2016 was the true realization of Drake’s 2013 hit, Started From The Bottom. At the turn of the previous New Year, I was bound and determined to start fresh. This year I don’t feel the exact same urgency to change my life as dramatically as then, but I count that as a blessing. This year was full of uncomfortable situations that later yielded contentment, negative emotions burned as fuel for inspiration in creation, and lack of control permitting a greater appreciation for when things turn out as planned.
In 2016 I graduated college, moved to a new apartment in Cincinnati, got a job, a cat, and a harp, and travelled to Milwaukee, Chicago, Toronto, LA, Denver, Winter Park, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo.
Things I sought to improve in 2016: saying ‘yes’ more, taking care of my mental health, greater independence, and staying in touch with people who matter to me.
Things I kind of bombed in 2016 but forgive myself for because I was concentrating on other things: working out (although I like to think that my new daily 2 mile walk to work and back gets me out of that?), healthy eating, and dwelling on on others’ opinions of me.
Things I want to work on in 2017: flossing more, taking care of physical self, not seeking other’s approval, and making stuff.
2016 was the year I wanted to feel good again. I am so grateful for the fortunate events of this year that made me what I am now—content. Thank you for not just being better, 2016, but for being bigger. I think 2017 will be too.
“They say I changed, but what a pity if I stayed the same”
I’ve been arranging some harp-hop tunes in my spare time and throwing them up on YouTube because I guess that’s the thing to do these days. I’m shooting to get to a more elite recording quality, video, and harp mastery level as life goes on, but I’m enjoying arranging covers like this in the mean time. It’s been a bit longer than a year since I started taking harp lessons and I’ve fallen in love with this expensive, large, and glorious instrument. You can check my humble YouTube channel here for more harp-hop covers.
A lot has changed in two months. Last time I was here, I was in the process of writing up a post about the adventures of being unemployed. I’m glad I never had to finish that one.
Before I get into what I really came here for, I’ll supply a brief update. On September 6, I started my first real full-time job as a UX Designer at Gaslight, a software development consultancy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Long story short: I love it, I’m extremely grateful for how everything turned out, and I couldn’t have found a better fit. After a long, discouraging bout with the job search process, I ended up with my first choice with unbelievable relief. You can read more about my employed adventures in my Gaslight blog post here. A month after I started, I moved to Cincinnati from Middletown, settling in the hood of Mount Adams. I can walk downtown to work, to Eden Park, and to the Art Museum from my place, and I’m developing solid calf and gluteal muscles from all of the incline hiking that living in this charming mountain neighborhood requires. Everything has fallen into place.
Overall, I’m tickled to say that adjusting to a full time work routine hasn’t been as rocky of a transition as I assumed. It helps that I was very, very ready to start working towards the end of my obligation-free summer. The weirdest part now is figuring out what my evenings and weekends aside from work look like. What am I supposed to do by myself in this new apartment when I’m not going to Home Depot or Target or working up a stress sweat from hanging a shelf on my hard-to-drill-through walls? I don’t have my course schedule to direct me on how to incorporate my interests into my life and personal work. No more orchestra concerts, quartet practices, photo critiques, or late nights in the darkroom. My extra-curricular passions operate on my own terms now. This is good and bad, I’m finding.
So what do I do? I love routine, and it helps occupy my mind. But I also need to lean against it, and find new ways to live in the day-to-day outside my comfort zone. It’s funny how much I take for granted now that I live here. Things that I used to take day trips to see, I now ignore because they’re at an arm’s reach. I have to force myself to step outside my front stairs and see my own city as a tourist like I used to. So that my mind will be stimulated, my sense of wonder enriched, and my youth preserved.
So basically, I need to keep walking. I came up with this idea: every Saturday (winter months, permitting), I will explore a new neighborhood in Cincinnati. Just walking, with my camera. Emphasis on the camera, because lately I’ve been developing an irrational fear of taking photos. That’s weird, you might say, because I identify as a photographer. I love it, but here’s a little secret: it scares me. This little anxiety makes me sad and makes me miss out on photo opportunities a more bold me might take. However, once I get in the groove of making photographs, I forget about it. The hard part is getting myself to that place.
I came up with this idea today while exploring one of my new favorite spots: Northside. It’s a shame I didn’t think of this idea last weekend when I took a 7 mile trek to Findlay Market and clear to Kentucky and back. My glutes felt that. Today I wandered around in observation, stopping to eat one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had at Sidewinder Coffee and finding the planner of my dreams at Shake It Records (an unlikely place to find a planner, which added to the enchantment). The neighborhood reminded me of a more diverse Yellowsprings and was a very pleasant place to walk and soak up the last of the Daylight Savings Time sun. I liked the unexpectedness of what you might see on the street. Northside isn’t as polished as other Cincinnati neighborhoods, but much more colorful and eclectic, making for many photos. After that I headed back to my own neighborhood for an afternoon walk to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
I can’t wait to keep walking. Before I walk, I always worry that the residents of the place will be able to point me out as an outsider. Or that they’ll look at me funny for seeing the potential in things that don’t seem worthy of photographing. I worry that my effort to get to this place will be for naught and I will just end up tired. But today was a very good day. I discovered treasures. I was present. And I was very glad I walked.
It’s been a month and 10 days that I’ve been back home from mega-trip 2016. It’s strange to keep defining my life by the time since a trip, but that is the last logical landmark I’ve experienced, so alas. In this month and 10 days, I’ve been trying to get back into the groove of life and what that means for me in such a transitional season. When you’re living out of a suitcase, you quickly realize the aspects of life that you miss and the endeavors you need to spend your time pursuing. When I got back in my beloved bedroom full of all my wonderful musical instruments, books, craft supplies, cameras, classical composer busts, and mini cat figurines I was back in hobby heaven. All that time spent in awesome locations with limited resources left me oh so ready to dive head first into all of my passions once again. I found myself more ready than ever to learn, evolve, and create.
Here’s a list of all the things that have happened in my hobby-sphere in the past month and 10 days:
The day after I got back from Colorado, I drove to Bloomington, Indiana to purchase a harp.
I fell in love with this harp, so I started a YouTube channel for harp covers. So far my only post is a Rihanna song, but I hope to add more minor-keyed hip-hop songs very soon. Destiny child is up next.
I’ve done a lot of work amping up this website, adding more content, details, and photos in the galleries. I’ve also been learning some new web design techniques. You probably can’t tell much difference, but I recently completely gutted my CSS. I cleansed hundreds of lines of unused code and started using the pre-processor, Sass, to keep my code more organized.
I’ve submitted photography work to multiple galleries. I’m currently preparing for Summerfair Streetfair in Cincinnati this September, where I’ll have a booth with some prints.
I’ve been freelancing often, doing logo and web design, photography, and more recently, crafts.
I realized one of my passions is embroidering hip-hop lyrics onto fabric. I opened an Etsy shop and started selling some pieces at a super cool store in Middletown called Society.
I’ve been getting more serious about making my own music, which is always something I’ve dabbled in. I’ve just been playing around with Ableton Live again so we’ll see where it goes.
Upon realizing I cleansed out my accounts while traveling, I started pursuing as many strategies of making money online as I could find. This includes but is not limited to Ebay, Etsy, Upwork, 99Designs, UserTesting.com, focus groups, online surveys, Wonder, and multiple iPhone apps. I then realized that there is no good way to make money online.
I’ve learned the wonder that traveling can do for your inspiration, productivity, self-improvement, and general interest in life. I’ve been turbo-charged, running full force in every direction that peaks my interest this month and 10 days. But I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes I need to slow it down. When I want something very badly, I lose a handle on my patience. I go 0 to 100 real quick. In the heat of the moment I am blind to the fact that I can not learn a violin concerto or new programming language or insert difficult but intriguing skill here in a day. It’s just not possible and it’s not a good way to learn. Too often I set goals too high and beat myself up when I fall short.
There is a quality about me that I simultaneously am grateful for and fear above all else. It’s the desire to be good. My self esteem depends too heavily on my successes and I am devastated by my failure. I need to learn how to get the small things done before tackling the big things, all at once. Practice my scales. Have patience.
I need a masters in psychology to understand the minefield of my brain. I need to set real goals. I set goals alright, but I break them and make them too high and get frustrated if I can’t become a master in a day. But people say it takes 10,000 hours to become a master. If you break that down into an hour of practice a day, that makes 27 years.
I think a lot of creative people have this war with themselves. It hinders productivity, confidence, and self esteem. It doesn’t have to be this way. If I can learn to learn correctly and have constructive, healthy conversations with myself while I’m practicing and growing, it would make a world’s difference. Mental strength can cure a multitude of ills. Learning how to do this is the foundation of success and mental stability in creative fields. I write this with the hope that I will follow my own advice. So for goodness sake, take your time, sister. Enjoy the learning process. Know that it could take 27+ years for you to become a master. And that you can’t get anywhere with talent alone because you also need hard work. Set reachable goals for yourself and recognize your feats no matter how small. If you keep practicing, putting that time in day by day and never giving up, you’ll get somewhere.