All too often, I wish for things that are easily within my reach. Things that could fall into my arms without effort or things that I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I never achieved them. My wish list is just too wimpy. This year, I’m going to add things that will seem like miracles if they happen, things that will knock me off my feet with joy, things that I dream about instead of doing. What’s on your list for 2015?
Archive for ‘Fresh Ideas’
At the bottom of a long, hot arduous trail in Yosemite this summer, we ended up at a spectacular river that was crystal clear and icy cold from snow melt in the high country. Peeling off shoes and socks and plunging in to cool off was a revitalizing pause between hiking down and the long haul back up in unaccustomed high altitude. Sometimes we need a pause between stages of life, I think, but it’s a luxury not many of us have. After all, we have to keep going to work even when we don’t feel we’re doing a great job. We have to take care of the kids, even when we forget why we wanted to be parents. We have to sleep in the same bed, even when we wonder why we married the person we’re sharing it with. And life just keeps sweeping us along in its current, so how do we find a way to sit on the bank, cool off and gather energy to continue on? I particularly need to press Pause right now in order to give my brain a break from pawing over stale, overworked ideas. I’m going to start by doing something totally different and unconnected with my job — a weekend of watercolors instead of words. I’ll keep my hands busy so my mind can relax and spin some new stories in the background without being hitched up to plow the same field day after day. The brain craves novelty and fresh experiences and play, and I’ve been treating mine like a work horse. Time to giddy-up and take it for a joy ride.
I’ve been thinking lately about how much of my job revolves around finding new things rather than coming up with new ideas. It’s entertaining, but it makes me nostalgic for the old days when I was married and we were so broke that — well, just take my word for it. We were sooo broke. My husband was low on the totem pole in the Navy, and libraries saved my sanity and gave me a sanctuary from a very bad marriage. But more than that, they were playgrounds for my brain. All I did was read and wonder and do amateur research and go on a 10 year self-education journey. I read indiscriminately, widely and innocently. Classics, bodice rippers, history, biographies — it was one big cultural mash-up, just like my desk and mood board. I want to get that fervor back and reclaim my beginner’s mind. Before Barnes and Noble, I used to hit the library once a month and have an afternoon binge on all the new magazines. Now I just buy them, and it’s not as much fun. I want to learn with some of the same hunger I used to have then, even though “that was in another country, and besides the wench is dead.” I can’t go back to my original blank-slate state, so it’s an extra challenge to find ways to rekindle that passion for knowledge, innovation, fresh ideas. I stumbled across an interesting blog entry today about Overcoming Creative Block and it gave me some notions to try out. One of the things I want to do is leave the office to walk around streets I usually drive by and take photos. Every day I pass an abandoned store that seems to have some taxidermied animals in the window draped in glitter cloth. Is it a mirage or some weird tableau?! I need to get out of the car and find out, and I need to do more reading outside my comfort zone like I used to do. Because the more you pack into your brain, the greater chance that one of those serendipitous leaps of the imagination will occur, with your mind connecting the dots on its own while you sleep or daydream or wander around. I’m going to put myself back in a school for one — re-educating Nikki.
1. Cultivate one fresh, green idea. Not just the dull, rusty I’m-in-hibernation green of my frostbitten jasmine vine or the I-might-be-dying green of the bamboo plant I’m nursing on my porch. I want sap-running green, neon green, spring-onion green…tender green shoots promising succulent, tasty projects.
2. Make a map of my day, inspired by Sara Fanelli’s book.
3. Download something inspiring to listen to on the way to work, like this.
4. Make a 7-song playlist for the week. You can sample my choices here.
5. Dress with more creativity instead of resorting to black on black every day.
6. Have a conversation with my conscience and work on one thing that will make me a kinder person.
7. Believe someone is going to rock my world in a good way this year. Please, no rocking my boat, only my world.
8. Love my wrinkles. Or at least be good friends with them. Okay, maybe shake hands with them and have a cup of coffee.
9. Think sexy thoughts. Absolutely necessary for creative mental juiciness.
10. Go fishing for deeper friendships instead of waiting for them to jump in my boat.
Do you ever get tired of the morning routine of wake up, shower, shampoo, brush teeth, dry hair, moisturize and maybe makeup? Sometimes I wonder how to be more awake to life when I walk through the same monotonous steps over and over every morning. There’s one morning ritual that I almost look forward to though — using the squeegee on the glass shower doors. I love being enveloped in hot steam and water and then wiping the slate clean before I step back into the world. While I’m in the shower my wanders lazily and daydreams furiously about projects I’ve started or want to start. From the inside looking out, the room, the day ahead is a blur, a mirage. Taking time to clear the shower doors with the rubber blade prepares me to cross the threshhold into the day, to take those ideas and dreams out into the world where they might gather shape and form and color. A tiny meditative practice that adds a bit of meaning to my morning. Do you have a ritual that prepares you to meet the day?
I’m slowly making my way back into keeping a regular journal, working at it from different directions. The gluebooky way above in which I slap on some gesso and glue down things that seem to want to go there. I’m also keeping a journal of my year of change, trying to figure out if synchronicity is working in my life, if what seems to be chance is really a harbinger or messenger of change. I’m thinking about what happens in my life every day to see if I can find instances of change at work or if I’m taking steps myself to prepare for change in this transitional phase of my life. The other journal I’m keeping is the one-sentence-a-day diary proposed by Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project. I’m writing that one in the little 5 Year Diary by Tamara Shopsin. Oops and I forgot…Fridaville is being redesigned with some fun things planned like weekly “Postcards from Fridaville” sent out to people who sign up for them, so I’m keeping a journal of ideas on that. All in addition to my day job, for which I have a Skirt! Magazine notebook to keep me focused on coming issues. Just writing all of that down makes me feel unfocused and crazy — should I just have one notebook that all of this goes into? The separate ones seem to help me keep my different roles and goals separate, but I don’t know…maybe I’m just spinning my wheels. And I don’t want one of those 5-subject spiral notebooks from school because they make me think of warm cafeteria milk and math assignments I never finished. Big shiver down my spine just imagining it. How do you keep track of all your projects?
…is Change. I veer between thinking that change is inevitably bad or that I’m too old/comfortable/sensible to change. That the house of my life is framed in, dry-walled, insulated and picket fenced. As it should be after years of trying to get to just that state. All the years of not being able to pay the bills on time, of owing the IRS, of driving crap cars, of career ups and downs, of crazy self-drama and unbridled emotionalism, of cobbling together a living until I accidentally hit on something that became a sweet little success. Why would I court Change? Especially when I’m convinced it always means someone leaving, something ending, something falling apart. Early sorrow teaches you to lowball your expectations. So this is my year to sidle up to Change with a carrot in my hand and make peace with that wild unpredictable beast. What if Change means someone new comes into my life. What if Change means an unexpected new beginning or project or talent? What if Change means me letting go instead of hanging on? What if I start dismantling my old ideas about Change? I figure there’s a 50/50 chance of Change being positive, so I’m going to work the odds and envision my 17 year old self getting on an outbound bus again without a clue to the destination. What’s your word for 2010?
I was terrified about presenting a slide show at our local Pecha Kucha … 20 slides, 20 seconds each so you have only that tiny slice of time to make your point. You can view mine by bringing up the You Tube video on the sidebar–it started off a little rough but picked up speed and went over well. It was a sold-out house — 350 people — and usually I panic in front of a crowd. But this time I overprepared, rehearsed the narration a million times, had a friend give me feedback and kept tweaking it til two hours beforehand. Rehearsing it out loud over and over helped me almost memorize it, but the best part was the slide show because it anchored me and calmed me (in addition to the beta blocker I took beforehand!). It made me realize how, although I’m no artist or photographer, having a visual component to my writing is so exciting and inspiring to me. I loved “storyboarding” my ideas in a primitive method of using a desk blotter monthly calendar and filling in the squares with my ideas for each slide. Then moving the slides around and timing and editing the script was incredibly satisfying in a different way than writing is for me. The whole process opened so many doors in my brain. As soon as I can conquer Keynote and iMovie, I want to take a digital storytelling workshop and make a little 3 minute “movie-ette.” Not for any particular reason but just to tell a story in a different way. It makes me sad that in the past I’ve said a mental “no” to things I’ve wanted to pursue because I didn’t know enough or couldn’t be the best at it or thought it wasn’t worth doing if I couldn’t make money at it. What have you been postponing out of fear or inertia or perfectionism?