Month: March 2010

Inspiration in every decision

I am refining the focus of my lifestream a bit more, to begin thinking about what this site and me will do together after graduation this May.

Usually Kelly and I have this conversation together, and it's about the podcast. What is the point of our podcast? What do we want people to get out of it? Who is our audience? Why do we do it? We love doing it, so how can we make money from it?

But the podcast is running smoothly at this moment, with a shiny new focus itself (lifefucking the wellness revolution!). We have a plan for future episodes (copy Penelope! tinker like Gever!), and still like how our premium subscription service is working out.

A personal lifestream is a different beast from a team podcast, but still needs to be asked the same critical questions. What is the point of this lifestream? What do I want people to get out of it? Who is my audience? Why do I do it? I love it, so how can I make money from it?

I wanted to write this post to answer those questions, to share some perspective on why this site exists and will continue to exist, even after graduation.

I went to graduate school to get my MFA so I could teach design as a tenure-track faculty member at a university. Specifically, University of Illinois. I couldn't hack a day job, or even graphic design freelancing anymore, so I decided to follow my idol and mentor, Jennifer Gunji, and become a professor.

I didn't realize I was just buying time to think. After the past two years in my design program at UT, I've found what I want to do with my life–podcast and lifestream! And of course I hope to one day support myself doing it. Onto the questions:

What is the point of this lifestream? I want to constantly inspire myself to be a better person than I was yesterday. Documenting my life makes me slow down and think about every choice I make.

What do I want people to get out of it? I realized very recently that the only way to be happy is to help other people. So how can I help people? I want to teach, sure, but what that really means is that I want to inspire people to passionately create. The definition of "inspiration" is "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative." I want to show that by lifestreaming, every decision can be inspiration.

All that means is that by documenting the details of daily existence, we give importance to them. We make them meaningful. And when we make our breakfast meaningful, we can't help but make incrementally better decisions about our breakfast. For me, lifestreaming provides the inspiration to incrementally improve my life one decision at a time.

So that's what I want people to get out of this site–inspiration in every decision.

Who is my audience? Honestly, it's the ladies just like me. Girls who thirst for a constant stream of inspiration, positivity, and new perspective.

Why do I do it? to be accountable for my actions and to have conversations with people. I post all this shit online all day every day because it keeps me honest. I used to be a big fat liar, and I was unhappy with myself. And by putting it all out there on the web, I can have ongoing discussions about the exact things I care about with people all over the world.

I love it, so how can I make money from it? That is the part I'm still working on. I realized that the only time I spend money for digital content is when I need inspiration. I've paid for Amanda Palmer's records, downloaded Gala Darling's podcast, and bought tshirts from Dawn and Drew, all my prime sources of inspiration. So I thought a fair trade would be to provide inspiration, and hopefully get some money in return. My budget's not that big, and I only need enough to survive (and save 20% of course). The question is now: How will I provide inspiration? That is now the focus of my lifestream.

Turning tattoo regrets into personal power

rainbow arm

I've spent the last two hours staring at my freshly tattooed arm, breaking only to chase off a scaryrabid cat outside. Last night, I came to a conclusion about this new tattoo: it is aesthetically upside down. But tattoos are never perfect. Instead of criticizing surface style, I want to explain how potential regrets can turn into personal power. Whether in battle, ritual, or another reality, when it comes time to put your tattoos to good use, a meaningful mark trumps a pretty one.

1. Placement
My talented artist, Briza, wanted to put the Ace of Wands in the same direction as my other Aces–the Pentacle and Sword. But my vision was to have the Wand going the opposite direction. So that's what I got.

Looking at it last night, I realized my arm as a whole would look more pleasing if I had gone with Briza's preference. And so I despaired, and regretted, and went to bed.

Waking this morning, I remembered that I chose the placement for a reason beyond aesthetics. I wanted to embrace both the right-side-up and reversed readings of the cards. By placing the cards in opposite directions, I am accepting the dual nature of the cards.

There are destructive and constructive forces in the universe, and I strive for balance between the two. I want to be able to call on both sources of energy as needed. With all cards going the same direction, there would be no opportunity to see them both ways.

2. Subject matter
These fucking clouds are a buzzkill. Clouds are an integral part of the Aces, and they are taking up a large, prominent area on my forearm. How did I come to a point where I wanted to tattoo clouds on my body? They're gray, and they're bulbous. I've always hated the cloud on the original Pentacle, so why would I add more??

This may be a weird answer, but the clouds are a shield. They are a barrier. They will protect me, and hide me when needed. They are also a life-giving source of water, and shade, and change. This tattoo brings them new respect.

3. What I see is not what you see
When you get tattooed, you want to admire it. But there are only so many places on your body that you can easily see without aid of a mirror. When I look down, I see these clouds and these birds, neither of which are my favorite elements of the tattoo. I want to stare at the colorful bits!

By forcing myself to perpetually gaze at clouds and birds, I am reminded of two things. One is the reason I got more tattoos on my arm in the first place–to cover up nasty self-inflicted scars. The other is escape. The clouds will forever recall the darker times in my life, when I don't have a handle on my own energy and I self-destruct. The birds will always represent the choice to leave that state of mind.

I can choose whichever reality I want to exist in. Or I can wallow in depression. With such ambiguous flexibility, I find a constant reminder of the situation useful. My attitude and experience is my choice alone.

I now look at tattoos as tools. The symbolic and literal meanings of the objects on my skin serve specific purposes in this reality and others. As a designer, form versus function is a constant challenge. No matter how pretty something is, if it doesn't work, it won't get used. As time speeds up and we enter new planes of existence, I am still searching for compromise.

China Doll on Flickr

lifestream inspiration #2

I'm working on several posts/articles about how to exist with a split personality, how to cut out caffeine (or die trying), and how to choose a tattoo. However today I am so discombobulated and split-personalitied that I can only find inspiration to not go back to bed.

1. China Doll on Flickr. I am working on a hair dye plan and stumbled across this pretty girl on Biorequiem...
China Doll on Flickr

2. Traumzeit tarot. It is driving me absolutely crazy not being able to find higher res version of this image! The Ace & Six of Wands are giving me brand new beautiful ideas for my tattoo. I want to order a deck but navigating the artist's site seems a fruitless labyrinth.
traumzeit tarot

3. David Gelernter's interview on Big Think about lifestreaming. They use my illustration for the video still!

5 ways to love Mondays

pushups!

I try to look at each Monday as an opportunity for a fresh start. No matter how unproductive the weekend was, or how much I'd rather stab myself in the face than go to class, if I do these things I can have a pretty good attitude that lasts throughout the day.

1. Wake up as early as you can.
I've been getting up at 3am on Mondays lately, which seems obscene typed out, but it's really quite sustainable. If I get enough sleep on the weekend and go to bed early Sunday night, having the couple extra hours to myself in the morning helps me prepare for the week.

2. Do pushups.
I'm getting back into the habit of daily pushups. I do 50 as soon as I wake up, right before I jump in the shower. It wakes me up, gets my muscles feeling delicious, and over time the results are super worth it.

3. Groom! Shave your legs, paint your nails, shape your brows.
If I feel sexy, I have a sexy day. And I don't feel very sexy with chipped nail polish and hairy legs. Feminist critique aside, taking the extra 15 minutes to focus on your appearance gives you that much more confidence when you step out the door.

4. Plan your meals and calorie budget for the week.
Kel and I have been in the habit of planning our meals for a few months now. We use a whiteboard in the kitchen, and have started filling in the calories next to each meal. This has resolved so much stress in our lives! Now we know exactly what to shop for, we only have to think about what we're going to eat once a week, and it seriously cuts down on eating out. Adding the calorie count makes me extra aware of when I go over my budget, and I'm hoping it will cut down on mindless snacking or too-big portions.

5. Make your lunch.
I always set aside time to make my lunch. It's pretty hard to find vegan options on campus anyway, but bringing my own lunch allows me to be flexible when and where I eat. I save LOTS of money by not eating out, and I snack on apples in the morning and afternoon. Our Texas Caviar keeps great in a Tupperware and we make a double batch to last us all week.