A Lot of Motivation

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Last summer, while you were binge-watching episodes of The Office, Mad Men and Pretty Little Liars, your nerdy friend, Larysa Musick (a.k.a. me) was binge-watching commencement speeches and interviews on YouTube.

“Isn’t that boring and sad?” you say, “aren’t you embarrassed that you haven’t watched The Gilmore Girls yet, Larysa?”

No. Well, yes. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s hip and cool anymore. I’m about as cool as a baked potato and as hip as a shoulder. But that doesn’t matter.

What matters is you are going to need motivation at some point. And although you may have caring parents, guardians, coaches, friends, teachers, mentors, and/or tutors, they may not have the wisdom on hand to help you in your time of desperation. This is not because they are faulty role models. It’s because they’re human.

You might be having a relationship crisis or a career crisis, and your role model might bestow on you cliches such as “listen to your gut,” or “practice makes perfect.”

And as quaint as these cliches might be, they can fall short of useful.

Over time, as I watched and re-watched these speeches and interviews, I’ve found nuggets of wisdom that go beyond adages.

This may seem grandiose, but I promise you, I’m not exaggerating.

Give these a listen. See what works for you:

  1. This is Water by David Foster Wallace
  2. Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation
  3. Sarah Kay: What We Build
  4. Neil Gaiman 2012 Commencement Speech: Make Good Art
  5. Patti Smith Interview: Advice to the Young
  6. Marina Abramovic: Advice to the Young
  7. The Mind – Alan Watts
  8. The Real You – Alan Watts

25 Things You Can Do for Self-Care

  1. Meditate. (You don’t have to do this for an hour—ten minutes will work too.)
  2. Practice vinyasa. (Make sure you take deep breaths and drink water.)
  3. Donate a box of clothes you haven’t worn in six months. (Obviously, keep the things you need for the changing seasons, such as winter coats or rubber boots.)
  4. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood.
  5. Finish a crossword.
  6. Start a puzzle.
  7. Read a book.
  8. Start a book club.
  9. Draw on your driveway with chalk.
  10. Play checkers with your mom/dad/guardian.
  11. Call a friend.
  12. Make a vision board.
  13. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for.
  14. Hug someone.
  15. Write a thank-you letter for someone who has helped you.
  16. Turn off your phone for a day.
  17. Take up journaling.
  18. Colour a picture.
  19. Eat vegetables.
  20. Sing in the shower.
  21. Dance. (You don’t necessarily need music or other people to do this.)
  22. Watch a movie. (For feel-good movies, I recommend the whole Harry Potter series, anything with John Cusack in it, When Harry Met Sally… and The Princess Bride.)
  23. Try a new activity, such as boxing, karate, archery, golfing, rock climbing, or go-karting.
  24. Watch videos of baby animals. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen a baby sloth, then you haven’t lived.)
  25. Make your own self-care list.

The One True Calling

 

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When you imagine yourself ten years from now, what do you see? Do you see yourself with a degree or two, working at the job you’ve always dreamed of, doing the thing you were meant to do—your one true calling?

Or, are you curious about multiple occupations? Are you a painter, poet, dancer, actor, playwright, masseuse, psychologist, philosopher, folk-pop singer-songwriter, brain surgeon and trapeze artist?

Okay, maybe that’s a steep list, but you get where I’m going with this: There are those of us who jump around from one job to another, more than other people. We are polymaths.

But we’re living in a monomath-centric society. Or, at least, that’s what I’ll argue.

The assumption is one goes to university or college, gets a degree, finds a job in their respective field, and works away at it until retirement or death. And there you have it, voilĂ , you’re leading a fulfilling life.

Now, I’m not here to belittle or shake my finger at specialization. Of course, extensive knowledge in one field can benefit your community, your business and your quality of life.

What I’m here to say is don’t get bogged down in the “one true calling” hogwash, if it doesn’t serve you.

Take up baking, archery, hula-hooping, woodworking, long distance running, or whatever the heck you want, if you have the time and resources to do so.

“But, Larysa, I need to be the best at something. I can’t just be okay at several things,” you say. Well, I don’t care. That’s bollocks.

Sure, someday you may end up at a cocktail party, and Billy Bob Knucklehead may ask you what you do for a living, and you may have to respond with the old “I do many things,” and he will probably scoff at you and call you a liar.

Here’s the thing: Billy Bob Knucklehead is boring and rude, and you needn’t pay him any attention.

And for another thing, you can be 100 different things if you want. You don’t have to have any specific titles at all. You don’t have to be just a surgeon or just a farmer or just a janitor.

OR, MAYBE, YOU CAN REALLY STICK IT TO BILLY BOB KNUCKLEHEAD.

Tell him I gave you a NEW TITLE.

It’s called be a human.

How’s that for a change?

 

 

 

Good Things, Bad Things and the In Between

Life is a smorgasbord of unpredictable, unbelievable and, depending on your luck, unforgettable moments.

There are days when I am enamored with this reality. And then there are days when I resent reality completely—days when I punch the pillow, smash the glass, tear the pages, burn what’s left, and implore the universe for answers. I get no answers.

Say Anything, the 1980s film featuring John Cusack, is up there on my list of favourite films.  Not because I’m a Peter Gabriel fan. Nor because of the boom-box-blasting protagonist wearing a long burnt umber trench coat. Though I do like an underrated love interest who charms the leading lady with his chivalry.

The part that won me over about Say Anything was a quote from its character Diane:

“I have this theory of convergence, that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just dont know why they have to happen at the same time. I just wish I could work out some schedule. Am I just babbling? Do you know what I mean?”

Now, I Googled (is that a verb?) the convergence theory, and apparently, it has something to do with economics, which I know nothing about. I do, however, feel I know something about the convergence Diane talked about in Say Anything.

For some reason, somewhere in my subconscious, I’ve convinced myself living a happy and healthy life means achieving balance. A little art here, a little study there, a little business, a little family time, a little meditation, a little drinking with friends, but never too much of any one thing.

But it seems, no matter how much I obsess over balance, imbalance happens anyway. I get an A on an assignment but miss a deadline. I remember to finish an assignment but forget someone’s birthday. I go to the birthday party but forget to eat. I drink enough water but I eat too much. I say I love you to my mom but yell “piss off” at an innocent Starbucks barista. I avoid spilling coffee on my white shirt but I rip my pants.

How, you ask, do I cope with the chaos?

I laugh.

Are you wallowing in a puddle of bad things? Try opening your mind up to the theory of convergence. Maybe you’ll start seeing all the good things that naturally pair with the bad things.

I heard if you fake smile for a bit, you’ll start to feel slightly more happy.

Take a look at my face at the gym when I’m running on the treadmill.

I’ll be drenched in sweat and huffing, but I’ll be bearing my pearly whites. You can bet on it.

 

Mind Scraps

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You know that feeling when you look in your fridge after a long day, pretending there’s a quick dinner packaged nice and neat in there when you know you haven’t grocery shopped in weeks, and you’re running out of ideas, and you’re too exhausted, so you pair noodles with ketchup and call it pasta?

That’s how I feel tonight.

Don’t get me wrong, I ate well tonight. I managed to cook two proper meals for my family this weekend: chickpea burgers and chicken pad thai. The stomach is full. It’s the mind that’s growling.

Traveling from classroom to classroom, to coffee shop, to rally, to stage, to bedroom—at my long wooden desk cluttered with pens, sticky notes, candles, and motivational quotes—I’ve been chipping away at the iceberg that is my second semester at college. Meetings, interviews, phone calls, typing, hair-pulling, wine-drinking, putting-hair- back-in-place, more phone calls, editing, deleting, rewriting, researching, note-taking, poetry-slam-directing, and carpooling: summary of my past seven days.

Talk about phew, gadzooks, gee willikers, and heavens to Betsy!

Yet, none of that matters.

Because here’s the rub, there’s still work to do. You’ve got work to do, I’ve got work to do, and chicken scratch ain’t gonna turn into an essay while I sit here whining and complaining.

(I’m using “ain’t gonna” instead of “isn’t going to” tonight as though I’m a cowboy from an old western movie. If that doesn’t show how void of inspiration I am, I don’t know what will.)

What about you? What are you complaining about?

Get ‘er done sheriff!

Take it from someone who knows, inspiration ain’t a loyal lap dog. He ain’t gonna hunt, gnaw, bark, catch and pull your work for you. You have to put the work in yourself, with or without the muse.

Your fridge may be sparse, but I bet you can throw something together. Just do it. Do it like I did with this blog post.

If nothing else, it’ll be a good laugh.