(late) monday #writemotivation update

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It’s only been a few days into March, but Monday means it is time for my first progress report for #writemotivation. And, well, there is good news and there is bad news.

As always, I’ll start with the bad.

Looking through my small list of goals from my last entry, I haven’t kept up with most of them. I haven’t even started to write a flash fiction piece — though hopefully I’ll post one up later this week. I haven’t worked in my novel. I haven’t made character notecards.

About the only things I’ve done well are writing in my yoga journal and blogging (thus far).

And that’s where the good news comes in.

Instead of getting discouraged about my lack of progress four days into March, I’ve decided to grant myself amnesty. As far as I’m concerned, #writemotivation starts right now–not four days ago. I’m starting with a clean slate, forgiving myself of my procrastination, opening myself up to flexibility.

I’m doing that in large part because these first few days haven’t been empty. I’ve been delving into creative efforts. I’m learning to knit with needles (I had been using looms) and I’ve been doing my yoga practice every day. I’ve been meditating and my mind is in a good place at the moment, ready to take off.

I don’t know where the rest of the month will take me. Perhaps I’ll accomplish all of my goals–or, maybe, none of them. Maybe something else will call to me and I will have to answer. I don’t know. But right now I’m free to achieve what I’ve set out to do, and I feel a fresh wave of positivity within me.

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#writemotivation march 2013

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Last year I did this challenge, but didn’t make it very far. I know Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results — true words — but I believe in “if at first you don’t succeed, try again.” That means that I’m going to have to go about it a little bit differently in order to improve, but that’s part of the maturing process.

#WriteMotivation comes from KT Hanna and it’s basically a way to set goals for the month and write up progress reports that other participants can see. As a veteran of NaNoWriMo, these are the kind of things that make me happy, but that are much more difficult for me to keep up with than they first appear. I’m rather late to the game this month (I just decided on my goals this morning) but as it is still only the first day of March, I haven’t quite missed the train yet.

Here are my writing goals for this month:

  1. Flash fiction Mondays — as in writing a 600-1000 word story a week, “due” each Monday. That gives me time to write them on the weekends.
  2. Write in my yoga journal every day.
  3. Blog entries 2-3 times a week.
  4. Write 500 words a day (average) in a first draft I’ve only just started on.
  5. Create a character notecard each day.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking for jobs and taking care of the house the best I can. And so there is a need to prioritize my activities. Time management is something I need to learn and practice, and for that reason, this should be good for me, if I can remain disciplined.

Here’s to a productive (and, hopefully, warm) March!

the persistent widow

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Let me be the first to admit that attempting to embrace my creative spirit is much more difficult for some pursuits than others. If I gave myself five minutes to write a haiku, for example, the result might be mediocre or maybe slightly above average. A short essay? Well, I might actually do pretty well. An art journal page? Not going to be near the best.

However, this weekend I did it anyway, mostly because of an itch I had to get out my acrylics and just play. And so I did, and this is what happened:

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This piece started as I said — an attempt to play with color. And then I added some masking tape and the first words that came to my mind: “She’ll not stop bothering you until you give up! I won’t quit first.”

With such time constraints, those words were the best way to describe my feelings about the parable Jesus told about the persistent widow, a parable I had read earlier in the day.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

This is a story about prayer and faith, but when I read it the other day, I saw it as a tale of perseverence and not giving up even when the cause seems lost.

I am a starter of things. I’m not so good as finishing. I guess you could call me a “quitter” but I will refrain from labeling myself with such negative terminology. I start a lot of things, so “starter” is a better word. I’m bad at following through — losing interest because things become difficult. This is especially true for me as a creative person. I’ve written the first chapter of dozens of novels — but I’ve only ever completed one first draft over 50,000 words. I believe that there are many factors to this, but the one I want to focus on in the coming days is endurance.

Sometimes, through efforts, I beg and plead with life to get me to a certain place. And when life doesn’t answer for a while, I stop my prayers. I stop my writing, I stop my exercising, I stop my trying. It’s no use, it’s getting me nowhere. But I think life is like the king in this story. It’s unfair. Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like to see the results of my labor. Eventually, though, perhaps I’ll garner a response if I just keep going.

forty days into the unknown

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In college, I had a professor tell the class that no one is as creative as they were the moment they were born. In all the moments that follow, rules are put in place, setting boundaries on where the mind may travel. As we grow as children, the box around our spirit grows smaller and smaller until certain characteristics and habits are condemned as “weird” and “wrong”.

Embracing our creative spirit — the one we were all born with — is a process of pushing through that box, of unlearning what has kept us trapped inside.

I haven’t written in this blog for the past few weeks, in part because I have been struggling in that very process. I haven’t stretched myself out, haven’t refocused enough to nurture that creative spirit, and so for the past few weeks, it has remained dormant.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Target and there it was, on the shelf, turquoise with a tranquil flowery design lacing one side. Now, like many people, I find myself attracted to pretty packaging in stores. This yoga mat caught my attention in more ways than one. I was in awe of how beautiful it was, of how much more beautiful it would be rolled out on the floor, and of how beautiful I could be if I was stretched out in a deep pose on top of it.

For $20, on impulse, I bought the mat, along with its complementing bag. And in the next days, I learned as much as I could about yoga and its benefits on the spirit.

There are several reasons why this practice appeals to me — far too many to list in this post. Suffice it to say, in opening my body, spirit and mind, my creativity can be unleashed — and a daily yoga practice seems the perfect avenue for such a journey.

It takes 40 days to develop a habit. On my old blog, I tried to do a year-long project that failed. It was probably too big. 40 days is manageable, attainable, while still big enough to feel like an accomplishment at the end.

Here’s my plain for the next 40 days:

  • Daily morning routine of sun salutations.
  • Daily and nightly pranayama (breathing) exercises.
  • Attend a weekly yoga class.
  • 30-60 minutes of asana practice in the afternoon or evening.
  • Nightly meditation (5-15 minutes or more).
  • Nightly entries in my private yoga journal.

I can’t promise I will write in my blog every day for the next 40 days. My goal is to give regular updates on my progress in which I detail how I’m feeling and what goals I am attaining. And while it is difficult to ascertain what my measurable goals are with such a project, I think that success is simply in the journey.

perfect imperfections (prompt: make a journal)

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Today’s exercise was a lesson in not over thinking things. And also not overlooking things.

I’ve wanting to create my own journal for a while, and I found a tutorial on how to make a mini-book using a file folder that seemed like the perfect starting point for this project.

I decided to bind three manila folders together after going through this method with each one of them. I just needed to figure out how! I was short on supplies and I wanted to keep it simple. I had no thread to stitch fabric to bind the spine. What I did have, however, was masking tape–and I wasn’t afraid to use it. I applied the tape liberally to the dark recycled paper (I didn’t go with manila, just because I felt like being a rebel), and I then I added some craft tape and ribbon to make it look like there was more to it.

When I was all done, I noticed the fatal mistake.

See, the way these books are designed is to have pockets within each page. In order for this to work, each of the folders should have the tab on the same side.

Well, I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention to that detail–probably because I was too busy trying to figure out how to attach all the books together. When I was all done, I noticed that I have four pages of upside-down pockets. Tell me, what am I supposed to do with that?

I’m sure I’ll figure something. Maybe people won’t even know it was a mistake.

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a mistake? (muse: meditation)

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I was inspired today. Rather, I decided to follow inspiration when it showed itself, because if we are honest with ourselves as people with a creative nature (and everyone has a creative nature, I believe) we are inspired every day. This inspiration came to me during my meditation session this afternoon (I have decided to start daily meditations, by the way). I was listening to a guided meditation CD and the speaker mentioned about being a butterfly. He talked about having to break out of my cocoon.

Now, if you’ve seen any of my work in recent months you should know that I’ve developed a bit of an affinity for butterflies. I think they have surpassed dolphins as my favorite animal, in fact. There’s a reason for this.

You see, I see myself as an evolving creature. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been in my cocoon. Now, though, I feel myself ready to break out, to become to beautiful being I was meant to be. In order to go through this process, I have to let go of some of the old ugliness that has plagued me through my life: my lack of confidence, my low self-esteem, my limited understanding of the world. I think everyone is supposed to go through this evolution–not that everyone successfully does. Some people remain caterpillars for their entire lives. Others never get out of the cocoon. No one was made for that, though.

I want my creations and my art to be statements of purpose. A journal, a diary of sorts, chronicling who I am and was and strive to be. And so today, spurred on by this image, I made a collage.

For the background, I adhered down some transparent scrap paper I bought months ago from Michael’s. Feeling that wasn’t enough, I decided a Bible page would suffice as an area for my butterfly to reach out of. This symbolizes my religious background, how my beliefs have evolved even over the past month. As I wanted this page of Bible text to stand out, I decided to use my satin craft paint to color it red.

Well, it didn’t work out quite the way I wanted. I accidentally poured too much on the page and had to pounce out some of the color with water and a paper towel. That wasn’t easy because the page is so thin that I had to be careful not to rip it in half. But I was determined to bring this idea into fruition. I glued down the page to the middle of my collage, I block of red in front of a mostly black-and-white background.

Then I grabbed my favorite stencil, my butterfly stencil, and my black walnut ink spray and I placed the butterfly right there, in the center of the image.

And I have to admit, I was disappointed. The image didn’t come out nearly as well as I had hoped, and I immediately saw that if I hadn’t added the red Bible page it would have turned out so much better. Sometimes, simplicity is best. However, I wasn’t going to be discouraged. I completed the image, pasting the word “Evolution” using card stock and a font I downloaded from DaFont. To be honest, the more I look at it, the more this piece is growing on me.

Not that I believe I was right to go with the Bible page. No. I still believe it would have been better without that addition. But do I think it was a mistake? Last night, I did. Now, though, with more though, I don’t believe it was. I believe this is all a learning process, and it’s all about discovering what works and what doesn’t work. I know more from this attempt than I did before. As an artist, as a creative, I grew from the experience, and isn’t that the whole point?

Here’s the completed image. Judge for yourself.

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