What I should be doing

What I should be doing

I should be doing something else right now. Maybe it’s cleaning the kitchen, maybe it’s client work. Or maybe it’s as simple as getting dressed and brushing my teeth for the day.

There’s stuff to do. Things to read. Even more to write.

Why then do I sit staring at this blank canvas these days before moving on to things that pay or things that need cleaning or things that have seven more seasons of 40-minute-long episodes?

Do I take on more client work because it’s what I want to do? Or what I need to do? Do I prefer writing for them because there’s structure provided or an audience guaranteed?

I love writing, but lately, I don’t know what to say. By the time I get around to thinking of what it is I might most want to relay, the sound of distant cries increases in intensity. Suddenly, nowhere in our house is quite so distant.

So I wait. I wait for something big enough, important enough to write about. I wait for a moment when the work is done and the baby’s asleep and the house is clean. I wait for a reason to dust off the digital cobwebs on my blog.

And when the stars align and all of that is finally in place — I freeze. I look at my work and say, this isn’t good enough. It’s not strong enough to be the piece that sits at the top of the page for however long until I next get my moment.

I shouldn’t be writing about my inability to write freely these days. I should be writing about the injustice of racism and how videos from last weekend’s events left me in tears and outrage. I should be writing about taking a stand…but also, not having to do so on Facebook for it to officially count, lest we be caught up in a modern-day “If you love God…” forward email chain.

But if I’m not going to speak on all that, I should be professional and show my range of skills. I should show off some recent client work or write in a way that could attract the work I like to do. Write just like all the other articles I read and think, “I should try to do that too!”

If not professional, at least make it witty and fun. Share a little piece of our life or cute photo or something, right? What the heck is a blog for if it’s not to share some personal life with the world wide web in hopes of gaining a few new followers?

Is this blog still a thing? Should I give in and let go of the domain as the bill threatens will happen if I do not pay in 60 days? Take it off my portfolio website and just say, “trust me, I write”?

No, that isn’t the answer. I’ve got to keep going. Keep tapping the keys with my unusual yet somehow surprisingly effective self-taught typing ways. There’s more to work than getting paid. There’s more to the internet than showing off, seeking approval, or spreading hate.

There’s no one moment to act, do, write, or say. It’s over and over–again and again. Continuing to live and plod on, letting the tasks become habits. Those habits move toward discipline and eventually, a way of life.

So continue I’ll do.

Proof of Creativity

Proof of Creativity

There’s something about creativity that begs to be seen. Show me your big idea, let me read your work, play me a song, hang up your art, watch that video project.

And then the masses, they can say, “how nice, how artistic, how talented” you are at that thing. Or, of course, there’s also the risk of a negative response, or even worse, no response or acknowledgement whatsoever, leaving that creativity vulnerable and alone in the world.

But one is never enough. You need a body and collection of work. It can never be stagnant or stale. You think you’re a writer? You call yourself a musician? You want to be a videographer? You consider yourself an actress? You say you’re an artist, a dancer, a dreamer, a poet? Prove it. 

Instead of the love and the passion and the drive that once compelled such creativity, you find hustle and exhaustion and burnout. A world that says, if you don’t keep churning out more you’ll be lost and left behind by all the ones ready to chew you up and take your spot.

It places all of your worth into what you produce or your results. You’re only as good as your latest project, and it better be something recent, otherwise, what have you been doing all this time?

And not only that, but where’s the self-promotion, the curated pieces, the shows and the gigs and the countless fans along the way?

For the average creative, or maybe just for me, it’s too much. The hustle and chase and sacrifice is too great. Maybe that means I’ll never make it or never have my name in lights. I’d like to hope instead that it means that my creativity and my sense of self will still stay intact.

May the thoughts and dreams that excite me stay possibilities and perhaps even one day realities, instead of drowned out by the noise and expectations to keep the same rapid pace of someone else. May my success be simply gratitude for the ability to create and connect with others, instead of an addiction to constant adoration and attention that can never quite be fulfilled. May I find moments for creativity and inspiration but not feel it is my only or greatest legacy.

That’s not to say that hard work, dedication, and motivation have no place here. All of these make their home here, just as I welcome space, grace, rest, and relationships. It’s about finding a balance and enjoyment instead of making chores out of the things I love.

So, for the last few months the blog has been quiet. This time I don’t think I’ll try to promise a revitalization coming soon but just let it happen as it happens. As for creative side projects, our music has been getting more of my energy and effort for the time being. At work, my writing and editing has continued. At home, we’ve chosen to listen to the need for rest when it comes, to celebrate weekend afternoons relaxing on the porch or rolling on the floor with our little one.

Does my work say something? Sure, sometimes. But more importantly, I’d like my life to speak louder. Not through fame or failures, but through my faith, family, and friendships.

 

Thursday Three

Ready for some thoughts and emotions on a Thursday night…err, early Friday morning?

1. Please don’t cry. That is the phrase I think (and sometimes say) throughout the day. Because it’s hard to think straight with a whimpering or crying baby in the room, it’s just one of those things. I try to concentrate and get things done and continue to pursue some of the things I like or want to do, but the reality is, I have to do less of all that so I can just be there and fill my baby’s needs. It’s still a shift and a balancing act, but a good one that I am grateful to work on.

2. Get motivated. It’s easy to feel like we need to “get through” the holidays before we take steps toward positive personal change or development–that such things only begin (and sometimes end) in January. I think it can happen at anytime, and maybe the time for that is now. Working out, eating better, investing in the lives of others, reading books, cleaning out closets/drawers–all of those things seem to not only feel good afterwards but also seem to bring more life and energy into my days.

3. Love anyway. I shed a few tears of my own tonight as I read and thought about Aleppo. It’s absolutely tragic. I feel far away and almost helpless to make a difference, but I can give and pray. So that’s what I did and will continue to do. If you’re looking for somewhere to give to the refugees, I had several friends post about Preemptive Love Coalition. After some research and consideration of my own, felt it was a worthwhile place to start with donations.

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One of their core values, this is a screenshot from Preemptive Love Coalition’s website

Thursday Three

The month of December is off and running…here we are barely more than a week in, which means Christmas is just two and a half weeks from now. Time needs to SLOW DOWN.

1. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear” – Buddy the Elf.  I don’t consider myself a musician, but I do enjoy playing gigs with my husband. Last Friday we played our first show since the little one was born, and it felt good. Lots of original music and Christmas music, what’s not to love? Granted, there was a baby crying here and there (who brings a crying baby out on the town? oh yeah, me) but also so many great people I’m lucky to know and spend my days with.

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2. Sometimes there are questions without answers. As our life has shifted and we’ve taken on new routines and responsibilities, a lot of questions have been raised as to what’s the best way to do this or that. Questions that keep you up at night or questions that you crowdsource for answers. I want to know the answers and know I’m handling what life throws at me the way I should. But maybe there aren’t always answers. Sometimes you just press forward without a solid plan and swerve when you need to.

3. Pick just one thing. The holidays can get crazy, and it’s easy to be swept up in “all the things” that people do to celebrate. There’s the tree and the parties and the presents and the cards and the carols and the lights and the shows and the food and the travel. It’s a lot. Maybe too much. Okay, it’s just too much. And then you look on the internet and see the pretty pictures of one of those things and think–“ahh! I’m behind! I’m letting everyone down or letting myself down.” But, as with much of life, we can’t do it all all of the time. So, just pick one. Pick one thing you’re going to be really good at over the holidays and give yourself some grace and space with the rest of them. Is it that tree you love to decorate? Is it traveling to see people you love? Is it sending a Christmas card? Or is it just watching the holiday classics in your jammies for a day? Pick one that you feel is manageable and enjoyable and then let the rest fall in line in order of importance or maybe just don’t worry about it at all. We’ll all have a better holiday season that way if we aren’t scrambling to do it all. For us, it’s the Christmas card this year, one of our favorite holiday traditions. We’re going to own it, and it’s going to be awesome, but don’t mind me if you see that the tree is slightly crooked and the presents aren’t nicely tied underneath it.

Thankful Thursday Three

I know, I know, it’s not Thanksgiving anymore. We all shared our thanks and moved on to all the things we could buy or get for Christmas. But, as I may have done before, I want to go back to the thankful part. Perhaps it’s better to be reminded of gratitude when inundated with sales and stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I bought some new jeans last weekend, but still find thankfulness to be pretty valuable, even after we’ve finished off the turkey and pie. So, here are three things I’m incredibly thankful for (besides the obvious friends and family, because of course I’m thankful for those).

1. Comforts of home. This was going to say, “my bed,” but then I wanted to change it to “my house” but felt like the couch was being left out and then the practical side in me said “there’ a baby in this house, what would we do without the washer and dryer!?”  So, let’s sum it up by saying I am so grateful for the many comforts of home. A bed to squeeze in those few hours of sleep I somehow manage to find each night and a couch on which to rest, work, and slouch during the day. A washer and dryer (and I guess other cleaning products in the house) to keep some level of cleanliness when I get around to it and simply a house to clean at all. This house has easily been my favorite of all the places we’ve lived, not only because it’s where we first brought our sweet little baby, but it has simply become our home. This list is barely scratching the surface because I can’t imagine life without electricity or running water or a refrigerator. Let’s face it, there are just too many comforts of home to be thankful for, and I haven’t even mentioned Netflix.

House

2. Health. I think it’s easy to take your health for granted until it’s bad or maybe someone you know is facing health challenges. I don’t want to wait around for either of those, so I’m just going to claim my gratitude for my health right now. Are their ways it could continue to be strengthened and improved? You betcha. But I’m glad that there are online videos for yoga and zumba (despite how crazy it looks), doctors when needed, and my apple a day (which helps me justify a little chocolate most days, too).

3. The Thursday Three. Now I’m talking about writing the piece that I usually use to write about writing? WHAT? So meta. Or something. I’m grateful for this little outlet of a blog, and the Thursday Three post has been a way to get something written almost every week (with the exception of much of last year’s hiatus). It has allowed me to think through each week and share tidbits and highlights with you. I’ve written over 100 Thursday Three posts over nearly four years, and I’m grateful to continue doing so today.

What are you thankful for?

Putting it into Perspective

Putting it into Perspective

There’s this thing that we use to shape our experiences and thoughts called perspective. It’s the vantage point from which we view life, our attitudes, and opinions. Perspective often helps us see beyond ourselves–to take in more information and look at the big picture or to be sensitive to small details that make a big impact.

But sometimes, we abuse that perspective. We compare bad situations to dire ones and suddenly feel like there is no need for help or improvement. We say things like, “Because this isn’t THAT, it’s fine” or “I’ve had worse” or “His situation is really bad, so I shouldn’t mind mine.”

While usually said with good intentions and can be stated a way to lessen the blow to some bad news or issue…it can also lead to a misrepresentation of the reality in a situation.

Do we need to cry over a stubbed toe like we would for cancer? No. Should we be grateful for what we have? Absolutely. But is there still room for growth and improvement and action? Most likely.

For example, my baby cries when his diaper needs changing (you’d think the world was ending by the way he shrieks, but no, it’s just wet). If I said to him, “Don’t you know you have such a good life and are well taken care of? Not all kids are as lucky as you!“–that would be true, but wouldn’t change the fact that his diaper is dirty and needs to be addressed. Looking only at the good but ignoring the immediate issue doesn’t actually solve anything. Instead, it diminishes his cries for help and perpetuates the problem.

Perhaps, there is reason to be upset or to seek improvement, and we need to be open to that. We need to have a self-awareness about what is happening so we can best address it. Maybe that means acknowledging a loss or celebrating a win. Saying things aren’t where they should be or could be at work or in a relationship. Admitting there are areas in life that need improvement, be it health, organization, motivation, or otherwise. Maybe it means being proactive in realizing that things are good now, but they aren’t to be taken for granted or assumed.

So to put it all in perspective, could things be worse? Sure. Could they be better? Perhaps. Either way, it’s worth being realistic about the present situation in order to best address it.

 

Thursday Three

Look at me…two weeks in a row of a Thursday Three. It’s almost like a trend or something.

1. Balance is key. We’ve practically been living in a season of survival the past few months. Only in the past week or two have we started to reintroduce exercising, playing music, and making space for individual creativity. So here I am, sitting in a coffee shop while writing my thoughts–totally baby-free. As a couple and as a family, we’re asking the question of how to find balance in our lives and somehow make it work for everybody. It requires some planning and some sacrifice, but it seems to be worth it in the end. If you have tips and systems that have worked well for you, I’d definitely be interested in hearing them.

2. My phone is overloaded with pictures of my kid. (So much for balance, eh?) I know I’m biased, but I think he’s pretty stinking cute. To be honest, I haven’t figured out what I think about sharing countless photos on the internet (of him or me, really). Maybe one here or there. Occasionally, I send some photos of him in a text to people I think might want to see the latest facial expression or outfit he’s rocking. Like everything, I’m overthinking it and questioning how much I want him to be all over the internet. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer, but I do think it’s worth considering what we are putting online and what the long-term impact might be. Ugh. The world is crazy and the future of the internet is a mystery to me. I know I can’t protect him from everything, but I do have some responsibility as a parent to look out for him and his well-being. So, please humor me while I think it over and know that the photos might be sparse in the meantime. (But what the heck? I can’t add a photo from my week without including him because he’s in ALL the photos…so here you go, a week’s worth all at once).

baby pics

3. We need each other. I’ve heard and read so many thoughts and feelings this past week regarding the election and the actions that have followed. Frankly, it’s hard to sort through it all. Last week, all I could say was that kindness was the first place I planned to start. I think the thing I’ve found to be true in it all is how much we need to support and love one another as a community, a city, a state, and a country. There’s so much that has already been said on the internet, and I don’t want to pretend I have something big or profound to add. I just think that at the bottom of it all, we each want love and support. We want someone to say, “I’m for you and I’m with you.” I think that means seeing a need amongst the people around you and filling it. It can mean showing up, even without being asked. It means prayer, money, food, time, and energy given to someone else or for someone else. As much as living in isolation or only surrounded by those who think and feel the exact same as we do sounds nice (and can have its place from time to time), the strength and mutual respect/understanding that can be gained by recognizing that we need each other is invaluable.