Reading 26 Books In A Year

Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

deserted-beach-watermarked

 

I want to talk about the importance of reading, specifically reading regularly. How many books do you read a week? A month? A year? I read an article that my mom had laying around about someone who has for the past five years been reading a book a week. One book a week = 52 books a year. Wow! I was very impressed by this idea. I think I’ve had friends who have read a book a month which is still an accomplishment I think, but a book a week?! Very fierce. Realistically, I don’t think it’s very likely that I would be able to read a book a week. Between my daughter, maintaining our house and pursuing being an artistprenuer I don’t know if I could. I would have to only read during free time and then some. Everytime I try to do something my daughter interrupts me. I was actually reading earlier and my daughter grabbed my book.

But, I really would like to read more. 

I’ve always loved reading. I’ve quoted many people on this blog. I love literature. Over the years I’ve gone through periods where I read constantly, I’ve read fiction, non fiction, self help. I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised by the fact that Madeleine L’Engle is my latest new find who I really love.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.   The man who never reads only lives once.” ~ George RR Martin

There are many benefits to reading. If you’re reading something on a particular subject, you will gain knowledge (hopefully). But what about reading non fiction? Are there benefits? Absolutely! Check out this article telling you how reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s and stress among other health benefits.

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I’m a little hesitant to attempt to read a book a week so my goal is to read a book every 2 weeks. I think it seems way more doable and 26 books a year would be better than where I’m at right now. I consider myself an avid reader but even a book a week is daunting to me. I implore you to consider reading a book a week or like me every two weeks. This will mean spending less time on social media and watching television but who would say that’s a bad thing? Set some goals for yourself, get those books out that you’ve been intending to read or order that book you’ve heard about but haven’t gotten yet. If finances are tight, make a trip to your local library. One of the great things about working a book list from the library is that you have a built in deadline when the book is due which is usually 2 or 3 weeks! Start reading!

Be fierce!

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

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Anti-Niche

Art, Fierce, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

One thing I have noticed while being in the creative world is that everyone encourages you to find your “niche” to the point that I hate that word! Seriously, everytime I’m reading some creative forum, blog, group post or listening to a podcast everyone is niche, niche, niche. So I have something slightly shocking to those that worship at the ground of the niche:

I am anti-niche.

Did I just say that? Oh no. I guess in order to be more specific (no pun intended) I think I am anti niche. Here’s why; when it comes to photography I love shooting weddings, couples, children, babies, seniors, heck I’d probably enjoy shooting a funeral. I love fashion photography and I love fine art photography. I love it all. And that’s just photography. When it comes to paining, I’m all over Monet but then the next moment I’m looking at a Warhol. I’m currently working on an art piece myself that is definitely more abstract and modern but I’m just as likely to start a still life landscape next week. One could argue that I am testing and experimenting with my artistic whims and I just haven’t found the thing that I’m great at…but I don’t take that view. I think I genuinely love it all. And I don’t think I need to apologize for wanting to dabble in or pursue art in 100 different directions.

Moi feet

The beach we were at had millions upon millions of tiny seashells like these that you had to walk over to get to the water. Walking on eggshells takes on a whole new meaning!

 

You may remember that a few posts ago I wrote about Leonardo Da Vinci here and here. Since those posts I have thought of the Renaissance man some more. I won’t pretend to be a know it all about who Da Vinci was because I’m not, I know about as much as anyone who’s watched The Da Vinci Code knows. I know he painted the Mona Lisa which is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, I know he painted the Last Supper which is also very recognizable. I think most people would recognize the drawing of the Vitruvian Man. All this to say was Da Vinci just a painter? Of course not! He was THE Renaissance man afterall. He was fascinated by human anatomy as the drawing of the Vitruvian Man shows, he also studied the fetus’ heart and was very much a scientist in his own right. Wikipedia actually titles him as an engineer which I think is both fitting and surprising. He was interested in flying and created lots of blue prints for machines to fly, I believe there is one in particular that we would recognize today as a parachute. My goal in sharing this is not to give you a summary of the works of Da Vinci, although the historian in me is loving this! But to simply show that artists have never been niche oriented. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad. I mean Margaret Mitchell only wrote one novel but it was Gone With The Wind. Did she need to do anything else? Nope. In Da Vinci’s case though did he need to do anything after painting the Mona or the Last Supper? Probably not. Are we glad he did go on to do more though? Absolutely. He’s a fascinating person in history, his work is proof of that and generations after him are happy to be able to study him and enjoy his works of art.

Another person who is proof that artists do not have to settle or focus on one thing is…drum roll! Michelangelo. A contemporary of Da Vinci’s, Michelangelo is of course best known for the Pieta, David and for painting the Sistine Chapel. Thank the Lord that there wasn’t anyone during the Renaissance whispering in Michelangelo’s ear saying “You can’t be a painter and a sculptor, you need to find your niche.” You can see how preposterous the whole “niche” concept is when you apply it to great artists. However, Michelangelo wasn’t just a painter and a sculptor he was also an architect and poet. I find it fascinating that Da Vinci was messing around studying human anatomy and Michelangelo was designing buildings, most famously St. Peter’s Basilica. Anatomy and architecture are more commonly seen today as science subjects or at least not very artistic pursuits which angers me to no end. I love art and I also love learning science stuff. One thing I am really looking forward to is when I am homeschooling my daughter is all the science experiments we can do!

Izze doing yoga

Izze doing yoga on the beach! 

I am anti niche because I want to be a photographer, painter, musician and writer and chances are I’ll add pottery someday! I look to great artists like Da Vinci and Michelangelo, who were accomplished in multiple arts and get inspired. I understand that the niche speakers are attempting to encourage people to focus on something specific but I don’t want to focus on just one art medium, I want to pursue them all. That’s fierce to me. I want to be a triple threat. Heck, I want to be an octruple threat!

Be fierce!

alexandria

 

 

I am an Artist

Being an Artist, Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

As a creative person seeking to make a way in the world as said creative person one of the challenges that I believe you must overcome is thinking of yourself as an artist. When you think of the term “artist” what comes to your mind? Leonardo Da Vinci? Monet? Van Gogh? Maybe starving? That’s what I think of when I think of Van Gogh anyway, he is the definition of a starving artist. Do you think of the person playing the guitar that you pass on your way to the subway? Do you think of some eccentric character? Whatever you think of when you think of the title “artist” can you apply that title to yourself? Recently, I have.

sea shells

For awhile now I have been tagging blog posts “The Artist Life” because ultimately, I believe that’s what this blog is about. I express thoughts and opinions on various things but the main idea connecting all of them is art, being an artist and living life as an artsy/creative person. However, I am taking that even a step further by saying ‘artist’ now. I have always thought of myself as an artsy person. From a young age I was always interested in music, acting, primarily the performing arts but eventually that led into painting (which I am not very good at) which then of course led me to photography because even though I may not be able to paint what I see/want I can attempt to capture it in photography. Which is wonderful. Ahh….I love photography. But all of those could be considered hobbies. But they’re more than that for me, they’re apart of who I am…I am an artist you see.

Driftwood -full

I don’t like the idea of identifying yourself by your occupation or job. What you do is not necessarily who you are. Perhaps, I put the term “artist” up on a pedestal because at one time I didn’t feel worthy of calling myself an artist. But that is what I believe I am. A person is a lot of things and I don’t like the idea of putting all your identity into one thing but I guess it’s different when you’re an artist. Creative people see the world differently and by claiming that I am an artist I think it’s a sign to everyone that hey I don’t think like you do. This sounds like a mystical thing which on one side maybe it is – afterall, why do artists see the world differently? But I don’t actually think it is. I think it makes perfect sense. To help clarify this, I of course turned to a quote! Surprise.

“I think the definition of an artist is not necessarily tied into excellence or talent; an artist is somebody who, if you took away their freedom to make art, would lose their mind.” ~ Richard Price

Oh. My. Gosh. I think I can just end this blog post right here and now! I think I’m fairly talented, but there are people more talented than me for sure and I love this quote because it says hey, someone who is extremely talented, that’s not what makes them an artist. What makes someone an artist is that they would go crazy if they didn’t make art. I think that is actually why artists are viewed as eccentric or crazy in general, they have this insatiable desire to make art and so they’re viewed as odd because art is always on their mind, creating is always running in the background. It can be aggravating sometimes because you can’t turn it off. It can be frustrating sometimes because you don’t have time to pursue art as much as you’d like to. So, let me step on my tiny soap box and say if any of this rings a bell in your mind firstly, call yourself an artist. And then, once you’ve done that, don’t lose your mind, go create art. Afterall, you’re an artist and how fierce is that.

Driftwood

Fiercely,

alexandria

The (Abandoned) Art of Listening

Being an Artist, Philosophy of Life, Quotes, The Artist Life

Fiercelings,

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time – M. Scott Peck

For awhile, this blog post has been on my mind. It is a topic that I feel is very pertinent in our society because our culture is so very opposed to it. Which is ironic considering that this is the age of social networking and updating statuses and friending and being connected. We strive very hard to connect but it’s an open secret that a lot of people feel that we’re even more disconnected due largely to social networking sites. In the age of media soundbites, sharing our thoughts in 160 characters or less, and responding in texting lingo (k?), everyone seems to be in a hurry and I believe because everyone is in a hurry, no one listens. 

Red berries

When was the last time you had a conversation without being interrupted? When was the last time you held your tongue versus cutting someone off? Can two people even really open up toward one another anymore and actually feel like they have equally gotten to express themselves? I raise these questions because a long time ago I became aware and convicted of the fact that I tend to interrupt people. I am an exuberant type person and I have a lot to say therefore I must talk, talk, talk, all the time in order to get out everything I want to say. I’m not sure when I became aware of this exactly but I did and then slowly I started to not speak as much and slowly I became aware of many times within circles of family or friends where someone would get cut off by another person and the conversation would never circle back to them where they could finish their thought. I felt that I was the victim of this occurrence a myriad times myself. I would try to share something but someone would talk over me or cut me off and I, in an attempt to be cordial, polite, and nice would oblige them by not talking and letting them speak, however I noticed no one would ever oblige me the same courtesy. It would seem that everytime I would try to speak I would get talked over and because this has happened to me a plethora of times I’ve noticed that it happens to people a lot and no one seems to be bothered by it much.

“The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” ~ Alfred Brendel

I love the quote by Alfred Brendel, “The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” How perfect and true is that statement! If you rearrange the letters in listen, you can create the word silent. It is a very accurate statement because in order for one person to express him or herself, another person has to remain attentive and silent while they speak. This is one reason why I have come to favor one-on-one times with a friend versus a group setting. I just find that it is hard to feel like I have gotten to learn that much about a person in group settings. And usually I won’t find out anything about someone in a group setting because people that aren’t talking the loudest get marginalized. I also think to a degree people favor group settings versus one-on-one because people fear dead air in a conversation. I overcame this fear awhile ago, I view silence between two people as an opportunity to reflect on the last topic and see if there is anything either I or who I am speaking with want to add. This also serves as a chance to think about introducing an entirely new topic instead of letting conversation flow naturally from one topic to another.

Red berries 2

I could write about my frustrations and thoughts on listening and being listened to all day long.  It’s become a very important topic for me;  it is like a pet peeve except far more serious then just an irritation. For example, when someone is convicted of murder it’s either 1st degree, 2nd degree etc. I view interrupting and talking over people as a first degree offense. It puts you on the fast track for me to not like you and seek to avoid you. Yes, I know it’s crazy to compare interrupting someone to 1st degree murder but hey it’s an analogy, leave it at that. Alas, let me not bore you with my laments but instead challenge you to be a person that listens. And here is why; “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menniger.

Green berries

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menniger

How aptly does that put what happens when we feel that we are listened to and have expressed ourselves? Don’t you want to be a person that draws other people to them? Don’t you want to be a person that makes people unfold and expand? Then listen to people. It is so simple and yet it’s rare to find someone that does it. I really think this quote needs it’s own post because of how fierce it is! Because of how I feel about this subject and because of how marvelous that quote is I have decided to start a renaissance of listening and I invite you to join. Decide to be someone that listens to the people around them. It is magnetic, strange, and creative as Menniger said so perfectly. Maybe that’s why this is so important to me, as a creative person listening to people is an art that society has abandoned. Hence, the renaissance. I feel like Les Miserable’s “Do You Hear the People Sing” is playing in the background. Haha! So in the words of Les Mis, will you join in my crusade?  Let’s listen to our friends and family. Let’s tactfully point out to people we know that they cut people off. There’s no reason to embarrass someone when all you’re trying to do is help them. Most people aren’t even aware that they do it. Many people are immune to the way that we converse that everyone plays the talk over people game because the only way to be heard is to talk the loudest and oftenest. Let’s change that. Let’s listen. As creative people let’s listen to others,  it’s a creative force after all. And isn’t that fierce?

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. If you read this entire thing you are fabulous!