As it often happens, I need inspiration at work. It isn’t for artistic purposes or even for projects that I’m working on, but to just get me through the day in this very strict, corporate, 9-5 world that doesn’t allow my brain to flex its strengths all too often.
My counselor suggested a small idea: an inspiration folder. Kudos from co-workers for a job well done, or a funny photo that took me out of a potential rage cave,or even sending off an alert that I had finished a project. Because I could do all this before, I could do it again, and a reminder that I could contribute.
It worked so well–the initial creation of the folder created a chain of events that improved my day in an instant–I thought I’d do the same thing at home, where I sit down in front of a blank white screen and a blank white canvas. I do these things so readily now because I’ve been so hard on myself throughout my life and it isn’t necessary anymore. Anything that makes me feel good is a step forward.
Third grade was a big year for me: the first time I was in public school after private school proved too expensive for my parents to justify on my brother and I despite the level of education and my first mentor happened to be my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Wallen.
At the time, of course I didn’t think of her as my mentor. I just thought of her as my best friend. She introduced me to the world of Shel Silverstein, let me stay indoors at recess to read and write, and submitted an application, after my parents’ approval, for the Young Writers’ Workshop.
Before that, I only thought of writing as something linked to book reports during the summer reading program at a local library and an activity to pass the time during the mini sermon given by the pastor before the dismissal of the kids to Sunday School time. The book reports led to a special award created for me the previous year, at age seven, during the end-of-summer award ceremony.
“We couldn’t believe this particular little girl wrote these reports, so of course we figured out she had a lot of help from her mom. But, when we spoke to her mom, she explained that the reports were written entirely by her daughter. We were very surprised to hear that and knew we had to create an award for this talented budding writer,” the head librarian explained. I had no idea she was referring to me and felt a happy knot of anxiety explode in my abdomen when she called my name.
The stories written during church were of the most silly and innocent of topics, generally with nature such as the sun itself hiding out from the moon and twin girls I unwittingly referred to as the Andrews’ Sisters, who solved local neighborhood mysteries. Carefully drawn pictures accompanied the stories, all found in a tiny memo book, which I showed to Mrs. Wallen later during a sunny fall afternoon recess while everyone else was outside.
Throughout the school year, I tried my absolute best to keep her close to me and win her approval, as she encouraged me with kind and constructive criticism. In my previous years, in private school, I made it a point to know these teachers as well as I could. I’d play with their kids, after school, or write them letters in the summertime to “check in on them.”
The precociousness of this never crossed my mind until much, much later in the course of a career exercise meant to find your “true passion.” Yet, it made me realize that there had to be a place where I could tap into that and discover if the slow unfolding of the creativity was still within me.
Today, this blog/place serves as a welcome home and a crystal-clear sign that I need to re-discover a writing mentor. I hope she/he appreciates my candor and proves to want to be a partner on my campaign to a purely creative existence…
I loved the texture of this, as well as the unique personality each gravestone had at this historical landmark, Indian Run Cemetary. I could have spent hours here photographing the light and the way the wind lifted everything around it, but mostly the story of each marker…
A term spoken of in very non-glowing ways in the psychiatric and educational environment, hyperfocus is the very thing that saved me in the past few months. Saved me from what, exactly? The reality of my day-to-day existence before I re-framed this supposed bad habit wasn’t too full of any optimism; it was more ‘how do I live through this day?’ than anything else. It isn’t meant to be dramatic, rather a comparison to the level of happiness I feel now.
Hyperfocus makes you lose yourself in the moment until that moment is a string of them and the sun sets in fast motion like a film in fast-forward. Only I didn’t have those moments, anymore, and speaking as an artist, that was as though I lost a limb. More dramatics! This is how I am, though, and the melodrama is me; she keeps me warm in the brain. Now, there are habits incorporated that help me re-direct that focus in other areas, while at the same time I schedule in the things that make me go blind with concentration…Otherwise, I won’t be able to complete the tasks I need to get done which put monies in the bank–or give me an allowance for food and beer, at least.
When there was a lack of time spent on what made me content, despite the people around me who offered any sort of fulfillment through conversation and support, then I grew resentful and cranky. Somehow, the moment that made it click was a perfect slurry of resolutions made good, production, events, an Adult Clinical ADHD diagnosis, counselors, dedication and the realization that my boyfriend and I picked the same night to propose to each other. There is a tangibility to it all when we cook dinner, or drift off to a bad Hong Kong film on the couch or list off the ways we’re rearranging the space we occupy at home to spark creativity.