Now What?

It’s been over a month since this project ‘ended’ – since I have posted anything. I am still trying to figure out ‘what comes next,’ and have in the meantime, been participating in #100happydays via Instagram. It’s been a nice way  to stay focused on the positive things I have in my life. Of which there are a very many. I also have several friends participating alongside me, and it’s fun to track their progress and cheer each other along. It’s not, however, the same as posting here. The self-reflection and learning and evaluation is of a lesser degree. Which isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be all serious all the time. (I’m saying that as a reminder to myself.) It’s just, it’s hard to go cold tofurkey on this thing that was a life-force really; a vital component of my inching forward in this crazy universe and trying to maintain some ounce of sanity. Or not. (Hey it’s OK, I embrace my weird and crazy.) But at least, it kept me grounded.

I still don’t know what’s next. I feel, actually, like I know LESS now than I did a month ago. But I have to believe that means the tipping point of this monumental change my life course has been on the past year is finally. painfully. almost. here.

But for today, on this damn snow day when I neither feel like being locked inside nor being outside in the freezing cold (which would also mean being around other people), it felt important to return to this stable base of mine. And for today, I’ve been thinking a lot about courage. Specifically, Brene Brown’s TED Talk and what she refers to as the original English definition of courage; ‘telling the story of who you are with your whole heart.’

[WO]man I love that sentiment! And it hit me square across the face that I’m not living from this place. Not even a little bit.

A little while before stumbling across this video and realization, it was pointed out to me that I do a lot of finger pointing,  and not a whole lot of sharing and opening up of my own. I’m feeling exceptionally vulnerable and weak (although I try to hide it as best I can out in the world). And in a time when all I really want is comfort and support from those around me, those I care about, I’m doing the exact things to push them away.

So, there’s that question again. Now what? Hell if I know.

All I do know is, if vulnerability is the key to a happy life as Brown’s research suggests, then damn it, I should be the happiest person alive, cause my vulnerability meter is off the charts these days. What is missing is my ability to embrace THAT part of me. So. Now. On to embracing and loving and opening up in a genuine way, no matter the outcomes.

Living with my whole heart here I come.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

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Day 365: One.Five.14

My year technically ended three days ago. I haven’t posted before now because, well, I don’t know. I wasn’t ready, I suppose.

There was no fanfare. No celebration. Not even really any feeling of accomplishment.

What’s wrong with me?

I never make resolutions. I’ve never stuck with any I have halfheartedly made, to my knowledge.

But somehow, I decided it would be a great idea to do this crazy thing for a year.

And I did it.

I. Did. It.

So go me. Whoohoo. Or something like that.

Now what?

Despite my melancholy mood these days, I have generally come to appreciate the life this blog has afforded me. Or rather, the life I have created because of my commitment to daily intentional acts.

I don’t want that to stop.

For me, I want to continue to feel inspired and reminded to create. For others, I want to continue to offer content to those who have graciously followed The Daily Creative Project, and those yet to discover my little world.

So the question I have been asking myself is:

Do I continue? Create something new? Or find a solution somewhere in between?

I don’t wholly know. I guess I will see what becomes.

But I do have some ideas, at least for right now:

In the very near future: I’m planning to participate in #100happydays via instagram, and who knows, may post them here, too.

In the not-too-distant future: I want to keep this momentum going, but make a shift. For this next year, my focus will be health and wellness, but on a complete budget. I’m seeking, as many of us are, balance. My plan is to start a new page (still connected to DCP blog and the lovely followers I have somehow managed to attract) but that shifts to include weekly posts of creative, natural healthful things that are free or extremely low cost. Here’s why: it’s fairly easy these days, to be healthy if you have the money for it. Food, classes, cleanses, etc. But for those who have not the luxury of expendable income, it can be a tremendously arduous, and sometimes unattainable, task to create a healthy lifestyle. I know this to be true, firsthand. Selfishly, I’m doing this for myself. But I’m also doing this to hopefully offer inspiration to others. I’m thinking the categories will be: food, fitness, beauty, home, art-making (creativity), and spirituality.

What do you think? Shall I continue? Or has this served the purpose it was meant to serve?

All my gratitude for this incredible year of finding my creativity, and more importantly, myself.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 364: One.Four.14

What a year of financial instability (and blogging) have taught me about opening a business

I’m no good with money.

There, I said it. My dirty little not-so-secret.

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying desperately to acquire bits of money, only to watch them float away just as quickly. The starving-artist mentality taken to all new extremes. The root of this problem of mine? Well it’s deep, to be sure, but the cliff notes version goes something like this; I possess an inability to reconcile my bleeding heart, heal the world, material things don’t matter mentality with my equally present appreciation of beautiful things. Because ugh, as much as I hate to admit this, things DO matter to me.

This past year I quit my lucrative job in administration at a middle school in Philadelphia, said goodbye to my health benefits and 401K, packed up all of my possessions and returned to Washington, DC with no real plans to make money, just a ten-year-old dream to open my own business. Oh, and a blog I’d started – a New Year’s resolution to do something creative everyday.

In the eight months that followed, I slept on my mother’s couch, sub-let my best friend’s basement apartment, moved into an incredibly overpriced (and out of my budget) studio of my own, secured multiple part time jobs, none of which amounted to pay that covered my bills, and ultimately fell into a deep despair.

This isn’t a ploy to make you feel sorry for me. Promise.

Rather, this is an attempt to shine some light on a way of being that doesn’t get much merit in our society – a way of life that involves being and doing good outside of the traditional capitalistic sense. Not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting to make money. Just saying, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to, either. And that’s where we need a perspective shift in this culture.

I am well aware I had every opportunity to take the reasonable road – stick it out in a job I could tolerate, if not love, stay in a city I could tolerate, if not love, change my spending habits so I could save, save, save, and so on.

Except, I couldn’t. This need to be creative, forge my own path – it has always been my blessing as well as my curse. Too many years away from dancing, creating, contributing to the artistic world and I become restless, listless, hopeless.

And I have a great business plan.

I do. For as little credit as I give myself, for as much as I am my worst critic, even in those times I can admit that I have something special. A business model that doesn’t yet exist, really, and for which there is a great need amongst the creative community.

My business is an endeavor meant to fuel the creative economy, and meant to function as an organization that pays artists a fair price for their work, and gives them the recognition they deserve for their contributions. We’re not just talking art in the traditional sense, the hanging on a wall ready to be purchased by a gallery-goer kind. Although, we will have that, too. We’re talking about passionate, invested folk creating a meal, making a movie, designing websites, teaching classes, putting on performances… And the list goes on.

I know what you’re thinking, I think: A financially unstable director of an arts organization meant to pay artists well may seem like a complete contradiction. I have thought so too. So much so, I almost lost complete faith in my ability to open this business. But then, it occurred to me just how well suited I am for the challenge.

So here are nine things (in no particular order) my year of financial instability have taught me about opening my business, each accompanied by a corresponding blog entry from my year of The Daily Creative Project:

1. Hey. Be Nice

When you feel yourself to have hit bottom (or at least close to), it becomes an incredible vantage point for finding grace. A moment to appreciate the troubles of others. The suffering that others may face. Even when – especially when – they resist letting that vulnerability be seen. Being able to meet people where they are is a huge part of running a business, I am coming to learn.

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2. Find Yourself a Virtue

Patience; man I have none. Or thought I didn’t. But ten years – dreaming this dream for ten years – that’s some patience if I’ve ever seen any. So, the fact that my business hasn’t now been built in a day? I’d say, that’s OK. By starting slowly, having lots and lots of conversations, asking advice from those I trust and admire, testing out the waters with snippets of what we intend to do, building an audience and cheerleader base, we’re getting all of our ducks in a row for just that very day when everything does become aligned to open our doors.

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3. Faith

I believe as wholeheartedly in my mission now, as I ever have. I believe in myself. I believe in other dreamers and creative folks and the good in people. I believe, at the end of the day, my business will help and do good and be good for lots of other people, not just myself. My faith may look very different from yours, but it comes from the same place of wonder and inexplicable strength that makes things just seem, well, possible.

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4. Ingenuity All the Way

I haven’t had the capital to invest in my current endeavors. I don’t have an eager philanthropist busting at the seams to support my work. When you can’t take the easy (or at least accessible) road, it forces you to find creative ways around roadblocks. Got an idea? How can you make it happen on a smaller scale, as a partnership, in pieces? Our event series, Reel Talk, began in the living room of dear friends, with a handful of people – all friends or relatives, and a dream to turn this vision of ours into something. Turns out, people who are already in your corner are the best customers. They were eager and engaged and supportive. And three months later, we were partnering with a real estate firm to hold the event in their beautiful offices, with advanced tickets purchased by complete strangers. It sometimes takes a perspective shift, but the outcome can be more rewarding than you ever expected.

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5. Become the Rubber Band

Resilience. The ability to snap back. If you haven’t hit low, if you haven’t tested your limits, how will you ever know what you’re capable of?

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6. Keep Your Head in the Clouds

The only way to make this crazy thing a reality is to keep on dreaming. People may tell you to stop. To get your priorities straight. You may even tell yourself that. But if you wake up day after day with the same dream, you owe it to yourself to give it everything you’ve got. And to know that, while you may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel (apologies for all my terribly cliche idioms I’ve got going on in here – don’t know what’s come over me), the light, it’s there. And you’ll see it soon enough. Just as long as you don’t. give. up.  This of course comes with a hearty dose of reality and sacrifice along the way – a deep willingness to do whatever necessary. And may mean you have to make some deviations along the way. But oh how sweet the sunshine will feel when you come out the other side and can say ‘I. Did. This.’

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7. A Slice of Humble Pie

Take advice from others. Admit defeat. Ask for help when you need it. Cause hey, we all need it, once in awhile. And yes, even us perfectionists fail (or ahem, encounter obstacles) once in awhile.

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8. Put Your Best Assets Forward

Like to doodle? Good at taking photos, or talking to people? Those seemingly dissimilar or unnecessary talents will become the lifeline on which you walk through this process. They are also, hopefully, the very reason(s) you are starting this endeavor in the first place. They are the things that make you happiest. And therefore in turn, will make you successful-ist.

Me? I love to design interior spaces. (And dance. And connect with other inspiring artists to make even more inspiring work. And plan events. And work with young people. And. Oh, well, you get the picture.)

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9. Find Your Happy Place

If at the end of the day, even in despair, you find yourself happier, somewhere deep down, than you were at the height of your non-dreamer life, you know you’ve done it. You know you’ve followed your heart to the place you are meant to be. I’ve shamed myself into thinking for so long that my way isn’t the ‘right’ way. And in this society, it’s not. But I have to, have to, believe that my way will be MY right way. Just as soon as I let go of this guilt I’ve built up around myself.

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Bonus post: Pharrell Williams will make you Happy.

*Now, I just want to make clear that I am in no way implying that being in debt and relinquishing all responsibility are the way to go here. Just the opposite. I believe I will finally be able to find peace and the ability to manage my finances, a business, etc. when I accept who I am and find ways to work WITH my abilities, instead of in direct opposition to them.

I’m different.

There, I said it. I have a hunch there are a lot of us out there. And I think we can help each other, and our society, by unashamedly, loudly, intensely, shouting it from the rooftops. (And then making big things happen. With a dose of compassion. A dash of ingenuity. And a whole lot of heART.)

Here’s to another day of creativity…

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Day 361: One.One.14

Dear 2014;

I’m not ready for you.

In fact, this was probably the least prepared I have ever felt about ringing in a full, new year. The least optimistic I have ever been, to be sure.

As others have been readying themselves, I have been mourning the losses of this past 365-day journey.

This past year has been about giving up: A job, a city, friendships. A life I thought I wanted/needed.

To be clear, these have all been self-inflicted sheddings – necessary ones. It’s not that I didn’t know they were coming, or even that I didn’t welcome them. It’s that I didn’t allow myself space to fully examine the absence of my former self. And so therefore, was caught completely off guard by the swell of emotions and immobility that has come to wash over me as the past year comes slamming to a close.

This next year is about time to rebuild. Or rather, build anew: My heart, my strength, my resolve. The life I have always wanted/needed.

I suppose then, 2014, you couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 355: Twelve.TwentySix.13

As the end to this year-long resolution – experiment – draws to a close in a mere ten more daily posts, I’ve been doing some thinking about where it’s brought me, and what happens next. Except… I thought it would be wholly more profound than it is. Like this whole AaaaaHaaaa moment of clarity. I would have my life figured out. Except… I don’t. In some respects, I feel exactly where I was an entire year ago. And yet, I know, I know, of course, I am not at all the same person I was when I sat down to a blank blog screen.

I do know that this whole thing has been wholly about me (how selfish) – about discovering and uncovering and repairing. But also, hopefully, something universal and relatable and worthy of reading. So instead of drawing out the much bigger meaning, I will simply share the thirty (that’s a lot right? But I do have three hundred plus entries, and I’ve become quite attached to this thing…) posts that I feel most connected to. The ones that were the most difficult to write, the easiest to post, the most heartfelt… You get the picture.

In no particular order of importance, rather in order of appearance:

  1. Day One. Remains the backbone of my wish for this project. It’s why, and how, I create.
  2. Day Five. Felt good to write. It came from a totally true and honest place.
  3. Day Eighteen.  Regret.
  4. Day ThirtyOne. The dream that just won’t quit.
  5. Day ThirtySeven. The Virgo dilemma.
  6. Day SeventySix. To heal.
  7. Day SeventySeven. Why I look good.
  8. Day SeventyNine. Guerilla gardening.
  9. Day OneHundredFive. Beautiful darkness.
  10. Day OneHundredTwentySix. Onstage magic.
  11. Day OneHundredFortyThree. My health care dilemma.
  12. Day OneHundredSixty. A little reminder that the sun will shine again.
  13. Day OneHundredSeventyThree. A Love Story (for my someday child).
  14. Day OneHundredEightyFour. Relationships of the fairytale kind.
  15. Day OneHundredEightyNine. A day of discovering.
  16. Day TwoHundredOne. How I know the world will be alright.
  17. Day TwoHundredEleven. Thanks Girls Like Giants for re-posting this one.
  18. Day TwoHundredTwentyEight. I’m (still?) a dancer.
  19. Day TwoHundredFortyThree. Time to start acting my age.
  20. Day TwoHundredSixtyOne. A reconnection of the artistic kind.
  21. Day TwoHundredNinetyOne. To Believe.
  22. Day TwoHundredNinetyTwo. The art of blankets.
  23. Day TwoHundredNinetySix. My mama is cooler than most, well, people.
  24. Day ThreeHundredTwelve. So ludicrous I just would do it.
  25. Day ThreeHundredFourteen. Validation for all my crazy.
  26. Day ThreeHundredEighteen. Some whimsy. (It doesn’t all have to be serious all the time, after all.)
  27. Day ThreeHundredTwentyThree. An amazing day doing one of the things I love best – discovering a city’s art and space.
  28. Day ThreeHundredTwentySix. Love. Love. In Love. Want. Want. Want to do this.
  29. Day ThreeHundredTwentyNine. The beauty.
  30. Day ThreeHundredThirtyOne. Seattle. Rediscovered in photos.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 350: Twelve.TwentyOne.13

Reminders/Reflections. Because today, I need them.

1. A facebook post from a colleague:

“If it does not feed the fire
of your creativity, then leave it.
If people and things do not
inspire your heart to dream
then leave them.
If you are not crazily in love
and making a stupid fool of yourself
then step closer to the edge
of your heart and climb
where you’ve been forbidden to go.
debts, accusations, assaults by enemies
mean nothing,
go where the fire feeds you…”
-Jimmy Santiago Baca

2. Making a delicious mess in the kitchen with a best friend can be the exact remedy needed for mending recent heart wounds. (Not necessarily of the romance kind – although there is some of that to be sure. But mostly, the wounds are self-inflicted. A coming to terms with destructive decisions standing in the way of living a truly valuable life.)

Kitchen Mess  photo 4

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Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 339: Twelve.Ten.13

Yoga reaffirms my life. Every. Time. Like, seriously.

This hot yoga business in particular.

I don’t understand why I don’t get that on a more visceral level. Like, why it’s so much work to get myself to go on a regular basis.

Doing things that are good for me – great for me – should be my ONLY line of thinking. Instead, I’m busy sabotaging myself in small, sneaky ways on a daily basis.

Getcho life, Emily. (As my dear friend told me, when she offered to pay for my yoga class and I tried to refuse.)

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 336: Twelve.Seven.13

It has come to my attention that I am avoiding the inevitable; which is to say that I am living in denial; which is to say that I thought I had a handle on my life situation; only to find out I have no such thing.

Money is the root of the problem. Or well, the stem, more likely. The cause I believe is much, much deeper. Something I have not the tools to unearth at this moment in time.

I have not been taking care of myself and the lack of self-love is seeping out in the worst of ways. Toxic to myself and those around me.

It is time. To get a grip and pull out the lifeless blooms. So that new life may grow.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 319: Eleven.Twenty.13

I had a lot of time with myself today. Some thoughts came to me:

I’ve less been active by choice, more by necessity, all these years. Literally not being able to sit still made dance my perfect outlet. I’ve had times in my life when I’m without this life-force and I always find myself in despair. I call it the thing that ‘saved’ me growing up.

I recently had my peace-love-and-art lifestyle chastised. I don’t like being made to feel less than. (Who does, of course?) But this time, I didn’t feel the need to fight back. I didn’t feel the need to prove myself – to MAKE them see the error of their ways.

If anything, it only made my resolve to LIVE this kind of life and REACH those kind of people more solidified. Because I’m telling you, everything, everything is easier, better, lovelier, when you can allow yourself to breathe and soak in any and all forms of creativity. I really, truly believe it to be so. It’s just a matter of being able to tap into that, particularly in a society where we are so often taught it’s not OK to be vulnerable and unique and ‘different.’

Today was the Presidential Medal of Freedom Reception. Sixteen individuals received the highest civilian honor for their “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It was a wonderful reminder of what, of course, I know to be true – people receive lifetime achievement awards for making this a safer, better, more loving place to live – not for contributing to violence and hate and ugliness.

Sometimes, it’s not about forgiveness but rather about simply letting go. Making the conscious decision to live happy is a powerful thing.

I let go of some built up emotions I’ve been feeling. Just like that. I. Let. Them. Go. Not for show, not to prove anything, but because I really truly no longer want to be burdened by them. I live a fairly drama-filled life. Not anything crazy, mind you. But I tend to thrive in a dynamic and situation-filled world. A friend recently helped me see that perhaps, in the love arena, this isn’t the way to go.

I feel power-full in letting go. My chest feels a bit less tight. My lips are involuntarily curling into the slightest smile. I feel. Content. On my couch. On my own. And that is perhaps the first time in a long time I can say that with any conviction.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 309: Eleven.Ten.13

Oh. So this is what it’s like to crave someone.

I had all but forgotten.

Not to crave someone in a general sense. That feeling, maybe, never goes away.

But to crave a certain someone.

A specific Touch. Kiss. Caress. Smell.

I just don’t know if I’m ready for it. All that comes along with this craving.

Here’s to another day of creativity…