Friday, December 05, 2008

taking stock

it's that time of year for stocktaking. last year at this time, i realized that i was answering to my fourth boss in three and a half years and that i didn't have the energy for the starting all over that that promised. each one came in and wanted to undo everything the previous one had thought was ok in order to leave his mark, so it was an endless cycle of defending the projects one was already doing. and i realized it was no longer worth it to my sanity. and so i'm no longer there. and it has taken me nearly this entire year to recover psychologically, but i do feel that i have at last recovered and found my way back to myself, strong and whole and probably better and stronger and more sure of what makes me tick than i was before.

so that makes stocktaking feel like a good and worthy activity, so although i'm not really a big advocate of new year's resolutions, it seems worthwhile to think about what one wants going forward into the new year.

yesterday, i had a two hour brainstorming session with two very brilliant and wacky minds. these two people get more ideas every minute than you can imagine and i am always in awe when i'm around them. i feel that i am also a person who gets a lot of ideas, but i could tell that spending a couple of hours brainstorming with them yesterday was the most productive and energizing time i've spent in ages. and i realize that although working mostly from home over the past year has been a true luxury, it has been a bit isolating at times and isolation can be stifling to ideas. you need other people around who stimulate you creatively. your own ideas become better when you bounce them off of the ideas of others. so one of the things i resolve to do in 2009 is to regularly spend time with creative minds who push my thinking in new and exciting directions.

this morning, i sat with my newspapers and a cup of tea and read headline upon headline about the financial crisis and how it's starting to impact businesses and individuals. when i walk around on the pedestrian shopping zone in my little town, i see little evidence of any christmas slowdown. people appear to be hurrying around, shopping their little brains out, with that slightly panicked glazed-over look in their eyes, grabbing another and another and another gift. and i realize that i really don't want to do that anymore. it doesn't make us feel good, so why is it that we are driven to consume?

last night, i downloaded and read from cover to cover the latest issue of mankind mag. it's a free download from design for mankind and i thought it was so awesome that i went back and donated to it. completely in tune with the zeitgeist, it's the consumption issue. erin talks to artists all over the world about consumption. even before i opened it, i thought of an artist i'd seen on etsy who made daily drawings of the things she bought. and i was delighted to find that she was there in this issue--kate bingaman burt. and because i'd lost track of her after stumbling onto her on etsy months ago, i have now bookmarked her blog.

so i hereby resolve to document my purchases, on a daily basis, for at least the whole month of january. perhaps it will be so much fun (or so shocking) that i will continue. but i've been talking about off and on during 2008 that i want to be more conscious about my consumption and now it's time to do something about it.  i actually tried keeping a food journal at the beginning of the year, in order to be more conscious about what i was eating, but somehow it didn't catch on with me and it's lying mostly empty by my bedside.  the cover above features a drawing of purchases by UK artist gemma correll that's amazing and inspiring as well, so i think i'll be able to stick with this resolution this time around.

one other thing i've been thinking about in addition to spending my money more wisely is spending my time more wisely as well. some of the first blogs i discovered at the beginning of the year, when i began spending time in the blogosphere in earnest just don't fit me anymore. and it took me awhile to realize it. there are a couple in particular which have been daily reads for me, which i have come to realize are really quite empty and false and pretty much annoy the hell out of me. so i resolve, actually already now, as of this minute, to un-favorite them and not spend any more time there. some people, "rad" as they fancy themselves to be (seriously, who says that?), really aren't worth it. and besides they never reciprocated by reading me, so who cares? my time is too precious. (EDITED:  please note that i do not mean any of you guys who visit me regularly...these were people whose blogs i visited, but who never visited me!!!)

and, i'll leave you with erin's challenge from her editor's note in mankind mag--"every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want." --anna lappe.  then erin asks, "have you checked your vote lately?" i for one will be checking my vote a lot more often.

* * *

just stumbled onto an interesting blog entry and song demo by suzanne vega on the NYT website. check out her song, it's very timely (tho' completely unrelated to what i've written above, just had to share because it was cool).


Amanda said...

Thanks once again for making me think!!

Tara Thayer said...

Hi Julie...we first heard of kate bingaman burt last december, when we bought one of her zines in a gallery in Beacon, NY. Tim says he remembers reading somewhere that she also drew her credit card statements every month until she paid them off: an amazing contemplation of one's spending, don't you think? Thanks for "finding" her again and for the link to her blog. Love your new header, too! Tara

/// said...

oh julie-- thanks for this wonderful post. i'm so heartened to hear that people are taking the issue of consumption as seriously as it should be taken!

julochka said...

tara--some of those credit card statements kate does are in the mankind mag. it's a brilliant idea! and the new header was the most festive pic i had at hand. it seemed appropriate for december. :-)

erin--you're very welcome. i had to share with everyone i know, it's SO important!!

Delena said...


I hope I am not one of those bloggers that annoy you....I am not as well written as so many blogs out there but I hope you see some of the humor in my entries. I don't say much, just post pictures and my family and friends can be updated as to what we are doing.. I love your blog as it is interesting and humourous also. I too agree that consumption is so overdone these days. I am a downsizer myself. I don't like a lot of stuff around.

julochka said...

del--you are most DEFINITELY NOT one of the annoying bloggers. they don't visit me at all, so that's why i felt free to say that.

this goes for all of you's not you!! if you want to know who it is, just email me and i'll happily tell you who it is. :-)

and i realized i skipped amanda in my first response...glad to make you think. the mankind mag definitely made me think and i wanted to pass that along!! :-)

Gwen said...

I'm always resolving to consume less and then always failing at that resolution. But I like to tell myself that even the time I was being better about it was worth something.

Good luck with your consumption goals.

d smith kaich jones said...

Julie - First let me say I LOVE your festive new header, and I don't even drink! But back when I did, vodka always treated me kindly.

And re: the consumption issue. It makes me crazy because I just want stuff. No reason, no need - I just want it. (Luckily I am financially forced to say no most of the time.) But on the other side of the coin, i worry that people will lose jobs if we slow down our buying. Sucky, sucky, because I agree with you, but I worry. If people stopped buying school pictures, I'd be out of a job, with a photo lab & business worth nothing. Sometimes I HATE seeing both sides of things. In the meantime, I just buy art supplies & Coca-Colas.

Terrific post!

:) Debi

Barb said...

It's all been said in previous comments, so I won't repeat it. But, this is a terrific though-provoking post.

Thanks for all your insight and abilities to be able to write this down on paper.

Julie, I enjoy your blog so very much. You always make me think long and hard about the issues you write about.

Barb xo

enchantedartist said...

:) :)...I think this will be a fun experiment...I can't wait to see what you find.


tangobaby said...

Sometimes I think I am really losing my mind. I read a post, craft a whole comment/reply to you and then come back here and see that it doesn't exist.

I think the reason for it is that you write so well and in my mind I'm saying "yeah, that's what I think too" so part of me gets distracted and forgets to write the comment. You should take that as a compliment.

As someone who grew up with scant holiday traditions (was only in it for the presents, basically) and now as a quasi-adult who doesn't have a holiday tradition, this year especially has made me examine why I buy presents and what I get suckered into. I mean, if I want to give someone a gift, I will do it regardless of the time of year. Right now in SF, the stores are bursting with sales and no one is shopping. It makes me realize too that in this time of great economic uncertainty, that most of us already have what we need and turning our attention to those who do not makes a lot more sense. To me, at least.

And about the blog list editing, I hear you on that. I need to revisit my list, too. Thanks for reminding me-- even blogs need a little cleaning up once in a while.

Elspeth said...

Kate B is my Teacher! I take classes from her her at Portland State! She Rocks!