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Creativity Come Back, Part II.

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A continuation of what I wrote last Monday:

  1. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you? My mother and twin sister inspire me every day. They both took all the talents in the area being crafty. I lack the patience to produce something the same caliber, to manifest what’s inside my head, and they both do such a great job of working on something (regardless of the time it takes) until it’s a product they are proud of.
  2. Who is your muse? The authentic, naked (metaphorically) version of myself and anyone I come across that embodies this
  3. Define muse. Someone who inspires me to explore my thoughts, someone who lights a fire under my creative butt
  4. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond? I cling to it (the intelligence or talent) — I’m drawn and connected to him or her who possesses it, and I try my best to collaborate with him or her, as it’s such a rare thing to find someone who is like-minded and challenging alike
  5. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond? It upsets me, but being a teacher, I’m probably likely to try to draw something less indifferent from them and more inspiring
  6. When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond? It probably discourages me at first, but then I quickly flip a switch to allow it to propel me forward. Failure is only a learning experience and an opportunity to thrive instead of simply succeed
  7. When you work, do you love the process or the result? PROCESS and sometimes result, but I’m more likely to criticize it — I’m a perpetual revisor
  8. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp? Too many to mention, but when I’m confident about a craft, I put those negative thoughts aside — nothing is out of our grasp if the mind is present and willing to preserver challenges
  9. What is your ideal creative activity? Collaborative with like-minded people who challenge me
  10. What is your greatest fear? Dying alone – without having found my greatest love and built a family around that love
  11. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening? This answer is my second greatest fear!!
  12. Which of your answers would you most like to change? My fear — but then again, my fear can sometimes stifle me, yes, but it can also inspire me
  13. What is your idea of mastery? Enjoying the process in a way that is unique to my message, without all the weight on the end product and without all the weight of societal expectations — I can step away and feel I’ve done something worthwhile
  14. What is your greatest dream? To connect to as many people as possible — to make people feel warm and happy in my presence – the presence of my mind/body and my words alike

Answer some of the questions below or copy this post and share! I’d love to see how others respond.

I hope your week is a good one.

xo,

Lauren


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Creativity Come Back.

thecreativehabit-cover1

A new friend recently told me to borrow his copy of Twyla Thwarp’s The Creative Habit — if not from the desperation I wear in the bags underneath my eyes, but for the lack of balance I more than once mentioned I now carry around in my life as though it were my keys and wallet.

I was once highly creative. Not only did I tap into this side of myself frequently, I wore it like a badge of honor. Now — not so much. Stress happened. The daily grind happened. And shamefully, I have to admit, I let some of it go because I started to deem those that leaned into their creative sides as childish and dabblers in the unimportant. But that’s because I lost sight of how just the opposite of unimportant creativity is. It decreases stress, yes, but it unlocks this part of my imagination that when untapped, closes too many windows that once brightened an already superficially lit room. It amazes me how much more of the world I can see when I’m creative — how much more empathetic I am, more intuitive, more enlightened, and how much more beauty I find in what was once mundane and boring. I want it back.

So I’m taking my friend’s advice; I’m bringing back balance by making creativity a part of my daily habit and not just as a bonus feature I add in when I have the spare time. It’s a necessity.

In reading this book, I found some good exercises I thought I would share here and put into practice, as balance is something I chase after in this blog.

The first one is a “Creative Autobiography” designed to “force us to go back to our origins, our earliest memories, our first causes. We change through life, but we cannot deny our sources, and this test is one way to recall those roots.”

  1. What is the first creative moment you remember? My twin sister and I wrote, directed, and starred in our own plays.
  2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it? We performed them for our family. I think they appreciated it — at least there’s plenty o’ video as proof!
  3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had? In general — leaning into authenticity and vulnerability in writing or in all creative efforts alike.
  4. What made it great in your mind? This released my inner critic (somewhat), allowed me to more deeply connect with an audience, to find myself and what’s true to me at my core, and for me to lean into love, empathy, and connection for other human beings.
  5. What is the dumbest idea? To lean, instead, into clichés and/or avoiding saying certain things in my writing that may shock others
  6. What made it stupid? I allowed self-consciousness to get in the way of authenticity and true connection with others through art, which to me, is what good art does.
  7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea? Yes, through a series of personal events, I started becoming more self-aware and confident, and this allowed me to remove some of the mental blocks I had placed in my own way.
  8. What is your creative ambition? To connect to others in a profound and real way
  9. What are the obstacles to this ambition? My self-criticism and fear of judgement that creeps back in from time to time, which is growing less frequent (and it feels so good). To be completely open, it’s more of a superficial answer, but it feels true — time. Lack of time.
  10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? Carving out time — where there’s a will, there’s a way (right? I’ll tell myself this for now — and monitor the truth!).
  11. How do you begin your day? Stretching, coffee, bathe/dress/face/hair/organize things for the day/check e-mail
  12. What are your habits? Bad- checking e-mail before setting aside and going to bed Good- Stretching in the morning, coffee first!, making lists and setting them aside
  13. Describe your first successful creative act. Come back to this.
  14. Describe your second successful creative act. Come back to this.
  15. Compare them. Come back to this.
  16. What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play? MONEY- ruins some people, don’t need a lot of it, would like a lot more of it; POWER- people who don’t know how great love is, crave power; people who crave power make me sad; PRAISE- expecting it is not a good idea, it should focus on process rather than end-product, feels so dang good at the right times (what are the right times – probably all the time if it’s genuine; RIVALS- why?; WORK- how people make money, lucky to do something I love, though sometimes, when it’s tough, it’s just a thing I do for money; PLAY- NECESSARY!
  17. Which artists do you admire the most? Federico Garcia Lorca, Martha Graham, Pedro Almodovar, Lena Dunham (This kind of question is hard – I want to go on forever, but I’ll stop here).
  18. Why are they your role models? FGL – look up duende; MG – appreciates the beauty in what’s ugly; PA – takes risks, little fear seems present in his work, celebrates individuality, LD – humorous, authentic, embraces her weird, lack of apology
  19. What do you and your role models have in common? I aim for these things — a sense of humor about what’s real, authentic, risk-taking, passionate, compassionate, empathetic, seeks to connect to a wide audience (reaching for the far corners left with tucked away dust).
  20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you? I’m going to stop here and pick up on the rest at a later date. It’s time for this creative being to get some creative rest!
  21. Who is your muse?
  22. Define muse.
  23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
  24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
  25. When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
  26. When you work, do you love the process or the result?
  27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
  28. What is your ideal creative activity?
  29. What is your greatest fear?
  30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
  31. Which of your answers would you most like to change?
  32. What is your idea of mastery?
  33. What is your greatest dream?

Answer some of the questions below or copy this post and share! I’d love to see how others respond.


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My Week in Letters.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ve known even if I don’t post consistently throughout the week, you can always count on my Monday post, 7 for seven. Every now and then I digress, make light of things, and lean away from Internet-vulnerability in transitional times when I need to hold my cards a little closer to my chest and I post #TheStruggleisReal. I’ve decided after a challenging week to forgive myself more and to allow myself to live more flexibly, so I’ll post whatever I damn well feel like posting every Monday — this is my blog, after-all; I just don’t want any of my readers leaving me — don’t leave me!!! I miss diverging without apologies. This week was one of those weeks that reminded me how important balance is, and if I don’t seek it, the lack thereof will come pouring out of my eye sockets on a Friday evening when I’ve set down my bags, collapsed on the patio, and the dust around me settles. Oops.

This week I spent too many late nights working, stressing over new projects, trying to balance the people I want in my life that I don’t seem to have time for anymore, feeling a sense of loss for the people who left my life for reasons unbeknownst to me, understanding why more than a few people from my past have come out of the woodwork in one week making me feel like I’m living an episode of The Twilight Zone, and unrelenting fellows not willing to take no for an answer — I’ll never understand that, but my sensitive heart has a more difficult time handling it than most people. I’m ridiculous; I’m fully aware. Saying “no” to people and things I don’t want should be easier. I’m working on this.

Nevertheless, I am grateful for not one, not two, but three {my favorite number} serendipitous new people in my life this week that came in the form of letters. Life is sweet like that — just when we need them, and they’ll never know just how meaningful their timing and words have been.

  1. The first letter was validating for both me and her. I’ll be vague, more for her, but I will say that sometimes shitty experiences that happen because of the same flawed human (yes, aren’t we all in some way), bring good, like-minded people together for a reason. I’ve said this countless times on this blog, but I’ll continue to say it again — if you have an urge to reach out to someone, do it. It’s the universe speaking to you about how interconnected we are, and how everyone wants to be understood. It’s the greatest feeling. I’m sorry unfortunate things happen to good people, but when we dig deep enough, there’s something better on the other end waiting for us.
  2. The second was a woman responding to this linked post about an incident in my college years:

“‘When we share our stories, we free others of shame and of the fear of coming forward. We create important shifts in thinking for present and future generations — Please keep the dialogue going and remain open to allowing it to make actual change in you and others — even if you can’t immediately relate, we are interconnected in unfathomable ways.’ This statement is amazing. I was raped nearly a decade ago and I just last night finally had the courage to share. I thought I was fine, I thought I had “dealt with it” until I heard about the Stanford rape case. I read her letter and was struck to my core and didn’t have the courage to address what actually happened to me until last night when I decided to write about it and share it with all who cared to read. There I found freedom. I am not alone in this. I am not to blame and it is encouraging to read how other people cope and grow as a result of something so horrific. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for encouraging me.”

NO, THANK YOU, BRAVE, BEAUTIFUL SOUL. It’s so important to tell our stories and reach out more (see, I already said it again), as you just never know who it affects and how we can learn from one another’s experiences. Sometimes, they are silent, and sometimes, they come forward, but they’re always there.

Only the like-minded share photographs of their same pink sky and same tiny moon when miles apart.

Only the like-minded share photographs of their same pink sky and their same tiny moon when miles apart.

3. And finally, the third — not so much a stranger from the Internet, and not someone I met just this week, but a new friend none-the-less, and a musician away on tour. I’m not sure how he would feel about me posting our correspondence on my blog, but I’m just going to post my last letter to him because it makes me smile knowing I can lean into and feel understood by another human being on a level that’s authentic to a side of myself I’ve forgotten about far too frequently:

Good Morning [INSERT LASTNAME THAT WILL REMAIN A SECRET] (your last name sounds like a term-of-endearment),

I like that I’m your travel companion from afar — hopefully I kept you warm last night. I was in the calm, blue flames and woven into the threads of your blanket.

I woke up at seven because a bitter cicada stuck in the wall told me it was time, but mostly, I wake up with the sun and ignore bossy insects. All houses should face the east, as long as there is still an evening view of the pink sky on the west. The deer are greeting me again this morning — I think it’s mating season, and a stray cat just pranced up on the deck like she owned the place. Standing up tall was enough to intimidate her off the deck (I’m not a cat person — have I told you this?).

My migraine is still lingering, but not so much so that a little coffee, fresh air, and new sun on my back can’t fix it. Are you a coffee drinker? Sometimes I feel like if heaven exists, it would surely present itself on the inside of my coffee cup. I get migraines only from time to time, and regardless of the instigator, I take it as a reminder that balance is the key to good health and happiness. I lost sight of that just enough this week, but reminders come quickly when you are aware that your body and the universe lend important feedback.

Thank you for sharing your time in Salt Lake City. You described it so well that it felt like a memory I displaced. I’m glad you got to spend some quality time with your friend in-between your long miles on the road.

I also enjoyed your Mojave sketch — you bring out my creative side that I too often bury as an adult who allows the burden of 9 to 5 (7-9 if I’m honest instead of borrowing clichés) to bury it. I might be wrong, but you seem to share the same romantic view of the world that I do. It’s not that I’m unrealistic, but I choose to focus my lens on what’s beautiful because life is so much better like this. I feel sorry for the people who don’t tap into their capacity to see it that way.

I’ll write a quick sketch for you now. While love, death and solitude, and the solace found in each are common themes in your writings, finding solace in vulnerability is often mine — I don’t think the manifestation of those themes look much different from each other — they are often one in the same.

I’m thankful for the sun
that baked the earth into my hair
where chemical perfumes
worked tirelessly alone, next to the miners of gold. These roots should
rest gently on my head as though they want to be no other place but
bound by the natural hold of their mother.
Instead they penetrated further — unlike a tree giving into the soil,
letting go of its want to only reach upward and away,
forgetting to ground itself in what birthed it to thrive
in the first place.

Safe travels on the second-to-last leg of your journey!

-LAW

And safe travels to you, reader, as you navigate this week. Until next Monday.

-Lauren


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I lied. A little bit.

There will be no 7 for seven again this week, as I am more guarded in sharing my personal life than ever, and I’m learning to be gentle and forgiving with myself by knowing that’s okay. It’s needed. It’s deserved. However, I am less guarded than (almost) ever in my in-person connections with other humanoids — the less guarded we are, the quicker we weed out the ones who are meant to walk/run the other way. Go ahead, run, I keep only the like-minded or the I-welcome-your-unique-mind kind of people within my reach.

In my new age number of 35 (because isn’t that all it is!?), I’ve definitively decided I want to do the opposite of disappearing, so I’m posting something in lieu of 7 for seven (though of course gratitude is a continued practice). A new friend of mine is a musician, and we’ve decided to work on a project together by responding to each other’s art. He sent me a music sketch, and I’ve written a poem sketch in response. I’ve double-pinky sworn not to share his sound bites, as they are a work in progress (he’s planning on doing much bigger and better things with his), but as a blogger, I’m a little more masochistic I suppose (ha!) and am willing to share my works-in-progress. Here’s the first one (baring in mind it IS a work-in-progress):

Photo cred: numerocinqmagazine.com

Photo cred: numerocinqmagazine.com

Before my time,
lines were silent and invisible, but people
were aware of them.
People sailed by the lines like breathing
and putting one foot in front
of the other.
They knew to move
slowly
though
because meanings only materialized
in stillness ­­
and became audible when limbs were pinned
to the sides of their respective
bodies. When the lines connected in waves and spoke in a language only the in­between understood,
people’s mouths were used for nothing
else
but
greater

purposes.

Then there was a history of string.
It held together the words that often got lost in contemplation.

Despite what one might think,
the physical distance between two people
using a string
was more often than not ­­
close
enough
the nearness only detected by skins;
sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string

­­ people needed it to guide their words
to their destination without knocking off lazy limbs dangling almost without connection
left to try
breathing
under water

too many crash up on the rocks

despite the foghorn’s warning, “I care about you and go away.”

When the thickened air makes the string disappear once again, and we don’t turn around, it is the opposite of disappearing;
we are St John’s at dusk.


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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.


Three things — (instead of 7!)

1. I don’t have Internet again until the 2nd, so it’s difficult to type a long post on my phone. Good news is, I’m bringing back 7 for seven next week! 

2. Someone unknowingly (or possibly a bit knowingly) inspired me to write my poetry again, so I’m doing that in lieu of today’s post. 

3. It’s my twin and I’s birthday tomorrow!

Plenty to be grateful for — see you again next week! 

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren


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#TheStruggleIsReal

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I’m taking a break from my 7 for seven posts for a while after some recent changes, as I always desire just a little more privacy in the transitional stages. I thought it would be fun to do a throwback of when I use to do my #TheStruggleIsReal posts, as I navigate this new phase of my life.

Just as I aimed to ease the Monday blues with my 7 for seven, I aim once again. Though this time, I need a good laugh — at my expense, because if I don’t do that every once in a while, I risk taking myself too seriously. Upon announcing to my roommate one morning before work, “I had to talk myself into washing my hair this morning in the shower to avoid it looking greasy, but now I can’t talk myself into drying it, so now it just looks greasy anyway!”, her dead-pan response to me was, “The struggle is real.” That seems to be her go-to response to me quite often, and it’s since become my inner-mantra whenever I need to just stop, step outside of myself, and laugh at myself and my “problems.”
Last week’s “struggles”:
1. “My hair is too long.”

2. “I made it to work after that torrential downpour and want to know where my ‘I survived the drive to work on August 22, 2016’ shirt is.”

3. “Come on, we need a picture of our last day before we start work again to commemorate the day — or is it to commiserate?”

4. “I’m fairly certain everyone was asleep during my presentation; I was jealous.”

5. “I can’t. I’m at work on a Saturday. I know how to live.”

6. “Have a cold one for me. I’m outta beer, and the store is too far.”

7. “I can’t. I’m at work on a Sunday. I know how to live.”

8. “My arms were sweating [during hot yoga]. I didn’t even know arms could sweat.”

9. “Sorry, I just left butt-sweat on your chair. Let me clean that up.”

10. “I really have no idea why you haven’t pretended your phone died yet. It would be really easy for you to just end this conversation with me.”

Have a great Monday! Whether you work in education and are greeting students back to school today or shuffling off your kiddo to school, have a wonderful, new school year! Share your laughs with me!

xo,
Lauren


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#TheStruggleIsReal


I’m taking a break from my 7 for seven posts for a while (at least this week) after some recent changes, as I always desire just a little more privacy in transitional stages of my life. I thought it would be fun to do a throwback of when I use to do my #TheStruggleIsReal posts, as I navigate this new phase of my life and meet new people. As I wish for them to meet me more organically, rather than finding out too-personal things on my blog, this type of post allows me more ambiguity in the little details. Some of these things I may or may not have said on a date, and some of them you will be hoping to GOD I didn’t say these on a date (to which I most likely did…). Here goes.

Old Intro:

Just as I aimed to ease the Monday blues with my 7 for seven, I aim once again. Though this time, I need a good laugh — at my expense, because if I don’t do that every once in a while, I risk taking myself too seriously.
Upon announcing to my roommate one morning before work, “I had to talk myself into washing my hair this morning in the shower to avoid it looking greasy, but now I can’t talk myself into drying it, so now it just looks greasy anyway!”, her dead-pan response to me was, “The struggle is real.” That seems to be her go-to response to me quite often, and it’s since become my inner-mantra whenever I need to just stop, step outside of myself, and laugh at myself and my “problems.”  
Last week’s “struggles”:
1. “I just reported an actual penis on [dating website]. It’s official, online dating is amazing.”

2. “Instead of being the type of person who knows the right people to get the password to get into a speakeasy, I’m the type of person that just sneaks in behind someone. See?”

3. “Something that defines me as being a ‘lame old person’? Hmm. I once use to find excuses for not going out on a Friday night so I could stay in to watch Ghost Adventures. Zach, the host, is amazing. He’s the type of guy who will faux-hawk forever, dons Affliction shirts, and always skips leg day. I only wish I were as disproportionately confident as he is.”

4. “I have to be an actual adult again tomorrow. Ugh.”

5. “I resurrected you today [from the lake] and almost your phone (but I still think there’s hope!); I think that’s a win.”

6. “Pierce Brosnan was filming outside the Firehouse Lounge last night while I just stared blankly at him. Thought it was just a lame car commercial with some no-name. I had no clue it was him until I walked away. Missed my chance! He totally would have fallen for me!”

7. “Hmm, my celebrity crush is Cary Grant. Yeah, you’re right, he is dead, but this suits my similar unrealistic expectations in the real world, and I’m all about consistency.”

8. “I need to convince my parents to get that boat with the slide and grill on top. Easily done. It’d be so frat of us.”

9. “I’m going to ask him if I can borrow his unicorn [floaty]. …I’ve got to be careful how I phrase that.”

10. “Someone on [dating website] told me I was getting kind of old, and he needed to speed up the process because he assumed I probably wanted to start a family. Don’t know if I should be more offended by the implication that my eggs are growing old and stale or that he propositioned himself to give me a baby before asking me out on a date.”

11. “I hardly ever get angry, unless I’m in traffic. I spend most of the time muttering, ‘The left lane is for passing only. Passing only!,’ on repeat. It’s a waste of breathe, really, but it feels so dang good.”
Happy Monday! I hope you have a great week. Share your laughs with me!

xo, 


Lauren