Bloggers! Quick! Set a stopwatch for 10 seconds. Go to your blog. Hit start. Scan your blog. When 10 seconds are up, exit your blog then ask yourself, does my blog inform readers of who I am and what I’m about? Better yet, find someone who has never seen your blog and have them do this then have them tell you what your blog says about you. Is it saying what you want it to say?
MINE ISN’T! Take a look.
What does this say about me? Designer? Photographer? No! It says, “This is someone’s very personal blog about the meanings in her life.” It says, “Artist.” It also says, “Wow, that eye…what’s with that?”
This whole branding thing is intensive, especially when you are all over the place (like I am) and have to…oh no!…focus! And you are doing it on your own. Phew! It’s a big job!
Heidi Cohen writes interesting articles about blogging. This morning I happened upon her article, Does Your Blog Pass the 10 Second Test and realized that, no, indeed mine doesn’t. My blog is very personal with a mixture of some professional in it. Even though I rather like it, I could not recommend it to professional designers or photographers or to clients because that isn’t who it targets. And yet, I want to target them.
I am trying to find the right mix between being personal and being professional. I have had this discussion on Facebook and everyone who responded to this discussion seems to think personal is better. However, that’s Facebook, a personal social platform. This is the blogosphere where both personal and professional exist…and I want to target professional…but in a personable (not personal, mind you, personable) manner.
Point #8 of Heidi’s article asks: Does your blog try to be all things to all people? And although I don’t try to be all things to all people, I mix my blog audience, and like mixing metaphors, it doesn’t work. Her solution, and one I’ve seen with other bloggers, is to have separate blogs; one professional and one personal. I’ve even seen them linked!
But until I have time to create a professional blog, this one will have to do, and I will have to be more aware of content so that it at least looks like a designer/photographer’s blog even if the blog title and tag don’t address it.
Did you do the 10-second test? If not, and if you’re serious about blogging, the time invested is worth every second- -and more.
Whatever is this? you might ask.
“Why, it’s a clear bowl!” Whatever is it for?
One day when I was feeling particularly sad, I emptied the dishwasher. When I saw these tiny, little bowls I smiled. I smiled so big that I realized I was smiling. And in that moment, I recognized that there are so many little things that make me happy I wanted to keep track of them. I use these tiny, little bowls to put a teaspoon-of-this or a tablespoon-of-that in them while I gather all my ingredients. Then, when I’m ready, I toss the ingredients into the dish I’m making with such a flourish, I feel like Emeril or Bobby or the Barefoot Contessa (does she flourish?) and that makes me happy.
So raise your glass to the tiny, little bowl!
One day shortly after getting riffed, I smiled. I saw something that brought a smile to my face. (No not the following movies, something else that I will post later).
I realized I have all around me, things that make me happy.
Stefan Sagmeister is a designer I highly admire. He came to the Indianapolis Museum of Art where I met him. I am very familiar with his work, especially the work based on “Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far.”
I admit that the execution of these words are in imitation of what he does (only he does it so much better).
But I needed the creative challenge and I wanted to do something that would make me happy.
And I wanted to start documenting every time I smile so that I can always remember that no matter how difficult life gets, there are things that make me happy.
It took me a week to recover. Well, almost recover. Let’s just say it took me a week to *snap* out of it, look around me and see the mess I’d let fall around me. It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming, but when it happens it’s still disconcerting. I watched my work-world falling down around me for over a year but I kept at it because of my loyalty to a friend. Then they riffed me. And I fell into a funk.
One day a week later I woke up, still a bit sleepy, and went out on my rapture balcony. It had rained overnight–I remember the stormy anger and had felt comforted by it–and in the morning droplets glistened on my basil.
Then I noticed a bottle of wine and a half-full wine glass covered in the slick wetness of the rain and thought, “Wow, I never leave a half-full wine glass.”
That’s when I really woke up!
I went inside and saw–really saw–my messy apartment. In that moment I vowed I would not let this situation drag me down.
So it took me a week to recover. I still have to remind myself of my vow to not let this drag me down…some days are better than others…but I’m not falling into myself anymore and that is good! In fact, it’s great! All the energy I poured into my job now belongs to me and with that renewed energy I’m finding the strength I need to pursue what I must pursue. And all is good.
I walked into an explosion of pink and fell in love. Me. One who snubs her nose at pink clothes, pink kitchenware, pink baby items, pink ANYTHING. Now what to do?
I met two men at the Indy 500 Festival Parade. One was yelling, “We love you Anderson Cooper!” and the other was crocheting pink flowers. By the end of the parade I became their official photographer for the Gay Pride Parade coming up this Saturday. So last Sunday I went to their house to photograph the outfits they made for their walking group, Pink Pride. They live in this fabulous condo and have painted the walls the color of Mardi Gras; gold, purple, and green. Stunning. Then I went upstairs and entered a room exploding in pink; beads, netting, chiffon, and OMG the outfits. So surreal. So beautiful.
I was enchanted by the creativity that oozed out of these men. They love what they do and it’s infectious. I was infected with creativity. I was infected with passion. And…oh no…I wanted to own PINK! To wear pink! To be surrounded by pink! And I wanted to take the essence of these men home in a bottle of perfume so I could dab the scent of creativity on my temples when I feel uncreative. Instead, photos will have to do.
I so want to show the joyful exuberance of all the outfits, but I will reserve that for another post. However, this next photo is a sneak peak of one of them.
When I left their condo SIX hours later, I was happy and excited and I kept that smile all the next day. And even now, I smile. Pink is such a happy color.
Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
I am most alive when I am surrounded by beauty–especially beauty with meaning attached to it. I am a creative person; I design by day and…well…I used to do a lot of creative things by night; photography, paint, collage, write, design. But for the last year I have denied myself the pleasure of beauty and the joy of creativity. Work took a turn for the worst and I let it get to me. At work I used to surround myself with personal items pregnant with meaning; a bird’s nest I found by my front door which I filled with tiny heart-shaped rocks I found on a beach, photos that I took on the Bourbon Trail the weekend I impulsively kept driving south until I hit Kentucky and the trail, big solid-colored canvases I used as backdrops for lilies, and much more. But the politics of work became unbearable and I was thrust into a public space so I took everything home–in a snit. And I haven’t brought anything back.
It has been a year of self-reflection for me, though. What I discovered that I did not know before is that I die in my soul every day that I face the cold greige** of my cubicle. It’s not the work that drains me, it’s the lack of beauty.
Even before this Come Alive prompt came up for the 30-day writing challenge, I had learned how scorched my soul has been at work. I can’t bring back the items I took away because they have new homes. But I can start new and I’ve been re-examining my work space to determine what I can do under the circumstances.
I wanted to write about something profound in regards to this topic. But the truth is, I have learned more about life wasting away through the teachings of my dry, cubicles walls than I have by my longing to be in Greece, as my friend, Katherine, is or by my desire of devoting my time to full-time photography as my friend, Zach, devotes his time to videography and the theater.
I really don’t have to look far to begin the process of living–just to the greige of my cubicle.
(**aww man! I thought greige was a blend of gray and beige. But it really means “being in an unbleached undyed state as taken from a loom —used of textiles” (Miriam-Webster.com). Well, I’m twisting the meaning and attributing it to the non-color that runs rampant through cubicle world. Greige sounds like a cubicle. Really.)
I’m participating in The Domino Project’s “Trust Yourself (#Trust30) Writing Challenge” where the participants are challenged to respond to a writing challenge for the next 30 days. I came late to the challenge…all of two days…so I missed the first two challenges. I’m picking up on this third challenge and perhaps at the end I will continue with the first two.
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?
“One Strong Belief.”
Wow. I don’t know how or where to begin. I guess I should begin at the beginning. But I don’t know where that is! So perhaps I just jump right in and confuse you, unless you understand the odd connections I make in my head. So here goes.
I believe in Archetypes. I believe so strongly in this that I don’t know how to believe in anything else. I believe we follow patterns and those patterns constellate into an archetypal form and that form engages us [have I lost you yet?] and we are caught by the pattern [is your mind wandering?] and if we don’t see the pattern we will repeat it over and over. But if we do see the pattern and we understand what it takes to break it (and it tends to be difficult to break even when you see it), then we can end the pattern. The archetype.
That’s what I believe. And it sounds crazy or odd or abstract.
I can’t help but believe in archetypes because I see them everywhere.
And I can’t help but live it.
Clear intentions manifest themselves,” she said. We gathered around a table and discussed how powerful our intentions can be. We talked about visualizing our desires. One gal said she cut out images and words from a magazine that represented her goals, affixed them to a posterboard and displayed it where she could see it.
“That reminds me of a story,” another said. “A convent needed work done so the sisters decided to pray for a handyman. They were cloistered so they couldn’t go out to look for one themselves. One of the sisters decided they needed a visual to help them focus their prayers, so she found a picture of a man in a magazine and she cut it out. The sisters then included a handyman in their prayers. What they didn’t realize is that when the sister cut the man out of the magazine, she cut off one of his arms. Soon a handyman came to them and was hired. He served them excellently for years until he died. And guess what…”
You guessed it.
“…he had one arm! Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”
I looked at the women smiling and nodding their heads, slightly awed. I, however, was slightly perplexed. I said, “But, don’t you think the one-armed handyman was praying for a job? I mean, who hires a one-armed handyman? Perhaps the sisters were actually responding to his prayers and unconsciously cut the arm off so they would have a true visual!”
The one-armed handyman story is anecdotal. Did it really happen? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s not the point. The point is that yes, intentions can be made manifest. But who’s doing the manifesting? Think about it.
I had a wonderful time driving with my son one Saturday a while ago. You know how it is. You’re driving in the country and come upon a small town with one-lane down the main drag (well, ok, two lanes, but they feel like one). Your son is driving, getting the feel of the road (that’s why you’re driving in the country and not on some crowded city street). He carefully puts on turn signals (in the country) and starts slowing down three blocks before an intersection (in the country). And you. You’re lazily watching the scenery amble by, fully confident of your son’s driving (in the country), when all of a sudden you see it! It is beauty beyond beauty and you sit up and scream, “TURN HERE TURN HERE!” And your son stiffens and the road swerves…but not in the direction you want it to. And the one lane becomes even smaller and your son yells, “MOM, DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN.” And you look longingly behind you as ….
….the most beautiful brick wall fades into the distance. And your son clutches the steering wheel. And you watch the brick wall disappear…out of sight…and you sigh. You know what I’m talking about. It happens all the time. Right? I thought so. It happens to me, too.