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.

 

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.

 

My Love for Writing

Typewriter - photo by Dustin Lee

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s keep with the love theme. I really love writing. 

As a writer, you’re supposed to “show, don’t tell” and even though I just told you about my love for writing, hopefully you’ve seen it, too. For starters, this blog has been around for well over three years now, and it is far from my first blog. I have worked in all sorts of jobs and writing has been a part of many of those positions (including now). On top of that, I write in other places as well, be it with online publications or by writing lyrics with my talented musician of a husband. I’d like to think all of that adds up to “show” my love of writing.

So where is this going? I’m not really sure. I toy with the idea of writing even more. There are days and weeks that I write practically nonstop, be it for a book that may never see the light of day or submitting articles that are hopelessly rejected. I get caught in this cycle of making small progress with pieces of work showing up here and there while exhausting myself writing a mountain of content that most will never know or see. In that battle to write and create, I lose momentum. One lost blog post becomes a week and before you know it, it’s been over two weeks. All the “pro” bloggers wouldn’t dare go more than a day or two between posts, but perhaps that’s why I’ll never go pro.

For me, writing is so much more than having this blog. It’s a creative outlet, it’s a way to process thoughts, it’s an opportunity to connect with people, and it’s sometimes what pays the bills. But each of those categories take on different forms and live in different spaces. Processing thoughts and connecting with people both hold a place on this blog, but my professional pieces never show up here. Sometimes connecting with people looks more like a lengthy personal email or doesn’t include writing at all. As an ambivert, sure, some of my thoughts can be found here on my blog, while so many other thoughts are processed quietly and without any audience. Creative short stories or even waves of ridiculous tweets seldom shine in this particular space. Yet each of these different avenues and styles of writing ignite and inspire me, so I’m not willing to give one up to solely pursue another.

The last few weeks I’ve struggled with feeling more boxed in and constrained by what to write here. My writing has not stopped, it has just been elsewhere. Have no fear, I do not plan to quit altogether or start an entirely new blog my any means. I just want to allow myself the space and opportunity to continue to write in ways that appeal most to me. To be less of a blogger and more of a writer. To let go of self-placed pressures and weekly Thursday Three “deadlines” and hold on to what I love most about writing.

I love the blank space and the thoughts I did not even realize I had that tumble out. I love the clever hooks and the creative words that liven up a sentence. I love the challenge of relaying a message in just a way that captures someone’s attention and allows them to so clearly relate without ever having to directly experience something themselves. I love hearing life stories and figuring out the right way to tell them. I love summing up an idea or a thought so well that it perfectly describes what someone else is feeling or thinking, without ever having met them. I love the opportunity and the unknown with writing, even though it completely terrifies me. I love that writing has always been a part of me and likely always will be.

 

The Game of Life

Game of Life

After a week of being sick followed by a three-day snow and ice storm, you can only watch so much Netflix and eat so many bowls of cereal and destroy so many tissues. So when the power goes out, you resort to all out ridiculousness and begin playing board games by candle light on a Friday night. We’re talking Sequence, Bananagrams, and good ole Life (the game, not the cereal as that had already been completely consumed earlier in the week).

We don’t consider ourselves “game” people. Music people, creative people, documentary people, active people–we’ll take any of those, but when someone excitedly invites us to game night, we often shrug our shoulders and wonder, “why us?” Don’t get offended, we’ll come to your game night, just don’t ever consider us regular attenders.

Anyway, the point is, we had maybe played Life once in our entire time of owning said board game, as evidenced by the lack of people pegs plucked from the plastic casing. I loved playing the game as a kid and dreaming what my life as an adult could be like. This particular version had a few new spaces and some modified rules, so I kept checking to read the rules to find out what different things meant. Half of the time spent was in set-up alone, so after the two of us played through rather quickly, we decided to play once more (and I might have needed a redemption round).

Here’s the thing, the game is rigged. You get so little control of what happens or doesn’t happen and very few choices throughout. Sometimes real life can feel like that I suppose, so for the sake of the game, I’ll let that slide (although I don’t think I’ll ever be a veterinarian turned entertainer turned hair stylist and later a Nobel Peace prize winner on accident).

My issue though was not that I lost (twice), but what determined the win. The whole game is just a big exchange of money. Maybe you pick up a few people pegs in your brightly colored car along the way, but each “life” event was represented in dollar signs. The best career to pick, the house to choose, the route you took–it was all solely motivated by ending up with the most pastel colored cash at the end.

Maybe you think I’m going too deep here, but indulge me for a minute–is that what life is? A long and winding path that declares winners and losers based on how much money you banked by the end? Are we so motivated and persuaded by the financial cost and benefit of things, that we give no other weight or meaning to what it is we are doing with our days?

I’m not so naive to think that money doesn’t matter. This last year was tough financially (to be all too honest) and obviously what we make does impact our every day life and has to be considered for our future. I’m not talking a pile of wealth to gloat about but more like, hey, we use money to pay the rent and put food on the table. So, yes, we need money, and it certainly comes in to play with many of our decisions since we don’t have the luxury of ignoring it.

But is it possible that society goes from basic necessities to a “success” measurement based merely on how high your money pile is? What about art? And creativity? Passion? People? 

Is our impact and our worth instead better defined by the dollar amount we acquired at the end of the year?

I’m not opposed to getting or giving raises, far from it. Rent goes up every year, cost of living increases, needs change. Raises can show progress and reward work well done. Yes, let’s get raises. Also, it should be noted that passion projects have their own points of failure. Investing all of our time and energy in to something that has no return on our investment is, at times, maybe even negligent. Sure, you can have projects and pursuits that lead to little or no monetary gain, but there also has to be some balance and overall understanding of needs and responsibilities.

Okay, so we’ve established that I believe we should be paid and decently at that. But is there more? I think so. I don’t want the end to look like a pile of money, however big or small, declaring whether or not I won. I want it to look like a life that mattered, that I did something valuable with my time. 

So, what value are we/you putting on money? Is it truly a living wage that allows you to live your life in a way that is also generous and creative? Or is it more so a measurement of your own personal value and a metric to constantly improve? Are those mutually exclusive?

The bottom line is perhaps, are we are asking the right questions, spending our money (and time and resources) the right way, and placing our value where it belongs?

Employee of the Month

Employee of the Month | Moving Peaces

I’ve got an announcement: I’m officially the Employee of the Month. Yes, thank you for your applause, kind words, and flowers. This is just such an amazing moment for me. 

Where at, you ask? Oh, uh…my little yellow house. So I guess you could say there wasn’t much competition, BUT the hard work and effort was all there. And no, my husband did not bestow upon me such prestige and glory, it was self-awarded.

Alright, jokes and sarcasm aside, I thought I’d give you a little update on what I do during the day. Frankly, it changes all the time and has been an interesting journey, but I’m really grateful for it.

Some of you know, I have worked in communications and project management for years. That work has allowed me to think creatively, plan strategically, and work with all sorts of awesome clients and businesses. It seemed the most logical step was to do just that and set my schedule and workload around what worked best for me.

So, I’ve been adding new clients who need me to write their blog posts or send their newsletters or help them create a timeline or a process. I have my own LLC and created a simple website to sum it up. I get to decide the clients I take on and have to keep myself accountable for the work. I have continued to have clients coming in and have learned so much in the process. I feel this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now.  

I won’t deny that it has been hard to know where to start or what to do at times. I took on a part-time job for quite awhile to make sure there were consistent paychecks coming in, and I have had to really consider what type of work I want to do. It has been a continual work in progress as I work through different projects and look forward to upcoming clients and assignments.

That is the long and short of it.

If you find yourself saying, “I love her writing, I should hire her!” then please go right ahead. We can talk more about specifics and see if it’s a fit. If you are worried that from now on I will be self-promoting my work in every post here from this point forward, then you are sorely mistaken. I think work and what we do each day is important, but I also think it’s a mere piece of who we are and what life is. I most certainly enjoy my work, but it isn’t all that I am…and I plan to keep it that way.

 

In with the New

Fireworks - photo by kazuend

Happy New Year and welcome back! The vacation schedule is gone, and it is time to get back to the normal routine. Except this year is going to be different. Right? Because we’ve got goals, we’ve got plans, we’ve got dreams. Ain’t nobody gonna stand in our way. 

Kick fear in the face and seize the day…or whatever it is motivational memes are saying these days.

This is what we do. We make plans and hope to achieve them. Motivational speakers and authors get us going, small incentives help keep the momentum, and we seek the promise of success. By no means do I think this is a bad thing.

Somewhere in a notebook is all of my goals from middle school through college. I would write a big long list of things and then grade my success at the end of the school year. Silly things were on there, like getting a date to prom or maintaining a certain GPA. Now, I have yearly goals based on the calendar year that pertains to different areas of my life. This has consisted of everything from starting a retirement fund to hosting couchsurfers.

Planning is practically my hobby. Bored? Just daydream until the next five years are planned out, vacations and careers included. Hand-written diagrams, lists, spreadsheets, vision boards–all of it is often pieced together for my upcoming ideal life. When you get down to it, part of my job as a project manager is planning/scheduling and making things happen for people. I’m a goal-setter, a dreamer, and a planner. That’s me. 

Truthfully, the last few weeks I’ve spent more time avoiding resolutions than making them. My mind has been in a constant back-and-forth between reflecting on the long, hard year that was 2015 and overanalyzing the many possibilities of the year to come. And during that time, I stayed away from writing because I didn’t know where to start. This is the time of year when bloggers spout out all of their favorite things from 2015 and their new shiny goals or words for 2016. For me, this year, that just wouldn’t be genuine.

While there were so many things to be grateful for in 2015, but there were also quite a few hardships that I never planned or expected. Looking at the year, I realize how little control I actually have over how it goes.

So, this nonstop planner is putting a temporary stop to the goals and the life plans. It feels too overwhelming right now and puts some unrealistic expectations on me and the people around me. Writing my usual list or even finding the word of the year to live by is too distracting right now. While some of my past accomplishments have been truly ignited and inspired by my yearly goals, this is not the time.

This is the year I simply keep on keeping on. I have a lot going on and instead of dreaming big and thinking toward change, I want to only promise to continue to show up. To do the work. To stay in the game. To be all here. 

Despite a lack of goals, I still think this has the potential to be a big and wonderful year. But I also think it will mostly be beyond my control. All I can do is continue to take one day at a time. I want to be present and aware of what’s happening now–today. And then, I want to live through tomorrow when we get to tomorrow. That’s it.

What We Don’t See

Stairway | Moving Peaces

Sometimes I hesitate to share the victories without sharing the trials. When I write I try to be transparent and make it clear that I don’t have it all together, but I know it still stays vague. Because frankly, it’s not very fun to tell about the challenges and at times, it’s not appropriate to share, be it to protect people or because the timing is just not right. Sharing and showing just the moments of glory–the vacation plans, the promotion news, the family photos, the epic adventure, the finished product–whatever it is, doesn’t tell the whole story. It instead leaves the rest of us to believe that it happened, just like that.

In those moments, I struggle with jealousy. I couldn’t care less if you had a bigger home or a fancier tech gadget. But when I see someone get an amazing opportunity or live an incredible-seeming life, it can sometimes get ugly on the inside for me. Suddenly my mind is off and running that so-and-so had everything handed to them on a silver platter or had the right connections or just naturally awesome hair. I don’t know or care how they managed to pull it off, but why not me?! And then I stamp my foot and pout for awhile.

I see the glory and the end result. I see the attention and the appreciation. I see the success and imagine the dollar signs. I see the art and the opportunity. 

You know what I don’t see? What it took to get there.

I didn’t see the effort they made and all of hard work they poured into it. I didn’t see their fights for what mattered and accompanying sacrifices. I didn’t see the scrimping and saving. I didn’t see the insecurities and doubt. I didn’t see the practice or failures. I didn’t see the years of struggle or nightly prayers.

I didn’t see the journey, all I saw was the reward. 

Then I got jealous or made quick assumptions or gave up on my own goals. I can’t keep doing that. We just can’t do that. Why? Because nobody wins that way.

You want to know how it happened? Ask them. Put in the work and the effort and the years that it takes. Think big breaks never come your way? That’s probably true, but they don’t really happen for anyone who isn’t trying. Sometimes people stumble in to things, but rarely because they were sitting around waiting for it.

I can’t promise that you will get the same end result or that your effort guarantees what you want. But there are ways to lessen the sting or escape the distractions. If I focus on working towards my goals and you focus on yours, we have less to be jealous of and less assumptions to make. Finding friends and support with whom to share our hardships and our dreams strengthens everyone. Gaining an understanding that you are not alone in the struggle brings perspective. Instead of playing the comparison games, we can together walk through the challenges and celebrate each other’s victories.