5 Things, Creative Advice, Self Dare

Writing Against the Bad Tide

Despite how much solitude involved in this kind of craft, writing is also very much plugged into working online. There’s the social media aspect, networking, blogging, posting pieces for people to see, all that good stuff.

And right now, the entire Internet can be quite…

Draining.

And that’s putting it lightly.

Scary shit is happening in the world. We are perpetually bombarded with new Bad News about what certain high-powered individuals are doing to fuck over the population. And as if the news itself wasn’t bad enough, there’s also seeing the reactions and horror stories and opinions, and the responses to that, and…

Now more than ever, it’s important to understand balance and taking care of yourself.

Here are a few tips I’ve been using to help stay productive while also staying informed about current events:

  1. Decide when and how much you are going to expose yourself to the news: I am trying to limit myself to one particular point in the day to get a rundown of my news around the world. I’m also trying to move away from first thing in the morning, because it can easily set the tone for the day.
  2. Recognize when it’s time to unplug: You may need some time completely away from the computer, the phone, etc. Fall back in love with the pen and paper. Or…
  3. Disconnect from the Matrix: Sometimes it can be as simple as losing your Internet for a while. Check out programs like Freedom to allow you to work without the temptation of surfing.
  4. Mind your physical traits: eat, sleep, drink water, meditate. Go outside and stand in the sun. Even if it’s cold. Make yourself exercise (I just got a small fitness stepper for my office and it has been awesome).
  5. Keep creating things: just by putting things out into the world, you are doing a great service to many. People need art right now more than ever. People need to escape. People need to be inspired and to see characters doing the things that they may not be able to. Don’t stop. Don’t give up.
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mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

Powerlessness and You

Today, someone messaged me and asked how to deal with the feeling of being powerless, and the ensuing emotions that resulted from that feeling. They also said that they would feel so bad that they weren’t pursuing anything else, out of solidarity for those suffering. I answered the inquiry, and I wanted to share with you what I said to this person:

First of all, I totally understand the feeling. When things are happening on a greater, grander scale (like national or even global decisions), it’s natural to feel like there isn’t anything you can do, and that leads to feeling frustrated with yourself, getting depressed, etc. And I don’t want to say that it’s “good” that you feel that way, but it’s a better response than not caring at all.

And sometimes it’s not even on such a big scale. When we see someone in our life who is in pain, we want to make it better. We want to fix the problem. And when we can’t, it feels like a failure. We take on their suffering because we believe that somehow it balances out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. I mean, put yourself in the other person’s shoes: if you were to find out that someone was suffering on your behalf, would that make you feel better? Probably not.

Ultimately, though, it’s about balance and finding a direction to turn your emotional response.

For me, personally, regarding the bigger scale issues, after the election and after the first few weeks of just feeling like the world was ending, I started getting more involved with activism in my area. Nothing huge, but this week we met up with some people and wrote to our local and state representatives. Next, we’re planning an event to help raise money for local organizations. That feels good. It feels like something, and it keeps me rooted in knowing that I am a part of the ‘good side.’

On a smaller, more personal level, I’ve also been getting back into the mode of creativity, because I know that people need something good to look at when things in the world seem pretty dark. This is the time people need art and words and anything to make them feel a bit better. If I can use that to bolster the spirit of someone who is suffering, I will.

And really – take care of yourself. Feeling bad in and of itself will only wear you out. Enjoy the things that you love and be grateful for them, and look for ways that you can reach out and be there for people having a rough go of it. Remember, you need to secure your own oxygen mask before you can assist others with theirs.

Once again with regard to the bigger stuff, this is a particularly good read that a friend posted on Twitter this week, and it was something I absolutely had to read.

I hope this helps. Hang in there!

Creative Advice, Goals and Ambitions, Self Dare

Ducks in a Row: Getting Shit Straight

This year, I have been trying to get more organized.

And it’s strange because whenever I think about clearing out clutter or time management or goal-setting or habit-picking-up, it always seems like this daunting task. Like glacial spelunking or digging out your own hobbit hole.

It seems to be even worse when you’re a creative person (and, in my case, one with a variety of interests and a short attention span), because life is a damn sundae bar of options. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. I feel like the first two weeks of January were essentially spent staring at the wall going, “I can’t do everything. Why can’t I do everything? This is bullshit!”

Then, I tried a different tactic. I dropped the endless list of ‘I Want To’ and instead asked, ‘What do I wish I had done?’ I started breaking down the things that I realized I wanted to do last year and then for whatever reason didn’t do. Then, by narrowing it down, I acknowledged that I wish I had:

  • Gotten more published.
  • Written more original pieces.
  • Finished editing my novel (or at least getting a chunk of it done).

Surprisingly, this one minute of hindsight gave me the guidance I needed to put wheels into motion for the future. And once I had those pieces in mind – that I wanted to especially do those things, among all the others in the Pile of Peculiar Pleasures – opportunities and ideas blossomed.

I’m also going to be continuing to use my blogs to document my work and inspire others. bohemian.on.rye will continue to be where I will post new pieces of writing and writing-related stuff worth sharing. Meanwhile, I will focus SelfDare on creativity, living a fulfilled life and being happy.

I know things may seem crazy out there in the Real World, but we’re all here. This is all happening. We’re in this together. Time to Evolve.

And because it needed to be said on here, if you were out marching this weekend, you are a freaking rock star and I love you.

mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized

Morning

I got up and I didn’t want to talk about this.

When I went to bed last night, I just lay there in the dark. We didn’t wait for it to be called, but we waited long enough to know. I felt sick. I didn’t think this would happen. It did.

I dreamed about it. Or at least, it was in the back of my dream mind. I recall being in a bus, trying to take pictures of the world beyond, and I kept considering what the world would be like when I woke up.

This morning, I kept waking up before it was time to actually get up. It felt like the opposite of Christmas. Like if I just stayed where I was and tried to go back to sleep then maybe this wouldn’t be a reality. Yet here I am.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but I wanted to talk to you. Because I know you’re scared and I know you feel ill and I know it looks very, very hopeless.

You are all worth every ounce of whatever goodness there is in this fucked up world. You are just as beautiful as you were yesterday and you’re still beautiful today. You are still loved. You still deserve decency and safety.

I’m not saying don’t be upset. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to be hurt and disappointed and angry. I’ve been angry since the beginning.

But don’t give up. I’m begging you. Don’t lose sense of who you are and a vision of what the world could or should be. The only way we’re going to get back to that is if we fight for it now. Do not give in to hopelessness.

Be vigilant. Be aware. Be informed. Research your state’s laws and government processes. Reach out to the people you know who are afraid and let them know that you’re there for them. If you’re afraid, talk to people you love and trust. Be kind to the people around you – that includes you. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, create things. Pursue happiness.

And if you are thinking about hurting yourself over this…I beg you. Don’t. You are a crucial part of this world. Please don’t go. We need you. We love you. You are so very, very necessary. Your life is a gift. It is wonderful.

And I’m here if you need to talk.

Self Dare, Uncategorized

Gratitude Journals (Stop Rolling Your Eyes)

Because that used to be my reaction.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a lot of things to be grateful for, or that I didn’t think that it was good to maintain perspective of the better parts of life when things were particularly bad. Those were all very important to me. But actually writing it down? Why bother?

Now, after a couple of weeks of doing it, I’m here to tell you that there is a big difference between saying ‘I’m grateful for this thing’ and taking the minute or two to actually acknowledge it with pen and paper. Not only are you bringing yourself fully into the present of the realization, but you’re also face to face with all the things you’ve named prior to that.

You can say how thankful you are to have friends until you’re blue in the face. But you’re not going to write down ‘friends’ seven times in a week. Suddenly you get a chance to consider which specific friends are a crucial, wonderful part of your life. You find yourself realizing what it is about the people around you that lights up your day to day existence.

It doesn’t take long. A minute or two tops. But it makes as much of a difference as saying “I like to bake” and actually cooking a dozen cookies.

It’s magic. Try it. Even just for a week. You don’t need a super special journal or an expensive pen. Just take an index card and update it every day with the things that make you stop and go, “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have ___.” Give it a shot. I dare you.

 

Self Dare, Uncategorized

Travel Alone

 

This past week, I took two days off before the long Labor Day weekend, and I went to New York City.

When I tell people this, the immediate question is a variation of, “Who did you go with?” So like, “Was it you and your husband?” or “Did you go with friends?” or, my favorite, “You went by yourself?” The last one comes with an incredulous, slack-jawed expression that I would imagine one might get when they share that they decided to try hillbilly hand-fishing.

I try not to make too much of a face at this point, because I’ve gotten used to this line of questioning. My husband doesn’t like to travel. I do. So instead of sitting around moping or, worse, haranguing him into it and ultimately dealing with the adult form of ‘are we there yet?’ (‘there’ being ‘back home and not in a strange city I don’t like’), I go by myself.

Traveling alone is wonderful, and I recommend it to everyone. You don’t have to necessarily go eight hours on a tiny bus to one of the busiest metropolitan melting pots in the world, sure, but there is something to be said for the experience of self-reliance and happy spontaneity. Every second is a multiple choice question that you get to answer:

Do I want to:
A) Go to the top of the One World Trade Center Observatory and eat a grilled cheese sandwich while I listen to fifty different languages all being awestruck around me?
B) Ride the Staten Island Ferry and take a billion tourist-tastic pictures of the Statue of Liberty?
C) Sit in the park across the street from a bohemian hotel next to a sleeping puppy and read while the sun goes down over Hoboken?
D) Take my pants off and eat a burrito-sized sushi roll in bed while watching re-runs of Bob’s Burgers?

The correct answer was all the freaking above.

Ask yourself when the last time was that you let your feet take you wherever you want to go, instead of basing their path on the whims of a companion. Imagine all the stores and pockets of magic you wouldn’t have to skip because there’s no one to compromise with.

Sure, it may be a bit intimidating to be with yourself for a while in a place you potentially aren’t too familiar with, but I think it’s a challenge worth taking.

In fact, I dare you.

Self Dare, Uncategorized

Ouch (On Being Bad)

It’s been a while since I’ve been bad at something.

Normally, when interviewing for jobs or discussing things that I want to try out, I usually boast that I can learn most things after watching it once or twice. That’s how I learned felting. That’s how I learned karate. That’s how I’ve picked up on sketching techniques, so long as I’ve been focused.

Don’t get me wrong, that has not meant that I’ve mastered these things after once or twice, but I can at least pass.

Right now, I’m learning to play the ukulele.

My fingers hurt.

I’m stumbling over the inch between a C and a C7.

I can’t strum. I’ve even bought felt picks so I can focus on the chords (which I’m not good at — see prior point).

I want to play because I know I can sing. Now there’s something I can do. I’ve always been able to sing, through no real effort other than maybe some choir practice when I was a kiddo. It just comes out of me. But this? It’s really damn hard, guys.

I’m not giving up, but it’s hard to keep from getting discouraged when you see something that you think you should be able to do but can’t. Why is that? Why are we always afraid of being bad at something? It’s not like I’ve signed up for a one-person uke tour or anything. The only people who have heard me play are my dad and my husband. And yet every time I pick Lilo up (yes, I named it) I’m like, “Okay, I’m ready to be perfect.”

Slowly, I’m trying to learn to let go of that.

You’re never going to be perfect starting out. Sometimes you’ll feel good. Sometimes you’ll feel like you can see how it will eventually be something really awesome. And sometimes, your fingers will hurt. It’s just a part of the process.

What’s the last thing you tried that you wanted to be good at? How have you overcome the discouragement? I’d love to hear about it!

inspiration, Self Dare, Uncategorized

5 Living Reminders

  1. There’s somebody out there who is doing worse than you right now.
  2. If you’re concerned that you’re not as good of a person as you think you are, that puts you ahead of the game (keep exploring that).
  3. In a whirlpool, if you panic, you die. Relax. Ride it out.
  4. Give yourself a little bit of mercy now and then. You’re the only one hearing you say ‘uncle.’
  5. Touch your own heart. Feel it beating. Remember that you’re still here.
Self Dare, Uncategorized

Be Kind

Be nice to someone. Right now. You don’t even have to spend money or pick up the phone.

Send them an email. Write a note and leave it on their desk.

Message them on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr with a fond memory and tell them that you’ve been thinking about them.

Text them a picture of something you bought together or a DVD that you watched together.

Make something for someone. Leave a dollar on their keyboard for a snack.

And afterwards, relish in the feeling that you made someone’s day. It’s like magic.