1 Year

This past year has been a roller-coaster of emotions and experiences. I’ve been in the deepest pits and on top of the world. I’ve found myself unable to function for days while others I’ve motivated myself beyond belief. A couple of weeks ago I wrote this down:

The truth in the game is that you are not able to be mentally repressed by anyone other than yourself. As long as you think that you’re trapped, you will be. Drop your own chains and set your gun down. You were never at war with anyone but yourself.

There are times when you will be driving and a cliff will appear out of nowhere. You’ll find yourself falling into a dark pit. In these moments, you can be your own worst enemy. You can fight a war against yourself and that’s hardest battle a person can face. There’s no reason for that sort of bloodshed.

This past year has been filled with those mysterious cliffs and I’ve found myself falling more times than I’d like to count. I’ve also discovered that I tend to be the one who drags myself down. I could be standing in 1 inch of water, but I will still find a way to drown. And, by god, if anyone told me to stand up I’d push my face further into the water.

It took a year of suffering and half a year of blogging to realize this: you may find yourself in horrible circumstances but you will always come back up. You will heal and life will go on. Depression is a very real thing but you will move past it.

Nobody could have helped me last September. After all, I was in the deepest pit of my life. I couldn’t find anyone who understood my situation. I was torn between desperately wanting consolation and wanting everyone around me to shut up. More than anything I felt alone.

I think that we isolate ourselves because we think we suffer alone. We think that our struggles are unique or that others will shame us. We don’t want others to see us as weak.

The truth is, you’re never alone. We all suffer, and while I may not fully understand your situation, I’m here for you. You may experience horrible things in your life but you will move past them. You will heal and you will feel better one day. If there’s only one thing I’ve learned in this past year, it’s that we all have an unimaginable capacity to heal.

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5 Steps to get to Your Destination

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1. Before you can do anything… STOP!

Ever since the industrial revolution we’ve worked tirelessly. When we’re not working, we’re on the internet, watching TV, or busy with some other mind numbing activity. Instead, STOP and take a breather: turn off your cell phone, put the TV remote down, and close your laptop. With how busy we are, it’s a wonder we accomplish anything.

Go outside for a 15-20 minute walk. If you wake up at early for work/school, you probably wake up around the same time on the weekend. You may fall back asleep, but your body is used to waking up at a set time. It takes a few weeks for you to adjust to a different schedule. In the same way, your mind won’t be able to relax until you teach it how to take a break. Find time in your schedule to hit the pause button and do nothing for a change.

2. Get Perspective

So you want to change your life, eh? Well, you’ve gotta know where you’re coming from. The easiest way to start achieving your goals is to recognize where you are now. If you want to go to the gym 5 days a week, focus on how often you go now. Give yourself a comparison and a goal to strive for. The only way you’ll see change is if you have something to compare it to.

A couple of weeks ago I made a goal to run everyday before work (for that week). By gaining perspective of my previous habits, I was able to focus on what I wanted to accomplish. I could notice my habits of hitting the snooze button and choose to change them. Taking a step back, I was able to look at where I was going.

3. Find Out Where You Want to Go

The surest way to get lost is to neglect choosing a destination. With all the glitter and shiny things, it’s easy to get distracted. We want to go in a million different directions but we don’t have time to go everywhere. Choosing a destination will help you focus and accomplish that task.

4. Become Your Own Cartographer

There are a million ways you could meet your dreams. Figure out how you want to do it! You can’t plan it all out but by creating ways to accomplish your tasks, you can save time and energy. Instead of bursting out into action, take a moment to figure out how you want to do it.

Sitting down for 10 minutes daily can do wonders! If you know your destination, it helps to plot a course to get there. If you had a map that lead you to your destination, which course would you take? Are you in it for the trip or just the destination? Do you want to take the scenic route or the shortest path possible.

5. Get Out and do it!

Making a map is only good if you go out and use it! There’s a point when you have to stop looking at your destination and get out there! You can only plan a certain amount. Accepting serendipity is part of the journey! By taking action, you can make your dreams come true.

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Everyone already knows this information, we just choose to ignore it. We all know we need to take time to be alone and to choose where we want to go. Maybe you know your final destination. The reason we don’t get to our destinations is because we neglect to take action or we don’t properly plan. We don’t have enough perspective, so we choose an impossible destination.

Whatever your reason is, take time to think about it. Find where you are now and where you want to go. Take action and you’ll soon find yourself wherever you want to be.

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There is Never Enough Space!

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The limits of the human mind stretch only as far as we can imagine them. Or this is what I thought when I was younger. Before I got my first regular job, it seemed like I could process an endless amount of information. As the 9-5 wore on me, my energy started disappearing and I’ve found myself with a mind full of ideas that I don’t have the energy to process.

The image above is of my work area in my room, which isn’t that big. I’ve always been a believer that your mind is infinitely larger than any area you could work in. To make my space fits this idea, I have 6 white boards which are constantly changing. Although they’re small, they are great scratch-pads that I constantly have access to.

The two that are on the left are my most used, they face me when I get out of bed. These are erased almost daily and consist of extremely short-term goals. If I’m having a rough day and can’t organize my thoughts, I’ll write out what I need to get done. Some days this may be: “eat, do laundry, write email to ____, go to bed at 8”. Ideas for my daily blog posts appear here as well and can last for a few days.

The one on the bottom right is called my “If I could do it, it’s here” board. It’s a place where I write all my crazy dreams: the famous people I want to interview, the shots that require traveling to the other side of Earth, and all the locations I want to go. Many of these dreams need a lot of money (walking across northern Spain), fame (interviewing Emily Haines of Metric), or otherwise seem impossible. At the end of the week I erase it and start a new dream list. I know which dreams are valuable because they show up continuously for months.

The two on the top right continually change and are just used as blank space where I can write concepts out. The board on the right has bands that I want to explore. You know that feeling when you’re hungry, so you go to the fridge and find that you don’t have anything you want to eat? The names written here are to feed me when I feel particularly bored with the music I have.

In this image you can’t see the calendar/whiteboard to the left of my desk. This is where I write out ideas that need planning. To be honest I haven’t used it as much as I should but I’m reassured that I could organize my time if I had more of a need to.

Finally, I have a large whiteboard that sits next to my bed. It’s the master whiteboard where I directly organize my thoughts. When I’m reading a book that had too much information or I want to digest the content more effectively, I write out the ideas here. Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek has many complex ideas that I understand better when I’ve written it down. This board also is used when I’m creating an interview and I want to do research about the person I’m interviewing. I can digest information better from a distance – that’s why these boards do.

Now that I’ve explained my space and process, why do I need to organize my thoughts? Am I some sort of crazy person? Well, I’ve found that my ideas are much more complex and multifaceted than I can process. Think about all the projects an artist has done and how much information it is. By writing it down in front of you, it becomes easier to digest. You can see that two projects overlaps or that a person took a hiatus.

Furthermore, I’ve found that I use my time more efficiently. In the past, especially during this 365-project, I’ve made the silly decision to write late at night. This is a bad idea because I am horrible at coming up with ideas at night. If I have a whiteboard of ideas in front of me, I find that I can write about any subject.

Even today is an example of this: it’s currently 11pm and I just started writing. By putting down these ideas, I have been able to write on a subject and create better content. While it isn’t the best idea to procrastinate writing, I find that recording notes throughout the day helps me write later at night.

What are your techniques for retaining inspiration and ideas? What does your work space look like? I find that I use post-it-notes often and write on many notebooks. Do you do the same? Let me know in the comments below!

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Insta-gratification!

 

Although I’m late to the party, I just wanted to say that I’m becoming active on Instagram. There are many great artists who are using it to display a wider body of work that they don’t share elsewhere. It’s a great medium to display miscellaneous images that you don’t want to put on your Flickr or portfolio. If you’re interested in following my work, click the image above to go to my Instagram page!

Right now there are a few artists that I follow who have traveled recently. Their instagrams are full of great pictures, new places, and a lot of other stuff. Here are the top four photographers that I follow:

David Talley (Asia)
Whitney Justesen (Iceland)
Joel Robison (All over the world)
Marcus MB (Australia, Myanmar, Japan, and many other places)

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The Lessons the Years will Teach

If the past two years have taught me anything, they’ve shown me that life can pull you in one million directions at once:

As an artist, my work has shifted from photography to blogging. I’ve felt as if each type of art has grabbed a different limb of my body: Photography firmly grips a leg while blogging has a hold of the other. I couldn’t stand without them. My hands are tied between drawing and painting. I could never pull images out of head as well as I directly draw my ideas onto paper. There is always a pull towards drawing because of its ability to express complex ideas simply and efficiently. Music is a tight grip around my neck. The melody is enough to enchant a monotonous singer like myself to sing loudly and proudly. If that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what it.

Each day I find that I’m learning more than the last and that each day proves valuable. Whether or not it’s evident to anyone else, I feel like I can write with more clarity and poise than I could have 212 days ago. While I didn’t imagine blogging to be like this, I’ve found a great pleasure in writing daily. Life pulled me into another 365 and I responded with a “YAHOO!”.

Photography was my life-blood two years ago because it was the only art that I did regularly. As a result of neglecting other mediums, I fell in love with the only way I knew how to express what I felt. I couldn’t have envisioned shifting mediums so dramatically. Blogging is very different from photography but yet I find the same satisfaction pressing the keys on my keyboard as I do pressing the shutter. It still amazes me that I even changed.

Life also threw lemons at me. It wasn’t like the cheery “if life gives you lemons” quote. No, life rained fury at me and through a dozen curve-balls. I never truly thought about working a job that I would dislike. While it does take up most of my day, it also offers the opportunity to do what I love daily. I’m fortunate that my hours give me enough time to write while simultaneously making enough money to live more than comfortably. Life gave me the lemons, and I chose to make a blog with them (Well, I did make Navel Oranges I guess!).

There is no way I could classify these past two years as good or bad. I’ve only taken experience and a love of life from them. There have been ups and downs but I know in the end that I’ve been growing. Many mistakes have been made (and even more will come) but I’ve found a fire in myself because of them. The drive to move forward and to grab onto inspiration in all of its wondrous forms. If anything, these years have only catapulted me forward and into a new person.

I hope that whomever you are, even if it’s just me reading this in a couple years, you follow your passion. Life will throw lemons at you, and life doesn’t play fair. It’ll freeze those lemons and chuck them at places you don’t want to be hit. These passions, even if just a whim, will lead you to the greatest feeling: being truly alive.

Thank you for following my on my 365 journey, I have appreciated your company. You’ve taken time out of your day to read the words that flow through me. For that, I am forever grateful. Have a wonderful night/morning/anything between.

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A Joy That You Cannot Contain

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This image was taken almost two years ago when I traveled for my third and final time to Basque Country. There were fiestas every night for the summer throughout the entire Basque state. Many nights we would go out to the parties and hang out with friends. This image was from a party in the village I lived in: Ea.

The fiesta started early and the streets were filled with people dressed in costumes. To an American it looked like a summer Halloween. Everyone took time out of their day to come out to the streets and celebrate Basque culture.

Songs and dances filled the air. Even greater was the joy that radiated from the crowd. All of the hardships, losses, and stress were surrendered. For this moment, everyone was together and alive.

This photograph has a lot of meaning to me because the main subject was an older woman whose joy radiated like sunbeams. She was jumping and moving more than any other person. You could feel her joy in the air, as if it were reaching out to those surrounding her. She danced on the tips of her toes and she wasn’t part of this world anymore. She was something greater.

Often I struggle with stress and a goal of mine is to live more like this culture. I want to find that happiness within myself and bring it out to the world. There is no greater joy than to feel truly alive. When I found this picture, a smile broadened across my face. Let that be my goal for this week – to express that bubbling joy within myself and share that love with the world around me.

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Why am I interested in EVERYTHING? (Myers Briggs Explanation)

Trying to understand yourself is difficult because you aren’t easy to describe. If you look in the mirror, there’s a lot inside of you. The characteristics that make you up are innumerable. It’s often impossible to put yourself in words and usually there isn’t enough brain power to organize it. It just takes too much work to simplify yourself in a way that is easy to digest.

The Myers Briggs was a test developed  to classify the population’s personality types. Myers and Briggs (Mother/Daughter) teamed up to follow social engineer Carl Jung’s vision. He believed that everyone could be organized into certain categories like introverts and extroverts. The test simplifies the large number of personalities into 16 different types of people.

While the history of the Myers Briggs is incredible, the point of today’s post is to look at how I use the Myers Briggs. As mentioned before, people are too complex to describe. Using this test is a way to digest a large volume of information and still keep the usefulness of it. By looking at this test, I can focus into the mirror and see common patterns about who I am.

The Myers Briggs breaks down into 16 types: ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ENTJ. Each letter means something different:

Introvert or Extrovert
Sensing or iNtuitive
Feeling or Thinking
Judging or Perceiving

An introvert is someone who takes the world in internally while an extrovert primarily takes the world in externally. Sensing generally indicates a person who pays attention to their environment. They notice when the walls are painted a different color. Intuitive  people focus on interpretation of information. They would see the ship is sinking and try to find the hole. It doesn’t matter that the ship is sinking, they want to understand why the ship is sinking.

If there was a court case, a feeling person would sympathize with the more emotional testimony. On the other hand, a thinking person would agree with the argument that was most logical. Judging individuals believe in more absolutes. They believe the world is made of indisputable facts. There is no grey area on the subject of truth. Perceiving is a trait where you believe facts are relative. The world is different for each person, so truth is different for everyone.

That’s a simplification of those traits. It’s easier to understand them your first time if they’re put into a single sentence. The Myers Briggs is a complex test that establishes deeper meanings behind those traits. To make it more complex, there are eight functions. Instead of going through each unique function, I’ll write about my four functions and how I understand them.

1. Extroverted Intuition

Take a deep breath in then imagine every possible path you could take in your life. You could be a baker, a painter, an astronaut, a neuroscientist, an entrepreneur, and everything else. Imagine what it would feel like to fly or to swim to the bottom of the ocean. Extroverted Intuition creates an obsession with information and experience. It’s as if the purpose of our life is to experience everything.

Unfortunately we cannot experience the entire world in our short lifespan, so we dig into other people’s lives. If we can’t be an astronaut, we read all of our local library’s books on the subject. We don’t worry about becoming psychologists because we know that we can find that information in books. We want to travel to faraway places and experience the many cultures of the world. If we can’t do that ourselves we’ll find somebody who has.

This obsession with information is intoxicating. Every new thing we learn (or experience) fuels a fire within us. We’re constantly prying for a deep conversation and will gladly contemplate the meaning of the universe at any given moment. Deep down, all we want is to understand.

In short, Extroverted Intuition generates curiosity and wonder for the world. We’re entrenched in a world of possibility and information. We can’t settle for the unknown because we could always go out to explore it ourselves.

(This is my first function, which means that it’s the trait that I express the highest. If you know/met me, this trait would be the most obvious)

2. Introverted Feeling

Inside, people with this trait are full of intense emotional experiences. Many days when I feel like I have 10,000 thoughts flowing through my head and only one brain to process them. If you took a gallon of water and pricked the corner with a needle, you would understand how our emotions flow. We have an ocean of feelings and a great inability to express them.

This intensity creates a problem because we don’t necessarily want to express the emotion. We deal with our emotions internally and alone. We are capable of talking with others about how we feel but usually we don’t have the ability to communicate how we feel. Again, we have an ocean of emotion and only a spout to pour it out. If we can’t communicate it properly to you, is there a reason to even attempt to?

When you make a person with Introvert Feeling upset, often they will run away. We don’t have the capacity to organize our emotions on the spot and we want to figure it out by ourselves. If you insult us or make us uncomfortable, we’ll be the ones who take a long walk. Our emotions are intense and very personal.

Introverted Feeling can make a person lonely if they don’t master it. You can’t always hold emotions in or solve them completely yourself.

(Extroverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling create a perfect storm within me. I crave information and experiences with other people but I have intense emotion that I have to resolve myself. Half of me wants to talk with others about their life but internally I want to figure everything out. This usually means that I’ll spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time with other people. I’ll need to be around people but at the same time I want to be alone. It’s as confusing as it sounds.)

3. Extroverted Thinking

Similar to Extroverted Intuition, this trait primarily focuses on information. We like to talk about intellectual subjects: topics that make you really dig deep and process information. Extroverted Thinking (Te) is different than Extroverted Intuition (Ne) because Ne is focusing on relationships. Extroverted Thinking focuses primarily on information and processes.

People who have this function usually enjoy debate or appear argumentative. While it’s mostly light-hearted, Extroverted Thinkers like to be right and have a sense of duty to make sure whatever you say is correct. If you say something incorrect, we’ll correct you. It’s nothing personal but we like to make sure information is clear. If 1+1=3, it’s difficult to convince us otherwise. We’re not pushovers when it comes to facts.

(For me, Extroverted Intuition makes me interested in everything. I’m a jack of all trades but master of none. Extroverted Thinking makes me assertive on a variety of topics. I can talk with you about almost anything and usually with great depth. If you say something that disagrees with what I’ve learned, then I’ll tell you what I know. Even if it conflicts with what you’ve just said, I just the clearest information available.

However, if another person has more information, the Extroverted Intuition makes me curious. I want to know what you know and judge it against what I think. If it lines up, we’ll have a great conversation. If I don’t think you’re proficient in a subject, all of your credibility crumbles. Instead, we’ll have a debate and hopefully I know more than you.

If I don’t know more than you, my Introverted Feeling comes out. You just proved me wrong and I don’t want to talk about it. I’ll get in a bad mood because I start having a lot of emotion. I don’t want to share my feelings with you and I just want time alone.)

4. Introverted Sensing

Internally we’re always processing our environments. Someone with Introverted Sensing notices and internally comments about our immediate surroundings. If you’ve ever met a person who is always commenting about the weather or the temperature, we’re usually doing the same thing internally. We pick up on what’s around us and take it all in.

Introverted Sensing aligns with what the Buddhist’s would call “presence”. It’s focusing on our immediate area and living life in the moment. We notice our breath and what the grass feels like when we walk across it. This is all done internally and we’ll be the ones who notice when a place has changed. We have an uncanny sense of where we our and the physical area that we occupy.

(The 4th function is also called the “shadow function”. We show this characteristic but it’s to a lesser degree than the rest. If you had a bowl of pasta, the 4th function would be the sauce while the other functions are the noodles that occupy the most space.

With that said, I do show a connection with the environments. Photography has forced me to pay attention to where I am. I’m always looking around at the world around me. Extroverted Intuition (the meat of this dish) gives me eyes wide open, while Introverted Sensing makes me take everything in.

Introverted sensing helps create a down-to-earth vibe. We’re always aware of our surrounding and we pay attention to the details. You may think that we didn’t notice that you changed the color of your hair but we did. We just don’t tend to comment on it. We take it in rather than talk about it.)

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Overall the Myers Briggs has brought many of my characteristics to light. I now understand why I have a bookshelf at the foot of my bed (curiosity from Extroverted Intuition) and why I tend to correct what people say (Extroverted Thinking). When I start isolating myself from others, I remind myself about Introverted Feeling. Understanding that, I choose to let go of anger and jealousy. I may not be as good as I wish, but I’m becoming better at digesting my bad moods. Instead of ruining an entire day, I can take a walk and clear my mind in an hour or two.

The last punch comes from the Introverted Sensing. Everything ties back to this shadow function and can be cleared through it. When I can’t get enough information, I feel exhausted. By sensing my environment, I no longer crave information. When I’m feeling alone, I can go for a walk and pay attention to my surroundings. Thinking too much is washed away just by staring at the sky or feeling the sand in my feet.

While this test isn’t all encompassing, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself through it. When I learned about my Introverted Feeling, I noticed how I’d isolate myself when I got emotional. Sometimes my Extroverted Thinking makes me correct people at the wrong times. By reading about it, I’ve slowly caught myself unintentionally correcting people and chosen to let it go.

More than anything, the Myers Briggs has shown me a path to bettering myself. It has given me the opportunity to look inside of who I am and why I do certain things. In the end, the test has satisfied my Extroverted Intuition’s need for more information.

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