Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 120: The hidden magic in daily life

"There is a hidden magic to what is happening in your life right now."
This was my horoscope for today and let me tell you something. When I read it, I breathed a sigh of relief. Somehow, getting in the car and driving to a business park in the stinking hot San Fernando Valley is a little easier to do when you know there is some hidden magic lurking, some magical reason why you're doing it. Because from my vantage point, all I see is smog.

Remember when The Secret came out? The whole Law of Attraction craze? I was all over it. I bought the film for friends, I had viewing parties at my house and I discussed it at length with newbies who had never considered how they can use the Law of Attraction to create the life of their dreams. I even started going to Agape, where the super awesome talent and well-spoken Michael Bernard Beckwith can sure as shit turn a frown upside down.


I love when you swear.

Michael Bernard Beckwith wrote Spiritual Liberation, which is in my top 5 best books ever. He was one of the experts on The Secret that spoke of the Law of Attraction.

For newbies, here is a quick lesson on the Law of Attraction:

Thoughts become things.

So basically, imagine the life of your dreams and magically the life of your dreams will appear.

Sounds too good to be true?

Well, it is and it isn't.

Some hopeful folks think that if they just think but do not do then that's enough for their dreams to come true. Not so. You need to walk toward your dreams by taking some action steps, then the Universe will swoosh in and impress you with supernova magic.

At least that's how I think it goes. I'm still not sure sometimes why I'm at where I'm at because I'm a big time dreamer. I don't even know exactly where I'm going with this blog. But, I can relay an example of how the Law of Attraction has worked in my life. 

I imagined the apartment I live in now in Santa Monica. I did. Right down to the view outside my window.

The view outside my window. 

I took action to find it. I scoured the neighborhood and did the leg work. But, the magic is that I did, in fact, see my apartment in my mind before I walked into it. And when I did, I slapped down my money, took the keys and hauled in my mattress.

So dear reader, whether or not you believe in the Law of Attraction, I hope that there is hidden magic working on your behalf in your life right now. I hope that there are unexplainable sweetnesses coming to you left and right, like this morning when I ran into one of my best friends at the coffee shop. She never goes to that coffee shop. Had I not walked out at the exact moment she walked in, I would have missed her. Running into her made me smile and that made it a little easier to get in the car and drive to a business park in the stinking hot San Fernando Valley.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 119: Could we ever be dead right now

"I only hope that Heaven has good coffee and lots of crappy, ugly places to photograph."
                            --My friend Bruce
A few years ago, I found myself in Needles, California, with my friend Bruce. We were on a road trip looking for ugly places to photograph. The good kind of ugly. The Jeff Brouws kind of ugly. The ugly that makes you gasp and say, "I looked but didn't see the beauty until you showed me in your photo."

(Jeff Brouws, if you read this, Bruce and have this sick love for you that makes our teeth tingle.)

With Google Alerts. You never know who is reading your blog.

This is a typical scene of Bruce and Janice out taking photos in the desert:

That's Bruce setting up a shot on the right and my car on the left.

We were taking photos of the ultimate getaway: A trailer in the middle of nowhere. Awesome. 

Back to Needles, California. Needles was once a one horse town and now it is a one hotel, one gas station and one garage town.

The garage was beautifully ugly.


We met the mechanic and his dog.


We mentioned to the mechanic that we were looking for old cars to photograph. He smiled, hopped in his truck and yelled, "Follow me!" So we did, thinking he'd take us to a used car lot or something. But we became suspicious when he drove us down a very dirt driveway into the desert.


I started to get nervous and I mentioned this to Bruce.

"What could happen?" he said.

We laughed. Nervously.

Turns out there were old cars behind this hill, we took our photos and the mechanic was super nice.
 That's Bruce again. It takes him forever to get a shot.

This is not the beautiful kind of ugly. This is just ugly.

This, too. Just plain ugly.

Our mechanic/possible serial killer got a call about a "car" that needed to be "towed" and he left.

As he peeled off down the dusty road, Bruce turned to me and said, "Could we ever be dead right now."


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 118: Keeping your eye on the prize

Nothing like a death in the family to get your ass in gear.

Today's morning pages felt like they weren't even written by me. It was as if some powerful being took over my pen and started writing, "This is what we're going to do." Then the being listed all the tasks to do over the next month.

I had been slowly plugging away at four projects for the last four months. And when I mean slowly I mean mostly thinking about them but not doing anything about them. 

But today, I have a renewed vigor. Because, if not now, when?

If I don't step up and work on the life of my dreams, I could actually die before I get around to it.

(Pause here for dramatic effect.)

Now, let's briefly examine the life I currently have. I am currently living the life of the dreams I once had. It's pretty good. But, the person I was then is not the person I am now. There is a bigger world out there that I didn't even know about when I came up with this current dream life that I managed to miraculously achieve. My dreams are bigger now but I've been sitting on my keister and that's not going to get my dreams achieved.

So, after the morning pages, I got busy.

In one of my projects, I needed my sister to send me a document. It has taken me a year to ask. I asked, she took a photo of it and sent it. That's all I needed to move it along. DONE.

In another project, I had learn how to edit videos so I can entertain you, dear reader, with my words in a more animated format (among other projects). My boss gave me a video assignment this week, where I'll learn to edit. DONE.

In another project, I just needed a good hour to get the scribbles typed into a Word document. That's all. Mysteriously, an hour opened up in my day and I was able to type it up. DONE.

That left me with one more task that required a trip to the office supply place (Heaven!) and, not only did I take care of the errand, but I bought more of my favorite pens. DONE.

So, dear reader. Get to it. Take steps toward your dreams and keep your eye on the prize.

If not now, when?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 117: Fishing as the new religion

My morning pages were cut short today when I found out my uncle had passed away.

Check out this handsome dude:


In his obituary, they spoke of how he loved fishing. This is a MacLeod trait. To my dad's family, fishing is religion. On Sunday mornings, when mom would cart me off to church, dad went fishing. And honestly, I think he got more of a spiritual connection on those Sunday mornings than I ever did in church.

When we returned home, I'd peel off my dress and itchy stockings, don my t-shirt and shorts, and go look in the bucket to see what would be our dinner that night. Perch was the prize of the day, but catfish would suffice. My dad would fillet the fish on the picnic table outside as the cat's mewed around his legs knowing they'd get a scrap or two.

In the kitchen, the fillets were dipped in flour and gently set down in the pan of oil as if they were flower petals. While they cooked, dad would slice potatoes to make fries and toss them into the deep fryer. I would set the table.

On those Sundays, I knew that the church had taught me about Heaven but the church was dead wrong. For my mother, Heaven might be a place you go when you die. But for my father, Heaven was fishing hole that was "bitin' good that day." And for me, Heaven was sitting at the table with my family eating fish and chips.

Uncle Lew. I hope that your Heaven has a good fishing hole and it's bitin' good today.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 116: Enthusiasm, casinos and a breakfast buffet

Enthusiasm.

I realized when I was sitting at the breakfast buffet at the casino that it's all about enthusiasm.

I was sitting with my friend Sharon and we were viewing the gawd-awful art on the walls as we were chowing down on our grub. We were the youngest people there by about 40 years. The old folks were so cute. Dressed up to hang at the casino. As we were looking at the art on the walls, we were discussing how we could have done that art. That the art that sold for a bunch of cash was not even as good as the art we could have done.

But, we didn't do that art. We didn't want to do that art. And it's really hard to do art that you're not enthused about doing. Someone had enough enthusiasm to take a generic photo of a flower and paint an abstract something-or-other. That same person had enough enthusiasm to market this art to this casino and this casino had enough enthusiasm back to buy the art.

Dig?

Dig.

So we when we were walking back from the casino, I took a few photos. Anyone could have taken this sweet photo of a lonesome old car:

 
And anyone really could have taken this bad ass pic:


But they didn't. I did. Why? Because I had the enthusiasm to do it.

Now, I just need to find someone to buy them.

Good luck with all that.

Or, maybe my viewing audience is you. You who has the enthusiasm to read this post.

Yeah. That's right. 
 
Yes. That's right.











Day 115: Kudos to my favorite undertaker

The bloggers life is so much more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined it would be.

I've learned a lot about myself since I started . For instance, I learned that I am completely fascinated by the embalming process as told my my favorite undertaker in An Undertaker's Diaries. I knew her back in high school but have had a renewed fondness for her since she started her blog.

She talks about how she lives her life to the fullest because she knows all too well just how quickly it can come to an end. She also talks about her day job, which is a heck of a lot harder than handing a grieving widow a wad of tissues. She also has a zany sense of humor about her relationship to coffee, Monday's, the deceased and smells. Check out this poster she had on her blog, which completely cracks me up.



Read her blog. Especially the embalming posts. Start from the beginning. Take a few breathers as you go. So good.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 114: How to embrace an introverted life

I went to Palm Springs on one of my friend Sharon's Gold Passes.

These passes meant that she got to drag me along to whatever she wanted me to do. There was a house party in Palm Springs that she wanted to attend. I imagined drunk strangers, direct sunlight, no time to self and no escape. It sounded just awful. Hence the "dragging" aspect of the gold pass.

When I arrived at the party, there was some of that, but everyone was quite nice. Still, I became overwhelmed so I went to my room to write my morning pages. I was relieved to be hiding inside of my pages. Like I had stowed away a friend in my bag and we were playing in the back room. In my pages, I examined why I went to this party kicking and screaming. Then I remembered:

People bug me. 

Why? Because if there are enough people around me, the energy drains from my system and I'm left sitting like a zombie, trying to not watch the clock. Some people come alive in a crowd. I cower and look for the quietest corner. I once thought there was something wrong with me until I heard about a book:

 

The title alone gave me enough permission to do my own thing and not feel bad about finding a quiet corner at the party.

Anyway, back to the party. I was there with a couple girls who I suspect are introverted like me because they were in the same quiet corner. They let me take photos of them on my iPhone while they played new apps on their iPhones. It was a thousand and one times more fun than being in the middle of the loud party. 

So how does one embrace an introverted life? Find quiet corners, create your own fun and don't apologize for any of it to extroverts who don't understand.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 113: Artist Date at the laundromat

I had to wash my unmentionables, so I won't mention them.

And I wanted to wash that which shall not be mentioned quickly. I didn't want it to take up the whole evening. So off I went to the laundromat so I could do a lot of loads all at once.

Laundromats with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone are great.

Sorting through the reds.

Sorting through the grids.

Did you know that washing machines have a countdown clock on them so that you know exactly how long your load will take?

Genius.

When I knew I had 31 minutes to wait for my whites to be whiter and my colors to be brighter, I traipsed off looking for trouble... or at least some spooky photos to take.

Dusk in Santa Monica.

Ominous lighting galore.

Sweet Cadillac and some dashboard light.

Creepy window display made creepier with my image in the window.

Now, not only is my laundry done, but so is my artist date for the week!

Genius.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 112: The path to enlightenment—revealed!

I was asked the other day by one of my favorite comment-leavers on this blog how I manage to fit in writing my morning pages and a blog post everyday, especially when I write all day long at the office. Good question.

Last night I was writing my morning pages at midnight because I didn't make it a priority in my day. I booked myself from 7:30AM (coffee with friends) to midnight (dinner and drinks with friends) with work and a conference call for this amazing tele-class I'm taking in the middle of the day.

I was tired, spent and a little tipsy. I did not want to do my morning pages. But more than that, I didn't want to fess up on this blog that I hadn't done them. So I guess that is what ultimately motivates me to keep writing and blogging. Writing beats not writing.

Plus, I'm motivated by the possibility that this project will change my life in a big, beautiful way. And that is better than the alternative. I know what the alternative is. I've lived it up until this point. It's fine. But I'm here to play big.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
-- by Marianne Williamson
So ya. That's why I do it. 

Plus, Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said that enlightenment was following one thing all the way to the end and that's what I intend to do. Because I said I would. I want to be a woman of my word. One page/day/blog post at a time.


Day 111: Earth Day madness

Happy Earth Day.

Here's a video that will make you feel like no matter what eco-friendly things you do, you still might eff up the environment.

Happy Earth Day, my ass.





Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 110: Making something out of nothing

My sister Julie can make something out of nothing. She can look through my cupboards and whip up a gourmet delight while I look at the same cupboards and think I've got nothing.

She's a full on culinary artist. I am not. I can't pretend to be. To try to be makes me tired. But what I can do is dissect an average day and find the fun. To get a sense of what I'm saying, check out my photo essay of today:

Hungry coworker Scott at Whole Foods. 

Coworker Sharon radiating beauty at the office.

Admiring geraniums on my walk.
They were my grandma's favorite flower.

Spying on the cutest couple ever going for a walk. 
(click to enlarge)

Getting all Buddha with self.

Ending the day with my friend Marni
who is picking out a vegan dessert for us at Real Food Daily.

Pretty average day. Nothing big happening. But sometimes, those are the days when we have to look a little deeper. On those days we find the goods in the back of the cupboard and gratitude for what we didn't know we already had. For my sister, it's random ingredients. For me, it's jaunts with friends around my usual haunts.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 109: Show up and figure it out from there

Ever have one of those days where you don't want to write your blog?

Ya. Me, too.

But here I am. Doing it. Even though I'd rather do just about anything else.

I used my morning pages to work myself up to it, to convince myself that as long as I began my blog, I could possibly get something done.

The same is true when I have a project to do at work that I don't want to do. Advertisers like me write about the same few products day in and day out. The strategy is usually pretty much the same every time we are briefed on a project. Today, I was working on an ad that we recreate every month. I've been doing a different version of this exact same ad every month for a year and a half. 

And every month, I'm expected to come up with something fresh and exciting. And every month they expect a handful of concepts.

It's not easy. But, as my friend Jeff says, "The checks clear."

Yes they do. So I plug away. Showing up even when I don't want to because I'm required to be here. Because if I don't show up to work then I don't get to keep my job.

So why don't we show up for ourselves and our art in the same way?

What if I could fire my ass if I didn't put in a few hours a week on a painting? Threaten to pull the funding if I didn't keep up the blogging. Yell "you're outta here!" if I don't dust off the guitar to practice a few songs. Send my sorry self to HR for a talking to if I don't keep up my morning pages.

That would be motivating.

Just as I schlepped my ass to the office this morning, I schlepped myself onto this blog and just showed up. It's not glamorous. But it's doable. And that's how things get done. Just like this here blog entry.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 108: The curse of the creative gene

Today is day 108 of this blog and my project to write three pages in my journal each day, as required of the course The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

The number 108 is kind of a big deal.

108 in Eastern religions:
A mala (the beaded "necklace" from India used for praying) has beads for 108 repetitions of a mantra. The reasons why are described beautifully in a little known book titled Eat Pray Love by an obscure author named Elizabeth Gilbert.

But more importantly, 108 in NBCs Lost:
108 is the sum of the numbers. That is to say that:
4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42 = 108
It's also the number of minutes the clock in the Swan counts down before the numbers must be entered into the computer. More interesting factoids about Lost and 108 can be found here. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please do not start watching Lost now. Rent the DVDs. Start at the beginning. Thank me later.)

108 in Janice's life: 
Yesterday, also known as Day 107, I tossed a manuscript I wrote with my coauthor last year. Today, also known as Day 108, I pondered what went wrong. And the truth is simple. I didn't put in the time. I wrote. Ya, I did. Sort of. But I didn't put in a significant effort into the project. I've put a whole lot more into plenty of other creative pursuits in the last 108 days than I did in the entire nine months of that manuscript.

How did I put in more effort? Simple. My morning pages. See, when we write daily, our minds get unfolded like a road map so we can see the direction we want to go. Evil plans are revealed before us. Lists of things to do are devised. Unfinished business here gets finished there.

And it all starts with morning pages. Why?

Here's the deal: being an artist is a lot of hard work. But it's hard work you love to do. I didn't love doing that manuscript and would have torn my hair out pretending I did. In fact, I'd probably bawl right now if someone forced me to complete it. I. Just. Don't. Want. To. Do. It. It's. Done. Kill. It.

If you got stuck with the creative gene, you pretty much have to figure out how to live with it because it's not going away. That means you pretty much have to work on your art most of the time and often that work will seem to amount to very little. But you're okay with it because you know that if you don't work at it, you'll feel like you're carrying a heavy pile of sticks on your shoulders. So you as an artist offload a stick or two everyday by doing morning pages, painting, getting back to the script or whatever your art means to you. Sometimes, it leads to monetary gain and grandeur. Most of the time it's about offloading the sticks. I think the manuscript was about offloading sticks. Nothing more.

People will wonder why you bother.

Sometimes you'll wonder why you bother, too. You'll reason that you could be like them. You could have a simpler life. Instead of plugging away at your art, you could relax at home on a Friday night, go to dinner on Saturday, watch the game on Sunday and call that enough.

Oh God no. That's not me.

No. That's not you. That's not me either. Because you were blessed to be born with those sticks on your back and your job is to learn how to make them into a castle.

Now get to work. 




Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 107: I tossed the manuscript

Today I had one task: To go through the notes of the half-baked book that I wrote last year for nine months with my co-author. We abandoned the project for many reasons, the biggest and only reason really required was that it just wasn't good enough. Simple. Devastating. True.

The papers from this project were piled in the corner of my spare bedroom. Strangely, it also sits in the corners of my morning pages. Mini-to-do lists are often created as I write my morning pages and they line the pages of my journal. After writing "Go through the pages" for the upteenth time, I finally nudged myself enough to get to it.

There I was on my knees in my spare bedroom sifting through the pages. I made two piles. One of writings that are mostly mine. One that is mostly hers. Perhaps separately something can come of our words. Though we've burned the book idea, hope remains in the cinders.

I am a mother who miscarried. The irony that we incubated this book for nine months is not lost on me. Six months after the fact, a mother folds and organizes never-worn baby clothes. I fold and organize never-read pages. We wonder what went wrong. We had such high hopes. We thought it would have worked out. We did everything we could.

Yet I had a hand in the demise of the book. After writing it all down, we decided we will not walk in this world as the parents of this book and that's a good thing. We do, after all, have to live with our hits. This is one hit we opted to miss.

One day a book like ours will come out and be written by someone else. It's just a matter of time. And I'll be happy to read it. But for us and this book, something died. And no amount of sticking to it is going to bring it back to life.

After the pile was sorted, I put hers in a bag to deliver at our writing session tomorrow. We are trying again. But this time we are writing something that is more us. Something we will delight to present to the world. Something that will help people live their lives better. And that is worth making room for.


Day 106: Photo Booth Fun

In honor of Amelie, I bring to you the best most super fun photo site ever: La PhotoCabine where you can make your own photo booth photos in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a camera on your computer, a smile and a dash of whimsy:



 Adding friends is fun, too:


Simple, pure good times.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 105: What is the point of writing morning pages

What is the point of writing morning pages?

For me, morning pages are for:
  • Getting frustrations out (priority #1)
  • Having conversations with angels, guides, God or whoever seems to be writing back
  • Having conversations with the parts of my body and soul that hurt
  • Having conversations with unrequited loves (you know who you are... not you... the other one)
  • Writing first drafts of this blog (like right now)
  • Making lists
Making lists is usually my default mode when I have nothing to bitch and complain about in my pages. Today I started making a list but then I realized that after making the list, I would start plugging away at the tasks on my list, which would be followed by...

by what?

After accomplishing all I had on my list I'd

probably 

start 

another 

list

That's just plain nuts. I've become a ridiculous list maker. I've busied myself to the point where I've stopped daydreaming. Too busy with the list, you see. No time to have a thought to myself.

Well that's gonna change people. Right here. Right now. Even if I have to list "daydream" on my list.




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 104: Plant-based office space

I recently read that a potted plant can help you feel better at work.

Researchers at Texas State University in San Marcos found that people who had a plant in their office rated themselves as more satisfied with life and work than those without them.
                                                           --Real Simple magazine
Hell, if all it takes to get more satisfied with life and work is a friggin' plant, count me in!

This is my actual office, complete with a plant, 
a googly-eyed tape dispenser and a slinky.

I wonder when the satisfaction starts kicking in.


Day 103: Random Awesomeness in the mail

Last night I received this random awesomeness in the mail from my niece Grace who is 4 years old:

It is clear to me that this child is advanced.

This also prompted me to get my random gifts of awesomeness in the mail for my dear readers. If you don't know, I have a draw about once a month and I send someone something in the mail. If you want to be in the draw, email me your mailing address.

So, here are the gifts for this month:



These two lovely paintings (painted by moi) will be be sent off in the mail today to two lucky winners. I'm not telling you who won because then the surprise would be ruined. Ruined I tell you!

Love the use of a swear word.

That's right. I'm coming out of my shell. Mayhem will surely ensue.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 102: Boring is a four letter word

I have a 40 minute drive to work.

I head up the coast, admire the ocean, then turn into one of the canyon roads. I whirl my way through the mountains until I get spit out at a business park where I park my car and open the windows a crack to let my Real Self breathe in the car all day while I walk my Advertising Self inside and churn out ads.

In this 40 minute drive, I sing songs, do a lot of thinking and listen to audio books. All Augusten Borroughs' books are great. He wrote Running with Scissors.

Today I was thinking about what to do with myself over the next few months. Right now, I feel in between. I don't feel at the start of anything. I've been plugging away at this blog and I have some books and paintings on the go. I also don't feel at the end of anything. Without the enthusiasm of the beginning or the drive to complete near the end, I'm finding this state in between to be rather...

Boring. 

My dad used to say, "Boring is a four letter word." This koan got me thinking a lot about boredom when I was a kid. Like being bored was a bad thing. Even now as I write it, I'm afraid my dad will see the word and put me to work raking leaves or piling wood because that's what he would threaten on the few occasions when I said that dreadful four letter word.

But the days in between beginning and ending can be kind of boring. What do I do with that?

I keep plugging away. Keep driving those 40 minutes. Keep writing morning pages and keep blogging about it. Keep paying bills and making sure the Netflix DVDs are in a good rotation. Read the books I usually don't have time to read because I'm busy at the beginning of something or frantically finishing something.

Keep on keeping on. Maybe that's how great things get done. Those who push through the boredom in between are set apart from the masses. They are the Michelangelos and the Augusten Burroughs of the world. Hmmm. That's motivating.

Now I don't feel so bored.




Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 101: Coffee with Hugh MacLeod

We share the same last name. We are no relation. Devastatingly.

Hugh MacLeod is an advertising pro like me who started writing a blog. He also started a comic strip series on the back of business cards.


 All this swirled together to become a book called "Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys To Creativity," which is just about the best book ever written (except for mine).

 My morning pages, a perfect pen, a coffee and Hugh's book. Great combo.

I look to Hugh's book when I want to throw it all away, find some bungalow in Maui and write my next book or paint a masterpiece or turn into a meditating off-the-grid hippie.

 His wisdom calms me with phrases like:
To suddenly quit one's job in a big ol' creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call "the Sex & Cash Theory."
He goes onto explain that a creative person has two kinds of jobs: One is sexy, the other is the kind that pays the bills. For me, I write books and paint (sex) and work as an advertising copywriter (cash). Sometimes the task at hand covers both, but not often.
This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended. And nobody is immune. not the struggling waiter, nor the movie star.
Nor the advertising copywriter. This is exactly the advice that helps me wake up on Monday mornings and head to work. Well, it's the caffeine addiction that gets me out of bed, but it's Hugh's words that keep me from crawling back into it.  

Thank God for Hugh MacLeod. Buy his book. So worth it.




Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 100: My 100th day of doing morning pages!

Now I really do deserve a medal.

Today is my 100th day of doing* morning pages and blogging about it.

Three cheers for Janice!

Aw shucks reader. You're good to me. Always showing up. Leaving great comments. You're swell.

The Plastiki, a boat I wrote about in an earlier post that is made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles is currently on it's voyage from San Francisco to Sydney. (Track their voyage here.) It's a 100 day voyage. They've been gone 23 days so far. After doing this blog for 100 days, I realize that 100 days is a very long time. I feel like I've been at this forever. And that's on dry land, in the comfort of my own home, with fresh food from the farmer's market, and all the conveniences of modern life. I feel for the crew of Plastiki. Send some good vibes to light their way, would you?

And while you're at it, pray to Saint Anthony that my friend Marcus finds the St. Christopher's medal that his mom gave him before she died. My sister said to me of Saint Anthony the other day:
Watch what you ask for from Saint Anthony. That shit works. It's like bleach. You gotta be careful. 
Gosh, I didn't know this post would become a vigil. But perhaps, prayer is what I'll need myself to get through the next 265 days. If 100 days feels like a long time, what will a year feel like? And how will my life change?

Top 15 highlights from the first 100 days:
  1. Writing this here daily blog (which was not my initial intention but is fun and fulfilling)
  2. Creating a twitter account (who are these random people that follow me?)
  3. Going on a free trip to Hawaii (won by my best friend)
  4. Creating a monthly giveaway (Email me your mailing address to enter)
  5. Becoming vegan (I did not see that coming)
  6. Paintings I painted and posted on Etsy
  7. Selling of my paintings on Etsy
  8. Seeing the cast of Lost 
  9. Going to my first kirtan
  10. Experiencing the blossoming, wilting and demise of a romantic relationship
  11. Winning a blog award
  12. Inspiring not just one but two other people to start blogging
  13. Welcoming the birth of my niece Elle Marie to the world (named after me, Janice Marie) 
  14. Experiencing whiplash
  15. Creating another blog that showcases my Hipstamatic photos
Not bad for the first 100 days. Not bad at all.

Three cheers for Janice!


*There were only a few dark days where I didn't write my pages. Hey, it's a process.

Day 99: Coffee with Charles Bukowski

My artist date took me to Caffe Luxxe in Santa Monica.

It boasts a premium roast and it was accurate in both taste and price. I sat at a window seat with my Charles Bukowski book of poetry and opened it randomly to this:
I'm glad when they arrive
and I'm glad when they leave
--Scarlet from Love is a dog from hell, Charles Bukowski
I'm surprised how alike he and I can be. Especially since he's a dirty curmudgeon old alcoholic that lives in a shit hole in Hollywood, screws around with chicks all day and writes books. Or at least he did until he kicked it in 1994. And I'm generally a cheery quiet girly girl who is afraid of drinkers and lives in a swanky apartment off of ├╝ber posh Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, California and writes books

But maybe that is exactly why I like him. We meet somewhere in the middle. He coming in from grunge-ville and me from swank-city to meet at true human thought in between, where we both admit (but only in print) that we are glad when they arrive and are equally glad when they leave.

From my chair by the window, I could watch people do their laundry across the street at Fox Laundry. What a way to spend a Saturday. No thanks. Unless you're this guy.

I wondered about Bukowski. In this book, he got it on with so many pretty ladies. Got me wondering if most people are getting it on and I'm missing out. Spending all my time writing in my journal when I should be strutting my stuff at some club somewhere.

Oh but that thought makes me tired. It's just not my thing. Instead, I'll read about it in poetry, sip my $4 drip coffee, watch people do laundry and hope that my next romp happens with someone who is more like me than Charles Bukowski.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 98: Pepper the cat

My mother doesn't read my blog.

She doesn't have a computer. Has no use for it and if she wants to talk, she'll just call. I appreciate her old school ways. But she is not all together out of touch with what I write. My family gets news back to her with rapid fire speed. So, she called immediately when a family member read about current bout of the common cold.

"Honey, I wish I could be there to look after you," she said.

Truth be told, my mother is the only person I would want to look after me. I've had lovely friends offer to make me soup and help during this week. Well meaning, but I was actually too sick to be around people. To even listen to them. I'm a little like Pepper, my first cat.

Pepper walked out of the wild, onto our back step and into our lives when I was five or six. She was a good kitty that never fully lost her wild side. After all, you can take a cat out of the wild but you can't take the wild out of the cat. One day, after years of happy domestication with the MacLeod clan of Clear Creek, Ontario, she disappeared.

My dad found her dead behind the drywall in our garage. She was sick and found a hole in the wall to crawl into, hide and die. One might lament this event. Why didn't Pepper come to us? We could have taken care of her. But I understood.

Sometimes you just have to go it alone.

Sometimes something comes along and the only way to deal with it is to revert to your wild side. Domestic house cat politeness is simply not possible. Sometimes you just have to be miserable and cranky and not at all civil.

The only kind of person you'll let see that aspect of you is a mother. The only kind of person that will put up with that is a mother, too.

Alright, now I'm going to crawl back into my apartment and have a cat fight with this cold.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 97: 5 Gold Passes

I didn't know what I was getting into when I gave 5 Gold Passes to my friend Sharon for her birthday. These passes meant that she got to drag me along to whatever she wanted me to do.

Sharon and her 5 Gold Passes.

This is what she came up with:
  1. Palm Springs at a house party with strangers.
    Sharon: It will be fun.
    Janice: It will be drunk strangers, direct sunlight, no time to self and no escape.
    Sharon: Gold Pass!
  2. Weekday afternoon at the beach.
    Sharon: It will be fun.
    Janice: I have to use vacation hours for this!?!??! You know how long they take to accrue?
    Sharon: Gold Pass!
  3. Lesbian bar to be her wing "man"
    Sharon: It will be fun.
    Janice: I'm not really sure what my role will be. Loud drunk chicks. How late will we be out?
    Sharon: Gold Pass!
  4. Surf camping with the ladies she picks up at the lesbian bar
    Sharon: It will be fun. Overnight camping. Relaxing.
    Janice: It will be scary. Overnight camping. Getting-to-know you chit chat with strangers.
    Sharon: Gold Pass!
  5. Las Vegas on a random Friday after work for the weekend
    Sharon: It will be fun. We'll drive after work, stay up all night, gamble like crazy and sleep all morning in our hotel room.
    Janice: It will be... well, that actually will be fun.
    Sharon: Then do I have to use the Gold Pass?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 96: I took writing my morning pages to a whole new level

I'm sick as hell and I wrote my damn pages anyway. Three cheers for me.

Ra ra ra!

I was reminded of just how hard writing in a journal can be even when one is a healthy kitty.

I think I deserve some sort of karmic brownie points for pushing through and writing whilst sneezing. I really didn't want to do it, but I really REALLY didn't want to write a post about how I threw in the white tissue and let the common cold win.

1 point for Janice. 0 points for the common cold.

U.S.A! U.S.A!. U.S.A!

So dear Reader, when you write your pages, even if you write them sporadically, you deserve a freakin' medal. They aren't easy.

This cold has also allowed me to practice the art of saying no. I have learned over the last few days of sniffling that I have become a chronic invitation accepter. I'll go here, there and everywhere if you ask me. And generally, if I say no, it's only because I've already got a plan.

With my cold, I've been saying no to invitations. This cold is so bad that I can't bear to infect any of you... except for my coworkers who gave it to me in the first place. (We've all been hunting around the office for boxes of tissues.)

This saying no is a good thing. My belly, for instance, has relaxed. My smiling muscles don't hurt so much from overuse (I have very funny friends). And my mind has calmed down (though that could also be due to extensive Thera-Flu use).

Perhaps the cure for the common cold is the common cold.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 95: Artist Date: Getting an emissions test

An emissions test doesn't sound like much of an artist date UNTIL YOU ADD THE HIPSTAMATIC IPHONE APP.

Then it's a par-tay.

For readers who don't live in California, if you have a certain type of car of a certain age then you are required to get an emissions test, which is kind of like a smog report on your car. If your car outputs too much smog, you need to get something fixed. Luckily, my emissions test renewed my fondness for Civie, my fuel-efficient-tootin'-around-the-neighborhood Honda Civic. The car had a clean bill of (smog) health.

While I waited, I played with my super wonderful iPhone app, Hipstamatic:



That's Charlie, my emissions guy.

I hadn't planned on turning my errand into an artist date, but I had so much fun being creative that I think it qualifies. And it opened me up to more possibilities for artist dates. No longer must I traipse around art galleries or museums to find inspiration. The 76 station on the corner of Topanga and Ventura works just fine.



Day 94: Seeking approval from strangers

After I posted The Real Artist Rant last week, I finally posted all my paintings on Etsy. It took three months of writing, "Today I should post my paintings on Etsy" in my morning pages to finally do it. 

Once I posted them, I imagined a week full of orders. Me stuffing boxes with eco-friendly packaging, labeling, and walking them all into the post office with glee. Standing in line. People asking me "So what is that you're sending?" Why it's paintings that I, myself, painted and then sold on Esty. See, I'm a real artist and that's what real artists do. Then I'd hand them my card with my blog address on it (yes, these exists), come home to count my money and stare at my blissfully blank walls. 

This was not the case. Etsy has a feature where you can "Heart this item" or "Heart this shop." Being both in love with my own paintings and impatient, I checked to see just how many people "Heart" my favorite crow painting, "Blackbirds singing in the dead of night" and this is what it said on the screen:

What? There must be some mistake. I heart my paintings and so must the world. Then I started to laugh. Somehow, I found this hilarious. Partly because of the weirdness of the truncated sentence and partly because I realized that I was seeking approval outside of myself. I thought my painting rocked, but I won't fully believe it until someone else agrees?

That's just silly.

So, dear Artists, there is a lesson here somewhere. Even though "No one calls Blackbird singing in the dead... a favorite yet," it's still a favorite of mine.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 93: The art of the micro-movement

It all started with sending a package in the mail.

All I had to do was find a box, put in the contents, write a letter, tape up the box, find and write the address on the box, go to the post office and send it.

I did everything except go to the post office and send it.

So of course, that's what I focused on. The thing I didn't do.

In reality, my project was a series of micro-movements:
  1. Find a box
  2. Put in the contents
  3. Write a letter
  4. Tape up the box
  5. Find the address
  6. Write the address on the box
  7. Go to the post office
  8. Send it
By the end of step 6, I ran out of time and energy so I moved onto something else. But, there was a wee nagging voice in my head wondering about when we were going to send the packages already. That's when a stronger, wiser voice piped in and asked:
Was progress made?
Yes. Progress was made. I accomplished steps 1 to 6. Maybe that's enough for today.

What if we all just gave ourselves permission to make a few micro-movements on our projects? And what if we saw THAT as the accomplishment in the day. We'd let ourselves breathe a little. Live a little. Enjoy life a little.

Yes, it's very important to get tasks done. But if they don't get done, it's good to ask ourselves if progress was made. Progress counts for something, too. Micro-movements are how we chip away at our projects to ensure we're getting somewhere. And if we aren't progressing at all, well that's good fodder for our next trip to the therapists office.

Micro-movements are what make every project doable and infinitely more enjoyable because we stop being a slave to our projects and start being the master of them.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 92: The Real Artist Rant

I'm a real artist. This is what I had to tell myself in my morning pages today.

The Real Artist Rant

Real artists don't whine about not having an idea.

Real artists share their art with the world.

Real artists don't keep putting off posting their paintings on Etsy or sending their proposal to the publisher.

Real artists are in it for the money, too.

Real artists suck it up and stick to it.

Real artists have day jobs.

Real artists make time do to their art.

Real artists know that inspiration waits for no one.

Real artists know that if the idea doesn't come through them, it will come through someone else so the artist better get to work before the idea finds someone else.

Real artists do more doing of the art and less talking about the art.

Real artists do not hide in some back studio painting masterpieces while their agents stand in the front room manning the public.

Real artists do not delude themselves into thinking there is a public waiting for them. There isn't. Yet.

Real artists know that the doing of the art and sharing the art are equal parts of the job of being a real artist.

Real artists don't make a big deal about it or an elaborate dramatic story about it.

Real artists just get to it and get it done.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 91: Watching Captain Kangaroo... now don't tell me I've nothing to do

I have this habit. When I'm at work and I look at my calendar to see that I don't have plans for the evening, I get really excited. A night to myself! What could be better? I'm going to do this and that and that and this when I get home. Pure fun good times puttering around my house.

By the end of the day, something happens and I start making plans. Or, someone makes plans with me and I accept.

Then my inner homebody cries, But what about the this and that and that and this we were going to do alone at home tonight?

Tonight I asked a coworker if she wanted to zip to a local restaurant together tonight after work. She couldn't make it. Then I got half way through a text to another friend inviting her out for dinner. Luckily I came to my senses before I sent the text. What is my deal? I had already made plans with myself. I was booked. 

Why is it when we make plans with ourselves we are so open to breaking those plans? In fact, they don't seem like plans at all. They seem like we've got nothing to do. Except I did have something to do.

The this and that and that and this?

Precisely.

So I came home and spent a delightful evening at home doing exactly what I wanted to do. And just as well. My neck and back ache from last week's whiplash is still tender and the pain pills make me tired.

I'd have been miserable to be anywhere but home tonight.


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