Then. (What Shaped You?)

& Thinking of Why I Wanted to be an Artist.

What shaped you? I was shaped by tacos, Mexican sweet breads, and stories. For the sake of this post, let’s say stories did most of the heavy lifting.

When I was a boy, I wrote comic strips about robots and time travelers. I saw vehicles lining the base of the rolling hills in the Southwest corner of Wyoming. Interstate I-80. I wondered where they were going, and how each one of those drivers had a story. I pondered on direction and destination often. My childhood of watching interstate travelers zip back and forth is one that fostered a fascination with time and distance, set against a backdrop of western landscapes from bygone eras. It really felt like a place stuck in time while all others moved along.

At the end of the day, I would listen to the highway traffic fleeing into a bold, amber horizon, and only the humming of the road lingered. I listened for more so I could feel whole.

Time and distance influenced my pursuits and worldview because I was in the proper conditions to be shaped by them. I listened so attentively that here we are:

Iโ€™m still obsessing over the gulfs between fictional lovers, friends, communities, and all others who push to create distance between the truth and themselves. I write about that.

Iโ€™m still lamenting the cruelty and magic of time, and how the craft of capturing those and that which is bound to leave us, is the greatest gift of all. I want to capture that joyfully and honestly.

This is why I listen, and write, and record. Why do you make stuff? What shaped you? Leave a comment or drop me a line! I’d love to hear how you came to be an artist.

j

Work in Progress: My Bullet Journal turned Planner.

A breakdown of my recent productivity attempts as a creative with a day job.

The road to self care and self control is paved with revamping and paving new roads. Yes, that sounded worse in my head. Over the last month or so, the experiment of bullet journaling has been a pretty triumphant and challenging one, but I’m getting some shit done!

Recently, I settled on a format for my quasi bullet journaling experience. While the Ryder Carroll method is extremely specific about intent and productivity, the more I learn of its methodology and idiosyncrasies, the more I realize I am prioritizing a mere planning method rather than a fuller journal for accountability. As I keep learning, I’m sure I will adopt some more of the Ryder Carroll concepts, but for the time being, as I seek survival methods to not drown in tasks and responsibility, I’m choosing to do something that works for me and my needs, whether it follows official bullet journal doctrine or not. Therefore, I’ve settled on a temporary layout for a weekly spread that has been guiding me pretty well throughout the last month or so.

Taking into account what is important to me and what I need to keep track of, I feel this has been a decent start into my journey of organization and commitment to personal betterment. This is what made sense to me and how I structured it:

  • Leftovers: A little space for all the shit I forgot to do or couldn’t get to the week before.
  • Monthly Outlook: To know what day of the week is what number and all that because I never know anymore…
  • Weekly Outlook: Provided enough room for the events, appointments and tasks in my life. I also left some room in the margins because I’m regularly having to measure my blood pressure now because thanks genetics and stupid horrible life choices in my 20s. (mostly sitting too much, nothing big).
  • Habits: Designated a space for habit tracking for the most important areas of my life and where I need more discipline:

FAMILY TIME

WORKOUTS

SLEEP

READING

JOURNALING

OUTPUT (SPECIFICALLY CREATIVE OUTPUT & COMMUNITY EFFORTS)

  • Notes Section: A section for practical daily notes and memos. (This is where I hit a stumbling block. I need more space for the creative notes, so I am currently wielding another notebook everywhere I go. I shed the agenda already, so hopefully in the next few weeks, I will be able to consolidate all my work / life / creative road maps into one well designed and customized journal for me!) For now, this notes section is just for real world, adulting stuff and the unexpected chore/task/expense/deadline.
  • Assessment: Considering how much happens in a week, I think it’s prudent to look back on what works and what can be improved upon. While some aspects of this may lean more toward the actual bullet journal philosophy, I don’t need much to know what went wrong and what I need to do better, so I made just a little spot for it at the bottom and labeled it as I pleased: VICTORIES & NEEDS WORK. Then do better next week. Easy enough.

What I am surely missing is the big picture stuff I have coming up on the horizon. Long term events and important dates, as well as personal, career, and family goals. This is why a monthly or long term spread is necessary for me as well. I started one for December but it just looked too lackluster, much like a clunky calendar. I’ll revisit this when I have time, but for the time being, the weekly spread has been the most successful part of it all.

It’s been such a blast diving into this world that I feel I have found something I truly love, and that is the process of documenting and arranging information on a page. It calms me down and puts me in a state of hope. It’s all about seeing yourself doing something different, fighting stasis, and seeking a new way to better yourself. I’m not a completely new person and I don’t think I will ever be, but I am definitely feeling more in control of my life and where I want to take it. I’m very much committed to start designing more of these layouts down the road and making them available for anyone who may want to balance work / life / creativity. It’s also been so inspiring to browse and analyze the various ways people cleverly build and shape their chore lists, worries, and hopes into one place on paper. It says so much about their priorities and life story. It’s fascinating!

How do you keep your shit together? Asking for a friend.

j

Ten Minute Directives.

I’m at lunch and I have ten minutes left. What can I do to make creative progress? I’ve been speaking openly about my creative failures, lack of organization, and artistic aimlessness on my podcast to get a good sense of how to confront it. It’s been fun. So far, my life is starting to become a series of rigid directives in an effort to whip myself into organizational and goal-oriented shape. My goal is to work on my self-care. my creativity, and community output. This is what I got so far:

  • Every Sunday, I will define my weekly goals into achievable directives.
  • Do. Make. Execute. Even if it’s shit, just get in the rhythm of producing instead of pondering.

I’ll talk about the self-care sometime soon, but in terms of creativity and community outreach, there’s a lot you can do in ten minutes. This, I am certain of! The problem is I daydream too much. I tend to posit and keep it all in my head. I must get the word out, I must think out loud, in order to find what will work for me. I hope laying this process out in the open will help you stray readers out there who may be struggling to juggle life, work, and creativity like me. I’m noticing a sea change: Since I’ve been bullet journaling, I’ve been able to take a look at my days and notice how much time I waste during my weekdays. The usual excuse is that I’m too tired from work, or some unforeseen errand came up and now the day is ruined and all is futile because we creative folks are dramatic. Yes, this has been my whiny state of mind for a while now. The hard truth is that all of that time does not go into work or quality time with family either: It ends up washed down the drain on Reddit, reading someone else’s opinions and journeys. There’s a fine balance to be had, and honestly, I am doing awful at it. It’s unacceptable. So in the weeks and months of recent introspection, I forced myself to see what my days actually look like: Where is all this time going? So here I have another experimental plan of attack to attempt in the coming weeks: Use ten minutes on your break to communicate your passion for the arts, reach out to collaborators, and advocate for your creative process every day of the week.

  • 10 Minute Writing Sprint (Poem, Flash Fiction, Monologue, Notes for that BIG Novel, etc.)
  • Share a new Creative Prompt on IG
  • Write a Blog Post (Noteworthy Links from the web, creative status report, posts like this one!)
  • Record the Creative Drive Podcast (~15 mins at lunchtime but still counts).
  • Give shoutouts to artists you care about on your social media platforms.

So much to do. If we look closely, there’s enough time, even for a working class creative. Let’s see how this pans out.

j

All is fleeting. (10 Minute Sprint)

Mateo: Clouds are often magical. I didn’t think I would get there. It’s been 27 years and the spring stuck around a lot longer than we both thought. I saw these clouds lead me to that special place, by pointing at the ground with the shadows, much like an indecisive index finger. These mountains kept me locked in, but I still searched diligently, in the places that I knew and remembered. There was a tree nearby. In the 50 mile radius, there was a patchy cottonwood tree next to a once boisterous creek and I recall we carved our names on it. I was going to meet you there on the 2nd of March, in 1961. I made 30 cents an hour and didn’t know your last name. I found out later it was Henley. And I couldn’t pronounce it. Braceros had to make their way back home after the season came to an end, but I knew I had nothing to return to. Everything I needed was here, waiting by this tree. So why did I not meet you? Why did I leave you there to wait? Did you wait for minutes? Hours? Days? I hope your love has not fermented into hatred for me. I hope the only thing that faded has been the grief, and not the spark in your eye. If the tree still stands, I will find it. If our markings have weathered like a monument on bark, I will find them. It’s taken me 27 years to realize all of it is fleeing. All is fleeting. All of it. Except you.


Felt good to have a writing sprint after such a long while. This one was prompted by one of my prompts on IG under the hashtag #icprompts. Check them out!

Be well. Make art, make haste.

j

CD20 – The Pendulum of Responsibility & Projects with Purpose

Here we go, podcast day!

On this lunchtime podcast recording, I go over the recent surprises that responsibility throws at you, Lucky for us, that work/life pendulum swings just right for us to make the push for creativity. There is time to be fulfilled, there is time for art.

This status report is an overview of what I’m up to, and how I intend to use my upcoming short-form projects to provide avenues for creative collaboration in my community. A bunch of theories on the verge of practical application. Come along!

Much love,

j

Do.

Just checking in to let you all know I’ll be podcasting tomorrow at lunch about what’s working, and a lesson in passing on art through the generations.

However, as I wait for a few clips to download from my cloud, I look back on today with pride as a great example of what I haven’t been doing in recent years: Today was a day of effort and productivity, even if I don’t see it right now.

  • Made it through work today. Will go back to my priority list and solve some problems and paperwork. I will do better tomorrow.
  • Spent some time coloring with my son tonight, and he has chosen to keep my red pen as his own. I am proud.
  • Made time to read.
  • Made time to journal.
  • Recorded with Madd and edited this week’s great episode of Our Kid’s Asleep about Disney Plus and Schitt’s Creek.

I’m making a point of not staying up late more than once a week, if necessary. This is my freebie night, I can do some video editing on my latest collaboration with Wyoming Dance Arts and call it a night. There is more time to be found. Just do.

Be well this week, and I’ll post soon.

Much love,

j

Mystery Project, coming soon.