Interlude #1

Interlude #1

I have to get up extra early tomorrow for a training meeting I am running at work, so I don’t have enough time to write about what I was originally going to write about and give it the thought it deserves. So instead today I decided to share my daily reflection, my one positive thing a day project I wrote about yesterday.  Here goes:

Today a co-worker approached me to ask me a question, referring to me as a guru on the topic; it always makes me so happy to a knowledgeable resource to others.

Merry Go Round

Merry Go Round

Time really gets away from me sometimes. It’s so easy to get caught up in the monotony and repetition of each day. The pattern of hurry up and wait.

It baffles me sometimes how weeks and months just past by. I lose touch with people. I feel like I’ve been less than productive. I look back sometimes, and it’s like life is going by in a blur.

It’s like when I was a kid, playing on a merry-go-round. When you’re on a merry-go-round, everything goes by in a streak, and eventually, you get a little dizzy. But you can always put your foot down, like an anchor, let it slow you down until you finally come to a stop. Sometimes, I just want to put my foot down.

 

This feeling of the world going by too quickly and slipping out of my grasp is one that has plagued me for years. I can’t help but think there has to be a way to regain some control over my life. A few years ago, I had an idea that I thought might help. I decided each day to write one positive thing about my day–something good that happened, or that made me happy, or that I learned. Something unique and positive about the day.

My theory was that this would allow me to connect with each day, to recognize each day as unique, even if in small ways. I believed that by reflecting on each day I could more fully experience it, remember it better, and not let it pass me by. I also felt like it would help me cultivate positivity, gratitude, and mindfulness.

I stuck with it for awhile, and it really made me happy. But as frequently happens with habits, eventually my positivity journal lay abandoned. I revisited this concept multiple times but never with any real longevity.

The idea has always been in the back of my mind, and at the beginning of this year, I decided to return to it yet again.

On New Year’s Eve, I was at Powell’s (my favorite bookstore, ever), where I saw a beautiful Thich Nhat Hanh themed journal. The timing was serendipitous.As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts and feelings, and at this time, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed (by both wonderful and less than wonderful things) and was actively seeking some kind of inner peace. I’ve considered myself Buddhist for nearly half my life at this point, and have admired Thich Nhat Hanh and his writings since college.

I bought that journal, and since January 1st, I’ve been using it to write down something positive every day. Sometimes I fall asleep or forget and miss a day, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I just take some time the next day to reflect on the day I’ve missed.

It’s only been a month and a half. I honestly don’t know if it’s made much of an impact on my life. I think it’s probably too soon to tell. But that’s a month and a half that I’ve stuck with it, and for that, I am proud of myself. And more importantly, it feels right and it makes me happy.

Photo Attribution: By Eddau (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

A Knot to Untangle

A Knot to Untangle

I read an article the other week called the “The Uncompromising Power of Daily Habits” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

It’s not the first time I’ve been exposed to this concept. Many have preached about the value of daily practice, or daily habits. It’s easy to see the logic in it.

What made the article such an inspiration to me is the way he wrote about it. His argument is concise and logical and he provides his real life example as evidently, and he does it with a clear voice. But it’s his real life experience that stuck with me.

For the last few months, I’ve been teaching myself web development. It’s been my ongoing goal to spend some amount about time, no matter how small on my coding studies. And I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been doing a really good job of working a little every day.

It wasn’t a smooth route. I wasn’t always consistent in the beginning, but I’ve come a long way. I’ve even learned to recognize when I need a break and take a day off.

I understand the power of daily habits. I’ve been doing daily work. But it was the writer’s specific experience that stuck with me. He started to blog daily to get better at writing.

With so much going on in the world recently, there has been a lot going on in my mind lately. I have so many ideas jumbled in my brain that I can’t see where one ends and another starts. I need to sort them out. It’s a knotted mess. Somehow, I have to untangle this knot. Writing is how I sort through and process ideas.

These are two separate experiences of mine. One, the experience of feeling inspired by this article. The second of my internal conflict that I’ve been facing in light of a reality that has changed suddenly and dramatically. Two separate experiences, but they exist together.

For weeks, all of these thoughts have been stewing in my head. I knew I needed to get them out, to write them down. For so long I hadn’t wanted to split my focus, but now the need to write kept bubbling. I just didn’t know where to begin. I was so overwhelmed.

So here is where I try to sort it all out by keeping a daily blog.

My goal: to write something, anything, whether 50 words or 500, every day and publish it here, with as little disruption to my web development studies as possible. Good, bad or bizarre.

I don’t expect it to go smoothly, at first. I’m sure I won’t be very consistent to start. But no pressure. For now, this is just for me. Because I have a knot to untangle and writing is how I do that.

photo credit: http://www.ilkkajukarainen.fi IMG_0018 via photopin (license)

Almost Midnight

This month’s Yeah Write poem was the haiku.

I don’t normally read or write much poetry, but I love haikus. I was so excited! I really wanted to write and submit a haiku. So, I have been working on one on and off all month.

Unfortunately, I forgot about it last night. We had a friend over for dinner. She comes over every week (usually on Wednesday, not Tuesday), so I was a little distracted. It happens.

But since I only get home a little before 7pm, I missed the deadline to submit this for the contest. By like a minute.

Really, it’s the minute that kills me. Especially since I was even home earlier that usual.

Oh, and because I finally finished the haiku. On Sunday.

It’s all good though. Because I worked hard on it, dammit! And I’m going to share it anyway!

Because I can.

(And besides, isn’t the point, really, that I wrote it?)

This haiku is inspired by a time, a while back, when I was working swing shift, and I was waiting for the Max (light rail) after work. I’d always wanted to write a haiku about that moment. Almost Midnight is the name of the poem.

Spring breeze sets paper

on the tracks, as the train nears.

A man plays his sax.

Working My Way Out

Working My Way Out

I’ve been working my way out of a writing slump.

Lately, it has been difficult for me to find the energy and motivation to write or practice lettering, which has left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It is especially difficult not writing. I always feel a little off when I haven’t been writing enough.

Besides feeling like everyday life is seeming to take a lot more energy than usual, I recently applied for a pretty big promotion at work. I just had my second interview this past week and am waiting to hear back. Between applying for the position, preparing for the interviews, and now the anxiety of waiting to hear the decision, this has been taking up most of my mental energy and focus for the last couple of weeks, along with a few other things that have had me stressed out.

In my head I know better. I know that more emotionally off I’m feeling, whether angry, sad, anxious, or stressed, the more I should be writing. But that’s often when it’s the hardest to write.

I haven’t neglected writing entirely, but finding it difficult to focus, have been writing much less. The less I write, the less easily the words come out. The way I’m feeling reminds me of a fountain pen left too long without being used. The way the ink refuses flow through the nib, I’ve been struggling to form words. Last weekend I plotted some of a story I’ve been working on for several months, but the words only trickled out. I did not feel the catharsis I feel after a great writing session.

I keep trying, though, and slowly it’s getting better. I know that’s way out.To keep writing. And this is what I’ve been trying to do. Just the way the ink in a fountain pen writes flows more freely and writes more smoothly the more you write with it, I know the words will come more easily and more freely the more I write.

I’m learning to accept that there will be times like this where I find it hard to write. And sometimes things come up, and life truly can interfere, but going through periods like this doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer or am doom to be unsuccessful. I have to be willing to actively work through these times, finding ways to motivate myself and get the words flowing, which I am learning to do. I may never be able to avoid these times completely, but I do think that learning to work through blocks is a skill that be improved with practice and perseverance. I keep trying, and I do think my periods of total non-writing are shorter and fewer than historically. And continuous improvement is the best I can ask for.

Word Art Wednesday: What I’ve Been Doing

Word Art Wednesday: What I’ve Been Doing

Word Art Wednesday is my new project designed to help me practice my hand lettering and calligraphy skills.

The goal is to post examples of my lettering and calligraphy practice once a week. Every Wednesday I will show off what I’ve been working on for the previous week, good or bad.

I came up with the idea as a way to encourage myself to spend time every week on both my writing/blogging goals and lettering/calligraphy practice, allowing them to reinforce each other, while I work on improving my skills in each. I also hope that having a visual representation of my progress will keep me motivated and help prevent me from being discouraged during those inevitable moments of doubt when I think I’ll never improve.

*

Hand lettering and calligraphy are old hobbies of mine. Hobbies that I haven’t thought much about in a long time, until recently. Sparked by an idea for a gift for a friend, my interest has been reignited. And as often happens, I’ve been so enraptured by it that I have barely been able to focus on anything else.

And for this, my writing has suffered, and I’ve neglected this blog.

have been writing these last couple of weeks, but not as much as I would like. And I haven’t been sticking to my posting schedule for this blog. I’ve been unable to focus.

I decided I needed a way to stick to my writing and blogging goals, while still allotting some time each week to practicing my calligraphy and hand lettering.

I have a tendency to become deeply enthralled in something for a brief period of time, before abandoning it entirely.  I don’t want this to happen. I enjoy lettering, but I’m not especially good at it. Besides, I haven’t done it in a really long time. I need to practice.

That’s why I’m starting “Word Art Wednesday”, which would probably be more adequately called “Word Art Practice Wednesday”, but that’s a little cumbersome.

 

The idea is to bring the two things together, to allow them to work together and reinforce each other. By working my new hobby into my blog, I hope I can work it into my writing plans and goals for the blog, without too much added stress and anxiety.

With that said, here’s what I’ve been working on the last couple of weeks.

Calligraphy:

I’m using a fairly wide nib, which is recommended for beginners because it’s easier to see what you are or aren’t doing properly. The font I’m working on is Roman minuscule, modern 2. I chose lowercase because for some reason I was finding that much easier than uppercase. I’m pretty happy at the moment because I’ve been practicing for just about two weeks and I feel like I’m already improving. This week I plan on working on some capital letters as well, so I can write proper sentences.

Lettering:

I’ve been doing a lot of doodling and experimenting with pens, pencils, and fonts, mostly. This is a small (and the best) sampling of what probably appears like bunch of random scribbles to anyone but me. There are many options with lettering and I’m still working on what direction I want to start with.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8263540@N05/9169068026″>Pen and Paper</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Designed a Custom Header (And a Featured Image)

Designed a Custom Header (And a Featured Image)

The Creative Stretch

Creativity is more than painting a picture or writing a story. It’s more than art. More than a way of thinking. It’s a skill. The same thing that allows us to daydream on the bus or design a building can help us find unique solutions to everyday problems, big and small.

Creativity is something we can improve, just like any other skill. It’s something all creative types, and perhaps everyone in general, can and should practice.

I like to practice creative thinking, not just by focusing on writing (my main creative outlet), but also by finding other ways to be creative. No act of creativity is insignificant, and something as simple has decorating my nails in a new and unique way or coloring page in a coloring book has value to me. Continue reading “Designed a Custom Header (And a Featured Image)”

(Reflecting) On Blogging 101

(Reflecting) On Blogging 101

I admit I’ve been distracted this week. In fact, I’ve been sitting on this post for days. I can’t help it; I was lost in an amazing book. (The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, more about that later).

And I finished it today, so here we are.

But even still, I’ve spent a lot of timing reflecting on the Blogging 101 course I’ve been spending time on this month. Continue reading “(Reflecting) On Blogging 101”

Lessons in Invisibility

Lessons in Invisibility

This is what I’ve learned:
Rule 1: Stay out of the way. If someone bumps into you, you’re cover is blown.
Rule 2: Don’t bump into anything or knock anything over. It doesn’t matter if they can’t see you, if you start making a ruckus.
Rule 3: While we’re on the subject, be quiet. Wear clothing that doesn’t rustle too much, walk gently, and don’t breath too heavily.

I’m upstairs in the bedroom when I hear noise in the kitchen. I got home from work early and came up to change. I finish dressing quickly. This is perfect. I prepare myself. I check my reflection in the mirror and it isn’t there. It’s weird not having a reflection, but that’s how I know it’s working. Continue reading “Lessons in Invisibility”

What 734 Words Can Mean

What 734 Words Can Mean

Last week was a good week for me as a writer.

I wrote a blog post for the first time in over a year! Even more exciting, I wrote a short story for Yeah Write, a weekly writing challenge. A whole short story. From beginning to end. I actually got to the point where I could go back and revise and edit. Revise and edit!

It’s short, less than 750 words (per the submission guidelines). But the shortness was the point. I have struggled so much with finishing things that the relatively small word limit appealed to me. Seven hundred and fifty words seemed long enough to be able to develop a well thought out story, but short enough to be feasible. It took some of the stress off. Continue reading “What 734 Words Can Mean”