Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pandora and her box of goodies

So, coming up with a topic to blog on once a week is, well, rather difficult. I am in amazement that there are those out there who blog just about every day, or more than once a day - wow.

This week started off crazy, but ended well. I find myself with a glass of wine from a local vintner, hoping my daughter decides to fall asleep, listening to my Ulrich Schnauss station on Pandora. And let me say, this is a good way to end the week.

First, if you haven't had the pleasure of interacting with Pandora, then well, take a moment, check it out. Not only is it FREE (which is amazing in and of itself), but it is so intuitive and user friendly that it has drastically changed my radio/music listening habits. Pandora is the result of the Music Genome Project. And let me tell you, their database is amazingly complex and just wow.

I'll admit that I am an info junkie. It is after all, my number one strength (or in some cases weakness); but I am really excited about the fact that someone has created a database that compiles hundreds of characteristics for millions of songs.

What is incredible to me is that it learns my likes, so songs and/or styles that I've marked as yes show up on other stations - but not in an annoying way. Is it weird that my musical wants are so well understood by an algorithm? But seriously, you type in the name of an artist or song that you want to hear similar music to, and voila, you get endless hours of music.

If you are already a Pandora fan, share some of your favorite stations with me. Its like the new version of the mix tape!

Before I forget, you must needs watch Ira Glass's This American Life. This is one of my favorite radio shows, and the TV version is perfectly, wonderfully the same interesting stories, only visually.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Mosaic Principle

My friend Stephen asked me the other day if I was done blogging, and I really had to think about that. I've been in a bit of a creative funk lately. I've been doing a lot more frogging (deleting for knitting) and deleting than actual creating. I've stopped the daily discipline of getting behind my camera, or even checking up on the creative endeavors of others. So, really it all adds up to me feeling like there's nothing to share.


But I was struck by a bit of interesting thought while listening to my husband talk EVE with his buddies this morning. It doesn't matter whether or not I feel like I have anything to say, or new knitting to show, or a design in process - my life is worth sharing. As boring as my life may seem to me at certain points, I still find that I am inspired and calmed by reveling in the details of these women's lives. Go, take some time. Each of them does such a great job of taking and mulling over the mundane details all of us experience and share them in such a way as to make it art.


So, what is the Mosaic Principle? (Saying it like that makes it sound so official and well thought-out.) A few years ago, Jason and I began attending a small startup church called Mosaic. And the idea there, stated over and over and over and over by our leaders, is that we call it Mosaic because we are all broken pieces, but that in coming together, our individual brokenness creates a work of art, our mosaic. But this is key, you have to bring your piece. The mosaic isn't complete until you share your piece. Whatever that is. A beautiful blue button, or a broken piece of plate, or some dirt - it doesn't matter, we need your piece.


In the end, I think it comes down to mindfulness and community. Too often (what am I saying, all the time) I get caught up in wanting my life to be interesting (to whom?), or in having the best pictures, or in designing the ONE thing that everyone must knit, that I blow right on past the details, the mundane, the everyday that makes up my life. And then one day, I realize its been 2 months since I took time to journal, or even longer since I've taken a picture (!).

All the world is a-glitter...

And yet, when I go back to look at my 365 project, I realize that in that daily discipline is real beauty (well, ok, perhaps I'm a BIT biased). In my desire to live up to some unknown, nebulous expectation that probably isn't out there, I've missed the point. Its not about reaching that expectation all-at-once, every time. Its about being willing to put myself out there so that maybe, when I reach these doldrums, I can still find the beauty in the stillness and the lack, instead of being disappointed with myself.

All that to say this: I want to make a commitment to the internet ether that I'm getting back to practicing creative discipline. I'll start with baby steps, but for now, I'll pledge to write/journal/share at least once a week - no promises on the scope of said posts, but it'll be here.


I'll leave you with this: what beauty in the mundane do you have to share?