Friday, March 20, 2009

What I've been up to

Cereal Box Book Click to see this photo's flickr page

8 things I’ve been up to (and where you might fit in)

A new friend of mine, Joanna Young, has a very nice blog, Confident Writing. She helps readers find their own voice, allowing them (or, us) to produce writing that is authentic, that comes from the heart. It’s hard sometimes to have confidence in putting our words out there, to push the “Publish” button. How do we trust that we have the confidence to express ourselves clearly and truthfully? Sound like anyone you know?

Joanna challenged herself, and us, to just list 8 things we’ve been up to, and to share. I have a new friend, Ulla, whose post I really enjoyed. I decided that if Ulla, whose first language is NOT English, can share her thoughts so bravely - - in English - - , I thought, well, I could certainly come up with a list of what I’ve been up to, to update everyone here.

I’ve been:

1. Looking for work. There’s a lot of that going on. My really great new job came to a sudden and jarring halt, as the company went through ‘economic readjustment’, even before I had a chance to gush about how good it all was to everyone. It’s kind of like having a fantastic new boyfriend you want to tell all your friends about. Just as you’re getting ready to do that, he disappears. Forever. It was kind of like that.

2. Teaching. I teach business practices: resumes, cover letters, interviewing, networking. The irony of teaching this AND having to go through it myself? It’s a little humorous, I guess. At least I can chuckle about it. And at least these are topics that I think about often. I’m also working on committees, thinking about faculty involvement in governance. What’s the future of design, the future of the school, and how do we get there?

3. Building community in the local design community. I’m a local chapter officer for the professional industrial design association. There are meetings, of course, to put together panels of guest speakers, and planning very casual social mixers with goofy/fun design challenges. Building community is difficult, especially in a city as large as Los Angeles, where the distances we would have to travel, all by itself, is a major hurdle to gathering everyone in one place. Like any other good relationship, we’re building it, one person at a time.

4. Social networking: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr. They each have their particular strengths. I’ve heard people say that Twitter is like a cocktail party; Facebook is like a high school reunion. With Twitter, there are lots of random conversations and you can wander around and hear lots of things, simultaneously. Snippets of exchanges of ideas, in real time. You can join in or lurk.
With Facebook, it truly has been a high school reunion, reconnecting with people I already know, sharing photos of all our kids, our vacations. Who would have thought that the simple act of wishing an old friend “Happy birthday!” would be so satisfying?

On Twitter, I’ve found myself enjoying the company of career coaches, writers, artists. There are lots of interesting, different, every day people that I’ve met. I also follow celebrities like Andy Bumatai, Cesar Millan, NASA, and a couple TV news stations here and in Hawaii.

Oh, and the Phoenix Mars Lander, too.

It’s compelling, almost addicting, sharing in the every day things and thoughts everyone has: Going for a great cup of coffee, procrastination, frustrating days, lust for Johnny Depp, looking forward to the weekends. All in 140 characters or less. You might not expect it, but you can form very supportive relationships, one little bit at a time. From Twitter relationships, I find myself wandering over to new websites, blogs and Flickr streams. There’s a tremendous amount of great thinking and writing out there, and fantastic art and photos to look at.

5. Being creative and doing art every day. Since I have more time in my days (sigh), I can draw and smoosh paint around. I’ve been playing with different media and different brands. My quest to put the ideal everyday mini drawing/painting kit has actually evolved through this experimentation. Now, if I could only find my ideal everyday handbag to put it in, I’d be set! I took a collage class in the fall and have been enjoying doing collages and putting together my strange version of ... well, just click to see the first cereal box book, so far, on my Flickr stream. And here are the collages.

6. Writing. I took a few writing classes and am playing with the romantic notion of doing travel writing. J and I could record and share our adventures. What do you think? It’s one of those long-range plans we find ourselves talking about, working on a little bit at a time, in no terribly conscious way at all. We just keep doing things that we love and it seems to be pointing to have us look at this particular path. So, to be proactive about it, I’ve been trying to be more focused with my writing, be more compelling. The fun and sometimes challenge part is to encourage conversation, to see what appeals to people.

I’m doing a book review for Joyful Jubilant Learning as part of their month long “A Love Affair With Books”. I’ll be honest here: With visual art, I’m reasonably comfortable putting out whatever it is that I do (as far as you can tell! What could I possibly be editing out and not sharing?). It’s a far different task to put together words that you know a whole different group of people will read. It makes one very self-conscious. After I clicked “Save” and “Send”, I was happy and very proud to have finished my contribution. The next morning I awoke with horrible thoughts, “OMG! My paragraphs – they’re just TOO long. Yuck! What have I done?!?!”

See the entire month-long collection of reviews here.

7. Reading, or more accurately, listening to audiobooks, via I’ve recently ‘read’:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy, and Memoirs of a Geisha (and finally rented the movie, as well). I’m currently listening to Charles Kuralt’s America, read by the author. I like to listen when I’m stuck in traffic, soaking in new ideas and imagining different places and times. I’ve been listening to a few lectures on meditation by Pema Chodron, too, but, obviously, not while I’m driving.

8. Rethinking my blog. I’ve been struggling for a while with the questions of “why” and “what it looks like”. I’ve been thinking of figuring out a better format for organizing my blog and content. Although I struggle with it, I still like the idea of maintaining this venue to share and connect, keep up with friends, and to find likeminded people. I like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, but those, separately, don’t add up to what I’m aiming for. I’m mulling over how to go forward with TheFridgeDoor and how to get back to regularly sharing content, providing food for thought and conversation.

Where might you fit in?
Share of yourself, generously. Here, and in other blogs. Keep the conversations going....
So tell us, what have YOU been up to?


Joanna Young said...

I so enjoyed reading the things that you're up to and learning more about who you are and what's important to you.

We can't get that same rich picture from flickr, twitter & facebook - which is why I love blogging too.

If you're serious about trying to make a living while travelling you might want to check out the Location Independent Professional blog, and also follow @leawoodward on Twitter. She's not travelling at the moment as she's pregnant, but her 'thing' is about setting yourself up so you can move around the world and make a living as you go.

I'm looking forward to reading your JJL review. You're not alone in finding it a little daunting to write a review for an established group there, which makes the appreciation of the contributions even greater! Thank you.

Ulla Hennig said...

thanks for sharing your list. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will find a new job soon.
By reading the other items I learn a lot about you and the things which are important to you. I enjoy meeting you at Twitter, and I will enjoy reading your blog posts - another fine blog to subscribe to!
And thanks so much for your kind words and the link love!

Hashi said...

After following you on Twitter, and interacting with you on Facebook, I am delighted to discover your blog.

KB said...

I'm hoping you find a new job that you love and that you keep writing. Your posts always make me think and I believe that's part of what you want to accomplish. Best wishes, KB