When I was sixteen, I was a fan of a one-man-band, Dashboard Confessional. My friends and I traveled miles to tiny clubs all up and down the east coast, stood shivering outside in line in winter in bad neighborhoods, got our ribs bruised up against the partition in mosh pit, covered our backpacks and messenger bags in band pins from Hot Topic, went thirsty or hungry or without sleep – all to hear the soul-bearing lyrics of someone we considered to be a modern day poet. Continue reading “SELL OUT: Does Art Suffer from Success?”
As someone who travels frequently, I find that a change of scenery can inspire and inform your writing, but often doesn’t make for the best work habits. Whether you’re trying to take in museums on holiday or traveling on business, the following tips will help you to get your work done anywhere in the world.
In a world where it’s all about the next, young innovative person to come along, it’s easy to feel like we have passed our expiration date as writers or artists. But does creativity have an expiration date? Is there such a thing as “too late” when it comes to creating?
A lot of my friends and acquaintances who keep up with my Instagram posts are really curious. You go to all these cool places. How do you do it? No, I’m not secretly rich. No, I don’t have a job as an International Spy of Mystery (although if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.) The short answer is: I teach.
We’ve been taught to think that perfectionism is a good trait. No one ever goes into a job interview promising to do less-than-perfect work. In fact, potential job candidates are often coached to answer interview questions about their greatest weakness as, “I’m a perfectionist in everything I do.” But is perfect attainable? Or even desirable? Or is perfect holding us back? Is our mental image of that “perfect” thing keeping us from doing anything at all?
In Ruby Sparks, Calvin’s Creation of the Perfect, Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl Backfires when his Creation starts to have a life and feelings of her own. Continue reading “5 Ways Perfectionism is Keeping you from Living your Creative Life.”
I consider myself fairly tech-savvy, but when I was setting up my website, I had no idea how to set my blog as the main content of the site. I spent about an hour fiddling around in my settings, growing increasingly frustrated, but determined to do it on my own. Then my friend John, who had a WordPress account of his own, sat down and did what I hadn’t accomplished in an hour in about two minutes. Could I have saved myself some frustration and used my talents in a more productive way? Of course. So what was stopping me from asking for help?
Helping others is the foundation of community.
A few months ago, the idea of an “Artist and Writer’s retreat” wasn’t remotely on my radar. I was about to finish a one-year teaching contract in Korea and was looking for my next job. Would I stay in Korea, go back to Japan, return to the States or go somewhere completely new? The possibilities stretched out before me, but none of them felt right. Something in me resisted the idea of entering a classroom again. I loved teaching and my kids, but I needed a break. Not a vacation, crammed with sight-seeing. My soul was crying for a return to itself.
Anyone who’s familiar with the United States Declaration of Independence is probably familiar with the following passage: All men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.
(Let’s just leave the part about being “created equal” alone for the moment – because we all know that’s a load of bollocks, right? We may have been created equal, but America has never been a country that has treated people of different genders, races, ethnicities and faith-backgrounds equally.)
Today, I want to to talk about happiness!
The Pursuit of Happyness
A friend of mine recently went to the Apple Genius store to put some more memory into two aging laptops. He wanted to buy brand new laptops for himself and his wife; but figured he could patch up the two old ones for his twin boys to do school-work on. Only to be told that his laptops were considered “vintage”. (Turns out, vintage is only a good thing when it comes to wine.) Vintage Apple products – or those that were manufactured 5-7 years ago – and obsolete products – those older than 7 years – are considered unserviceable by Apple.
And it’s not just Apple. Any smart-phone user today knows the struggle. Batteries that eventually stop taking charge. Continuous software updates that make it harder and harder for old devices to keep up. Plugs, switches and buttons that wear out. Even the fun case you store your phone in has to keep being upgraded because they keep changing the size of the phones with each consecutive model.
So what is planned obsolescence exactly?
Five years ago, I was working in a beige cubicle with no windows in downtown Chicago. There was nothing wrong with my job on paper – the pay was good, I had fabulous coworkers, a healthy working environment and a relatively stress-free commute. Every morning, I arrived early to enjoy my Venti Starbucks coffee before my coworkers began to trickle in and I thought, well, it’s not happiness, exactly, but I’m content enough…I think? I didn’t technically have anything to complain about. I had job security and health insurance. I didn’t bring my work home. So, I gained a few pounds from being largely sedentary and snacking on the pastries that inevitably filled the break-room at lunch. So, there were lulls of boredom or stress when working up to deadlines. So, it wasn’t my life’s passion…
My cubicle in Chicago (with bonus cupcakes – thanks Dad!)