Make Art Every Day

Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator. … An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.

Seth Godin, Linchpin

If you’re not an artist, then it’s time to find out what has been holding you back.

Every day we have hundreds of opportunities to create art – each interaction we have opens up the possibility of changing someone. Many of us have fallen into the false security of a paint-by-numbers job and fail to take risks outside of our established duties. Is that really going to equate to long-term security? Or should we navigate away from strict obedience and aim for extraordinary?

No matter what your job, whether you work in an office, a hospital, or a coffee shop, bravery and boldness are open to you. Speaking up at meetings in the face of opposition from the rule-makers, going the extra mile for a customer or patient to have a perfect experience, or simply challenging your typical to-do list are acts of art – however unconventional.

If you aren’t creating art in your work, you run the risk of your efforts turning into commodities – easily teachable and quickly replaceable. Find out what sets you apart, and pursue it.

Challenge the standard, and quash the excuse that there’s no room to be different. There’s always room to be different.

 

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How to Like Mondays More

Say Yes to Mondays

I am about to be that person. You know, the one who loudly and cheerfully says “Good morning, sunshine!” to people who have yet to fully awake. The one who tells you it’s a good day even when it’s raining and all you want to do ever is go home and curl up in all the fluffiest, home-madiest blankets that you own.

I’m talking about Mondays. And how they can be–gasp–good?

While I’ve been gloomy and generally lackluster today, I think this post will be a good reminder to me to stop making Mondays so hard on myself.  Because honestly, today could have been better had I just chosen to view it a little differently. And that’s the thing about Mondays. They have such a bad rap that people love to perpetuate amongst friends, family, and coworkers.

How are you today?”

“It’s Monday. What can I say?”

“I feel you there. The weekend was too short. Always is.”

^ This is me. And this is you, too. (Maybe).

So let’s make it a goal next, week and the weeks after, to practice some Monday-improving moves that might just help us out of the gunk-filled rut that we like to call the first day of the week. In addition, these ideas don’t cost a dime. I’ve been reading lists where every other suggestion is akin to “treat yo’self” – they often include unhealthy eating or costly lattes.

While these things would be lovely to do every day, this list may help you and I start small and address the largest problem. And yes. I’m going to tuck these away myself and work on my own Mondays.

Having a Positive – and Happy – Monday

Get good sleep. This one is so simple, but it’s essential. No more of the mindset that we can milk our weekend by staying up super late on Sunday. It’s really only going to end poorly.

Reflect. Before you get to work on Monday, look back at your weekend. Pick a couple of things that you are proud of/excited about that you did over the weekend. Prepare one or two happy accomplishments/memories/events from the weekend and you’ll have a pleasant answer for anyone who asks you “How was your weekend?”

Be prepared. Be sure that you come to work and take some time to outline your priorities for the week. Identify larger projects that you need to make headway on and acknowledge anything that’s not urgent, but still needs attention. Do everything you can from feeling the Monday overwhelm that seems to hit me hard each week.

Call someone you love. I talk to my mother often and find that sharing news about our weekends puts me in a much more positive mindset. If you can’t make a call, grab a coworker and go for a walk or eat lunch together. Share happy vibes.

Coffee and music work, too. Put on your Friday playlist and make room for just one more little cup of coffee and trick your body into thinking it’s Friday. There’s nothing wrong with that! Right?

Ultimately, productivity and positivity are the goals on Monday. And they both start with what you think and what you say – no more “it’s Monday. Nothing good can come from that.” Find a balance, and start your week off a little better.

What do you do to make Mondays a little more bearable?

 

My Break from Pinterest

That’s right. I’m officially off of Pinterest for the next 9 or 10 months. I’ve already shared my opinion about Pinterest before on this blog, and I wanted to reiterate it now that I’m engaged (gasp!) I’ve spent my fair share of time pinning away dreamy things on Pinterest and thinking of the day when I’ll walk down the aisle.

Pinterest makes me think everything in a wedding looks so rosy. Not quite. I’m sure I’m going to be tired, my teeth aren’t going to be glowing white and I’m absolutely, 100% sure I’ll be sweaty. (Sorry for that–but it’s true). I’ve sworn off Pinterest while planning so that I can clearly imagine my wedding the way I want it to look and not be inundated with possible alternatives that might make me second guess myself about silly things like colors and the amount of mason jars I can realistically fit into my decor.

Pinterest has started to come out as an added stress during wedding planning, setting unrealistic expectations for the day. With all of those beautiful and widely varying images laid out in front of me, I can’t help but think I’d want it all and then be disappointed when it doesn’t come true.

My less-than-perfect fix? Google images. That way I can only see precisely what I type in to the search bar. I see pink and green weddings. I see paper flowers. I do not see royal blue weddings with 24-Karat details. I do not see purple macaroons or yellow and white fresh Easter Lilies. I’ve picked my colors and my flowers. Pinterest, you’re just too tempting.

See you on the flip side, Pinterest!

Getting Stuck in a Rut

I’ve been stuck in a rut lately. Wake, exercise, work, eat, sleep. I’ve been fairly removed from anything else. Occasionally I’ll read a chapter or so of a book that I’ve been meaning to read, and sometimes I’ll toss in a trip to the grocery store, but that’s pretty much my routine.

All work and no play...

All work and no play…

There’s nothing wrong with routines, in fact I think they have enormous potential to make us more productive and creative. Scheduling time to pursue our creative endeavors can allow us the freedom to truly express ourselves. But what happens when there’s not enough hours in a day to schedule our creative time? For me, writing this blog is something that I try to pencil in as often as I can, but other obligations override it: more work, trying to keep up with my exercise routine, playing with my rabbits, sleeping.

I’m working on getting out of this rut and getting back into a well-rounded schedule and these are the activities and exercises I’m going to try.

  • Taking ten minutes a day to truly do nothingThe idea of meditation intimidates me, but when it’s rephrased as simply “doing nothing” and observing my thoughts, I’m more inclined to try it. I haven’t yet sat down to do this, but I’m looking forward to seeing how well I handle sitting still for that long.
  • As soon as I find myself in a rut, I’ll get up and take a walk. This morning, I found myself completely unmotivated, so I put on one of my signature pump up songs and hopped on my stationary bike for five minutes. Last night, I was getting tired as I was chipping away at some work on my computer, so I dropped everything and went for a ten minute walk. My usually racing mind appreciates this time to just focus on physical activity instead of brain-draining tasks.
  • Accomplish something smaller. This morning, after attempting to motivate myself, I didn’t start right in to my to do list. I washed my dishes and then cut up a bunch of plastic bags and made them into a bouquet. I felt accomplished (and a bit ridiculous), and I was then able to make myself some coffee and jump in with this blog post. Starting off by accomplishing smaller tasks makes me feel more prepared to tackle larger ones.
  • Creating habits. This is something that I’ve been attempting to do by working out every morning. I’ve been horrible about talking myself out of this lately, so I need to get back to it. (I recently read The Power of Habit–a fascinating read if you’re interested in the science behind habits) Insert your desired habit after a certain trigger in your life–like waking, eating lunch, or after you brush your teeth at night. It doesn’t matter when you do it, but by giving your mind a trigger to complete your desired habit, you’ll be more likely to create a routine. (Hello , flossing!)
  • Create a real (or even imagine) community that depends upon your progress. My goal is to run a mini-marathon with my mother in the fall. Honestly, that might not happen, but she’s able to check in on me and encourage me to continue running. When I think about blogging, I find myself noting that I have a few followers, and that they may be looking forward to my next posts. I have friends who ask about my blog. Creating this sense of responsibility may be limiting to some, but I personally am motivated by being held accountable for things I say I’m going to do.

So what do you do when you’re stuck in a rut?

The Cleanse: Instagram

Instagram

Last year, I decided to drop Instagram. The terms of service had just changed, and it was just the push I needed to say goodbye to the only remotely acceptable place to post my pictures of rabbits and cups of coffee. But, greater than any terms of service issue or lack of interesting things to take photos of, I realized it was a time and happiness sink.

The immaculate people, places, and things of Instagram were getting me down. It’s the digital equivalent of seeing through rose-colored glasses. Much like with Pinterest, I was being overwhelmed with images that were skewed from reality.

My solution for this issue? Simple. Deactivate your account. Switch to Twitter if you desperately need to share a photo, but when the need to feel “artsy” is removed from your photo sharing, you’ll notice yourself forgetting all about the app.

I’m no longer searching for exciting and beautiful things to snap photos of to share–if I come across something beautiful, I pause and appreciate it. Take some time–in real life–to appreciate the moment and notice the tiny details that even Instagram can’t capture.

Perhaps this is one step closer to being smart phone free?

Learn to Love Solitude

It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. Rainer Maria Rilke

Living and being alone is difficult. But loneliness isn’t always a curse. In fact, it’s nice.

I’ve lived alone for a total of about two years and have had the good fortune of being able to practice quite a bit of solitude. I’ve learned to hang out with myself and rekindle some of my old favorite hobbies–I’ve started running, writing and reading like mad again. I don’t have TV or even Netflix to distract me. My evenings are quiet, but productive.

Resist the temptation to always fill your solitude with your cell phone and laptop. Take it seriously and use it to create habits that you can keep once you’re no longer alone. Pare down, organize, create, focus on what you love. Don’t seek distraction.

It’s good to be alone. Once you get into it, you’ll find it’s a simple way to clear out your mind. “How to Be Alone,” a YouTube video I came across quite by accident last year, is ultra-inspiring if you’re just starting your solitary journey:

 

While it does help me to have rabbits to interact with, I’m sure I’d find myself just as occupied without them. Have you had the privilege of enjoying solitude for an extended period of time?

You’re Not Saving Money, You’re Making It

I’ve been very interested in the concept of financial independence lately, and I’m infatuated with Mr. Money Mustache’s blog. He and his wife retired around the age of 30 and proceeded to have their first child. I think it’s important to be reasonable about my own situation and know that I’ll unlikely be that fortunate (he had no college debt, and scored some high-paying engineering jobs), but his story and insights are very inspiring. I’m hoping to retire (or be “financially independent”) well before the traditional retirement age.

One of the most interesting concepts I’ve picked up as I’ve read this blog is to start valuing my time differently. I’ve started looking at everything as a transaction. If I walk to the store instead of driving, I’m actually making money rather than spending it. If I drive to work, I’ve estimated my cost at about $1-2 a day. If I ride my bike, I consider that money made (rather than saying saved, which has a different connotation).

This is how I view it: money made can then be invested, but money saved can then be spent. For me, the words I use are essential in shaping how I think.

I believe that once we start valuing our time differently and redefining how we make/spend/save money, we’ll enjoy seeking out profitable alternatives. By avoiding costs, we’re actually increasing our take-home pay and our net worth. AND not to mention all the health benefits of riding bikes and walking instead of driving around in ridiculous “clown cars” as MMM likes to call them.

Just a little tidbit on how changing how you think about something can change how you act. 

Happy Tuesday!