2016- The Year of Learning

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This year my goal is to learn, to hone my skills, to really knuckle down, acquire discipline, and pursue learning. I’m continuing work on my screenwriting certificate and applying to fellowships and competitions to really try and hone my skills and develop my craft.

In addition, I discovered a fashion design certificate on groupon, and have purchased and begun a year long semi-intensive certificate in fashion design. I’ve always been interested in clothes, sewing, runway, and the creation of the things we wear everyday, so why not? It may take 10,000 to master a craft, but I enjoy a good diversion and feel it’s important to let the brain wander in different directions.

This year, instead of trying to read 25-50 books, I’m selecting 12 books from my shelves and working my way through one book per month. These are books on the craft of screenwriting (I have at least 10 half-started), books I’ve long wanted to read but never actually picked up (Quiet: Power of Introverts), books I’ve enjoyed but gotten distracted from (House of Leaves), or books that will highlight other pursuits (Born to Run). In short, I’m trying to consolidate and optimize my time.

Now, I think resolutions are bunk. They’re like a pie crust promise: easily made and easily broken. (We can all thank Mary Poppins for that bit of wisdom.) But goals– these are sustainable and empowering. One thing I discovered last year that has really allowed me to hone in on the things I want, and get them done in a timely manner, is Passion Planner.

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This gem has really helped me, especially because it includes a lot of visual components and places to make lists, keep things together, and progress points to really look at how you’re doing each month, and whether you’re really making progress. If you don’t already have a planner you love, I recommend giving Passion Planner a try.

What are some of your goals for the new year? Do you have a theme or focus that’s driving you?

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Memory and Living

So I’m part way through this wonderful book,Moonwalking with Einstein, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I’ve been toying around with a lot thoughts of life and living lately, but this book is really bringing it home.

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The current portion of the book I’m in is discussing how time is shaped by our memories– like we live more the more we remember. It is like how as young adults and teens our lives are full of new experiences and things that define us, so time seems to slow down, while as we become adults who only do routine things, time starts to speed up and up. So the more we remember, and the more we do things that challenge us and cause us to create lasting memories, the more we are living and the more we will, then, remember.

It just brings to mind all the things I’ve been thinking about as I take a hard look at myself and what it means to be Amanda. One of the challenges from a class was to write an ‘about me’ that allows prospective employers to learn a bit about me, or even when I’m out networking to be able to sum up what it is that makes me a unique person. Only… whenever I’m staring at that blank word doc, I never quite know what to put on it. I don’t feel like I’ve led a boring life, or that I’m a boring person, but when I look at that sheet of paper, all I can feel is that I am, in fact, boring, because I draw a total blank on exciting or fantastical things that would show someone reading my ‘about me’ who I am.

Then, reading this book, I have to wonder if it’s just a memory deficiency– that I don’t catalog things the way other people do. That I lack the bits of memory I need to flush out my own life. Like maybe I spend too much time reading books and listening to other people’s memories instead of creating my own. I was talking with my husband about this, and talking about how he has all these exciting stories, and his response was, “Yeah, and most of them I’ve been lucky to live through!”

But I’ve always struggled with this. This idea of defining myself in a paragraph or a sentence. I hated in school when we all had to introduce ourselves and say one interesting thing about us. How do you pick one? How do you know which one to pick? What if what you pick says the wrong things about you? What if some of the things you are proudest of would make someone laugh? What if you like the small things? Why do these introductions just feel like a pissing contest where everyone tries to one-up each other with their interesting fact?

Does that make for an interesting life? Adventure seeking? Risk taking? Is that what creates memories? That faster heartbeat? The accelerated pulse? Do you have to find a way to do that every day to make the most of life? Is it learning something new every day and just spending your days being curious and explorative?

I also just watched the movie Lucy yesterday, and that is all about how the sum of who we are as humans is basically the sum of everything we have learned and remembered. It is memory that separates us from other creatures.
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Aside: Am I just reading, watching, and musing over memory so I’m seeing it in so many things around me, or is it so around me in the zeitgeist that I’m mulling over it?

I really enjoyed the movie. It had a lot to mull over, and while there were some very obvious plot holes, I would recommend it. Potentially just because it brings to mind all the things I’ve been mulling over recently. But if we don’t wonder what it is that makes us human, and what makes our experience as humans unique, what are we to wonder about?

Book Club Bummer

I really want to be part of a great book club.

I really do.

I’m part of a book club now, but I feel like I go every time hoping it will change and be the book club I’m imagining. It never does.

Is it too much to ask for a book club that selects good books? I understand not everyone has the same taste, and the entire reason I’m in book club is to expand my reading list, but my book club consistently chooses books I call “mom books” ie: idiotically romantic, dumbed down, or full of sappy spiritual values.*

So I’ve decided to try and find a new book club, one that reads a higher caliber of book. It’s hard to have an intelligent discussion about a book, content, or values if book club becomes a therapy session for a select few members who wish their love life matched the protagonist in the story.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on the book club; it is full of older women and they seem to enjoy what they’re reading.

I just don’t think it’s the book club for me. Hopefully next month at a new book club yields better results!

*By spiritual values I mean the sappy, lame books that are written with a transparent metaphor and illustrate God coming down like a magical bullet and solving all your problems.