We don’t create anything in a vacuum.

Random

“We don’t create anything in a vacuum. When you create art, like you’re basically just feeding into this big, sacred legacy of work. And you’re just feeding into the neural net of every other human. You know, it’s like, ultimately, we all kind of function like A.I.; we’re all a product of all the content that we feed ourselves. And so, you know, it’s just like, it’s just funny to be like, ‘Oh, this is my work.’ In reality, it’s the result of thousands of years of human art making.

– Grimes, New York Times, October 28, 2020.

Welcome 2020!

Life

So. What big plans do I have for this year? I have a few ideas. First of all, I really want to focus my creative energy on photography. Lately I’ve been realizing that photography was my first love. I have loved it from the moment someone put a 110 camera in my hand at age 10 and I’ve never stopped. So to jump start my focus I have decided to do a project in which I use one camera each week. In mid-December I opened my camera closet and remembered I have all of these beautiful old cameras and that I should use them! So I am going to do that. I am going to share this project on my photography blog at monismithphoto.com if you are interested in following along.

I am going to spend more time with the people that I love. Around Thanksgiving this past year I felt sad that I wasn’t going home to visit famly, and then I told myself, “well, you know you have to work the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.” Then I talk back to myself saying, “When I am on my deathbed am I going to think back fondly on all of those days I had to work? God no. I am going to think about the good times I had with friends and family.” And, in fact, as I was looking at my 1 Second Everyday video for 2019 I was delighted to be reminded of the fun times I had with my friends and family in the past year.

I have some health goals, kind of I guess. I would love to lose weight, but I don’t want to be obsessed with it. I really just want to feel good. So this month I’m doing a reset. I’m participating in Dry January. I’m not going to eat any processed white grains like bread and pasta. And no sugar. Aside from not drinking, this shouldn’t be too difficult because it’s how I usually eat when I’m not eating like crap (like I’ve been doing). And I’m honestly looking forward to how good I will feel when I’m not drinking. Alcohol generally makes me depressed, so it will be nice to have a break from that for a month, maybe longer.

So that’s that! I hope you all have a fantastic year personally to counterbalance the dumpster fire that will be the world stage. We are all in this together!

Reflections on 2019 and my 1 second everyday video

Life
One Second Everyday in 2019

It is New Year’s Eve, and this is the post where I am supposed to reflect on the year. So here goes…

Here is what I wrote on Jan 1, 2019:

I started a new habit the last week of December. I am going to get rid of at least 1 thing every day.

Jan 1, 2019

I didn’t do this. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did this for a few weeks. And then I stopped. I had this long list of things I wanted to do: play ukulele, get better at drawing, write poetry, etc. Again, I did none of those things. I didn’t write a single line of poetry this year and I didn’t even try. My ukulele practicing was off and on. I drew everyday but I don’t feel like I improved much. I read this journal entry this morning and was tempted to feel like a failure. But then again, I think this past year I realized some things about myself which cancel out this feeling of failure. I realized that when I am not depressed I tend to think that I can tackle ALL OF THE THINGS. This is very unrealistic. Because then when I enter a state of depression I can maybe do 25 percent of the things, if I’m lucky. And by “things” I mean, just the basics, like cleaning my house and making dinner. So I learned to be wary of the Monica who feels good enough to do ALL THE THINGS.

This is progress. This is me being kinder to myself. This is me being realistic.

There is a part of me that doesn’t feel hopeful for the future. Our climate outlook is bleak. Trump is still president. things are grim. 2020 is going to be a dumpster fire.

But I don’t want to go down that path. So I will focus on the positive. Here are a few highlights:

This past year, on a personal level, has been fantastic. A year ago I had no idea that my husband and I would be in the place we are in now. Today we are looking at opportunities that I didn’t even think were possible a year ago. In that way this past year has been magical and I can’t help but be very grateful. I’m being a bit vague here, and I apologize for that.

I spent my summer immersed in The Diamond Sutra. It was intense, eye opening, and transformative.

I visited Boston for Pinholeday and met up with some of my pinhole buddies while touring the city. I got to see Salem while I was there.

I got to hold actual Moon rocks!

I danced with my family at my neice’s wedding.

It really was a great year.

Do I dare have hope for 2020? When I look at all of the good things from 2019 year I think I can allow a bit of hope. But I am also looking at things realistically.

I will check in tomorrow to talk a little bit about my plans for next year. Until then, I wish you all a fabulous New Years Eve.

the art of slowing down

Life

I honestly don’t know how to start this blog post. I said I was going to write it and I’ve spent the past week thinking but lacking motivation to write. And where do I begin? How do I reflect on a whole decade?

But I guess, if I haven’t done anything else, I have been reflecting. My thoughts always seem to come back to, “how did I end up here?” And “Where will I be in another 10 years?” I moved to to Sandy, Oregon 10 years ago and I have stayed here, in the same job and town for the entirety of that time. It is hard to see much change when I look back because there is so much that is the same. This has been the source of some angst for a long time. But then I also think that I am really happy where I am at, for the most part, so why change? This has been my koan of late.

Within this little bubble of living in the same small town I have experiened a lot of the same. But I have also experienced a lot of things that have completely changed my life for the better. I have met a lot of people who have made my life amazing and happy.

In the IRL realm, I think the best thing that happened to me was that I found my Zen Buddhist friends, and that I have delved into that philosophy. Zazen, the foundation of Zen Buddhism, is a very slow moving vehicle for change, but it is extremely effective, in a non-effective way. It’s like one day you realize you are reacting differently to that one thing that used to annoy you. Those moments are quiet, world-changing moments. I am super grateful for those moments.

The other big thing that happened to me was connecting with the film photography community. Through the film photography community I found pinhole photography, which has been a passion for me for several years. I have always been drawn to photography, but pinhole photography has been the type of photography that has brought me the greatest joy. After 7 years, I still get giddy when I scan my negatives and see the images that I have produced. Not that what I produce is super amazing, it’s just that the process makes me very happy. It’s a slow process, and the images themselves are a reflection of this.

Slowing down. That is what the past decade boils down to for me. There is magic in those moments when you slow down and notice.

Is this thing on, part 2

Life

It truly has been a really long time since I’ve posted a blog post. I am still not particularly motivated to blog again, but then I realized that we are coming up very quickly on the end of a whole decade! A WHOLE DECADE. So maybe I should post some kind of reflection something or other? It’s kind of been a tradition here to write about my year, and I kind of was thinking I’d skip it this year. But now that I’m realizing it’s almost the end of the 2010s, well, I kind of feel like I should do something to mark this occasion.

So yeah. Really kind of just thinking out loud here at the moment. I’ll think about this a bit and get back to you.