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14

Just a small selection of project scraps from the table next to me. Don't worry, I put the cap back on the marker!

Just a little wrap-up after my daily blogging with Effy Wild during April.

  • I love doing blog challenges! I had forgotten how much fun they are, and I'm so glad I did this and connected with a bunch of other creatives and stretched my blogging muscles.
  • Daily blogging is way too much for me, at least long term. But I like the push of "blogging must happen today," so I'm trying out a set schedule of blogging on Wednesdays and Sundays. We'll see how that goes.
  • Back on April 1 at the start of the blog-along I wrote about these cute habit trackers I found. I loved them! They were adorable! I completely forgot to use them after two days. It turns out having them glued into my planner does not remind me to fill them in. I did do some of the things on that list (blogging for the challenge which I did each day in April, story writing which I did very little of, and cleaning something which I also did very little of). I do great with my monthly exercise calendar which has my goals for the month and squares to put cute stickers in every time I exercise. And it also hangs on a board in my bedroom where I see it several times a day, and I'm wondering if that visibility is a much more crucial element than I realized. I'm going to rearrange a few things and make space for hanging up more trackers, and I will try again in June (or maybe a half-month thing starting mid-May).
  • I'm working through a 90-day novel writing book with a couple of writer friends. We started May 1, and so far it's different from what I imagined and seems pretty useful. More about that in another post, maybe on Sunday.

That's about it in my corner of the world. Looking at what's been working. Making plans for how to use that going forward. How are things in your corner?

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6

I had a few different topics rolling around in my head for today's post. Then I opened Jon Acuff's Friday newsletter, and this sentence flung itself into my brain. I almost never read newsletters when they hit my inbox, so this was kind of an odd situation. I decided it must mean something, me reading it on the day I got it, and this sentence getting stuck in my head. And so here we are.

Feelings are an odd thing for me. I used to fight mine a lot. I used to try to never cry and not show too many of them. In my family, I was known for never crying at funerals. And at the same time I was actually incredibly emotional. I just saved the tears and the expression of it all for when I was alone or with a couple of close friends. It was like this all through high school and college and beyond.

I've been practicing more at expressing my feelings, examining them and doing what needs doing with them in a timely manner rather than burying them. And I've realized that my struggles with trying to control my emotions, keep them in check and invisible, has lead me to let them rule me and make all my decisions for me.

I've had that understanding but not quite these words for it until today when this phrase came along and lit everything up for me. Emotions are important. They need to be listened to, acknowledged, worked with. But letting them make the decisions in how I talk to myself and my actions--that doesn't need to be the way things go.

This is something I know, of course. I've known it for a long time. It's so much harder to practice than it seems like it should be. So this reminder today, when I've been having a lot of hard days, is good and needed.

I don't have a wrap-up. This is just a thing that swirled back into my attention today in a way that made it a little clearer and more solid, and now I am thinking of ways to work with it to help me move toward the life I want to be living. It's good stuff, but it's still open-ended. Like life is. Like so many things are.

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14

I don't like gratitude lists. I think it's great that other people like them, but I kinda hate them. They feel forced and phony, and the few times I've worked with them I've been really resentful. But I love writing lists of good things in my day (today the good things are plants--I bought gerbera daisies and polka dot plants and spearmint and curly parsley!).

Aren't they the same thing, you ask. I ask, too. Maybe they are. Somehow, the designation of gratitude list and the designation of list of good things sit very differently with me. Making a gratitude list makes me feel like I'm faking an emotion, because I often don't feel particularly grateful about the things I'm writing down. But a good things list is more objective, or at least more removed from the emotion part. I'm just looking around, observing good things, and writing them down. I'm not trying to force myself to feel anything about it.

That's really it. I don't have a point to this post really except to say that I don't like gratitude lists but I do like good things lists. Do you do either one of these? How do you feel about them?

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10

I have a three day weekend starting now. I'm not even working every day right now, but those words "three day weekend" put a bounce in my step and a lightness in my heart. Why? What does this mean?

It's a freedom. And openness. Space that's ready to be filled with endless possibilities. There's so much energy in knowing you have this space and time to fill how you want. I want to feel like this more.

I don't have any answers right now. Just questions. How can I feel more of this three day weekend energy on ordinary days? How can I cultivate that enthusiasm and excitement and feeling of open space and open-ended possibility more often?

New paths start with the right questions. I hope I'll be back here, sooner rather than later, with some answers or at least some things to try.

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16

I'm sluggish today. My allergies are trying to murder me, and I can't seem to get anything going. So here's a list of things I'm thinking about, in no particular order.

  • I need a different storage solution for my water soluble mark makers. I don't like having the art crayons in plastic tubes in with the watercolor crayons that are paper wrapped. And definitely I don't want the watercolor pencils mixed in there. So, something different needs to happen.
  • I want to take pictures. In high school and college I took photography classes and did a lot of shooting. I want to do it again, but I'm not entirely sure what to take pictures of. I think I might be overthinking it.
  • I absolutely love my art cart, and it doesn't fit in the space I have for it in my studio, and that's just not going to do. I need a new plan. Meanwhile it can stay next to the dining table where I've been doing all my art for the past year.
  • I have been aware for a while that part of why I don't go sit at my desk or art table to do things is that I am physically uncomfortable. Not really sure what to do with that. I've tried different chairs, but no luck so far. I am hoping the new physical therapy exercises I've found, along with the PT ball I got for them, will help with my hip and leg, and then maybe I will be more inclined to sit in my spaces and work. Meanwhile, I want to figure out all the other things that will make the space appealing to sit in so I can break my habit of sitting on the couch constantly. I don't get much of anything done here beyond writing blogs and newsletters and browsing the internet. And I want to do more.
  • I'm doing this 365 mile challenge (walk 365 miles in a year), and I'm afraid I'm not going to make the goal. I'm very slow and don't have the stamina to do more than a mile at a time. And now I injured my knee (recovering though!), so I've had to dial back a bit. By now, according to my plan at the beginning of the year, I should be walking 1.5 miles 5 times a week. Now I have to rework that plan, but I think I also need to rework how I'm thinking about this and start celebrating the walking I am doing and the progress I'm making. Because two years ago I could walk half a mile on a good day, and I had to use a cane. So this is really progress.
  • I kind of want to get a couple of friends together and form a writing critique and support group to give myself a push to get back to writing stories again.
  • I think I need to make myself a separate list of the things I need to get done over the next few days and get on them, because I've been procrastinating so now I'm behind, and I feel like I don't know where to start. When in doubt, start with a list.

That's about it. I mean, I could go on, but I'd just be babbling. I'll be back tomorrow, possibly with less babbling (but possibly not, so don't get too excited!).

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2

My mini book from Seth Apter's class

I was just getting back to blogging in the spring. And then on top of the pandemic, George Floyd was murdered right in public by a police officer, and the crumbling world caved in. I couldn’t bring myself to write about anything that wasn’t Black Lives Matter or mask wearing. Nothing else seemed important. I spent a lot of time (still do, just not exclusively) on social media sharing things to try to help, to try to spread the word about what was happening and maybe ways to make changes.

Talking, sharing, protesting, writing letters--it's important work we have to keep doing. But I was sinking in on myself more and more every day, and I didn't know what to do. And then a class popped up-- Seth Apter’s Mini Book Madness. It was so inexpensive, and the books were delightful, and it was easily accessible. I signed up. I started my book in class and spent days finishing it. I was so in love I bought supplies to make more books (which hasn’t happened yet, but I have my stuff, and it will). I felt a little more like me. I felt a little calmer, a little more focused, a little less constantly enraged.

Right now doing our art, making things, creating may seem pointless. Worse, it may feel selfish.

Right now, our art is necessary.

Stopping and later recovering from this pandemic is a long-haul thing. Continuing the fight against police violence and racial injustice and inequity is a long-haul thing. That means that we have to figure out how to do all the work on these things at the same time as we are having lives. And that means taking care of ourselves and doing the things that buoy us up and help us keep going, that help us keep hope and help us bring light to ourselves and others.

There have been articles and posts about this already. I’m not saying anything new. But I feel like my blog is something that people read in quieter times, so maybe the words will sink in a little easier. Or the ideas might sink in from repetition. In any case, I just wanted to say it out loud.

Living our lives, making our art, doing our creative work--it’s important. We have to have a full and thriving world to move back into once we fix these crises. We can’t build that world or keep it going if we burn ourselves out. 

Next time I’ll talk about some small ways to get back to your art if it’s a struggle. For now, just remember that you can do it for just 5 minutes, you can do it badly, you can just spend time sorting supplies. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Now, go make something!

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1

I feel a little awkward and uncertain about putting this out there. I don’t know if this is mine to write. But this is what I’ve been thinking about and working on for myself the past few days, and I feel like it’s important, so I’m sharing.

Antiracism work must be folded into our everyday lives. It must become part of normal. We go about our days, work, cook, clean, do our art challenges, fitness challenges, read some antiracism and justice and equity articles or books or social media, share, donate on payday. Make this normal. Make it what you do. Make it sustainable for the long haul. 

Things you can do to start making it part of daily life:

  • Join book clubs that read and talk about antiracism and equity
  • Join online groups that talk about antiracism and equity and actions
  • Follow BIPOC social media accounts that do the same
  • Regularly shop from Black-owned businesses
  • Follow BIPOC artists and creatives
  • Read BIPOC authors

There are others out there writing about this, about things we can do to do more and keep things going. Find them, read them, do the things. Keep the change happening!

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