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"How do I get creative? I just really wanna DO something, but I’m usually pretty clueless. I always end up dreaming about love instead of making myself useful. I’m determined to stop ths behaviour, but I was wondering if you have any concrete tips how to get, like… new ideas!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Kai Says:

While I can’t tell you or teach you how to create new ideas, I can teach you to recognize them when they happen. I think that most people, including yourself, are under the impression that every kind of creative inspiration must be a gleaming beacon of profundity and wisdom. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming about love. Love permeates through life in ways we cannot even fathom. There is value in exploring its vastness. Anything that makes us aware of ourselves, of others, the world around us, or even the spiritual word is useful and important art. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. Whatever ideas you find yourself thinking about, no matter what it is, can be interpreted as divine signals to explore those ideas through art.

You must also let go of “newness.” There is no new idea, especially when it comes to art because art is humanity and our collective consciousness allows us to sometimes think and feel with the same hearts and minds. Every idea you have or I have has been thought of and executed before in a million different ways. That alone should be inspiring, not discouraging. Because now you have the opportunity to make us see something familiar in a unique way. And if you find yourself thinking about the same thing over and over, writing the same poem, drawing the same picture, do not feel disheartened. There are some things that I’ve written about many many times, because some things are always relevant. And some things just need to be written or drawn or sung about a thousand times because this is how we have to cleanse. “New” is just a bright shiny word. We should never dwell on it too long.

If you want some concrete tips, I can tell you what I do to keep the juices flowing:

1.      Stream of consciousness free writing. Sometimes you have thoughts in your head that are too stiff or quiet. I recommend writing everything and I do mean everything that comes to your mind for a few minutes each day. That means you don’t stop to think about what you’re writing, you don’t stop to process it and you definitely don’t erase, backspace, or scratch out anything. You’ll find thoughts and ideas you’ve been unconsciously ignoring. This exercise is like consciousness yoga.

2.      Write down funny or interesting things you hear people say in conversation, in songs, on tv, on the radio, etc. We are often inspired in quick bursts and before we can turn that inspiration into art, it leaves are minds. Keeping a log of thought provoking things you hear day to day can be a great resource.

3.      Just do it. Yeah I know, easier said than done. But honestly, sometimes creating is like ripping off a bandaid. You have to do it with confidence, quickness, and courage or the process is a lot more painful. Whenever I’m writing a collaboration poem with my friends sometimes we find ourselves writing notes and ideas for days for fear of not having a quality poem once we start. But then we always have to remind ourselves, that if we don’t just do it, we will have accomplished nothing.

I really hope this helps.

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Click through to read more about Kai and our other Second Opinions panelists!

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"Hi hello yes HELP! I have a delightful problem. I can’t get out of bed with my girlfriend. I don’t mean like SEX, I mean like she’s warm and soft and and cuddly and smells good and I love her and I physically cannot remove myself from bed with her and it’s taking a toll on my ability to get shit done. This isn’t even a new relationship. We’ve been together for over a year, but we’re still puppy dog nuts in love and I need to do my homework and get to class on time! HOW?! HELP ME!!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

This is difficult, esp because I am a naturally cold human and when I snuggle with someone who is a naturally warm human i just DON’T WANT TO MOVE BECAUSE IT IS PERFECT AND THE OUTSIDE WORLD IS COLD AND NOT SOFT.

But, we have to get shit done so use cuddles as rewards. For every 10 math problems you get done, you can cuddle for 30 minutes. Or if you go out for dinner instead of eating bowls of cereal in bed, you get to make out behind a building. oR give yourself rules, like “no cuddling or touching between 4pm and 6pm.” You can hang out and give each other sexy looks, but NO TOUCHING and you MUST be doing something productive.

If you force yourself to not touch each other for periods of time, you’ll be so stoked when it’s touch:30 o’clock. TRUST ME.

Kristin Says:

First of all: “you get to make out behind a building” – Dannielle Owens-Reid

Second of all: I agree with MOST of this but I do think that if you give yourselves 2 hours where you can’t touch at all but you CAN hang out and give each other sexy looks… you are going to have a SERIOUS problem concentrating and probably just wind up tangled in each other’s limbs underneath your blankets. So, beware of that suggestions.

Third of all: my advice. Although a reward system is super fun, I also think that you can tackle this issue by simply making the decision to get your shit done. I know, I KNOWWWW that the bed feels good and her skin feels soft and you just want to drown in it for all the days because loooove and such, but you are slowly going to start to feel wobbly as you get more and more detached from your other responsibilities. You know?

This is really an issue of immediate satisfaction versus longterm satisfaction… and I think all of us go through that (and ESPECIALLY as we go from middle school to high school to college to being old). We all want what we want when want it… that’s just being human. You want to cuddle and you want to cuddle NOW. We get it. The thing is, though, life can’t always work within a system of immediate gratification, sooooo I’d advise you both to think about how mighty and powerful you will feel if you simply make the decision to get up out of bed and do the other tasks that need completing. Then, when you finish them, you will crawl into your bed knowing that not only do you have someone who loves you to limb-tangle with, but you also just helped each other complete your other responsibilities.

In my HUMBLE opinion, those cuddles are even better than the escapist, hide-from-the-other-shit cuddles.

BET YOU DIDN’T THINK I’D GET SO SERIOUS ABOUT CUDDLES.

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"How do I find motivation to do work when uggghhhh writing and I still have 10 000 words to go?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

You set up a reward system and DON’T CHEAT THAT SYSTEM. You do 30 mins of research and you get an oreo. OR you do 30 mins of research and you get 10 mins of tumblr time. BUT STICK TO IT.

Another tactic? Write like you don’t give a fuck, editing is much easier than the initial writing. So, if your paper is about WWII you write “There was this complete dickcheese who would shit on equality and thought everyone in the world had to look the same WHICH WAS FUCKED BECAUSE THE IDIOTS HE LIKED LOOKED NOTHING LIKE HIM SO LIKE Y WUZ THAT EVEN A THING??!” and just keep ranting on the subject with the stuff that’s already in your brain. Then you have the words/thoughts and you can go back in and make it sound nice/professional.

Oh, also change up your environment and drink a lot of coffee.

Kristin Says:

Those are the perfect actions for dealing with the moment of I CANNOT WORK I AM DISTRACTED. I don’t have much to add in that vein. In that moment, when you just can’t… do just a little more. Challenge yourself. Flip your phone over. Turn the internet off. Set a timer and even if all you do is sit and stare at your screen, give yourself that time to ONLY be focused on your work.

Also, environment is key. Go to a quiet place. A coffee shop doesn’t cut it. Your dorm room with your roommates discussing last night’s beer-pong tournament doesn’t cut it. The park DOES NOT CUT IT. Go to a library, or any other place where you can find total silence.

The other critical element to being able to focus is the discipline you have with yourself atall times… and not just during Finals week or before a big papers is due. I don’t just mean academic work – as a matter of fact I mean mental and emotional and physical centeredness more than anything else.

Exercise every day. It took me 33 years to realize that I could just take 20 minutes each morning and do jumping jacks and knee lifts and burpees in my living room to get my heart rate up each day… and I’ve been doing it for ONE week and my focus has improved threefold. (NOT TO MENTION MY ARMS ARE BECOMING TONED YOU GUYS. BONUS PRIZE.)

Let that discipline filter into as many facets of your life as possible. You’ll notice that the more you can stick to those healthy routines, the easier it will become to sit for an hour and work on the task at hand.

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"A psychic told me that 2014 was going to be ‘the year where everything happens.’ First of all, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! Second of all, how do I do it?!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

First of all, it means you’ve worked really hard to get to where you are and you’re about reap some mad benefits.

Second of all, DON’T STOP WORKING. I don’t mean literally working, day-to-day job bullshit. I mean, don’t stop doing they things that you love. I mean, the things that make you feel great. Don’t stop making an effort to see the people you love. Make MORE of an effort. Don’t stop doing the dumb shit that makes you laugh. Do MORE dumb shit that makes you laugh. Don’t stop being creative. Don’t stop helping the people around you. Don’t be afraid of love. Please don’t be afraid of love. You miss out on so much when you live in fear of such a wonderful thing. Don’t stop asking questions. Learning is so powerful and there are all these people around who know shit, and what’s more, they WANT to share that knowledge. Asking questions doesn’t make you dumb, it makes you interesting.

Kristin and I have worked our asses off the past four years and there is nothing anyone can do that would make us slow down. We get caught up, for sure. There are days when I feel like if I move they whole world around me will just crumble. Those days will happen, yea, but they’re tiny reminders that we are human and we can’t do it all.

Long story short: Life is what you make it. If you do everything in your power to make sure this year is the year WHERE EVERYTHING HAPPENS, you will not be let down.

Kristin Says:

As much as I believe in psychics, and as much as I am excited for your year to unfold, I am going to caution you against “waiting for all the things to happen.” Dannielle is correct: while many of us (including Dannielle, yourself, your psychic, and me) do believe in guiding forces that shape and inform our lives… those forces don’t just work alone while you eat Cheetos on the couch. If you want this year to be the year where everything happens, you make it so. No one else can do it for you. Not even witches or warlocks or psychics or god or Beyonce.

What does ‘the year where everything happens’ mean? I think it means that you have the potential to kick a lot of ass. I think it means that you have a force within yourself that will allow you to overcome obstacles and commit to things you believe in. I think it means your psychic may have taken the easy road out, because, spoiler alert: we all have that potential inside of us.

It’s pretty cool that we have markers in time that allow us to look back and reflect on what we’ve accomplished, and look forward with a sense of optimism and hope for what lies ahead — but it can also be scary to put huge pressures on ourselves to make oneparticular year THE BEST ONE EVER or THE YEAR IT ALL HAPPENS. Think about the things you’d like to accomplish this year and go after them, sure… but also think about the things you’d like to accomplish today, this month, and over the next ten years.

Allow yourself many ways of measuring your expectations and your achievements. Take things one experience at a time. Persevere. Believe. Breathe.

Happy 2014.

<3

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"Do you ladies have any advice about money management as a 20-something? I’m trying to save my money but I can’t because pizza :("

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

It’s sooooo hard because pizza and coffee and sweaters. I KNOW.

When I first moved to Chicago I was working at a coffee shop and I was paid in cash. I kept that cash in three places; Rent Mug, Stuff Mug, My Wallet.

Rent Mug – I figured out how much I needed to save each week to make rent, and put that much in my mug every Friday when I got paid.

Stuff Mug – Figured out how much I needed for my other bills (classes, utilities, gym, phone, etc), split that number up and figure out what I need weekly.. deposit that in my checking acct – bc I put all my bills on auto-pay.

My Wallet – Whatever was left over was my spending cash. Groceries, gas, pizza, lols, etc.

Was this the best idea?? No. Not at all. I had no safety net, ended up using two credit cards (which, 6 years later, I’m still paying off), and was constantly hyperventilating because that is no way for a human to live… BUT I WAS YOUNG AND YOLO.

I don’t totally recommend doing what I did, but I do think it’s pretty realistic and a great way to never be late on rent or bills.

Kristin Says:

If I could go back in a time machine I would look 20s-something Kristin in the eye and say, “Hand me all of your credit cards.”

20s-something Kristin would be like ‘HELL NO 30s-SOMETHING KRISTIN, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT,” and would run to the nearest fancy restaurant and order 3 bottles of their finest wine before I tackled her to the ground (I’m more in shape now, so I could totally take her), grabbed all of her credit cards, and ran.

I agree with Dannielle’s general plan, whether it be keeping your cash in mugs (but also… mugs seems scary)(but also… who am I to judge) or in a bank (in which case you can do what I do and keep a google spreadsheet that allots what you can spend each week and where). The thing is, no matter what budget you set, you will spend more than you should if you have access to a credit card. Get. Rid. Of. Your. Credit. Cards.

So long as you have the means to do so, live on what you make.
Your 30-Something-Self will thank me.

In terms of savings, I would recommend opening an account where you can put money in, but where it isn’t easy to get money out. Talk to the people at whatever bank you have and see what the options are—there may be an IRA account where you can deposit but not withdraw for a fixed time, or something similar. You can also open up a savings account at a bank different from where you get your checking, and decline a debit card. If you have a job where you get a paycheck, set up direct-deposit to put a certain amount in that account each week. So long as it’s not easy to withdraw, you’ll probably have an easier time not spending it on pizza!

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