Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Three Solutions to Creative Roadblocks

I have the habit of giving common, non-essential things the ability to distract and deter my progress on my projects that I've set out for myself. This means if I every want to get anything done, I had to come up with some strong coping mechanisms, or counter-habits, to keep me from becoming a recluse who never achieved her dreams. Anyway. Four things prompted this post, and I think that it will help you finally get into the process of creating whatever it is.

Step One.
Now, I'm not on to cheat on my future husband but sometimes you just need an attractive British man's music to help lead out whatever inspiration you've been sitting on. It's well known that music influences your mental state, and you should be mindful as to how your soundtrack is or is not promoting a creative environment. So, make progress and listen to this.

My generation believes that life is better with a soundtrack. If you don't like Benny (picture above) then find a suitable replacement. Just don't waste the entire afternoon looking up music. Here, I'll help: use Songza. Pick your mood music (my favorite is Rainy Day Indie) and then get working. An advertisement-free soundtrack for your next working sesh. You're welcome.

Step Two.
In reality, this post is not for people who are lacking creative ideas. I can't write to them, I can only write to people who are like me and are sitting on numerous ideas and just need a little push to get going. Seeking creative geniuses only: if you know that you have to create, then you just do. You're not happy pushing paper and you never really graduated from the "finger paint" stage of life.

As I was going through my "starred" items on Google Reader in preparation for it end my seamless reading habits, I came across this old post of John Mark McMillan (one of my favorite songwriters) shared this tweet with on his old retired blog:
You're addicted to inspiration. You consume it but do nothing. You've been inspired enough for a lifetime; it's time to go make something.
What other prompt do you need?

Step Three.
Get lost in the process. For a moment of accountability, right now I am in the process of launching a Youtube channel addressing a specific women's health issue. So far, I have sat around, planing and thinking, and accomplishing little. The reality is that I just need to jump in and produce something. I'm just need to start working at it. Another gem from my starred items mining was this post from a paleo website that featured a recipe, but a delightful life lesson quote at the top:
...once you have collected your information and decide to put it to use you MUST JUST LET IT HAPPEN.
Moving one step further from step two, in this mindset you have to let go of the perfection of what you're imagining and get lost in the process of creation. Things aren't going to be perfect, and even if you had the hundred dollar editing suite and a masterful produce and editor behind you, even then you can't get choked up in the end result. What are you not letting happen? I've been sitting around for the past couple of days working on my Master Thieve's rank in Skyrim and cuddling with my cat. I could have published two videos by now. Be realistic with how unrealistic you're being and get going.

Step Four.
Okay, so you're a creative genius and you have the yearning to create. But you just went through a break up, a job change, you're living with your parents, you got in a minor car accident, and your creative well has run dry. Fortunate for you, a dear friend of mine has been putting the pressure on me to get working on The Artist's Way, a devotional book of sorts to help cultivate creativity. I do believe that eventually you have to leap from the visionary/planning committee chair and into the action chair, but as a counselor, I also want to stress the importance of self care. Don't neglect creation, nor inhibit it.

And if you don't like that song by Benny, then look up his rendition of Call Me Maybe. Trust me, you'll be ditching Carly's version by the end of the first chorus. Honestly, I could of stopped writing after that first point because I believe that there are few things that an attractive British musician can't solve.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to achieve everything you want out of life.

I'm sick of reading about Lena Dunham. This is mostly because I'm jealous. (Whenever my dad asks me if I want something, I tell him that I really would just like him and mother to be featured in the Atlantic already so I can hurry up and write my own television show) but I love reading piece about strong female writers because their careers and cultures are attractive to me.

So attractive to me that I could pee myself with how badly I want to be involved with that culture. This is differently then wanting something that someone else has, this is a deep understanding that you are not in the field that you are supposed to be in.

Ever since I turned 22, I've been in a series of mini crisis, under debate of what my evolving future is looking like. I worry about if this doctorate-bound intellect really did wants to be a tinseltown creative? And then I worry, ohmygosh, do I even have what it takes? I'm dying over here.

How do I say no to either option? Writing had been one of my largest passions growing up, it's what I studied in college, it's what I pursued when I procrastinated everywhere else in my life. So, I decided that I need to find a way too be able to reach these goals. I suppose this is what failing in your twenties is for.

During my summer break I am taking three months to practice anything, just anything to get my creative juices going. I've got three "big" dreams that I want to be able to accomplish before I get old and have children or a job or anything that creates less time.

This also has forced me to start working with my friends. I present my four major ideas to my friends/family members as my first round of market testing, and then I jump into it. There are a variety of things that I'm working on here. One is a non-profit, another is a book I want to get published, and the third is a youtube channel, and the forth is a possible professional roller derby career. Well, as professional as those things go.

The only way to touch the basis of "accomplishing what you want out of life" is to just try in the first place, but not all at once. Giving myself a time frame means that for three months I'm going to do my absolutely best, work my hardest, and see how much I can accomplish for myself. Should make for an interesting blog, at the least.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to become a more honest person.

There are a wide array of writers that I read, from Penelope Trunk to Betty Duffy. I make it a rule for myself to not write about the journey of being a writer because there's plenty of that commentary on some other blog. Instead, I want to focus on a piece that Duffy posted a while back that really stuck on my mind.

The phrase of "living in the light" isn't some cliched Christian phrase (at least in this case). Duffy's friend phrases it well, "There would be no lies or deceit in the bedroom, no words said that she didn't mean, no acting in ways that she didn't act naturally, to make the gift of self, the gift of humbly and wholly being herself as God made her--not as some magazine told her she should be."

After reading that post for the fifth time,  I searched to find the photo posted above. It was taken when I was fifteen or sixteen, and it remains to this day my favorite photo of myself.

That appeals to me when I consider the hoops I've tried to force myself to leap through to maintain the appearances of who I am and what I do/don't believe. I struggle with that with writing this blog, with having an understanding of who I want to be in the future and what I want to be able to accomplish.

So, here it is. You become a more honest person well you lay aside the hoops that you force others and yourself to leap through. Giving up that mental exercise gives you more energy to be present, to have the ability to give others the gift of yourself.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What to do after your first car accident.

After walking into my bedroom after my first car accident, I flossed my teeth. I passed the dentist on my way home from my first car accident, and decided that since my next appointment was around the corner from my current season of tragedy (re: my first car accident), the last thing I needed was to get any new cavities. I then sat in bed and watched episode after episode of Eureka and tried not to cry.

On my way home, I almost wish I had a brain gadget that could record my inner dialogue. It went something like this: I never want to drive again. What if I just don't move and let myself die in this Arby's parking lot? I hope that the cop appreciates that we pulled of here. After he gave us our reports his buddy cop parked next to them and they grabbed lunch together. I wonder what all the cars driving by think of me. My broken headlight sits there like a badge of shame. I wonder how many routes there are that will prevent me from ever going through this intersection again.

It was a small incident. We were at an intersection, and I had just started to move forward. I swear it was like some Star Trek movie scene because her car literally came out of no where. I even checked my blind spot, like my parents taught me! I haven't been able to reach my dad, but that's probably okay, because I'd just cry. And I'm fine! I don't understand being a woman and having these hormones. I didn't cry when my mom was there, because I was fine! And the other driver was fine! I cried with the insurance agent, though. I think it was because she had the "I'm so sorry that you were in an accident and are you sure you're okay?" voice (which I'm sure she was hired for). I started crying on the spot. I'm crying right now just thinking about it.

This isn't a very useful post for anyone googling "what to do after you have your first car accident", so here are some solid take aways:

Things to do after your first car accident:
-- do start flossing.
-- don't get in another accident. it will just make you feel worse.
--  do spend the rest of the day in bed, if that is a luxury afforded to you.
-- don't despair about how the accident was a metaphor for your directionless life.
-- do cry to someone about it, even if it's just your insurance claims agent.
-- don't throw your keys into the woods or the ocean. you will drive again, my comrade.
-- do cut back on the lattes to save for the bump in your insurance premiums.
-- don't start smoking to manage your stress.
-- do let your friends come over and make you cookies while you cuddle during a movie.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How You Benefit from Your Last Breakup

The first thing that my therapist in Indiana told me was that I was an extremely intellectually and professionally developed young woman with some great accomplishments, but emotionally, I was only 12 years old. I would like to think that going through the ordeal that was my first year of grad school that I aged a tiny bit emotionally, that I challenged some of the scripts that had been embedded in me from a young age.

These past two days, I've felt like I'm fifteen. Not in a youthful, vivacious sort of way (who can really call themselves vivacious at fifteen?) Presently, I'm settled safe and sound in my bedroom at my parents house in the great state of North Carolina. Moving back into this home, and my old bedroom, with all of my "adult life" furniture and "adult life" emotions means that there's been some major cleaning that I've had to do lately.

Most recently, this was present in the form of dealing with some old relationships that were rooted from the time that I last lived with my parents. It's an extremely immature response to be frustrated and upset when someone breaks up with you right before YOU were going to break up with THEM, and it's been in my nature to always want to either (1) have the last word, or (2) make amends to then break up in the way that I wanted it to go so that I can have the last word, still.

Before leaving Pennsylvania, I learned the expense of spending myself emotionally on matters that were out of my hands or otherwise extremely costly. I feel like this applies here. If someone shuts the door on your relationship or friendship or an opportunity is no longer available, accept it and move on. See it as them doing you a favor: that's one thing that you no longer have to dwell on, one less thing to ping you on your radar.

I'm not saying that it should hurt, that it doesn't suck to see those people leave or see that opportunity leave, but that's the essence of life. My friends mock me for having a deep, deep love for the circus, but really, life is a parade. I learned this in DC (and most of my undergrad career). You have got to get in the mindset that some people will come into your life for a short period and then that time will be done, over and gone. Mourn it, but don't torment it.

There's an emotional cost to writing late at night, but I'm not "emotionally developed" enough to want to consider that right now.

In order to give some sort of take away for those (in Russia? I don't understand my blog statistics) that have been reading, here's my anthem from the year I was 10, remixed with one of my favorite (modern) bands.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In other matters — things about the office — I can usually do what I set out to do and I can learn by experience, but when it comes to writing I’m a new-born baby every time — always come into it naked and shivery and without any bones. I never learn anything about it at all. I sometimes wonder whether one can possibly be meant to do the thing at which they are more blind and inept and blundering than at anything else in the world.
-- Willa Cather

and so I am. I thought I would have my act more together, but I don't. I wrote a post for today, but it's just be whining and I wanted to find links to include to validate myself, but I couldn't, so I am posting a quote about a writer talking about writing. I hate that, but it's three thirty and I have a therapy appointment in the morning and windows is trying to update my computer and I have ten billion links that I can't lose and I'm unsure about packing and moving and I'm having people over for dinner tomorrow and I'm not ready for that and I have a scarf I need to finish, too.

Time for bed.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to not ruin your marriage before it begins.

The other night I had a dream that I was running around in a real life Minecraft world with my (non-existent) husband. The thing that was significant about the dream was that true to middle-schooler fashion, I was constantly running off and doing my own thing and not really interested in contributing to our minecraft house and minecraft life. Extremely selfish. The main purpose of me running off was because I desired to be the center of attention, because I felt I wasn't the center of his attention. Running away and wrecking havoc in other people's Minecraft lives was how I decided to go about getting his attention.

The three things that I woke up thinking, first was that he really looked like a football player I've seen on campus (red hair, slay me), secondly, that I should probably stop playing Minecraft/Don't Starve so late, and lastly, that my behavior was super immature. Even though it was just a dream, I woke up with extremely feelings of shame and even bashfulness.

The bashfulness reaction reminded me of the heroine of Redeeming Love, who runs away from her amazing husband who wants to provide an amazing life for her. In the same way, maybe part of me didn't want to allow my husband to contribute to my life in that way. Maybe it is a sign from my subconscious that I'm still too selfish to be a good wife to anyone.

The dream was probably the result of a perfect storm of late night Indian food, having a dinner guest who talked to me about pregnancy, children, marriage and relationships, and the reading that I've been focusing in on lately.

I don't know how to interpret my dream beyond that. But I do know that you have to work for your marriage like you would your career. You have to invest, improve, work long hours and sometimes late nights. It's important to learn how to fight, and how to not take things personal. If you want to have good stories when you're 50 years in, you have to start in year one, and probably even before that.

I'm relishing my single years like they're going out of style. As a Christian university graduate, I see wedding notifcations all the time on facebook. Baby pictures are popping up from all angles. I'm not envious. It just makes me appreciate even more the time that I have now to cook the foods I want, when they want, and wreck on other people's Minecraft houses as I well please. (But not really because that's extremely rude.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What were you doing when you were younger?

Penelope writes about looking at what you did when you were younger as an idea of what you should do in the future. Her story involves ditching Hebrew school.

What's your story of where you were when you were younger? It took me awhile to figure out mine, but I believe it has to do with boarding school and Uganda.

When I was fifteen years old, I researched a boarding school to get myself out of dodge my parents' house. I had been homeschooled up until that point (aside from a rogue semester at a Christian private school) and knew that I needed more independence than my parents could tolerate giving their fifteen-on-thirty daughter.

The whole thing was planned out. I found an all-girls college preparatory school that was roughly an hour and a half away, had Christian heritage, and it was perfect. I completed the application and paid the fee myself. I would have driven myself there, but I think I only had a permit. My mother and I hit the road after picking up coffee and muffin from Starbucks.

During my time at Salem, I spent a lot of time dodging Resident Assistance who were out to get me, spent a lot of time in detention hall (the library. it was a very, very tough punishment for Luddite like me. I'm still grateful for the magazine records that place had). The time in the library lead me to read about high schoolers in Illinois who were raising money for schools in Africa.

I also read about the holocaust in Uganda and found a list of organizations at the end of the article that were serving in the area. Instead of starting a new organization in Uganda (where I had never been) why not take the pressure off the organizations to fund raise, allowing them to focus on what they were originated created to do. These organizations were doing great work but were often too small to be ale to handle the demand of needing a full fundraising/marketing team.

I started a blog (and then an organization) and raised awareness. Connected with some other folks who were passionate, too. Found a lawyer to do pro-bono work to get us incorporated. I approached the dean of students and proposed my idea and she told me that I should focus more on raising my European history grade. I called my parents and asked to come and instead of going back the next year, I went to Uganda with a medical missions team.

 So, what does this story tell me about myself:
I'm a visionary.
I like making connections.
I'm not worried about being conventional.
I like to take risks.
I love to travel.
I care about helping people.

As I sit with moving boxes around me, getting ready to say goodbye to friends and move back home, I still think that a lot of these things are true for me today, and there are some definite patterns from my time in college and in my career so far.

This is really an important exercise to keep in the back of your mind when you're making large decisions for the future. Right now, I have a year of blank space between me and a doctoral program starting in the fall of 2014. When you root yourself in what was true of you in the past -- of who you are and what made you happy -- you can make more secure decisions for the future.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I'm supposed to blog something here. Anything here, I suppose. I don't like doing things without planning, but such is the life of an ENTJ. I don't know what the topic for my blog will be, because you can't just choose "life" or "anything". I spend most of my days reading and writing about what I've read and cooking good friends who come over when I break for meals.
Through my training as a counselor, I've learned that the unexamined life is not improving, and those who think that they have "arrived" in their field simply took an exit earlier than the rest of us.
So, keywords... Something about God and this little thing he made called being a woman.