erica lee xo

poetic musings on life, love + pop culture in 800 words or less.

links i ♥ : 10.10.10

As you can probably guess, I’m a bit of an internet addict. I have to admit that posting these weekly link roundups turns me on in a way nothing else really can…and I say that with absolutely no shame.

Here’s to hoping you enjoy reading these posts even half as much as I love putting them together!

♥ Any Sufjan Stevens fans in the crowd? If you’re into his mellower stuff, you might be surprised at first, but Stevens has finally entered the realm of electronic music and made it his own. You can download the track “Too Much” here for free or listen to the entire album, The Age of Adz, here..

♥ I’ve been on quite the free music trip lately. Here’s another freebie: Pete Yorn – “Rock Crowd”

I wrote a piece about Wiloh, a hot new ecosocial apparel company, for CollegeFashion. Their new collection debuted today & it’s pretty perfect. Check it out.

This girl totally needs a glitter intervention.

♥ I kinda feel like a bad person posting this, but it still is pretty fucking funny. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably don’t care to anyway: College Girl’s Powerpoint “Fuck List” Goes Viral.

♥ This is a few weeks old, but I am so glad I‘m not the only one with a soft spot for hipsters.

I’ve been listening to this chick sing since she was a preteen & her music just becomes more real, raw & poignant with age. She’s also all about the music and not the hype (she doesn’t sing for us, she sings for herself) which is refreshing.

The Magic of Creating and Sending Packages via miseducated.

I Am Here With You.

♥ I’m totally saving for one of these chain necklaces. (via amy uhrich)

How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level. IFB is always such good reading.

♥ New blog obessions: the glamourai, oh, mishka, kertiii, kaileen elise

As much as I don’t like Barbies, I can’t help but admire when they look like this.

♥ I want to make this ribbon necklace.

Have you been reading Jessica Mullen’s posts about life design? What are you waiting for?

Empowerment is not for sale.

♥ Is anyone planning to use Barnes & Noble’s new PubIt tool?

♥ I’ve become a little hula hoop machine the past few weeks. In my quest to learn absolutely everything I can about hooping, I came across this rad website hoop pretty with hooping info., advice, tricks, music & fashion. I love.

♥ I also just bought myself an oversized pink & purple glitter hoop from SugarPlumFairyHoops on Etsy.

♥ And watch these hooping videos. There’s something so sensual, sexy and even spiritual about this type of dancing. I hope to be 1/10th as good as these girls one day:

The audio was removed on the next one, but it’s too good not to post:

♥ And…this song is just awesome.

xoxo
erica lee

listen: kate spade mix.

Handbag designer kate spade is no one trick pony. Not only can she (and well, her team of cohorts) pump out hot handbags, the former Mademoiselle editor also has quite an impressive music taste. Check out the track listing for the newest playlist which was released on her site last month:

    TWIRL PLAYLIST TRACK LIST:


KITTY, DAISY AND LEWIS(baby) hold me tight
JOSH ROUSEi will live on islands
MATT COSTAoh dear
DENT MAY & HIS MAGNIFICENT UKULELEmeet me in the garden
MAYER HAWTHORNEmake her mine
ZEE AVIjust you and me
SHE & HIMin the sun
CALL AND RESPONSECalifornia floating in space
THAOswimming pools
THE RAVEONETTESlast dance

Download kate’s new mix here. You and your eardrums can thank me later. :)

xoxo
erica lee

sup girl?: my issue with female friendships.

I hate to even admit this, but I was once one of those girls. You know the kind. The girls who sit in the corner at parties, maliciously snickering about every other woman in attendance, criticizing them from head-to-toe. The only comments they can manage to muster are along the lines of, That girl should not be in those jeans and Does she really think that streaky mess on her head looks cute? all in a vain attempt to make themselves feel superior.

For years, I didn’t see a problem with acting this way. I thought it was normal. In fact, I thought every other female in the room was thinking the same awful, judgmental thoughts about moi.

Don’t ask how, but I still had female friends in those days–and quite a few, actually. But a lot of those friendships were based on mutual shit-talkin’ and hatin’. We would sit around & gossip & talk smack about other women, going as far as saying horrible things about our “friends” who weren’t around. We constantly called each other “bitches” and “whores” and “sluts.” At the time I felt sort of empowered using those words. I thought it was very feminist of me & I believed I was just “reclaiming” the words that many a man had nonchalantly thrown at me for years. They were just words, right?

I didn’t make the connection that true feminists probably wouldn’t even think those words about other women.

Miraculously, I forged a few special bonds despite my cattiness (and severe case of social anxiety, which I’ve mentioned). What was funny and unusual about my social anxiety was that I wasn’t particularly nervous around the opposite sex. In fact, I found them extremely easy to get along with. I knew how to flirt. I knew how to bat my eyelashes, tease and bend over when asking for things (yeah, I know). That stuff came easily, naturally. But put another woman in the mix and I immediately shut down. Even if there was only one other girl in attendance, I felt like I couldn’t relax and be myself. If the girl-in-question wasn’t a part of my tight little clique, I instantly felt we were “different” from each other. I became automatically defensive and stand offish, assuming she was scrutinizing my every move (when really, I was the one who was doing that to her!). I felt like other women could see right through me. I just felt very exposed, like my deepest insecurities were on display. It was all very unnerving, and not very conducive to having a healthy self esteem, let alone healthy relationships with others.

I eventually realized there were four main reasons I was unable to connect with other women:
1) I was extremely insecure. The prettier the woman in question, the higher my anxiety.
2) I felt ten million times more vulnerable around women than men. I understood men (or so I believed, anyway). I “knew” that they didn’t much pay attention to details and that a lot of things could slip under the radar around them. But I was convinced that women were remarkably more perceptive. Plus, I had quite a guilty conscience. I thought they were all judging me the same way I judged them. In my own defense, though, I only had my own experiences to draw from, so how could I have known better?
3) I had been hurt by a lot of women in my past, in far deeper ways than I had been hurt by men. Yes, ex-boyfriends had left me heartbroken, but only temporarily. When close friends stole boyfriends or dropped off the planet with no goodbye–that stuff hurt worse. I unconsciously developed a sort of “wall” around my emotions and sharing them in a friendship situation.
4. I lacked a stable, loving, female figure in my life. I never had women in my home or family who treated me nicely or respected me, let alone complimented me or gave me their approval. I think that took its toll on my mind as well. In a way, I yearned for approval from a woman, but as we all know, when we want something that bad it becomes elusive to us.

My issues with women definitely got worse before they got better. Toward the end of college, after almost 10 years of wall-building, I wasn’t able to engage in any type of “girl talk” at all. Whenever the conversation shifted to anything emotional, from sex to relationships or even shopping (!), I felt panicky. God forbid a friend want to drunkenly confess her love of me, to me. My heart would pound and a lump would grow in my throat. Consequently, the prospect of making new girl friends was out of the question and I shied away from the few I had held on to.

I just couldn’t engage with females on that level anymore.

What about now? Well, I’m out of college, which helped diminished the last lingering feelings of cattiness. I’m in a sort of recovery phase at this point. Now that I have recovered significantly from my GAD and depersonalization, I am trying very hard to resurrect the friendships that were lost or damaged during my temporary emotional-freeze. I’m re-examining my habits and sketching out a plan for reconnecting with other women. I think the first step is opening myself up to women who I once felt safe around, again.First and foremost, I need to be reminded what it feels like to have a close, female friend.

I also think that developing my own self esteem is key. The jealousy I used to feel around other women (hence the bitchy snickering) has subsided, but I’m definitely still quite intimidated by any woman I believe is more attractive, successful or skinnier than me. It seems childish, but it is almost second nature to size myself up against every woman I come in contact with.

I also want to quit avoiding places I think I’ll meet more women. We take up a lot of space on this planet, I’ve realized.

But I’ve learned an important lesson about friendship through all of this. There is an almost magical quality to female friendships. The feeling I get when I connect with a new friend is similar to the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of falling for a man. Plus, I like knowing that when women befriend you, you can count on the fact that they genuinely like your personality–something that can’t always be said for guys who want to hang out with (read: eventually bang) you. Bonus!

I’m not alone in feeling this specialness. The following article was originally published in Psychology Review in 2000 & discusses a UCLA study about the relevance of female friendships:

“A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They
shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.

…Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It’s a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research – most of it on men – upside down. “

Don’t get me wrong–I love hanging out with guys & still find it easier, but guys just don’t get stuff like tampons and cat-calling and dealing with jealous ex-boyfriends. When I make a good female friend, I treasure her immensely because it takes so much for me to open up to women and the bond I feel with girl friends is just so real and honest. I’ve never been 100 percentmyself around a man (guys really don’t like talking about Sex & the City or gyno visits, I’ve found), but my good girl friends have seen all the good, bad and the ugly. Talking to my best friend on the phone for a half hour every day beats just about everything (though cookie dough ice cream comes in a close second and she accepts it).

Call me a romantic (cause I am) but I truly believe that relationships are what make life so perfect. Not only do they make us feel safe, protected, accepted and loved, they’re good for our health. Win-win.

It’s probably going to be a long road for me. I haven’t had many positive female relationships in my life, but I can say with confidence–and conviction–that they are what I want more than anything in my life right now. I’m willing to do work if that’s what it takes to have the up-all-night-laughing-and-drinking-red-wine-and-talking-about-everything friendships back, because that closeness? That’s what all of this is all about.

And, like Chris McHandless (Into the Wild) supposedly wrote: “Happiness is only real when shared.”

True that, woman.

xoxo
erica lee

the new manifesto + what i’m up to.

I thought the day would never come.

I’ve had this blog for more than 5 months now (& was planning it in my head for years before that!), but I was always unsure about one thing: The point!

When I started this blog in April, I decided to name the site after, well, myself. My moniker is short, easy to spell and easy to remember–at least for me.  I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, or what my “blogging purpose” was (as you can see documented quite painstakingly here + here). I think I was being much too hard on myself for something that, for now, is only a hobby.

But over the last few weeks–and my much needed break from even thinkingabout blogging–I’ve made up my mind about this whole blogging business. First of all, I like my name. I’ll never forget it. And unlike my last name, which may change, my first and middle name won’t. Unless I get real creative (or drunk).

I also know that I want to continue to write. I want to continue to explore what it means to be a writer in this medium. I want to have a part in defining this new playground for journalism.

I also know that I don’t want to sacrifice myself for this. So, this site is going to exist in a different form. It’s going to exist alongside my tumblr, a sorta private place where you can read my poetry, view inspiring images and see other more journalesque ramblings. Consider it a sneak peak into my personal diary (’cause basically, that’s what it is!).

You can view my tumblr here.

What about this place, you ask? This is going to be all about exploring what I like and the issues that matter to me in music, pop culture, fashion & well, life. I’ll try not to overlap entries here & on my tumblr–but if they do, this site will probably contain the final version, whereas the tumblr contains the ‘draft.’ Ya dig?

So, in celebration of this, I decided to write a real manifesto that will help to guide and solidify what this blog space is for me (and for now).


the forever dilettante manifesto:


dilettante:
–noun

1. a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, esp. in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler.
2. a lover of an art or science, esp. of a fine art.

+ this site is about embracing the place you’re in
+ it’s about finding out what you love
+ it’s about expression. love. controversy. glamour. sex.
+ it’s a place to discover, discuss & obsess about whatever it is you like–this week
+ it’s about being okay with not knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life
+ it’s about forgetting what everyone tells you you should be doing & doing what you love instead
+ it’s about being honest & real & talking about your demons instead of ignoring them
+ it’s about poetry & remembering that our stories make us who we are


Basically, I was sick of writing about things I thought other people would like. What kind of blog is that? What kind of authentic expression is that? It’s not. I can’t do that. I’m a writer, a thinker, a dreamer. And I’m a little bit wild.

This blog will be a reflection of that–& me. I can’t really tell you what that means, but I guess maybe that’s the juicy part.

After three years of depersonalization and intense anxiety, I’m ready to be real again. It’s about fucking time.

so what the hell have i been up to?

[01] The teaser edition of the magazine I’ve been working on is available for download for FREE! It has SEXY, HIGH FASHION, AVANT GARDE photography paired with INTELLIGENT, BALLSY writing…& my headshot! What more could you ask for? Take a look here! Warning: The link will directly download a .PDF version of the magazine to your computer.
[02] And…good news for my fashion blogger friends, word on the street is we’re going to start printing a second, weekly edition of the magazine that is completely fashion-related & comprised of content entirely from fashion blogs. EVERY.WEEK. I know, I almost died. If you’re into it, please get in touch via erica@theprintedblog.com & we’ll talk.
[03] I’ve also been hula hooping like crazy, preparing to start my new schtick at H&M and interning with a local PR guy.

I’m so glad to be back. I feel refreshed & super excited to get back to work.

Love you guys!
xoxo

P.S. Follow my blog with bloglovin (!!)

so fresh && so clean, clean.

Oh boyy. You all probably think I dropped off the face of the planet. Let me reassure you, I didn’t. I’ve actually been very much on the planet, as in, taking a short break from the Internet whenever possible (since now, I work on it all day).

I’ve decided that the reason I find it hard to write in this blog is because sometimes, I feel like it’s just not me enough. I feel a little stifled by this idea that I have to produce art for an audience. I still like you guys, I swear — but it does put a little pressure on.

I’m much more of a creative, artsy soul than anything else. I want this blog to reflect that (as you might have noticed with the last post…). I’m more stream-of-conscious, ride-the-wave sort of person, and writer. I never know where I’m going to be one minute to the next. I’m often struck with intense feelings to just do something or go somewhere. I tend to decide with a moment’s notice to go on a road trip. By myself. On the bus. Or sometimes I feel an undeniable urge to make plans with someone I know I shouldn’t, turn off my phone & spend the weekend eating pancakes and smoking cigarettes. I’m just that kind of person. I’m working on adding more structure to my life, but I’ve really never been good at it. Which is why I think I don’t have the push to keep up this blog the way it is. It isn’t satisfying that ‘urge’ to write – about deep, painful or emotional things. It doesn’t give me that sense that I’ve created something beautiful or of value.

So I want to try things a new way. This site is going to get a makeover. I’m going to move my portfolio and writing samples to another site to keep things separate. And then I’m going to kind of go balls-to-the-wall here. Not care if I say fuck. Or cunt. Or if I write about my sex life or a million of the other weird things that make us all human.

Sound good?

I hope you’ll join me. If not, I’m sorry to have lost you but I just have to be true to myself right now. I have to. It’s imperative to my emotional survival.

See you again soon.

The Invitation

My best friend sent this to me in a Facebook message recently and it was just too good not to share. She obviously knows me inside & out because this poem really is so Erica. It’s probably my probing Scorpio nature, but I just love delving deep into people & I’m not very concerned with small talk. This poem just manages to say all that in a much more beautiful, raw, poetic way. Enjoy!

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Brain Sex: How Many Lives Will You Live?


image:

Right now, I’m 99% sure that whatever I’m going to write will be crap.

I’m sitting at my keyboard, listening to my Bassnectar Pandora station, sucking on a butterscotch (seriously! I don’t know how I forgot this simple pleasure from childhood!) and working on The Printed Blog, a project that I’m ecstatic about & wholeheartedly believe in. (In fact, it’s existence has motivated me to clean up my content around here. Not in a I-Can’t-Say-Fuck way, but in a I-Better-Write-Some-Good-Shit way).

So it kinda makes me sad that I’m hating on my writing right now.

But even though I’m a little down & out because I can’t harness my creative chi the way I’d like–I’m also fully aware that I’m so lucky to be living my life right now. There are people without money, without food, without shelter–and here I am, sucking on a damn butterscotch and getting paid to read blogs.

What’s totally priceless about this is that the ‘Old Me’ would never have viewed the world through the gorgeous rose-colored shades I’m sporting. The ‘Old Me’ would focus on the fact that I haven’t showered today, or that I’m still in my yoga pants or that the butterscotch – however delicious – is going to rot my teeth. (Which, honestly, at this point I don’t care. Too good!)

I realize that I’m not only thinking differently about my life, I’m living a whole new one. Fresh. Ripe. Untainted. State-of-the-art. Sharp & sparkling & invigorating.

Yes, some of my circumstances are the same as they’ve always been (I’m living with my parents). But this time period in my life just feels different. Almost as if the other ‘times in my life’ didn’t exist.

My mom and I had a conversation about this the other day. We were watching a movie together (a rare occurrence, but a special one). The movie, The Box, was – pardon my French – fucking awful. I’m not the best movie-watcher anyway, but I literally struggled to keep my heavy eyelids open.

The movie sucked but the soundtrack did not. During one scene, the couple in the movie was at a party and the Marshall Tucker Band song “Can’t You See” started playing in the background. My mom and I both looked at each other. She said, “God. This song reminds me of Joe. This song reminds me of another lifetime.” (Quick story: Joe was my mom’s first husband who she helped through dialysis. After 10 years, he cheated on her & left her for another woman. He died a few years later.)

I know that just-punched-in-the-stomach feeling all too well. The same song reminds me of an ex-boyfriend who cheated on me with a mutual acquaintance. We played it incessantly the spring & summer we dated, laying in my hot, sticky un-airconditioned room for hours, reciting all the promises that young lovers are notorious for making And although the first few notes of the song used to make me keel over with sadness & basically fall apart, I knew exactly what my mom meant. This time, It felt distant. Remote. Like that young, big-hearted, naive girl who desperately wanted love and chased after it like a wounded puppy chases it’s abusive owner, was somewhere–and someone–else.

I realized how far I had climbed. I’m not that girl anymore. I’m not living that desperate, attention-seeking, people-pleasing life anymore. I realize that now, I’m doing things for me. I stick up for myself. Respect my body. Honor my strengths & accept my weaknesses. Only do what feels right & true & authentic. For me. And no one else.

So I think the lesson here is this: When you’re totally immersed in one life, you sometimes forget that others can exist. This is wonderful if the life you’re living is as sweet as mine is right now–but it can be a serious nightmare if your current sitch isn’t the greatest.

Remember that life should not be–and is not–stagnate. Even people who absolutely abhor change will have to go through it. You have no choice but to deal with what comes your way.

For those of you looking for a way out, I hope you find this comforting. No, the scars don’t vanish, but they do wane. They do heal. And no matter how many you have, you can choose to move on. You can choose to live a new life or you can wait for it to happen. But either way, it comes.

How many lifetimes have you lived? I’m only on my second, but I’m almost positive it is not my last.

Bloggers, Say Hello to Your New BFF: The Printed Blog

Voracious Vixens!  I’m not going to bore you with needless apologies about my lack of blogging lately (though I do, sincerely, apologize). Instead, I’m going to jump right into telling you why I haven’t been around.

The Printed Blog has captured my heart–and my time.

So like, WTF is The Printed Blog?  It might sound a bit backwards at first, but hear me out: It’s a weekly print publication featuring the best blogs and photography from the web.  Every week, a panel of guest editors (including some hot names like Brittany Snow and Sara Paxton) will review all the blogs in The Printed Blog Bloggers Network for fresh content to publish. What is the network, you ask?  Well, let me preface by saying that yours truly working as the Blog Relations Manager at The Printed Blog – which means I’m kinda the empress of the network. Like, I’ll let you know if you’re in or out.  Like, I’ll send you updates. Like, I am the network  (Not really, we have an amazing team working on all of this. But it sure does make me feel important to write that…)

So, because I truly appreciate all of my lovely readers (& because I know a lot of you are kick-ass bloggers), I decided to come to you with this opportunity first.  In the next week or so, this promotion will go live on Ed2010 and mediabistro and the like, but right now, it’s kinda hush-hush.  But since you guys are like my own personal network of bloggers, I wanted you to have the opportunity to submit your blog to the network first!

If the idea of TPB intrigues you, please do submit your blog. And then, Tweet/Facebook/Digg/MySpace (does anybody even use that anymore?) the shit out of it.  Tell everyone you know.  Because, here’s the catch = The Printed Blog pays bloggers for every piece we publish. How, you ask?  Based on the number of subscribers. Basically, when you subscribe to TPB, you are directly funding the bloggers & photographers featured inside.  You’re also supporting me, because at this point this gig is paying my billz!

TPB is all about the bloggers, man.

So, here’s your To-Do List:

1. E-mail me (erica@theprintedblog.com) with your URL.

2. Wait for me to reply.  I know, that sucks. But, in the meantime…

3. Subscribe to The Printed Blog!  Follow us on Twitter!  “Like” us on Facebook!

4. Add the network badge to your page (after I send it to you in a timely manner) so your readers can vote you in.

5. Be super excited & elated when your best blogs end up in print!

Thanks so much for always supporting me.  It means so much.  If you have any questions (or if you’d like to be a guest editor for TPB), just shoot me an e-mail (erica@theprintedblog.com).

With so much love,

The Unhappily Uninspired Writer’s Guide to Kick Starting Creativity (& Gaining Back Creative Confidence!)

In this “Information Age,” we can devour all kinds of different creative media.  We can scour the web for new photographers, research the latest in emerging fashion designers, see an artist’s work before it ever hits a gallery and read our favorite writer’s blog in between books just to get a taste of their every day lives.

With all this information at our ever-so-restless fingertips , it’s easy to feel overloaded. Forcing too much “creative inspiration” into our minds can have the opposite affect we were searching for. Sometimes it puts out our fire.

But momentarily losing your motivation to do that thang you do isn’t the end of the world. Every creative individual experiences it from time to time–& they all bounce back, too. How, you ask? Here’s some ideas for getting your groove back:

Imitate. Let’s face it:  Every writer is a copy cat, in one way or another.  There’s no such thing as a totally original, completely unique piece of writing. There are limited words in the English language. There are limited formations of sentences. “Creative imitation”–as I’ve dubbed it–not only exists, but it is also a natural part of what it means to be a creative person.  Try to do something like one of your idols. Check out books from your favorite author.  Try to re-create the design, texture or style of an artist you admire.  Inevitably, you’ll end up adding your own flavor to whatever you’re creating–& learning what does and doesn’t work for you.

Make a Pandora station for a band you’ve never listened to.

Change your medium. This is one piece of tried-and-true advice that I swear by.  Expressing myself with words (those things I claim to love oh-so-much!) sometimes gets stale. But, if I do something different–like design a website, make a collage or try my hand at GarageBand– I usually get a little flow going & before I know it, I feel inspired again!

Drink a glass of wine. A nerve-soothing glass of wine works like a charm to inspire creativity.  Alcohol lowers your inhibitions just enough to free your mind of some of those nasty, negative perfectionist thoughts. In turn, it allows your ideas to flow more naturally. Plus, it’s turns off (or at the very least, turns down the volume!) of that little nagging, scrutinizing, shitty voice in your head that tells you’re no good at whatever you’re doing.

Just DO Something. Get up. Get active. (Read my latest Brain Sex column where I talk about the benefits of just doing it-no matter what it is.)

Read someone’s private diary. Anais Nin, Anne Frank, and even strangers on Xanga or Livejournal have provided me with lots of creative fuel.

Abandon your original plan. If something just isn’t working, don’t be afraid to abandon ship.  Search Wikipedia about subject that has absolutely nothing to do with what you’re working on (or eh, want to work on), but has always made you perk up & listen more intently when it’s brought up in conversation.  Watch a movie from your past that made you feel like life was magical (you know those, right? Like Peter Pan or The Little Princess?), or rent one you’ve always wanted to see (suggestions: Factory Girl, White Oleander & Girl, Interrupted always get my mind moving).

Pick an emotion you’re not currently feeling– & pull it into your work.

Obsess, obsess, obsess. Immerse yourself in whatever subject lights your heart up & makes you forget about all your other responsibilities. When I was a teenager, I had a few very intense interests–& that’s it. Consequently, my writing, dress and personality completely reflected these obsessions. I wrote like the love child of my idols, FLB, C. Love & Sylvia, seamlessly blending their styles into a voice partly my own (case-in-point, my Xanga from back then). I incorporated elements of all my quirky interests into my daily activities (practicing magick spells, writing poetry by candle light, hanging out with junkies). Although I don’t advocate the last part, I think it’s really fun to be obsessed with something, as long as it’s not going to get your hurt (like those 13-year-old girls who fight on message boards about who is going to marry Justin Bieber. Don’t lie, you know what I mean.)  Productive obsession, like immersing yourself in writing for an entire evening, is actually good for you.

Make peace with your inner demons.

But don’t believe the hype that all creative types are manic, depressive or just plain insane. I wrote a post, Where’s the Beauty in Burning Out? which touched on this absolutely ridiculous notion that all writers, artists & thinkers are (or need to be) locked up in asylums somewhere. Not true, not true at all! (Though I will admit, I do think creatives are a little weirder than the average human, but in a totally intriguing way. Whenever I meet someone who is doing something creative, I instantly know that what I see is not necessarily what I get with them.)

Spend some quality time alone. The #1 habit of all creative people, according to Leo Babuata at zen habits, is solitude.

Stop worrying about whether others will “get it” — instead, aim to make them think. They don’t have to “get” it for it to be good writing. Sometimes, my favorite writing is absolutely a mess (House of Leaves by Daniel Z. Danielewski, anyone?), but it’s that reckless messiness that makes it so textured & fun to read. All my journalism classes stressed the importance of simplicity–& yes, if you’re writing the front page story for a newspaper, you better make sense. But if you’re writing (or drawing/sculpting/jewelry-making/glass-blowing/collaging/designing outfits for mythical mermaids), mix it up a little. Throw in something that will totally confuse the hell out of your audience–& feel the creative juices start to pour in.

Drink more water, take your vitamins & get a pedicure. Nourish your body & relax.

Dig into your old love notes. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I’ve been my most passionate/creative when I was in the midst of a deep love affair. I think it might have something to do with the obsession thing–it’s been proven that love alters brain activity.  Essentially, we’re all a little Crazy in Love.

People watch. We’re all so strange & diverse–and so much fun to watch.  My old creative writing teacher told us to go sit in a crowded area with a notebook & pick an interesting looking character from the crowd & write a story either from their point of view or about them. Get out of yourself & your experiences for a little bit & explore what it might be like in someone else’s shoes.

Unplug. Several years ago, I read a lot more books, newspapers & other print materials.  I was constantly immersed in the works of Francesca Lia Block, viewing the art of Dali & listening to whatever records I could find in my parent’s basement, along with whatever vapid, awful music was on the radio.  It’s really creatively stimulating to “get back to basics” – print newspapers, books, magazines, records – you name it.

Drink a Soy Frappucinno. Or your fave caffeinated drink.  Caffeine, in small doses, has been proven to spark creativity.  My Drugs & Behavior professor (yes, we actually had that class!) said that humans do perform at higher levels on some caffeine, but that if too much is consumed, we actually perform worse than we would without it–so be careful with this one!

What ways do you sugar plums get the inspiration to do what you do?

P.S. Expect another post from me tonight or tomorrow about another project I’m involved in–The Printed Blog.  Bloggers should definitely check back for this super exciting announcement!

A Little Story about Man’s Best Friend

We adopted Libby, our part beagle, part husky mix, on the 4th of July. Her full name is actually Liberty, in honor of that fact. ‘Libby’ was just a natural progression–and, as my parents said, easier to yell.

Libby wasn’t a bad puppy, but she definitely had her flaws. We enrolled her in puppy obedience school soon after we bought her. She failed out and we got our money back. Apparently, the only command she would respond to was “Sit”–and only half the time at best.

But she was adorable. And loving. So we kept her & decided we’d make it work, puppy school diploma or no puppy school diploma. Obviously, we grew to love her because she’s still here, sitting next to me as I write this.

It hasn’t been an easy road with Libby, though. Our relationship wasn’t always as peaceful as it is now. Even though I was the one who picked her out at the animal shelter (because she has blue eyes–like me!), I think she always favored my brother more. Probably because he’s younger & actually had the energy to play with her, while I just got angry when she jumped on me & scratched my legs with her nails, sometimes to the point of bleeding, before I went out with friends.

Plus, Libby has separation anxiety. If someone even picks up their purse to move it, or bends down to tie a shoe, she goes nuts. She just doesn’t take it very well. And when I left for college, she let me know it. She spent the entire morning howling at me, warning me that if I left her there, she’d never forgive me.

And for years she didn’t.

When I came home during winter or spring break, Libby acted like I was a stranger. She gave me the cold shoulder. She didn’t even jump on me when I came through the door. I started to realize that maybe, she did remember, and she wasn’t kidding that morning before I left for college.

Even though I was heartbroken that my dog was essentially acting like I didn’t exist, I was almost flattered. The fact that she was so hurt by my absence made me think that maybe she had liked me a little more than I thought. Maybe my brother wasn’t her favorite after all. Maybe she valued the time we spent, curled up on my mom’s couch (& totally against her rules), me stroking her thick fur. Maybe that was just as important to her as the games of fetch and frisbee with my brother.

It’s been five years since I’ve lived in the same house with Libby. She, inevitably, has grown. She is also much older looking than I remember her being before I moved away. It almost scared me the first time I saw her climb our stairs: She slowly and deliberately takes one small step at a time, making sure her footing is strong before she tries to move on. Her fur has even started to grey. I was barely 11 when my first dog, Cody, died. Although my memories of him are dim, I do remember the greying fur. Not too long before he died.

Now that Libby & I are sharing living space again, she’s started to open up to me. It started with coming to me to ask (howl) for food (always a sign that she loves & trusts you). Then, she started wanting to watch movies with me and my boyfriend on the couch (& we let her, much to my mother’s dismay).

Now she sleeps with me. Every night.

But there’s a catch: She can’t make it on to my bed without my help. She can get her front paws onto the mattress, but she waits now, patiently, for me to hoist her back legs up for her. Then, she nestles into her favorite spot at the end of the bed, always leaving enough room for me to comfortably stretch out. Then we sleep & don’t see each other again until morning.

I can’t say what is really going on in Libby’s mind. But I think that her allowing me to move her into my bed–therefore, giving up some of her power–is not only a sign of aging, but also a sign that she forgives me.

Yes, our relationship is very different now. She isn’t as loud, so I don’t yell at her to quiet down as often. She doesn’t jump on me when I sneak in through the front door late at night (this is because she’s sleeping in the hallway outside my room, waiting). She has more respect for me, and I, her.

My relationship with Libby seemed to show a pattern that most relationships do. People get used to each other, fall into routines & ‘expect’ the other to act a certain way. Then, eventually, because this is just the way life works, one or the other starts to change–& the other half doesn’t get it. We like people for who they are, and when they start to make changes–even positive ones, like not smoking or cutting out meat–those of us watching from the sidelines sometimes feel confused and hurt by these changes. Some people really don’t jive well when the tides start to rock the boat a little.

This was most likely the case with Libby. She didn’t want me to go away to college. She expected me to be in her life, as I had been since 2 months after she was born. She was hurt by my changes-my decision to move away-so she ignored me. She didn’t want me in her life at that point. (I hope it wasn’t ’cause she forgot about me. I was the one who picked her out, after all.)

But eventually, Libby got over it. She, herself, had made some changes, too–& maybe that’s what enabled her to see that it’s not always a bad thing. It’s just inevitable. It’s just life.

Now, I think we’re both happy in this new relationship. Through both of our changes, we’ve somehow come together again & are actually stronger because of it. Sometimes it works out that way with people, too. Sometimes, the other person (whether it be a friend, family member, lover or even a co-worker) can accept when someone changes, or when things don’t always go there way.

Sometimes they can’t.

I was lucky that Libby fell into the former category. She was stung, but she wasn’t done with me forever. She just needed to come around on her own time.


Maybe there really is a reason why dogs are considered man’s best friend. Because they love. Because they’re so loyal they will ignore you for five years if you don’t return their loyalty. And because they forgive.

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