Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Friendly Neighborhood Journal is Coming to You!

So, I've been alluding to a Thing on Twitter for a really long time....
.
.
.
and it's finally here.

In collaboration with the amazing Aimee Meester, I present to you...




Do you like writing letters to people?
Do you like getting mail from frens who live in places you've never been before?
Are you friendly? I hope so.

Then you should definitely join our group of nice people writing nice things to each other.  The Friendly Neighborhood Journal is a lil journal that will be passed around the country (and likely the world), accumulating journal entries from many frens.

If you sign up, we'll put you on the route and someday in the next few months, the journal will arrive at your doorstep. You'll be able to read through what everyone before you has written, then contribute something of your own - art, poetry, encouragement...then you'll send it on to the next person! (Note: international people can definitely sign up, and we'll just make sure the person before you is okay with shipping internationally.)

me with #thefriendlyneighbhorhoodjournal

You can follow the journey through the Twitter hashtag, #thefriendlyneighborhoodjournal, and post your own picture with the journal when it gets to you.

One of the best things is that you have no idea who's gonna ship the journal to you. You might get it from a beautiful person you've never talked to before, or maybe it'll be your best friend from Twitter, and they'll have sent you a personal letter to and maybe a nice bookmark in the package.  It'd be so cool if you made some new writing frens or pen pals out of this as well. Feel free to mail extra stuff along with the journal for the next person!

Comment or email thefriendlyneighborhoodjournal@gmail.com with any questions, and sign up soon, because there's always the possibility that this will be a Cool Thing and run out of space before you can say "duh-caroline-and-aimee-are-already-cool".  If you know someone who'd love this kind of thing, share this post with them and peer pressure encourage them to sign up!

I can't wait to see where this lil guy goes. :)


Much love,
Caroline (and Aimee) 💙

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feeling Alive

Sometimes, if I hold still for long enough,
or look at something really closely,
or breathe in deep enough,
I can feel myself living.



It’s really hard to explain.  


Most of the time, I feel like I live inside my head.  There’s a lot of thinking and analyzing and planning for the future, I guess?  I exist mostly in my thoughts.  For this reason, I end up feeling kind of distant sometimes.  Like the world is this thing that I have to actually reach out to in order to interact with. I don’t actually live in it.  


Maybe everyone’s brain is like this, whether they write entire blog posts about it or not. Maybe it’s just an introverted, INFJ, writer-penguin-Caroline thing.


Then, there are distinct times when I actually feel….alive.  


Usually, it’s a certain smell or image that does it.  It’s a little moment of ‘enlightenment’ or awareness that lasts just a second or two.


/ / the smell of rain / /
/ / staring at a forest. a whole forest. / /
/ / the smell of wood and old window sills / /
/ / fall and spring / /
/ / a song you used to know by heart, and maybe still do / /
/ / fresh snow / /


Fall is the best time for this feeling.  There’s so much ‘life’ in the air, somehow. Sometimes I can smell Fall as early as late July.  It’s like I filter out that little hint in the air, and my soul remembers it and I just get really happy.





Most of the time, it’s a really random thing. Something that gives me sense of nostalgia for memories that make me feel like I’m living in my childhood again, when I didn’t live in my head so much.


I’m not sure why I wrote this post, exactly, other than to put this feeling into words.  It came nowhere near capturing the feeling, but I wrote it down anyway.  It feels so good to feel...alive.

Do you ever feel this feeling of 'aliveness' or awareness? What's your favorite season - and have you been able to smell Fall yet? I promise I will finish that Identity series soon oops xD

(PS I just switched my comment system from Discus to the original Blogger comments, because people were mentioning that it wouldn't let them comment. So please let me know if you have problems with it! I think it deleted lots of old comments on other posts *sad faceeeee* but hopefully it will let more people start commenting again. -.- )

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Don't Be a Dark Squishy Turtle - Take a Break (Identity Series: Part 1)



I don't know how to do this.

I feel like I say that a lot.  But honestly, every once in a while, inevitably, I come back to this point.  Very often, that sentence applies to a lot of things in my life.

"I don't know how to blog consistently."
"I don't know how to keep my emotional state steady for more than about a day or two (or an hour or two)."
"I don't know how to coerce inspiration into visiting me."
"I don't know how to be myself."

Who am I?  I guess it's a normal question to be asking right before college. The crazy mess of high school is over, and now that my time isn't constantly taken up with homework, sports, concerts, poetry slams, and other performances...I'm not really sure what to do with myself.

I've tried to do a lot of creative things this summer. I've done a lot of creative things this summer.  I want to feel like "myself" again.  Except, when I tried to go back to that, I started to realize that I didn't even know what I was trying to go back to.  Some part of myself has been left behind...or moved forward?  I'm not sure.  *cue existentialist identity crisis #37 of this week*

PAUSE.

*the wild Caroline returns after abandoning this post for about a week*

*doesn't know what's going on (AKA nothing's changed)*

Plot twist, I'm gonna do a little series on identity.  Fitting, since I'm about to go to college, I'm a introspective little bean, and I have an identity crises about every five minutes. Obviously, I'm an expert on the topic.

Actually, I've really been learning a lot lately.  So expect a few (maybe shorter-than-normal?) posts on identity - both metaphorically, literally, and sarcastically in the next week or two. Probably Broadway musical references.  And If I randomly never post another part of this series, well....I mean, identity is hard, man!  I probably got amnesia and forgot I had a blog. (A good and convincing excuse that I should use here more often.)

Before I forget where this post was even going...


Take a break.


Like, you owe the world nothing?  The globe keeps turning if you sit back and don't write that post today?  Empires rise and fall in the presence of your action and non-action and there is no correlation there.

In other words, it's okay to be inconsistent with blogging (and other things in life. Obviously, please consistently water your pet cactus - but like, other than that?).  There are 'rules' and stuff for blogging if you wanna get "popular" - 'post on the same day each week', 'go follow other blogs', 'keep your content & voice consistent', etc.  And yeah, that stuff can work pretty well.

But at the cost of your enjoyment being viciously ripped away and stomped on by Dementors?  Not worth it, friendo. If you're struggling to keep up a blog right now, it's okay.  Keep struggling, instead of forcing yourself to be perfect.  Because you might attain that 'perfection', but there's always going to be consequences.  (AKA every fantasy book ever - because it's TRUE.)  In high school, I did a lot of stuff that I liked. Kept my grades up, took challenging classes - and everyone said I was "successful".

But...

I was just stalking my own archives (as you do), when I found this post that describes EXACTLY how I've been feeling lately.  (Funny how I thought I learned that lesson....I guess it's like those college classes, the ones that are like 'yay you can retake this one as many times as you want hooray')

"But ignore the late nights.  Ignore the stress and irritation.  Close your eyes to the tears, because these are just side effects.  Just tiny inconveniences, not long term, that must be overcome.  Until they started to disable me.  Too tired, too stressed.  Working harder to keep up with the "standards".  If I complete my to-do list, I'll finally feel good. Then I can be happy, carefree.  But until then, just gotta plug through. 
And then I just couldn't. I got to a point where I physically and mentally could no longer maintain the demands I'd built up for myself.  I simply couldn't keep playing the deadly game, courting the idol.  There reaches a point for every human being at which they realize that they are not invincible.  The longer it takes, the harder it hits. " (Read the rest)

I kinda feel invincible sometimes.  I think I should be.  But on the inside (the part I keep ignoring, because duh, who even needs those vital organs anyway?)  I am hurting.  Stuck in the lie that my identity is how well, how fast, how much...I do things.  My brain is a little too heavy from the weight of all that pressure and performance and self-imposed standards.

It's kind of like being a turtle.  A very fast turtle, who likes to zip around all day and has a very hard shell, but is all squishy and dark and ouch inside.

Don't be a dark squishy turtle.

Take a break.


Who are you?  Have you taken a break recently?  Are you going to remember that your identity isn't based off of how many things get done in day? Please do. 💙

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

things i love




- remembering what it feels like to be inspired

 - having so many words inside of me that i can physically feel their warmth

 - eating ice cream and cookies and chocolate, all at the same time

 - just looking at my dog for a really long time and thinking about how cute he is and the fact that he loves /me/

 - writing letters to strangers and leaving them, not knowing who's going to pick them up

 - taking showers in complete darkness and thinking for a really long time

 - stars

 - surprise messages from friends

 - handwritten letters

 - being calm enough to do art for no reason other than doing art

 - when my words have an impact and i can actually see it

 - waking up and feeling good and smiling

 - the smell of rain and old wooden window sills

 - hugs. really long hugs. 'i-understand-you-and-love-your-soul' hugs. random hugs. all the hugs.

- sitting in silence with other people



 - the color blue

 - when people ask how i'm feeling, and they actually want more than a generic answer

 - feeling calm and at peace with myself and the inevitable lack of order + knowledge in my life

 - randomly finding new friends, yelling at them about things, and generally getting along amazingly after only 29 seconds

 - not feeling like i have to perform for anyone, and not wanting to

 - watching fire burn black and blue and red while everything around you is dark

 - trees. climbing them + smelling them + feel a mutual sense of nurture

 - books that make me feel powerful and 'like myself'

 - finding words and colors that feel just right

 - becoming a blanket burrito during the winter

 - friends who are frens no matter where you live or how long it's been since you've seen them

 - coffee that repairs my insides

 - letting my brain wander and loving the places i end up in

 - the feeling of being in the city, surrounded by people, alone


what do you love?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Bright Eyes Project Podcast + Interview with the Creators

*glances around surreptitiously*

I probably shouldn't be talking about this.

There are probably scary space things that will find me after I click "publish", and this post and my blog and me will all disappear to wherever the scary space things live. Not that I'd know, or would tell you if I did.

I really shouldn't be giving you this information, but there's a new thing out there.  Out there in a world full of broken gum ball machines, disappointingly-empty chip bags, and cute sweaters that unravel the first time you wear them....there's something more.  Something stellar.

Brought to you by the highly feared esteemed Athena Institute, I give you -



Described as "X-Files meets space", this chilling and relatable podcast debuted just a few days ago!  I stayed up till midnight so I could listen immediately...it was so worth it.  Episodes will be released once every two weeks in 30 minute (ish) installments.  And I am here to give you everything you need to know (and might get in serious trouble for knowing). Don't blame me if you disappear or find yourself suddenly asking questions you never knew had always plagued you. You chose to keep reading.

My dear fren Aimee Meester is the evil mastermind behind this beautiful thing, and I am very proud of her amazing creation. She is joined in her scheming by Sydney Fontaine (the voice of Trish) and  Cyrus Fontaine (music and sound effects).  Stacia Joy is responsible for creating the blessing that is this beautiful cover art.



"Throughout a year of hyper-realistic scenario simulations and practical opportunities, students in the Bright Eyes Project will be tested and challenged in their assigned field of study. They will grow in their abilities as crew members and future heroes, within the contexts of the chain of command, official protocol, and diplomacy. Upon graduating from the project, successful students will be fully prepared to enter the next stage of their lives and shape the future of humanity in increasingly advanced ways."


You aren't ready for this.  I am not ready for this.  Trish Odessa, finally going out into the world to prove herself, probably isn't ready either.

from Aimee's website. chilling, isn't it? go there to see even more classified info!

(As a rule, I absorb all of Aimee's creative endeavors with a great deal of caution, because she seems to have a penchant for writing really intense, emotionally-gripping stuff that usually ends in the tears of me and all of our friends. Thank you, friend, for the tough love, I didn't need those characters to survive anyway.)



If you want a visual idea of what The Bright Eyes Project is about, the  Pinterest board for it is spectacular.  And here's the Spotify playlist Aimee listens to as she plots our doom this great podcast that won't destroy us at all definitely not.  Listen to it and be inspired in a creepy way.





aesthetic

// stars //
// silence and doubt //
// blue and purple and white //
// and a splash of red //
// questioning everything //
// this was a mistake //
// forging ahead //
// fear // 




AND NOW, for your further enjoyment and intrigue, I have temporarily abducted Aimee, Sydney, and Cyrus for interviews and forced them to give me all the gifts gifs.  PLEASE WELCOME THESE GENIUSES WITH WILD APPLAUSE.



What is your foremost emotion at the moment?

(YES SHE CHOSE A JIM GIF - GOOD CHOICE, AIMEE, GOOD CHOICE)
I've been surrounded by so much hype and encouragement and kind words and support since even before this weird little thing came out, and it's honestly unreal right now. I'm riding this wave of TOTAL ABSOLUTE HYPE and getting so much feedback and drowning in nice Twitter messages, so this is me hugging all of you. I love y'all.

What was your original inspiration for Bright Eyes?

 

It was actually Star Trek: Beyond! I came out of the theater after that movie feeling a renewed love for all things spaceships and sci-fi, and my brain started working. I wanted to write a novel that was a bit Star Trek, a bit Ender's game, and then the whole fiction podcast thing started to fall into place and it went from there.

How is writing a podcast different than writing normal fiction?

 

You think it's going to be easy -- you just have to change the style, right? 

It is not easy. 

The thing I have to remember is that I'm not writing a fiction novel, I'm writing essentially a TV script. Every time I sit down to write an episode I have to remember that I'm writing for just a voice, and a specific voice at that. I have to keep in mind Sydney's tone and the way she says things and write in a way that's going to compliment that. I have to give 'stage directions' for sound effects and such, but I have to remember that it's all audio, that I can't describe things and it has to sound as natural as someone talking fairly normally. It uses a totally different part of your brain and requires more thinking (somehow) right from the start, and it takes some getting used to.


Is this going to make me cry (again)? *glares*

 

It is 100% going to make you cry again. It's making me cry again. There's so much coming and honestly, not even the rest of my team knows about the worst of it, so they're probably going to hate me too.

Can you see yourself somewhere in this podcast - in one of the characters, in the story, etc.? What part of this project reminds you of yourself?

 

Absolutely! So much of this podcast is about being a teenager and what it's like to be a teenager, navigating a messy confusing world while you're still growing, and a lot of those feelings come from my personal experience as, y'know, a teenager. The characters you'll hear in this podcast are heavily influenced by me and the people around me, and something that especially comes from me is this theme and feeling of feeling like you need to be the best, you need to prove yourself, you need to be enough. Most of these characters are really chased by the idea that they have to pull it together and be perfect and prove that they're ready for all of this, and that's something that they struggle with very much. So much of that is from me and it's definitely one of the main themes.

What was the most fun part of working on Bright Eyes? The most challenging?


​Not gonna lie, this whole thing has been a blast. Probably the most unique fun I'm having with this one is the feeling of collaboration! It has its own challenges, but when you're working with people who get the story you want to tell and mesh with you perfectly, you get something beautiful out of it. I love hearing Cyrus put music and effects to my words and change it from something flat to something alive. I love working with Sydney and creating a character together, with me building off her voice and her building off my words until we come up with something amazing. I can't get enough of it. It's so much better than it would have been on my own.


Of course, it's challenging, too, and the most challenging part is the actual writing of it. I'm getting better at that, I think, but I've always been a novel-writer, and this is a very different type of storytelling that requires very different skills and parts of my brain. It's often extremely hard to figure out the right way to say a thing so it sounds natural and to keep everything bare-bones and minimal.


When you were young, what did you want to "be" when you grew up?



Y'know, I...never had a particular thing I wanted to be? It feels like most people do, but I never did. I wasn't a very ambitious kid. And then I started writing and it all went out the window. 






What is your foremost emotion at the moment?





Mostly SUPER EXCITED. There's such satisfaction in working on something for months and finally having it out for everyone to experience.

Can you see yourself somewhere in this podcast - in one of the characters, in the story, etc.? What part of this project reminds you of yourself? 



I definitely do. I really think Trish's story relates well to most young people. We have all experienced being right on the cusp of something and feeling utterly unprepared and small. For Trish, she's facing a literal massive expanse. For me - I don't know. Life is scary sometimes. We gotta face stuff that's difficult and mysterious but we do it and we grow. I love how this story exemplifies that.

What was the most fun part of working on Bright Eyes? The most challenging? 



The most fun part for me has definitely been the collaboration, the problem solving and just getting to take a concept and words and make it a thing. I've loved getting to know Aimee and becoming team mates and friends - she's such a gem. I've loved how we each have a finger print on the final project with each episode. The most challenging part for me has been getting into Trish's headspace and figuring out how she's going to act and react. It's so interesting to play a character that's so unlike myself. I love this character so much and wanting to do her justice and really get to know her has been a really mind bending, fun challenge.


When you were young, what did you want to "be" when you grew up? 



Prepare to be surprised. The two most prominent occupations that I aspired to were writer (not shocking) and TRAIN CONDUCTOR. I have no idea where I got that idea but I was always fascinated by trains. It didn't work out but I still love trains.


How do you think voicing Trish's character allows you to shape her personality beyond what’s written on the page?


Well first off, it's been a blast just kinda developing Trish between my literal voice and Aimee's voice as a writer. I feel like we've been able to play off each other in that sense. But I think words and intonation in general are so powerful, and it a different experience to hear this story spoken then when I'm in preproduction reading the scripts. So I think really a lot of development happens just in that process. I also find that Trish really wrestles with herself and her feelings about what's going on around her, and you can really start to feel that underlying tension as the story progresses.




What is your foremost emotion at the moment?


Right this very moment? I'm in the place between over caffeinated and running on adrenaline. Today was a show day for my band, and as I'm writing this we're on our way home. Of course, I'm also incredibly excited for the release of the podcast! It's been so incredible working with Aimee and Sydney and creating something we're really proud of!

Can you go into detail about your role in the podcast with sound/music?


My main responsibility on Bright Eyes is composition. I read the scripts, and write themes and ambiances for different characters and scenes. Working with Aimee, this mostly mean writing scary sounding music! I also take care of sound design. I a character sets down a coffee cup, or an alien eats an MC, I come up with a sound effect and mix it in with the voiceover. As an audio engineer, this is like being a kid in a candy store. I can't tell you details, but I can tell you that I've already used recordings of pouring milk in an upcoming episode.

Can you see yourself somewhere in this podcast - in one of the characters, in the story, etc.? What part of this project reminds you of yourself?


I have a deep-seated love for angsty YA drama. I geek out over '90s cartoons and Harry Potter in a big big way, and in a sense this project reflects those interests. There's also a character named Milo who you hear a bit about in Episode 1 that I relate to as a person. He's a little aloof and artsy. That's me in a nutshell!

What was the most fun part of working on Bright Eyes? The most challenging?



I think the most fun part so far may be the collaboration. Of course, I love the music and the challenge of making the show sound compelling, but it has been so much fun just being on the team. We all have a lot of common interests, and on our off days we do stuff like watch Lost and group text about it. The most challenging thing is definitely the file management. I have to keep track of dozens of audio clips for every show, and I'm a disorganized mess on the best of days! Still, it's been a growing experience for me. I'm devising a file system that works for me and keeps files from getting lost!

When you were young, what did you want to "be" when you grew up?



When I was young I wanted to be a chef. When high school rolled around, my interests shifted to animation and film, and programming and a million other things. It turned out to be good, because I use most of those skills to some capacity now almost on the daily. But I still love to cook! My word of advice to young people is always to learn to cook. No matter where you are at in life, you don't need much to make yourself a good meal. It's the simplest way to improve your quality of life!




Thanks for your time, mah wonderful podcast frens! I wish you all the good times in continuing with this project, please have mercy on us, and don't report me to the Athena Institute for writing this really informative post thanks love you bye.
Everyone else - say hi to Aimee, Sydney and Cyrus in the comments below! Give them all the love and beg them for mercy + another episode very soon aka in two weeks. And let me know -

Is anyone else terrified that Aimee is already requiring milk-pouring sounds this early on??! 0.0  Have you already listened to the first episode (FANGIRL WITH ME)?  Are you equally scared that The Athena Institute is reading this post and is going to send the scary space things after me - and you, for reading it?  What are you doing to pass the time while we wait for the next episode?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Color Project + Aesthetics + Giveaway!

someone plz notice and appreciate my pun

First of all, this book gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings.

I was crying in the first few chapters?!?  Which is weird for me, since most books and movies can't pull a single tear for me.  Spoiler alert: that was the only time I cried.

This book just kinda has a way of reaching over and touching the real things inside of you.




 - song aesthetics -

Strawberry Swing // Coldplay
Sun // Sleeping at Last
You Know Me // Air Traffic Controller
Creature Fear // Bon Iver

(These songs are actually all mentioned in the book! In case you didn't know already, Sierra uses songs as chapter titles, and one of my favorite things was listening to them as I read each chapter. They fit the mood of each chapter perfectly.  Although sometimes I'd love a certain song so much that I'd actually let it keep playing for several chapters.  Then I'd end up in a really happy, fluffy scene, with Over You by Ingrid Michaelson still on repeat, and I'd get really confused. Oops.)

 ♥ Sierra has a Spotify playlist with all the chapter songs conveniently listed out right here: ♥


Reading The Color Project resulted in me finding about 564354 new favorite artists. Like Sleeping At Last, Bon Iver...I can't believe I hadn't heard of them before TCP, but a thousand thanks to Sierra for exposing us all to such amazing music.


// stars //
// smiling when you're not sure about anything //
// something aching really, really deep down //
// aggressive glitter //
// kissing // (it's Sierra, so duh.)
// fluffiness. fluffy hair. fluffy feelings. all the fluff //
// this really intense, happy summer vibe //
// paint and feelings all over the place //
// blue //



Obviously, I can't write a review for The Color Project without mentioning a certain blessed boy, so....

LEVI

There, I did it.


And with that, this review is basically complete. I covered Levi, glitter, flowers, kissing, awesome music...what more could you want?  Except I'm gonna give you the normal information too, in case you've been living under a really dense, sound-proof rock and accidentally missed the last six months of screaming about this beauty.



Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, THE COLOR PROJECT is a story about the three great loves of life—family, friendship, and romance—and the bonds that withstand tragedy.




At 7 years old, Sierra Abrams decided that one day she would publish a book. For over a decade, in between exploring other career options, she kept coming back to that very first dream. Now her life consists of writing books of all kinds… Kissing books, angsty books, killing books, whimsical books, and sometimes books that are all of the above. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, traveling, consuming sushi, or daydreaming about Henry Cavill. 



And finally..... 


I'm hosting my first giveaway, for a preordered copy of The Color Project!

Go find me on Twitter @carolinedmeek and follow/retweet the giveaway tweet by 07/12  to enter. International entries accepted too! ☺ 





Moral of the story?  Read this book.

Here's all the links so you can buy it before it even comes out! WHICH IS JULY 18 BY THE WAY. Choose your favorite way to buy books - or just preorder a copy from all three of them.  Then you can throw them at your friends.


Go find Sierra and tell her how amazing she is:



Have you read The Color Project yet? If so, what were some of your favorite songs from the chapter titles? If not...what are you most excited for?


Note: all images in this post (with the exception of TCP's beautiful cover, of course) come from Pexels, an attribution-free source.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Stop Villainizing Productiveness




So, this post is mostly for myself.  It's a nice contrast to my last post, where I talked about taking a darn break.

Now I'm here to tell you...don't take a break.

Sometimes.

It really depends on where you are at the moment.  But today I realized (with the help of my friend Olivia), that I've been making a villain out of my hunger for productivity.  It's kind of a backwards way of thinking, but it goes something like this:

Me: Brain, you're tired.
Brain: I know, but I need to keep working on this!
Me: Ugh you're always working!
Brain: I feel good when I'm productive!
Me: NO. We're taking a break.
*shifts entire mindset to hate any productive or ambitious thoughts*
Brain, after a few weeks of doing this - *has one productive thought*
Me: NO STOP PRODUCTIVITY IS BAD YOU'RE GOING TO NEVER STOP WORKING AND BE MISERABLE AND NEVER SLEEP AND YOU'LL NEVER BE HAPPY.
Brain: But -
Me: nope nope nope we can't think about this productive things so how about we sit on the couch and force ourself to rest cause rest is healthy.

In my head, I categorize a lot of things as productive.  Basically, anything that includes 'self-improvement', furthering my career - writing, reading, editing....etc.

The problem is....those are some of things that I love most in this world.  And somehow, they've become burdens in my mind.  I've started telling myself, every time I get the urge to do something "productive", that I'm being unhealthy and I need to force myself to watch TV or just stare at a blank wall for fifty seven hours.

And almost without fail, this regimen leaves me feeling more exhausted and unfulfilled than before, when I was supposedly "beating myself by being a work-a-holic".  What have I done?

Yes, I'm often a work-a-holic and I need to practice 'still life'.  Yes, I have a tendency to constantly be thinking about the next big thing, and forget to have lunch.  Yes, sometimes I think so much about these things that I end up pouring orange juice in my cereal, putting the ice cream in the FRIDGE overnight and waking up to wonder why it's melted.....

But no, I do not hate all of these things I'm doing.  These are the things I want to do all my life, as a career. I'm going to college to study them.  They encapsulate my hopes and dreams, for goodness' sakes.

I think it's time I find a balance, and stop shying away from productivity like it's the Black Plague.  Maybe I'm been traumatized by the crazy work load and stress from high school, but that's over now and I'm more free than I let myself think.

Even better, I can stop defining things like "productivity" and "rest".  Maybe I rest by editing articles for Project Canvas - or at least, they make me happier than staring at a blank wall and "resting".  I can just do things when I want to do them - I have the freedom to do that, so why wouldn't I?  I can stop comparing myself to people who are fulfilled by other, more seemingly 'restful' activities', and accept that my systems are different.

Ask yourself if you're holding yourself back from just doing the things you love.  Yes, it's good to rest, to be still.  But it's also good to do amazing things when you feel like doing them, and being motivated and excited, rather than berate yourself for "doing to much". Heck, if you feel like doing it, DO IT.  Don't make a habit of condemning productivity when it might be what really brings you to that place of peace and happiness.

Are you also a work-a-holic?  Do you feel like your to-do list is sky high and won't ever come down?  Do you get mad at yourself for 'doing too much'?

Ask yourself if these 'chores' are actually things you love, and reevaluate the significance of productivity in your life.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Still Life




This is for the perfectionists, the work-a-holics, the ones who never stop climbing their mountains. The people who don't think they're good enough yet.  This is even for the people who think they're lazy, 'cause chances are, you're trying too.

I try a lot.

I try to do so many things, then sometimes I realize I'm trying to hard...and I'll try to stop trying.  Which obviously, is also a form of trying.

Sometimes you gotta actually stop trying so much.  There's a balance somewhere in there, between doing too much and doing nothing at all.  That elusive grey area is called living. And it's very important.

Here's a nice list of things we often try to do:
 - Eat better
 - Pray better
 - Be more productive
 - Write more words in a day
 - Go to sleep earlier
 - Wake up earlier
 - Be happier
 - Rest more
 - Read more books in a year
 - Get straight A's
 - Be more nice
 - Get to the bottom of the to-do list, or the TBR
 - Blog regularly
 - Breathe
 - Make lists so we realize what we're trying to do...

Obviously none of these things are bad things to attempt.  However, you shouldn't spend your whole life trying to do something.  Sometimes, you can sit back and realize that today, you accomplished one of those things.  You can sit there for a while, because maybe you've been trying to do that for a really long time.  You can celebrate before you start trying to do something else.


You can also stop trying things for a while.  Give yourself permission to pause the endless cycle of self-improvement, for goodness sakes.  You have permission to just exist for a while.  You just do.  Who told you to base your life around accomplishing things?  Maybe these are all good things, things that often make you happier, but most likely, they also stress you out.  So there's good reason to take a break every once in a while.  Realize that in the end, no one is telling you to do these things.



You are under no obligation from the world to improve yourself.  Improving yourself is going to help...yourself.  So take it slow, and remember that sometimes 'doing nothing' is a step forward too.


- still life is art too - 


Love you guys!
- Caroline

What have you been trying to do lately?  Do you ever celebrate your progress for more than a moment?  (Who caught the Dear Evan Hansen reference?)

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Five Phases of My Writing Life

It seems that I fall into phases of writing. Inspired, uninspired...and lately, it's been the later, which is painfully, always.  But I'm noticing more distinct patterns as well.  Here we go...


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0. This wasn't originally the first step but I added it here and was too lazy to change the numbering soooo we have a zero now.  Writer's block. Oh dear.  This terrible phase seems sometimes like the constant existence of my writing life.  It lasts between a few weeks to 3-4 months before I can get through it sometimes, depending on how busy and stressed I am.

Only way I really know how to get out of it is to be really inspired by something like a movie (For me, I have special movies for this that have previously inspired great things - August Rush, The Age of Adaline, Lion, Hidden Figures, and a few more) - that's for temporary inspiration. To really get out of this phase, I usually have to muster up enough strength to begin Phase 1. Music like Sleeping At Last is amazing for writing motivation as well.

1. Getting into the writing routine.  This is where I'm suddenly motivated and make a bunch of plans that I may or may not keep beyond the second day.  Stuff like "write twenty minutes a day" (which I did all of 2015), "write a sentence a day" (which is my goal for this year), or read a random poem each day (tried to do that once).  Practicing writing in this routine is super important. Usually it's stuff totally unconnected with my actual main writing project, but it helps the writing muscle stay fit and keeps my gears turning, lets my writing loosen up so when I actually write, it comes out easily and more free.

This is where I am right now - on the first day of this phase.  I got a book for my graduation party, "3 A.M. Epiphany" by Brian Kitely, and it's already amazing. Short writing exercises. It's gonna be great.  This phase usually lasts anywhere from a week to a few months before the next phases start happening and honestly, these writing exercises and routine should be kept up throughout every single phase in order to keep writer's block away.

2. Starting to work on the main project again.  Here, I start finding interest in whatever precious novel I'm writing again, and it's great.  It's usually really slow. This is brainstorming and writing a little bit every other day. Gathering steam for the near future. This usually lasts somewhere between a week or two or a month.  Any longer and it usually slips into writer's block again.

3. Novel writing explosion.  This amazing phase where you're writing hundreds or thousands of words every day and you're in love with your story and the world is light and beautiful.  This is passion and energy and talking about it constantly to your family and friends and trying not to rant too much on social media for fear of letting too much out at once and losing steam. This usually lasts one to two weeks for me before I start falling off...

4. Fading away back into writer's block.  You get busy or life happens or you just lose steam. This is accompanied by fear - fear that you won't get back up after this blow, or that the staleness will become permanent. Writer's block is scary is you see it as potentially "forever".  In reality, though, it will always be temporary, so push through it like any other obstacle in life. Your passion must be greater than the dulling lack of color that seems to be imposed on your brain. And it will be.  This phase always leaves.

(5.)  Phase Five is this random poetry phase, that comes during a writer's block phase, or in the middle of another phase, or between.  I'm almost constantly writing poetry. Mostly when I'm upset or have an overflow of emotions that need to be taken out of their chamber, untangled, and put back again.  This phase sometimes brings about three poems a day, or daily poems, etc. At the end of it, I often find myself wondering how I'll ever write a poem again, because it seems I've written every single one that will ever exist. But after a while of recharging and cycling through the other regular cycles.....there's always more subject matter, in the end.  The poems always come back.

* * *

So those are the five (technically six because I changed the stupid numbering but anyway false advertising never hurt anyone right) writing phases I seem to go through.  A circle of inspiration that comes and goes, often painfully slowly, but at least there is comfort in knowing that I'll always eventually end up back at the peak.  The energy is always there somewhere and you can work towards it.

* * *

What phases do you go through in your creative processes?  Are they similar to mine, or am I just a weird penguin?  Are your writing phases dictated by circumstance, emotion, etc.?