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!


My New Baby, the iPad

As a big fan of pen, paper and actual books, it was unlikely that I would be one of the first in line to get the new iPad, and yet here I am creating my first post on one. I have never been on the forefront of new technology. I was the last of my friends to get a computer and then a cell phone. I still don’t have a smart phone and if I attempt to do anything on my husband’s droid it ends up chirping and croaking and running five apps at once. New gadgets have always been his thing, but when he saw the iPad coming, he knew it was for me.
It is big enough that even a klutz like me can type comfortably. I can read on it, I can write on it, I can do crosswords. I’m sure there are a million other things I haven’t even discovered I can do with it. There are valid critiques of it you can read at Gizmodo, the most important of which to me are the lack of a built-in camera and the inability to multitask, but above all else, it is truly an objet d’art. Now that I have it in my hands, I feel like I should have on kid gloves. It is so elegant, in fact, I want to put it in long satin gloves and take it to the opera to show it off. Or skip the opera and stay in bed all day getting to know each other.
But my life is no opera and there’s no time to lollygag. This thing has to be able to not only withstand my clumsy hands and low-tech brain, but a drooling baby, shedding dogs, and the rigors of international travel. Its very first job is to entertain us on the flight to Taiwan this Tuesday, guide us through the streets of Taipei for three weeks, and allow me to tell you about it from the other side of the world.
Stick around to see if it is up to the task.

Note to other WordPress bloggers: I am already having issues on this first post. I am using the WP app, but can’t insert links or look up words (thanks to no multitasking). It seems like you can’t type directly into the WP website. Is there a way to type a draft in Pages and paste it into this app? Any easier ways to go about it?