On wallowing by Chelsea Snow

“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” --Steven Pressfield

If you haven't read Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art, you should. Actually, you should just listen to it. It's only like 3 hours long. Take a long drive, plug it in, look past the golf analogies, and take it from a pro: you are not alone.

This week has been weird. Back in school, trying to focus, trying to make all of the things I think about connect and make sense in terms of research and work and some kind of cohesive project. All I really know is that my work (at the moment) is about wanting to help. Helping myself, helping other people, helping in general. I have been forced to realize that even though I want to help--and my intentions are good--sometimes people don't want or need my help. Sometimes people have their own ways of getting through things that have nothing to do with me and that's totally okay. Sometimes people have a completely different psycho-spiritual philosophy, and that's totally okay. And sometimes people just want to wallow in self-pity or indecision or self-loathing. Sometimes people are comfortable hanging out in the unknown. Personally, these are very uncomfortable places for me to linger, and so I when I witness people doing those things I try, without judgment, to help them through it. But the kicker is that a huge part of self-awareness is becoming aware of other people's comfort zones and processes, being respectful of them, honoring them and giving them space. I think my job right now is to try it for myself. To dip my toe into those unknown waters, to wallow in the muck of my own stuff, without judgment.

This week has also been weird because the things I was so excited and confident and clear about just one short week ago have suddenly dimmed. Self doubt has crept in. Am I really an artist? Am I really a writer? I guess that Steven Pressfield has my back on this one, but it's still so hard to know for sure that I'm not a huge fraud: that even though I don't entirely know what I'm doing and I fear that I'm on the wrong path and that my ideas are stupid and not worth pursuing, that I should for some reason keep going. Wow, just saying that out loud made me feel a little better. Sometimes it's important to just say the thing you are afraid of and then have a conversation with it:

Feeble me: I'm afraid that I'm doing the wrong thing.

Infinitely wise me: There are no mistakes, only opportunities to grow.

Feeble me: Okay, but what I'm really afraid of is that not having all the answers means that I'm stupid.

Infinitely wise me: Knowing that you don't have all the answers makes you curious, not stupid. 

Feeble me: Okay but what I'm really afraid of is that if I linger in the unknown I won't make it out, and I have more important shit to do.

Infinitely wise me: You'll make it out. And maybe you'll make it out with an idea, or just a sliver of an idea--just like David Lynch said you would. Use what you have learned through meditation to allow yourself to let go of these obnoxious thoughts, to sink into the unknown, to wallow in the deep. 

Feeble me: You're a fucking weirdo.

Infinitely wise me: No, you are.

Feeble me: But I'm scared to wallow.

Infinitely wise me: It's okay to be scared. Fear is just excitement without the breath.

Feeble me: So I'm excited to wallow?

Infinitely wise me: Mmhmm.

To wallow means to indulge in an unrestrained way in something that creates a pleasurable sensation. It's weird that we (I?) most often use that word to describe an indulgence in something that feels painful like self-doubt or heartbreak. (Maybe those things actually do feel pleasurable on some level...? That's for another day...) But wallowing really means to allow oneself to feel good. To scratch the itch. To roll in the mud. Whatever it is. What if I were to wallow in things that created actual pleasurable sensations? Like JOY or EUPHORIA or CONTENTMENT? What if I could just remember that I am allowed to do that, whenever I want? 

Easier said than done. Here's a reminder: 

Prints  here .

Prints here.

In other news, I sent out a survey a couple of days ago and I am totally wallowing in your responses. THANK YOU for responding! If you haven't responded, and can spare fewer than 5 minutes of thoughtfulness, I would love your feedback. Click here to take the survey! It's about feelings! And shopping! 

And in even other other news, I want to hear from you. I realized the other day that I do my best work when I know exactly who and what I am responding to. So I wonder if you have a question I could try to answer. So if you have a question, I would love to take a stab--as long as you're cool with me possibly publishing it on this blog that 3 people read. Pretty low stakes...

MAKE LUCK by Chelsea Snow

My mom is a professional winner. Here is a list of things that I can remember off the top of my head (in no particular order) that she has won over the years: 

  • a Mini Cooper
  • a trip to Euro-Disney
  • a trip to Mexico (?)
  • a trip to Florida to see Pitbull (!)
  • so many other trips, so many other random concerts
  • a $10,000 shopping spree
  • a fancy refrigerator
  • two jet-skis (separately)
  • a big screen television (before they were a thing)
  • dozens of iPods and other small electronics
  • tons of cash prizes
  • a year's supply of Annie's macaroni and cheese
  • so.many.t-shirts.

When I was a kid, we would listen to whatever radio station was giving away a prize by being the Nth caller, or whatever station was giving away a key that might start a brand new car. She would pre-program the redial button to call the station on the phone and fax lines, often listening to two radio stations at once. She once handed me a ringing phone receiver allowing 12 year-old me to be the 104th caller, winning $104, from 104.3fm. 

I remember being sent to the library for research when a station was giving away a prize to someone who could answer geography trivia questions. When grocery stores were doing a giveaway, she would pocket entire stacks of entry forms and have all of us kids fill them out until our fingers cramped.

Yes, my mom was a winner, and she worked REALLY hard at it. When people would hear about her latest prize, they'd usually say something about luck: "oh, I never win anything--I'm not lucky" or "she is so lucky!" The truth is, that there was no luck involved. Winning contests is my mom's craft--requiring skill, effort, ingenuity and time. The lesson here: putting in that kind of work will almost always yield results.

There's no denying that random events (good and bad) happen all the time. And there are situations where people are in the right place at the right time, and again--good or bad things ensue. (Read Malcom Gladwell's The Outliers for more on that topic.) The thing I'm trying to get at here is that what the world might interpret as good luck is probably the result of a lot of hard fucking work. As with anything, if there's something you are needing or wanting, and the world doesn't seem to be handing it to you on a platter, make it yourself.

Prints  here .

Prints here.

Word games: SHOULD by Chelsea Snow

The word SHOULD sounds like the word SHIT, when you say it in this sentence: "Don't should on yourself." I sometimes feed people that line when they are overly apologetic, guilty or ashamed about something they feel they ought to have done differently (or at all). Should is a word that immediately buries its utterer in a shroud of "what if" and begins to cover them with shovelfuls of "it's too late" and "you're doing it wrong." Should also suggests indecision (should I stay or should I go?) and demands permission and validation from an outside source.

Etymologically, the word SHOULD is the past tense of the word SHALL. Shall implies no guilt or obligation, but rather an effortless predetermined outcome, a breathy whisper of intention, a divine intervention:

You shall be released. (Don't worry, everything is fine.)

Who seeks shall find. (Guaranteed.)

Shall we dance? (I sure would like that.)

This too shall pass. (Everything does.)

Imagine those little nuggets in the past tense: 

You should be released. (But you probably won't be because you're a bad person.)

Who seeks should find. (And if you don't, it's because you didn't seek hard enough.)

Should we dance? (I mean, I don't really want to, but if you do, that's fine with me I guess.)

This too should pass. (But it might not, in which case we are in big trouble.)

When it comes to self-helpery--and really any kind of advice-giving scenario--should is everywhere, and can so easily become a word that drives our belief systems, often appearing in alarmingly contradicting dualities:

Writing should be difficult. // Writing should be easy.

Artists should be messy. // Artists should be organized. 

Working should hurt. // Working should feel good.

You should work alone. // You should collaborate.

Does it really just come down to making a choice about who to listen to? Who to believe about what you should or should not do? What if we replaced shoulds with shalls? Things just got choicier:

Writing shall be difficult. // Writing shall be easy.

Artists shall be messy. // Artists shall be organized. 

Working shall hurt. // Working shall feel good.

You shall work alone. // You shall collaborate.

I don't know. Can a simple shift in the tense of a verb change the way we feel about what we do, how we work, who we are, what's in store for us? It sure feels that way. Step 9 in Instructions for Making Better Choices is

USE YOUR WORDS: Choose your words first, then use them. Some are better for you than others. For example: 

Prints  here .

Prints here.

Speaking of that little book, I have a few left, and I'd love to send you one (or two)! Use code WORDGAMES to get a special bonus discount off your entire order at checkout! Happy labor day or whatever.

IT'S ALL THE DEEP END by Chelsea Snow

There are few things in this world that are true--things that don't change depending on your perspective or your privilege or your fleeting phases. This letter (full text below) contains one of the true things: choice is not about the future, it's about the present moment. Choice is about deciding to follow a curiosity or an idea or a whim and see where that leads. Choice is about taking a path instead of standing still or walking in circles. Your choice isn't guaranteed to change your future, the only thing it for sure changes is the way you feel once you've made it.

Last winter I learned how to meditate and it changed my life. The six months after learning how to do this (ridiculously easy) thing were some of the clearest, most intentional, most productive, most loving of my life. But as the school year ended and life transitioned from one thing to another and my structured days became markedly less-so, my practice vanished. I wasn't choosing not to meditate--I would simply forget to do it. I didn't forget my mantra, I just forgot how to use it. It's like knowing that you know something (like the name of a movie) but not being able to recall it. The essence of it is RIGHT THERE but it's still inaccessible. It's weird to have this sensation about a practice (as opposed to a fact), but I think it's the reason that so many people (almost everyone I know) falls out every once in a while: we don't choose to stop, we forget to continue.

Sometimes the solutions are so easy. This morning I went down to my local TM office and had a "tune-up". I'm not sure how it worked, but all of that knowledge came flooding back at once--it re-entered my body with an almost overwhelming sense of euphoria. I remember now! And I'll forget again! And that's okay.

I've been putting off writing all week. I've been putting off everything all week. School starts today (for me and all those children) and shit's about to get real complicated again. I haven't wanted to look at the list of things I needed to do, and I especially haven't wanted to sit down to write because when I write I tell the truth, and the truth would mean acknowledging that fucking list. 

But suddenly the list is surmountable, the writing is weak but it's happening, and I'm remembering how to do these things that I was so scared I had forgotten how to do entirely--not just meditating, but all of it. It might not all come rushing back in a flood of joy like meditating did, but it will come back and I can tune up all of these things: the rigor of grad school, packing school lunches every day, making enough money somehow, another rainy winter. 

Last week my dear friend Heather wrote eloquently about something I've been thinking about, and something Hunter S. Thompson was probably thinking about as he gave his advice in 1958. She wrote about jumping (okay, falling) into the unknown--or as I like to call it: the deep end. Consciousness is an ocean, and in this ocean there are a few shallow areas. But let's be honest: once you're in it, it's ALL the deep end. Float or swim...just don't sink.

Prints  here .

Prints here.

Borrowed from brainpickings:

Dear Hume,
You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.
I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)
And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.
But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?
The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.
So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?
The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.
I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called “Being and Nothingness” by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called “Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre.” These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.
But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors — but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires — including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.
As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).
In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.
Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.
Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.
So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”
And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know — is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.
If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo — this merely happens to be mine.
If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that — no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.
And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,
your friend,

Everything has already been done, but not by you // if you don't ask, you don't get by Chelsea Snow

Angst: a philosophical anxiety regarding the world or one's own personal freedom.

When I was an undergraduate student (100 years ago), I chose to not pursue a "creative" field, even though it was (in retrospect) pretty clearly my path. I studied art and philosophy, but I didn't make art or philosophy. I was convinced that everything had already been done before (at least everything worth doing), and that was a good reason to not even attempt to make anything new. 

The world we live in makes it nearly impossible not to see all the things people are making every minute of every day. NEW THINGS. The existentially angsty girl (that will always have a place in my heart) gets very agitated about this, and sometimes sorta takes over.

"FUCK, now I can't make that thing because that person already did."

As I continue to wake up and become a more conscious person, I find myself able to calmly say to that unfocused and fearful girl:

"Go back to bed, darling. Put your headphones back on. Scrawl in your journal. Smoke a cigarette. I'll handle this."

When I have my grownup goggles on, I see things differently. The new things that people make don't petrify me, they reflect back to me the quality of what I want to be contributing to the world. When I'm my best/highest self, I rejoice in the fact that someone else managed to find success doing the kind of work that I want to do. It affirms that there is in fact an audience. There is a need. There is a market. There is a reason.

Things that my adult self is excited about, and my adolescent self is rolling her eyes at: 

Grace Bonney's new book In the Company of Women: Inspiration & Advice from over 100 Makers Artists & Entrepreneurs. I haven't read the book yet (it's available for preorder) but...

These are the things that are exciting about this book: 

  1. It puts Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs into a category together. I believe in this.
  2. It's about women but more specifically: 60% of the people featured are women of color, queer women and women over the age of 60--people that are often underrepresented (or completely absent) from these kinds of discussions. I believe in this.
  3. It's going to be reallllly pretty bc design sponge. I believe in this.

I really want to write a book. One of the ideas I had was to make a book like this one. The fact that this already exists DOESN'T MEAN I SHOULDN'T STILL MAKE A BOOK.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is excited to announce the launch of “Make/Time” – a new podcast series created by CraftSchools.us. Hosted by Stuart Kestenbaum, the series explores fine craft, inspiration and the creative process through interviews with established craft artists from across the field. The first three interviews feature Tom Joyce, Tim McCreight and Sonya Clark. 

I've been wanting to start recording some of the conversations I have with artists and craftspeople about these very subjects, and maybe make a podcast out of it. The fact that this already exists DOESN'T MEAN I SHOULDN'T STILL MAKE A PODCAST.

Adam J. Kurtz is a NYC based artist and author of 1 Page at a Time and Pick Me Up.
His design and illustration is rooted in honesty, humor and a little darkness.

I've been working on being an artist and illustrator and writer of the very same variety. The fact that Adam J. Kurtz is already killing it DOESN'T MEAN I SHOULDN'T STILL MAKE THINGS BASED IN HONESTY, HUMOR AND A LITTLE DARKNESS.

I've never wanted to be in the Olympics. I don't even remember ever really watching the Olympics with any kind of regularity. Last week while at the beach, we watched a lot of swimming as a family. And you know what? Just because I will never be a professional swimmer does not mean I shouldn't get my butt to the pool because there are less than two weeks of Summer left before school starts. Byeee! 

In unrelated news, here's this week's truthbomb, brought to you by my friend  Michelle's  dad. Prints soon.

In unrelated news, here's this week's truthbomb, brought to you by my friend Michelle's dad. Prints soon.

Yeah, YOU GOT THIS by Chelsea Snow

Confession: I've been checking my social media notifications every 5 minutes for the past 72 hours. What used to be a couple-times-a-day task has now turned into a 24/7 dopamine drip. The reasons? A phenomenal public response to a project I worked on. It's been thrilling to watch a movement take shape around truly positive ideals. A movement that also has some pretty high profile names attached to it (me and Taylor Schilling mentioned in the same article? Hi.) Also I just googled myself. (No thrills there: turns out there are a LOT of Chelsea Snows out there, and some of them are doing very ridiculous things. No way I can compete with that.)

So this project. I was approached by Wildfang after having met with their creative director and sharing my fangirl-level desire to work with them on a project. They were developing a collaboration with the million-strong girl-power organization I Am That Girl. The two teams joined forces and came up with the idea to launch a line of limited-edition illustrated enamel pins each inspired by an outstanding woman's very own example of a "you got this" moment. My role would be to take the ideas given by said outstanding women and illustrate them into tiny, colorful little images. 

I seriously can not decide which one is my favorite, but that RIOT MEOW one (made for Pussy Riot!) killllls me. You can buy them  here  or at Wildfang stores!

I seriously can not decide which one is my favorite, but that RIOT MEOW one (made for Pussy Riot!) killllls me. You can buy them here or at Wildfang stores!

(c) 2016 Wildfang

(c) 2016 Wildfang

As you may or may not know, "you got this" is one of my favorite 3-word pep talks. So when they explained this project to me, I had that tingly deja-vu feeling, and was like "fuck yep."

Kittens got this , sharpie on vintage log slice art, 2014.

Kittens got this, sharpie on vintage log slice art, 2014.

The project launched on on Friday, and that day I woke up to a text from my dear friend Molly (the awesome person responsible for connecting me to Wildfang to begin with) with a link to this Huffington Post article. Then a few hours later two more links to Bustle and InStyle. It's amazing what a good PR person can do. But it's even more amazing what a truly great project can do. 

When I was a kid (going into 7th grade) I attended a day-long girls' self-esteem workshop. It was a hotel ballroom type affair, with trays of cold cuts and all the country time lemonade you could drink. I believe it was called "Express Yourself," their logo a lavender butterfly.

I got a free ticket to this event because my mom's store provided some of the clothes for the fashion show (and I got to model them, every girls' dream). I didn't know anyone there (although I would later), and felt very out of place. The kids at my school definitely did NOT get invited to posh shit like this. I wish I had a photo to share but I don't, so just picture me in an oversized jumper with a dropped hemline, a turtleneck, white keds and bobby socks, and a pretty fucked up perm.

So I am an impostor at a self-esteem workshop. I remember being asked to write down my favorite thing about myself. I stared at the blank sheet of paper, stared at the pencil in my hands. I didn't know the answer. I was just a kid--a tomboy for the most part--who was still years away from puberty, but becoming aware that it was a thing I needed to be concerned about. I wrote down "my fingernails" because I was staring at my fingernails, and when I read it aloud, the lady gave me a disapproving, pitying look. I remember having my "colors" done, and learning that I was a winter, not a fall like I had hoped. I remember leaving that workshop feeling like a pile of shit. Not empowered. No self-esteem. I left wondering what was wrong with me. 

That was 1988. Fast forward to 2016. Imagine being a girl right now. Imagine a world where you can go and find a community that believes this: 

I have a brilliant heart and a beautiful mind. I am me, a perfectly flawed, beautyFULL work in progress. I promise to lift other girls up, have their backs, and make it safe for them to be exactly who they are. I'm on a mission to raise the standards for how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves, and how we treat the world. Every time I look in the mirror I’ll remind myself that I’m not alone, that I’m beautiful, that my voice matters, and that I am enough. (from iamthatgirl.com)

And then imagine another world where you can buy clothes that aren't oversized jumpers with dropped hemlines (or worse, the shitty sexualized clothing that girls are sold these days). Imagine a world where feminist isn't a bad word. A world where short hair is chic and nobody tells you what color palette you should stick with--cuz this girl is clearly a winter, and she is rocking some serious earth tones:

(from  Wildfang.com )

Imagine a world where a woman is about to become president of the United States.

So yeah, I'm proud of this. It feels good to work with rad people (seriously, the most fun, kind, professional, smart, creative people) on a rad project. It feels good to watch it explode. (Speaking of which: BUY SOME PINS!) Now excuse me while I check my Instagram...

Prints here.

Prints here.

Hustle + Flow by Chelsea Snow

Transitions can be rough. 
Growth can be difficult. 
Choosing can be painful.
Change can seem impossible.

These things are true for everyone at some point -- but possibly experienced more acutely (or at least more often) by those of us who choose to carve out our own career paths, who constantly take creative risks, who are always seeking, who know that there’s gotta be more to it. 

I’m writing this from inside an airstream trailer-turned computer lab, inside a giant warehouse in an industrial neighborhood in Northeast Portland. It is here that I am pursuing my MFA in Applied Craft + Design. It is here that I am going to become a master. Of something. 

One year ago, I uprooted my life and moved to Portland for two reasons: 1) love and 2) this program. In that order. I felt that I needed more than one good reason to leave the life I had created, the community I had built and the town that had held me and supported me for so long. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

When I look back now, I realize why people were questioning my sanity. I had gone from pretty shallow and familiar waters into the very deepest, darkest end -- I went from maintaining a small business down the street to managing a staff of people from 400 miles away. I went from attending the occasional macrame or soap-making workshop to an intense MFA program. I went from a week-on/week-off co-parenting schedule to full time mom. All of my bills doubled. I went from being in a long distance relationship to having a blended family and living together in very close quarters (one bathroom, six people, you do the math). I went from a life where I had time to go to a yoga class every day to barely having time to eat.   

The work I began doing in school became very much about the challenges I was facing: knowing that I had some hard choices to make, knowing I was in the deep end. One of the first things I learned (like really learned) was that I didn’t necessarily want to make things for a living anymore (even though I totally still do) which was a strange realization to have in an applied craft program -- where making a living by making objects is the whole point. If you are reading this you probably already know this, but the endless cycle of making and selling can be pretty tedious. I began seeing a future where that neverending make/sell loop just continued to spiral, and I began seeing a future in which there were just too many amazing beautiful perfect things (and horrible hideous ones) in the world. I began to see that my contribution to this producer/consumer culture was more about my needs than the needs of my customers. As I woke up to this, my desire for community began to take precedence over my desire for gilded antlers. My desire for truth began to take precedence over my desire for stuff. My desire for freedom began to take precedence over my desire for control.

Community, truth and freedom. Those things seem like such BIG LOFTY IDEALS. But you know what? They're not. Those things are 100% attainable, but you first have to say out loud that you want them. Then you have to do the fucking work. For me right now, community, truth and freedom look like a big fat HUSTLE. 

Remember the movie "Hustle and Flow"? The one about how hard it was out there for a pimp? It's a great movie. See it if you haven't. As a privileged white person, I don't claim to understand how hard it was out there. But as a person who understands the world through metaphor and story, I totally DO understand how hard it was out there. And how important it is to both hustle and flow. It’s up there with being both free AND responsible. It’s like in yoga when you have to be both soft AND strong. It’s about unceremoniously pushing yourself in a specified direction (the hustle) while simultaneously moving along in a steady and continuous stream (the flow). It’s about knowing what you want, but not really knowing how you’re going to get it. It’s about doing the work as the work comes, it’s about riding currents as the currents come.

Hustle and flow means saying yes to everything, and saying yes even harder to the stuff that seems the scariest. 

Sometimes it means working while on vacation and being really fucking grateful to be on vacation.

It means asking friends for connections and then actually making them. 

It means applying for (and being rejected for) everything. 

It means learning new skills really fast and sometimes having to pretend to know what I am doing. 

It means sometimes throwing things together at the very last minute and sometimes working on things quietly and in the background for a very long time. 

It means sticking it out when things suck because I know they are going to end. 

It means holding true to my vision for a project and lovingly letting it go if it takes on a life of its own. 

It means to work with humility, no matter the task. 

It means trusting the (fucking) process. 

Prints soon.

Prints soon.

So, Why the teardrop? by Chelsea Snow

I have always been a superstitious girl, looking for signs in everything: if I throw this crumpled paper and it lands in the garbage can it means I should stay. If I throw THIS crumpled paper and it lands in the garbage can it means I should go. I remember the day I decided to move to New York. It was July 3, 1999. It was a sunshiney day in Olympia and I was sitting on my futon in my upstairs bedroom, on the phone with my friend Nancy. I was having an existential crisis, and she was urging me to move to New York. Right then the house started shaking. It was a 5.8 earthquake. Unlike my usual wastebasket fortune telling, I got a very clear message from this moment. It was a moment in which I was simultaneously resisting a big change, discussing the very real and very big possibility of moving very far away, and the earth was trembling beneath me. I decided during that phone call/earthquake that I was moving. Six weeks later I was there.

Filled with all the 22-year old feelings that accompany leaving a boyfriend and a community and a very small cat, I cried a lot. I wrote a lot of terrible poetry. I drew terrible comics. I made terrible collages. One of the comics I made (which I could probably find right now and show you BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT) was of a very sad girl (me) sitting at the window in her giant apartment building (I didn't live in a giant apartment building, but I felt like I did) with a teardrop on her face. Each frame zoomed in incrementally on the teardrop and then when you got close enough you realize that inside the teardrop is a whole planet, and when you zoom in further you see another apartment building and another girl and another teardrop. It was a melancholy mise en abîme situation that, as silly and self-indulgent as it was, stuck with me.

Ever since, I have appreciated the teardrop shape for its symbolic capacity to contain everything, a reminder about the smallness and the hugeness of this world, about the smallness and hugeness of my own sadness, about the smallness and hugeness of those moments when we can truly embrace both. That's why the teardrop.

prints  here .

prints here.