Cheerful geometrics by Dan Stiles for this Monday morning.
For more work, T-shirts and concert posters, visit his website.
I’m working on a few fun projects that I can’t wait to share with you. In the meantime, here are a few things that have caught my eye around the internet this week:
Do you ever have the feeling that there is something REALLY important you need to remember, only to realize a week later that you missed your best friend’s (or mother’s or sister-in-law’s) birthday? Well, no more!
Decorated with black and white silhouette cutouts of some of my favorite seasonal plants, each month has a bright border to bring a burst of color to your wall and to catch your eye to insure you don’t miss any dates on your list.
It is printed on cold-pressed 90# paper — thick and textured and durable, and bound with wire O-ring binding. The calendar measures 4 x 11 inches. There is a hole for hanging and a line for every day of the month.
This is the perfect gift solution for that hard-to-please friend. Or perfect for a housewarming. Or graduation gift.
I have become a master at tricking myself into doing things I don’t think I want to do.
When I feel shy in social settings, I pretend I’m gregarious — I tell myself I am an actor — that my character is outgoing and talkative — and, amazingly, I forget my fears and end up having fun. When I’m afraid to do something I’ve never done before, I pretend I’ve done it a thousand times before — I hold a picture in my mind of someone accomplished at the task, superimpose my face on that vision and jump in with both feet.
By suspending disbelief in myself, I open a window through which anything is possible.
Now that classes are over, it is time to tackle the list of things I’ve been putting off for the last month. My list has become so long it is paralyzing and includes many tasks that are (at this point) beyond my abilities. When I get stuck in inertia, unable even to begin, I have a few tools I use to pretend I’m not stuck — to get things moving again.
If you are interested, they are as follows:
* Dress wildly — by chosing an outfit I wouldn’t normally wear, it makes me feel like someone else (someone not stuck). This is the most effective tool I have for jump-starting me out of a rut. I don’t often wear my crazy outfits out of the house, but it’s amazing how fun it is to do a mundane or scary task in bright pink tights — It makes me feel like Auntie Mame and she could do anything.
* Reward liberally — If I have a morning filled with uninspiring tasks, I will take an extra 3 minutes to make myself a mocha or someother uncommon sippable treat. It makes the task less odious, turning it into a special occasion.
* If I’m REALLY stuck I will let myself start with tiny steps. “Work for 15 minutes and then you can read a fun book for an hour” It seems irresponsibly wimpy to not be able to work for 15 minutes for such a luxurious reward, and usually by the time 15 minutes has passed, I realize the task is not so bad and I’ll work even longer.
* If all else fails I go for a walk. I’ll pack up my dogs, my camera and myself and head off to a meadow or a mountain side. I make myself stop thinking about my list and just enjoy my surroundings, the dog’s antics, the fresh air. By the time I get home I am renewed and invigorated and able to start again with a fresh mind.
What do you do to jump into something new or tackle a too long to-do list?
I LOVE seeing how artists push their medium to make it their own.
Kim Westad creates graceful vessels decorated with colored slip designs – her sense of color and pattern are just breathtaking.
Find joy in what is around you in the moment
Anything can be a toy
Take advantage of a sunny spot and take a nap
Make new friends, but don’t let them keep you from where you want to go
Always be able to entertain yourself
Never stay on the path
Chase every opportunity
Be picky with who you love, but generous with those you’ve chosen
In my other life, my graduate student life, I study sustainable agriculture. In this work, I think a lot about soils and farmers and food and communication. I am not generally inclined to share much of that work here.
Grad school can be so all-consuming, I like having a place that is separate and rejuvanating, that focuses on the other parts of my life that bring me joy.
But this site is also about what inspires me and much of my creative energy is driven both by what I am learning and by what I see as lacking in my academic education.
I’ve had the opportunity in the last month to listen to two VERY different seminars on food systems.
The first was given by Kathleen Merrigan, the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for the USDA. In her keynote address to a group of Montanan farmers and agronomists, she spoke about the important contribution our farmers make to the national economy. I listened to her rattle off statistics on production and yields and exports and profits.
As I listened I heard all the information that is left out when calculating those statistics — all the externalities that are not acknowledged : the unspoken costs of cheap food. The costs of pollution, of misusing our water resources, of mismanaging soils, of diminishing rural communities and economies, of abusing farm laborers and contract farmers, and of all the effects our national policies have on global cultures and economies.
The second talk was given by Josh Slotnick, director of the University of Montana’s PEAS Farm in Missoula, MT. Josh is an engaging and inspiring story teller. He talked about the evolution of Garden City Harvest, a non-profit organization in Missoula with the mission to increase food security for the people of Missoula.
In his work with Garden City Harvest and UM he’s made some remarkable observations about communities, education and the issues underlying food insecurity.
A few of his ideas have been stuck in my head since his talk :
* Personal responsibility stems from feeling necessary. If you erode a person’s necessity, you increase their alienation and it becomes easy to make irresponsible and short sighted decisions based on those feelings of alienation.
** Places with no individuality become expendable (eg : “Any Town, USA”) — towns or cities that sacrifice individuality for commerce and growth diminishes the sense of connection that residents feel to a specific place. If you have no connection, there is little motivation to care. Attachment to a place leads to feelings of responsibility for it.
*** When you feel connected and necessary, to a piece of land or a community, you make sustainable choices in order to maintain it.
Granted, these talks were on VERY different aspects of food systems. There is no realistic way to compare national food production with community food activism and I don’t suggest that we should attempt to transform the US food system into one that resembles the University of Montana’s teaching farm.
I do, however, propose that we think more about the choices we make, and who those choices support.
I wrote in January that one of my goals for this year is to be a conscious consumer in the food I eat — to recognize how my choices affect my local economy as well as the global economy and to recognize the weight that each choice carries.
As an individual with little money and even less political clout I frequently feel like there is nothing I can do to change the system. My consumption is the only tool I have to drive the change I’d like to see. In choosing to buy from local farmers and ranchers, I am able to support the diversity that makes this community so unique while simultaneously diverting income away from the coffers of industrial agri-businesses and the irresponsible decisions they tend to make.