Learning to Live in Color

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There was a time when my life was overflowing with creativity. Not simply my own, but everyone around me. Writers, artists, actors, musicians, songwriters, designers … I couldn’t throw a paper airplane without hitting someone whose talent filled the space. My spare time was filled with art shows, community theatre in all its forms, or performances of local musicians.

At the time, I didn’t realize how unusual my life was, or how fortunate I was to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented people. I didn’t realize that most people’s reality was so much more … mundane. I know that may sound judgmental, and I truly don’t mean for it to, but it’s like seeing the Wizard of Oz and going from technicolor back to Kansas in plain old black and white.

Sure, I worked, but it was secondary to everything else. My job didn’t interfere.

Until it did. And I went back to Kansas and the colors faded in my memory as time passed and I grew older and more responsible. Work began to take more and more of my time and creative exploits became a thing that I talked about on the phone in the car when driving to or from work. Then I just listened to other people talk about the projects they were working on. And finally, I just stopped. Work became all consuming. It wasn’t my intention and I certainly didn’t enjoy it, but it crept up, slowly taking more and more of my energy and focus until I didn’t have any more to give to anything else.

I describe that job as soul-destroying. It might sound melodramatic, but it’s an honest assessment. The nature of the job combined with the hours that I worked sucked so much energy that I didn’t have the ability to participate in the creative outlets that had always provided me with stress relief. The company frowned on individuality and stifled creativity. For a free-spirited theatre loving soul like myself, it was one of my personal circles of hell.

During those years, creativity was not on my agenda. Sometimes dinner was too overwhelming and took too much time and effort, so how was I supposed to be creative?

You see, the problem with creative people is we think too big. When we get grounded in a world of work and life and problems, we set our creativity aside because it’s “too much work.” It takes too much time to get involved. Its too much effort to paint a picture and then clean the brushes and … and …. and …. We are so creative in our ways to avoid being creative that it should be a form of creativity in itself. We forget that creativity can come in small packages. 15 minutes with a sketchpad and a pencil. 20 minutes with a blank word document, keyboard and an imagination. 15 minutes telling bedtime stories. 30 minutes trying a new spin on a recipe for the family dinner.

But believe it or not, creativity doesn’t just go away. It doesn’t wither and die if you don’t use it. It just gets rusty. It might give you a headache. It will definitely give you a heartache. Mine did.

At first, I told stories. To friends, to co-workers, to the teller at the bank and the cashier at the grocery store. I told stories to anyone who would listen. Telling stories could be like performing. I had an audience and a script and away I went. But performances are for the audience, not the performer and it didn’t quite fill the void.

You know the void that I’m talking about. The void that leaves your heart a little empty and your eyes a little wet and your head bursting with so many things that you can’t put words to. The void that tells you when you’re missing a piece of yourself that’s so vital to who you are.

I needed something personal. Something for me. A way to express my creativity. So I started a blog. I don’t have a huge following. I don’t care.

I don’t write for them. I write for me. I write because when I don’t, I begin to function on auto-pilot and I fall into a routine and eventually, I stop seeing in color. For me, creative writing is something I can do anytime, as little or as much as I want. It doesn’t require a rehearsal schedule or an accompanist. I don’t need anything beyond a pen and piece of paper. Or just my cell phone (there’s an app for that!)

It started out as a way to de-stress from work. I would write out an encounter from my day. Sometimes they were funny and sometimes they weren’t. Some of them were worth sharing and some of them weren’t worth the digital page they were typed on. All of them were important to me. They were pieces of me. They were and are reminders to me that even in a world of black and white, I can still open the door to a world of technicolor.

I need reminders that creativity, like happiness, is a choice to be made each day. It’s always there if I’m willing to take the time to actively see it, to let it flow. It’s easy to get swept along in the fast pace of life. Slowing down for ten minutes to rejuvenate the inner creative streak can be hard to justify.

Most of you who are reading this probably understand the importance of self-care. I hope that you believe in the necessity of taking time each day and each week to care for yourselves. I challenged myself to add 15 minutes to my self-care ritual once a week (that’s only an hour a month) to sit down and write. Sometimes I find that I have more time during the week and I write more frequently, but I know, and I look forward to those 15 minutes each week when my schedule is cleared for my imagination to fly.

Surely you can make the choice to find 15 minutes in your week to do something so good for yourself? After all, remember the magic of opening the door to Oz for the first time? Your life doesn’t have to be black and white all the time. Not even close.

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Finding the Bard Inside

Life circumstances change everyday, and it’s often how you handle the changes that will define you in whatever role you find yourself. Are you a leader? A follower? The jester? The slacker? The whiner? The doer? The politician? The scapegoat?

My life circumstances took a fairly dramatic shift a couple of months ago when I stepped down from my managerial role in one company to work on the front lines of another.

I have a cubbyhole locker and a cubicle now. Everyone I work with has a cubicle now. And I can only hope that I am able to provide as much entertainment for them as they have for me.

The first, of what promises to be many, of my patented cubicle shout outs goes to a team member talking with a friend and as I walked by, I heard, “Dear Jesus, bless the hungry children and please make me horny.”

Tell me that’s not a line that makes you want to stop and ask questions and I will tell you that you’re lying. I didn’t pry. I didn’t ask. That means my filters and manners were both working that day. I do not mean that I wasn’t curious about the rest of that conversation.

But really…could the real conversation been any better than any conversation imagined in my head that would include, “Dear Jesus, bless the hungry children and please make me horny.”

Somehow, I think not.

I have found that my role in these changing life circumstances will be somewhat of a bard. Writing the stories to keep the memories alive. Bards have much better stuff than jesters anyway.

Originally posted September 2012

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Simple Pleasures

Writing Prompt: List 31 simple pleasures. Every day for 4 weeks, write about one pleasure for 5 minutes.

So here’s my list. I’ll start writing about them tomorrow. Thanks to Elfie for the assist in thinking of my 31.

  1. Sound of rain
  2. Kitten’s purr
  3. Touch of silk
  4. Chocolate
  5. Coca-cola
  6. Bubble bath
  7. A quiet phone
  8. A busy phone
  9. A good book
  10. Good lotion
  11. Chewable vitamins
  12. Iced tea
  13. Bacon
  14. Dice
  15. Family of choice
  16. Having my hair brushed
  17. Wireless mouse
  18. Sandals
  19. Laptops
  20. Strawberry jam
  21. Hugs
  22. Clean sheets
  23. Bad TV
  24. Manicured nails
  25. Chap-stick
  26. Windows down, radio up
  27. Rum
  28. Handwritten letters
  29. Cinnamon and vanilla
  30. Homemade bread
  31. Red wine
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Excerpt from American Gods – Things I Can Believe In

“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

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Roundabout… 

WTF Buffalo?

1. Stop signs at roundabouts defeat the general purpose. I’ve always hated this about you.

2.  You don’t, don’t, DON’T turn left at roundabouts. That’s a recipe for disaster. I hate stupid people.

/end rant 

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Words

Sometimes, I talk too much.  In my head to myself and out of my head to others and sometimes even to people who aren’t really there.  I get a lot of strange looks when I answer a question that I thought I heard, but actually was never asked.  Its hard to get out of my head sometimes.  Who do you tell when you feel like you’re going to burst if you don’t get it all out RIGHT NOW? Not later, but NOW.  How do you push the words that have been swimming in your head all day long out fast enough to satisfy the need you have but slow enough that the person listening can understand?

As is obvious from above, I’m starting to hallucinate again. At first it was mumbled sounds that I can’t find a source from.  Then it was definite words or partial sentences that had me asking, “I’m sorry, what?” quite a few times a day.  Now, I’ve almost gotten the hang of figuring out what’s inside my head and what’s actually real.  If you’ve never had an hallucination, even a mild one as a side effect from some medication, please believe me that they are not like the hologram images you see like Princess Leia’s “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi…”  They aren’t staticky sounding like an old phone on speaker with noise in the back ground.  Those fuckers are REAL.  They feel real, they look real, they sound real. Hell, some of them even smell real.  The only difference between the hallucinations and reality is that one reality is only in your head where you can’t share it with anyone, and the other reality is open to the public.

It’s frightening.  I’ve been on medication for hallucinations for a while, and we’ve just recently changed to one that will hopefully not make me a zombie. It doesn’t seem to be working at the current dose, though. I see my psychiatrist soon, though, but I haven’t found a new therapist since I’ve been back in town, so who do I tell? Who would understand the frustration, the fear, the tears, and the fact that I would like to just curl up in my closet with my favorite blanket and my Nook just so I can not think about it or try to talk about it?

And there’s always the worry — will they believe me? Do they think I’m just making it up for attention? Do they even care enough to listen or have they already written me off as batshit crazy?

And that is exactly why this place means so much to me.  I can write anything and so long as it’s being helpful to me, no one else’s opinion matters.  If what I’ve said can help someone, that’s going to totally rock my day, but if they think I’m just crazy and not worth listening to, there’s a red “X” in the corner and they can be on with their day.

I want to babble now.  It’s time for me to click save and post, and for the first time that I can ever remember, I’m afraid to post something.  But I have to learn to open up and it’s either go big or go home.  So I guess we’re going big.

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Crosswalks

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Have you ever noticed that, when there’s a group of people standing at the crosswalk, waiting on the little white walking figure to appear so they can cross the street, if one person starts to cross the street, EVERYONE starts to cross the street.  Now, I’m not talking about when the signal flips to “walk”. I’m talking about that brave individual who thinks for herself, watching the traffic dynamics and determines that, for whatever reason, it is safe for her to cross the road at that moment. She takes a deep breath, she looks both ways, and she steps into the flow of traffic.  Everyone else takes a step into the flow of traffic. And about half of them moonwalk backwards to get back onto the curb, mentally berating the other half for continuing forward behind that one girl with the glasses and no sense of self-preservation. The other half that half watches the lanes of traffic and goes, “oh fuck, we need too run now” as they start pushing their way through the rest of the lane to the other side.

This happened to me yesterday.  I felt a hot breath on the back of my neck and a tall man behind  me screeched and then sighed as he started to follow me across the 4 lanes of traffic on my way to the parking garage.  I looked back to find him glaring at me, like it was my fault that I’d initiated the mass exodus when it was too early.

“Not my fault, dude. They’re following me.”

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