One tool that helps me when I’m depressed.

a motley assortment, mental health & illness

pictures of papillon mix, wooly hones, rock sugar, web redesign

1. women’s wooly Hobe 2. teavana perfectea rock sugar 3. my best mutt, Daphne 4. a snippet from my March 1 relaunch/redesign

One aspect of my restorative journaling course, Rawness of Remembering*, involves creating a Things I Like list.

From the course content:

When I was a teenager, and a pretty depressed one at that, I kept a list in the back of my journal: Reasons to Kill Myself. (Yes, I am cringing as I type this.) Morbid, I know – but that was kind of the point. I numbered the items from 1 to 100; I never reached that final, 100th reason, but I like to think that the list of Things I Like is the opposite of the list I had before. And this is by no means some sort of miracle technique that will sap the dark from the deepest of despair — but as with all things we do in this class, it’s only one small bit of a larger picture that will hopefully cohere to give you strength while you recognize, and utilize, your own strength. What are some things that you like? The wallpaper on your desktop? The fact that your dog always greets you in the morning with fabulous enthusiasm? Nutella? Are these reasons to live for, or simply a resource list to go to when you’re feeling a little down? Everyone will have their own reasons for keeping this list…

Here’s why this list has been useful for me. It shows me, when I’m depressed and can’t imagine liking anything ever again, that I have liked things before. My addled brain often thinks that life is pointless, I will never like anything again, and that I actually have never actually liked anything, therefore rendering the list moot — but it’s still there as a reminder of a world that I may someday reenter. And if my depression looks more like melancholy, or a bad mood, adding things to the list — even if I can only think of one or two — is enough of an exercise to get those parts of my brain churning — the parts that are able to see the ability to feel something positive. To like things. Even to love things.

 

And so with this strange and whirligig time, including the last few years, and the last few days — about which I’ll write more later — I felt compelled to put together my own li’l Things I Like/Love list. A small one, to be sure, and goodness knows by no means exhaustive, but these boots have been heavenly on my feet & on my international journey; Daphne is a love-firework that never stops shining; Teavana’s perfectea rock sugar is a small delight, and almost enough to make me forget how much I miss coffee; the steady rebuilding of esmewang.com has me thinking, daily, about my body of work, and about creating legacy.

Do share some things that you like in the comments.

P.S. The Word of the Year giveaway ends in two days — enter for your chance to win a lovely silver bracelet, engraved with your Word, at the entry below.

*Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times, is slated to begin again — with newly enhanced content — in May. For first access to registration, sign up here.

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Giveaway: a silver bracelet, & your Word of 2014.

a motley assortment

bracelets

With all of this talk about your Word for 2014 — and of my own searching for a word that I felt could fit, soul-deep, within my hopes for this new calendar year, I thought I’d order a bracelet for myself. The bracelet is imprinted with the word emerge, lowercase, in a handsome typewriter font. (Why “emerge”? That will have to wait for another, more in-depth piece, I’m afraid.) I was soon asked where I’d acquired this beautiful bracelet… which inspired me to reach out to the maker and artist, Julie of Redhorses, to ask if she’d be interested in a giveaway.

And she was. If you’re interested in acquiring a slender, silver bracelet engraved with your Word (and mine has a secret message to myself engraved on the inside, as well), check out these rules for the giveaway:

  • To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with a link to one of your favorite posts from the archives, as well as a few words as to why that piece spoke to you in particular. As a part of my emergence in 2014, I’m interested in expanding my vision for what my writing will look like in this space, and your feedback is invaluable in helping me to understand the future of that body of work.
  • This giveaway is open to international readers. Amazing, I know.
  • The deadline for entries is January 31st at 3pm PT.

More about Julie and her shop:

redhorses banner

I am the eternal optimist.  I believe in the power of love. I get teary when I think about how beautiful the world is, and mournful when I think of people’s suffering. Do you ever have those times when you’re just sitting there, and suddenly you have a moment where you realize how awesome everything is? My daughter and I call them bursts of happiness.

I also love bursts of creativity. Making jewelry is such a wonderful way to express myself, and to share my love of life and its wonderful gifts with others. I am always knitting something. I went through a clay phase. I just found my quilling from when I was a little girl – wow! I have a wonderful family (husband and two amazing kids), two cats, a dog and a horse.  I live in Ann Arbor, born and raised.

Having experienced how overwhelming it can be to have a family member with a mental illness, I have a passion for building awareness and education about mental illness. (Julie)

 

Good luck, & with deep gratitude,

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So… how does the hiatus template go?

a motley assortment

persimmonThis idea came to me when I was lying on “my” bed today (also known as, the bed in my studio): Take a blog hiatus.

That word, by the way? I don’t want to use it anymore: the big B-word. Right now, I’m referring to this as a collection of chronicles. The collection itself is a chronicle. I am chronicling. You, of course, are free to refer to it however you wish.

Why the hiatus?

I’ll be back, and better than ever! 

I’m going through some personal things right now and need a break.

Nonspecific family issues.

Honestly, I’m going on a break because I’m scattered. I’m figuring shit out. I’m figuring out whether or not I should redact the word “shit.” My heart is undergoing shifts that I could never have anticipated. I went blonde because I found out that I couldn’t get a tattoo. I fainted on a plane last month. I was just diagnosed with a vitamin toxicity, am going to a chronic pain specialist, might have to see a neurologist. When people ask me how I’m doing, I say, “Great,” or, “Okay,” or, “I’ve been crying a lot, but a lot of stuff has been going really well.” I’m helping my friends. I’m helping my community. I don’t know what art is. I’m putting together my copywriting packages and asking myself, a la Alexandra Franzen, “What could I make that would be even more helpful?” I’m assembling my 2014 business plan. I’m working with my fabulous designer on a 2014 website redesign that’s going be museum-worthy. I’m releasing The Radical Sincerity Manifesto book soon. My dog is in major need of cuddles.

Will I be on social media? Probably. Am I going to continue to write to the mailing list? Almost certainly.

I’ll be back on December 3, 2013, which is also going to be the New Moon — which is when the seeds are planted for things to come.

Right?

Exactly.

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San Diego: In Two Instances

a motley assortment

Continuing on my mini-series of guest posts — I’d like to welcome sui sea solitaire, a stunning talent and friend.

San Diego was my first “home” away from “home.” My own irony, of course, was that neither had ever felt like home — the small suburban town I spent most of my childhood in, nor San Diego, despite its proximity to the sea. San Diego was an unwilling “home” — I’d wanted to go to New York City, Boston at least — but my family wanted me to stay in California for university, so I chose the city farthest possible away from the Bay Area that still kept me in California.

Still, I spent three years in San Diego, the longest I’ve spent anywhere in my accidentally rather peripatetic adult life (I’m hoping my current home, Seattle, will eventually beat its pathetic record). I experienced the first birth and death of a major relationship, and major loneliness and depression sandwiched on either side. I recovered from my eating disorder, relapsed, and, by the time I’d left San Diego completely, was teetering on the precipice of a major relapse of depression.

Recently, I finally decided to finish out and develop a cheap roll of film that had been hibernating in an overpriced toy camera for over three years, nervous that the film was too old and none of the photos would even come out. Remarkably, many of them did, although with light leaks and fadedness — the attendant quirks of film — and they comprise the first set you see here. I shot it in early summer of 2010; I didn’t have it developed for three and a half years. They’re from a simpler time in my life, when I was in love, when I believed in love, and when I lived so close to the ocean and took it terribly for granted.

The second set is from February 13th, 2012, or what I thought was my last full day in California, taken with an old digital SLR. I had a ticket booked from LAX to JFK that would land me in New York City at 23:59 PST on Valentine’s Day the next day, thinking that I’d never come back to the state I’d grown up in. I found myself back in California just two months and four days later, and again in August, and then it would take me another year and a few months to truly leave California for good.

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Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Torrey Pines(?), May/June 2010

 

 

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Torrey Pines Gliderport, February 13th, 2012

 

sui_biosui sea solitaire is a lover, writer, photographer, artist, and friendly neighborhood anti-heroine currently living in Seattle, WA. Check out her photography, writing, and books at IURIS AND THE SEA., see/read more from her at her blog, OCEANS., and get free poetry and love letters in your inbox from her via Letters from the Sea.

You can also follow her on Twitter.
 
Thank you for reading!

 

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The Magic of an Impossible Dream

a motley assortment

instant-lab-quote

I have the above quote letterpressed on a broadside. It’s taped in my window; I don’t remember where I bought it. Perhaps at some kind of craft fair. Its provenance remains enough of a mystery to make me think that it’s always been here, staunchly set in order to remind me to make big plans.

While thinking about business, my stutter-steps into entrepreneurship, and even my literary career, I’ve always had big plans. I tend to think grand and big. I like to imagine fantastic scenarios, such as being the first Asian-American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, or making six figures in my first year.

Something that’s really inspired me lately in this regard is the Instant Lab, created by The Impossible Project.

I imagine that many of you already know about The Impossible Project, but I’ll sum up their story: when Polaroid closed their doors, leaving instant-film lovers with vintage Polaroid cameras bereft, The Impossible Project stepped in. They didn’t have the formulas for Polaroid’s film, but they were going to create their own. They tested. They released beta film. They released film that you had to shield immediately. They released film that was a little wonky, and needed to be put in drying kits to prevent your images from turning into a deep sepia shade (and eventually, as I learned, into a muddle of sparkling white and sepia bubbles). The film got better. Their dreams grew bigger.

They opened a Kickstarter project, which lasted from September through October of 2012. Their new dream: to create a camera of sorts that could take iPhone photographs and print them onto instant film.

Of course, I contributed. And a few weeks ago, I received the actual Instant Lab — an unwieldy, but amazing, camera that has transformed the way I see my iPhone photographs.

instant-lab-1

instant-lab-2The camera isn’t perfect, of course. It’s a behemoth when fully expanded, although it is collapsible into a more manageable form. When it ejects my film, I have to yank it out with an unexpected amount of force. But it works. The Impossible Project has made the impossible possible.

A quote from Florian Kaps, the co-founder of Impossible: “The Instant Lab is the Impossible solution to a problem that we were trying to solve since a very long time: is there an easy and pure analog way to melt our everyday’s iPhone images into these unique, real and magic photographs we love so much? The way it feels to finally merge the digital with the analog world of photography with this Impossible machine exceeds our wildest expectations.”

instant-lab-3

Let’s exceed our wildest expectations. Let’s make magic happen.

Let’s do this. (Whatever your this is.)

Oh, and if you’re hankering for an Instant Lab of your own, sign up for notifications regarding when the Instant Lab will be made available to the public.

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