Category Archives: reflection

Writing 101 in a Digital World

Sometimes I forget that you don’t need an internet connection to write.

Yesterday I had some time to write before meeting a friend for dinner, and conveniently had my laptop with me. However, I experienced slight panic for a moment when I realized that there wasn’t a WiFi connection to hook up to.

That’s pretty bad.

I grew up in the late 80s, early 90s. My family had a telephone attached to the wall. We didn’t even have a TV for a time. I know that one doesn’t need a computer or smartphone to write — a pencil or pen and paper will more than do the job (even a brow pencil… true story.)

Yet lately I’ve found writing sessions to be fueled in part by the need to immediately publish something — in line with the philosophy of a tree falling in the forest, I guess you could say. However unintentional, having such a mindset — a reflex of powering up to write down — has definitely impacted how often I write, greatly inhibiting my range of artistic motion.

In my defense, technological convenience is something we’ve so grown used being there to the point that the physical act of writing can feel like supplementary behavior until one can get to the perfect moment in which to fully flesh out an idea.

But if our world was to enter apocalyptic status today, right now, there’d be nothing to connect to, no immediate spread of ideas. All works online would cease to exist. If we were lucky, some publications would have survived any fires, floods, blasts. But we’d truly have to rebuild and create a future on a physical, tangible foundation with our selves doing the thinking, not our beloved machines.

I used to think that being in front of a computer was my perfect sit-down moment — and it still is, in most ways. However, it might be time to redefine the line in the sand, with a pencil or pen and paper, and whatever’s swimming inside. No tabs open, and nothing to reference except for, perhaps, a physical thesaurus, encyclopedia, or other source of study. Back to basics, in the interest of preservation.

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Updating My Operating System (Er, My Brain)

Sometimes I feel like my brain is in my hands instead of my head where it should be. 

Like most of the population, I’ve grown very attached to smart technology. To a great extent, I trust these devices to store, process, and make information available when I need it. That’s not an unreasonable expectation. That’s their intended function. However, an issue lies with me, in that I have allowed my intended function — my natural intelligence — to be greatly reduced.

Does that make me brain dead?

When I was a kid, my parents made sure that I’d memorized our home address, our home phone number, their respective work numbers, my social security number, and a few emergency contact phone numbers. 

These days I still know my parents’ phone numbers, as well as those of my younger brother and boyfriend. I’ve memorized my home and work address, my work and mobile number, but I’d be hard-pressed to know the same of my friends off the top of my head. 

A month or so ago, I was visiting my sister and we reminisced over photo albums from our teenaged days. As we went through them, I felt myself struggling to piece together certain places and times and faces. Thankfully she could remember them for me, but I was surprised that whole parts of my life had pushed back to the point of nearly being forgotten completely. 

I can’t help but wonder how much more I may have tuned out and forgotten by letting technology do the thinking for me. Will I, too, be forgotten in the process?

Exactly how much I have underused my brain? How many times have I been so focused on documenting the perfect moment instead of fully absorbing the feeling, or taking in an image through my eyes, developing it with my very own operating system? 

I was born with the most complex technology available, surely the most priceless. It’s time to use it. All else is merely supplemental.

Which came first: the human brain, or smart device? 

I know the answer — do you?

It’s Not You, It’s Me (The Truth About Blogging)

The idea of this blog came while travelling with my laptop in Denmark this past June. Being halfway around the world, I was reminded just how engaged the global online community is, and knew that if I just pushed myself, somehow I could find a place in it again.

Yes, again. Seven years or so ago, I had a blog called “Adventures of a Car-Less Valley Girl in Los Angeles” — a place where I commented on goings-on and personal forays in the cycling and public transportation world. Looking back on it now, I can see the interest and passion that went into it. Living car-free in a city where one’s car is considered a measure of status, it was basically my whole life. Not so much anymore, as I’ve had a car for a good three years now, although the issue of infrastructure and community still very much concern and affect me.

So what is my life now? What exactly do I want to share here?

1. Adventures in yoga. Everything about yoga is ultimate goals to me, but I’ve yet to put it into regular practice. It’s time. Over the next two weeks, I plan on making yoga a focus — practicing sun salutations A and B to the point of memory, adding some targeted stretches, and enjoying the hell out of savasana. (I’m really good at savasana.) I’ll also do some targeted conditioning work and maybe 10 minutes of HIIT cardio per session — but it’s time to switch gears and take a different route.

2. Random commentary (world events, hot topics, trends, etc.). There are maybe three YouTube drama commentators that I watch semi-regularly, but every time I do, I’m quickly reminded of this likely mis-quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Do I want to be that person on this platform? Not really. I’ve many viewpoints on things, but not necessarily on what is being gossipped about concerning social media personalities. Millions of others care enough without my input, and I don’t want to expend so much energy just to be in-the-know about someone’s drama that doesn’t serve me. I will, however, cover topics of note that inform, notify, and perhaps encourage to thought and action. We’ll just see.

3. Creative works. Think poetry, prose, short passages. I’ve an idea for a series involving mental health, and just existing, and will feature it here as it develops. It would be nice to write about writing, so look out for that as well. It might not always be pretty, but it might be what’s needed.

4. And finally, how bizarre life is. My colleague and I were talking yesterday about how life is just too much sometimes, but that no one can seem to tell from the outside. As we were talking, I could feel the stress settling in my neck and trace anxiety from making genuine eye contact. Balance between family, work, and passion is an ongoing process, and all the joy I can feel in one instance is met with fighting the urge to not cry in another. I’d like to touch on horrible and wonderful in every moment because right now, that is my life (and likely many others… we just don’t talk about it).

So there you have it — my intended direction for this blog at this time. Should I ever retract, just remember that the internet is forever, and there will always be some cached version available for viewing somewhere.

ttfn~

The Solar Eclipse Doesn’t Care What You Think

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I’d been looking forward to today’s total solar eclipse for weeks. Between the Perseid meteor shower last weekend and the Sturgeon moon the weekend prior, this was to be the marzipan frosting on top of a delectable month of visibly galactic activity.

From my vantage point in Los Angeles, I knew going in that it was going to be partial, but that was more than enough for me. To take part in a major event in the universe was all that was necessary.

What took me by surprise was some of the remarks about the eclipse — that it was a bit anti-climatic, or only okay. Fair enough if the hype surpassed reality. It happens.

Guess what? It’s a total solar eclipse. It doesn’t care what you think. It’s not here for you, humans. It went on without you whether or not you were there to watch it.

If you really want excitement, watch Game of Thrones, if you can continue to stomach the subpar writing of the past two seasons.  If that doesn’t do it for you, scroll through your favorite tag on tumblr. Still nothing? Tweet at your favorite podcaster and momentarily lose it when they “at” you back.

It’s to be expected, as a good amount of people have conditioned themselves to be so entertained or moved by something or someone that it seems to be forgotten that existing is enough. Meanwhile, the universe could collapse on itself and our planet wouldn’t even register on its list of worries.

My puny human advice? Be like the universe. Be brilliant, be bold; evolve and be limitless. Always be the bigger entity. Attract endless crowds just by existing. Illegitimi non carborundum and all that jazz. After all, aren’t we made of stardust?

See you again in 2024.

I Don’t Feel Like Writing

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I had a really nice time this weekend camping in the mountains with  my boyfriend, our dog, and  our good friends (don’t worry, it’s not deja vu — we went last weekend as well). It actually managed to feel like two weekends in one because we got home early enough this morning to decompress and prepare for the week ahead.

For me, part of that was thinking of something to write about and engage in with others. But between fleeing Los Angeles on Friday night, really enjoying the time out in nature (including waking up to some fresh cougar tracks outside of our tent — twice), I just really didn’t feel like writing. Not at all. It’s natural, I thought to myself; just call it a night and revisit this tomorrow. But something motivated me to put a little something to digital paper that I felt a bit important to share:

I graduated from university in 2012 with a degree in creative writing. The initial goal was to be an elementary school teacher, largely because I absolutely love the school community and the positive effects it can have on young minds. It was my third grade teacher who really stoked the fires of my imagination through reading and writing, and I really wanted to give back in that regard. (Ms. Toni Stitt, if you’re reading this — thank you, thank you, a million times over.) Besides that, just thinking of the summer and winter breaks meant ample time to write or travel.

However, that desire to write had been burned out by exhaustion, the reality of student loans, and the need to get a job as soon as possible. So I went for five or so years with the skill and ability to write, but struggling to find, not just the spark, but the confidence to do so again. Now that it’s warming my fingertips and my heart again, I don’t really want to let go of it. So I’m not going to.

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Instead, I’m going to tell you just how amazing it was to see our galaxy last night, like reflective clouds reaching across the sky. The night itself was brisk and cold, but not so much that it was unbearable, although my friend lent me a pair of gloves to keep warm. We originally had our chairs positioned almost as if we were looking at the sky like a television screen, but I got up in the middle (managing to steer clear from shrubs and rocks in the dark), turned my back to the makeshift screen and arched up just enough to get the view I came for, by sheer accident. There were massive, incomprehensible clusters of stars and I thought, some people don’t get to take in such views. There’s no real way to duplicate this, no dreaming up such formations from a limited scope. You have to actually be there and let your brain receive such wonder through your eyes, I mused, and stood there another ten minutes or so until it was time to go to bed. 

That’s why I’m writing right now, and probably why anyone else does: because it really is worth telling about, passing along traces of life, and feeling all the more alive in doing so. 

Just in case you were wondering.

Keeping It Simple – Never Easy, Always Worth It

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(Editor’s note: Somehow I mistook today’s daily prompt for “simplicity” when it is actually “solitary”…. will work it in somewhere. And if not, there’s always next time!)

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Everything as we know it to be in its past or present form has come to be the result of an implemented process. Clean water is made available by filtration. Minimalism is achieved by letting go. Good relationships stem from communication, compromise. Peace is accomplished by war.

I recently wrote on the concept of intuitive eating and about how it is essentially an over thinking of a simple function. I still feel that to be the case, but thought I’d dive a little bit deeper, as I also feel that this applies to much than diet and nutrition.

Eating well, often, and with a clear head can involve reverting to the most basic of mindsets — “I’m hungry. I’m going to eat.” But it also means having the resources, the funds, and the federal regulation that allows good, affordable food to be available, to everyone. But we all know that this is not always the case around the world. 

(As an example: I recently read a U.S. news story about kids at a Florida middle school being allowed to the front of the lunch line if their parents “donated” $100. Instead of teaching impressionable minds that life rewards privilege, couldn’t we perhaps just feed the children?)

Humans are complex beings with, I feel, good intentions. We have a brain that takes up 2% of our total body weight. It receives, filters through, and absorbs massive amounts of information, and responds to internal and external stimuli, including stressors and pleasures. Science has allowed us to know so much about this powerful, complex organ — the very command center of our existence — and yet there is so much more that we don’t know. Overcomplicating things sometimes only makes sense.

Back to the outset, what is perceived as simple usually is the result of some sort of process that involves time, willingness, and resources. What is easy or more feasible for some may be very difficult or less possible for others, but it is also entirely possible.

For all you may know, real progress for our shared pain points — mental/physical, economical, political, to name a few — may merely involve more input from our heart, or gut, than over-input from from our head.

It may never be that easy, but it is almost always that simple.

Photo via Pixabay