Life

Things related to my personal life.

  • robin williams rip

    ‘Words and ideas can change the world’ – R.I.P., Robin Williams

    R.I.P. robin williams

    “Twenty-six years ago, you played a game with a little boy down the street. A game with drums.” (Jumanji, 1995)

    I can remember watching Jumanji as a kid, and getting really into the “horrors” and surprises of the story. Floods! Stampedes! A man trapped in the jungle because of a game!

    Robin Williams didn’t stand out much to me at the time — I was only 5 when the movie was released and didn’t care about people in movies one way or another. What I did remember all those years ago, and even now, was his quirky smile and laugh. He voiced Genie in Aladdin, which was unforgettable. There was Mrs. Doubtfire — unforgettable in a totally different way. I remember him in Good Will Hunting, Flubber, Jack, Hook, Bicentennial Man, and many more. Williams was known as a comedian but he was also unforgettable in dramatic roles.

    Once I start thinking about everything he was in, I realize that not only was he an icon but also a big part of my life through movies. 

    “Our job is improving the quality of life, not just in delaying death.” (Patch Adams, 1998)

    This year I watched “Angriest Man in Brooklyn”, where he starred alongside Mila Kunis. There was also the “Crazy Ones” on CBS, which I was looking forward to watching again in the Fall. When I read the news on Twitter, my first thoughts went to this show. How could someone who was still relevant, still funny, still talented take his own life?

    I’m sure there will be a lot of speculation in the week ahead. As an audience, we don’t know Robin Williams’ mental state, his financial state, or his physical state at the time of his death. We know him as the actor, and I know it’s hard for me to separate him from his on-screen personalities. You may have heard that he had a history of drug addiction, and may have been bipolar. What I do know is that he brought laughter, wisdom and energy into the world of entertainment.

    Robin Williams’ movies will live on, and in that way so will he. Many more people will find joy in his work. He deserves that.

    I hope that this moment will also be a reminder that even relevant, funny and talented people can be depressed. They can need help and be lost when they don’t receive it. They can commit suicide.

    “It’s not your fault.”

    I hate to sound cliché but “in this day and age” a lot of us are only friends behind screens. It’s easy for us to believe that we are doing our best to make a connection with someone through social media. But if someone simply disappeared off Facebook, would you know how to reach them? Don’t leave any one who you believe is depressed or suicidal alone. Reach out to them. If you are talking to the person online you can try to find someone who knows them or in a worst-case scenario: call the police. Don’t be embarrassed to do something that could save their life.

    Dr. John Grohol, founder of PsychCentral.com, shared one of the most well-written posts regarding Williams and his mental health I’ve read so far. Similar to my own point, he writes this:

    Suicide is an insidious choice due to the lies that depression tells us. When a person is suffering from severe depression, as apparently Williams was, it can tell that person, “Hey, you’d be better off dead. Life isn’t going to get any better.”

    And sadly, sometimes people listen. Even brilliant, accomplished individuals such as Robin Williams.

    Let your friend know you’re listening. Listen without judging is difficult, but try to do it. Ask them what they might need help with. Don’t be afraid to ask if they’re considering suicide. A lot of people want help but don’t know how to ask for it.

    Tell them that it’s not their fault. What they’re feeling does not define them, and that there is help available. Mean what you say and be there for them.  They might tell you that they’re “ok” or that you’ll embarrass them, but think about what the other options are.

    Depression and other mental health issues are extremely stigmatized. Remember that. Depressed people may feel that their seemingly small problems are taking over, meanwhile their friends or their parents will not validate their pain and fears. This can drive them away from real help in order to seem “normal”. Encourage the people you know to seek professional help.

    It’s only fair to you and to them. There are plenty of free, confidential and easy ways to talk to someone.

    Here are some resources I hope will be helpful:

    http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

    http://www.crisistextline.org/get-help-now/

    http://www.sprc.org/basics/warning-signs-suicide

    http://www.wikihow.com/Help-Someone-Who-Is-Thinking-About-Committing-Suicide

  • summer fun bubbles

    Party outside for your health

    summer fun bubbles

    If you’ve lived through what feels like an endless winter haze (like we’ve seen here in the Northeast), the beginning of summer requires a celebration. Even on the sunniest days, it was just too hard to think that a new season was coming, but finally it’s July and the weather is fabulous.

    The Science of Summer

    Sunshine is actually good for you. Your body needs Vitamin D to encourage healthy growth in your bones and muscles. Generally, people who get less of it over their lifetimes are more likely to develop heart-related issues and osteoporosis. If you’re outside midday for just a few minutes (without sunscreen) your skin will convert UVB rays into just the right amount of Vitamin D. This is just an approximation, and depends on several things like where you’re located and the color of your skin. (Please talk to your doctor before skipping sunscreen or making any other sun-related changes!) A lack of sun during the winter months also brings out depression, anxiety and insomnia for some people. (It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder).

    Being inside all day isn’t just preventing you from getting a nice tan. Some studies have shown that the human brain will produce more serotonin — a chemical that increases confidence and happiness —when you’re exposed to the sun. It’s one of the chemicals produced by drugs such as LSD or the anti-depressant, Prozac. You can imagine (and probably feel) what happens in the absence of sunlight in your life. There isn’t a scientific consensus on how sunlight stimulates serotonin production during this season but what we feel is real.

    Of course this doesn’t mean you should skip your sunscreen and lay out in the sun. There are obvious and proven risks with doing that. What I’m sayin’ is simple.

    You need a break.

    You need some sun, and some food. And maybe a cold drink.

    Prescription to Party

    alittleparty

    When the weather starts to warm up it’s no surprise that people jump at a chance to grill some food outside or just to put on a t-shirt and take a walk. My husband’s birthday is in the middle of the summer, and we always take advantage of that. This year, as several others before, we headed outside for a barbecue with our family and friends. Combining all of these things made for a great day.

    If you’re looking for something to do this summer that will bring together the people you love, this is what you need.

    Good weather

    lady gaga obviously

    It’s a given that the sun should be out and shining this month but sometimes Mother Nature does her own thing. We had intense lighting storms and threatening clouds over the July 4th weekend. This dissipated when our party came around, but it’s always wise to keep tabs on those clouds. It might be organic, but rain will NOT make your steak taste better.

    summer bbq party

    Entertainment

    I’m always one to encourage people to mingle and get to know each other, but you still need something for them to do. This could be as simple as planning something at the beach. If you decide to go to a park or a similar location, you should think about bringing some things: soccer ball, baseball and gloves, frisbee, football. I’d also suggest a speaker to play music from your phone or other device. If you don’t have these things, ask your friends to bring what they have. We were lucky to have all of these things around and they were definitely useful.

    We also had a pinata for the birthday boy (er… man). Let me tell you, it stole the show. My sister-in-law had the great idea to get one for a party that would have more adults than children. She filled it with things like floss, soap, lotions, and Hot Wheels cars. Everyone was surprised, including myself. The kids reactions were priceless. Sorry guys, maybe next time!

    Location, location, location

    If you have a chance, scope out your location of choice to decide on the best spot to have your party. Look for things like walking distance to bathrooms, water fountains, and ability to get under the shade or trees. Parking space is important if your friends are driving. If they’re not, consider walking distance from public transportation. Bring a stand-up umbrella or ask your friends to do so if it’s going to be very hot. We had blankets and beach chairs, and again, asked people to bring their own. There were picnic benches at the park, but a lot of people chose to relax on something more comfortable.

    Food and drinks

    scooby doo food
    Bring a cooler, fill it with ice, juice, beer, and water bottles. Bring more water than will fit into your cooler. This is really important, especially if you’re going to be running around or constantly in the sun. We bought four large jugs of water, plus sodas and juices, but after several hours we started to run out. This happened right in the middle of a sweaty soccer game and people were happy to drink some of the warm water we had left.

    We had one regular cooler and one of these freezer packs. If I did it again, I’d get a second cooler with ice. First to bring more cold water, but also because the [ice pops] we had to put in the pack were mostly melted by the time we were done with the food. It was a great tragedy, in my opinion.  Don’t forget to keep any perishable foods out of the sun or in a cooler, especially dairy-based dips.

    About 30 people showed up. This included families with toddlers and some older kids. We bought about 15 pounds of chicken and beef (combined) for the grill. We also had veggies on skewers, dips, and a giant bowl of fruit salad. Considering my parents also brought some more food, I think everyone was satisfied. We probably had enough leftovers for about a week.

    Check out bbqplanner.com for an approximate estimate of how much food you should get.

    At the end of the day, my husband and I were very happy with how the day went. We’ll probably plan another when we have the time.

    How you plan a party depends on what you and your friends or family like. In the end it’s about enjoying the sunshine in good company!

  • What keeps a couple together for decades?

    For years and years and years, I kept saying that I would spend some time interviewing my grandparents. They have a tremendous history both in their lives together, and separately. I won’t get into all of it here, except to share a part of an interview with my grandfather. They spent 68 years together and I think my grandpa does a great job of communicating what went on between them. Unfortunately my grandmother isn’t part of this, as she passed away in 2018.

    This is a huge project with a lot of editing to go, and a totally new medium for me as well. Enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts or suggestions.

    A special shout out to my parents for checking my translation. And to my grandpa, who doesn’t use the Internet — you’re the best. Now everyone knows.

  • nyu graduation 2012

    Would you give back to your college?

    nyu graduation 2012The other night I picked up a phone call from a number that I’d been avoiding. I knew it was my former university calling for donations.

    A polite freshman introduced herself and asked me about my time there. What was memorable about my college experience? What was I doing now? Afterward she asked if I would be willing to donate toward the university’s freshman scholarship fund. She was sweet so I chatted with her for a few minutes. When I asked whether I could think about her request, and donate later (or online), her answer was vague and basically sounded like no.

    I don’t blame the girl for trying to pressure me with her response. I’m sure she was just following a script. It’s exactly what I expected when I ignored that call many times in the past few years.

    The fund I would be donating toward is solely for freshman, and funded exclusively by students and alumni. I remember getting emails before graduation and seeing the fund advertised with motivating reminders. Seniors received a pin if they donated a small amount and showed that they cared about incoming freshmen. The annual sums were relatively small compared to the large donations that are usually recognized. I always found it strange that they targeted students with loans, books to buy and probably, low-paying jobs.

    donation-coins

    I wanted to consider the request again so I watched a video on the university website. But the sad, adopt-a-puppy music didn’t do it for me. Neither did reminder that a school’s rankings increase when alumni give back and participate.

    I have always been on the fence about donating to my university. I really value the fact that the fund goes directly to student scholarships. The reason I’m so hesitant is that I assume that a large university, which essentially runs like a business, could spare a couple thousand dollars in scholarships a year. There are personal reasons that are definitely less relevant. One is that I don’t feel that my school helped with my career path. Of course I’ve heard a million times that I shouldn’t have expected too much. I should’ve picked a better major or knocked on more doors. Universities are businesses after all.

    I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I’ll put off donating this year.

    What would you do?

  • Do you call your parents?

    Apparently British people call their mothers at least once a week in the evening, according to a recent study cited by the Guardian. I found this article via Jezebel, and they asked whether this applies to the rest of us. I don’t know how legit this study is, so I’m going to put on my lab coat and break it down.

    This is real (link).

    You can look at how often I called my parents in two different life stages. The first, when I lived at home and called my parents to let them know I wasn’t dead while out in the world. Pretty simple. They asked me to check in and I tried most of the time (I’ll pay to cover those grey hairs, guys!) The second part is after I got married.

    Though I’m close with my own parents, I never had the habit of calling them up a certain number of times a week. Obviously it’s because I lived with them. Now, we live less than an hour from both sets of parents and make sure to see them at least once a week. Given that, I tend to feel that phone calls should be reserved for something urgent. A lot of things can happen over the course of the week, but aside from emergencies or random, super-awesome events, it’s not usually anything to call home about (literally).

    someecards.com - I hope the NSA is concerned about how often my mother calls me.

    I still talk to my parents & in-laws over the phone. Despite all of my logic and reasoning, it’s nice to know that they’re thinking about me when I get a call. I’m sure they feel the same.

    I don’t know if my relationships are outside of the norm. People seem to be surprised when I mention how often I see my parents, so I tend to think that they are. I guess if you see something as an obligation or a disruption of your day then you’re going to resist doing it. And even if you have a great relationship with someone, sometimes you just want to make your own plans.

    I’m an adult with my own life and my own home. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that. It’s accepted that children grow up to be independent from their parents. What I’ve learned over the past few years that there’s a fine balance at play. To find it means holding on to good relationships with the people who love you.

    To everyone who’s raising an eyebrow right now: Yes, sometimes I just want to stay home or not answer my phone. But then I remember something about these people who raised me. They’re people. Human. And they’ve had to put up with me for more than 20 years, and they love me whether I’m in a good or bad mood. Through everything they still love me and want to be around me. I don’t know about you but that beats the track record of basically everyone else I know in the world.

    What do you think?

    I want to know what other people feel about this. Let me know how often you call or visit your parents, or what they would expect from you (if you still live at home).

    Have a great weekend!

  • Happy birthday to my little brother

    rkd-1

    Happy birthday to my brother who is actually not little at all — today he’s 21! He’s probably studying right now or making up on lost sleep time, so let me embarrass him quickly.

    First of all, let me tell you what it’s like having a younger brother. When we were kids, it was someone to boss around and someone to play with. He always had a lot of friends but we stuck together, even when we didn’t like it. As we got older, he was someone who wanted to hang out with my friends and do things I did. At one point we grew into our own lives but I think we’re growing to love each other more. Now I realize that a younger brother is someone who makes you proud.

    Hanging out when he was just a wee teenager.
    Hanging out when he was just a wee teenager.

    I’d imagine it’s what parents feel when their child accomplishes something. I feel proud of the person he’s become because I’ve watched him grow up (even if I refuse to believe it)! I know you’re meant to do great things, it’s just a matter of time. Whatever you plan to do, I can only wish you happiness and remind you that I’ll always have your back.

    IMG_0070

    At some point you became taller than me and cooler than me. You’re tough, but you also have a big heart. You’re quick to share what you have with your friends and help them up when they’re down.

    That’s just who you are and I’m proud of that. Love you, bro!

     

  • ban like button facebook

    Why I hate the “like” button

    ban the like button

    The other day I went to Facebook and did something simple: I scrolled through and watched a video someone had posted. What to do after that seemed complicated all of a sudden. I had a lot to say but found myself hesitating. Would this person find it strange that I wanted to leave a comment that was more than one word long? Would it mark me as “that girl” — the opinionated one — to everyone who saw it?

    That’s what I’ve come to expect  from Facebook: more instant gratification and entertainment, and less real sharing. Ultimately I left a response to that video. I had something to say and I said it the way I would face-to-face. On social media, its a different thing altogether. You see a status or post in your news feed and click “like” as an affirmation. You’ve read it, you laughed, you agreed.

    But when I see 15 notifications on a post, and they’re all “likes”, I don’t know that. Do you like that I’m bored at work? Are you bored too? Did you enjoy my post or are you just clicking on everything? It means nothing.

    you like this facebook

    Unlike being in front of people, or among your friends, you can’t see a person’s response behind a screen. Reading your mind is not among my talents. So what I’m really trying to say is this: Ban the like button!

    What do you “like” about me?

    All right, I won’t send any crazy petitions to Facebook’s HQ. It’s not the “like” that needs to go, but rather our reliance on it instead of saying what we think. I know that I’m starting to sound like a out-of-touch old lady. I’m not, I swear. I grew up with the Internet for the most part. I’m hip…

    What bothers me isn’t that we’re all sucked into our Facebook accounts, it’s that “liking” something has become so easy. It’s great for Facebook’s shareholders, who make money off of knowing our preferences, but it’s making us lazy. Clicking that one word a few times is self-gratifying. That’s right. Don’t you feel like you’re doing something useful?

    We all want to be liked, and in the case of Facebook, we get our wish. You’ve interacted with a person without the risk of sharing your opinion in “public”.

    I’ll be honest, I’m mostly annoyed when I share something awesome and I get “likes.” Okay, I appreciate that you didn’t A) Ignore me or B) Tell me that I posted something boring or ridiculous. You came, you saw and you… didn’t respond. Really, I know you’re clicking “like”, so why not tell me what you enjoyed. Why do you like me, I mean… my post?

    I can understand the appeal of “liking” a new photo and a few other things, but EVERYTHING? I swear I’m not fishing for comments. This isn’t a threat. I’m not even scary…

    selfie
    Hey…

    This is just a PSA: Stop “liking” and start a conversation! I want to know what you think!

  • LessThanThree: Asking questions in the internet age

    What are the right questions?

    Some time ago I was browsing Pinterest and noticed someone shared one of my images. This person was Willo, the creator of LessThan3Questions.com*. When I discovered her site, the concept instantly drew me in. (*For those of you who didn’t grow up on the Internet, the title is actually this: < 3.)

    Original here
    Original here

    On “Less Than 3”, Willo writes: “What if we asked each other what makes a difference? What feels rewarding? What needs to change? What we still need to ask ourselves?  I don’t know. But it’s worth asking.”

    At first I saw photos with people holding up random questions. The next set were images of her own questions and answers. The images make you think — and that’s her goal.

    On her site, Willo is the one asking questions so I decided to switch it up. She was kind enough to give a lot of details about her project and the motivation behind it.

    ———–

    Engage, Get Close, Find Answers

    How did “Less Than 3” start? Who else is involved?
    It’s just me. Although many of the ideas and questions come from conversations with those I am closest with.
    In October I left my job in the non-profit world. I worked at a homeless shelter as a Volunteer Coordinator and loved the people we served but was really disenchanted with the way we served them and the way things were run. I was excited about possibility, big ideas, dreams, why we do what we do. [I] still am. It was the over-glorifying stress, making excuses, status quo model that much of the non-profit world engages in. One of my concerns with the current non-profit model is that it doesn’t engage people in the very personalized way that we have become accustomed to in the internet age. So I knew I wanted to go as simple and as close to people as I could get.
    One of my concerns with the current non-profit model is that it doesn’t engage people in the very personalized way that we have become accustomed to in the internet age.
    Original here.
    Original here.
    I was really inspired by Humans of New York. Here’s this guy who just started taking pictures of people and sharing a few sentences about them.  Through that one simple action he was connecting people, changing lives, and making a difference.  He can raise money in a way most non-profits would only dream of.  The secret is the personalization.  People seem to trust him, even though the site isn’t about HIM. This also really appealed to me. I follow and admire people like Jonathon Fields, Danielle Laporte, Kate Northrup, but the idea of building something on ME as the cornerstone really turned me off.
    I wanted it to be about the ideas, other people, and building connections.

    One day in early November, the idea of < 3? came and stuck.  I got the idea on a Friday, launched it on a Monday and have been enjoying the ride ever since.

    Do you get many submissions? How do you get people involved?

    No submissions, yet. Although I’m totally open to it. I have been getting people involved by asking just about everyone I get a chance to if they are willing to be on the site. I usually ask if they prefer picture or video. The questioning process is a little different for each. If we do a video I ask them questions. If we take a picture they ask the question they wish everyone would ask themselves.

    What inspires the questions/posts you write?

    Everything! A lot of times I will be reading, or talking to someone, or listening to something and think: “There is a question here.” Sometimes my friends give me an idea.

    And I have been able to expand it to things that never occurred to me in the original conception. Like illustrated essays and the incredible and inspiring video from The Paper Dress Code. That is one of the things I like best about < 3?. It’s so open that inspiration can come from anywhere and lead anywhere. Which is exactly how I think all the best things in life (including helping others) work.

    Do you think asking the right question can get someone to make changes in life?

    Yes. Of course none of us knows what that question will be that inspires us to make changes, or maybe accept changes. But questions are powerful. I become more convinced of that every day. I think that questions are more powerful than answers. Questions are flexible. Every person who reads < 3? can ask themselves every question on there. The same wouldn’t apply to answers. The things I write don’t necessarily fit or resonate the way the questions can.

    Has this project influenced you in any way?

    Absolutely. I am a much better person than I was when I started < 3?. The people I’ve met and the questions they’ve asked, or caused me to ask, have steered me in a softer, kinder, easier, more loving, more creative, more hopeful direction.

    Which question/submission is your favorite?

    Oh, see this is a tough spot! Because of course I am not supposed to have a favorite. Of course they are supposed to be like my children, all my favorite. But I personally hate when people answer that way, so I won’t.

    I think my favorite question is the very first one I posted. Whitney from Traverse City was such a sweet stranger and so willing and helpful to launch < 3?.

    Original here.
    Original here.

    After she asked [her question] I talked it over with my friends. We got to thinking, what would make your 10 year old self proud? 10 year old Willo doesn’t care how much money I make or what my job is (unless it’s awesome). She wants to know if I am happy. If I laugh a lot. If I found the love of my life. If I have fun. If I hang out with cool people.

    The more I think about it, the more I want to hold my life to the standards of 10 year-old Willo. She knew what was up.

    My favorite answer is when Mary from Ontario said that the best gift she ever received was when her brother came home from Vietnam. It was such an honest personal revelation. It told me a lot about her in one sentence. And it pinpoints what really matters to all of us.

    In your “about” section, you say that connecting to each other makes people better. Do you feel that “Less Than 3” has done that?

    When I started < 3? I wanted to have an impact on everyone. I thought I could do something to change the world. Now I realize that we can change ourselves, and by being happy and healthy and caring, we change the world. I know that’s the way that < 3? has connected me to people, has made me better.

    Every time someone likes or shares something on < 3? I am so happy. Not because of what it means for the site. Everyone is so focused on numbers and audience and analytics these days. Honestly, I don’t care.

    Doing this site has made me better. I would like to think each time someone shares their question it touches them in some way. And every single time someone interacts with the site in some way I am happy that I know about that person. That for a moment I saw their name, and maybe their comment or their blog or something else about them, and I am thankful for them in this world.

    ————

    What question makes you think?

    My own question for Willo

    Here’s mine. Let me know your answer in the comments, or post your own question on Facebook or Twitter (@yevkusa).

  • What I want on Valentine’s Day

    Love isn’t easy to define. You can say it’s a feeling, or a lifestyle, or just a bunch of neurons going off in your brain. What I believed about how love should be shared has changed a lot since I was a teenager, but I still believe that what it really means is that you’re there for someone when it really matters.

    Venus Trapped in Mars

    I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day regardless of my relationship status, but I’m all for telling all of the people I love that I love them. When I started writing this post, I was a little stumped. I wanted to write something in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, but it felt odd. My husband knows I love him, but what would someone else want to know about it? Then I discovered Sarah & Helene’s Link-up, so I decided to make it a two-part post for you.

    Why I love him

    The way I love my husband is different from the way I love anyone else. We met at a get together and started dating. That didn’t last long but we ended up as friends. One night in June, I let him take me to the movies and there was a spark. All of a sudden we were engaged! It took me some time to realize how awesome he is, but I’m glad to say it happened. Now he’s my best friend, my boss and the guy who delivers my cupcakes.

    He went out this morning to get me one from Crumbs.
    He went out this morning to get me one from Crumbs.

    I love him because he surprises me with things I like even though I hate surprises. Last year on Valentine’s Day he contacted my boss to ask for a day off. Next thing I know, I’m packing for a long weekend in Las Vegas.

    Las Vegas 2013

    I love him because of that that time we drove to Wal-Mart at night when I wanted a snack. We left with only milk and donuts. He told me that we’d have to eat them all that night. Fast forward to about 10 pm in our car, sitting by a pier. We have finished all of the donuts and milk. It was romantic, I swear.

    Photo via Wikimedia.
    Photo via Wikimedia.

    I love him because he is my biggest fan. He motivates me when I need it and supports me when I have my own things going. He reminds me that it’s cool to be who I am, but also drops hints when I need to be a better person. He tells me to stand up for myself and helps me remember what’s important in life when I forget.

    What I really want to do on Valentine’s Day

    There’s not much more I want in my life than I have now. So when I think of a special day, my mind comes back to the time we normally spend. Here’s what I have in mind for today (in no particular order):

    Snuggle on the couch. Watch a movie. Make tacos for dinner. Exchange cheesy cards. One year I actually made him a card that said “You are my cheese.” That’s just how we do. Gifts are great but the things that show you were really thinking of me are the best. Cupcakes are always on that list.

    This year, I’d like to publicly share my attempts at a Valentine’s Day card in the form of haiku’s. Feel free to save and share the images. They’re also available on Pinterest and Facebook.

    valentine-penguins-1valentine-chocolate

    valentine-snow-frosting

    Leave a haiku in the comments (about love or anything, really)and I’ll create an image for you. (This might help.)

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • “I could probably do that.”

    Sometimes I joke around with my sister-in-law (a pretty talented graphic designer) and tell her I’m looking at a new project. I’ll totally be Photoshopping someone’s face onto a kittens body like a pro, I say.

    Sometimes I’m not sure if she  laughs because it’s silly, or because she’s plotting murder. Learning small tricks in Photoshop is a hobby for me. I started to pay attention when I realized that I could turn my weird ideas into reality, but I won’t be applying for her job anytime soon ( — or ever.)

    yev with nemo shark
    Love for Photoshop began one New Year’s Eve with a crazy idea and tons of help from my sister.

    When I started to write this post, I was anxious because I didn’t want to come off as angry or stuck-up. There are plenty of things I can’t do and will never do (build or carry things, heal people, math…). I am both grateful for that and appreciative of people who choose other careers. With that said, what I have to say here is from my own experience.

    Here’s the thing, I’m sure most people who have creative jobs have heard someone say any variation of those horrific words: “I bet I could do that.” Sure, I could say that we were born with incredible skills that cannot be replicated, but that’s probably not true. What I know is that you’re probably underestimating what your creative friends do, and what they have to put up with. You could be in our shoes, but you’re not. You don’t put up with criticism or your parents telling you to get a real job… (End rant).

    image

    But it’s more than that.

    Seeing the big picture

    When I started out, I really wanted to do what she did. My sister made it look so easy at times, so I embarked on an adventure that started with downloading Photoshop and then finding some tutorials online. Turns out, you need a little bit of practice before your work is effortless.

    Even then, I was just messing around. To put it simply, my sister recently told me this: “Photoshop is a tool, not a profession.”

    Though the right tools are great, they don’t make you a pro. I encourage anyone to learn a new skill, but I ask you to recognize that there is a bigger picture. A great event photographer isn’t just your friend who can use a digital camera, it is someone who can anticipate something, react to it and see the end product while they are working. Experiencing the process makes the tools and tricks more important.

    Creativity as a career

    more i learn einstein

    When it comes to writing for a living, there’s usually more to it than just putting words down on paper in the right order. Somehow people don’t see this simple thing. Depending on the type of job, there can be a lot of planning or research involved. Writing an article for a newspaper and for a company are two different beasts. Writing up an ad is different from doing an interview for a story, but some people would lump it all under the same skill. Sure, there are similar tools — my brain, words, the Internet — but the function, the amount of research involved and the product are totally different.

    Part of becoming good at what you do is recognizing  what it takes to get the best finished product. The Einstein quote above comes to mind. Every time I look back at where I started with my job (or my Photoshopping), I know that I’m getting better. Every time I talk to my sister I realize that she’s busy not just editing faces on photos, but making sure that the “faces” make sense for a product or as part of a campaign. I like to approach all of my work with the intention of improving, but as Einstein said, when I learn something new, I see that there is so much more.

    So, next time you feel your brain sending those unmentionable words to your lips: Pause. Ask me about what I do. What the hardest part of my week is. The experiences that taught me to love what I do. How many hours it takes before I release a project into the wild. And remember to listen, even if it doesn’t sound like a “real job.” The short version: trust me.

    Hey, you might be inspired to Google some “how-to’s”.

    Have you been told that your job sounds easy? How do you react?