Writing Prompt: On Being Brave

When I began this blog, I wrote out goals.  One of the goals was to get over the fear of my parents.  To be brave in front of them especially when I was talking about subjects I knew they disapproved of and not to cry and run away when I didn't get the answer I was looking for.  I may have said this before, but it was not recognizable to me that it was a fear until I had actually written that out. Look at me now.  I'm going to San Diego for the summer for an internship.  Though they don't show it very well, I know my parents are proud of me.  I was brave enough to move forward with something I knew I needed to do whether they liked it or not.  They might not need it, but I do.

I feel like another part of being brave is when you have to choose.  You're brave enough to let something go, or to suffer consequences.  I feel that pressure on me now as I write this because I've been working down to the wire on a couple of writing assignments.  Do I choose to turn one in not as up to par as I'd like it to be in order to work harder on another or some other project due at a later time?  Oh, finals.  I can be brave at take a grade hit...but should I?  Am I brave enough to admit that I did slack?  Am I?  Yup.

So, here goes.  Here's to whatever you need to be brave for.  Because you can do this.  It's hard, yes, but sometimes it's necessary.  Be it standing up to someone for what you feel is right, or admitting you're wrong, you can be brave.


Writing Prompt: A Hidden Challenge

A hidden challenge for me this semester is managing to get all my work done in a timely manner.  I thought I was all on top of it, but as this week began, it slowly dawned on me that I don't have as much time as I originally had imagined.  This is all thanks to ASUs scheduling change. But how do I remedy this?  I'd prefer not to lose sleep over projects and assignments.  However, naps will be out of the question.  It's time to buckle down during the time I have set aside for naps.  It's time to make lists outside of the previously mentioned to do list to get as much done in a day as possible.  It's time for lots of coffee, water, and eating well.

But, because I live on camus, it is also time to start packing up my belongings and moving back home.  There lies another hidden challenge: balancing moving out with finals, especially when a majority of my finals happen before finals.  Oh, the challenges of an art student.

Writing Prompt: Systems

In the last prompt, I touched on the fact that I cannot read unless all my work is done, but I don't feel like I can work well unless my room is clean.  I believe this is a type of system that keeps me going in life.  Another system I can think of that I have is my homework system. I have the program Things and I use it to make lists for each class.  At the beginning of the semester, I take the syllabi from each class and enter in all the due dates for assignments, readings, projects and critiques.  I have it set up so that  each assignment, etc. appears on my to do list as urgent three days before it is actually due.  If needed, I make duplicates of the task to let myself know I need to be working on it so-and-so far in advance.

Heh, um....so, yes, this is my Things right now.  I have a lot of reading to catch up on.  But here is a good example of what I mean by repeating tasks.  I put them there so I know I need to work on it every day until the day before the task is due. And then I can check it off for the day when I've done a significant amount.

You can also see off to the side how I'm using the Active Projects as my classes and then I can put each task into a designated class to categorize them.

But, yes.  That is my system to get things done.

Writing Prompt: I last read...

Reading is something that can be difficult for me.  Sometimes I'm really into it, others I'm not.  Don't get me wrong, I love books and to read.  I just have a difficult time doing it if I'm working on a lot of things.  Many of my friends read to wind down and escape.  I can't read unless I have nothing else to be working on.  It's easier for me to read for school than it is for pleasure.  I tried to overcome this by getting a Kindle.

At first, I was doing great.  I read the first two Hunger Games books on it (technically, those are the last things I read but because the movie just came out, I'd rather not discuss it all here, but I loved it).  I'm currently on the third, but very stuck.  I'm just not motivated to pick it up again.

I think I'm in need of a schedule change and instead of procrastinating, or aimlessly looking at things online, I ought to take the time to read for at least 30 minutes.

It's interesting...in order to function well, I need a clean space, and in order to read, I need all my work to be finished.

Writing Prompt: An Image Saved

Do you save images off the internet?  I rarely do now.  I used to do it all the time.  Oh, maybe I  want to look at this again.  Maybe I'll use this somewhere.  There was a time I had a lot of the LolCat Meme images on my computer or just those where an animal is captioned.

But that was back when I had nothing better to do on my laptop.  I later realize all these saved images where just taking up space.  I never looked at them, so why keep them?

The other thing about saving images to your computer is that you don't always remember where you got it from.  What if you want to use it and you don't have the source?  That could get you into trouble, right?

However, there is a neat tool out there called Google Search by Image.  If you have an image on a website and no source is listed, you can click and drag the image to the search box and it will tell you where on the internet you can find it.  I just did it with the above image, even though it was saved onto my computer:


So, with the use of this type of very useful search, one is able to easily link back to the image source.

Writing Prompt: Games

This one is difficult.  Do I talk about my brother and how he brought video games into a family of three girls?  Do I talk about mind games played in school to try to get around a task?  Do I talk about the homeschool teen group I was involved in where we had a monthly game night?  Do I talk about how I crawled around on my hands and knees for a better part of my childhood because I liked to pretend I was an animal? I'm not much of a sports fan.  Never really have been.  I remember going over to friends houses and seeing them be excited about a certain team.  I'd then adopt that same excitement about the team, but then would drop it because I found no point in it later.  My Dad has always watched games on TV.  Oftentimes when I would walk into the room, he would shout, "FOOTBALL!" just to make me embarrassed.

My sport was bowling.  After trying tennis, horseback riding and even fencing, I decided that I liked bowling the best.  I have my own ball, shoes, special wrist brace...yeah.  I even worked at the bowling alley for a while.  I haven't bowled much since leaving for college, though.

Going back to watching sports, my family and I used to go to baseball games sort of frequently.  It wasn't much fun for me.  Luckily, I discovered knitting socks and when we'd go to the games, I'd bring along my sock knitting.  I did get a lot done during the game and everyone was happy.

This reminds me of Stich and Pitch, from where I sort of got the inspiration to take my knitting to the baseball games.  Basically, the National Needlearts Association created Stitch and Pitch to bring together baseball fans and knitters, crocheters and embroiderers.  They schedule events at certain games where these people meet up to craft while watching the game.  Maybe if I was more into the sport, I'd go, but for now, I just take it with me when I do.

Writing Prompt: The Music in my Head

Music is everywhere.  It's playing in restaurants, stores, in the car...almost everywhere we go there is music.  Even while observing people on campus one notices that most have earbuds in or headphones on, music piping into their heads.  What are they blocking out?   I used to do that as a teenager.  I'd want to block out people talking in the car, my brother yapping on and annoying me, or just for some noise to get me through whatever was going on.  But now, I haven't really listened to music unless I'm working in the studio (even then, it's usually podcasts) or if I'm in the car.  Part of me does wish I listened to music more, but the other part of me wants to be alert to everything going on around me, who is talking to me when, nature sounds and the like.  (Honestly, part of it is that my music library is somewhat unorganized and when I have the chance I would like to organize it better so that I can listen to music without skipping songs so much.) I had the motivation to begin writing this post as I was on Skype with my (boy)friend and he was listening to music as he was writing a paper.  He was listening to The Follow Through by Blue October off of their new album, Any Man in America.  Now, Blue October is one of my most favorite bands (I saw them twice this past year alone).  Maybe it's because their songs evoke certain emotions in me.  After all, I've turned to their music through relationships, heartaches, depression, happiness...you name it.  It lead me to think about how art can do the same thing.  It can make you uncomfortable, comforted, happy, sad, etc.  Music is art in its own right, of course.  As I'm thinking about all this in my writing, how interesting would it be to take a band, their albums, and make art based off of the music.  I know people do it all the time for drawings and paintings...but what about Fiber Art?

With that thought, I'll leave you with a bit of Blue October.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZKZqgeES9A]

Writing Prompt: Dear me...

Dear me, So, guess what.  Another weekend is over.  Did you do anything mildly productive?  If so, good.  But did you do anything for yourself?  Did you go on that hike?  Did you get to the Botanical Garden to paint?  No?  Well, make it happen sometime soon.  There's tons of time for you to lounge in your room with your laptop getting your homework done.  You need to get out a little more especially when the weather is so nice!

Good job talking to your parents yesterday about that internship opportunity.  I know they didn't have the same reaction as your sisters did, but they're still happy for you deep down even if they don't know how to show or express it.  Know something else?  You're getting better at overcoming your fear of them.  You're 21 now.  You have a bit more responsibility.  I think you can go ahead and ask to go to San Diego for a longer weekend, rather than a single day like the original plan is.  Rejection sucks, but if you want independence, you need to stick your neck out some more and voice your wants and needs.  You may be the youngest girl in the family, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have privileges to stretch your wings and fly.

While we're talking about those internship opportunities, I want to tell you that you've come a long way from last year.  You were timid, hated cover letters and resumes because you didn't know how to write them or didn't think your experience was worth it.  Megan, you made a good decision taking two classes this semester that would help you out with that and more.  Now you feel like a pro!  You have come so far from getting frustrated at not finding anything online, to calling around to places who probably wouldn't have offered internships otherwise and made your own position.  That is so wonderful.

At this point in the semester, midterms are coming up and you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.  You might not know where to focus next.  But right now, just focus on what is near at hand.  All the prep work is done, just get going.  Check those assignments and projects off your list one by one.  They look like looming monsters from afar, but really, they're just little creatures easily overcome when it comes down to it.  And even though housing plans for next semester have fallen through, you've been given the okay to seek out an alternative.  It will all fall into place.

Something else: take care of yourself.  Get rid of that cough you're sporting.  Eat more and eat better.  Drink more water.  If you hate city water so much, then get bottled water.  Next time you're at the store, get some fruit.  Your body needs it.  And don't worry about exercising to tone up.  You're fine the way you are.  In fact, you're more than fine.  You're beautiful.

Back to what I was saying at the beginning, don't be so lazy.  You might feel unmotivated, but all you need to do is work on a schedule, a rhythm.  Once you get it all figured out, you'll have more time to do the things you want to when you want to.  Just because you feel uninspired doesn't mean you should waste your time.

I guess I just want to finish this, Megan, by saying that you are stronger now than you have ever been.  Embrace that.  Embrace your beautiful heart that will lift you into all the right places.  Just gotta spread your wings and go.

Dragonfly by Tom Clifton

Writing Prompt: The Best Time of Day is...

I'm a night owl.  I would rather stay up till 2 am (or later on the weekends) than get up at the crack of dawn.  However, the more I think about it, I wish I could get up at a decent early hour, say 8ish, and go about my day. I love to sleep, so maybe when I get to go to bed at night (even though I don't always want to) is my favorite time of day.  But I also like the moments in the middle of the night when I'm the only one awake.  It's not like I do anything super productive then (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't).  I just enjoy being awake late.  Something else I enjoy is that feeling when your eyelids are just too heavy to continue staying awake.  Of course, I don't enjoy it when I'm in the middle of a morning class, but when I'm already in my bed during those late hours I spend awake.

This prompt brought something else to mind.  Last November, I took my very first road trip all by myself.  My initial plan was to get up at 4am and go, but I ended up getting up at 3am.  I enjoyed the feeling of driving through the dark, few cars on the road, and just the moon as my company.  When it began to get light out a few hours later, I was almost sad because I knew there would be more people on the road and I had been enjoying the dark atmosphere.  I hope I can do another one of those trips soon.

Another thing that I thought of as I started writing this post was something that my Dad did to us as we were growing up (and now).  Early Saturday morning, when we lived in Kansas still, he would stomp up the stairs reciting the last stanza of Longfellow's Psalm of Life:

    Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate ; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

He would then proceed to come into my siblings bedrooms and shake the mattress saying, "GOOD MORNING!"  While we didn't enjoy it at the time, and while we no longer have stairs for him to stomp up as he recites the poem, we laugh when it continues to happen when we're home at holidays.  Sometimes we even do it to each other.

So, in closing, I guess I enjoy the wee hours of the morning the best, but preferably when I see them before I go to sleep.

Writing Prompt: As Seen In...

Ariana Page Russell is an artist who caught my attention as I was browsing the internet one day.  At the time, she was taking photographs of her skin.  She has dermatographia, a skin condition that when the skin is irritated by a scratch or something similar, it raises slightly and becomes red.  I believe Russell has done something interesting by using her skin as her canvas for her art.

Index by Ariana Page Russell

I have dermatographia, too.  You used to be able to play Tic-Tac-Toe on my skin! (My friends thought that was both awesome and disgusting.)  But, now I think I'm growing out of it.

While mine isn't as severe as Russell's anymore, I still found it cool that an artist used something, which I used to think was embarrassing, as something beautiful. She took what materials she had and made something out of them.

Rather than "As Seen In," maybe this should really be "As Seen On."

Writing Prompt: Era, When Were You Supposed to be Born?

I think when a lot of people in college think of the word "Era," the phrase "I think I was born in the wrong century/decade/era..." comes to mind.  I feel like it applies to me most in the thought that a lot of my hobbies and skills are not really something that most college students find themselves being interested in.  I knit, sew, crochet, embroider....and the best example:  this past week, I purchased my own spinning wheel.

This is a Lendrum Double Treadle (Purchased from The Woolery).  It folds flat which is perfect for me at this stage because I can fold it up, put it in its bag and put it away when I'm not using it.  I got the bag to go with it, so I can just put it on like a backpack and go!

I took spinning lessons from the Fiber Factory in Fall '10 and had been wanting one ever since.  Because they're so expensive, this past birthday and Christmas I just asked people to give me money and that it was going towards getting a spinning wheel for myself.  I've had a lot of people ask me where you prick yourself (a la Sleeping Beauty).  Well, they don't put that part on spinning wheels anymore.

And what was I doing while everyone else was watching the Super Bowl?

Spinning fiber, of course!

That being said, I think I may be an old soul in a new world, but I hope to bring young ideas to an old art!

Writing Prompt: Steps

Steps.  Stair steps?  Steps to accomplish a task?  Each could take you up or down.  Stair steps take you up or down physically, whereas steps to accomplish a task could take you up or down mentally or emotionally. Most tasks have steps that we don't acknowledge.  But some do.  When you say you're going to go take a shower, you don't say, "I'm going to go wash my face, shampoo my hair, scrub my body and then I'll be out."  You simplify the task into one event instead of discussing what you're going to do step by step.

Larger tasks, such as obtaining a job, usually have many steps.  You have to do your research to find out names and titles, write cover letters and resumes, interviews, background checks, and more, before getting a job.

In creating art works, with some processes it is important to follow the steps to complete them.  For example, in immersion dye you have to soak the fabric in water, remove the fabric, add dye, replace the fabric, remove fabric, add salt, replace fabric, stir/soak, add soda ash, replace fabric, soak, rinse, dry.  (Don't quote me on this process, I'm speaking from memory.  If you want the actual process, please look it up!)  This is almost like a step within a step.  In order to complete the project, I need to dye some fabric.  In order to dye some fabric, I need to do this process.

So, through taking steps, you can reach an end product or process.  To reach a goal, steps are necessary.

Photo taken by Tup Wanders