March 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
When I was a teenager, I was extremely active in numerous extracurricular activities. Over the four years of high school, I played volleyball, competed on the Speech and Debate team, wrote lyrics and composed music for piano, tried my hand at swing dancing, played on the Junior Varsity basketball team for the school, took tumbling classes, worked backstage on a play, played the piano, sang on a worship team at church (and was encouraged to take voice lessons by said worship team), acted in a mime group, and I’m sure there are even a few things I’m missing.
Throughout the week, I would go to tutoring lessons, Bible studies, and concerts featuring local bands like Noise Ratchet and Logos. The people around me thought I was popular. They thought that I always had something going on (perhaps I did). And they, in turn, kept there distance because of that busy appearance that I put off.
Now don’t get me wrong, I had a small handful of friends that I loved and appreciated. I just never learned how to make plans with people or it felt like I was never all that good at it. That’s what happens when no one ever teaches you how to. What I find interesting though is how popular, busy, and important people labeled me as. I didn’t feel like it. Quite the contrary, I felt the opposite. I felt lonely most days.
As I grew up, went to college, graduated, and attempted to find myself thereafter, I had to figure out the whole “friend thing” myself. I must admit, I’m still not fantastic at it. I love people, although I’m not as extroverted as I was way back when. I’ve toned down a lot and gather my energy when I’m by myself for sure.
During a conversation with a good friend a few weeks ago, I admitted that no one had visited that week and how glad I was that she was there. She was surprised when she heard this, and said,
“I thought you would be busy with friends all week, so I didn’t want to bug you!”
I can share Megan’s sentiment. I think we all do that in a sense. We make assumptions, good or bad, about those around us without really knowing the truth. We find that in ourselves we have fear, doubt, embarrassment, etc. that holds us back from connecting. It’s deception in its fullest form.
Why? Because in community we find ourselves. We receive compassion, love, empathy, acceptance, truth, friendship, and so on. In community our needs are met.
Realizing that I often do the same thing, tell myself that my friends are “busy” and I shouldn’t disturb, I decided to make it a point to continue to text/call/email/Facebook my friends throughout the week. Even if they’ve got stuff going on and don’t have time to catch up, it still feels amazing to hear from those around us. It fulfills the need of community.
Screw the deception of busy appearance and love those around you. It can’t hurt, can it?
Community Discussion: How are you going to put yourself out there (though it be vulnerable) to create community this week?
Photo: Joie (Megan’s daughter) and Audrey…good friends that enjoy connecting.
November 30, 2011 § 1 Comment
Idea Loss has been coming up over the past few days. I’ve been living in the reality of being a homemaker living in Glendale for the past fifteen months. At the beginning of November, Trever and I decided to move into a two-bedroom and make room for our growing family.
We gave our 30 days with our property manager and began our search. I was having a hard time getting from place to place to check out each unit with an active toddler sitting in the backseat. Yet I was managing.
At one point, mid-month, I said to Trever that I couldn’t decide where I wanted to live. He said he would gladly stay at our current spot for a little bit longer till we found what was best for us. And I agreed. So that same night, I emailed the property manager to see about the possibility of rescinding our notice.
It couldn’t be done.
The landlord supposedly wanted to remodel the never-before remodeled 1950′s unit and increase the rent. So we started searching even more vigorously and came up with a back-up plan: moving in with his parents.
As the impending moving day came closer and closer, I began a hormonal pregnant mama meltdown every other day. We didn’t find the perfect spot and here we are. Living with the in-laws.
I’ve been pretty depressed over the past couple days since we moved in. Audrey has said to me more than once, “You cry?” Yes, Mama cry. And it all comes back to the Idea Loss.
Idea Loss is having your perspective and/or reality change over night and feeling the mournfulness and sorrow over the death of the old point of view. Sometimes it’s a good thing, other times it’s such a great loss that it’s hard to deal with and process. I’m in a place where I’m not sure how to deal with it.
I went from being a wife and mom. Happily cooking, cleaning, laundering, etc. on a daily basis to feeling completely stuck. I had my daily activities planned, my mom friends, and my domestic and simple lifestyle that I enjoyed. Now I’m living in a house that lacks both freedom and safety. The two things that I prize above all else for my daughter.
I know it may seem like a more temporary situation than that; it is definitely hard to explain every side of the argument in one blog or open up completely. Yet I want you to know where I’m at. I’ve lost the little community that I built in my mom hood, so I’m feeling a bit shelter shocked.
I’ll figure it out. We’ll figure out. We always do. One idea at a time.
Photo: Driving away. They grow up too fast.
July 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s a command. Not a request. Albeit cheeky. Get yourself out there and market thyself. It says on my updated FAQ page that the first thing you should do is start a blog and I stand by that. If you’re a creative mind and you want to begin the journey of sharing your creativity with others, you have to be bold enough to tell people that you exist. Without any expectation of controlling where you are going, what it will look like, or what the outcome might be.
As my “about me” page states, I started this blog in October 2010 with the intention of allowing you to follow me on my ‘recording music’ journey. Obviously that didn’t happen (yet). And at that moment I became okay with that and the unknown of where writing was going to lead me.
I find blogging so therapeutic and beneficial and vulnerable that it actually brings me accountability to do some serious thinking thrice times a week. Over the past month, that thinking has taken me to a place of deciding where my blog is going. When I’m telling you to market thyself I’m really speaking to the choir. And this is where you come in.
I would love for you to put some serious thought into where you’re at, right now, and what your marketing slogan might be that being the case. I’ve asked a small focus group what they believe my one-liner would be (as you can see, I’ve changed mine from Jazz. Folk. Rock.). Here’s what we’ve come up with:
• Brazen writings for your creative inspiration.
• A cheeky creative.
• Nurturing cocksure for your creativity.
Comment below and put in your two cents on the above three choices. This blog is about developing a conscious creative sense in the every day by broadening your perspective of both your own creativity and your viewpoint of those around you. If you’ve felt encouraged in the past 9 months by my words at all, please leave a post.
To get to the point of deciding who I was, where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to be marketed, I had to decide not only how I wanted to come across but also ask others what that looked like in reality. For instance, I had never thought of descriptors for myself that included “amazing,” “loving,” or “nurturing.” Yet if that’s what you, my readers and good friends, are feeling, I believe you 100%. It’s what my focus group added to my take, which included brazen, cheeky, cocksure, and brash. Now it’s your turn.
So treat this like a mini project in self-discovery:
1) Start a stream of consciousness and get ideas flowing of who you think your creative persona exemplifies.
2) Take those ideas and put them into sentences or slogans, perhaps 7-10 total. Think on um for a day or two.
3) Message or email a handful of friends (about 8 that you trust and know have businesses or are creative minds) and wait for their loving responses.
The last one is probably the hardest for some. Letting people in and giving them a say is probably one of the most vulnerable things you can do. It’s key to pick individuals that you know have your best interest in mind. As always, I hope you feel you can include me in that lot. I’m more than happy to give caring advice. Email me today at email@example.com and get those creative ideas flowing. It’s never to early to think: Market Thyself…what does that look like?
June 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The majority of the time, people bug me. I used to try to get along with most and blame myself for not getting others and vice versa. Slowly that perspective has drifted away. Fallen off my shoulders like a used coat. My upbringing encouraged me to feel pressured to attempt to get along with everyone. But what about people you just don’t like? I got guilt tripped and shamed into thinking I had to be everything to all people: friendly, open, conversational, outgoing, funny, and for godsakes virtuous in every single way.
Woo. A lot of pressure to put on a fourteen year old. And entirely unrealistic on a number of levels. I think the one that irks me the most and causes me to raise Audrey in a way that is more authentic is feeling forced to like all people equally. Love, for that matter. And never have that defined or exemplified by adults around me doling out the rules and regs.
I hate to break to you, but that’s just not how life works. And if you’re following a path that is telling you you “have to” like or love people all the same, they’ve got their definitions all askew. Liking or loving people is not the same thing as:
1. Getting them to like you
2. Spending the same amount of time with each
3. Allowing them to treat you however they want
4. Making everyone a homemade card for their Birthday
5. Feeling obligated to donate to their “cause” whatever it may be (their band, nonprofit, etc)
In fact, I don’t believe you can actually put into any format or formula or book and write down what loving others looks like. Period. Because each one of us is so wildly unique, it’s darn right near impossible to say do x, y, z and voila! Love!
One person could need space and boundaries to see your love. While another needs sweet, hand-written notes of encouragement. And another still you must employ words of continuous wisdom and lend a discerning ear. Yet never any of the above all the time and certainly not forever. Each person needs a love that is suited to fit both you and them in that exact moment in time.
There are times when I feel that I lend myself well to the love crockpot (we’ll call it) of that persons specific season and others where I feel my time has ended and I have offered what I can. Sometimes I am saddened by this loss of a mutually beneficial give and take of love from another, but I understand that it must be that: mutually beneficial.
I can think of three people specifically that I have lost the connection with for one reason or another–usually a fault of my own. And much more than that that I long to rekindle or spark the fire of love with. Rather I know that I can only be what they allow me to be in their lives and that is enough.
I apologize if it’s hard to hear that I do not believe there is a method to the madness. I’ve spent years contemplating my own ability to love and grappled with whether or not I was doing it “right.” I can tell you frankly that it stems from my ability to love myself and not knowing how to, which comes from my parents ability to raise me to feel like I had inherent value and deserved unconditional love. Knowing that, I still have issues. Issues are still present even though you know their source. Therefore you still have to work through them. More so, knowing makes it easier to wrestle with.
All this from one simple thought: I would like to love today.
April 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
When I was thirteen, I attended a Christian concert series called Youthwave. There I saw one of my soon-to-be favorite local bands, Noise Ratchet. I went up to the guitarist, Danny Lothspeich, and asked him for his autograph. From that point on, I would be an NR fan and soon, a friend. Danny and I hit it off well. We got each other. We enjoyed hanging out at shows together, most of which were at Christian venues.
My experience of being around other Christians was a dismal one. One thing I felt judged by was my interaction with Danny (the eight years older boy in a band). I also got teased about my short hair cut, getting called a lesbian constantly (a rumor the pastors kids started). Yet it didn’t stop there. I heard endless comments about my choice of dress (too “hard” looking), strong personality (“you should gentle and meek”), and I even had parents of other kids call my mom to tattle about “flirting.” (Okay, that might be true.)
I know my experience isn’t one that stands alone. Sadly, many people growing up in one form or another of organized religion find it anything but forgiving. Quite on the contrary, judgmental. And more so than “non-Christian” friends.
Not much has changed since then, I’ve noticed. Don’t get me wrong, I love many people, some of whom are professed Christ followers. Yet as we’ve grown up around those people, the judgement we’ve felt as teenagers and young adults has lingered and followed with us.
When I asked Danny to write a blog (since he’s a fellow musician and creative in his own right), this is what came out of his heart. And I can totally relate. Hope you feel me on this one. Enjoy!
So I have this friend that I have been a friend with for like 10 years. I felt as though at certain points of our friendship we were like brothers. I have a ton of memories with this person. We’ve grown apart in our older age but still remain friends.
The last year though this person suddenly stop responding to me. I tried calling and leaving polite messages and texts/emails. But not to the point I would pester him. I’d say over the course of the year I contacted him maybe 15 times. He posts all the time on Facebook Twitter etc.. So I know he is around.
So finally I decide to comment on one of his Jesus freak posts. I said how this post inspired me and that I was glad he posted it. Not even 20 minutes later he commented back saying God works in strange ways and that he missed me.
So is this what it comes down to? I have to speak the Christian lingo to be able to talk to these people? That’s what it seems like!
To me it proves that there is not total acceptance in the church as they claim there is. It’s all judgment. I grew up in the church and know how its works. I believe in Jesus and God, but I think the church is not what God had in mind. I think it’s just another business or exclusive club to join and pay dues. So in the end I say I do not need friends like that and do not want friends like that. They are not friends at all. A friend is someone who is there for you no matter what.
No one needs friends like that that only respond when you use their language (in this case, Christianese). The message here is to be aware of what you are portraying to other friends. Do you only contact them when you feel like they agree with you? Or do you applaud their different perspective and remain diplomatic? It can be tough to do with old friends. Especially when your viewpoints have changed as the years have gone by.
For more on the perspective of the Christian church that Danny is referring to, check out “Death by Church” by Mike Erre, pastor of Mariners in Orange County.
April 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s amazing what can happen over time. When I had my first birthday with Trever in the not-so-distant past of 2008, I told him,
“I hate birthdays. Something bad always happens on my birthday. It’s never what I want it to be.”
I would even encourage him to NOT buy me a thing. Not celebrate me. Not do anything special. And certainly not throw me a party. Therefore, I thought, the bad stuff wouldn’t happen.
I hadn’t realized until Trever loved me so much that a ton of my issues came up. Issues that I didn’t know were there or were a problem until he came into my life.
Birthdays were one of those days (as were pretty much all holidays). My family background caused me to dislike a lot of celebration. I connected celebrating directly with pain, hurt, and arguments. My parents, though I love them to death, had issues of their own that were brought up on holidays. Causing a groupthink to occur that brought negativity to flow through what should be a happy day.
Since that first birthday with Trever and many subsequent holidays, I have gotten over myself. So to speak. I never really “worked through” my birthday garbage. I just felt loved by Trever and beautiful people like you. Now my birthday just feels nice. I enjoy thinking of the celebration of the day I came into the world.
Audrey has added to that feeling by knowing the importance of the day that she was born first-hand. Her birth day caused me to see the day for what it really was: A celebration for the life of a person that has just begun. She is my sunshine. My love. Her life beginning has been the most important cornerstone of my life thus far. Without her, I don’t think I would fully understand the beauty of birthdays.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to know this now and to not have wasted any more birthdays on my own self-pity. Let’s celebrate my day. Your day. Every day. Each day is someone’s birthday, so might as well. May this birthday and this year be the best one yet.
March 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Tuesday just wasn’t my day. For a number of reasons, including bad dreams, I woke up feeling like a grump. I felt bad feeling like a grump and I consciously decided to be perkier. I rolled out of bed (it’s only fourteen inches off the ground) and walked into the living room. Audrey was playing with her Mega Blocks and Trever was sending out an email.
“We should definitely make some coffee,” I mumbled to Trever, “Coffee would really be good today.”
He looked up from his phone and smiled. Stood up and kissed me.
“Yes, it’s definitely a coffee day,” he agreed.
He cleaned the much-unused pot and got it percolating within minutes. The smell lifted my spirits and I made Audrey a bowl of her new peanut buttery organic cereal before putting on a pot of rice cereal for my gluten-free tummy.
After devouring my breakfast unbothered, I got myself ready for a day out with the ladies and their girlies. “Good,” I thought, “I could definitely use a girl day.”
I moved slower than I thought and by the time I had Audrey in the car, it was 5 to eleven. It would take me much longer to get to Mothersong! at the American Legion Hall in Eagle Rock, but oh well. I opened the garage, got Audrey in, pulled out, got out of the car, closed the garage, and before I could even get out of the ally I remembered I’d forgotten a few things: my chapstick, a Macy’s gift card I wanted to use later, and a tube of nontoxic black paint for Eris and her Audrey to craft with (I’d been meaning to give it to her for over a month). “Darnit!” I chided myself, “No time to turn back now.”
I drove on the streets from my house to Eagle Rock and passed the little building that housed the music class. “No parking!” I thought to myself in a tiff and continued to drive around, up and down each street. I figured there must’ve been a parent meeting or something at one of the schools it’s near.
“Oh bother, I’ll just park in a one-hour spot. I’m already 20 minutes late anyway.”
Audrey and I went inside and enjoyed our friends’ company although the Mothersong part was kind of silly. When we came out and walked to the curb, I saw the parking guy getting out of his “clean air gas” car. “Oh crap!” I ran with Audrey in my arms and pleaded,
“Please, sir! I’m only three minutes late. I don’t have enough money for next months bills. I don’t have money to waste on a ticket. I brought my daughter to a donation-only class and was just about to leave.”
“I saw your car here and the meter and got out to give you a ticket!”
“I know! But you haven’t yet and I really can’t afford one!”
“Well, let me just finish!”
“Just finish?” by this time I’m panicking because he was actually giving me a ticket in front of my face, I couldn’t believe my eyes! His ticket that would clearly state: Not Attended. Yet I was standing right there.
“You don’t seem to understand, I don’t have any effing money!”
At this he gave me a look from his dark brown eyes, “You don’t have to swear!”
“Oh I don’t? You just gave me an effing ticket in front of my face when I told you I was leaving. I told you I didn’t have the money. I told you I was broke.”
And at that he began to stuff the ticket under my windshield wiper. I ripped it out of his hand, “You don’t have to put it there, I told you I was leaving!”
At this he looked at me with apprehension, got in the nice work car, a car that he himself would never have the money to own. And drove away. If I had a rock I would’ve. But I didn’t.
I got Audrey in the car. Cursed for a minute after seeing the unjustly doled out ticket was for $58 buckaroos and drove towards our chosen lunch spot, Auntie Em’s. My lady friends were all supportive and validating. And I thought I was being a youknow. So it made me feel better than even though/if I was, they still loved me. My friend, Theresa, even paid my tab.
The day was a bit of a roller coaster, but improving. I got back in the car (with no ticket, yay free parking) and drove to Target to get a couple things. Audrey fell asleep and did a lovely transfer from carseat to stroller. She slept for another hour while I shopped and even walked from one end of the mall to the other. She woke up in the shoe section of Macy’s and was ecstatic to get out and look around. A shoe fetish already.
I was about finished with my shopping and walked to the Armenian cashier who was arguing with a Vietnamese lady about what a “pre-sale” was. Both being ESL (English Second Language, a term I learned to use as such from a Dutchie in Australia, Anna-Mieka), it was quite entertaining. After they’d argued for a bit and the 50-something native middle-easterner was angry about her life in retail, I gave her my merchandise–some much-needed socks for Audrey and a pair of rain boots that I’m still debating about (Wet feet? Or continuing to use shoes with recycled grocery bags?)–and card to pay.
She huffed and puffed a bit. Ordered me to hit the correct buttons on the debit pad and got out my receipt. I then handed her my nylon green shopping bag and she looked at me incredulously, “You cannot use that bag. You have to use one of our bags. I have to give you one of ours.”
Knowing that some employees will do this with the marketing of the store in mind I replied, “I’m just going to stuff it in my stroller anyway. No one will see the bag.”
“It’s for liability reasons,” she insisted, “and security…it will confuse the security guards.”
I laughed and then composed myself when I realized she was dead serious. We were arguing over a plastic bag. And if I know Armenians who are already hating life and on a power trip, I wasn’t going to win.
But alas, I tried to make my point anyway, “I happen to know that you’re full of it. I’ve been using my own bags for almost four years. But I can’t really bothered. Just don’t try to use that excuse again.”
I was still snickering at her forthrightness about a plastic bag of all things. A plastic bag, which I put in the lower compartment of my stroller. I laughed about how I’ve told cashiers to not give me any bag and have walked out of stores carrying my purchased goods with a receipt on top as proof. You can’t win every one. It’s like the Whole Foods cashiers that huff and puff when you bring in your own bags. It just happens.
Audrey and I took our time walking back through the mall to Target. We got in the car. What a strange day. We’d made it to four o’clock. We drove home, at a snack, cleaned up the house for a bit. A bit too long. But at least it’s clean now.
The only way I knew how to finish off such an odd and strangely crummy feeling day was to make vegan chocolate chip cookies. So I did. And I felt better. Much. Much better. Now if only I could get out of my parking ticket.
March 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Ask Jenny: This weekly post features questions from you guys. If you have a question about any thing creative business related, ask away! Shoot me an email, message me on Facebook, whatever you’d like. I’m here for you guys.
It’s so important to value what you do creatively. Some people don’t get that. I hear it a lot from friends. Doing charity work is one thing. Doing per diem to get the job is another. And friends asking you to bend over backwards is a whole different discussion in itself. What do you do when your friends or family ask you to do things for them for free with nothing in return (trade or trade plus pay is also another option)? Read on to find out.
Q: So, I think the question all freelance artists have to grapple with at some times is: What do you do when your friends ask you to do work for them at a discounted price? I’ve been having trouble with this a lot lately as my friend Steve has been asking me to do a bunch of things for him. I painted the bathroom at his work for $200 when any self-respecting artist would have gotten $1000 or $1200 for it! Now he’s asked me to design a t-shirt for him, and I told him that $30/hour IS a discounted price, but he still wants me to do it for less.
Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this?
A: Yeah. I have a few. Here’s what you could say.
A) Sure! I’d love to. Here’s my contract. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer if it’s breached.
B) I worked really hard to get where I’m at, so discounting it more isn’t an option. Would you work for a third of what you’d normally charge?
C) I can do it for $25/hr plus 5% of sales paid to me monthly.
D) You’re abusing our friendship and it’s not getting you anywhere except on my bad side.
The dilemma with right now (and with certain people and companies) is they use circumstances to make excuses. The economy, our friendship, the experience, the work, the addition to your portfolio, etc. None of these are appropriate. All of these are abuse. As an artist, you don’t have to take the abuse. It might mean “less work”, but it’s also less heartache.
People and companies that START OUT by asking you to bend over backwards won’t stop there. That’s only the beginning. Once you’re in the door everything WILL NOT be roses and sunshine, but quite the opposite.
They will ask for more work. More cheap labor. More changes. More “stuff that should be easy” (that’s my favorite). It’s never ending. It doesn’t get better. It’s always abusive.
This can be a hard thing to grapple with when you really what work. Or when the person is super consistent (aka a pain in the arse). They’re like an abusive boyfriend that makes it feel like it’s you’re fault. You’re the crazy one. You should change your perspective. You should do it. You shouldn’t be this way or that. Not cool.
So on that note my answer would be: Don’t work for these kinds of people. You want to work with the people that see such high value of your work that they’ll pay what you ask and then some. The people that are so grateful, they buy you lunch, tell their friends, share it on social networks, get you more gigs, and love you till the end of time. Just like you’d want in a significant other.
Some friends or family members just aren’t good people to work with. If they’re unhealthy in other areas of their life, there’s a good chance this is no different. Some people just can’t see boundaries. And you trying to guide their way isn’t going to work. You have to do what your gut tells you regardless of who the person or company is. Remember: if you’re doing a job you knew you shouldn’t have taken in the first place, you won’t leave room when the “right” project comes along.