How to Be Patti Smith

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Drink lots of coffee. But not more than fourteen cups per day, or it may interrupt your sleep.

Read lots of books, preferably dead poets and those dubbed Classic Literature.

Have romantic notions about said dead poets and beloved authors.

Visit gravesites of great writers (see above).

Cultivate a pithy wit.

Place a lot of significance on certain objects. Lose these objects in hotels and airplanes.

Work hard.

Write every day. It helps to sit in the same place each time where someone can refill your coffee cup.

Believe in the surreal, and in mysticism. Know there is no coincidence, but there is meaning.

Join obscure clubs that require you to travel internationally.

Cultivate an interest in something purely for aesthetic’s sake.

Take lots of photographs. They don’t have to be “good” to be meaningful.

Hold your opinions strongly, but allow others to hold theirs as well.

Support your fellow artists. Allow them to support you.

Wear mostly black, but not in a morose way. (You’re too optimistic for that.)

Find the beautiful in the ugly.

Don’t place too much meaning in objects. They come and go anyway.

Allow yourself to grieve lost objects. After all, they had meaning.

Marry the love of your life, then call them your boyfriend even after they are gone.

Allow space for the magical to unfold.

Routine is helpful.

Allow time and circumstance to have its way with you.

Let your dreams speak to you.

Never be ashamed of being an optimist or a romantic. People need your hope and light.

Bring beauty to the mundane.

Do not always do. Allow yourself to just be.

Write many lists.

 

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Take Care

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I always considered myself a perfectionist, until I actually met perfectionists. The amount of care, dedication, and effort that went into the smallest of details,  no matter the project, truly blew me away.

I’ve never been one for detail work. I don’t like “futzing” with things. I’m not a tinkerer. I cannot stand repeating a small task over and over and over again.

However, in the kitchen, most of that frustration and desire to hurry things along goes away. I’m happy to putter, to move the knife slower to get exactly the right slice. But I still find myself saying, “That’s good enough.” So when I watch shows like “Chef’s Table”, or “The Mind of a Chef”, I am still amazed and completely inspired by the care these artists take with food. Not just in the preparation, but in the presentation, the layering of details, the complexity that is almost overlooked by the supposed simplicity.

I’ve been watching the fourth season of “The Mind of a Chef”, which featured chef Gabrielle Hamilton. She is known for her restaurant Prune in New York, as well as her memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter. I found myself immediately smitten with her style of cooking in watching her episodes, but it wasn’t until the last one where she said something that struck me like nothing else had thus far. She was teaching one of her cooks how to make a dish that looked simple, but required a significant amount of time, repetition, and detail. As they folded and crimped over and over and over again, Gabrielle said, “There is no reason to be this precise, and there’s no reason to not be.”

What a concept. I really feel smacked by that statement. It applies to so much in life, not just food. There is no reason to care for the well-being of people I don’t know, but there’s no reason not to. There’s no reason to sit and meditate every day, but there’s no reason not to. There’s no reason to make my backyard flower garden look beautiful and pristine, but there’s no reason not to.

What would happen if I took that much care in everything I did? It seems to me that care (as opposed to rigid, self-flagellating perfectionism) is at the root of many beautiful things. When someone takes care–of themselves, of their food, of their homes, of their relationships–others take notice. It draws appreciation, it incites love.

For many people, I think particularly in our American culture, time is a precious commodity, and we feel very selective about where we dole out those extra minutes. But what better way can we show our love, than through the amount of care and time we give to things, and to each other?

I know I’m going to be reflecting on this for a long time…

A Bit of Writing

It has been quite a long time since I’ve written in this space. And honestly, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve written at all. Until recently. I met some great ladies through my husband, and I’ve begun writing for them over at their site, Upwrite Magazine. You can check out the couple of things I’ve done here and here.

Then, as these things tend to go, the Upwrite ladies introduced me to some more great writing women, and I have a piece in the upcoming (print!) issue of Tapestry Magazine. I’m not sure if it will be available online, but if it is, I’ll link it up here.

Finally, the month of March was the release of a podcast I was invited to be a part of at work. Fuller Theological Seminary’s president, Mark Labberton, has a podcast called Conversing, and him, my friend and colleague Jeanelle Austin, and myself got together to discuss implicit gender bias. I felt very honored to be a part of such an important conversation.

I’ve been feeling the itch to write more, lately. While I’m not typically the committal type, I’m hoping to begin making more use of this space. I’m realizing that I don’t have to have something profound to say in order to write it down. What a concept, eh?

A Meaningful Weekend

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This past weekend was sorely needed. The month of May has been packed full of events, both personal and work-related, and Michael and I were both looking forward to three days off. Michael did some writing for a class he’s auditing, and I read two books (this one, lent to me by a friend, and this one).  We’ve also been giving ourselves a movie history lesson, and have been watching a bunch of classic, well-loved films; Howl’s Moving Castle and Casablanca were this week’s hits. We’ve also really been enjoying watching the PBS show “The Mind of a Chef.” It’s super fascinating and inspiring to see the process behind that kind of creativity, and I love hearing about how certain foods like miso or ramen have such a rich, deep history behind them. I even roped Michael into watching the episodes on Southern food, and he loved them. I’d highly recommend it!

 

It felt so good to have no plans, no commitments, and no requirements this weekend. I’ve started this week feeling rested and inspired. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt either of those things! My mind was finally given space to dream for myself, and being given that space, I realize just how much I was missing it. I’d really like to be more intentional about where I put my time and energy- towards rest, meaningful hobbies, and people who matter most in my life. I’m already looking forward to it.

Happy Friday!

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This has been one of those weeks that has felt two days too long, so I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I’m going to do a lot of baking, and we’ve been invited to what looks to be the most amazing dinner party I’ve ever seen. I’m really excited about it!

Hope you have a relaxing weekend, and here’s what I’ve been looking at this week…


Why millennials are so individualistic

I love this casual, cozy look (and the rest of the collection!)

Meaning vs. happiness

I’ve found my life word

Really wanting this book to dive in deeper with essential oils

The most beautiful tea kettle

An easy way to spice up my everyday hairstyle 

A different kind of piano man (an oldie, but still fascinating)

Still waiting for my invitation to the always ad-free Ello

What’s your creative process?

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“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” -Chuck Close

“I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them, you will never write again.” -John Updike

For all you creatives out there…how do you stay motivated? I’ve read lots of writer’s routines, and Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird is a real staple of mine. But sometimes (most of the time) that just doesn’t cut it. The day to day of creative activity and thought comes much harder. There are an abundance of quotes regarding inspiration and hard work that I try to remind myself of (like the ones above), but I’m hoping to develop a manageable routine. Do any of you have a routine you stick to? Or are you more of a “as the wind moves me” type of person? I’d be interested in hearing how you keep the work and juices flowing.

P.S. I have found John Updike’s quote above to be incredibly true. Isn’t life outside of work always what we’d rather be doing?

(photo by my wonderfully talented friend, Josiah Norton)