Brené Brown’s “Sweaty Creatives” talk

I have watched this Brené Brown video at least a half a dozen times.

The video has been open in a tab in my browser for over a week. I’d think about how I wanted to write about it, but then I’d get busy with work or poking around online or zoning out with too much HGTV.

There’s so much goodness in these twenty-two minutes, so many points that made me go yes, me too! and ouch, yes and even, oh crap, yeah… that’s right. And I’d think, there’s some way to talk about these points, to connect them, that I should be making. And it kept not happening.

She opens the talk by telling a story of how she considered trying to get out of it. “I had tricked myself into believing this was my tribe,” she tells us. That’s the first point: recognizing the feeling of maybe not belonging where I think I do, where I want to belong.

The one that caused me to stop and watch the talk all the way through the first time (I’d read a quote, and this happens near the end) was “Not caring what people think is its own kind of hustle.” That was my ouch moment, because I’ve been there, and there was a long time when that was my hustle.

A healthier reaction to critics is to recognize them, but not give them the power you think they have to have. Saying “I see you, I hear you, but I’m going to show up and do this anyway” is a more grounded and realistic perspective than I don’t give a shit ever was.

I find the way she talks about her clarity of values inspiring. I want more women to talk about “the messages that keep us small” and how showing up and being seen is worth the ass kicking that inevitably comes our way when we really show up. How if you aren’t also in the arena getting your ass kicked, your feedback doesn’t matter. How if you think you are a member of the tribe, you probably are, and you don’t need to orphan the parts of yourself that don’t fit the ideal of what you are supposed to be.

All these talks won’t be the same — some of them won’t even be talks, but ways of living and sharing and creating — and that will be part of the joy and part of how it works.



We have a framed, signed print of Jane Cooper’s “Rent” in our hallway. It suits us, and our home:

If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let’s have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.

If the rocking chair’s arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.

I don’t want your rent, I want
a radiance of attention
like the candle’s flame when we eat,

I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us—
Not a roof but a field of stars.

In the past week or so, we’ve pulled over three hundred books off our (still miraculously full!) bookshelves. We’ll be giving them away. This is in preparation for putting most of the others in storage, a step in getting our place ready to show. That’s right: we are going to sell.

the art section (141/365)

We’ve lived here eleven years now. I still love it — I love our deck, I love the light, the city view — but my knees don’t love the climb up to and down from the fourth floor. (Especially the one operated on this past summer.) While the cane I’m still using to get around may be temporary, the fifty stairs represent a permanent problem, so it is time to say goodbye to this place.

It has probably always been true that there are poems for every occasion; I just don’t know them. So I’m grateful when folks like Carpentrix, who has been saying goodbye to an old and much-loved family home, share what they know. This is from Mary Oliver’s “On Losing a House”:

The bumble bees
know where their home is.
They have memorized
every stalk and leaf
of the field.
They fall from the air at
the right place,
they crawl
under the soft grasses,
they enter
the darkness

Where will we go
with our table and chairs,
our bed,
our nine thousand books,
our TV, PC, VCR,
our cat
who is sixteen years old?
Where will we put down
our dishes and our blue carpets,
where will we put up
our rose-colored,

We’ll go somewhere, not far — not past the limits of the subway system, at any rate — but it will take awhile to get used to the idea of here not continuing to be home.

Birds on a wire and otherwise

This is photo is of Emily Belknap’s installation “Flight Zones”:

Flight Zones by Emily Belknap

Flight initiation distance measures how close you can get to wildlife before you trigger an animal’s need to escape. Belknap hasn’t so much visualized this distance as made the zone palpable: if you were to step into the circle you’d disturb the dirt and become aware you were crossing a boundary.

It’s commonly called flight initiation distance (or FID, because people seem to love inscrutable to outsiders acronyms) even though it applies to wildlife in general, not just birds. I think it applies to animals in general, meaning us peopley animals, too. I wonder what our FIDs might look like.

two small birds on a wire consider flight

Testing the theory that constraint breeds creativity, or playing with my new toy


These haikubes were a birthday present from my cousin. The idea is you roll out all the many-worded cubes, then create a haiku on the theme suggested by the prompt.

In order to keep it interesting and not torture myself I don’t spend too long coming up with each one, but I do try to stick to the prompt and the correct form (five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five again in the third).

I don’t think that I could tell myself to sit down and write a poem, but I can tell myself to play with these.

I suspect it’s good for my brain, and is another exercise in paying attention. I’m going to collect pictures of the haiku in this flickr set.

Projects instead of resolutions

I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year, but I have been thinking about how I spend my time and recognize there are changes I want to make.

In my head I can plan all kinds of activities, or endlessly mull over some dream schedule configuration, but these things don’t get me very far in reality. Apparently neither to resolutions so I am trying something different this year: paying attention.

new glasses (week two)

I have this theory that mindfulness will help me be less stressed and anxious. (Not that I’m freaked out all the time, but more peace of mind is always a good thing.) I also think mindfulness means I will choose to spend time doing things I truly enjoy vs defaulting to “meh” stupid shit that leaves me wondering where those hours went.

What does paying attention look like? So far, I’m experimenting with a few different practices:

  • Keeping a log book. I 100% stole this idea from Austin Kleon, right down to the moleskine I bought. I pay attention better when I write things down, and this is simple and straightforward enough the dailiness doesn’t seem like a burden.
  • Doing a 52 weeks project. I think the more relaxed approach of one self portrait every week (instead of every day) will keep the project from being overwhelming, as well as give me the impetus to take more photos overall so my stream on flickr isn’t just my face. I also think it’s a good way to see how yeah, middle age is happening. The camera doesn’t lie; I look older than I did in 2007 because I am older. This is a good thing; here’s to hoping more wisdom comes with the years.
  • Drawing things. On my list of things to do before I turn fifty, this took the form of “Draw, even though I think I can’t. (I can’t as in “that does not look real, it looks malformed” not can’t “my fingers don’t function well enough to hold a pen”)” This means making time, at least once a week, to fill a page in a sketchbook. It forces me to slow down, stop looking at screens, and concentrate in a different way.

So far, so good 2013. Happy new year.