Work Hard & Be Kind

My productivity clock is weird. I can’t do anything of great magnitude in the morning. In the mornings I can’t write good essays, I find it hard to read and interpret big data-sets or new complex ideas and theories, I can’t really code websites, I find it hard to hold a proper conversation for at least an 1.5 hours after I’ve gotten up. So I leave my admin tasks to the morning and I usually distract myself on twitter. I’ll attempt my work, but will probably have to re-write it later.

By the afternoon, I feel my cogs working more smoothly. I can read those research papers and books with the understanding they need and deserve, I can begin to stare at the word document with that paper I’m writing. I can draw much better – and can debate things until the cows come home.

By 5-8pm I hit another fatigue lull, but if I nap on the train home or on my sofa in the living-room, I wake up raring to go.

From 9pm – 2:30am these are my golden hours of productivity. I write everything I need to do, I notice ideas and complex issues I missed in papers during the day, I draw more in that time than I have done all day. I complete works, I come up with my bestest ideas – I learn so much new stuff in this time — I learnt how to code websites and phone apps deep in the night. I’ve started many of my projects at this time.

But it’s annoying. I want to be that well productive in the day – and ALL day.

It’s pretty exhausting at times, especially already trying to beat that fatigue that won’t shake off.

And I know I have so much to do. So how do I keep motivated as I do my PhD and all my other projects?

Over the winter holiday I read “Let My People Go Surfing” —  Chouinard’s story is of his values and what led him to start Patagonia (the best outdoors store, ever). The principles that drive his company are really his own and he is a reluctant businessman. His big focus is on quality, durability and doing more with less. He is a committed environmentalist and believes businesses should be responsible for the damage they do to the Earth. Refreshing.

Quotes I liked:
“Doing risk sport had taught me another important lesson: never exceed your limits. You push the envelope and you live for those moments when you’re right on the edge, but you don’t go over. You have to be true to yourself; you have to know your strengths and limitations and live within your means.”

&

“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”

Before 2012, I worked so hard and made so many sacrifices, that when I thought it was all nearly over – I regretted the missing the really important things in my life. These quotes encapsulates some of the foundational lessons I learnt – or certainly felt – when I got sick, and my normal life was really hard to maintain for months and months. It drove me into the ground.

But surviving something like that, made me feel like I deserved to spend every day on vacation. But you can’t. You have to re-join the real world, and re establish yourself in some sort of way.

Now I need to be able to have a balance during this PhD. I’m finding it a bit hard. Some weeks I work insanely hard. Some weeks, I feel the guilt for not having achieved much. Maybe that’s a natural balance? But I think I’d prefer it to be more work consistent.

So in changing habits, and in hoping to sculpt something from my mess, and learning from Let My People Go Surfing values. I’m not going to spend any money on clothes, & unnecessary things like blankets and lights (which I seem to have a thing for!) I will only buy essentials such as food, and art/study stuff and train tickets – for a whole 6 MONTHS. Starting from tomorrow. This will help enable me to declutter my day, my procastination of online shopping when bored, from walking to shops and looking at stuff i don’t need. I want to begin to re-evaluate what I have.

And I need to write more.

I’ve journaled frequently in the 10 years. I  kept a streak doing it for 106 days in a row over last summer. Every single day I’d write, I’m glad I did. And yet, most days, I don’t.

And I almost never let anyone see my writing.

Multiple theorists emphasize the importance of failure. I know this, but I’m not practicing it.
In the past year, I labored over at least a dozen items I planned to post publicly. I published  only 1 or 2 good ones.
I sat down with Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, and it drove the point home even more strongly:

Whatever work you fear most, it’s likely the most important for you to be doing.

I fear writing because I fear I have nothing to say. I fear letting you see my half-finished thoughts because I fear losing your respect and attention. Most of all, I fear wasting your time.
But I know it’ll sharpen my thinking; I know it will push me. I hope it will connect me with people who like to think about, talk about, or work on the things I’m interested in.
So I’ll do it.
I will, at least once every week or 2, post something (brief!) that’s unfinished, unready, and unworthy of your time.
Here goes…
To my mantra: Work Hard & Be Kind
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Everything is fragile.

Mid-20’s isn’t that old, but I feel like I’ve aged 2 lifetimes in the past 3 years. Maybe aging like that makes you look back a bit more. Just as you can see from my blog, my focuses in life have shifted; I’m not just looking for self-improvement in what I can change per-say, but  more to learn how to have grace in the parts of me that won’t budge, or have grace in things I can’t control right now.

One of the hardest parts of having to adapt to being a much slower, less  interesting and hardly a multi-tasker Smizz due to illness, is being observed 24/7. I used to invite people to watch my performance of trying to make it in the artworld— I’d post lots of things I’d make, constantly advertise myself – I kind of craved the attention— but I had no idea that it was going to open me up to some damaging mindsets. It now makes me feel like I need to be on top of my shit 24 hours a day, and I can’t do that anymore. Mainly because I’m either in bed (mostly), studying (secondly),  drawing, or out trying to live life (making up for 1 & 2).  I’ve been trying to learn the “It’s okay to say no to things sometimes. Because if you can’t say no, you can’t fully say yes”.

I’m no longer  living up to the persona I assigned to myself.  I feel like I’m not only letting everyone down who invested their time into me, but I’ve let it make me believe I’m letting myself down too.

So after feeling like I was going to die, and feeling really sorry for myself. After not having the mental /energy capacity to work on my own work, just enough to work on others (which has been/is amazing, and I needed it to survive- both mentally & financially). After seeing people who I admire and respect because of their vision & dignity, struggle in this world. After months and months and months of wishing I could be part of it,  I returned from this ordeal to resume work and rejoin the artworld, but  my membership had expired. I felt like the Artworld had forgotten about me. And everything I made and saw seemed like trivial bullshit—because quite a bit of it was/is (not all of it). Disingenious money grabs.  all speed was stupid.  Some things was just despicable, because it stole the dignity of everyone involved. We deserve better.

This is harsh criticism, and way super cynical, but it is how I felt at the time. These feelings have eased a lil bit, but I’ve always had a critical view on the Artworld because I’ve always been coming from a disadvantaged point anyways. And I’m a Marxist. However, noticing the bad also makes it easier to see and notice the good. Many of the things I love about the artworld are still here, and doing maybe better than some of the crappy parts of the Artworld.

 

My friends, Lesley Guy & Dale Holmes did this super cool show  at Bloc Projects in Sheffield about Pizza  a few weeks ago. It was so good I went home & ordered a Domineos.

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One of the best artists out there Gregory Sholette is trying to crowd-source this phenomenal project. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/imaginary-archive-kyiv –  Which is an Imaginary Archive – a collection of fictional and real documents from a past whose future never arrived of Ukraine. It’s such a special and important exhibition, and so necessary at this time, so if you can find the time/$ to support it, that would be amazing!

 

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I really, really, really want to see William Powhida’s phenomenal “overculture” show at the most AMAZING gallery Postmasters NY, that just opened this week. Powhida’s practice is about helping us see how fucked up things are and to inspire us to strive to a world of justice, supporting (art) world which encourages criticality and  risks.  it’s basically the (art)world we all really want, yet too scared to bite the hand that feeds us.  I keep putting (art) like this, because the artworld is just a microscopism of the ‘real’ fucked up world. Every problem within the artworld is a problem within non-art-related society. Mainly because it’s the same shitty force that drives both: greed and value in the banal, and unethical under-valued/under-paid labour in order to make $$. When in actuality, there’s significant power in our dark-matter-ness if we realize it, together.

 

My focus  and definition on “progress” made it easy  for me to forget that you can turn around from traveling in a wrong direction, and return to the place where things last felt right. You can go back. Now I feel like I’m starting from the beginning with my personal art practice, and it felt like a failure. But I’m slowly accepting that sometimes going back is sometimes progress.

A few painful years has taught me 1 of the important lessons about life: you only become bulletproof when you refuse to disguise your injuries. The wounds are a gift: You learn how to accept help, and better yet, how to better give it. This in turn is another reason why I’m studying again, to emulate the best care & understanding I kind of know that the patient needs. Remember: if you need help. Ask for it. We can’t do it all alone. All the time.

Life is now somehow more precious and less. I’m now back to my humble beginnings: To share what you know.

So that’s part of what I’ve been quietly doing/working on with F/O/R/C/E, a collaboration with Paul Harrison and a few others – >  forcelectures.org

Don’t wait for a life disaster to be the thing that spurs you into action. Everything is fragile and you are more resilient than you think.

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So, Smizz.. What’s poppin’? What’s new?

Things are getting exciting again! My constant reminder to myself NOT to waste time, or to really push against the ordinary, has helped me to forged some cool things out that I’ve been working on since Oct/November and will continue to work on way into the new year.

Firstly. I am working on material to launch a Monthly (to be fortnightly, but getting myself together before I promise you that!) Art/illustration/design/cool-ness newsletter! You can sign up to it here: tinyletter.com/smizz in the meantime. I hope to have everything in place and launched by December the 1st! I loves nice people who make cool/great things and I love to share all the cool, geeky, passionate, art-y things that I find with YOU!

 

Secondly. I just got a year contract at Capgemini in London. It’s a dream come true. I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to work on some great projects in the near future in London as a ‘knowledge worker’, live-illustrating, and collaborating with designers, thinkers, writers, businesses and lots of other cool people. More on that soon, when everything has been sorted out. But wow.

 

Thirdly. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! It will deserve it’s own post. And rightly so. This year, with mystery illnesses and art and friendship and travel has been a big one! Needless to say, I’m extremely thankful that I am still here. Alive. And I’ve never felt more loved and supported by friends and family, and grateful to be! Tomorrow I’m hosting the second (due to demand) real traditional-American Thanksgiving at my house in the Donx. I hope it goes as well as last years did!

 

Fourthly. A very exciting collaboration with the very awesome artist and friend Paul Harrison is launching soon. F/O/R/C/E (Free. Online. Radically. Collected. Education.) We will be bringing 10 minute talks from artists/thinkers/activisits/do-ers  that are  strong in heart, generous in spirit, Daring and unafraid in content! Our website will be ready in a few weeks. But for now, bookmark it baby! http://forcelectures.tumblr.com

 

Fifthly. GRAVITY the lecture series and research platform that I work on has launched it’s online persona. Follow us on Twitter at @gravitysheff. We will soon be live streaming the lecture series, so even if you miss it or can’t make it into Sheffield – You will still be able to watch it online later on, and engage in the conversation on Twitter with our hashtagg #atmospherecloud. If you do attend one of the lectures, please join in with your thoughts/questions/suggestions/ideas/ect by #atmospherecloud it! More information at: www.gravity21.org 

 

Sixthly. Trying my ultimate best to make myself feel better, and be back to 100% health. I still feel crazy tired. Still having horrible nightsweats. Bone ache hurts more than ever. ect.  I feel like I’ve tried EVERYTHING. From environmental, diet, resting, excercising, healers, spiritual, sun, rain, cold, heat, multivitamins, more water, ect ect. Any suggestions would be amazing. Thanks internet!

 

Seventhly. I’ve been teaching at University. This is also another dream come true. I’m still learning what works, what doesn’t. What can I offer, how can I make the students experience the ultimate best.

 

And there’s some more stuff. But I think that’s enough for now.

A Valentines Day message for YOU!

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

– L.P. Jack from his Education Through Recreation, published in 1932.

Let’s not cross examine this with a Post-Fordist, neo-liberal critique, but remind us to do what we love. Let your passion be an incredible motivator.

 

Did I tell Y’all That I got my US Work Visa?

I mean, if you know me, you will have heard this story a billion times already. I was super nervous about my US Embassy interview, i thought that because i’ve been over quite a lot recently that they would give me a lot of questions. Not that going on holiday to the USA should be a crime, but you know what they’re like. I get to the Embassy at the crack of dawn (well it was for me) having had to make my long trip down to the capital city, London, the night before and stopping at a friends place which is located on the edge of zone 3/2 on the tube.

I get to the embassy, line up a lot, get double checked a lot, go through a lot of metal detectors and pass a lot of cops with BIG ASS guns ( probably like the only place you will see cops with guns like this in the UK).

I was in there for about 40 minutes. They take your finger prints, then you queue up like you’re waiting at the bank for an interview. There’s someone who is sat watching you on security cameras all the time.

I go to window 25, the last window. It’s a woman. She asks me where I am going, what i’m doing and if i’m a student. She also asks me whether i know my rights as a worker. That i do know! I’m british! we’re always aware of our rights as workers ha!

And she accepts my visa application. YAY! She decided not to take my especially printed US Size passport pictures (that cost me £7 from Jessops) and the visa only took 2 DAYS to get processed and sent back.

HOW SUPER QUICK WAS THAT?!
I got it in the mail on Thursday, after the interview was Tuesday. The US Embassy have really impressed me. If i was a mystery shopper ha, i would be giving y’all 100% rating!

thanks y’all. now i’m going to have the summer of a life-time!

My to do list 2mozzle

It’s that time of year where my somewhat slacking off has started to make a come back. a nasty come back. like a spice girls come back.

SO. tomoz is the working classes bank holiday. and as a working class kid i shall be honoring that by getting up around 10ish (cna’t be too hard on myself) heading the library and being kicked outta of it at 5.

In the library i will write more texts (this weekend ive managed to cecum about 6,000 words together)

partially finish my catalogue for degree show (partially cuz i need 2 take more pictures of work)

and write out 1 more ending for my work

and questionnaires for my degree show piece also

and then back to the student tuesday and working like a dawg until 8pm each day!

Now i’ve wrote it down – i hope i stick with it. please please please a higher being – give me the strength to keep me motivated and focuses 🙂

cheers!

but it’s not all doom and gloom or work blerk

check this out http://hypebeast.com/2010/04/gant-york-flagship-store-opening/

missing new york

today, especially as i grabbed my chicken roll sandwich and bananna, as I left the house in a rush only making sure that I had my Matta-Clark essay book (which, so far isn’t as good as I thought it would be… still time 2 change) on my way to work at the Bookies, i was more aware than usual that I miss NYC.

It could be something to do with the message from my hommie Erin, or the browsing of my other friends who are all still in NY pictures on Facebook. Or maybe it’s because I saw some Omer Fast’s work and was left with that great feeling that I got when I worked at Postmasters.  The wondering of what everyone else is up to over there, as I do a job which to be honest isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be. My managers are ace, they’re just cool down to earth guys, but the job itself is shit-boring and I’m have a guilty feeling towards it. You know, people with addictions and stuff. How I am apart of the infrastructure that helps maintain the status quo by fending on the poverty stricken working class who are fatalistic and wish upon lucky horses. Make their 10  quid for the kids shopping try and turn into 100 quid, but oh no. That’s gone.

Anyways, my point is I’m struggling to find my existence at the moment. I’m bored, I’m somewhat lonely not being with people.. with my friends… I’m reading but not making and this is making me frustrated (although I’ve started something! which im pleased with). i feel like the elderly on my i-pod.

all i sit and do at work when i have a minute, when i’m not reading … is work out how much money i’m going to get, how much will be going over to the USA with me and all that. IT’s a poor existence to get up, work out that you’re working fulltime hours for shit money in something you’re not interested in and dont make that many friends, and when you get home your knackered. You either just write a blog, write some emails or chat on the phone  2 get some sanity. Dream about how u can make the best of your day off… and the day starts again.

Anyways. all this is making me nostalgic of my NYC work experience and real life living.It’s only been under 3 weeks since i’ve been back but it seems years away or even fictionary. unreal. I want it again. And i’m obsessing over it.

here’s some photo’s of Brooklyn and NYC that i’ve found.

errgh!

I’m feeling decidedly mixed about the whole week.
It was long at work.

I had to cover for the other sick girl.
It was hot. Which is good in UK terms, but not when you have to work it all.
I have one of those sleepy headache.
I’m sweating as I type.
I made the mistake of logging into my work email in the evening.

I made the mistake of sending just that 1 too many email to certain people.
It’s the first wedding anniversary for my mom’s recently deased husband. as you can guess, that’s not as fun as it should be.

I think I am being made to hand out flyers to encourage people to gamble their morgage money.

I found out i’m in a magazine but can’t find the original copy.

But I think it’s finally cooling off. Manchester tomorrow and London next week!

San Francisco soon! 🙂