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The Art of Asking: Part 2

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One of the great things about The Art of Asking, are the peeks into Amanda’s personal life. Especially when she talks about Anthony. I won’t give too much away for those who have not read the book yet, but some of the most poignant pieces of advice that Amanda got from Anthony through the years she passes along to us in the book. One of them is a story you may have heard before about a dog (paraphrasing):

There is a man sitting on his porch. Next to the man was his dog, who was whimpering. I asked the man “Why is your dog whimpering?” The man said, “He’s laying on a nail”. I asked “Laying on a nail? Well, why doesn’t he get up?” The man then replied “It doesn’t hurt bad enough yet.”

In life, you don’t want to be the dog sitting on a nail until it hurts too much for you to stay there. Don’t sit on the nail to start, or get off as soon as you find yourself there!

Sometimes I wait around for life to help me along so I don’t have to make the important and scary decisions myself. My last job at the super corporate call center is a perfect example. I made the move from my previous job because they were cutting my hours, overworking me and paying me barely above minimum wage after working there for 3 years. The call center paid about $4 more an hour and came with a chair and a free soda fountain. Shortly after starting at the call center, I quickly realized that being in a cubicle for 8 hours a day was not for me. Also, customer service was grating on me. I don’t work well under constant pressure, and every call was recorded, timed, and graded. I always constantly got marked off for not being fast enough. I need to be ever faster. I soon found myself having horrible bouts of random deep depression coupled with uncontrollable sobbing. All of the abuse I took over the phones day in and day out over and over and over again was building up in me and would let itself out during really inopportune moments. Not to mention the stress was causing me to get new migraine headaches and other health issues. I didn’t want to seem like a wuss, so I cut back my hours to work 3 days a week, but I was still miserable–I was still sitting on the nail, but it didn’t hurt quite as much, so I stayed there. I started to feel even more miserable as time passed, even less appreciated and I still wasn’t fast enough, the goal kept changing and I couldn’t keep up, but I stuck it out for over 2 years.

I would fantasize that the building would burn down, that there would be a saftey threat (no one would be harmed thankfully, but work would be cancelled), there was this uplifting hopeful period when the lease hadn’t been paid on the office lot property and the landlord threatened to seize the property if payment wasn’t received in full (they coughed up the money on time though *sigh*). I imagined some crazy scenario in which I’d be harassed and forced to leave or an equally rare scenario where I would screw up and finally be fired. Anything that would get me out of the job without me actually having to take control of my life and quit myself. I wouldn’t get up off the nail.

Eventually I had an opportunity present itself that would allow me to show my photography in a gallery in New York City, and I jumped at it, I tried to quit the call center before I went on the trip, but corporate America didn’t want to let me go (they probably had to keep numbers up for HR through the next quarter for payroll or something), so, per the manager and the supervisor’s request I was on temporary leave instead of quitting. After the art show in New York, instead of coming back to work (the thought of which made me physically ill), I quit.

I think we all do it at some point in our lives, we all sit on the nail, whether it be staying in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling us, staying in a job that isn’t serving us, not asking for help if we really need it, or whatever the case may be, staying someplace because it doesn’t hurt enough for us to make the decision to move on. But, we need to move on. We need to let go of our fears, get out of our comfort zones, and do what is best for us. We need to trust that we will make the best decision for ourselves, and even if things don’t work out, at least we got up off the nail and tried. You can dust yourself off and try again. (RIP Aaliyah)

You can find out more about Anthony HERE.

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The Art of Asking: Part 1

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I do not care if you love Amanda Palmer or hate Amanda Palmer. I am reading her book, The Art of Asking, for the second time and have only a few pages left. Reading it stirred up my own personal narrator. It inspired me to start writing again, in books, in journals, on postcards and in letters, on here. I’ve been writing non-stop and reflecting on my own life. This isn’t just a book about crowdfunding, it’s about relationships, it’s about life, it’s a bit like a zine, but in book form.

I’m not sure where to begin on what I’ve learned so far from this book, but one of the common themes is about the give and take between people, between artists and patrons, between lovers, between friends, in life. Sometimes it’s really hard to take the gift someone gives you.

I realized that I have started being very open about asking for help after I quit my day job last year. I made a post on Facebook when bill money was tight, and really just opened myself up, no fucks given as to what others might think of the post. Hoping someone would reply:
I’m in a tight spot right now, I know I’m not the only one, I’m not asking for handouts, but I could really use a few sales. If you need something, want something, let me know.

I do custom work. I bake, cook, sew, paint, draw, photograph, dance, write, I can read tarot cards, pendulums and rune stones, I plan and host events, I model, I have designed cosplay costumes and dresses, I make jewelry, mineral eye shadows, bronzer, bath and body products, I’m a good proof reader and editor, I’m good at selling and working booths, I make greeting cards, zines, collages, inspirational posters. If it’s not listed ask anyway, I may have left it out.

I was contacted by a local comic writer to start doing work on their limited edition covers. His wife came by to give me a demo and drop off the comics and supplies to decorate the comic covers with. While I helped her bring items in from the back of her car, I mentioned being a little embarrassed to be asking on Facebook for work, and she stopped and looked right at me and said “How is the Universe supposed to know what you need if you don’t ask for it?”

Asking is opening yourself up, and trusting that someone will reply with the answer you’re looking for. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. For me, I’m a big giver, so asking was a little backwards for me, but it gets easier with time.

Just this month I had been invited by a friend to The Vagina Monologues. I had never been, and had been increasingly finding myself within circles of women who talked about how great the experience was for them. I posted on Facebook:

Okay guys, I want to go to the Vagina Monologues event this coming Valentines Day. It is $25 for a ticket. I am offering haikus, photographs, zines or sketches for donation towards a ticket. Just send your request, mailing address and donation via PayPal to gothcupcake@gmail.com

One of my friends, his Father is on Facebook and we are friends (he makes amazing tie dye everything, you should check him out, he goes by Splash), I saw the notification pop up that he had sent me money towards a ticket. I shot him a message to thank him and asked if he’d like a haiku or some art and he replied, I’m paraphrasing, “It’s not a sale kiddo, it’s a gift.” I felt like that was solidifying the point of Amanda’s book, being able to accept the gift. Being able to “take the donuts” every now and then. Another friend sent the full amount of the ticket and told me to have a good time. Sometimes, people just want to give, they don’t want to take the flower.

If you haven’t read The Art of Asking I probably seem as if I’m speaking in riddles. I have lots more to say about this book, but I’ll save it for another entry. For now, I’ll leave you with those little nuggets of wisdom and how asking and receiving has been for me lately. I am learning to accept the donuts when they are offered to me and giving back whenever I can! ❤

Have you read The Art of Asking? Have you found it helpful? Have you learned to take the donuts? Comment with your stories below!

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Is there such a thing as a pre-midlife crisis? Because I think I’m going through one. The big 3-0 is approaching, next month’s birthday will mark my last year of being a “twenty something” and the fateful wish of the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty keeps popping into my brain: “Thirty, flirty and thriving. Thirty, flirty and thriving.”

I stopped keeping up with this blog when I became discontent with my life–or more discontent than I had been previously. I needed to get away, I needed family, I needed to get back in touch with myself. I am having a hard time believing that this year will be my SIXTH in the desert. How I’ve survived this long without the ocean I don’t know. [Last Summer when I when I went back to Rhode Island for a friend’s wedding I went to the beach for the first time in 5 years and cried. I never wanted to leave.]

Hey, but look, here I am, writing a blog entry. Progress. I picked up a copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at Target, on a whim. It was sitting on the top of a cart of go-backs someone was sorting through and it caught my eye. I thought, “I want to be happy, oh and 20% off.” I walked over to the price checker and ran it under “$12 for happiness? Okay, I’ll give it a shot.”

As of this writing I am just shy of being a third of the way through and already have started developing a little happiness project of my own. I have done little sprinklings of things here and there prior to picking up The Happiness Project, but I find myself putting the book down with sudden inspiration to go do something. I’ve already started cleaning up little areas in the apartment here and there and feel accomplished seeing the carpet beside our coffee table instead of a pile of crap in the living room. Decluttering your physical space helps declutter your well being… or something like that.

On the topic of decluttering my well being, for years I have written down my dreams and used dream books to sort out what my brain is trying to tell me at night. The past 2 years I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a dream diary, writing down everything I can remember in the morning and delving into my books to tease out the meanings.

There are recurring themes lately that amount to my subconcious beating me over the head every night that I need to do several things or I am going to slowly die. To sum them up:
-I need to express myself
-I’ve lost touch with who I am
-I need to get out of my soul sucking job
-I need to make changes in my life before they start impacting my health in irreversible ways.

You don’t have to believe in dream analysis to get that there is some wisdom there. My health has gone pretty downhill within the last year or so, mostly due to a chain reaction of ills created by stress (cue the day job). I take more vitamins and medications now than I can count on one hand, I’ve gained weight, and my self esteem has taken a huge hit.

Time to make a change. Enter the Happiness Project and the ressurection of my blog. Exit bad habits and the soul-sucking day job.

Life, here I come!

-M

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Creating Happiness

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Analog 365 Project Day 228

I befriended a fellow photographer and film user, Jared, who has been generous enough to share tips and tricks with me and even gave me a big box full of photography books! I was very excited to soak in all of this new material that I had to take a picture 🙂 Thanks again Jared!

Shot indoors with flash and pale violet flash gel.

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Analog 365 Project Day 228

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