100 Days of Delight Photography: Week 3

I’ve fallen a bit behind but am slowly getting my way back. Here’s the latest set. (To learn more about my 100-day project, check out this blog post.)

If you want to see these photos as they are freshly published, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Enjoy!

Day 13: Michelle (that’s me!)

Michelle1

Day 14: Alisa

Alisa1

Day 15: Evie

Evie1

Day 16: Anthony

Anthony1

Day 17: Kaia

Kaia

Day 18: Kate, Julia, and Kate

3 Girls

Day 19: David

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Day 20: Eric

Eric

What Could You Do with 100 Days?

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Photo courtesy of Elle Luna

Last year, I discovered this wonderful cohort of international artists who took part in this thing called The 100 Day Project.

The idea is simple: Artist Elle Luna picks a 100-day block of time and you pick the activity. Do that same activity for 100 days straight.

Simple idea, but amazing results! Those who I followed during the project were mostly artists, but I’ve heard that others went on 100 dates or wrote down their dreams for 100 days. The possibilities are  totally far flung!

Last year, I wanted to create 100 pieces of abstract art. I got quite a bit done, but never finished. Despite my lack of follow-through last year, I want to try again this year.

So what’s my project for 2016? I will be merging my love of photography and my word for the year (delight) to create #100daysofdelightphotography. For 100 days (starting on Tuesday, 4/19), I’ll be posting photos I take of people (both those I know and those I’ll randomly ask) along with their answer to the question “What does delight mean to you?” (Yes, I’m well aware that I’m taking a cue from Humans of New York.)

Want to follow along? Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. I’ll also be posting photos and responses on the blog, but I haven’t decided if I’ll create a blog post each day or a weekly digest yet. I guess I should figure that out soon….

I can’t wait to kick off this project, and I hope you’ll follow along! More than that, though, I hope you’ll participate!

If you could focus on one project for 100 days, what would it be? Share in the comments!

100 Day Sneak Peek

A sneak peek at the project!

What Spraining My Ankle Taught Me About Comparison

Oh, you know, just chillin' on the grass with my stylish cast. (Photo courtesy of healthtap.com).

Oh, you know, just chillin’ on the grass with my stylish cast. (Photo courtesy of healthtap.com).

 

This past weekend, I did something silly. I tried showing off.

Now you might be thinking, “What’s silly about that? Tons of people do it.” Certainly this is true, especially in this age of social media. Everyone tries to show their best lives when no one is perfect. This leads to the cause of showing off: comparison.

That’s what I did this past weekend. I was at a friend’s house, and we were waiting for tea water to boil. While doing this, we did what any other self-respecting group of adults would do: tried to see how high we could kick.

We were in the kitchen at the time, and all of us wore socks on this slippery floor. This didn’t really register for me until later. A friend kicked pretty high, and I thought, “I kickbox. I should be able to kick at least that high!” So I tried. And the room spun.

Before I knew it, I was on the floor, with my left foot and ankle in quite a bit of pain. I saw several pairs of hands trying to help me up, but I needed a moment. I needed to get the strength to deal with the impending shot of pain that would result from getting up. I needed to orient myself in the kitchen. I also needed to deal with my embarrassment.

Why did I do this? I thought to myself. What in the world did I have to prove?

My ankle hurt for the rest of the night. The next day, I couldn’t walk on my foot, and I became worried, wondering if this injury might take weeks to heal (According to my illustrious Google research, a sprained ankle can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal. That’s a HUGE time window! Seriously, it’s almost “waiting for the cable guy” worthy…). I hopped around my apartment whenever I needed something and tried to make as few trips as possible. When my ankle started feeling a little better, I limped around, sometimes hopping because of a sudden shot of pain.

So why tell this story? To illustrate a point. We are hobbled when we compare ourselves to others. Had I just marveled at the fact that my friend could kick pretty high, I could have enjoyed a pain-free night and weekend. How many times do we compare ourselves to someone else’s looks, success, art, writing, etc, and feel inferior? How many times do we walk around feeling sorry for ourselves because we can’t do what “so and so” does?

This helps no one! We all have something unique to bring to the world. (*cue sentimental violin music*).

You have nothing to prove. You’ve got your own style, your own flair, your own flavah, so own it!

Now I’d love to hear from you! Is there a moment where you caught yourself comparing? What did you learn from the experience? Is comparison still a struggle (it still is for me!)?

 

 

Why I’m Ditching New Year’s Resolutions

Happy-New-Year-Clip-art-Images

Image courtesy six8seven5.com

I know, I know…”Not another resolutions post!” That’s what you’re probably thinking. I’m hoping this one has more of a twist, though, because (spoiler alert!), I’m ditching resolutions in 2016. More on that in a bit.

First a wrap up of 2015:

1. Cook a healthy meal once a week: Didn’t do too great here. 2015 was the year of takeout for the hubs and I. I think it had to do with busy schedules, but really, that’s just an excuse. Hopefully this year’s schedules won’t fill up as fast (i.e., I’ll say “no” more often), and I’ll stay more on top of having healthier food options in the house.

2. Meditate once per day: I got SUPER lax with this because I started counting super short prayers as fitting the bill. Really, they don’t. I needed to be more intentional. Something to keep in mind for this year.

3. Work on art once per week: This one I actually did! I tried a bunch of different techniques and tools, particularly digital methods. I’m really happy with my art progress and want to continue this year.

4. Read 60 books: 48. Not quite, but so close!

5. Keep a steady writing practice: Nope. This one just didn’t happen. Visual art really took over, which isn’t a bad thing. This is just one example of how my priorities changed during the year.

So, that last note (“priorities change”) is exactly why I’m ditching New Year’s resolutions in favor of something else: a yearly word.

Resolutions are fine, and if they work for you, that’s fantastic! They just don’t work for me. Over the years, I’ve found myself working toward goals that start out really important and then fall by the wayside because after a few months, circumstances change and I just don’t have the energy to focus on goals that I don’t want to prioritize.

And then there’s the issue of guilt. I used to think, “Well, I set this priority for myself and I should see it through, right?” Usually, I’d say yes, but it’s so hard to predict what will happen in a year, (or even the next couple of months!). I didn’t want to be beholden to goals that would just weigh me down when I could actually make progress on things that mattered to me.

So how does a yearly word come in? The thing about single words or phrases is that they are versatile. They can be interpreted in many ways and take different shapes. Yearly words can grow with you.

Take my 2015 word for example: gather. This can be a verb or a noun. There can be a gathering of people. Or you can gather resources. It was such a nourishing word for me. I certainly gathered a lot in 2015! I gathered art techniques, I got together with friends and family often—and these are just a sampling of the ways I acted on my word!

I was so reluctant to let “gather” go in the new year, but I think my new word will be just as awesome. “What is it?” you ask. DELIGHT!

In 2016, I want to focus on delights, or people and moments that make me smile. I want to fill others with delight through my art. I’m sure come the end of the year, I will have tons of other ways I’ll interpret this word.

But do you see what I mean? Words are so versatile. At least to me, they aren’t weighty and clunky. I’m so excited to dive into delight this year!

If you’d like to hear a bit more about why I’m ditching resolutions (and ideas for how you can choose your own word!), check out my podcast’s (Roaring Out—yep, same as the blog) episode 11.

How about you? Do you stick with resolutions, do you choose a yearly word, or do you have a different yearly ritual?

Librarian’s Spotlight – Annie

This month’s Librarian’s Spotlight features the lovely Annie. Enjoy!

tiara photo of annie

RO: Please introduce yourself and speak a bit about your background with libraries.
A: My name is Annie, and I’m a thirty-something children’s librarian in a big, urban, East Coast library system. This is my first librarian job—I’ve been here for about six months so far.

RO: What made you want to become a librarian?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a librarian. I remember when I was in kindergarten, drawing a picture of me being a librarian (I actually still have it—I should get it out and frame it), but that was also around the time I wanted to be an astronaut and a supermarket checkout girl, so that should tell you something about the kind of child I was. But I think the reasons then are the same as the reasons now—I love books. I love reading them, talking about them, sharing them, pushing my favorites onto people, recommending similar books…

photo (1)

The picture Annie drew as a young girl.

What pushed me to make the switch was thinking that I didn’t want to be in education administration my whole life, which I had been doing, and enjoyed, but it wasn’t super-fulfilling. In 2009, I decided to go back to grad school (my first MA is in literature), and get my MLIS, just for the hell of it. If I used it, great; if not, well, at least I had the experience. I loved library school. My classmates, colleagues, and teachers were all terrific, the work was stimulating, and the whole time, I was thinking, This is what I want to be doing. But I didn’t have the nerve to switch careers just yet. The time was right in the fall of 2013, so I closed my eyes and held my breath and jumped.

RO: What is your least favorite aspect of being a librarian? What is your favorite aspect of being a librarian?
A: I think in library school (and certainly as a child), I had this rosy, romantic vision of being Marian the Librarian from The Music Man, helping children, stamping books, shushing, you know, that kind of thing. And then I actually landed in a library and realized how naive I’d been. My favorite parts of librarianship are either helping people find what they want—it is such a rewarding feeling of satisfaction—or the organization. It’s quite satisfying to know that everything is in its proper place, sorted by author, or number, or title, or whatever.

My least favorite part is being a disciplinarian, either with the children (“Please put your shoes on,” “Walk, don’t run,” “Let’s use our indoor voices,” “Please don’t throw blocks,” etc.) or with the teens (“Guys, watch your language,” “No, seriously, watch your language,” or my favorite, “Would you mind pulling your pants up, please?”).

RO: Librarians have been pegged with several stereotypes. Are there any that you find particularly amusing?
A: Oh, man, I’ve heard them all. And none of them are amusing. I do the online dating thing—no jokes, please—and mention that I’m a children’s librarian in my profile. If I get one more email centered around a “sexy librarian” question, I’m going to scream! A lot of men also ask me if I wear glasses. They weren’t even amusing the first time I heard them, and I get exponentially more irritated the more I hear them. Get a new line, guys.

But when people do ask me if there really is such a thing as library school—I get that a lot, too—I say, “Yes, with a major in shushing and a minor in book stamping.” That usually gets a laugh.

RO: What is your favorite database/online resource? Why?
A: I got to teach a database class for adults a few weeks ago, and I helped them with the Learning Express Library. I love that there are so many great resources for adults, and that they’re able to better their lives at any age, to go back to school, to learn about job searching, or to learn a new language.

RO: What book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you would recommend? Conversely, what book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you not would recommend?
A: I just finished American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, because both The Graveyard Book and Coraline (both children’s books, I might add) scared the living crap out of me – and I only read them a few years ago. But I wanted to try some of his books for adults, and I thought American Gods was brilliant. If anyone else had written it, it would have been pedantic and banal. Gaiman has such a gift with words and description and setting, though.

I find it hard to recommend books that don’t connect with me—the characters aren’t developed, or the plot isn’t logical, or people don’t behave realistically. I recently had trouble with Amelia Gray’s Threats because I felt it was obtuse. The story centers around a man whose wife dies mysteriously, but it raised more questions than answers, and it left me unfulfilled. Similarly, I also read Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois (a thinly veiled Amanda Knox novel) and the way the characters spoke, they were too clever—real people don’t speak like that.

RO: What is the best (most challenging or however else you may define “best”) reference question you have ever been asked? What is the wackiest reference question you have ever been asked?
A: Most of the reference questions we get in children’s and teens are pretty straightforward—someone’s doing a report on Uruguay, or bugs, or the Constitution. I have taken a few shifts in our nonfiction section, and got a terrific variety of questions there—one about the Mafia, one about harpsichord music…that’s really the fun of working in a library, because every day, every shift, every hour on the desk is different.

Sometimes you have to ask some follow-up questions to really get to what the patron is asking for. Patrons will often come in and say, “I’m writing a report about Greece,” but what they really need are books about the fall of the Greek economy, or ancient Greece, or Greek gods, or something. The wackiest one wasn’t a question, but the path we took to get to the answer: there was a parent who said that her child was looking for comic books with a blond-haired character (so that could have been real comic books or graphic novels), but she couldn’t remember the title of the comic. I listed as many as I could think of, and we went through the catalog, when I finally decided to cheat and Google “blond hair comic book character” and we looked through the pictures. It turns out she wanted Foxtrot. I felt like Sherlock Holmes.

RO: We all know that kids say the darndest things. As a Children’s Librarian, what is the funniest/silliest thing one of your littlest patrons has said?
A: You know, I don’t think I have any real winners in this category. I have had a child or two ask if they can buy our books, at which point I gently explain about borrowing books and bringing them back, while watching the parents crack up behind the kid. I do have a few unpublishable quotes from some of our teens, involving some extra-creative swear words, though. Sadly, one of the most memorable quotes came from a teacher (A. TEACHER.), who, after asking for picture books, followed up with: “Do they have words in them?” Oh, dear.

RO: What is something librarians do that, in your opinion, should be considered a superpower?
A: Having high-capacity memories. Some of my coworkers can instantly name a book’s author, the Dewey Decimal number for bats, or fairy tales, or bulldozers, or something along those lines. It’s amazing to watch, and I wish I had that. Maybe it will come with time.

RO: Going off of that question, if you could have a skill that is traditionally considered a superpower, what would it be?
A: This isn’t traditional, but I would love to be able to look at someone and immediately know his or her age. Teens has a strict 13–19 age range, so I spend a lot of time asking those patrons for their ID. Skipping that step would be awesome.

RO: Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is considering going into the library science field?
A: Get the TV/movie stereotypes out of your head. Shadow someone in the library for a shift or two so you can really see what it’s like to work there. Stock up on hand sanitizer. Be prepared to get creative. Practice flexibility. Keep your eye on the new releases so you can always be up on what’s new and exciting.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Annie! That picture you drew as a young girl is key—it told the future!

I’m On A Blog!

I’ll admit it: I’m somewhat scared of putting my thoughts out there into the wide world of the interwebs, but I guess that’s what writing – particularly poetry – is about.  So, here’s my attempt at jumping in.  I’m reminded of lyrics by Sonicflood in their song “Carried Away: “I don’t care where or how deep, I’m gonna jump in with both feet.”

As to the focus of this blog, I’m just going to go with the flow.  I have varied interests (poetry, music, God, anime, etc) and I’m sure I’ll write about them all and more.  I’d like for this blog to be thought-provoking and witty, but we’ll see what happens.  I see this as a place to experiment, to write down scraps of ideas before they make it into poems or to post an MS paint drawing if words fail me.   I’m definitely looking forward to the adventure!

Lastly, I’d love for you – yes, you! – to join me in this startling endeavor we call “life.”  If you’ve stopped by, please let me know.  Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail or send a message via carrier pigeon.  I love interaction.  Conversation, whether deep, funny, or some curious mix, is one of the greatest past times.

Lastly (for real now!), if you’re wondering where the picture in this post was taken, here’s the answer: The Frying Pan at Chelsea Pier, NYC.  They have good meals at reasonable prices, great burgers, and you get to eat on a boat…now really, what could be better than that?