Be an Enthusiast

Since landing face first into reality upon returning from an amazing vacation and going back to work full-time after nearly a year of a sweet part-time schedule with Little Man, I haven’t had much time to blog, and frankly, haven’t felt like I had much to contribute since I was in a bit of a funk. It’s hard to leave your baby with somebody else. It’s hard to spend your time doing something to earn money rather than being with this little person who has become the center of your universe. That said, I’m coming out of grieving, counting my blessings because there are a lot more difficult things people have to go through, and refocusing on how to make the most of the situation I’m in. Part of that is remembering to be an enthusiast. I don’t have the time right now to read all the books I want to or travel as much as I’d like or to make much art, but instead of feeling frustrated about that, I am trying to find things I can get excited about all around me.

When I was an art teacher, I had a quote by Henry Miller hanging in the room. “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” I moved to San Francisco to experience interesting, throbbing culture. Nine years later, it’s easy to be numb to it as I go about my business. Why live here if I am not engaged in exploring my enthusiasms? So, lately, I have been trying to do things that wake me up, that get my pulse racing, and wouldn’t you know it, I feel positive, have ideas, and am ready to create again (in whatever small chunks of time I can piece together, usually late at night like this, which means I’m not getting much sleep lately, but c’est la vie).

Things that have been getting me going:

-Changing my routine: Since going back to walking dogs everyday, I try to drive down alternative streets while I’m picking them up, take them to various parks, choose the path less trodden, anything to keep me out of the autopilot mode I so easily fall into. If I can be present in the moment, like dogs always are, I enjoy the walks on a visceral level. I can feel strength flow through my body as it moves. I remember what an ardent admirer I am of trees and how grateful I am for fresh air and open spaces. All it takes is a conscious shift in my awareness.

-Noticing things: Have you seen the amazingly large new statue in front of City Hall? How about the beautiful mural in progress on Fell and Pierce? What about the crazy 80s outfits people are wearing and they aren’t even joking (seriously, Hammer/I Dream of Genie pants, ladies? Really?!)?  People are out there creating art and expressing themselves and making dreadful fashion mistakes and taking risks and living fascinating lives. Yes! Inspiration around every corner. Even hanging out at the park with Little Man and seeing how he notices every leaf on the ground and wants to inspect it helps me be enamored with the world again.

-Listening to Public Radio – Since I am stuck in my car for much of the day, my iPod plugged into the car stereo has been my umbilical cord to the source of nutrients I need to stimulate the growth of my mind (I get this almost nowhere else since I am not able to read much or take classes or meet up with fascinating people these days). My regular subscriptions are: The Sound of Young America, This American Life, Fresh Air, The Moth, To the Best of Our Knowlege, PRI: Arts and Entertainment, Radio Lab and Freakonomics (the latter only has a few episodes so far, but very interesting ones). Let me know what other great ones are out there!

-Music – I can’t really call myself a true music enthusiast because I don’t make time to search out new stuff, but when I remember to listen to the stuff I have that I love, it does wonders for my soul. Currently my favorite playlist includes Ida Maria, A Fine Frenzy, Matt Costa, Regina Spektor, OK Go, and the Black-Eyed Peas. If you have any new favorites I should check out, please share!

-my iPad – Again, I haven’t had much time to even scratch the surface of what it can do, but this gadget really is one of the coolest things ever. My favorite apps are NPR, Pandora, Zinio, ABC Player (yay, Modern Family!), NY Times Crosswords, and of course, since I’m a mama, the Craft Finder, Fish School, and I just downloaded Puppet Pals last night and can’t wait to play with it (especially when Little Man gets older). And I’m inspired to create my own app from a children’s book I’ve been working on. So hopefully I’ll be telling you all to download that soon. Until then, let me know what other must-have apps I need.

Please leave comments. I would love to hear what you are enthusiastic about!


5 thoughts on “Be an Enthusiast

  1. Hi Cassy–
    Saw your comment on MotherWriter, and was interested in reading your blog. I clearly remember going back to work after being home for 18 months with my son. It was challenging, sad, exciting, and daunting all at once, especially since I was already pregnant with my second. But I remember coming to a similar realization: that it was important to be mindful (I don’t think I made it all the way to enthusiasm, but I love your approach). My children are now 4 and 6 and I still find that I have to remind myself to be present, to “live deep and suck all the marrow out of life,” but in many ways it’s easier now, because I have the delicious experience of seeing everything as if for the first time through the eyes of the kids. Loved your post; look forward to reading more.

    Tricia Dowcett

  2. I’ve been told that I am too enthusiastic. I was the kid who, after a semester of college, wanted to pursue each of the four different topics I had studied. My enthusiasm has ebbed and flowed, but most days I’ll find inspiration as you have…immediately around me. Right now what is around me are my three kids, the start of a gorgeous Midwest summer complete with lakes and blooming everything and daily wanderings online. I’m glad to have stumbled upon you.

  3. Hi, Cassy. Since you mentioned crafts, if you haven’t stumbled across it yet, you should check out – a momma has a great website filled with fun crafts for kiddos (starting with crafts appropriate for the very young). A friend shared it with me, and we love the simple crafts! Great post, too!

  4. People taking fashion risks are among my favorite sights — and SF is such a great place for them. Was there last week and am still excited retrospectively. Will check out Puppet Pals with my young’uns.

    Lately I’ve been so busy my everyday enthusiasm gets crowded out too often by the narrow focus on what needs immediate doing. Aiming to quell that busyness shortly and get back to enjoying the here and now full time. Or anyway, fuller time.

    You’re inspiring!

  5. Cassy Lee, saw your comment on Mother Writer last week and my heart went out to you. I love your pluck and insight–to turn your awareness fully into whatever moment is at hand. Wise–and not always easy to do, but I find myself too with my life taking some left turns.

    For the two hour drive to and from SF airport, I’ve been stopping by the library for impulse checkouts of music CDs and books on tape. I don’t have the time to read, but I can use the roadtime to listen and learn. Like you, I love that being a writer means even when I’m not writing, I’m still watching, hunting down storylines/thoughts.

    hope you are feeling up this week.

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