Still Alive / Day 12 of 365

I’m happy to say that this transition away from social media has been with relative ease. That is to say, it’s been without drama. I’ve done week breaks here and there, I’ve even done a couple months off before – but there’s always been an anticipation to return. This time feels different; I don’t really feel like I’m missing out. I don’t even have the urge to go back.

I haven’t come to post words, though. Today I want to post a few pictures. I went out for a work “going-away” / “get together” last weekend. Despite the usual drag of going to work-related events, the boyfriend and I had a great time seeing everyone. Our office split up a few weeks ago, as people are moving away or moving to new offices, and it was nice to see everyone together in the same place. I didn’t get many photos, unfortunately, but here are the few that I did manage to snag:

 

Also, side-note, I’ve actually been carry my camera around with me somewhat often. In the past month, I’ve taken it out at least half a dozen times. I don’t think I’ve used my camera that much in the last 3 years. Woot, woot! More pictures to come!

I have to cut this post short though – it’s waaaaay past my bed time.

Again, as a reminder, I’m not posting daily for this project. The goal is to abstain from social media for 365 days and document my life and experiences as I slowly chug along. That being said, I hopefully will get another post out before the end of the weekend. Hopefully talking about some booooooooooooks. Annnnyyyyyways, long words mean I’m sleepy.

Goodnight y’all.

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Picnic at Short Stay (Moncks Corner, SC)

Rolling out of bed on day shift schedule has become difficult. Anything before 9am takes effort. I’ve been spoiled with night shift. Getting up for my work’s picnic yesterday sucked. My body didn’t want to go to sleep early, so I sat on my phone until 2am. When I woke up, my body felt sore and heavy. Showering didn’t help.

After quickly eating, I drove off to Short Stay. The squadron picnic was hosted there last year and around an hour drive. It’s located off Lake Moultrie’s eastern shore. The park is beautiful enough. It’s military only, so the area is well-maintained.

I’ve gotten excited about moving to Hawaii. I leave in a little over a week now. One of the things I’m anticipating is buying a jeep. I’m getting psyched up about it. I swear, everywhere I go, I can sense them around me. Short Stay was covered in jeeps.

The pavilion we rented was nice. There were only a few people when I arrived. A couple of them were hanging out. I didn’t recognize anyone so I stood back. For a while, I awkwardly shuffled around the area and looked out at the lake. There were boats whizzing by and pontoons blaring music. Everyone was having a good time.

When I returned, a few of my friends had arrived. We talked for a little bit and the small talk seemed to turn to static. These were some of my last moments out here. I had to take them all in and appreciate this time I had left.

The moment I looked at the lake I knew I wanted to go kayaking. The last few weeks I’ve been nuts about getting out on the water. I’ve been bugging everyone about going. Today was no exception. It took time but I convinced them to go out with me.

The food at the picnic was alright. Everyone brings sides and desserts – so it’s interesting to try out the concoctions. The cheesecake was good and ‘better-than-sex cake’ was delicious. It had pineapple in it. Which is one of my favorite fruits.

After we ate, we were about to go out on the water when one of my friends said she couldn’t go anymore. Soon enough, everyone else backed out too. It was just my friend Kristen and I left. We spent about an hour paddling around and jumping in the water. It was a great time.

The day drew to a quick end and, looking through these photographs, I’m glad that I got up early to go. I love my friends and cherish these last moments with them. Below I’ve attached a few pictures I took at the event.

 

Work is Exhausting

There are days where creating is difficult. Where I work, people don’t create. They spend more time ingesting media than they do contributing. This isn’t to say that they are worse off, it’s just a difficult environment to be a content creator in. It isn’t conducive to the lifestyle that I want to have.

Working 45 hours a week drains you and if you’re not highly motivated, you’re probably not creating. When I was going to school, I had time to talk with artists. We could critique each other’s work and talk about our plans. When we had an idea, we could ping it off in conversation. Where I’m at now, I’m too exhausted at the end of the day.

I can’t wait to leave this job in a few years. Go back with the artists and create blogs and vlogs, and paint, and draw, and get back into photography. If I could cut this job in half; make half the money and work half the time – I would. But for now, I’ll keep creating like this because I don’t know what else to do.

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Where are you going in Life?

As many people my age do, I’ve been questioning where I’m going in life and what paths I’m taking. This query has made me wrestle with both happiness and depression, leaving me worn out. Everywhere around me I see people content with mediocre lives, pushing off their dreams until later in life or when their jobs allow it. I can’t help but look at myself and fear the same end.

This terrifies me and wakes me up in the morning wondering what I’ve done with the last three months. I see a dullness in the eyes of the people I work with and I feel the same boredom dwelling within myself. Joe De Sena talks about having a “fire in his belly” to go out into the world: I feel the same ache and drive to experience as much of life as I can.

When my work commitment finishes in 3 years, I leave no anticipation of continuing here. I will not spend my life pointlessly accumulating money to buy things. I have higher dreams than to climb the corporate ladder into the later years of my life.

I find myself questioned by my coworkers about if I’m going to stay here for the next two decades into retirement. When I reply that I’m leaving, I see that there’s a confusion in their eyes. It’s wonderful having a stable job with great benefits, but my heart lays in other places. Places where my 4 weeks a year of vacation cannot coexist with.

After starting “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail” I’ve realized that I need to be out in the world again. When I leave, I will start with 6 months thru-hiking the AT. Afterwards I’m going to hike the Camino De Santiago De Compostuela across Northern Spain. Sometime I also want to go WOOFing through Australia and New Zealand. I also want to combine RideShare and CouchSurfing to explore the Western USA and Canada. My friend in Denmark has even convinced me to go to college there, so I want to do that.

Timothy Ferriss’ book “The 4-hour Workweek” talks about this phenomena where people work with the anticipation of doing everything they dream of after they retire. They over-work themselves because they think it will all pay off in the end. However, once many people retire, they look back at their younger years and wish that they did more when they physically could

“Your Money or Your Life” is another great read which talks about our relationship with money. It discusses how money is the currency of our lives. When you hold a $100 bill in your hand, you’re holding hours of your life that you spent working. You’ve exchanged your time for that piece of paper. While this isn’t bad, our relationship to money has become skewed. There’s a limit to how much money we need to live and how much is just plain overworking.

Right now that scale is tipped to one side in my life: towards working too much and experiencing too little. For my previous post, I wrote about how I want to create a book. I think that when I finish my time here, I’ll start the book. It seems that people have a lot of time to think when they’re hiking the AT, perhaps that would be the time to write it.

Of course, I still have another third of this 365 to complete! December is coming up quicker than I thought, and I feel like I’ve learned many things about myself in the last year. We’ll see where these next 4 months take us and play it by ear.

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“Once in a while, it really hits people that they don’t have to experience life in the way they have been told to.”

-Alan Knightley

There is Never Enough Space!

space3

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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Collaborations

In the art community, collaboration isn’t unique or rare. Perhaps because we like to express ourselves, we are willing to work with others and create new things together. The music world is no different and collaborations are commonplace. Try to think of a song that Nicki Minaj song that she’s done alone? What about a song by David Guetta or just Calvin Harris? It’s difficult to name any unless you’re a big fan because most of their work is done through collaborations.

Lately I’ve been getting really into The Sounds, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Metric. The more I listen to them, the more that I fall in love. By the way, did you know that those three bands formed in sequential years (1998, 1999, 2000)? Anyways, members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lived with members of Metric for a while and it’s weird when two of your favorite bands cross paths.

As I’ve gone further into each band I’ve followed their projects and collaborations. For example, Emily Haines (lead singer of Metric) has worked with Broken Social Scene, Stars, and a few other bands. Karen O (lead singer of Muse) has done a lot of independent work. She’s done the soundtrack for Where the Wild Things Are and appeared on the 2014 Oscars. Some of the work she’s done with other artists rival her work with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Sometimes our collaborations turn out like that and two minds build something greater than what one of them could have produced. Working with Carolyn Snyder during my photography 365 project definitely improved the quality of my work. Co-writing gives both writers the ability to review the other person’s work and create something greater.

Basically what I’m trying to say here is that you should go out and try a collaboration. If you blog, find someone to co-blog with you. If you sing, why not find another singer and do a duet? If you’re a photographer, find a painter and create something outside of your comfort zones. Try something new and work together with someone. It can change your style of art or just be a temporary thing. Working with others definitely improves our art!

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Going for the goals

It’s important for everyone to always be striving to achieve their goals. If you don’t have goals, then it’s important to make them. Everyone has aspirations and sometimes our aspirations can seem distant because we don’t make goals.

Lately I’ve been working on projects and getting things worked out with them. It’s immensely satisfying to even work at the goals. I can’t wait for some of the accomplishments to get out of them, but working on them is almost satisfying enough.

The Anatomy of a Dreamer is underway and I can’t wait to share with you some of our future plans. I won’t share all of the details but I’m excited nonetheless. Like I said, it’s important that you work towards your goals and try to achieve your dreams.

TGIF!

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