Top 4 Instagram Accounts to Start Your Morning With

Top_4_Instagram_Accounts_Mornings

Many of us end up looking through Instagram as part of our morning routines, but sometimes the content encountered just isn’t morning speed- too fast, too loud, too abrasive. Enter this list of 4 Instagram accounts that will start your morning off right. 

Each one of these Instagrammers from around the world will bring a dose of beauty and calm to the beginning of your day and inspire you to be enchanted by the small things, no matter where you might live. 

@johnacatss - Philippines (Johna Catacutan)
I challenge you to find one single post of hers that doesn’t make you have a perfect morning. It is sensationally serene. Minimalist perfection plus flowers and coffee- it doesn’t really get better than that. Johna’s photos are impeccably put together without feeling contrived and you can really feel that she lives the #artofslowliving lifestyle that she preaches. If you like well-ordered beauty, Johna has the inspiration you need!

 

@naomibulger

@naomibulger

@naomibulger - Australia
Beautiful photos of mail art, tea & coffee, and cute kiddos. Also, Naomi is in Australia, so here in the US we can get Summer pictures in the middle of winter. Naomi’s kindness and sincerity shine through in all that she posts and there is always snail mail inspiration to be found. You’ll want to pick up a pen and immediately send a letter to your best friend, whether they live across the world or across town. 

 

 

@alf.and.myrtle

@alf.and.myrtle

@alf.and.myrtle - England (Nicky Oram)
"Alf and Myrtle" are really a project of English photographer Nicky Oram. Her gorgeous photography is organized by seasonally rotating themes. Currently, the focus is #hazyshadesofwinter . It’s all about the light! Her account will make you chill out and be enchanted by sweeping vistas and small details in turn. 

 

 

 

@clangart

@clangart

 

 

 

@clangart - France (Chantal)
Morning light shines through all of Chantal’s photographs. Floral extravagance and views of Parisian architecture, cute cafés, and abundant coffee photoshoots guarantee beauty in every single post. Pretend that you’re exploring the streets of Paris as you scroll through her Insta feed. 

Enjoy following these wonderful artists on Instagram and let me know if there are others you think I might have missed! May you always have inspiring, invigorating, and overall lovely mornings. 

Why Do I Make Art?

The answer is in constant flux. I define art to be anything created with intention. It’s a very broad definition, designed to be so in order to encapsulate all the many ways in which people can be makers. My way of interrogating meaning is to make art about it, though only the most compelling of ideas will force me to regard them so closely.

 A little bit of creation happening in my closet studio

 A little bit of creation happening in my closet studio

When there is a concept or phenomenon that I want to explore more deeply the only way that makes sense to me is to do that through art. The art making process can be research intensive or experiential, and if the resulting art will be good, it is a product of both.

It is certainly not necessary to arrive at art’s doorstep with a plan already in mind- even coming in “empty,” art will let me know what I’m really thinking about and will exorcise some of the stored information in my head. Art will stop the thoughts going around and around constantly so that there is something solid and physical in front of me to be contemplated.

I often refer to my “mental rolodex.” Many things are filed in the rolodex and not all of them get to break out into the light of day again. Often there is just too much clutter, paper scraps and half formed facts but when I need some bit of information and it’s there, I rejoice.

The art-making process is what allows me to synthesize disparate information and create connections between ideas to enable understanding. Often, the understanding is performed as explaining to myself. For example, my coffee and tea cup paintings show me that stillness, ritual and communing with kindred souls is desperately important to me right now.

From the starting point of the image I found that making this work is compelling to me, and has been since January of 2016, because within these aspects is my proposed answer to the tumultuous times the world finds itself in now.

Meeting and communing and enjoying the ritual of tea or coffee with a friend is a terrifyingly small step to take towards something as huge as the idea of peace, but all of the greatest progress is made in this size increment. With these small connections built over time, communities are formed whose bonds bring diverse perspectives together and weave a tapestry of mutual support.

This support is the protective glue that keeps people from being forgotten, excluded, and dehumanized. So I will continue to draw coffee cups, for now they represent connection, and by extension the pursuit of peace.

What practices do you think help bring people towards mutual understanding? (even if they're very small)

From Boston to Denver: Exploring a New City Through Coffee Shops

recent watercolor illustrations done at different coffee shops (and one from home, too)

The move from Boston to Denver is certainly a change. I miss Boston, but also love having the chance to explore my new city. Denver's coffee culture is much more vibrant than expected. There are tons of local roasters and many superb local coffee shops. I've been slowly making my way through this article/map on the 25 best coffee shops in Denver and am learning my way around the city slowly in this way.

I've also been drawing some of my teacup collection at home, especially when I just want tea. I never attempt to make coffee at home since I pretty much only want it if it's an espresso drink. Maybe someday cold brew could happen at home. In the meantime I am more than happy to get my caffeine high from places like Quincessential Coffeehouse, and Bellwether (which also serves whiskey and an amazing coffee cocktail all day long). 

Can't wait to sip more coffee and see more of Denver. Let me know if you have any recommendations! And if you'd like me to paint a cup for you, check out my Cup Portraits page.

To Feel Whole: announcing my first solo show!

Much of my work in recent years has been about thinking and feeling my way through experiences and encounters. Processing things that have fractured my worldview, or confidence, or sense of self helps me feel more complete. Really, the point of all of it is to feel  more whole.

Come to the opening! The Cambridge YWCA is very easy to get to from the Red Line for all of you Boston-area folks- just around the corner from the Central T stop. My thesis work will be there, but so will some very freshly new work! Still in progress! There will also be a host of woodblock prints, portraits, and potentially books. Prints will be available at the opening as well. 20% of any art purchases will be donated to the YWCA to support their mission of empowering women and eliminating racism.

Hope to see you there!

Consumption/Danae Diptych

Consumption/Danae 1 of 2 

Consumption/Danae 2 of 2 

Luxury and consumption has been on my mind a lot lately, and this was a way to explore my role in that cycle. It isn't lost on me that my critique of consumption resulted in me creating art-largely defined as a luxury commodity. To me however, art is reality- it is grounding to produce rather than consume, to create. By creating objects of beauty ourselves, we aren't thinking of buying them- we are circumventing the issue in a small way. The couch that appears is one that I've dreamed of one day having in an attic studio- antique and covered in light green satin. Now I have it- actually in this drawing I have about three!

The pairs of chairs are waiting for occupants, waiting for conversations to start. It seems so easy not to talk about our relationships with money and luxury, but it could be so important. What greater luxury is there than having a rousing discussion with a friend, than confiding in each other your thoughts? I'm hoping to prompt some more dialogue with these pieces. 

What is your greatest luxury- that could never be bought?

Generosity and Generosity of Spirit

epistolary_generosity

Christmas Eve is a time when most people have giving on their minds. Whether it’s unfinished shopping or what tomorrow’s giving will look like. 

We are told generosity is the most important virtue to derive from the holiday season. Are we speaking in volume of gifts given though, or in terms of a generous nature? Though of course not mutually exclusive, the more important thing is Generosity of Spirit - having a preclusion towards generosity always. 

This season marked my first as an adult giving gifts for the holidays. Suddenly I was very conscious of the fact that I was making money- by way of having a full time job- instead of living off of student loans. While I had been knitting Christmas gifts since October, I realized that those people I couldn’t knit for, I could buy things for. Nice things, instead of the limited options at $10 and under.  

Bizarre. Wouldn’t the bought gifts just seem slim next to the handmade ones, I wondered, no matter the increased cost? I was almost embarrassed to add them to the spread of presents I had yet to wrap. Such little effort was expended on those bought gifts. I just found them, and got them. No sizing, no searching for materials, no working on it on my commute. Just ordered, delivered, wrapped, labeled, done. Most people buy all of their gifts. Unimaginable that they could be so distanced from the experience of giving by not having their hand in the gifts given. 

Appearances, of course, are not where truth ends. No matter if the gift is made or bought, it’s the sentiment behind it that matters more. In true epistolary form, I’ve come to the conclusion that the holiday card is truly the most generous of gifts to give. Especially in volume, writing holiday cards is an exercise in generosity. Words can mean so much more than things. Words are feelings, love, understanding, forgiveness. Words can show true care much more readily than a physical gift with all of its histories and allusions. 

No matter what the gifts you are giving or receiving, let’s all pay attention the messages behind them. The little ways in which we are generous with each other. And if you’d care to join me, let’s plan to write more cards for every holiday in 2016. 

Companionship and Commuting

commuting_&_companionship

What we pay attention to goes a long way towards what we can be thankful for. What if complaining was framed as being ungrateful for that moment? There are a few aphorisms that apply here, “Everything is relative,” “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” “It’s all a matter of perspective.”

This morning I was momentarily annoyed with my position on the T. I had a seat, but I was sitting between two people, and the man next to me was much larger than myself so was taking up more room. He wasn’t by any means taking up more space than he should have been, but he was just there, and so was the lady to my right- whose Pantene conditioner was too noticeable for my comfort.

Almost as soon as I thought this though, I realized that I was so lucky to be in a seat, knitting, on a not too crowded train and on track to get to work on time. How dare I complain? Once this mindset had entered my early morning awareness I started to appreciate the people next to me. How funny, I thought, that people sit smashed together, in silence, trying not to squirm too much. I had considerate neighbors, and though we didn’t speak, I felt a companionship with them, a communion in our common trajectories. We all contributed to our space with our consideration, and shared 45 minutes of companionable calm. In most understandings, the term “companionship” is reserved for longer term arrangements, for relationships that are exclusive and serious. No reason though, no reason why companionship can’t be fleeting, yet felt. It was a gift really, to feel like a part of the larger goings on in the city just by meeting elbows with strangers.

May we all find more ways to be thankful in this holiday season and beyond! If there are any ways in which you’ve shifted perspective towards the positive I’d love to hear about it.

Pancakes Are Never Lonely

pancake alone

pancake alone

Making pancakes alone- I’m unsure whether this has been done many times by a happy person, especially in such quantity. Pancakes speak to communal nature, maybe because of the many toppings and variations, or maybe simply because it’s very difficult to make only enough for one. Add that to the Rockwellian scene of a happy family making pancakes together that’s so embedded in our cultural zeitgeist and making pancakes alone just sounds...lonely.

Alone I was, lonely I was not. I knew that people I cared about would be cared for via easy breakfasts when reheating the pancakes I was going to freeze. And my hands were in motion, I was not in front of a screen, I was solidly making- creating. Surprising how creative cooking can feel when it hasn’t been daily, when there has been so much disconnection with physical reality through working behind a screen.

This whole weekend I took things a little slower, tried to be more conscious during my off-hours. The sewing machine came out, mending happened that I had been meaning to do for ages, that I couldn’t find the patience for until sitting in front of the sewing machine was a treat in and of itself.

It really comes down to value systems, and value $y$tem$. Buying dinner on my way home is more time efficient than cooking, and allows me to eat pretty much immediately after working long hours without food since a faraway lunch. But it’s most often a waste of money, and puts the raw ingredients I purchased at the grocery store at risk for being wasted too. And in general, unless Paula Deen possesses me as sometimes happens, cooking at home is way healthier. In the concept of time being money, I’m getting plenty of value in the money sense from an economically priced $8 dinner from Mr. Crepe or somewhere similar, but I’m not getting lasting value out of it. My values are centered around care and attention and presence and staying healthy- or so I’m increasingly finding out.

It didn’t really make economic sense for me to spend 2 or so hours mending and updating a shirt I bought at a Goodwill for $2, but I did it, and it means more to me now. The shirt is cooler now (or at least doesn’t have holes anymore) - and I was able to be creative in the process. This is what I appreciate as an appreciation of value. So make more pancakes from scratch, even though it takes at least an hour and a half if you’re moving at Sunday speed, and invest your time, not in the most monetarily lucrative way, but in the way that will show you the most value.

The Folk Singer and Your Commute

Sketches of the crowd at the Royal Oak in Edinburgh, Scotland. Sept 14th 2015

Sketches of the crowd at the Royal Oak in Edinburgh, Scotland. Sept 14th 2015

One night in Edinburgh not too long ago, my mother and I set off on an adventure. A not so overly adventurous bus ride from the top deck later we arrived at a tiny bar, The Royal Oak. We had heard from a lady on a previous bus ride who was holding a cat and who we were therefore talking to, that this place had live folk music every night. So we walked almost all the way in, heard no music, looked blankly at the few people inside and backed out. We went down the stairs instead of up, we found the water closets. Helpful but not the point. Outside on the sidewalk we knew we had missed something. Mom goaded me into going back into the bar by myself to check if there was indeed to be live music that night, so as she peered in through the cracked door behind me I walked the very few feet to the bar, upon which we heard the first strum from a guitarist in the corner, previously blocked from view. My original question obviated, I ordered one Blumer’s hard cider and two half pint glasses and made a bee-line for the stools Mom had already snagged.

How close we had been to missing out! How close we now were to the singer and the bartender and everyone else in the place! The room was about 15 x15’ excluding the bar, and the singer/guitarist was a big man with a big voice. As we were there a bit longer, and as we eventually finished the Bulmers between the two of us- never a surety- more and more people began filling in the spaces between people sitting around the perimeters. People were crowded, but they were also united. Everyone was there to listen and enjoy this man’s singing and playing. We heard Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Animals- and many traditional Scottish folk songs as well. House of the Rising Sun and Loch Lomond were particularly poignant spontaneous group singing experiences. At one point I was told to move forward because of my height, or lack thereof, it was really very thoughtful. The music and the confined space had brought the crowd together as a group, helped of course by the friendly and slightly steampunk-ish bar staff and teasing singer.

Crowds feel a bit different to me now, even in crowded and less friendly Boston being open to the possibility of kindness has definitely helped. Two other people talked to me on public transportation today, and both were lovely. The interaction made us smile, and I felt so lucky to have had that on the way to and from work. I can imagine now that even in the square footage of the #96 bus, all of the commuters could be happy and have a sense of togetherness. Sometimes awesome bus drivers bring this out in bus groups, but for the most part it’s how people just interact with each other. Do what you can, if you can, to make your commute better by being kind in some way to the people around you. And let me know how it goes! I would love to hear about it.

Universality- the spirit of a circle

my less than perfect circles, but mimics still

my less than perfect circles, but mimics still

“The spatial knowledge of things- expanding awareness”

I was knitting on the commute into work when I thought the previous sentence. It seemed that was a core of what knitting had been teaching me about the world, about observation. After some additional thinking however, I realized that being attuned to spatial connections and threads was more deeply present for me in drawing.

Learning how to draw is learning how to see really. How to end assumptions and begin understanding. Concentration is deeply involved in this, necessary for reinforcing the knowledge that becomes many building blocks for a practice.

My grandfather used to draw perfect circles- I can’t remember if I witnessed the phenomenon, or if I was just told he could and know it now to have been true- but I remember being so amazed by this mastery. Just the thought of being able to harvest this most base shape from the expanse of the universe and bring it into being at will. What power, to know that shape so well. Now I play with the idea, find these little circles fascinating, reflective, comforting.

 

Care As Honor

the carefully re-knit cuffs

the carefully re-knit cuffs

Virginia Woolf has been in my thoughts lately. I recently finished reading A Room of One’s Own by her and was really struck by her ideas and ideals (even though intersectionality is glaringly absent when read with a contemporary eye- she was writing in the late 1920s). In the expanded speeches that comprise the book she invoked the spirit of the sentence as a thing meaning The Sentence from which a writer constructed prose. All of the greats had a different sentence, one that had been partially written for them, Woolf said, by previous greats- as these great men could think back through their fathers in history. She claimed that women need to make their own sentence to serve our own intellectual and emotional way of describing and building things. How wonderful! Just thinking of how many sentences there might be out there- from all different perspectives and needs- builders learning the word alchemy of creation.

In not writing, I found my own sentence. As I was knitting, and then as I was un-knitting and then again as I was re-knitting, I wondered why I was putting so much effort into my creation. Why did I want it to be perf...okay, symmetrical anyway? Because I cared, and because caring enough to make it right is how I define honor. The title my sentence would follow is Care as Honor.

What is your honor? And what is your sentence?

Apples and the Nature of Abundance

the remnants 8 days later

the remnants 8 days later

Last weekend my roommate and I came back from apple picking with 50 pounds of apples. Now they are almost gone. I couldn’t be happier. This sudden abundance triggered a mass of creative action in our kitchen- we made apple butter, applesauce, apple pies (yes plural), apple muffins, an apple quick bread...and ate apples in lunch every day.

Making baked goods that we used to feed ourselves and our friends really helped bring me through the work week. Instead of staring at a screen I could feel the ingredients in my hands, had the camaraderie of a friend and partner in apple picking crime, and got to eat some great and not so great pie. Because the apples weren’t wasted, I’m more confident in my ability to deal with a lot of material quickly and efficiently. Abundance was received, abundance was shared, so it follows that abundance will come again.

Alone in Public- The Creative Tea Break

transcribed from the back of my tea-receipt, since my journal was foolishly absent:

the network neuron drawing is ready for Halloween

the network neuron drawing is ready for Halloween

ecosystems of place-time-people

→ glances and eyes caught in nets making webs of intraspecies connection

-the by-catch that changes life paths

  •  The Tea Mind-

We must trust in the poetry of the body- leaving value to be distributed safely into its jurisdiction. All we do now is punish it for its tendencies towards lust, but would it even be so if in other/most instances it were listened to? Plus, the intellect will always somewhere fail. If we put all our self worth int under that one heading, we would feel forever threatened, and would behave as small as our assumed margins of error:

-distillations of opinion

revisitings

annotations on experience

The Conscious Exhale

-starting sentence/feeling

(end transcription)

I had the Tea Mind concept- that I know almost nothing about- in my head from reading something about it on the side of a Tea Republic canister in my kitchen. One of their Tea Mind quotes from their blog for you here: “The Leaves take the water, the first sip emanating wisdom’s light. Where Tea Mind is polished, it shines, pervading the universe, is more than it seems. And so are we.” –The Ministers of Travel

 

What makes art/not art?

What makes something ART or Art or art? What is art is the first question tackled in an art history survey. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now, and my best answer is just another question: What ISN’T art?

I once annoyed everyone (but most effectively my science major friends) by saying that really art should be called “biology,” since it is the real study of life. Hubristic statements aside, maybe we need a new term for art, something that can properly encompass all the mediums and ways and iterations of art out there.

Most recently, I’m thinking about what zines are- are they a medium, a method, a platform, ephemera? To me they’re art, but so is everything, so how to distinguish between what is an Art Object, what is Printed Ephemera, and what is just a xerox? I can see that intersectionality is the way to the best answer, as usual, but I still want my taxonomical questions addressed. Everything seems to demand iteration.

Is there anything that is definitely not art at all?

Creative Muscle Memory

The 10,000 hours principle is the first thing that comes to mind when I try to think about what drives muscle memory. It comes in spurts though too- it’s possible to get on a roll with something, and if you continue that roll of short term muscle memory, it seems to become long-term eventually. Maybe even permanent.

I have a ways to go with the 10,000 hours, and the muscle memory, when it comes to book binding. I love the craft, but I’m still so new at it. In the interest of making a little interim journal to get me from now to September 3rd when I go on my UK adventure, I sat down to make a somewhat improvised single signature hardcover book. Shortly, it became a VERY improvised single signature hardcover. Simple structure- but apparently that doesn’t mean you can completely make it up as you go and expect it to adhere to bookmaking standards. Now it’s a matter of SMFA professor Ann Pelikan’s mantra, “If you can’t fix it- feature it.”

The vintage bias tape I used as “bookcloth” for the spine is so far not so happy being soaked in methyl cellulose glue and then mushed onto already slightly soggy rescued calendar page cover paper. At the moment, there’s a lot of glue, a lot of paper, some calendar page butterflies and some good layers of wax paper sitting under 3 of my heaviest books. Hopefully the butterflies can do their work in there during the stasis period and help a beautiful little book emerge! Perhaps too hopeful for this stage- but next one! I see a decoupage cover in my future.

What’s the most lost cause project you’ve ever saved? I would love to hear about it for inspiration!

To Break or Not to Break? Segmentation of Creative Outlets

It’s time for a new journal. I’m getting to the last few pages in my last one and I’m writing less because I know I have less space and no replacement yet- no good! So it’s time to bind another book. Or multiple books?

Like I do when starting a project for someone else, I started by assessing what the end goal is. Aaaaand got very confused. The broad goal is to express myself- ahh how cliché and seemingly easy! The trouble is that I want too many things from one product (again, clichéd but real). My new journal is for writing. And visually brainstorming. And also for *hopefully* doing adorable watercolors while on my upcoming trip to the UK. And I would really like it if it had a little folder in the back, and if the covers were made with that green cloth I made into bookcloth…

journal_brainstorm

 So here’s what the beginning of my brainstorm for the new journal/travel journal looks like, plus ideas for the teeny tiny altoids tin travel watercolor kit I’m working on (more on that later)

Building a new book- or any new artwork, happens in stages for me. The first is all small arrows and notes- brainstorming visually by hand, on paper. Then I take out materials, and I hem and I haw. Digging around through saved bits of paper and treasures helps a lot. Tonight I was briefly entering into this stage of the process for the new journal, but I kept running up against deciding on whether to break things up or not. Will this be the one journal to rule them all, that I use every day until my trip, use as my travel journal and continue to use after, or should I make smaller books of different types of paper- some watercolor, some drawing, some toned, and use them each for different drawing or watercoloring purposes while writing in a purely text journal?

Would it be possible for me at all to do a text-only journal?

Part of the package with this journal is designing how it will function in its completed state. I’m shying away from the scrapbooking aesthetic of assembling everything once I get back from the trip. I’d really like to be able to do pages that incorporate multiple elements, especially writing and watercolor- but I want different paper for those things. And what if I run out of room if I only bring little snippet journals of specific paper? I would be hosed! Do I feel like bringing an every-day writing journal, a watercolor sketchbook, and a drawing or travel-specific journal too though? No. Definitely no.

So with notes from bookmaking classes and How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith out on my desk, I’m searching for a livable answer. The travel journal example in that book, based on a concertina spine that signatures are sewn into, could be a great structure for me to use, but how to structure-or segment- the signatures?

Is this just what happens when working in multiple mediums? Or can there be a pleasing way to unite all of them? Any suggestions super appreciated!

Recall- Personal Archives and Building a Story of Self

It’s so easy to be blinded by present circumstances. In the post-grad struggle to find balance, and a career, things often feel too catastrophic to handle. What I realized I needed was a check-in with my own archive up to now, my own story. Just in my head, it’s difficult to cast back the net and pull up mid-August 2013, but with my journal archive, where I’ve collected my ideas for four-ish years now, I could find that in fact I was working on a 30-page paper about my experiences working with the First Nations Health Authority in Vancouver. That was a great internship at an even better organization, but wow- I’m so glad I’m not writing that paper right now. Another journal says that in 2012 I was in Vancouver, but struggling with body-image issues. Another says that last year (definitely better than this one on paper) I was on a boat up desolation sound eating apple pie I had baked with my mother from windfall apples. This took some time, and it would have been easy to just fall into old emotions and not take anything but nostalgia away from the exercise, but instead I found that I could see my growth when I looked back. I could see that over this past year, even if I don’t have an apple pie in my fridge at the moment, I have so many new experiences that have shaped me as a person. I can feel that I’m in a good trend- which makes it easier to keep going.

It strikes me that stories of self can be built in many ways. Mine up to now has been primarily through hand-written journals, but moving forward will fold this blog into it as well, and ideally more photos and drawings. How do you build a story of self? Tweets? The Facebook machine? Maybe your own blog or archived text message conversations- I’d love to know

Writing Across Mediums

Which writing counts? This has been a difficult question for me lately. Last year, I wrote in my journal nearly every day- I think I missed a total of 5 days when I was sick and such. Journal though- a hard copy, hand bound book I made for myself to write in. I still keep a journal, and I still write by hand in it, but more and more since I've graduated I've been turning to the screen for written expression.

This shift was highly motivated by reading the Huffington Post's Guide to Blogging. As a fledgling publisher, the itch to get ideas out quickly has been with me for a while now- this book gave me the mental tools to start setting a blog up for myself in earnest. Of course, this also meant re-doing my website. But writing a blog means typing a blog! I (literally) almost wrote my thesis on writing letters by hand- so how do I balance my need for hand written writing and on-screen writing? 

So far, my hypothesis is more of both, except that's really hard when working, starting up a start-up, and looking for a big girl job to pay those post-graduation bills. Any ideas for me?

On the Nature of Challenges

The bookshelf in the house I grew up in was long dominated by a set of children’s books my Mom picked for me from a monthly book club thing. It was a whole series about historically significant people that gave me the firmest grasp on historical biographies I’ve ever had. Among the books on Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur- who for some reason was my favorite- was the biography of Jackie Robinson.

Even to my 5 year old mind, Jackie Robinson was impressive. The simply narrated book said that even from a very young age, Jackie Robinson always challenged himself. Since I was a young age, I took this to be directly applicable to me and started setting challenges for myself immediately. Yeah but I was 5, so these challenges were more like never again stepping on a crack in the sidewalk and things like that, they weren’t targeted to affect real growth in any way. I like to think that now the challenges I set for myself are targeted and do contribute to personal growth, but is an inner monologue of constant challenge the most effective way to think?

Though the compulsive challenge setting made me a great student during high school and university, I’ve also consistently struggled with anxiety. How much challenge is the right amount? And does anxiety result more from inwardly set challenges than outwardly imposed ones?