Design, Self, Writing

odds and ends.

Hello, friends! I’m off work today and am going to see an OPERA tonight! Antigone, at BAM in enn why see.

That’s right. I’m hashtag cultured as hell. Hashtag it was a gift. Hashtag I’m actually broke. Oh yeah– and hashtag I got twitter! (@melissasakow).

I’m taking the day to update all my social media jazz for the job application process– and believe me, it’ll take a while, since it’s been several years since I updated ANYTHING– but if you have more free time than I do, check out these odd but appealing links to set yourself up for a glorious fall weekend.

  1. Find secret, niche, sometimes spooky and always obscure sites to visit or events to attend in your city with Atlas Obscura (I want to see the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters.)
  2. Get your stretch on with Adriene Mishler at YogawithAdriene! As an extra ab-tastic bonus you can hold in your laughter at her dad jokes.
  3. Practice punchy story-telling by telling six-word stories over at sixwordmemoirs— (absolutely shameless self-promotion: find me there, lisbis90.)
  4. Gape at this elaborate family apartment in Brooklyn (and wish you could afford that rug).

5. Read/ listen to Amanda Palmer on fostering creativity by collecting ideas and sharing art online.

6. Do you have a morning routine?

7. On being uncertain about your purpose.  

image via Design*Sponge.

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Self, Spirituality, Writing

the artist’s way.

Have any of you used this book before?

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(Also, have any of you struggled when typing the word “artist’s”? I misspelled it like five times. No? Just me? Ok then.)

I heard of Julia Cameron through her book The Writing Diet, which I picked up on the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble back in the early 2000’s. I’d been struggling with disordered eating for several years and was desperate for anything to break me out of my funk.

That book was both helpful and not. Julia, bless her heart, is a lunatic.

No sugar, she advised. Absolutely none. She was ahead of the clean eating bandwagon. But the relapses she admitted to having– splitting a dessert at a restaurant with friends–apparently led to major regret and sugar hangovers. If clean eating meant I would get sick every time I ate a dessert– nay, SHARED a dessert– I wanted no part of it. Still, I tried. I lasted less than a day.

However, she also plugged her signature strategies, Morning Pages and Artist Dates. Cornerstones of the emotional healing required to resolve eating issues, Morning Pages and Artist Dates were the one techniques she said were non negotiable.

So they were the one thing I didn’t try. I didn’t lose any weight.

Fast forward to now, when a dear creative friend of mine, Nandita, invited me to join her in working through Julia’s best known work, The Artist’s Way. I prepared myself for lots of pseudo-spirituality and anecdotal evidence and admonitions to move to New Mexico, where people just get it. 

And now I’m on chapter 6, admittedly far behind in the schedule Nandita and I set, and I have to say, it’s working!

I’ll be writing about it more in depth later, but for now I’ll say that the major theme I’m taking away is that we live in an abundant universe where God is waiting and eager to bless us a thousand times more than we can imagine. He’s extravagant. He’s effervescent.

“We have tried to be sensible– as though we have any proof at all that God is sensible,” Julia writes.

OH MY GOD, I felt like shouting. HE’S TOTALLY NOT! THANK YOU FOR SAYING THAT! BECAUSE THAT HAS BEEN MY MAJOR CRITIQUE OF CHRISTIANITY!

‘There is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds. This creator looks suspiciously like someone who might just send us support for our creative ventures.” And you know what? As soon as I started working my way through this book, I landed my first ever paid writing gig. And while it’s not panning out the way I thought, it was enough to encourage me to seek out other paid writing gigs.

(SO, LOL, hire me! Kidding. Well, not, I’m not, but, ya know.)

So the universe does seem to be encouraging me creatively. Thank you, Julia. Thanks for being so woo-woo you. I’m curious: have you used this book, or Julia’s others? What’d you think? 

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Design, Nanny, Self, Writing

odds and ends.

Hello, lovely followers and lurkers! Here are 6 things that inspired me this week.

painting by Joan Miró: ‘Horse, Pipe and Red Flower,’ 1920; via brainpickings

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Design, Observations, Self, Writing

a blast from the past.

Speaking of the tenuous copywriting gig, which I got through a friend, I was recently going back through all the writing I’ve put on the internet for my creative portfolio and stumbled across a blog I ran back in college.

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Unlike pretty much anything else I wrote during the time I consider my childhood, most of the writing on here isn’t half bad! Most of the posts are pictures of manicured houses or elaborate recipes, and my taste, although now more urbane, I’d like to think, has stayed the same. I read it and was like, “Yeah, 20 year old me! You were pretty cute!”

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Right? I think this blog needs some similar frivolity. If you feel like checking it out, you can do so here. Although I won’t be updating it, I hope I can bring a little of its “Eyyy I’m in college and no one reads this anyway so I’m going to post whatever beautiful stuff makes me happy!” sort of vibe to here.

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Observations, Self, Writing

a brief history of my relationship to creating stuff (part 2)

Fast-forward even more to college and I had mostly quit all of these things–no more acting, a brief stint with voice lessons that quickly became too expensive, and eventually the flute and writing faded, too. I started off as a flute major, but bouts of depression, a negative experience with an eccentric flute teacher, and the grind of three hours of daily practice made me switch to English. I loved creative writing as I always had– for a while: i.e., when I had a good teacher and, to be honest, when I felt like one of the better writers in the class. But once again, depression struck, and by junior year, repeated panic attacks in combination with a cliquey writing seminar effectively ended all of my creative or writing endeavors.

It wasn’t that the writing had felt so bad while I was doing it during that seminar. It was tough, but I could still lose myself in it. It was after the seminar ended and I re-read my work that I came away astonished and shame-faced. How could I have produced such absolute and utter shit–and been excited about it? All this time I thought I was creating characters and I was only, pathetically, reproducing my own misery, writing myself over and over. How could I trust my own sensibilities moving forward? I concluded I actually sucked at writing and obstinately refused to write for three years.

Here and there I produced a poem I liked, and here and there I started a new personal essay. But I never finished anything. I began picking up my flute from time to time, for the pleasure of it, but I knew I had lost all my finesse and music theory and history and most of my skill. I sang in the shower. I read and re-read the letters my on-stage boyfriends had written me.

So here we are.  I’ve finally gotten over the pain of that (false) realization about my writing ability and accepted that I don’t suck, although I do need training and practice. The other creative forms I’ve also accepted as occasional pleasures, but not things at which I desire to excel.

The only thing I’m creating right now is this blog and my journal, and I have to say it feels so nice to be writing anything at all. Today I was pondering the pain of break-ups and I started writing in my head. “The unique pain of a breakup gets effaced in the universality of its difficulty. Breakups are hard. The particulars don’t matter. Everyone feels it, all the kinds of pain at once, sharp as a knife’s wound and dull as a bruise and snapping as a broken bone. In other words, you’re not special.”

That’s not too terrible, right? It’s been a while since I started thinking like that, writing naturally about the things I observe

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