighting, and I can fight even harder by using my love for words and art. I may not be the best, and I might not have the biggest audience, but what I have is valuable, and the people that follow me care. I can share my story, and I can share other stories. I can let people know I am here, that I am with them, and that I feel the way they feel.

I can spread hope, information, and encouragement.

So, this week:

Make art for self-care. The world is a harsh place and being alive is a hard thing to do. Life is confusing and terrifying, and so often sad. Art helps us express how we feel, and in doing so, we release something that was hurting us and find others who feel the same way. Art leads to comfort and community.

Make art to provide a service. One of the best ways to care for ourselves is to take the time to care for other people. Art can help people. Offer your services for a cause. Use your preferred media to raise awareness. Use your art to help someone else do good in the world.

Make art to explain what is happening. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around where we are in this country. Scientist and journalists do their best to get the information to us, but there are things about humans that are better explained through art and poetry than reporting.

Make art to teach people how to live. Humans can never be perfect but the more we know, the better we are. Art can bring each of us into worlds and experiences we would never encounter. Art can teach us how to live together in compassion and consideration.

Make art to fight back. There will always be people who want to make the world in their image and to them what is different is scary and cannot be allowed to exist. Make art and show them that you and many people like you are here and we are not giving up. Make art that is loud. Make art they cannot ignore. Make art that will make them think.

I am making art, through words and through pictures, not just this week but all year, because art is the path I hope will lead to the realization my personal dreams. I am going to create art and share it wherever I can to speak up and stand up for what I believe in. The world needs art, more now than ever, and I want to do my part.

The world needs artists, like you, now more than ever, to fight back.

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Featured image via Unsplash

Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Frida Kahlo

Hello, hello, and welcome to the middle of the week, dear readers. If you are feeling a little run down or if Friday is feeling a little too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan of Ronovan Writes. For my contribution this week, I have chosen a quote from the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

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Frida-KahloFrida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in her parents’ home, La Casa Azul, in Coyoacán.Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg thinner than the left; she disguised this later in life by wearing long skirts or trousers. It has been conjectured that she was born with spina bifida, a congenital condition that could have affected both spinal and leg development.

On September 17, 1925, when Kahlo was 18 years old, she was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. In addition, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen, compromising her reproductive capacity. The accident left her in a great deal of pain, and she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. She had relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life.

After her accident, Kahlo abandoned the study of medicine and began to paint, to occupy herself during her three-month immobilization. Her mother had a special easel made so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes. Self-portraits were a dominant motif then.

Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds.

In 1929 Kahlo married the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He encouraged her artistic endeavors and had a great influence on Kahlo’s painting style. The bisexual Kahlo had affairs with both men and women. For her part, Kahlo was furious when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. The couple divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940. Their second marriage was as troubled as the first.

Kahlo died on July 13, 1954, soon after turning 47. In his autobiography, Diego Rivera wrote that the day Kahlo died was the most tragic day of his life, and that, too late, he had realized that the most wonderful part of his life had been his love for her.

Although she has long been recognized as an important painter, public awareness of her work has become more widespread since the 1970s. Her “Blue” house in Coyoacán, Mexico City is a museum, donated by Diego Rivera upon his death in 1957.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

Frida Kahlo

I don’t remember when I first encountered a Frida Kahlo painting, but it feels like I have always loved her work. I love that she paints herself, and I love that I can feel her pain when I look at her work. At some point I did research who she was. I read her incredible story and I watched the movie made about her life too. I became obsessed and I now count her amoung my greatest heros and influences.

I once described her to someone who had never heard of her, telling him what I loved about her, and his response was: “so you love her for her pain?”. At first, I became defensive. I didn’t love her for her pain, did I? When I thought about it I had to admit I did, but I also realized that it was only half of the story.

I loved her pain, which became an intrinsic part of who she was, but I also loved her for her ability to translate it into something that could be grasped by those around her and for future generations. She learned to paint her pain so that the world could see that she was hurt, and she learned to paint her overcoming of it too. She painted who she was and when we look at her work we can see inside her and inside of all of us.

Frida Kahlo is all of us. She used her pain as a chance to learn a skill, to explore who she was, and to paint hers, and every human’s, condition.

I’m the kind of person who you might call pessimistic at first. I see suffering every where I go. I believe pain and suffering are a few of the only conditions every human shares with every other, regardless of our position in this world. The ability to see past that pain is something every human is capable of as well.

Pain and suffering give each of us a chance to contemplate our choices, our responsibilities, and our reasons for doing everything we do. Pain and suffering give us a chance to take those same questions and apply them to society and all people. Pain and suffering are what help us grow and eventually turn into hope, joy, and accomplishment.

I want to be like Kahlo. I want to take my pain and transform it into something that tells a truth about all of humanity.

I want to tell so beautiful a truth that it transcends race, class, culture, and time.

Happy Birthday Friday Kahlo.

You were such a lovely woman and a great influence on the kind of woman I would like to be one day. I wish I could have known you.

toni_frissell_-_frida_kahlo2c_seated_next_to_an_agave
Toni Frissell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Frida Kahlo, Las Dos Fridas 1939

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Biographical information via Wikipedia and Goodreads

Featured image via by martinak15 [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Writer’s Quote Wednesday // John Banville

Hello, hello, and welcome to the middle of the week, dear readers. If you are feeling a little run down or if Friday is feeling a little too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan of Ronovan Writes. For my contribution this week, I have chosen a quote from John Banville.

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children’s novel and a reminiscence of growing up in Wexford.

91Educated at a Christian Brothers’ school and St Peter’s College in Wexford. Despite having intended to be a painter and an architect he did not attend university. Banville has described this as “A great mistake. I should have gone. I regret not taking that four years of getting drunk and falling in love. But I wanted to get away from my family. I wanted to be free.”

After school, he worked as a clerk at Aer Lingus, which allowed him to travel at deeply-discounted rates. He took advantage of this to travel in Greece and Italy. He lived in the United States during 1968 and 1969. On his return to Ireland, he became a sub-editor at the Irish Press, rising eventually to the position of chief sub-editor. His first book, Long Lankin, was published in 1970.

After the Irish Press collapsed in 1995, he became a sub-editor at the Irish Times. He was appointed literary editor in 1998. The Irish Times, too, suffered severe financial problems, and Banville was offered the choice of taking a redundancy package or working as a features department sub-editor. He left.

Banville has been a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books since 1990. In 1984, he was elected to Aosdána, but resigned in 2001, so that some other artist might be allowed to receive the cnuas.

Banville also writes under the pen name Benjamin Black. His first novel under this pen name was Christine Falls, which was followed by The Silver Swan in 2007. Banville has two adult sons with his wife, the American textile artist Janet Dunham. They met during his visit to San Francisco in 1968 where she was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. Dunham described him during the writing process as being like “a murderer who’s just come back from a particularly bloody killing”. Banville has two daughters from his relationship with Patricia Quinn, former head of the Arts Council of Ireland.

Banville has a strong interest in vivisection and animal rights and is often featured in Irish media speaking out against vivisection in Irish university research.

Art is like sex: when you’re doing it, nothing else matters.

John Banville, The Art of Fiction No. 200

As a writer, I know that I am supposed to be an observer of the world. I am supposed to take in the people and conversations around me and use them in my work. I know I am supposed to read all that I can and learn all there is about those who have come before me.

I know that good writing means understanding humanity, telling the truths we need to hear, and showing us the hidden sides of ourselves. To do that I always have to be aware of the more subtleties and the coded messages in what people do, and don’t do, every day.

To be always observing and interacting in the world is time-consuming and because I am always writing, in my head if I do not have a screen or a pen, I forget to maintain my awareness of life. For me, writing happens all the time, and when writing is happening, nothing else matters.

When I cannot write, I want to write, and when I am writing, I can’t think of anything else. I feel very much like I am in a new relationship, where there is hardly time to talk or to get because we cannot keep our hands off of each other.

Writing and I, we think of nothing but when the next time we might be alone together again. Writing and I, we feel the kind of passion for one another that other writers have written the most beautiful and arousing poems about. Writing and I, we long for longer days and sleepless nights so we might feel the warmth of each other’s skin again and again. Writing and I can barely catch our breath.

But just like relationships that are all passion, in the beginning, I am afraid Writing and I might burn out soon if we don’t slow down. I have to make time for other things because in any relationship you should have pursuits and interest outside of the one you love. You have to go out into the world and bring something back into your little bubble. Writing and I will grow weary of one another if the fuel runs out and I have nothing new to offer.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, there may come a time when things slow down a little around here because Writing and I have to try new things, learn new things about each other, and keep our relationship fresh and strong. I love the kind of writing I do here, but passion can’t be all there is to any relationship.

There has to be more.

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If you have some time to spare, I encourage you to check out the interview with him from the Paris Review.

Oh and if you’re interested I have used another quote from John Banville in a previous Writer’s Quote Wednesday post. From the same interview too!

Original image via Iwan Gabovitch

Writer’s Quote Wednesday // W.E.B. Du Bois

Hello dear readers and fellow writers and welcome to Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. Each week bloggers share their favorite quotes to motivate and inspire one another to keep writing and working toward our goals. My contribution this week is from the  American author, historian, and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois.

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W.E.B. Du Bois circa 1911

William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois (pronounced doo-BOYZ) was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on February 23, 1868. He grew up in a fairly tolerant and integrated community. He identified himself as “mulatto,” but freely attended school with whites and was enthusiastically supported in his academic studies by his white teachers. In 1885, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University. It was there that he first encountered Jim Crow laws. For the first time, he began analyzing the deep troubles of American racism.

He attended Fisk College in Nashville, then earned his BA in 1890 and his MS in 1891 from Harvard. Du Bois studied at the University of Berlin, then earned his doctorate in history from Harvard in 1894. He taught economics and history at Atlanta University from 1897-1910.

Du Bois adamantly opposed the idea of biological white superiority and vocally supported women’s rights. In 1909, he co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and served as editor of its monthly magazine, The Crisis. 

Du Bois rejected any compromise in his quest for equal rights and political representation for Black people, he wanted nothing less than all America had to offer and believed that the Black intellectual elites he named the Talented Tenth would be crucial in obtaining those rights. He refused to play by the rules White Americans imposed on the Blacks. He would not fall into that trap and instead encouraged a new way where Black people stopped caring what white people thought and start playing their own game.

Du Bois would go on to become a prolific author. His collection of essays,  The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903, is a collection of 14 essays, in which he urged black Americans to stand up for their educational and economic rights, was a classic work in African-American literature. His  1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks were responsible for the failures of the Reconstruction Era. He wrote the first scientific treatise in the field of sociology; and he published three autobiographies, each of which contains insightful essays on sociology, politics, and history.

He died on August 27, 1963, in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. He was 95 years old.

Thus all Art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists. I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been used always for propaganda for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy. I do not care a damn for any art that is not used for propaganda. But I do care when propaganda is confined to one side while the other is stripped and silent.

– W.E.B. Du Bois, Criteria of Negro Art

In this quote, Du Bois is speaking about his belief that art should mean something and not just be purely for art’s sake. He hated that White people had been misrepresenting Black people in an unflattering and cruel way, and represented their own race as always good and beautiful. He also hated that black artists  worked so hard not to offend White people in their own art. He believed Black people should no longer critique their arts by white standards and instead create art that counters the current prejudice and tells the story of racism and suffering in America.

Propaganda

noun

information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

The word propaganda has a lot of negative connotations in most people’s minds. People think of lies, wars, and corrupt governments, but propaganda can be used for good, and it can be used to tell the truth. In Du Bois time art and writing were used to counter misinformation and raise people’s awareness, tolerance, and compassion.

Today the world still needs this kind of art and like Du Bois I believe all art should be propaganda. I have no use for things that are just “pretty to look at”. I have no use for art that doesn’t make me feel or see something I haven’t before, or doesn’t remind me of a part of myself I have forgotten.

All artist and writers should strive to tell a truth about the world, correct a wrong they see, or counter a conventional, yet incorrect or harmful belief. Du Bois meant specifically the belief that “all things white were good” and “all things black were bad”, but what about “women always say ‘no’ when they really mean ‘yes””, or “all gay people are perverted”? What about “all Muslims are terrorists” or “racism doesn’t exist anymore”?

Artists and writers should be working to make the world greater through their work. They don’t have to tackle big issues, even a small contribution is worthy. A personal story that sheds light on the parts of our lives we are ashamed to talk about or that illustrates the immense love that can be found in a family is something I would consider good and beautiful. I talk about my little life with my girlfriend and my pets, but I want to show that even the ordinary should be seen as wonderful and rare. I want to show that each of us is something and that we all deserve happiness. My art has a meaning.

Art should always spread information and ideas about what is good, bad, beautiful, and right and wrong. It should raise awareness and tell a truth about the world. It should shine light wherever darkness and evil still prevail.

Biographical information via Wikipedia, Goodreads, and Biography.com

From Here to 2016

The end of the year is approaching and I thought it best to sit down and think about how I’d like the end of the year to find me. I haven’t done everything I wanted to this year but I’d like to make one final push to the end, and start 2016 off on the right foot.

I’m not a blogger whose stats mean everything, but they do mean something. My first goal here was to reach 100 followers, I did that just over a year ago. My next goal is to reach 500 followers. I haven’t gotten there yet but as of this writing I am very close. It’s kind of nice to have so many people want to read what I have to say. I hope to reach even more people next year. I hope to reach somewhere between 750 and 1000 readers. I absolutely think I can do it.

So from here until 2016 I’ll be working on my editorial calendar and get ahead of my posts here. I’m also going to start cross posting to Medium and Tumblr more. I want to get back into participating in Twitter chats and to comment on and share other bloggers work more. I also want to start writing posts that are more thought provoking and posts that are helpful.

This year I had my writing published for the very first time. Two of my poems were chosen for inclusion in a zine called fēlan. It was a small thing but it was also a big thing. It felt very good to be chosen. It was the first bit of validation I have felt. I want more of that. I want to feel like my work is good enough to warrant printing on real paper and offering for sale. I want know that one way or another my writing is good enough to make a living at.

So from here until 2016 I am compiling a list of publications to submit work to next year. I will have of schedule of their deadlines and I will work hard to write the best I can for them. I hope by this time next year I will have been included in many more publications.

But if I hope to make any sort of living at this I have to learn to write fiction too. So I will be joining a few writing challenges that focus on creative writing. Creative nonfiction and story telling are where I hope to go with this. I had tried this year to write fiction but I am terrible at coming up with ideas. I figure it is a matter of just practicing better though, I used to be bad at coming up with ideas for this blog. I practiced and now I see ideas everywhere.

So from here until 2016 I’m going to practice thinking of ideas. I will start with prompts and photography inspiration, writing based on pictures I see. I’m going to start with short stories, small scenes, and bits of dialog, to get the ideas flowing

The last thing I want to do next year is begin working on my art again. That will be the hardest thing to accomplish because I really have no time for it and I have not idea what I am doing. It took quite a long time to build a writing habit and now I must get myself into an “art habit”. I don’t know how I am going to do it yet but I know I have to start slow. I would like to do a Year of Creative Habits type of thing but I’m not sure how I am going to work that in.

From now until 2016 figuring out some way to become the artist I want to be. I am leaning towards breaking up a challenge of being creative for the year, into 12 smaller art challenges. A month of collages, a month of drawing portraits, a month of watercolors, you get the idea.

Which brings me to my final goal, and the point of making time for art, I’d like to write and illustrate my own graphic novel. I’ve wanted to do this for a very, very long time now but it always seemed like an impossible task. I tried to let it go but I still think about it constantly. I have ideas for characters, I have a general idea of what time period this thing will cover, and I know how I want the reader to feel while reading it, I’m just a little short on plot.

So, from here until 2016 I will be brainstorming and free writing until I have a better idea of where I am going with this thing. I think if I have a clearer vision the whole it won’t feel so impossible. I know it will take some time but I don’t want to waste anymore than I already have. This rest of this year will be about ideas so that next year can be for rough drafting.

I know this all seems like a lot. I know I might not accomplish all of my goals but by starting to think about it all now, by trying to plan ahead, I think I can give myself the best chance. I want to set myself up to do more than I ever have and get farther than I ever thought I could.

And this time next year I will be doing the same for 2017.

When I’m Not Writing…

Write every day, but don’t put your life on hold…

— Vincent Mars, “Writing as a Way of Life“

I have been wondering lately if writing here hasn’t taken up just a bit more time than it should. I haven’t really been doing much else and I don’t think that is healthy, or any good for my writing in the long run. I have to step away more often and do other things so I can come back with a fresh perspective and tons of inspiration. I have to make sure to keep things in balance.

So what do I do when I’m not writing.

Reading

Every writer has to read, that is the number one rule of good writing. Honestly I have never really met anyone who liked to write that didn’t like to read too. I haven’t read nearly as many books as I wanted to so far this year but I have been reading more literary journals and magazines. I’m into flash nonfiction right now so that’s what I read. I love New Philosopher magazine and the Black Warrior Review.

I already feel like I need a change though and I imagine I will be back to fiction (and maybe writing some fiction) very soon

YouTube

Usually I would tell people to stay away from such a time suck but I have learned that YouTube has some very interesting, informative, and educational channels. I watch them while I write and I watch them when I don’t know what to write about, YouTube Always helps. My favorite channels are The School of Life, Vice, Nerdwriter, and TED. I follow a bunch more but these are the ones I check everyday.

Podcasts

I’m new to the whole podcast thing. I thought they were all stupid until I found Joe Rogan’s podcast. A friend recommended it and I finally listened so he’d stop bugging me. I expected to hate it but it was actually very good! I listened to him while doing the dishes, a chore I hate. Then I started listening to other podcasts through Soundcloud and Stitcher, A few of my favorites are The Partially Examined LifeOn Being, and Mortified. I listen to them as often as I can, downtime at work or out walking the dog.

Walking 

I try to walk as much as I can. I don’t think it’s the best excersise but it’s better than nothing. I figure as long as I get up and move at least once an hour or so I am doing better than most. I like that my phone comes with S Health, an app that helps me track how many steps I’ve taken. I also have Google Fit another fitness app that tracks that amount of time I am active. I try to walk for an hour a day. Not all at once, but broken up between a lunch break walk, and walking the dog a few times a day.

I think it’s a good thing to do something where mind can wander. If I’m sitting it usually means I am doing something I have to focus on. If you are up and moving there is no particular thing your mind has to do.

Brains need breaks too.

Movies

I don’t watch a ton of movies but I like getting out and going to a theater and focusing on a film for two hours with no distractions. I think it’s important as a writer to study other mediums of art and expression. You can gain inspiration that you wouldn’t think. I tend to like movies that are witty, that make you think, and are subtle in their humor, preferably with an “indie” feel. I like Wes Anderson, I like Tarantino, and I like the Coen Brothers. I know, how very hipster of me, right?

I also watch a ton of documentaries, I’m currently getting through all three volumes of Human on Youtube.

Art

I want to make art even though between all my other activities I have no time for it. Soon I hope I will though. In the mean time I like to collect art and inspiration in places like Tumblr and Pinterest. I like anything that has emotion to it and good design.

I wish I could have known da Vinci or asked Jacques-Louis David about his painting “The Death of Socrates“. I love the iconic Frida Kahlo and I love the easily recognizable Audrey Kawasaki. I like the comic book artist Jae Lee and the elusive Chiara Bautista, who’s “characters and their ongoing stories are made as gifts for people I love”.

I love all art!

Time with Friends

My friends have similar interest to me. We like to discuss philosophy and movies and art and books. We also have some different interests and ideas about right and wrong and funny or not funny. We get along well and we debate often. Talking with them get the wheels turning and ideas flowing. They are good friends, supportive but not perfect. Sometimes our debates get out of hand but we always let it go. We try to learn from each other.

My activities outside of writing aren’t the most exciting but I do feel they feed the muse and give me a well of information and inspiration to pull from when it is time to get back to work. I think I will spend more time on them going forward because while I should write often, I should also live my life too. I should cultivate my other interests and let them compliment my writing.

In response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: Writing and not writing

Make Something.

Good morning dearies. I want to welcome you all to yet another work week. I’m already up and at it, making plans and typing away but it’s been a rough one. I was tired this morning and not at all emotionally ready for the day. But I have my coffee and I have my ideas and I am trying to get my ass in gear.

This week want to make something. Writing is, and will forever be, my first love but art is a very close second. Lately, art has been telling me it is feeling very neglected. I fear art may leave me for good if I don’t start making it feel appreciated. I want to take a day or two this week to sit down with some pencils and pens and just doodle a bit. I want to remember what it feels like to create something.

I hope writing will understand.

This week I will also be working on showing more love. I am naturally a very loving person but the world is a harsh place and I feel myself becoming hard and cynical. I feel myself pulling away from the people I care about and that is just plain unacceptable. I don’t mean to it’s just that I feel a bit lonely in my struggles and so I push people away because I need to show my girl some love and my friends and family need it too. Hell, even my dog needs my attention.

I will remember, no (wo)man is an island. I need them and they need me.

This week I’m also gonna focus on breathing, relaxing, and drinking some good tea. I love my coffee, trust me I do, but there is something about tea that forces you to stop and enjoy the world around you. I love a good mint tea and a nice cup of matcha tastes like summer to me. I like it hot, cold, with milk or without, any way you have it tea is just plain good.

Coffee is for getting you moving, but tea is for slowing you down, and I definitely need to slow down a little.

I wish you all good luck in the upcoming week. If you have your own goals or habits you’d like to implement or change, let me know in the comments :)

You Say You Are Not an Artist but….

The smells from the kitchen make my mouth water. I wander in to find you chopping vegetables while the meat cooks in a pan, and one of your shows plays from Netflix on your iPad. I know from past experience that dinner will be delicious, even if it’s something I’ve never had before.

You say you have no passions, and you are in awe of the fact that I can write and draw. You have no idea that when I watch you cook, I feel as though I am seeing a masterpiece being created right in front of me.

I try to eat the ingredients while dodging your attempts to smack my hand away. You yell at me, “I need those for the dinner!”. I smile while walking away with a mouthful of shredded cheese. You shouldn’t create such succulent smells if you don’t want me to get ravenously hungry.

The growls from my stomach and the intense desire to eat have forced me to steal bits of diced onions from the cutting board and half-cooked meat from the pan. I love you for that.

You call me to the kitchen when it is ready, and I immediately get up to make a plate. I know you will be angry if I allow the food to get cold. This masterpiece is meant to be consumed hot and fresh. If it gets cold, it will be ruined, and you will be sad no matter how many times I tell you it is still good.

You say you are not an artist, but I can’t help but be reminded by the anger I have read from writers and painters whose work has been misused and misinterpreted.

I make a plate piled high with the selection of foods you’ve prepared. As usual, it is something more than the average dinners most people eat every night. There is always some new ingredient I have never had. It is always a twist on the ordinary.

I think about how all artist are inspired by other artists and how the trick is to take something someone else has done and make it your own. You say you are not an artist, but I know without knowing that your rendition of this recipe is different from any other’s.

I eat fast because I am hungry and smelling this meal for the past hour has aroused a sort of excitement in me. I make sure to taste every bite though because I know you will ask how I like it. I recognize your distinctive style in the meal. Pasta cooked just right, firmer than anyone else’s I’ve had. The vegetables are firmer too and fresh. You never use anything from a can. The flavors are strong but sophisticated, usually containing herbs like basil and thyme. There has been no salt added because you see no point and because you think it’s cheating.

You say you are not an artist, but I have learned that flavors are as diverse as any painter’s color palette, and your palette is unique to you.

After dinner I lay on the couch, too full to move and too satisfied to want to. You are happy and proud; I know you are from the look on you face. I praise you for the meal you have prepared while I wonder how you do it. And like any artist, if I ask you will shrug your shoulders and tell me nothing you have done is that special and that I could do it too if only I would try.

What you don’t know is that like any artist you have a passion and a drive that makes what you do possible.

What you don’t know is that eating your food is like looking at Antioch’s Venus de Milo, or Van Gogh’s Starry Night, or reading just about anything by Shakespeare. You create something that is beautiful, and more than any painting or piece of writing, you create something that nourishes me.

You are an artist, and I am very grateful for your work.

Image via https://flic.kr/p/s11FLq