41 Simple Ways to Make Yourself More Creative

Originally posted on TIME:

Here’s what the scientific research says:

  1. Travel.
  2. Or just expose yourself to other cultures.
  3. Or stay where you are and learn their language.
  4. Don’t surround yourself with the color red, stick to blue.
  5. Get rejected.
  6. Buy a potted plant.
  7. Give the problem to someone else.
  8. Or pretend you’re solving problems for someone else.
  9. Or pretend you’re a child.
  10. Think about love, not sex.
  11. Take a break.
  12. And stop being so hard on yourself.
  13. Smile.
  14. Or frown while happy.
  15. But either way, behappy.
  16. Or a bit paranoid.
  17. Follow Jeremy Dean’s 6 steps.
  18. Add a little background noise.
  19. Team up with both old friends and strangers.
  20. And people who don’t know what they’re doing.
  21. But you should work toward becoming an expert.
  22. Don’t be too original.
  23. Stop brainstorming.
  24. Take…

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Hypocrisy

I am unaware of how my life must seem to others. Is it fulfilling, is it youthful, is it prosperous, is it naive, is it desperate? Yes. Probably. But often times I forget to look at other lives. I forget that we are all intricate creatures, that one person prefers blueberry jam, and another prefers blackberry. That’s a weird analogy. I sometimes am baffled by other people. And I become hypocritical. It’s like I think everyone should be made in my image and philosophies.

This past month, Indiana has been a hotbed of controversy. Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act became a law, and people started freaking out about it, left and right. I personally see how much harm it’s done to our reputation, and worry that this will give religious organizations freedom to discriminate. I am an LGBT and reproductive rights advocate–I’m really annoyed by the people that decide they can refuse service because the customer is doing something against the person’s moral code.

This post got me angry:

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This is a post from a customer of mine at the coffeehouse on campus. I Facebooked him after cashiering one day and realizing I wanted to have him on that counter right then and there (sorry, Mom). In other words, he is the hottest thing since hot fries and that Nymphomaniac scene where Shia LaBeouf goes down on a chick. Wow. I just watched that scene after typing that and I’m breathless now. Aaaaaannnywaaaaay, the point is that I was lusting after this guy until he wrote this. Then I deleted him.

He came into Starbucks yesterday. My breath caught in my throat and I didn’t know how to act. Should I bring it up? No, that wouldn’t do any good. So I was distant. And he wondered at it, I could tell. Then I thought, “Is this a good enough reason to cut someone out of your life?”

Am I a hypocrite? Am I only accepting of others if they fit my lifestyle, my liberal, feminist, queer-rights lifestyle? Yes, I think so. I don’t think I’m a tolerant person anymore. I think I’ve changed.

Pain

You know, I take for granted the luxury I have of rarely being pained. Sure, I’m  in emotional pain every other week, it seems. But it’s still so much better than those few instances I’ve been hurt. Like, hurt. Not some frickin splinter or a bruised arm, but horrible, teeth-grinding, fist-clenching agony. Even tonight, when I was asking God why I had a bitch of a uterus (ahem, menstrual cramps and water-retaining thighs), it still didn’t scrape the surface of the pain I will have to endure later. I want to have children. I also want to travel and explore and scuba dive and do all these awesome things with my life. Surely there will be some physical pain involved.

People often liken emotional turmoil to physical pain. And as I’ve never been a ‘happy’ person, I can understand. When my grandmother died, I cried for hours. 8 months later, I had a panic attack about her death—it took that long to realize she was gone. I know even now I would endure a lot of pain if it meant she had lived. That was almost 6 years ago. And the weirdest thing was that I didn’t even know her that well. I met her when I was 9. I visited her maybe twice a year, and talked to her on the phone. But that was it. She wasn’t even a great person—she was a scarred individual who got really messed up and became nicer in her old age.

Physical pain is a tricky thing. When you experience it, that’s all you think about. When it’s gone, it’s like it never happened. You’re fine. You always were. Not so with emotional agony. It stays with you forever. You can’t let go of it like a bad scrape or a car accident. This is a great quote by Maya Angelou:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. — Maya Angelou 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you encounter pain. Maybe it’s emotional, maybe physical. Find your type of relief. Bless. 

“life is sacred”

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I love my father very much
but when he said that all life began
at conception,
I felt like I had an unwanted child in my belly—not yet
a child—an alien

and he said I must birth it
and carry it with me,
let its rattle beat away my personality
until it is one shade: Motherhood
Always

I felt disgusted. The loves of my life
will be my children, I know. But daily
I wait for the condom to break
the ring to malfunction
the pill to disintegrate before it reaches my mouth

and my lover’s seed to flow into my vulnerable uterus and attack my baffled egg, who can’t fight him off
and my boyfriend will say
“Life is sacred.”

29 Books That Will Enrich Your Inner Literati

Originally posted on TIME:

Answerby Cristina Hartmannon Quora.

For anyone who wants to attain the vaunted title of “being well-read,” it’s more about breadth than depth. (As for feeling well-read, read the postscript.)

To “feel” well-read in literature, it’s all about the categories, not the books themselves. Read a few books in a few different genres, time periods, points of views. I’ve thrown in a few controversial books, just so you know what all of the fuss is about.

[newsletter-the-brief]

Here’s how you can feel like a regular literati!:

Western Classics (Ancient & Modern): to give you a good foundation for the who’s who of Western literature.

  • The Odyssey (Homer): epic of a dude who just can’t get home without a little help from the gods. (Extra credit if you read the Iliad, too!)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens): the quintessential story of the French Revolution, love…

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Signs of The Funk

Dear readers, I’ve been in a Funk.

Ever since January, actually. Since the beginning of the semester, a cloud has hung over my head. I hate that cloud. Fuck the cloud! If I could, I would rip it from above and stomp on it. It’s hurt my writing, my opportunity for friendships, my health, and my self-esteem. Sometimes I feel like a dried-up piece of fruit. Preferably an apricot or a fig—they’re kind of tasty, don’t you think?

Anyway, here are some signs of The Funk:

sleep-deprived

Your sleep schedule sucks

Seriously, it is, like, the worst. You go to bed at 4am, but have to go to work at 9am, so you take a nap at 4pm before pilates at 6pm, but then you skip pilates because you’re exhausted. And you wake up at 7pm to do work but can’t fall back asleep, so fuck it—you go to sleep at 8am. And it’s all totally messed up.

This is basically me. When I was in high school, my mother forbid naps. Now that I’m in college, I take naps all the time. And it’s bad!!! Very bad! Some people can do the 20 minute snooze, but not this chick. Nope.

 

unhealthy-foods

You eat poorly

Food is either a tyrant or a small obligation. You eat a lot because you’re bored/upset, or you don’t eat at all because it doesn’t matter anymore. The responsibilities and the pain is still going to be there. And it’s not just quantity—it’s quality too. Crappy food can give you temporary satisfaction, but your energy level will be nonexistent. Believe me, I know. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a salad.

There’s no motivation—even for things you (used to) love

“Nope. Nope. Nope. Not doing it today.” That’s the only reaction you have to pretty much everything. Even the things you love. Or used to love. Now all you love is food and money and sleep. Maybe alcohol and sex. Mostly food and sleep. And when you try to do the things you’re passionate about, you can’t. You are detached. Sometimes I try to write poetry, and nothing happens. Maybe it’s because poetry is supposed to be organic, but I really believe that I am being drained when I try.

You don’t exercise

Some people are naturally averse to any physical activity whatsoever, but usually when you don’t get any exercise, it is because of The Funk. Sedentary people are always at risk for depression—exercise releases endorphins and those make you happy. There are so many benefits from exercise; it’s important to incorporate just a simple activity such as walking, going up a few flights of stairs, or doing yoga.

Conclusion

I could go on and on about depression and suicidal thoughts and decreased libido, but if you’re old enough to understand all this, you’ve probably heard it all before. I don’t want to sound like a Zoloft commercial. What you need to do is:

  • Eat more fruit and veggies. Drink more water. Energy is bae.
  • Get on a good sleeping schedule. Try to do something relaxing, like reading or doing a word puzzle.
  • Hit that gym (or the sidewalk, if you exercise outside). Even if it’s for a little bit, just being out with other people and nature is super helpful.
  • Engage in a little self-love. Better yet, find a partner and get it on ;) Orgasms=happiness
  • Talk to yo’ doctor. They will find the best solution for you.

Be happy, be strong, and try to get out of the funk!