Author: Jessica Mullen

notes on today’s 5 mile vibram run

mood: very good! We got up on time at 5:30a, ate breakfast and meditated and were out the door. Positive thinking about the runs really helps them be easier and more enjoyable. You just have to visualize what you want it to be like, and it will happen!

nutrition: banana, few strawberries, frozen blueberries & chia. Was a little hungry on the way home, could have done with a magic pellet too.

weather: beautiful!! Achingly beautiful! Partly cloudy and 70s.

conversation: talked about what we're grateful for. It's an invigorating topic.

effort: 3/5. We definitely had to push ourselves to run the last two miles home but it was worth it! My feet are feeling a little worn out–mostly just working on new callouses for this type of shoe. All up in the bunionz area. Band-aids help.

time/pace: 01:07:50, 13:53/mile

notes on today’s 3 mile vibram run

mood: feeling fantastic. Meditated for 15 minutes before we left, which helps me focus my energy. I visualized a perfect, easy run, and that's what we got! We were both very cheerful and I had little to no pain–just a bit in my right knee and pinky toes.

nutrition: banana, half peach, grapes & blueberry & chia salad, 1 bar.

weather: cloudy and 70s. Gorgeous! So nice to be running at 7a.

conversation: going to bingo tonight! And to the beach!

effort: 2/5. Not hard at all!

time/pace: 38:59, 12:34/mile!

Filtered lifestreams taste better.

lifestreamed food

Lifestreaming is very useful for personal empowerment and self-evaluation. But creating a lifestream that other people want to read is an entirely different story. After publicly tracking, in detail, many facets of my life for the past two years, I've come to realize that it can be exceedingly boring to watch.

My lifestream has helped me design a life I love living. But I want to help other people use lifestreaming to enhance their own lives. So I removed all the banal updates about myself from the main feed, leaving only posts that explore life design, learning and lifestreaming.

This site is about using lifestreaming to learn about yourself and the world, so that you can design the life you want.

The category "lifestreaming for utopians" may include posts about lifestream workflow, things to try posting, and above all, realtime examples of why sharing our lives online is a positive and powerful way to improve daily life. The goal of sharing our experiences with the world is to increase understanding between us. In a lifestream utopia, constructive and destructive forces still exist, but we replace privacy with empathy and shared understanding.

My podcast Learning with Lifestreaming will be about using lifestreaming to learn life to the fullest. I argue that lifestreaming can replace institutional education. It used to be that one needed a college degree to live the "good life." But with endless knowledge on the Internet at our fingertips, a new paradigm is unfolding.

I am still exploring types of premium subscription content in my lifestream. I don't want to lock up important knowledge, but I also need to make a living. I welcome any suggestions in that area :] For now I will be investigating tarot card readings for subscribers, creating lifestream worksheets, posting source files and unedited podcast videos.

lifestreaming in class

About my work with lifestreaming

lifestreaming in class

With the vast amount of updates I publish to my lifestream, it's easy to get lost in the details. To clarify my research path as a Design MFA candidate at the University of Texas, I want to explain what it is I study and how it is relevant to learning.

Lifestreaming is the act of documenting and sharing your life online. A lifestream website collects all of the things you publish (e. g., photos, tweets, videos, or blog posts) and displays them in reverse-chronological order.

My research tests lifestreaming as a life design methodology. By publicly documenting my life at jessicamullen.com, can I become more accountable for my decisions, strengthen my reputation, break bad habits and live my passions?

As a learning tool, lifestreaming may help students become more active, self-directed learners. Students who used lifestreaming in a course at the University of Edinburgh reported increased motivation for exploration and sharing. Lifestreaming one's learning process can encourage participation, preserve a record of engagement, and build a portfolio of knowledge.

After graduation in May, I will continue my investigation into learning with lifestreaming as a both an educator and lifelong student.

Meditation for lifestreamers

I've been meditating on and off since I was 16, and I believe this book is where I started. Meditation has always served me well, by calming and focusing my mind while subtly helping me achieve my goals. Recently, Kelly and I have been meditating together on Saturdays before our long runs. Documenting it in my lifestream has helped me find new motivation to continue my practice, so I wanted to share how we do it.

Pre-show: set the mood so you can concentrate without distractions. For music, I play Meditation Six: The Shaman's Drum (With Randy Crafton), and I light a scented candle for us to gaze at. I find it important to leave my eyes open, so I stay connected with this world and don't fall asleep. I set up my iPhone camera timer to take photos of us (sound effects off!), so I can document the setting and time. The actual meditation is slow breathing combined with visualization of energy moving through my body.

  1. Sit cross-legged. Place your hands palms up on your knees. Take several slow, deep breaths.
  2. Count to 10 as you inhale and picture the energy of the universe coming in through your crown chakra. Breathe out and count to 10 while picturing the energy wrapping around your crown chakra.
  3. Inhale again while counting to 10, this time bringing the energy into your third eye chakra. Breathe out with a count of 10 and picture the energy swirling around your third eye, activating it.
  4. Next, breathe in for 10 and pull the energy into your throat chakra, then breathe out for 10 counts, gathering the energy in your throat.
    Repeat this for the rest of the chakras: your heart, solar plexus, navel and spine.
  5. Continue your deep breathing while clearing your head of thought. Hold the energy of the universe inside your body, allowing it to recharge your personal power stores. Continue as long as you need. 10-15 minutes is a good starting point.
  6. When you're ready, place your hands on the ground and "ground" the energy you've taken in–release it back into the earth and give thanks.

Do you have a meditation practice? Do you document it? I would love to hear about any resources or experiences you have had! We are thinking about joining a meditation Meetup group in Austin soon, any recommendations?

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.