Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Joy Project: Energy

In the first chapter of Joyful, author Ingrid Fetell Lee focuses on energy, and it couldn't come at a better time for me. For at least two months, I've been feeling as flat as an open bottle of New Year's champagne that gets pushed to the back of the fridge and poured out a week later. But what exactly does it mean to feel energetic? A good night's sleep, a caffeine fix, or a brisk walk all boost my energy, but what affects whether an environment changes my energy in a positive or negative way?

Lee breaks it down into two components: color and light.

If you look at your surroundings right now, I hope you see a burst of color. But if you're American, chances are you might not. We are, Lee writes, chromophobic, or afraid of color. Many of us run-of-the-mill Americans do not grow up in a culture of color. We learn to see bright colors as "childish and frivolous," whereas neutrals come across as "mature" and impart a message of "self-restraint."

This may be true, but I think a lot of us aren't afraid of color as much as we're afraid of using it wrong. I blame HGTV and the like for giving us so many messages of the importance of being on trend. Why would I want to commit to this year's blue when next year, it's going to be saffron yellow or whatever? We need to give ourselves permission to choose what we love, and kindly tell the color gurus at Pantone to kiss off.

The other component to energy is light. A great deal of research backs up the health benefits of sunlight or broad-spectrum artificial light, so I won't go into details here. Suffice it to say that light helps us feel happier, healthier, and smarter. Moreover, light is "color's power supply." When photons of light hit an object, the ones that are reflected back to our retinas are perceived as color. We see short wavelengths as the color blue, long ones as the color red, and so on. According to Lee, this "alchemy" between light and color lies at the heart of the energy aesthetic. 

Makes sense, right? Now that I have a better understanding about the importance of color and light, my homework is to implement them in a way that puts the bubbles back in my champagne, so to speak. Because I'm not a big project person, I have just a few small tweaks in mind for my writing space. I hope you'll come back next week to see what that looks like!



Friday, February 21, 2020

Throwback Friday

Hi, all! I missed Throwback Thursday by a day, but I'd like to invite you to stop by and check out the resurrection of my long-presumed-dead "other" blog, Choice City Native. I'm going to incorporate it into my ongoing joy project this year. Feel free to stick around and read some of the older posts while you're there.

And here's a random picture I took of the cliff dwellings Mesa Verde, Colorado...


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

And the Oscar Goes To...

Image result for oscarMe.

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Okay, obviously I did not win an Oscar, but I feel like I should get some kind of award for spending 15 hours of my life watching 6 1/4 of the 9 films nominated for Best Picture.

I enjoy movies, but I don't see as many as I would like. Every year when Oscar season rolls around, I can only check off one or two of the Best Picture nominees. So, this year, I set myself a goal to see them all. It seemed reasonable at the time, before I realized what I was up against.

Through a combination of Netflix, pay-per-view, and actual movie theaters, I watched:
Marriage Story
The Irishman
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Jojo Rabbit
1917, and
1/4 of Joker (maybe on a different day, I would have stuck it out, but, frankly, I was in no mood).

I have not yet seen Little Women or Ford v Ferrari, so the following opinions do not apply to those movies.

Here's my take on the ones I did see:

  • They are quite male. But you knew that;
  • They are replete with egos. Husband egos, military egos, actor egos, rich guy egos, mafia egos. And, dare I say, the real life egos of the two directors who thought they needed 3 hours 29 minutes and 2 hours and 41 minutes, respectively, to tell their stories.  
  • They have plenty of violence. War violence, emotional violence, gangster violence, animal-on-human violence, interpersonal violence. Lots of people get shot, and I wouldn't be surprised if this year set a record for Best Picture stabbings. Very stabby.
But having said all this, every movie also had some combination of: amazing performances, poignant moments, surprising plot twists, stunning cinematography, evocative scoring, humor (even if dark), and unexpected humanity. I don't regret seeing any of them, and I'm looking forward to finishing the list with Little Women and Ford v Ferrari. And I might give Joker another try.

Congratulations to all the 2020 winners, and here's hoping that next year's crop of Oscar contenders is a little less...exhausting.

In case you missed it, here is Saturday Night Live's Melissa Villasenor's musical take on this year's best picture nominees:


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Joy Project 2020

Image result for joyWell, hello again! I'll spare you the boring details, but January really got away from me! And here we are, almost a week into February.

The critique group I belong to has a nice tradition that I've noticed has grown more popular over the past few years. Instead of making writer's resolutions, we each choose a word to inspire and guide us through the new year. In the past, most of my words have been practical and/or action-oriented. Structure, for example, and engage.

But this year, I needed a different type of word. 2019 wasn't a stellar writing year for me. It took forever to get anything accomplished, and when I did...(insert cricket sound here). Almost every connection I made, whether online or in person, went nowhere, and by September, I felt like I was just throwing my time and energy into a bottomless well.

(It's funny how it's great to have a bottomless well when you're drawing from it, but terrible when you're doing the opposite. But I digress.)

I knew I needed a word for 2020 that might help me reconnect with my writer self. Love didn't seem quite right, because even when I hate writing, I still love it, if that makes sense. Fun didn't quite fit, either, because I don't expect that writing will always be fun. In the end, I settled on the word Joy, which combines elements of love and fun and also a spark of energy that I have been sorely missing as of late.

At Christmas, I mentioned this to my sister, who is creative and wise and wonderful in so many ways, and she gifted me with the book Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. The author, Ingrid Fettell Lee, has a background in design and a deep interest in the aesthetics that promote feelings of joy. "At the heart of the book," she writes, "lies the idea that joy isn't just something we find. It's also something we can make, for ourselves and for those around us."

Lee devotes a chapter to each of her ten "aesthetics of joy." For the next ten months, starting in February, I am going to work on bringing each aesthetic into my life and will report back here with my results. In between, I'll post other random stuff when the mood strikes me.

I hope your 2020 is off to a wonderful start, and I'll leave you with this quote from Emily Dickinson:

"Find ecstasy in life: the mere sense of living is joy enough."