Friday, September 28, 2012

The Human Experiment

As I've indicated probably numerous times, I have high standards for the people in my life. That being said, I feel they're fair. I have quite high standards for myself - too high sometimes in fact. I feel that I'm a good person that treats people they way they deserve to be treated, and therefore, I look for the same in return.

Through a few recent "epiphanies", the seemingly-obvious-yet-somehow-not realization hit that my goal of everyone treating me the way I deserved, the way I treated them, was not coming to fruition, and probably never will. So, I've decided to work on a human experiment. Don't worry, this isn't the Matrix. It's not something that requires some sci-fi-like life changing decision on the part of the subjects.  Instead, I'm actually doing this to try to change my attitude. Because it's taken me 33 years to finally, finally realize, that I can't change theirs. I decided to take a "what if" approach, to see what can happen if I change my interactions with others instead of getting stuck in the same rut.

What if....

  • I tried to look at why someone was acting the way they are from a different angle instead of expecting them to act the way I hoped? Maybe I'm interpreting their actions one way when they mean to portray something else? Sometimes I honestly think I give people way too much credit for being deep and profound when really they're not thinking much about what they're doing/saying at all!
  • I smiled and said hi to everyone that frustrated me. Maybe I'm just in a rut with them, and it's me sending the wrong signals because of that?.*
  • I gave them the "fresh start" I always hope people will give me? If a friendship/relationship is stuck, and you want to improve it, one of you has to start the reboot. I might have to be the one give them the clean slate instead of the reverse. In doing so, I might actually be providing the clean slate for myself as well. 
  • I stepped back and looked at my expectations. Am I expecting them to be someone they never will? That's my fault, not theirs. 
  • I stepped out of my comfort zone? I am a brave person, but I am very afraid of rejection and embarrassment, as I've written about in the past. But I might have to risk it to get past a rut or to get someone to open up. A friend recently told me, "well if you wanted to be included next time we do xyz, just tell us." Of course my response was, "No!  I don't always want to ask. You should think to include me!" There I go again giving people too much credit.... 
  • I stepped back or away temporarily?  If people know they can treat you however they want and you keep coming back for more, they'll do it. It you' I'm not saying stamp off in a huff. I'm saying people can't miss what's never gone. I think this is a last ditch effort, but some situations might require it. 
*Note on bullet point two: if someone is truly treating you badly, you may need to jump right to the last bullet point. No one deserves to be treated like a virtual or literal punching bag. When I mention being friendlier to people that frustrate me, I'm talking about little annoyances, not being the ideal friend but has the potential to be better. But there is a time to walk away, or at least take a step back. If you feel you're being emotionally, physically, or otherwise genuinely mistreated, time to step away. 

 Do I worry about people being concerned that they're part of this "experiment"? Not really and here's why:  1.) It's kind of an honor - it means I value you enough to try to adjust things. This isn't a test for you, it's a  readjustment of my attitude towards people. 2). To be honest, the people that I feel require this probably aren't reading my blog anyways. In fact, if they in time respect and valued me enough to read this on a regular basis, I'd probably figure that my attitude adjustment towards them is successful. 

So, this is my challenge to myself. I think if I give it a month, I can start to see some results. I'll keep you all posted. I'd love to hear other suggestions, thoughts, or, if you decide to try any of these in your own life, the results. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crash Down

A few weeks ago I wrote an impromptu blog about a hypomanic episode I'd woken up with that morning. I wanted my readers to see what it was like to be inside a hympomanic brain, or at least to explain it to the best of my ability. This weekend, the opposite happened. I woke up Saturday in a bad depressive episode. I rarely get these, but when they hit, they hit hard.

I thought since I took you inside of my mind during a hypomanic episode, I'd try to describe the reverse as well. Here's what a depressed episode entails, for me. Everyone's different, but this is my version.

These episodes almost always hit in the morning. I'm not sure why. I wake up with them and have no idea what's happened overnight to cause them, but I know it's not good. The severity varies greatly from one depressive cycle to the next. Often times I can manage to work through them, at least after the first few hours. Sometimes, I can't. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I know doing so will only make it worse. One thing you need to learn when you have this type of condition is to respect your mind and body. Be persistent and don't give up at the first sign of an episode, but know when it's bad enough that the best thing you can do for yourself is to take as much pressure off yourself as possible and focus on you, for a change. If I have to, I take a personal day - a mental health day, as I like to call it. If I can't, I work from my couch,in comfortable clothes, with my favorite comfort foods and my coffee.

My depressive episodes last longer than my hypomanic ones. Sometimes up to two weeks, though that isn't common, for which I'm very grateful. The interesting thing is that they often don't involve some horrible feeling of pain or anger or anything like that. It's the opposite - they involve no feeling at all. Not in the zen type of way. In the way of just not caring about anything. For someone who's every minute is filled with emotion, this is the scariest thing in the world. Give me hurt, give me anger, I can do something about these - I can understand them, deal with them, and move on. But the feeling of nothingness is horrendous. It feels un-human to me. Depressive episodes also involve crying for absolutely no reason. When I say no reason, I mean literally none - or none that I can identify. Not even a sad song or an SPCA commercial with scared-looking, homeless puppies. The tears just flow. I sometimes try to find reason in them, to see if they're hinting at something I am feeling but don't understand. Other times, I know that what I need is to let them happen - I am a true believer that you can cleanse your heart, mind, and soul with tears.

I feel bad for others around me when I'm going through a depressive episode. They feel helpless, and if they've never been through it, I'm sure they don't understand why it has to linger on without any apparent reason. They want to help and often I don't want to talk to anyone or be around people. The episodes are physically and mentally exhausting. On Saturday I had trouble even standing - my legs were shaking and felt numb, my blood sugar had plummeted, and I was just absolutely exhausted. Sometimes that exhaustion lasts for days.

In the end, these depressive cycles, like the hypomanic ones, are part of me. I don't want them to define me, but they're a part of my life. Because I'm rapid cycling, I can't take anything for them - it could throw me into a hypomanic cycle. Those close enough to me will, at some point, see me in a depressive cycle. I hope they can understand, though I know it's difficult, what I need during these is simply time. Maybe an ear, but mostly time. I've learned not to make major decisions in either of my cycles. It's a learning process, every single time. So I ask you to bear with me during these times. And not to tell me to just smile or snap out of it (or anything that basically means "snap out of it" in nicer terms), because I can't. I truly appreciate those who understand me, or try. I promise that those who stick with me will be repaid when they're going through a difficult time, because I will most certainly stick with them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Birthday Girl

Birthdays are very important to me. I know most people don't look forward to them. The truth is, I don't usually either. Not for the reason of getting older - I refuse to believe 33 is anywhere near old - but because it's become a running joke in my family that my birthday is bad luck for me. Almost as bad as New Year's Eve, which could be a whole post on it's own. Something bad always seems to happen around my birthday. It's not always the same thing, but it's always something.

Still, I trudge on year after year, getting excited about my birthday, trying to stretch it out as long as possible, clearly not learning my lesson. Last year, though, I changed my strategy. Instead of trying to plan some big get together or rely on a significant other, I got tickets to a concert with a very good friend of mine. The concert happened to be right on my birthday which made it even better - instant plans! I decided to spend the rest of my birthday weekend with my family. 

The day of the concert, it poured. I don't mean showered, I mean the type of rain where you walk outside for a minute and you come back in soaked, where you're pants are wet up to your knees, where you don't even bother with the umbrella because what's the freakin' point. Armed with panchos, my friend and I headed to the concert. It still poured. And we had a blast. We were soaking, we gave up on looking cute, and we enjoyed watching people mudslide across the lawn - yes, we had lawn seats. In fact we almost partook in the mud sliding ourselves until security started hauling people out for doing so. The rest of the weekend I spent with my family. We took a day trip to New Hope and had dinner there. We visited and laughed. It was one of the best birthdays of my adult life. 

This year, I once again spent my birthday with my family. We went to New York City to see a broadway show. I invited a people out for happy hour to kick off the weekend, knowing that a few would definitely show up, and then figuring the more the merrier. But I only planned it based on those few friends I'd decided to see. I didn't count on everyone else - not because they're not reliable, but because I decided not to reply on some large event to make or break my birthday. I wouldn't open myself up to that possibility disappointment. 

In the end, it's about managing expectations. The less I expect from a situation and the more I just let it happen, the more I can enjoy it. It's a lesson I'm trying to learn every day - often not very successfully, but I hope that by birthday number 34, I'll have an even better handle on it. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Patience is a Virtue...

A virtue that I don't usually have. If you know me at all, you've probably noticed the way I dive into everything head first, hoping to make an immediate change or see progress right away. I'll admit, I'm an instant gratification type of a person. I'm a mover and a shaker and I don't like when things don't go as planned. While partly I think this is "just me", I also feel that rapid cycling cyclothymia doesn't help my cause. I'm used to things switching rather quickly and drastically for me. So waiting around isn't my forte.

I am, though, finally realizing the value of patience. It's a slow realization... very slow. What I have discovered is that an increase in patience seems to correlate very nicely to a decrease in stress and anxiety. I'm less worried about "why isn't this happening? why are things taking so long to progress". It also helps me to see the value in the fact that even when things don't go according to plan, they usually turn out ok. Maybe not immediately, but in the long run. I'm sure there are exceptions for this, but many times I've found that I was waiting for one result, and another one snuck up on me from behind, and actually ended up turning into a better situation than I'd originally hoped for.

If you're not naturally a patient person, attaining even a little bit of it is a struggle. Meditation has helped me. The goal of a meditation session, for me, is purely just being still and letting your mind go (to simplify it). You basically have to be patient - even if just for 10 minutes. Setting multiple goals within a process has also helped for me. Instead of going all in and waiting on one ultimate result, I focus on much smaller steps at short intervals - sometimes even daily, depending on the goal. For example, I've made it a goal to do one thing every day that makes me nervous/anxious/fearful. These can be the silliest things - i.e. taking public transportation which makes me squeamish, or introducing myself to a new member of my coworking community that I don't know. It allows me to see progress every day towards the long range goal of overcoming the fears that hold me back.

So start with the little things, the seemingly insignificant things on which you can practice your patience - the worst that happens is that you're not as patient as you'd like to be. If I don't go out of my way to introduce myself to a new coworker, nothing specifically negative will happen. If I do, I'm one small step closer to my goal, and I don't have to wait - an impatient person's dream come true. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All the Single Ladies (and Men)

For the last six months, give or take, I've been basically single. Most of this was intentional. I realized that basically since I graduated college, my life has always been intricately tied to someone else, and in the process, I had lost a bit of myself. This is not to say anything negative about my exes - I hold nothing against any of them, hope the best for them, and in fact am on speaking terms or have a friendship with almost all of them. What I realized, though, was that I was so busy working on the rest of my life that I hadn't worked on myself. I thought it was about time to, and took on a "no dating" strategy for a while.

I have a lot of single friends, some who are intentionally so and some who really are looking for a relationship and are frustrated not finding it. While I'll admit I don't want to be single for the rest of my life, I've actually been truly enjoying my time working on me. I also think it is the key to my being in a long term, happy and healthy relationship in the future. Here are a few things I've discovered during the last six months:
  • As cliche as it sounds, no one else can - as I'd mistakenly believed - make you happy. Regardless of how wonderful your other half is, if you aren't happy with yourself, it's going to cause issues for you and the relationship. You get frustrated with the other person for not making you happy, and it makes you feel like there's something wrong with the relationship. In fact, it's something that you have to fix with yourself. 
  • Don't cut off the rest of the world when you're with someone. If I'd done so, I'd be very lonely right now instead of enjoying time with friends and famly. It's healthy for you and your partner to each have things in your life that are your own - friends, hobbies, interests. You should be each other's rock, and a major part of their life, but not their entire world. 
  • If someone doesn't value you for who you are, you're better off being without them. This doesn't mean that everyone should fall at your feet and if not they're a jerk. Some people just aren't compatible. But if someone doesn't see your value and appreciate your for your best points, then it's their loss. Don't worry about someone who's not worrying about you, and move on. 
  • At the same time, don't burn bridges or shut doors. When something hasn't worked for me, it may have been timing, my lack of confidence, something the other person was dealing with. I know couples that have broken up for months or years and wound up making it work in the end. Remember why you cared about each other in the first place. Some of my closest friends are exes. I'm glad I didn't curse them and walk away without looking back. 
  • Enjoy being single! Take a girls day to go shopping and get spa treatments. Have poker nights with the guys. Organize a happy hour, golf trip, day excursion with friends and family. By enjoy being single, I don't mean throw away your morals. I mean take the opportunity to do things you may not have done as much in your relationships. I've learned the value of my friendships more in the last six months than I think I did in the previous 32 years. 
  • Learn to love yourself and your "me" time. Being alone does not have to equate to being lonely. I have discovered that I cherish my time with a good book, writing my blog or journaling, even walking around my neighborhood taking pictures - by myself. In order to value this, though, you have to actually like yourself. If you're always looking for someone else to make it better, you won't find the joy in spending time with you. How can you expect someone else to want to spent time with you if you don't want to spend time with yourself? 
  • Put yourself out there. This doesn't just apply to dating, but life in general. While I like my down time, I don't want to spend every Friday night watching bad TV and eating leftovers on the couch. More times than I can count, I've gone by myself to the bar/restaurant next door, sat at the bar, and talked to the bartenders and other patrons - who incidentally are also often sitting at the bar by themselves. And guess what - I don't feel pathetic (I promise I don't have a habit of drinking by myself on a regular basis)! I've gotten to know everyone that works there and many of the other local "regulars". I've run into people I know and ended up with an impromptu night out. Don't always wait for others. Be the one to initiate things sometimes. 
I know this is a long post. As you can see, I've done a lot of thinking about the unique-to-me situation of being single in the last six months, and more importantly, being happy with it. This all being said, I'm certainly open to meeting someone at this point - I haven't closed that door by any means. I'm just learning to enjoy my life, regardless of my relationship status. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Your Song

The other day while in L.A. for a conference, I heard the song "Your Song" by Elton John playing in the hotel lobby. If you don't know it, here's a YouTube link. This song has a very special meaning for me.  In college, my my then-boyfriend sent me a "care package" that included, among numerous other items, a CD of songs that he said made him think of me. I went to school 13 hours from home - and him - which made the gift that much more precious. The CD, it happens, started with Your Song.  While I love the entire song, my favorite line is, "I hope you don't mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you're in the world."

Hearing this song after such a long time -that CD sadly became scratched years ago - brought two thoughts to mind. The first is this: I am so lucky to have had someone in my life who considered their world a better place because I was part of it. I'm equally lucky to have had people in my life over the years who I've felt the same way about. This doesn't just extend to romantic relationships but to friendships and family as well.

The second thought was a bit more nostalgic. The person that introduced me to that song is no longer in my life. We unfortunately lost touch years ago. He was, and presumably still is, a truly wonderful person. It made me realize how much we sometimes take for granted in our lives. I remember both sides of our relationship - the great times and the difficult. I suspect that in the day to day, I probably put more thought into the silly arguments and petty disagreements we had than I did into the fact that this person thought the world was wonderful because of me. I think it's human nature to somewhat forget that things might not stay the same forever and to not treasure them at the time. Perhaps it's because we don't want to admit that something might falter and slip away, or because we just get caught up in every day life.

Briefly revisiting my 20-year-old self through this song, I was reminded to slow down and refocus. The grass could, I suppose, always be greener. But when I think that way, I should transport myself ahead 10 years, and think how I'll feel if I rush through this time to get to something "better". You never know how long your life will remain as it is. I, for one, never want to look back and wish I'd spent more effort to appreciate the positives. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Time-Happiness Ratio

The couple of weeks have been quite different my normal routine. One of my best friends, who I hadn't seen in several years, came to visit for four days. Then came the holiday weekend, then a trip to New York to meet a wonderful mentor who until that point I'd only knew via social media. This back story would require post in and of itself, so I'll stick to that very brief description. I had one "office day" (i.e. working from the desk in my living room) before heading out to LA for an industry trade show. In the mean time, I'd come down with a vicious sinus infection/cold/something similar  (in fact I'm still dealing with it), which made it tough for me to keep my eyes open, swallow, and breathe let alone work. Looking at the expansive emails and to do list, as well as my upcoming week of busy events, I simply felt overwhelmed.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows this feeling. It's the reason we check email while on vacation, make page long lists of needed tasks, return emails and calls at hours outside of our normal work day.  Otherwise, it piles up and at some point feels like it's going to consume us.

I'm a person that's pretty conscious of taking care of my health, but I felt like I had to push through to at least get the key items done and tame my inbox. Finally, after several cups of coffee, echinacea tea - supposed to help your immune system, and crossing off the essentials, I gave in and decided to take a nap. By decided, I mean my body and brain wouldn't go any further and I all but fell asleep in mid-walk to my bed.

Post nap, I still felt like crap health wise, but I didn't feel nearly as overwhelmed. I told myself that I had pared down the emails, answered those that required it, gotten the imperative tasks out of the way, and everything else could be tackled slowly, either if I had free time during my business trip (unlikely) or when I got back. I also chose to cross some items off the list all together. They just weren't essential enough to put pressure on my sanity.

One of my best attributes and greatest downfalls is my ability to want to give my absolute all to every opportunity and task that I come across. This works well with the first one, two, even five items. But you reach a point at which you have to choose. If you try to do everything, you won't be able to give 100% to anything. If somehow you manage to, you'll probably realize you have no time left for you and your health, and at some point, you may no longer be able to do even those most important tasks.

A wonderful exercise is to look at the major items in your life, the amount of time they take, and the return on health and happiness that they bring. If the time is high and the health and happiness result are low, consider ways to pare it down, eliminate it, or turn it into something that has a more positive ratio. Of course there will be some tasks, such as household chores, that aren't particularly joy-inducing but must be done. When you come across these "must do"s, make sure they're truly essential and that you're doing them in the most efficient way. If you don't enjoy it, perhaps it can at least take up less time so that you can focus more on those aspects of life that have a positive effect on your health and happiness. While you obviously have to take your family and loved ones into account, also make sure that everything you're doing is not solely for somebody else.

I'll end by saying that I'm sure there are more specific formulas for determining how much time different aspects of your life should take. I didn't pull the phrase "time-happiness ratio" from anywhere, though I'm sure I'm not the first to use it. I'm curious to do this experiment again and see how I fare. I'd be equally curious to see where others are - I'm sure they have insights and ideas that I've yet to come up with that can help me keep my overwhelmed quotient to more of a minimum! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Even When You Don't Think You're Making Progress...

There's a reason for the saying "hindsight is 20/20". It truly is. I find I look on my past relationships, jobs, friendships, and such with so much more clarity than I had at the time. It's tough to fully understand something when you're in the thick of it. Plus, the more you experience in life, the more you can view a situation with perspective.

However, I feel that it's also very important to see where you're making progress as you go through a journey (which really, is life in general). I'm a person who, while I believe in enjoying what you have at the moment and not constantly wishing for more or regretting the past, also believes in constantly  learning and adjusting as needed. 

Whether you suffer from a mood or anxiety disorder, or are just trying to improve/get through a troublesome portion of your life, I think it's important to take stock on a regular basis of how you are improving. Many of us tend to be very good at knowing where when we aren't where we want to be, but I feel most of us sell ourselves short. 

Lately, I've found myself saying a few things (complete truths) that surprised even me. Please keep in mind, I'm a planner by nature, and for a living. I am a type A, somewhat anal retentive personality who hasn't left much in my life to chance until the last year or so really. I've always been a very left-brained, logical thinker. I've also gone through a lot of sh*t in the past 12 years or so, and been brought down by quite a bit of it. But these following statements have passed through my lips repeatedly in the last few months, and I'm astonished - and couldn't be happier. I'll give context where needed.

  • I don't really have a plan for the weekend. I don't want to have to plan every minute, just see what happens and go with the flow.
  • I'm just a happy person. I love life. I've gone through a lot of really tough stuff, and I wouldn't change anything because I really love who and where I am now. 
  • It's really important for me to be able to spend time with just me. I've learned to value my alone time. (Though obviously, I don't want to be alone all of the time). 
  • I have found that whenever you try to plan too hard for life, it throws you a curve ball. So I have dreams and goals and action steps, but I am always ready for an adventure. (On having a set life plan). 
  • I am not a complicated person. I say what I think, nicely, I'm very open, and I don't want to over analyze things.* 
  • I have all of this creativity wanting to get out and I just need to figure out how. I know it'll probably be something odd or weird. (I've never thought of myself as particularly creative/artistic. As I wrote in a recent blog, I'm suddenly thinking of myself as more creative and not sure what to do with it.). 
*Here's the catch with this - my condition is complicated. I won't say that I'm always easy to understand due to this. But, I'm no longer nearly as much of an analyzer, and I'm so much more confident and open, that minus when my condition rears its ugly head, I feel so much easier to understand. 

I'm not writing this to boast about myself. It's not my style. Plus these things are only "positive" because they're where I personally want to be. Not everyone does. The point of this blog, though, is that even when you're not sure if you're getting where you want to go, stop and take a look at where you are. See if you notice a slight shift in your attitude towards the positive. See if you have  conquered even just one small fear. Take a look at your general thought process, your energy, and  even the things you say to others. If someone came to you with a fear, anxiety, down mood - are you  able to talk to them and help them through it? That's progress! It means you have these ideas in your head which might help you on a difficult day. 

You may have occasional "break through" moments where everything seems clear, better, like it's guiding you in the direction you want to go. Certainly take advantage of these! However, most progress creeps along, without you noticing it until you stop to look. So stop and look. When you notice that you  say something that surprises you in a positive way, write it down - journals are great for this! You'll start to notice the slow change and allow yourself to look back and think, "look how far I've come!". 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Muse in Transition

Two Fridays ago, between my two blogs, I wrote about 10 posts, thinking forward to the past week when a very good friend was flying in and I didn't think I'd have time to write, but wanted to post every day to complete the blog challenge. In my final post on the 31st, I said that I'd probably take a couple of days off before starting my September posts - for which I'm not doing a challenge and plan to post two, or perhaps sometimes three, days a week.

Then, over that weekend, I must have thought at least five or six times, "hey, you know what would make a good post?". It's like the muse in me has been awakened over the last month. Oddly enough, I posted twice in the whole month of July, or something like that. Then I started this blog challenge, and it feels sometimes like I can't stop creating (or as some might interpret it, can't shut up!). I find this way more for my personal blog than my business blog, which is interesting to me, and supports some beliefs I've had about my "purpose" being to share with the world my story and use that as a building block for support, education, and awareness of mood and anxiety disorders. How, I'm not completely sure yet. 

I find inspiration in conversations, street and window signs, random images, ideas that pop in my head, and numerous other outlets. I'm not always inspired. When I'm not, I do one of two things- either don't write, or try various methods that might get me into an inspired state. This all being said, as much as I like to talk about me and my thoughts, I'd like to write about things that might be concerning, confusing, interesting to others as well. 

Here are some of the topics I want to cover:
  • More on finding inspiration, muses, etc. I feel this is important for those that have mood cycling, anxiety, depression, and the like, as this inspiration can often lead them to discovering more about their condition and themselves, at least in my opinion. It can also, as it has in my case, provide them with ways in which they can look at their conditions in a different light. 
  • The next steps for/the direction in which I want to continue working on support, education, an awareness of mood and anxiety disorders. Most importantly - what's most needed along these lines, and how can I work to get there. 
  • Creativity, imagination, and creation. 
  • Fear - one of my absolute favorite topics to write on. 
  • Sleep and dreams. I can in no way interpret dreams - it'll be more inquisitive. 
I would absolutely love suggestions. While in part I write this blog for getting out my ideas and sharing my journey, a large reason for my starting this and the facebook group was to help others, and so it's very important to me to do that as best as I can. If you have concerns or questions, things you'd like to discuss or hear about, please let me know. If I don't know what to say about it, I'll be honest, but I'll put it out there - someone must have something to say about it! 

PS I'm publishing from my phone today, so if it's in a weird format I apologize. I'm a writer, not a technology expert!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Morning Wanderings

This morning I helped my friend move apartments.... at 7 AM. While 6:15 in the morning wasn't an ideal wake up call on a Saturday, I was able to experience (even if briefly, it's a short walk) one of my favorite feelings - the calm quiet of a city just before it wakes up. I was the only person walking on my particular street, though there was one man sitting on the front step of a restaurant entrance across the way. The final remnants of the sunrise were still visible, barely evident but for the pinky-peach hue lingering in the sky. There were no cars on the road, at all.

When I travel, I make it a point to get up early at least one day and roam the city to watch it rise. I never really think to do it here at home, oddly enough. I genuinely love the movement and noise of a big city. It's why I live here, and why they're my favorite destinations to visit. Still, the contrast of the deserted early morning lies somewhere between almost eery and strangely calming. It's so contradictory to the normal environment that it seems to open up my brain. I walk through an empty city in the morning, and I feel more creative, inspired, intuitive, inwardly peaceful.

As autumn approaches, it gets easier to allow myself this luxury. The sun comes up later, which tends to put fewer people on the streets early. It gives me the chance to not wake up quite so early but still enjoy my lone morning walk as the city stretches awake. I think I will have to do this more often to see the effect on my muse and my imagination.

Do you have any unexpected sources of inspiration?