25,000 Words: Day 16

Yay! I'm happy to report that I hit 25,000 words last night, even though I feel like the last 500 or so words are complete trash and will most certainly be rewritten. I'm at a point where I'm struggling to figure out the setting of my the next scene I have to write. Sometimes if I can't visualize where my character is at, I can't see what they're doing. Even though I've planned out and structured my story, I left a lot of room open for discovery. I'm on the journey with my characters seeing things as they see them sometimes. 

There's this strange thing going on where out of the many characters I've created, the only one without a name so far is my main character. Her initials throughout the draft have been M.C.. Twenty-five thousand words in and I don't have a name for her. Making hasnt been a terrible process with the others. I'm absolutely in love with what I've come up with so far. I suppose my M.C. is still M.C. because I feel her personality is still a bit incomplete.

That's what I'll be working on today along with figuring out the setting and goal of the upcoming scene I need to write. There is a fair amount of planning I need to do before I write a scene, sort of setting the stage so I can improvise in the correct context, avoid plot holes and ultimately not fall into a zone of just staring at the screen frozen. That is all for now. Everyone is doing well. Husband. Toddler. Baby in belly. We are very well indeed. 

M. THEO

10,000 Words: Day 6

My Husband adores Christmas, thus our tree goes up early every year. This is actually a bit later than usual. 

My Husband adores Christmas, thus our tree goes up early every year. This is actually a bit later than usual. 

Even though I've felt a bit stuck with some areas of my plot development the past couple days, I still managed to push through past the 10,000 word mark. I have so much joy from this fact because it is proof that the work I've put in on a daily basis is adding up. With some things I set off to do, I don't see my progress as easily so it's harder for me to stay motivated. I like writing because it's measurable, plannable and above all of that unpredictable. I'm in the middle of many scenes, I don't write chronologically, even though I originally set out to do so. Since I've plotted out my entire novel during the month of October, which has given me these glorious pillars of structure and destination. How I connect these dots is completely improvised as I sit down to write. I usually am unaware of where the scene will go. I place myself on the shoulders of a character and record whatever happens to us. I also have a tap into the character's mind so I know what they are thinking in regards to what's going on around us. I discover as they do a lot of the times. Other times, I've predestined them and they follow my plan, and even that is rarely exact. I've been mapping out plots for years and years, but I never sat down and wrote. This has been one of the greatest experiences I've ever had and I'm only a week in. I try not to bother myself with thoughts of how my writing will be accepted, it's hard not to consider it. But I'm slowly conditioning my mind to be free in my craft no matter what. Of course I study diligently and implement writing techniques and structures that I seem important for success and overall quality, but the world I create is mine to make. 

M.THEO  

 

My Weekly Rewards: NaNo Day Three

Day three, I made my word count goals. It's starting to get a little easier now that I am staying at it. I've been working on writing in deep point of view, which was strange at first, but I'm getting the hang of it. My to do list includes the task of creating a reward system so that I can celebrate each milestone with something I can look forward to. I am a very easily pleased person so I have definitely used that to my advantage with my reward system. So if I meet my word count each day, I treat myself to (re)watching an episode of Arrested Development. That's my daily reward. I have a reward set in place for twice a week as well, Wednesdays and Saturdays. If I meet my goals every few days, I get to watch an episode of another show I decided not to binge or discuss with anyone because I loathe spoilers. My weekly reward is where things start to spice up. After week one is completed, I am going to buy a fancy candle (amazing right?). I've been looking forward to that candle, as my old one burned out in a day and wasn't that impressive. I'm going to have to go to Bath and Body Works or Urban Outfitters to get this special candle that I'll use to aid in my writing atmosphere. Next, is my reward for completing week two, which will be a fancy holiday coffee cup (which I'll be using for tea since I'm pregnant right now). I plan to pick this up at Target. I've had my eye on some of their mugs and I'm ready to get over into that section. My last two weeks rewards will be perfume and to go out to eat, but I haven't yet decided in which order. I'm thinking after the final week, I'd like to celebrate my accomplishments with my husband and friends as well, perhaps have a fest of some sort. We are always having fests, and we love to celebrate each other's accomplishments so it will all work out pretty well.

On to some other news, my Christmas-adoring husband put the tree up and it looks beautiful. It was a wonderful evening, him putting the tree up, playing his Christmas music, drinking his holiday drinks. I was at my desk writing. My son was nearby playing but enclosed in his large playpen area so he wouldn't get caught up in the mess of decorations. We still have to decorate the rest of the apartment with garland and other things, but this was the main event. 'Twas a wonderfully spirited and productive evening, very grateful for my life. Oh, and I hit a writing milestone....a little over 5000 words! Yay day three magic! I got an email from NaNoWrimo once I hit the milestone. They sent me an amazing quote from author Jonathan Stroud..... "Alchemists tried for centuries to turn base metals into gold. Every time we sit down and put words on paper, we succeed where they failed. We're conjuring something out of nothing." That quote really juiced up my motivation and confidence. It's so true, I love it. I hope all is well with you. Happy Weekend!

M.Theo

 

An Exhilarating Finish: NaNo Day Two

Day two of National Writing Month went well I believe. I didn't get a large amount of writing done until later on in the night, but that's because I can work best either earlier in the morning or later in the night when I can have some alone time. I met my word count goal for day two so I'm super happy about that. I rushed before midnight in the last 40 minutes and knocked out over 800 words to make my goal. My plan for Wednesday is to have my writing a bit more evenly spaced out throughout the day, but I do end up doing planning and research a lot during the day as well. I'm at the stage where I am trying to slowly name some of my characters and settings. I swear naming is the hardest part! Even when you keep a memo in your phone dedicated to collecting names, words, and titles, it seems most of the stuff I've collected isn't a good fit for this current project. I like to actively allow things to come to me, to speak to me if you will. So I won't stress about that too much. It'll be placeholders for now.

Oh, let me tell you about one slight tragedy of the day (it's a tragedy for me because I am me). I'd started sketching one of my setting locations, taking time to detail and prepare it to assist me in my writing and visualization. Once I had finished, I kept it out on my desk because I was actively using it (staring at it trying to pull inspiration from it). Later on in the evening, my son comes over to my desk, as he usually does when I'm sitting here and starts playing with a book I had sitting on top of my sketch. The mistake I made here was interfering. I didn't mind him playing with the book, as it was a typography design hardback, something that would hold his attention for a while. I went to flip some pages in the book with him and he got so excited that he started flipping the pages wildly which starts rustling the papers I had under the book. I tried to lift the book up a bit to move my sketch out of the storm's path, but then he caught a glimpse of it and snatched it before I could tighten my grasp on it. From there it was like witnessing a murder (severe over-exaggeration from a normal societal view but accurate for me). The quickness of his hands cannot be matched. He crumpled that paper so fast, with such excitement and joy.

He could crumple everything I own, he is still the greatest thing I've ever known. (This picture was taken earlier in the day..before The Crumpling.

He could crumple everything I own, he is still the greatest thing I've ever known. (This picture was taken earlier in the day..before The Crumpling.

The very first second or two, I did attempt to move forward to retrieve the paper from him, but even that subtle movement alone cause him to think it was more of a game and his rate of wild paper destruction (play) exponentially increased before my eyes. There was nothing I could do. It was too late. I just sat there in horror watching him giddy with excitement, my beloved sketch reduced to rubble. I leaned back in my chair and put both my hands over my face to grieve. I was in pure shock. I spend so much time on it! It was at that moment my husband walked over, as he had witnessed some of what happened. He took the crinkled disaster from our two year old and he began humming and walking about the house with a purpose. I knew exactly what that meant, as he had always done, he was going to try and fix it. This is what he does when he witnesses a devastating thing like this happen to me. When something I value gets destroyed, if he can fix it, he will. A little while after he disappeared into the bedroom, he reemerges, walks over to my desk behind me and starts to explain that the drawing on the paper was absolute perfection and that although his ironing job wasn't perfect, he got most of the wrinkles out. I examined the paper and saw how much he returned it back to its original state. Even with the wear and irreversible flattened crumble that was still present in the top right corner, I was just so happy and grateful. I absolutely love him and am very grateful for him.

So I perched the paper up on my speaker, held in place by the family gnome, and begin to write my last 800 words for the night with just minutes to spare. When I finished I did a pregnant victory wobble through the apartment and then proceeded to get into my daily writing reward: re-watching Arrested Development. Tobias Funke is just an outstanding mess. I'll detail the milestone rewards I set up for myself inthe next post. Those are the highlights of day two NaNoWriMo. I'm at a point right now where I can't really care too much if this blog post is poorly written or has any typos because I'm currently composing the first draft of a novel and I'm in a *no edit* mode. Which means I don't do any revising until the first draft is done (so that I can actually finish it in thirty days). So please disregard any mistakes, I just don't have it in me right now, but I still want to recap my days.

Discovered this track on a Spotify playlist. It served as some nice background sound for a little while. 

Discovered this track on a Spotify playlist. It served as some nice background sound for a little while. 

Also, I've been keeping my music and ambiance sounds on a nice rotation. I've come across some good stuff recently, but I need to sit down and really get a playlist created, something I should've done during Preptober (October prep month), but it's all good. I've been listening to this fireplace ambience on YouTube a lot. That video has probably been my most consistent staple sound because classical and jazz music can be just as distracting to me as lyrical music because I usually know every note of everything I've ever heard. The wonderful gift of being a classical musician. Well that's about it for now. Time to get to writing. I'll be back with day three recap soon. Thanks for reading. Thanks for stopping by. I could honestly be talking to myself, but that's fine too. I'm just trying to build some habits. 

M.Theo

Sleepy Starts: NaNo Day One.

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Day One

1679 words. 2 naps. 1 doctor's appointment. 

Today marks the official start of NaNoWriMo. I stayed up late last night trying to refresh my hair while I still had the time to do so. I already know that I can become severely focused on my present projects so why not try for one last attempt to not look so dry and busted. If you don't know, National Writing Month is upon us, and that means those who participate are agreeing (to various degrees) to write 50,000 words during the month of November. The 50,000 words will be broken up into daily goals of 1,667 words. A lot of us have spent the month of October (Preptober) getting ready for November, ironing out outlines, filling out character profiles, gathering resources, determining POV and etc...I know I have been steadily preparing and now it's time to jump into action. I will attempt to recap my days as I chug along towards the eventual goal of creating a first draft in thirty days.

I've completed two other post-its similar to these. I write 'completed' in green going down the side of the post it. I still have more to do. 

I've completed two other post-its similar to these. I write 'completed' in green going down the side of the post it. I still have more to do. 

My day did not completely go as I planned. I initially planned to write in three sessions, morning, noon, and night, breaking up my word count goals into chunks of 500, 500 and 700. Let me share with you why today of all days, this did not work out for me. I had to wake up around 5:30 am to get some last minute outlining done so that I would have a roadmap of my 30-day plan. I created a day-by-day plan for which scenes I would work on that would cover the basics of my outline in order to have some general direction. We had a morning appointment scheduled for my son, his 2 year pediatric check up. I took my husband to work and then went straight to the appointment. I initially wasn't looking forward to it because I'm six and a half months pregnant and didn't have the energy to wrangle him down by myself in the office, but he did so well and it went smoothly.

I came home after that to devour my breakfast and get a little writing done but I was falling asleep at my computer. I went over to sit on the couch with my son and let him climb over me while I tried to close my eyes for a second before having to leave back out to finish some errands at Target and get my husband for lunch. To make a long story short, the whole first half of my day was spent running errands and being outrageously exhausted. I didn't really get to dive into writing until around 7pm. NaNoWriMo had some virtual write-in events streaming live on Youtube that I put on in the background for a little while. It was nice to virtually hang out with other writers and write together. I was behind schedule, writing with my toddler on my lap at some points, and fighting my pregnant urges of just crashing into bed. But at the end of the night, I did it! I didn't think I was going to reach my word count goal but I did. Yay :)

The household gnome. I originally got this for my husband because he puts hidden gnomes in all his drawings. Then me and my son have been taking turns with it in our possession. It's safe to say we all like the gnome. I have it now...ha. 

The household gnome. I originally got this for my husband because he puts hidden gnomes in all his drawings. Then me and my son have been taking turns with it in our possession. It's safe to say we all like the gnome. I have it now...ha. 

My writing went a bit slower today because it dawned on me that I hadn't yet decided on a point-of-view to write my story in. I had to stop and take a nice amount of time to study up on what I wanted to do and I came to the conclusion that I must try writing in deep point of view. It's a writing style I am not familiar with so I'm actively putting myself through a learning curve which is slowing me down a bit. Although I feel it will be worth the time practicing now instead of having to go back during editing trying to figure out how to do it then. I'm ending the night at 1,679 words, which in my opinion is not that many words, I'm actually pretty grateful for this day turning out the way it did. It showed me that throughout this month of November, even if I'm exhausted, have errands to run, start writing super late in the day and taking care of my toddler, I can still meet my word count goal. I usually have more than enough time to get things done so being able to experience NaNoWriMo on a super busy day was certainly a blessing for me. I know I can do this. If you are attempting to write 50,000 words for your project in November, best of luck to you. It's such a thrill to be a part of a massive collection of global creative energy. Happy Writing! 

M.Theo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

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It's been a couple years since I first found about NaNoWriMo, and I've never been able to catch this global event in time to participate. Finally, I am right on time to be a part of this annual month of writing that takes place every November. The goal is to write each day of the month in order to reach around 50,000 words by the end of the event. Most people embark upon this journey in hopes of completing the first draft of their novel. It is a wonderful opportunity to join in on such a powerful collective energy and jumpstart your writing goals. National Novel Writing Month is a non-profit organization that connects writers from around the world to net of support, inspiration and guidance. I think it's the idea of knowing that there will be many others starting fresh on the first of November that really boosts encouragement. Everyone is in this together, even though they are working on separate projects. I've decided to join in this year, as it aligns perfectly with some goals and deadlines I have set for myself, current projects and my brand.

So far, I've visited the NaNoWriMo website and created a profile. It was there I found links to the inspiring introductory webinar they streamed a couple days ago. I took some notes on the webinar and will be including them in this post. If you have ever dreamed of writing a novel, or embarking on any solid writing project, this is the moment for you. Now is the time. It's currently what they call PREPTOBER, where you spend the month of October getting completely prepared in all aspects for the journey in November. I also watched a video on from a published NaNo Alumna where she shares tips on getting ready in October. Those notes will also be included in this post, as well as embeds and links to the videos I've been absorbing so far. If you are interested in joining this journey, potentially having a first draft of your dream complete by the end of November, or just want to gather some writing momentum and inspiration, I highly advise you to go to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up, it's free. So let's get into these notes, I'm all about preparation. Also, if you decide to create an account, add me as a writing buddy! My NaNoWriMo username is M.Theo. See you there...

 

Join some of the folks at NaNoWriMo HQ for a webcast designed to prepare you for writing a novel this November! We'll be pulling some noveling, outlining, and prepping prompts and activities from tried-and-true NaNo resources, as well as making up some fun and crazy new ones.

NaNoWriMo Prep/Webinar Notes 

What Inspires Me To Write?

10/3/2017 11:56 Pm

I am inspired to write when I feel as though I mustenter into a world that exists within my own mind. My mind feels infinite, so naturally I believe that there are an infinite amount of story possibilities to exist in the realms I create. I like to vacation in these places mentally. I want to make a realm that can be traveled to from here. A realm full of adventure, and lessons that will translate back to the home land. Perhaps it is here where I will go through some trials so that I can be better prepared for my actual life. My inspiration comes from the desire to overcome obstacles in a journey-like sense, and document that victory in a fantastical manner that aims to teach, illuminate and inspire. The obstacles faced in this realm will serve as a guide for the real world.

Other sources of inspiration (from webinar):

1.       Walking after writing sessions.

2.       Driving; using voice memos.

3.       Senses: Sound and taste/feelings you get from eating something good. Creating analogies from those experiences.

4.       Music: Jazz and other non-lyrical/instrumental genres.

5.       Favorite Books: Keep nearby, open randomly to catch the rhythm of a sentence or flow of dialogue.

6.       Nature

7.       Stretching Your Brain: Doing, learning and/or experiencing new things.

 

10/4/2017 8:14 Am

NaNo Webinar Points (Continued)

·         The things we appreciate as a reader, are also the things we appreciate as a writer.

·         Write the things you actually like to read, not the things you think you should be reading.

·         Write for yourself, with your true voice, as it will attract the tribe that will connect to it.

 

Identify The Things That Make Your Favorite Novels Tick & Things You Dislike In Novels

Favorite Things

1.       Fantastical elements in real settings.

2.       Character depth and backstory.

3.       Complicated antagonists.

4.       Interesting side characters that I love almost more than the main characters.

5.       Mayhem and ever-growing chaos.

Annoying Things

1.       Stories that start up slowly, too much exposition.

2.       Unnecessary wording and sentence structure.

3.       Stories that start with a mother or close relative dying from illness or car crash.

4.       When the protagonist doesn’t have enough small victories during their journey.

 

Other favorites vs annoying things (from webinar)

·         (Dislikes) Using big words for the sake of sounding smart.

·         Useless love triangles.

·         Second person narration.

·         Too many beautiful people.

 

·         (Likes) Multiple perspectives of the same story.

·         Natural sounding dialogue; takes practice.

·         Putting ordinary people in situations that make them extraordinary.

·         Humor, including an air of lightness.

·         When your heartbreaks over real life struggles.

·         When beautiful people are insecure.

 

Split screen note taking makes me happy. Baby sleep. Hubby getting ready for bed. I had tea. All was well. 

Split screen note taking makes me happy. Baby sleep. Hubby getting ready for bed. I had tea. All was well. 

How to turn writing prep into an actual novel?

Methods:

1.       Planners: Plans many details of the novels structure.

2.       Pantsers: Does very little planning in advance, spontaneous.

3.       Plantsers: A mix of both planning and spontaneous writing.

*Download free Workbook pdf, found on NaNo website (for all aged writers).

  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5XLWiHqq_J-dG1LZHBmUC1TaEU/view

 

Chart novel structure as a rollercoaster (pg.32 of workbook) Determine outline/plot points.

(Also practice by charting the shape of a favorite novel.)

My Example Novel Structure: Divergent by Veronica Roth ***Beware Spoilers***

1.       Exposition (Background/Set up): Beatrice Prior lives in a futuristic society. All people are separated into one of five factions according to their personality. She will be allowed to soon choose her own faction at the Choosing Ceremony.

2.       Inciting Incident: Beatrice finds out from her test that she is divergent, a blend of three of factions, but can’t tell anyone or else she will be in danger.

3.       Rising Action: Beatrice, now Tris, goes into the Dauntless faction and works to prove herself there through a series of difficult physical challenges. She becomes involved with her instructor, called Four.

4.       Climax: She completes Dauntless initiation but then her and her faction are injected with a serum that causes them to attack Abnegation, her home faction. Since Tris is divergent, she doesn’t get affected by the serum. She tries to protect them but is captured by the Erudite faction.

5.       Falling Action: She escapes execution and returns back to the Dauntless compound with her dad and other help. They help free the Dauntless from the serum’s mind control, including Four.

6.       Resolution: Tris and her allies know this is only the beginning of the fight against Erudite. They leave the Dauntless compound to travel to the Amity compound for protection.

 

More Outlining Tips/Ideas

·         The rollercoaster (story structure/plot points) could use more hills, loopty loops, separate tracks.

·         Use flash cards to help keep track of separate ideas. Create a deck of ideas and plot points.

·         Read Stephen King’s book on writing, gives an alternative perspective on story structure.

 

Writing Prompt Exercise

“Write about your ability to be able to talk to an alien colony near earth and what you do with this ability.” -Christina A.

I have an ability which allows me to communicate with a nearby alien colony. I am able to receive information from them in the form of musical note combinations and chord progressions. I then take these melodies and send them through the airwaves on earth. The purpose of spreading these waves is to help people around the world become peaceful and inspired. Peace and productivity are the main staples of this alien colony and they feel that if they can gain us as useful allies, then we can create a large enough energy shield that will protect us from future danger from other approaching alien colonies. People on earth have a large amount of creative energy that will prove to be very useful in the larger scheme of things. It is my job to encourage this power among us all through the form of musical inspiration.

Additional Ideas on Alien Communication (from webinar)

·         Developing trust with the aliens which then leads to the development of communication.

NaNoWriMo To Do

1.       Sign up for National Novel Writing Month [X]

2.       Watch Webinar [X]

3.       Download free workbook [X]

4.       Go to website and announce novel on profile.

5.       Begin preparation and novel planning.

6.       Attend next webcast on October 20th.

7.       Begin writing November 1st.

 

Ten PREPTOBER Tips for National Novel Writing Month (Notes from Kristen Martin)

1.       Create a dedicated notebook/bullet journal

·         PREPTOBER checklist

·         NaNo outline

·         Title ideas

·         Plot and subplot ideas

·         Character archetypes

*NaNoWriMo Bullet Journal Inspiration Video*

2.       Sign up for NaNoWriMo and create a profile

·         NaNoWriMo Website

·         Free to sign up

·         Add writing buddies

3.       Brainstorm and write down story ideas.

4.       Determine genre, point of view and tense.

5.       Create character profiles

·         Who are your characters, what are their backgrounds and what their relationships to one another are.

6.       Determine the rules of your world

·         Does magic exist?

·         What type of creatures appear in your story?

·         What does the society look like?

·         Who holds the power?

7.       Outline plots and subplots

·         Expanding on the story idea.

8.       Write synopsis or act 1-2-3 outline

·         Write backwards. If you know the ending of the story, it can be easier to write.

·         In the act 3 outline, try writing the ending in one sentence. Next write what events happen in act 2 that lead up to that ending. Then try to bridge the gap to how certain events could lead to act 2 which lead to the ending in act 3.

9.       Gather writing inspiration

·         Make Pinterest boards and music writing playlists ahead of time.

·         Atmosphere prep: scented candles, tea supply etc..

10.   Choose rewards for word count milestones

·         Maintains motivation, keeps you on track with word count goals.

·         Ex. Reward yourself every 10,000 words. Rewards increase as the numbers increase.

·         Keeps writing fun and exciting.

Thanks for reading!

Mother Another

I ran into my mother in another dimension. 
She was a super star. 
I tried to get her attention. 
Towering over me she looked down. 
I said I am your daughter, do you remember me?
I'm still uncertain if she did.
But that's alright because I got to see her in a form more glorious
Than the one she had here.
But she did not have me there, and that was the tragedy.

Inspired by a dream...

SEQUENCE

Greetings! I've returned to my blog after taking some time away to focus on other projects, specifically my new instrumental EP Sequence. After my first experience at Afropunk 2016 in Brooklyn, I came back outrageously inspired to complete something. I usually spend a lot of time studying skills, dabbling and practicing here and there, but I needed to complete something from start to finish, title it and release it. I believe for some of us who deem ourselves infinite students of everything, it may be hard to get out there and officially execute something. I've wanted to just stay hidden and perfecting things until the time became right. But I began to realize that I wasn't practicing the art of release. There is an art to sharing your mind, skills and creations with others. It's similar to being a musician who lives in the practice room but doesn't practice performing. So I began on a journey that would only end once I released my project out into the world.  

SEQUENCING YOUR STEPS

In order to get from where you are now to where you want to be, like with any journey, you must envision your path step by step. Thinking about traveling from New York to California for the first time or any time without any planning, maps or directions would take a considerable amount of time and may seem impossible during most of the trip. Your resources wouldn't be utilized correctly and neither would your energy and stamina to travel. If you had all the time and resources you needed to explore everything in that manner then this wouldn't be much of an issue. But if you are determined to get to your destination, and have some limitations, whether it be money, time or skill, then you will need a strong foundation to lead you through to the end and guide you back to the main path if you get lost. A foundation is necessary for increasing the chance of success. It actually makes it less about chance, and more about precision and calculation.

Whatever it is you want to accomplish, whether it be graduating from medical school, writing a book, traveling to Ghana, or composing a song, it can be accomplished step by step. It is the act of stitching together a series of small individual steps that will allow you to experience movement forwards. Momentum will be the result of constant motion. The key is to break larger steps into smaller ones. You continue to break down steps into smaller pieces until they are the perfect size for you to handle. That size will depend on your resources (time, money, and skill).

Sample Sequence

For example, my next goal is to start doing violin performances again (It's been quite some time since I lived the performance life). Instead of jumping instantly to envisioning myself performing on stage, I first will envision myself creating my routine, then practicing that routine, then recording myself on camera for personal review, then performing it in front of only my husband a few times to get used to the difference in pressure and concentration. After that, I would perform the routine in front of my husband and dad and a couple other friends and family members. Next, I'd go outdoors, across the street to the park/field and play openly outside. After that, I'd most likely go to an artsy area/street and sit on some steps to play for people passing by. This is a real example of working your way up, so that you can grow internally with the process as well. We have to condition ourselves psychologically as well as tuning our skill sets. 

THE LESSONS LIST

I comprised a list of things I learned from the experience of producing my first EP completely on my own, lessons that I will be carrying over to my next project to make my process easier and more efficient. Here is a summary of those notes.

  1. Not every creative session will be productive or inspired. 
  2. Restriction of resources forces you to rely more on creative survival, thus birthing perspectives and opportunities that may otherwise not exist.
  3. Deadlines are as useful as they are hindering, depending on what state of mind you are in at the time. 
  4. Make use of negative moods/energy as they can create a passionate and driven work environment. 
  5. Get help with aspects of the production that aren't within your skill specialty if it hinders the progress of the project.
  6. Think less, feel more.
  7. Take scheduled breaks during long stretches of creating to stay fresh and avoid arcing downward in energy and inspiration.
  8. Simplification and minimalism can save challenging aspects of a project, providing space for clarity. 
  9. Throw yourself out there; be brave.
  10. Don't over absorb your work as you run the risk of conjuring up unnecessary issues with it. Do as much as needed and move on.

GUIDES

I kept diligent notes, spreading my mind out through various notebooks during the creation, recreation and refining of this EP. Writing through my process served as a guide, a lantern through the dark wilderness within my mind. It kept me from getting too lost. I was also beautifully guided through parts of my journey by my good friend and Master Sonic Adviser (as I've titled him, mentor would be another acceptable term). It's a blessing to be able to discuss the sonic realm with someone so fluent in frequencies. He helped tune my perspective on seeing and understanding how sound works in the digital realm, as well as a bit of the analog realm, where his focus deeply lies. I must give a grand and eternal thanks to Ben Ferrari

    SEQUENCE IS THE JOURNEY

    The Sequence EP was most certainly a journey. From beginning to end, lessons were learned, problems were solved, frequencies were explored, mistakes were made. There were painful breakdowns and triumphant breakthroughs. Deep moments of doubt and depression. Feelings of fear and solitude. Confusion. Learning curves. Pure and utter determination. There was a lot of time spent cutting through thickets of unknown digital and sonic lands. A way had to be made. A path had to be blazed in order to get through to the other side. Although Sequence is imperfect, it was through the imperfections that peace was found within the project. When you've done the best you could possibly do, at your current stage, with your current resources, the next step is to accept your creation for what it is...the highlights and the shadows. Fall in love with what you've done because it is you who have done it. 

    Margo

    The Four Stages of Learning and My Musical Journey

    There are four stages of learning. The first stage is Unconscious Incompetence. This is when you are unaware of the mistakes you are making. Stage two is Conscious Incompetence, when you become aware or have been made aware of what you have been doing wrong. The third stage is Conscious Competence, when you can now execute the action correctly, but it takes concentration and mental energy to do so. The final stage is Unconscious Competence. Here is where you can execute the action automatically, as it has been deeply rooted within you. In order to move up this ladder, you must practice this action over and over again, as each time you repeat it, that neural pathway gets coated with myelin. Keep coating the pathway to reach the fourth stage. But don't practice bad habits as they can be stored in the unconscious as well. Whatever you are striving to gain efficiency in or master, it is important to be aware that you are on this ladder to begin with. Being aware that you are unconsciously incompetent is a glorious thing. It means you are on the path. I usually reach conscious competence in a lot of things but I continuously strive, never ending...that is the great feature of our human kind, we are deeply programmed to survive and strive. Never ending. Never give up even if you have lapsed for any amount of time. Become efficient and then a master, and then a teacher.

    I must add that my personal journey in music has been a long and strenuous one. I recently have let it sink in that I am on a path towards unconscious competence playing the violin. It is so necessary to get to this stage because it is very hard to perform for people if you are still using up all of your mental energy trying to get through the piece. You can practice over and over again, a thousand times by yourself, but it is different when you must play in front of even just one person. This idea is also the same for studying any subject and then being tested. If you only learn the material enough to get through it, you may not have enough mental energy left to perform well when tested. You must learn the material deeply so that you can free up space needed to control the pressure of recalling information for a test or when performing.  Which is why not only comprehension but deep memorization is also another great method of achieving unconscious competence. Or is memorization a by-product of practicing/studying so much? I recently put myself to the test. I've heard that perhaps doing something one thousand times will earn you mastery over that skill. I cut that number down quite a bit for my experiment. Working on Bach Partita No. 3 in e major, the Preludio. I played the first five or six lines with a goal of a hundred times. I marked each time as a tally on notebook paper I kept nearby. By the time I played the passage 50 times, I had the section memorized. These types of self studies and experiments are very beneficial to me because it puts an actual workable number to the energy that I am putting toward something. Instead of what feels like a countless, endless amount of practice, I know that around 50 times playing a section, I will have it memorized. This gives me confidence, hope and the energy I need to play it another 50 times. I know that my work in not in vain. My whole time studying violin, then my very long lapse in playing due to my mother's sickness and then passing, I never really knew how to measure my practicing. Now I know, now I can measure exactly where I am on this ladder to mastery.

    The violin is a very intimidating instrument, and so are it's players but that is something I just have to get over. The competitive nature of the string world is something that will have you stop playing because you feel like you are not as great as another. But forget that, play because the strings resonate with your soul and being. Play because it is the only way you know how to sing. Play because you love the melodies and the harmonies. Do not get caught up in the madness. In whatever you do, do it as if you are the only one left on the planet and this is how you are choosing to spend your time. Do not think you cannot master something because you have not mastered it before 20 or 25 years of age, or 30 or 35, or any age. Do not compare yourself to the prodigies. Do not compare yourself to the greats. Just focus, measure your practice, emulate, listen, record and try not to give up. It's very hard! But that's the great thing about playing the violin and working on other skills that are not easily mastered, not that many people are doing it in the grand scheme. I am not worried about being the best, being world famous, playing for kings and queens. I just love to sing through my strings. That is all. Much love and blessings to you. Peace and productivity to all. 

    The Art Festival With No Artists: A Saturday in June

    My husband and I usually travel to a local coffee shop on the weekends in order to catch up on work in a fresh environment with some vanilla or chai lattes and cappuccinos. This Saturday, we decided to head to Legacy Village, an outdoor shopping plaza that has a balcony area with WiFi that sits above a Starbucks. We had our baby with us this time and were prepared to grab some food and get to work. Pulling into the plaza we noticed that an art festival was in mid swing, Art in the Village, and of course I was ecstatic about that! I love discovering art walks and summer festivals. But before we started down the path filled with white tents and vendors, I had to run over to C'est Macaron! to try some macarons for the first time.

    I absolutely love these delicate delights! I bought two raspberry lemonades and two pistachios macarons. They are light and flaky on the outside, slightly chewy within the inner layers and then the meringue right in the middle is bright and flavorful. A beautiful treat to experience. Moving on to the art festival, I must admit that I did not enjoy it. Just to quickly describe my experience, I will say that it was stuffy, and supremely arts-n-crafty. We were walking around thinking we would feel at home around fellow creatives, but there were no artists there! Arts and crafters...yes, plenty of people who do crafts and glue rhinestones on to cat clocks. Like these were the kind of arts-n-crafts that no one wants to buy...ugly, terrible items. I'm not saying that all the vendors items were unsightly, I did see some (as in very few) items that were pretty cool. One of those cool items were some wind chimes made out of sheets of crystal. I really enjoyed them, I adore wind chimes deeply and we might have even purchased one if the vendor wasn't terribly rude. I pulled out my phone to take a picture of his work and he started screaming at me, so rude and disgustingly. 

    Like I understand if a creator does not want their product to be photographed, that's no problem at all. You should most certainly put up a sign saying no photography if it's that serious. This old, pale man just had a mean and short spirit within him. I politely said I would delete the picture, and that I was just a local blogger that wanted to capture the images of the art festival and he rudely said he doesn't want to be featured on any of the internet and blogs and stuff. Hey old, pale guy, if you want to conduct business with people and sell your stuff, learn to talk to people with respect. You aren't the only human being roaming this earth. Hmm, I could say it was because I am not as pale as he was that he decided to be rude, or because I am not as old as he is, perhaps he has no respect for people who still have more years ahead of them than behind them. I didn't let him ruin my time though. You come to the realization that dealing with some rude people is part of the lifestyle of blogging and photography. MOVING ON...

    We went to get some lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. Byron (my husband) put Julius (my son) in a highchair for the first time. He is still in the stage of babyhood where he just wants to chew and grab everything in sight. That was my second time eating there. I remember applying for a waitress job there several years ago. I even had an interview but they never called me back...boo.

    I didn't really like the way this picture turned out but I wanted to share some sort of proof that I was there. 

    I've been extremely attracted to the bright blue and teal realm of the color spectrum lately. I saw these boats hanging up outside of L.L. Bean and grabbed a shot of them just because. I will call it color inspiration. 

    I couldn't end the days events without going to pick up the next book in the series I'm reading. Finally enjoying the Divergent book series. We went to Half-Priced Bookstore first, but they didn't have any softback versions. So we headed over to Target to see if they would have my book.

    And they did have it! Yay! I was so excited. This was the first time Julius sat in a shopping cart seat. I liked that there was a strap the secured him extremely well. No reaching, no tipping over, no falling, no worries. Unrelated...I am trying to get back into the habit of writing. It's so strange, when I open up a new blog post, my writing changes. Similar to an actor that is too self-aware in front the camera. I become too self-aware and thus inhibiting my natural flow of thinking and writing. I believe the more I write, the more I will be able to express myself in my natural rhythm without overthinking. Okay, that is all for now. I swear I am trying to post more now that I have organized my blog goals a bit better. We shall see. 

    August Loves

    Perm Rod Set feat. Creme of Nature Argan Oil Mousse

    Day Three Perm Rod Set

    Day Three Perm Rod Set

    PERM ROD SET SUCCESS
    I tried my first perm rod set and it turned out great. I've been wanting to try out perm rods for a while now because I am naturally someone who doesn't like to invest a ton of time with the daily upkeep of my hair. I needed to have it set and locked in with a moisturizing product. I can't blame my need for semi-low hair maintenance on being a new mother as I've never been one to desire a routine of nightly twisting or morning wash n go's. I adore the results those efforts produce, but realistically, the least amount of work I have to do with my hair, the better. 

    WHAT I USED
    I bought about 6 or 7 packs of perm rods, each containing 8 or 10 rods I believe. I wanted to play it safe because running out of rods will mess up the results. Having too much hair wrapped around one rod to compensate will cause the definition to be inconsistent and kind of jacked up. Each pack of perm rods were one dollar at my local beauty supply store. I also picked up some Creme of Nature Argan Oil Style and Shine Foaming Mousse as my setting product, as well as a new hooded dryer. I foolishly ruined my old dryer by trying to prop it up and covering the air vent causing it to short out. I already had some Carol's Daughter Leave-In Conditioner, which is an important step in the process. In addition to a leave-in conditioner, I used a deep conditioning treatment...some protein packs, I think they were Creme of Nature as well. I'm not completely certain, I threw them away and forgot, but they did have a protein treating aspect. These were the ones that are sold individually, like $1.99 a piece. I need to invest in a full tub of deep conditioner, but I can't seem to make a commitment. I'm going to just list everything out underneath this...

    PRODUCTS
    Creme of Nature (or any protein treatment) Deep Conditioner
    Aussie Moist Conditioner
    Medium-sized Perm Rods
    Carol's Daughter Leave-In Conditioner
    Creme of Nature Argan Oil Style and Shine Foaming Mousse
    Paddle Brush
    Hooded Dryer
    Headband
    Mesh Net Hair Cap
    Extra Large Bonnet

    MY PROCESS
    1. Co-washed hair with Aussie Moist, detangled
    2. Applied deep conditioner, shower cap overnight ( I hadn't deep conditioned in a while but I'm not even sure if the overnight treatment made any difference).
    3. Rinsed out deep conditioner, put in four sections.
    4. Applied leave-in conditioner throughout entire hair moderately.
    5. Made smaller sections, about 1.5 inches thick and generously applied mousse until saturated and then I brushed out the section until smooth. 
    6. Rolled hair onto perm rod. I used the method found in this Youtube video by JayHairBigga
    7. Sat under dryer 1.5 hours.
    8. Carefully unraveled with oily fingers, and gently separated.

    Day 5 Perm Rod Set

    Day 5 Perm Rod Set

    GENERAL TIPS
    1. Fluff minimally: Your hair will naturally expand over the days to come, especially if outside in regular wind. Your perm rod set will last longer if not overfluffed and separated initially. I did separate my hair moderately, so that I didn't feel like Shirley Temple. 

    2. Saturate and dry: Before rolling your hair up the perm rod, seriously saturate your hair with the mousse. Make sure your hair is at least damp before you put the mousse in. This is ideal for those using a hooded dryer, which I would recommend if you are like me and don't want to sleep in rods or gamble whether or not your hair is completely dry. A hooded dryer is a must. 

    3. Product hold factor: If spending a lot of time outside, you probably should find a mousse or setting lotion that is known for its hold factor. This Creme of Nature Argan Oil Mousse has a nice balance of shine, softness and hold, but I want to experiment with other mousses to see the difference. 

    HOW I SLEEP
    My hair might need a little oil before bed, so I oil it up without disturbing my curls to much. I use a headband to pineapple my hair. I just put the headband on in its regular fashion, and then push the back up a bit to move all my curls to the top-front of my head. I then put a mesh cap over the curls only and then finish off with covering my entire head with an extra large bonnet. 

    PERM ROD GOALS
    I want to have an initial investment of time doing my hair that will pay off with minimal upkeep while still maintaining moisture, curls, cute styling and overall good health. I want to wear my curls out for a week straight, enjoying its natural progression to a fuller state. After that week of just pineappling at night (pure heaven), I will have begun to see the moisture level of my hair gradually decrease and will eventually add moisture back in and seal. At this point, I will enter week 2 of this perm rod set. Week 2 will be re-moisturizing and either 2-strand twisting, flat twisting or putting bantu knots in before bed. This second week will also be a week of trying out different hairstyles/protective updo's.

    I will not be doing this during week 1 because I don't want to mess up my curls, but I did do a cute frohawk in the first week. Pretty much any style that just pins up some areas is okay but I'm not risking messing up my curls until week 2. After week 2 is over, depending on how I feel or the state of my hair, I will either wash and re-set my hair, put in a longer term protective style such a crown braid or two big flat twists for another week, or wash and marley twist my hair. That's my plan! These are the all the steps to how I did my perm rod set. I am totally in love with this process and the results. I have never successfully had a natural hair routine that truly fit all of my needs, schedule and energy level but this right here is it! Finally.....

    Lola

    How To Cultivate Creativity

    I have been trying to tap into Charlie recently, attempting to cultivate creativity. Charlie is the self of mine that can dive head first into musical practice, digital creation or any creative process. I have been in August mode for weeks now. I think August might be my default self. August brainstorms blog post ideas, plans projects, organizes, schedules to-do lists, executes ideas and networks. August is driven and naturally falls into leadership roles. I have been operating in August mode for a while now and I need to transition over to Charlie, The Creative. I am all me's all the time, but different sides take turns dominating depending on where I am at mentally, and there are certain triggers. So here I am now, attempting to trigger Charlie.  

    So how do I trigger Charlie? Well how about doing some record shopping, some photography, listening to a ton of music, relax a bit, find some inspiration, relax a bit more, find more inspiration and then push myself into a zone of creativity that has no rules, no regulations and no structure, just like this sentence I am currently crafting. It is when I let go of my need for perfection, precision and professionalism I can find Charlie. August has a strong hold over me, but sometimes, a lot of the times, I must let go. It's balance. It's survival. So where does record shopping come into play? You know how you set the mood for an atmosphere you want to cultivate? If you are trying to study, you might shut off the TV, put on Mozart Pandora, make some coffee or go to the library. This sets the atmosphere so that you can be active in a certain mode needed to accomplish a particular goal.

    This is what I do when trying to cultivate creativity and trigger Charlie. I blow out my fresh linen scented candles and light up a Patchouli incense. I surround myself with record store types of atmospheres and buy music. I play music that inspires me to create music. I watch YouTube videos of violinists playing covers of songs I enjoy. I must surround myself with the atmosphere that will get me in the proper states of mind. And more importantly, I must summon up the right amount of initial energy to thrust me in the right direction of action. Thinking about it just isn't enough. You must put in that first and often gruesome amount of energy to get the ball rolling. It's almost like waking up from a good slumber, it's hard, but once you are up, you are one step closer to your next step.

    Create the atmosphere
    Summon the energy
    Produce the goal

    Z.

    How To Blow Dry Natural Hair Without Heat Damage

    The blow out! I bought a new blow dryer, my old one stopped working mysteriously. The last time I blew my hair out was about eight months ago. I rarely put heat in my hair. Actually, I rarely do much of anything to my hair. I am someone who loves having hair, but I do not like spending a lot of time doing it. But this time, I wanted to blow it out and wear it like this for a little while before I put my twists back in. It is important to me to blow dry natural hair without heat damage. As I'm sure you know natural hair is prone to dryness, so my technique reinforces follicle protection. This process was not that difficult and it turned out very well. I did not damage my hair, which makes me very happy. The last thing I want to do is damage my hair trying to be cute, it's just not worth it. Okay so here is what I did...

    First I washed my hair, co-washed to be specific. I did not have a lot of product build up so a shampoo was not necessary. After I washed my hair, I deep conditioned it and twisted it up under a t-shirt. Once it was no longer dripping wet (but still damp), I applied heat protectant and olive oil. I put my hair in about eight sections as I go. Depending on which area of my hair I'm working with, I may part that section in half again. After I add the heat protectant (which I spray into my hands first) and olive oil, I take a very wide-tooth comb and do a light detangle from the ends up, then blow dry the section on low with the wide comb attachment. After the section is able to be combed through, I turn the hair dryer up and run it through my hair a few times. Once it feels a bit dry, I add just a little more heat protectant and olive oil to refresh it a bit and give it more time to straighten out under the heat. If I don't refresh it with the product, it gets too dry and potentially damaged before it gets completely blown out to my liking. After I refresh and run the blow dryer through my hair a couple more times, I add even more of the mixture to the ends, and run it through 1-2 more times. This entire time, I haven't been focusing on the ends as much as the roots and middle. 

    Once a section is complete, I brush it out with a wig brush and very loosely twist it. Once I get to the ends of the twist I add a drop of Aussie Moist conditioner and olive oil to the ends and twist. It might seem like I'm over doing it with adding heat protectant and olive oil, but it keeps my hair from drying out throughout the process. I experienced no heat damage and my hair came out great! I'm trying to get better at writing out my process, so excuse me if it seems a bit confusing. My husband suggests I make some videos in addition to this. So I will work on getting those done sometime in the future. Please contact me, or leave a comment if you have any questions regarding my blowout process or anything else hair related. I would love to hear from you. Oh and one more thing, Micheal Jackson's song Butterflies is just...exquisite. Exquisite I say. Well until next time darlings..

    Lola Z.

    Coventry and Cafe

    Every Saturday, my husband and I go to Phoenix coffee shop on Coventry Road. My dad or his mom will watch the baby and we pack up our laptops to enjoy a morning drinking lattes and working on various projects. I've grown to look forward to our cafe date. Some days we are more productive than others, but either way, it is good to get out and get to work in a different scenery. 

    I have been pretty upset lately regarding the loss of a hard drive that contained a couple years worth of photography I valued greatly. It has to be somewhere around this house. A part of me won't give up hope, one day I will find it and reunite with my lost photographs. After venting again and again to Byron, he finally suggested I move on and just take new pictures.

    I've been in a photography slump for several weeks so I decided to take advantage of our Saturday morning on Coventry and take some shots after our time in the coffee shop. It was a rather cold day out, despite the sunshine, so we quickly strolled down the street filled with boutiques and various shops. We stopped in Big Fun Toys, a vintage toy store stocked from floor to ceiling with various goodies. I really need to spend more time in there. 

    On another note, I just wanted to share some of my goals for this week. I plan to wake up everyday with a to-do list ready to go in my phone. Outside of my various chores and tending to my baby boy, I plan on practicing violin and piano. I want to continue collecting my new batch of photography and creating new blog posts. I also want to get a workout and yoga session in. These are my goals. I know that everyday won't turn out exactly how I want, but I at least have a goal to shoot for. 

    I am trying to be less of a perfectionist and relax a little bit. This is a daily struggle of mine because I have strangely high expectations of myself. The current exercise is letting go and relaxing. I'm not a robot.

    Z

    Scrabble and the Chaos Percentage

    Greetings, 

    I wasn't sure how to start off, so I am just going to begin. Some updates are in order. I have been working on switching over my blog to a new platform, one less dependent on computer code and more automated. This will make my blogging process more bearable. I am trying to get back into the habit of writing. My blog has gone through many stages and I am beginning to come into a stage that is a blend of all of its past forms. I am usually so severely reserved that I find it difficult to open up, but once I do, I can be pretty transparent. I will find my middle ground. 

    On another note, I love playing Scrabble with friends. We played a game recently and I like to take a picture of the board after playing to capture the creative process involving all of our minds. This is one of my favorite games to play and I will be collecting a series of shots that forever hold the memories of our Scrabble expeditions. I must apologize for the randomness of this post, I am just free-writing at the moment. I'll have to do this every now and again in order to get the energy flowing in my brain the right way. It can get stopped up like a drain. There is so much on my mind, so many projects I want to immerse myself in, so many chores to manage, and so many diapers to change. I have come to realize I thrive in just the right amount of chaos. There is a certain percentage of mayhem that is perfect for me to be productive, creative and just a bit crazy. I will say the ideal chaos percentage for me is about....67%. Enough chaos to light a fire under me, but not too much so that I have a mental breakdown. Mental breakdowns are no good. 

    This was nice, writing. I know I can do with with ease if I am chatting with one of my friends or family members, but I tend to cease up sometimes, not knowing how much is too much to share. As I've said before, I am reserved. I am shy, but also very expressive. I guess now I need to calculate my communication percentage. What is too little, and what is too much. I'll get back to that question soon enough. Until then...

    Zee

     

    Yoga Beginnings

    I decided to begin venturing into the practice of yoga. This is something I have been wanting to do for quite some time. I am no stranger to movement, as I have spent over a decade practicing ballet. Although lately, my body has been dormant, lacking variety of motion. The reason I want to incorporate yoga into my daily life is to give my body the opportunity to move and stretch in ways that will open up stagnant areas, rushing in higher amounts of nutrient-rich blood. This will cleanse the body, preventing long-term build up which may lead to disease. Many of us position our bodies in the same set of positions every day, decreasing blood flow to certain areas. I have some of my own problem areas that I feel could become worse if I let them remain immobile for the next ten years. I have the chance to extend my time here on earth by changing and enhancing some of the things I do everyday such as yoga and my diet. All of this is directly leading me to a greater state of mind, happiness, and inner peace. 

    I found an amazing series on Youtube to officially begin my journey into yoga. It is a 30 day Yoga Camp lead by Yoga with Adriene. I have already completed the first two days. She really warms you into the practice perfectly. It is hard to describe her amazing method of instruction, but I will say that she leads you from one movement to the next very naturally, including daily mantras that truly provide mental therapy along with the physical. She knows what you are thinking and she addresses those thoughts from a quirky, lovable and wise perspective. In your own home, you are ushered from the beginning of your journey through to the end, where you are left feeling stronger, activated and at peace. Following her instruction, I have found myself sleeping much better, especially with a steaming, candlelit bath afterwards. Every day I look forward to starting the next yoga camp video because I know that she is going to challenge me just a little bit more than the last video. Productivity is something that has increased in my life since I began my practice in yoga. Everything has been better. 

    A few days ago I got in the car, drove to Five Below, a store with various items all priced $5 and below. They have a pretty nice basic exercise equipment section. I purchased a yoga mat and two blocks. I began yoga that very day. Purchasing those three items was the small push I needed to jump right in and begin this journey. I did not spend a lot of money on a mat or blocks to start because I always have the option to upgrade once I feel that I have earned it. But I may just keep these, they are good quality materials. The reason I bring this up is to say that I did not let the desire of acquiring fancy yoga equipment, apparel, or studio membership keep me from starting my journey. Spend no more than 15 bucks and work with Adriene. Simple.

    Lola Loves

     

     

    The Regaining of My Musical Perspective

    I am still trekking along on my journey back to the violin lifestyle. Today I hit a very special place in my violin advancement. Somehow I regained my musical perspective. Something just clicked and I found fluidity in my bow arm, intonation in my left hand and the glories of proper phrasing. I am currently playing the Giga of Bach's 3rd Partita. I will eventually go back to the Preludio, which is exciting and very fun to play. I am taking it one measure at a time, working in smaller chunks of measures per day. This might not seem like much, but I am in essence, choreographing each phrase, sculpting every element of the passage.

    Knowing which notes to play short on an up bow and long on the down bow...Knowing when to crescendo over the full measure or in short bursts over groups of 16th notes. I have regained this perspective. The ability to see the shape and form surrounding the sound that I create. This is as important as the intonation. I have been working the past few weeks on some various scale exercises and technical etudes in hopes to train myself a little bit before working on a piece. Of course I will continue my technical practice, but I have now added in some actual music to play. I feel like I've earned it now. Also, I am excited to begin recording my practice sessions. Little excerpts here and there. 

    It has been a very long road for me and my violin. I've been studying the craft for 17 years. My parents have sacrificed a lot over my lifetime in order to provide me with some of the finest instructors and musical experiences. I majored in violin performance in college. It's just something I need to do, if not for anyone else, for myself. It is very hard to jump back in once you've stopped playing for a few years. I would say it is the equivalent to being on the football team in college, going cold for several years, then expecting yourself to jump right back in at the same physical level you used to be at. Yes, your mind may be there, but your actual physical skill may not match. That can take a toll on your confidence, as it has mine, but as with most things in my life, I continue to push forward, depsite how many times I stop. If you have stopped doing something you were once good at or once loved, push through and begin again. It feels great. It is reviving. 

    Charlie Loves

     

    Miss Jessie's Pillow Soft Curls

    I bought my friends Miss Jessie's products this year for Christmas, since they are natural haired ladies. I got jealous from my own gift and decided to buy myself some as well. The Pillow Soft Curls is meant for wash n go's it reads. It says it's for people who don't want Ramen noodle definition and instead want a larger expanded curl. My hair usually takes on a crispy feel when I put even a little too much of any type of gel or anything really. I used this product for a twist out instead of a wash n go. I usually don't do wash n go's because my hair is really strange, I have too many different textures and some areas just hang loose in curls while other shrivel up dry in tight coils. I meant to post this a while ago but I have not been perfectly aligned with my schedules lately. I have so much swirling around in my head, so I at least need to make sure I don't look as crazy as I actually am. This post isn't going to be as long as usual, I need to move on to some other things, photography and music related so I can get much more exciting things up! 

    Violin Practice Session 1&2

    I think I figured out how to keep myself connected a bit more to my practice sessions. Usually, I begin with hopes of reigniting the old flame, but then I am unsuccessful because I expect myself to fall right back in where I left off in my music major highness. When this does not happen, I am left stunned and unimpressed with myself. Instead of wallowing in the reality of a talent gone cold, I have decided to begin journaling a short summary of each run through of a study or piece. I write down exactly how I felt I did, as if I were critiquing a student. I jot down what I did wrong, what I did right and what I need to work on for next time. I also notate the thoughts I had while playing, keeping track of my state of mind. I enjoy writing so combining the two really gives me an eagerness to begin my next session. This eagerness is not something I have experienced in quite sometime. It is refreshing and beautiful. 

    Excerpt 12/29/15: My goal is to get a fuller, richer and more fluid sound. I think my problems with my right arm fluidity and confidence spawn from my timid nature of practicing, not wanting to be heard or to disturb. I need to get over that as well.

    Excerpt 12/30/15: This run was the best so far. Clear and confident. Tone much better, larger percentage of correct notes. Caught 4th finger mistakes early in the etude. Trouble with 4th to last measure, need to spend time practicing that measure. 

    Taking it slow I am. My usual problem: Wrap myself up with such energy towards something and end up overdoing, overshooting, overexpecting...and then I burn out. The flame burns rapidly and then it dies just as fast. This is not ideal when trying to begin again on a path once steadily traveled and most recently abandoned. I want it again. I really do. Such a shame to let something so precious go to waste. I will practice a bit every day, and then once I make that habitual, I will practice a bit more every day. I will write after each run through. My husband got me this journal for Christmas. As soon as I ripped through the wrapping I knew it was something special. 

    Charlie

     

    Gathering Inspiration and Maintaining Entrepreneurial Energy

    Gathering inspiration for a large project or business idea is one of the best ways to get the energy flowing. Everything is inspired, either consciously or subconsciously. Most of the time I already have set ideas ready to be put into motion. Other times, I need a push in the right direction. This is when I reach out to grab inspiration, as many creatives do. I have a method that reduces the chance that I will pull too much from one source. At the very least I will have two parent sources of inspiration, in which I will combine to create the child. Two separate things joined together to create something completely new. This structure can produce an infinite amount of creative combinations just like how we people are such an amalgam. I love this process dearly, utilizing sites such as Pinterest to collect and organize my visual thoughts. There is also another application I stumbled across called We Heart It, which is similar to Pinterest as it collects and organizes images but it has a completely different type of feel. There are a lot of emo-types collecting semi-depressing picture quotes but bypassing those, it's a relatively fresh site for new images and inspiration.

    I am on an incessant, never-ending journey towards greater entrepreneurial freedom. The journey is constant, only evolves as lessons are learned and knowledge is gained. I am back in motion, also with help of my sister who has injected me with some of the same energy I once had an abundance of. She has been a true gift. It is crucial to have a source of strong, positive and moving energy. It is also important to have multiple sources of energy to pull from because it wont always be continuously flowing from one direction. An arsenal must be put in place consisting of people, films, music, books, and whatever else is needed to keep your flame flowing. The most essential thing I can say to anyone reading is that it does not matter how many times you become idled in your journey, you must continue to start again. Journeys are lengthy, exhausting treks from one place to the next. We are bound to take rests, get lost and encounter troubling times. We must steadily start again. Let us continue continuously. 

    August