Houston, EX

Late last night, I got back from a nine day visit to my hometown, Houston and birthplace Corpus Christi, Texas. Last time I visited was during the 2017 Houston Half Marathon, and so much has happened within me since. Because this was the first time visiting since I’ve felt settled here in Connecticut, I was able to feel all of the tough feelings associated with it.

I wrote this poem (my first since high school, maybe?) throughout the trip and wrapped it up before takeoff. Enjoy.

Houston, EX

I flew back
into your arms
ten-lane highways
open and wide
Then was grasped
bumper-to-bumper tight

Welcomed.

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Create like you’re eight

Remember when I wrote about how to raise an artist? Not too long ago, my son started taking his art very seriously. He was shutting himself in his room all of the time. On weekends, when he’s able to use his computer, he was watching YouTube video after YouTube video underneath his loft bed, littering his floor with crumpled printer paper with half-done drawings, and aside from the occasional whir from his automatic pencil sharpener, there was hardly a trace of him.

On school nights, after homework, the sight was similar, but minus the screens. Door shut and increased interest on his art. This even showed up.

please knock

I respected his newfound assertion of privacy, but at the same time, I was a bit worried.

Eventually, we decided that if he was going to spend that much time watching YouTubers, he should contribute. After some encouragement from my sister, we made his first YouTube video to share the art he had been working on.

He got such a great response, and he’s kept up making the videos week after week.

I’m new to video, it’s something I’ve never experimented with before. I already have a subscription to the Adobe products on the creative cloud to edit photos, but these videos have been the first things I’ve ever used Premier Pro to create.

It’s funny, because with writing, drawing, painting, designing/decorating a room, or anything else creative, I’m so slow to finish. It can be a brief blog post, but it gets drawn out to days or weeks of labor. It can take me six months to buy the materials for a project I’ve been dreaming of making.

But with these videos, it’s different.

I’m okay with not knowing what I’m doing and with being kind of bad at editing the videos, for a change. He’s eight and I’m twenty-eight, but as creators, we’re so both so intolerant of imperfections. We have these creative ideas and want everything to look like it was when we first imagined it. He has his floor littered with drawings that missed the mark. My abandoned ideas are more hidden: half written essays, twenty-two unfinished posts in my drafts folder on wordpress, a collection of supplies from craft mishaps.

During the first video, if he was worried about mistakes, I’d just keep reminding him: “You’re eight! No one expects you to be perfect!” And as I edit them, he has to remind me the same.

If only I could take that stance for the other things I do, if I could take the pressure off and recognize that I’m not expected to do anything just right, right away. The pressure is self-imposed, but it’s been hardwired after years of good taste but not-quite-there-yet levels of skill. It’s so challenging to be a beginner and an amateur that few ever get to be where they want without giving up.

My hope, for my son, for me, and for you, if you’re afraid to start or afraid to share your work, is that you’ll do it anyway. And that when you see people proudly share their work, you’ll remember the bravery that it takes to do so. That you’ll always keep in mind that to share something created is exposing the most vulnerable parts and that it’s scary as all get out to do.

Take it from one of the greatest:

finish it

How’s he doing now?

Now that I found a way to get more involved by sharing of what he makes, he’s more open to sharing during the process. He’s not hiding in his room the same way. As you can see above, we’ve been doing weekly videos for six weeks now, without fail. It’s something we can do together, and I’m showing him how to work the programs as I’m learning.

It’s hard, because bullies from school go to his channel and ridicule him. One even insulted his artwork. While my heart is breaking, he is still confident: “Well, where’s his videos? Where’s his art?” The bravery that he exudes in the face of adversity is admirable.

Create like you’re eight

  1. Create because it’s fun. Not to be the best.
  2. Allow yourself be a beginner.
  3. Share fearlessly, so that others know it’s okay to be a beginner. Your progress will show over time.
  4. Be consistent.
  5. Notice who throws insults, and don’t take it personally.
  6. Never stop having fun!

Like his content? Subscribe to Tobias’ Channel! 

 

Where am I?

It’s been a little over four months since I deactivated my personal Facebook page and stopped posting on Instagram. Once active on the sites, it can seem strange to my friends and family. My grandmother asked if it had anything to do with what I considered minor family drama. My mother, who liked to show her coworkers the posts of mine shared by brands, couldn’t understand why I stopped sharing my photography so suddenly.

In truth, it wasn’t suddenly at all. Stepping away from those spaces is something I considered doing for years, but always had a different excuse. First, I worked in social media. I couldn’t deactivate my Facebook page or I wouldn’t be able to post for the businesses I represented. Second, how would I share my blog to a bigger audience? How would I encourage readership? Is that even possible without social media? Third, how would I stay connected to people whom this was my only method? Continue reading

My Creative Journey & Some Reflections

I went to Boston over the weekend. I didn’t Snapchat or take a single picture while I was there. It was my third time visiting the city, so  I didn’t do any touristy things and I won’t be making a guide to Boston. I went to visit a friend of mine and it was the kind of trip where two people are bonding with one another, with no need for rushing from one activity to the next. It was blissful.

The following post is a bit allovertheplace. It’s a scattering of the helpful things I’ve been doing, the media I’ve been consuming, and some decisions I’ve come to on my creative journey over the past year or so. It’s half-organized into the trip I took over the weekend. The metaphors are there and intentional. Maybe you’ll catch them all. Maybe not. Bear with me. I’m working on a New Year’s Resolution, after all. Continue reading

Houston Half Marathon 2017 & WHAT Sandwiches?!

I admit, I was really not looking forward to the 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Though I had signed up enthusiastically the same day that I ran the year prior and Mark was pumped up and excited for the Chevron Houston Marathon, I was  dreading it.

Year after year, I’ve been undertrained for this race. Now that I’m on the edge of thirty, I know that its getting more and more dangerous for my long term health. I sign up with the best of intentions,  but I always seem to find an excuse. This year, it was 20 degrees and windy on training days. Last year, it was that I was busy with the move. It’s always something, and it doesn’t help that the most important runs for the timing of this race are during the holidays.

It wasn’t just that. I was feeling really overwhelmed with the fact that I was heading to Houston and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see everyone who I wanted to see. I get lonely up here, so I was pretty bogged down about it. I kept reminding friends and family, “remind me I’m NOT doing this race again.” “The weather is too cold up here, I’m NOT doing this next year.” “Don’t let me sign up again.”

Spoiler alert: I signed up again for next year.

kelsie-oreta-2017-aramco-houston-half-marathon

What Sandwich?

One of my favorite authors and by far my favorite public speaker on the subject of creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert, says “The question is not, ‘What do I love?’ The question is ‘What do I love so much that I don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes along with that thing?”.

In her book, Big Magic,  the above video, and podcast, Magic Lessons, she argues that it’s not just about finding what you love, but it’s also about acknowledging that whatever it is you love comes with a truckload of things that are distressingly bad and accepting those things as well. Love something so much that it’s all worth it.

My Shit Sandwich

As I mentioned, weather here in Connecticut during training isn’t so great. The timing of the race isn’t ideal. Years prior, I saw far more people I knew from Houston–on the course cheering, volunteers, runners. That part was a little disappointing. The heat and humidity expected on the day of the race called for a yellow flag. And yeah, I was sore.

Then there was the waiting. Mark runs the full marathon, and though I thought I had made plans for someone to pick me up, there was a misunderstanding and I found myself sitting in my salty, sweaty, rained-on, yuck for a few hours alone getting more sore and exhausted by the second.

Why I’m Eating it Anyway

I saw my dear friend Kellie of Yoga-Run-Repeat before the race & we caught up. I joke about being raised by the streets of Houston, but it’s true: all of the stories of mayhem, madness, and juvenile delinquency unfold as I run this course. There was hardly a single spot unoccupied by people cheering for their loved ones, funny signs, helpful people who brought along donut holes and treats for complete strangers. The encouragement felt by the surrounding community is unparalleled.

Marathon spectators are what it’s all about. I know it can get boring on the sidelines, so I act really ridiculous whenever I catch someone’s eye, I cheer for them A LOT, say silly things, just act crazy and make people laugh. Though I was embarrassed that Mark put ‘Tiny Kelsie’ on my bib again this year, a volunteer saw it and said “You ran last year!” Then got embarrassed that she knew. I can’t blame her for noticing, I spend more energy encouraging people to cheer than I do running the race! The last mile I was raising the roof to the bigger crowds and it was like making a wave happen.

People were telling me that they were proud of me. Who I don’t even know. I’ve done so many bigger things in my life with little to no recognition, and all I have to do is run around for a couple of hours and that random stranger was proud. That’s spectacular.

I can’t not do this race. Remind me next year when I’m forcing myself onto a treadmill for a few hours while it’s snowing outside.

2017-aramco-chevron-houston-half-marathon-medals-2

2017 Resolutions

Tomorrow is day three of 2017, but with the boy returning to school, the man returning to work, and I beginning to freelance, it seems like day one. So much excitement, I can’t seem to sleep. I’ll keep this short and sweet.

In 2017, I will…

  1. Pursue my version of minimalism.
  2. Continue to improve with maintaining the budget.
  3. Spend more time creating, less time looking for inspiration.
  4. Social media: who needs it? I’ll take some time away from my online presence outside of blogging. It isn’t serving me.
  5. Hit “Publish” more often. Let go of perfectionism. Post those old drafts.
  6. Become an Ironman.

& I’ll be okay with having six resolutions and not seven. Yes, seven is a better number than six. Refer to resolution 5. 😉