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It’s weird. Anywhere I go, I find myself surrounded by books. When I moved to Texas and started over, books and magazines started piling on my desk. The same happened in Mississippi. When I got to Charleston, I immediately filled a bookshelf.

What amazes me is that other people aren’t like this. To me, books feel like home. They’re filled with so much knowledge. Someone felt so compelled by what they were doing or thinking that they had to write it into a book.

Yet, when I visit friends, sometimes I don’t see any books. They live their lives without these vessels of information. Somehow they live their lives without the curiosity to know what fills these pages.

The picture above is a bookstore on Ramstein AFB. A few years ago, I flew over to Germany and spent a few days exploring. This bookstore was small but I spent a lot of time sifting through the books.

It’s almost as though books carry physical comfort. When I’m surrounded by them, I feel as though I am with their authors. Somehow, if I read the pages, these people come to life. The struggles they’ve endured become my own. Through their difficulties, I’m able to better understand my own life.

Currently on my shelf: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

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After the incessant nudging of my mother, I’ve started reading “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. If you haven’t heard her TEDtalk about vulnerability, you should check it out. While I’m only at the beginning of the book, there are a few concepts emerging that I wholeheartedly agree with. I expect to finish the book by next week and I’ll write more about it then.

It amazes me that vulnerability isn’t celebrated. Being totally authentic should be recognized as a great feat of courage. To be real, you must be vulnerable. You open yourself to ridicule when you express your ideas. This openness is necessary for living life fully.

There isn’t a lot to catch up on, I just wanted to talk briefly about Brené’s book before I went to bed. I hope you are all having a wonderful night!

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Day of Happy

Today’s post is inspired by Joel Robison‘s 100 days of happy project on Instagram! He just completed it last Wednesday! For this project, you take a photo of what you’re happy about in life for 100 days. While I’d love to participate in the project, I’m juggling this 365 project with work. Instead I’ve decided to blog today about things I’m happy about in my life!

A few months ago I bought Brooke Shaden‘s book “Inspiration in Photography” but I’m just starting to read it now! It’s so exciting to see an artist that I’ve watched grow on Flickr publish a book. It’s beautiful and I definitely recommend it!

After a couple weeks of procrastinating, I finally pinned maps onto the wall! It’s starting to feel homey in here!

With a gift card I received from my aunt for my birthday, I purchased Amanda Palmer’s upcoming book “The Art of Asking”. She’s a wonderful human-being and her music is fantastic. It’s incredible that she’s finally releasing a book!

Finally, Bath’s entire album “Obsidian” is incredible. I think I listened through this album 3 times today because I love it so much! Seriously Baths is an incredible artist!
Those are today’s moments of “happy” or “appreciation”. Maybe in the future, after this 365 project, I’ll do a #100daysofhappy or something! It’s a wonderful project and I encourage you to check out the tag on Instagram!

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11/31 Blogtober

P.S. Still happy about this:

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“The Sound of Colors” by Jimmy Liao

Last year I fell in love with a music album “Starry Starry Night” by world’s end girlfriend. Specifically the track “Storytelling“. In the fall, I played it when I woke up each morning and before I went to bed every night. Eventually I learned that the CD was written for a movie which shared the album’s name. It wasn’t until August that I watched the movie and fell in love.

The illustrator Jimmy Liao wrote the book “Starry Starry Night” which was adapted into a film. This is becoming complex but I fell in love with Liao’s work. I wanted to see all of it! The book arrived in the mail and I immediately read it completely.

“The Sound of Colors” is about a girl who is becoming blind. She starts by saying that her slight is slipping. The illustrations are of a young girl walking with cane into a subway. As the book progresses trains take her far into her imagination. She tells the reader about how she imagines what the world looks like. The scenes are filled with vibrant colors and beautiful words.

I found that I related to her perspectives and what she was going through. She writes about becoming lost, and having to move forward into the dark. These trains could lead her anywhere – they are the paths we pick in life. While the book is simplistic, Liao has a beautiful way of illustrating and I look forward to reading more of his books in the future. If you haven’t looked it up already, you can check out the book here!

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3/31 Blogtober

Gentleness and Joy

Yesterday’s post was about being part of a painting, or a greater picture. I felt connected with the world and at peace. That emotion extended into today and there is a gentle calmness in my life. Every moment feels like when you wake up in bed and just relax. There is no commitment to move or to hustle through the day – you can just lay there, in a blissful daze of appreciation.

While I haven’t completely “Walden”, I’ve heard this quote many times and yearned for the same joy that it describes. For the first time in a long time, I feel like this:

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Today I received a package of books in the mail from my mother. Occasionally she sends boxes of books and magazines that she thinks that I would enjoy. This pile made me roll over in joy. Each book seems beautiful and I can’t wait to start reading them.

Tomorrow I’ll write a review of another book that just arrived in the mail! Hope you are all having a wonderful second day of blogtober!

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2/31 Blogtober

Creative Contradiction

Mathew Schuler wrote on his blog about a book called: “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The book discusses creativity as the writer interviews 91 different artists. The resultant idea is that creativite people are full of contradictions. One of these contradictions that Schuler discusses is:

Most creative people tend to be both introverted and extroverted. Many people tend toward one extreme or the other, but highly creative people are a balance of both simultaneously.

This resonate with me because I feel caught at these two extremes; people are wonderful to be around but I don’t always want to be with them. Visiting a coffee shop or an airport is great because I’m at that in-between state. I’m introverted because I’m not interacting but I’ve extroverted because I’m near them.

It’s difficult to explain this to a person who hasn’t felt it. There are days that I need to go out but it isn’t to interact with people. It’s simply to be around them. Energetic environments motivate me but for some reason interaction with people is draining.

Even further I’m incredibly outgoing if I’m in a group of two. Add more than four and suddenly I’m introverted. Talking with one other person is great but I don’t know what to talk about if there are more people.

These contradictions are unusual and I cannot explain why I feel them. They are a huge part of who I am but yet there are two opposites inside of me: introversion and extraversion. Why do I need people but need independence? It’s bizarre and baffling.

Mathew’s post is interesting and I suggest you check it out. It’s titled “Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense” and you can find more information about the book I linked above. Creativity is such an odd and interesting topic! What contradictions do you experience in yourself?

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P.S. Mathew B. Crawford (“Shop Class as Soul Craft“) is releasing a new book next March titled: “The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction“. I can’t wait for it! If you haven’t read his first book, you need to go to the library and check it out now!

How do you experience the world?

The world affects you; everything that you ingest through your senses changes how you see the world. Philosopher David Hume posed a great question: if you deprive a man of all his senses from birth – that means sight, taste, touch, smells, and hearing – will he have any thoughts by the age of 18? Hume believed no, thought consisted only of external experience. The man’s mind would be thoughtless because he had no experience of the world.

Immanuel Kant, inspired by Hume’s question, answered with a slight difference. He believed the humans have intrinsic thought that adds to the external experience of the world. These thoughts he called “a priori”. Hume believed that life is a blur of color in front of our eyes and sensations to our skin. This neglected the meaning of sensory input; there were no connections between image and what it meant.

To Kant, life was more than an unpredictable swirl of the senses. There were concepts that were too abstract for only sensory input. Time is not something we could feel but yet we understand it without question. Our knowledge of space, and the relationships between objects, is too complex for sensory input and were thus a prior.

This bore what Robert Pirsig (Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) calls the “classical” and “romantic” mindset. Classical understanding believes that form underlies itself, that what we sense is what exists as reality. On the other hand, the romantic understanding believes that there’s meaning behind form. The romantics believe in more a priori thought, as opposed to relying solely on sensory input.

By acknowledging both extremes, we gain a wider understanding. When I look at a car, I see potential for road trips, going out to shows, and more romantic ideas. Others see a car merely as a method of transportation. Through learning these different perspectives, we can see a greater part of the world. The question becomes, what do you see when you look at the world?

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