• Category Archives live light
  • The Art of Surviving

    We’re closing in on a year since the governor the state where I live told people to stay home in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Like many of you, I’m grateful for the science and technology that made it easier to stay home and still (kind of) do most things I was doing before. But, surprising no one, I don’t want this to be one more place where we forget to also be grateful for art.

    Even in the before times, I thought a lot about the art we took for granted. And a lot of what I read about how people were coping with the pandemic times made it clear how much more crucial art was for better lives. So, here’s to all the art, the creative endeavours, that make life better. Like…

    All the books and poetry and stories and music and TV and movies that are filling your hours, hopefully making things at least easier to tolerate.

    All the opera, ballet, plays, concerts of assorted kinds, livestreaming club DJs, and other “live” performance, even when it’s just streamed online.

    All the architecture and interior design that make the places we’re in (or that we see on our walks and drives) nicer to look at and better fits for us.

    All the clothing design (yes, a designer was behind even that cheap t-shirt you love) that means I’m not doing all this whilst wearing, I don’t know, a burlap sack or something.

    All the photos and paintings and sculpture and other such art, whether it’s on my walls or online.

    All the makeup—and some of you are wildly creative and talented—that proves a face can be a great canvas.

    The TikTok videos and comedy shows and Tumblr “cooperative storytelling” posts that keep the laughs coming.

    And also the creativity poured into well-decorated desserts. Or the simple art that is encouraging quotes put on top of a drawing and posted online.

    And the fan stuff…the fanfic and fanvids and fan art. I am definitely not one of those snobs who say it has no value.

    And the crayon-on-paper masterpieces lovingly made by inexpert hands. Things don’t have to be marketable to have value and to make life better, even for a moment.

    And, yes, the creative endeavours we take part in—even if we totally suck at them and would never share with others or they seem super minor—to pass the time, to try a new thing, to get some enjoyment.

    Etc etc etc.

    Seriously, if something is aesthetically pleasing or evoking emotions or distracting you, it might count as art. (Not everything that meets one or more of those criteria is art, but a lot of things are the product of creative work, are art, that people don’t realise.)

    So, yes, be grateful you can do video calls and stream things and get vaccinated and so forth (that stuff is awesome!), but don’t forget that science and technology aren’t the only things making life better. Art is also how we survive…and definitely how we thrive.


  • Live Light

    Brace yourselves, because this is about to be real talk. Real cheesy hokey uncool not-rock’n’roll blah blah blah. Really.

    One set of hashtags I use regularly corresponds to one of my guiding aphorisms when I write: #WriteDark #LiveLight. “Write dark” is probably obvious if you’ve read my books, poetry, or lyrics.

    “Live light,” well, that’s what got us to this post. Because even when I was wearing only black and was so deep in undiagnosed depression that it’s a wonder I didn’t drown, I couldn’t help but believe in love and light. In the value of kindness and compassion. In the importance of spreading goodness and hope. My gallows humour has always lived side-by-side with my idealism and soft heart.

    You can’t see it, but she is bristling with magic

    One of the changes to that as I got the therapy I needed was that I understood that I deserved plenty of the good stuff in my own life. And I have spent years finding ways to make sure I never let myself get totally lost in the dark again.

    I’ve noticed the last few years, though, that life stopped feeling as magical as I’d like it to quite a while ago. Unfortunately, I think that’s a natural consequence of becoming an adult in this toxic pit of capitalism and patriarchy. And I don’t have kids, so I don’t have anyone forcing me to make space for holiday-orientated magic.

    But. For the last few months, I’ve been feeling this growing sense that I need to add monthly celebrations to my already over-full life. (Really, thanks to my writers group, I’ve been at least pondering whether I am really letting myself down as regards celebrating things for almost a year now.) So, why didn’t I go for it right away?

    Because celebrations, even the most basic kind that appeal to me, take time and/or money and/or effort, none of which I can really manage.

    Because celebrations like this feel frivolous and cheesy. (And did I ever confess that I’m not fun-motivated? Sorry to ruin your image of me.)

    Because I wasn’t sure (until I sat down to have a good think) what celebrations would actually accomplish. Not in the toxic, capitalist sense, but more in the sense that I feel divinely driven to not waste time in my life.

    Because I am not really clear about what really merits celebrations, by which I really mean merits the time, money, and/or effort.

    Like I said, I sat with these reasons not to celebrate and I came up with a list of what I thought celebrations would accomplish.

    I think they will encourage, and give me one more chance to show, gratitude. Those of you who follow me on social media know I think quite a lot of gratitude. I honestly think it’s magical.

    I think they will help me refill my resilience bank account, or at least keep it from going into the red, by giving me a little recovery and relaxation time.

    I think they will help me regain a little sense of some of the magic I feel has disappeared from my life. Maybe not the giddy, squealing joy of a wee kid at Christmas with a couple new books and a buffet of treats to which I’m allowed to help myself. But there are other kinds of magic, with sparkle enough to help me feel like I’m at least a bit farther from living dark instead of light.

    And that’s why, every month, I’m going to celebrate something. (I’ve jotted down an initial list of things for each month.) I’m going to start simple and see how it evolves…have a meal, enjoy a dessert, do some kind of activity (e.g., consume a short book, movie, TV; make art; dance a little; relax). Just a couple of warm, soul-feeding hours.

    For September, I’m celebrating Autumn and education. I think that’s going to call for a sweater, a book, and warm food (still brainstorming the menu…though dessert will involve apples and/or cinnamon probably). Simple. Cosy. And…then I’ll just have to make sure I’m mindful enough that it’s a celebration instead of being tasks ticked off my list.

    This cool cat gets it…

    If I can remember, just in case you’re into it as well, I’ll mention what I’m celebrating in my newsletter every month and maybe even write a quick blog post. We’ll see.

    (I know a couple of folks I’ve talked to about this are going to come up with exciting themes for each month and make a whole thing of it, break up the monotony of daily life, include their kids in the fun. If I had time, I’d do a whole blog—not just a post—of ideas, because I got excited brainstorming with them. So, you know, if this is speaking to you, go as wild—or quiet—as you want!)

    Feel free to use the comments to tell me:

    • That you still think I’m cool…Heh!
    • How and/or what you already love to celebrate.
    • What celebratory things you might be inspired to do having read this completely hokey but sincere mass of words.