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Why Pinterest is Better Than Facebook (and how I don’t care if you “like” Wal-Mart)

Facebook and I used to have a hot and heavy relationship. Sure, I tweeted. I blogged. But Facebook was my community, a place I went several times a day to reconnect and watch way too many cute cat videos. It was great. It was puppy (or kitty) love.

But times, they are a-changin’. The day I started getting notifications about which of my friends “like” Wal-mart or Avon or about a hundred other corporations, I started to wonder where this relationship was going. And not in a ” let’s get more serious” kind of way. It was more of a “maybe we should see other people” type of situation. I felt badly. I tried to soldier on. But the day I stopped getting notifications of my sister’s hilarious blog updates, even after I specifically checked the “yes, pretty please subscribe me or take a vial of my blood for your record-keeping purposes or recommend my “like” to everyone on the freakin’ planet, I still only get her updates every once and a while. That’s lame. I don’t like it anymore.

But my family and friends and stuff I care about are all still there, mingled with the detritus, so Facebook and I are still friends, just not so very much in love as we once were. It’s fine because people change. And sometimes people meet Pinterest.

Here, in no specific order, are the reasons why Pinterest is better than Facebook:

1.) No ads. It’s like the difference between watching TV in the 80’s vs. TiVo. Sure, you could run to the bathroom or fix yourself a sandwich while models tried to sell you New Coke during commercial breaks, but it would have been way better if I could have just watched episodes of the best shows all the way through (Facts of Life and Three’s Company, in case you are wondering). I really don’t need any more advertising in my life. Seriously.

2.) You follow people based on their tastes and interests, not whether or not you had the same 2nd grade teacher (no offense to my fellow 1981 Ms. Hammelef peeps – we rocked the Polar Pride). You can also just follow specific boards. For example, if a person has really great taste in steampunk couture but also enjoys the fine art of body piercing and torture devices (not an unlikely combo, by the way), you can just follow the steampunk page without getting your eyeballs raped on a daily basis. It’s a win/win.

3.) Pinterest is like shopping – but not the kind of shopping I hate which is going to the mall with lots of money I don’t have to choose from the same clothes at the same stores as everyone else. Pinterest is like Goodwill, where you might have to sift through some things to get to the good stuff, but when you find it you get to show it off to everyone else and they swoon just a bit (or random strangers pin the crap out of it – it’s the same feeling).

4.) Pinterest feels more global. I know Facebook has exploded all over the world, but even if a few of your childhood or college friends live abroad, they’re still Americans abroad and the same people who copied off you in Algebra class. On Pinterest you actually start to notice cultural sensibilities, different art, different clothing styles. You’re introduced (if you choose) to a broader taste palette that can be eye-opening and refreshing.

5.) It’s pretty. This really should have been number one but I guess I was trying to be thoughtful and exercise some critical thinking. But when you get right down to it, Pinterest is gorgeous (if you put some thought into who you follow). It’s like a mini-vacation in the middle (and beginning and end) of my day. If that doesn’t make it better than another Wal-Mart ad, I don’t know what does.

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Living a creative life is oftentimes a confusing endeavor. I don’t know where ideas come from. I don’t know why I want to write stories about witches and demented fairy-folk, but I do. Probably the same reason I want to draw pictures of rainbow haired lasses with superpowers little girls in frilly frocks aren’t expected to possess.

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Winter

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Doing the Splits (and Other Ways to Grow)

The other day, I did full splits in yoga class. My outfit wasn’t as snazzy as the woman’s in the picture above and I didn’t have the benefit of a pagoda to pose on but….I felt like that picture. Yes. Yoga is all kinds of awesome.

However, this particular brand of awesome came as a complete surprise. It wasn’t like I thought I’d never do full splits. The idea simply never occurred to me. In hindsight, however, I’ve been preparing for them for over six months – I just didn’t realize they were right around the corner.

I‘ve been doing deep stretches for quite a while. These are the same poses that, when I first started yoga, made my mental demons rage. I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but the intense physical discomfort seemed to trigger some sort of fight or flight response in me. It took everything in my power to stay on my mat and in the poses. Often every part of me wanted to quit except a brave voice inside that said “you can do this.” I don’t know where that voice came from because in the past it always tried to get me to go eat some ice cream and run away from scary things. But every time I showed up on my mat, the brave voice got a little braver and the crowd of scared voices seemed to thin. 

Can I tell you a secret? The poses still feel really uncomfortable, but I have a smile on my face while I do them. I’ve talked about thresholds before. But I love how yoga pushes not only my physical boundaries, but my emotional and mental ones, too. It allows me to “stretch” in all areas of my life. It reminds me of how life works, how you don’t even realize you’re setting yourself up for a breakthrough, building the stamina or insight or sheer strength to push forward towards the next Big Thing. Until you’ve done it. 

Then you find the next threshold. 

That’s the most important thing I’ve learned in all of this: there are always new ways to grow and learn and love the world. The minute you say “I can’t go any further,” you can’t. But when you say, “this is difficult and confusing and I’m not going to run away,” you will surprise yourself at how far you can grow.

You’ll be doing something you never even thought was possible, caught up in all kinds of awesome.

Namaste

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Holding On To Nothing As Fast As I Can

“Still…pretty good year.”
~ Tori Amos

I think years are like places. They have an ambiance, a mood, dare I say, a purpose. For me, 2011 was like a long layover at Detroit Metro Airport. I know, I know. Try not to be too jealous.

But it’s not so bad as all that (she mutters to herself). 2011 came on the heels of a whirlwind year – a year that was as much like jumping out of an airplane as any I’ve ever experienced. And I didn’t crash to the earth – somehow I grew wings.

So it should come as no surprise that I finally landed at the airport. But it did come as a surprise. Whenever you’ve been flying for a while, gracefully winging on air currents, being lifted above it all so you can see new vistas, coming back down to earth is the last thing you want to do. The new Amanda with wings protested, “I want to stay up there.” “Not until you refuel,” said Reality. “It’s a long journey.”

And in retrospect, I’m grateful for the pause.

As much as this year has felt like a whole lot of waiting (at the gate), entertaining myself with hula hooping and movie making (the Rainbow Tunnel), and taking a deep breath to pause and reflect with yoga and meditation (the fountain)…some people never make it to the airport. Some people never decide to go anywhere or change direction or explore a new place. Some people never learn to fly.

Let alone need a layover.

Watch out 2012.

This is going to be quite an adventure.

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Rediscovering Your Authentic Self

“We are at 5 who we are at 50….if we’re lucky.”
Becky (Sometimes) Amos
 

My sister and I had a wonderful conversation the other night and we got to talking about the picture above. It shows the two of us at ages ~3 and 6. She said it’s one of her very favorites because you can already see who we are, captured on film, at such a young age. I am the girl on the right who spent hours reading and writing and staring at posters of unicorns, wishing I could somehow get past the 2-dimensional poster layer to the fully imagined world I knew lay just on the other side. She was already dating David Banner (aka The Hulk) and insisted we set a spot for him at the dinner table every evening. Thus, the die was cast.

We laughed at the memories, smiled, and knew that those little girls we used to be, in so many ways, hinted at the women we would become. But the next question is, what got lost along the way and is it important to try to find it again?

Henry David Thoreau said  “It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart; it being much more sensitive.” I have to agree with him. For me, one of the intrinsic parts of self that got buried, stomped on and shoved to the back of the closet, was creativity. It can be different for each of us – drawing, dancing, singing, making music. But I think everyone forgets about parts of themselves on the way to adulthood. Parts that can be rediscovered and broadened to make life exciting again.

Now that I’ve reclaimed writing, I feel like I’m dumpster diving my life, rediscovering bits and pieces of creative inspiration, struggling to reignite neurons that have gotten lazy from disuse. They flicker on, sputter, and engage a little longer each time I use them. As my brain acclimates to its new assignment (create! imagine! ignite!) everything is like new again, until I realize I’ve seen this landscape before, as a child. It feels like the memory of a dream.

Who were you as a child? What did you love? What was it about you that was a little different from everyone else – the thing that set you apart? That’s probably the thing you tried to let go of as you grew up. It makes sense. Those things that set us apart are also the things that invite the most ridicule as a child (and sometimes into adulthood.) If you had any self-preservation instinct at all, you found a way to “cope” with that difference and make it more agreeable to the schoolyard and classmates who acted like miniature stand-ins for society at large.

But you know what? Those things that set you apart are the very things you were put in this world to contribute. It’s time to reclaim those parts of yourself. It’s time for an expedition into the dark corners. Look under floor boards. Start with the smallest shred of evidence (“I remember I used to love swinging….”) and follow it down the rabbit hole. Search for the feeling, the sensation, the imagined landscape. Inhabit it. Feed it. Watch it grow. Find your way home.

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