Things of the Week 4/24/17

Flipping Off Fish: My new favorite juvenile, guilty pleasure–this is an Instagram account. And the username pretty much says it all.

Reading rut: My habit of reading too many things at once has gotten so bad I’m barely reading anything at all. Goodreads has even started sending me passive aggressive messages, “We noticed you’ve only read one book toward your goal” etc. Maybe I need to start a new Instagram account…

FitTwit: I’ve abandoned my FitBit. It’s falling apart and it’s less than a year old. This is my fault–I didn’t save the receipt or the box, otherwise, I could send away for a replacement. I considered buying another one but then I thought about what I use My FitBit for–the alarm. Sure, I paid attention to the steps, but not in a productive way. I didn’t do laps around my house if I didn’t hit my goal. When I think about my health during the time I’ve owned my FitBit, it’s the least healthy I’ve been my whole life. I can’t necessarily blame the FitBit, but I do think it made me lazy. In my brain, I thought, “I have a device tracking my health habits, therefore by knowing my habits I will be more healthy. Brilliant! That mean’s I don’t have to pay attention to my health anymore!” And so, I didn’t. Strangely, having put the FitBit in the drawer, I already feel healthier because I’m paying attention to my hold body instead of just my left wrist.

I am reading some things: This article is awesome for several reasons but I particularly like the way science is being used to study literature.

“Some fairy tales may be 6000 years old” by David Shultz, 4/22/16, Science

Watching: Community and This Is Us. Way late to the party on the first one, only kinda late on the second one. This may be blasphemy, but I might like Community better than Parks and Rec. I’m only in season 1 so I may feel differently by season 3. And I can see why This Is Us is being reviewed well. The writing is very good as is the acting, and I love the parallel story lines.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: A hyper-awareness of my brain. The other day I was putting together a lesson plan with a colleague. I selected several reading selections and I knew that they complimented each other well, but I couldn’t explain to my colleague why. She reviewed the selections and immediately made the connections. I realized that my right brain was seeing the themes and patterns but my left brain couldn’t describe them. My understanding that this was likely related to the brain injury helped me explain my weird behavior to my colleague. She described the situation this way: “It’s like you brought me all of the ingredients for paella and asked, ‘What the hell do I with these?'”

April Events with me!

I’m giving several readings and talks this month–details below. If you’re local I’d love to see you! 

April 8th 6:00 – 8:00pm – URBAN ARTS PLATFORM, Parking Garage Roof at The Northern

Join us on Saturday, April 8th for a night of international and local talent featuring a stunning view of downtown billings atop the Northern Hotel parking garage!

This will be a 2 part event featuring:
-Video art screening by G. Roland Biermann
-Discussion with the artist and Dr. Aaron Rosen (author of Art & Religion in the 21st Century)
-Poetry readings by local poets Pete Tolton, Ashley Warren, and Meagan Lehr, as well as MT Poet Laureate Earl Craig.
-Drinks (for 21+)
-A discussion on the future of cutting edge art in Billings!

Part 2 of the night, located at 2905 Montana ave. will feature all local musicians including:
-Grant Jones
-Golden Hour
-Bull Market
-Snow Bored

April 11th 7:00 – 8:00pm ARTFUL WOMEN OF MONTANA, Community Room, Billings Public Library

Please join Zonta Club of Billings and Billings Public Library for our next event on Tuesday, April 11, 7-8 p.m. when our guests will be Anna Paige and Ashley Warren. In this Artful Women of Montana talk, they will be discussing a multi-disciplinary approach to the arts, the importance of collaboration, and empowering community voice through writing.

From a desire to connect writers to one another and grow the literary community in Billings, Ashley Warren and Anna Paige created Billings Area Literary Arts (BALA). Active in the writing community, both Ashley and Anna are faculty at Montana State University Billings, poetry teachers with Arts Without Boundaries, and instructors for Big Sky Writing Workshops. Through BALA, they host bi-monthly Write-Ins where they invite the community to “occupy space in form of creation.”

Ashley writes fiction and poetry. She’s a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program, and her work has appeared in The Examined Life, Easy Street, and in the anthology Poems Across the Big Sky II among other places. She was recently an Artist-in-Residence with the Billing Public Library and teaches youth in the juvenile detention system through the nonprofit organization Free Verse.

Anna is freelance journalist, photographer, and poet. A Montana Slam Grand Champion, Anna has also been named Best Spoken Word Artist by the Magic City Music Awards in 2012 and 2014 – 2016. She’s performed spoken word poetry in several collaborative pieces, including a short act in Billings’ Fringe Festival and with Terpsichore Dance Company of Montana. She also co-hosts “Resounds: Arts and Culture on the High Plains” on Yellowstone Public Radio.

April 26th 5:30 – 7:00pm READINGS FROM POEMS ACROSS THE BIG SKY II, This House of Books, 224 N. Broadway, Billings.  

Poems Across the Big Sky II is a significant collection of Montana poets that came out late in 2016. Lowell Jaeger, the editor, wrote that the collection is an “effort to uncover hidden talent, to combine novice poets and acknowledged poets, to pay homage to Montana’s many voices, many poems.” Billings writers are well-represented. Come to hear your neighbors share their poetry of our place. This House of Books, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. We gratefully acknowledge the effort of Corby Skinner, who wrote the Humanities Montana grant that allows Lowell Jaeger to attend our event.

Things of the Week 3/8/17

Things of the Week 3/8/17
Got this message on my teacup the morning after I listened to the podcast about poverty myths and was reminded of the misguided ways many of us think about public assistance. At the risk of oversimplifying complex issues, I think this four-word mantra says a lot. 

#Trypod:

I love podcasts. Every time I reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a long time we always end up talking about podcasts. My go-to conversation starter at parties is “I heard this podcast…” almost as often as “I read this article…”

Most of my friends are already listening to podcasts but you, dear reader, might have friends who have yet to visit this magical, auditory land. See advice from Night Vale Podcast above. Meanwhile, here are some episodes I’ve taken in recently…

Radio Lab Presents: On the Media: Busted, America’s Poverty Myths: This was one of those podcasts where I could feel my perceptions changing as I was listening. I felt myself getting angry, too, as the episode deconstructed tired phrases like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and heart-wrenching examples that make the idea of safety nets seem futile (or like a farce altogether). You can check out the whole series here.

Zapping Your Brain to Bliss (Note to Self):  I admit while listening to this episode I was like, “Where can I get $200 so I can try the Thync Kit?” Living with a brain injury, the idea that there is a device that could help with relaxation seemed almost too good to be true. Like Manoush, I’m still not sure I’d want to use the machine. I think there is some value to the ritual behind relaxation that helps us turn relaxation into a healthy habit. Also, one of the researchers interviewed mentioned he was wary simply because he wasn’t sure how the rest of the brain might be affected. And that made me be like, “Yeah, no thanks.”

The Horror, The Horror: “Get Out” And The Place of Race in Scary Movies (Code Switch)A fascinating episode on the intersection of pop culture and race through the lens of horror movies. I don’t typically watch horror movies but despite my unfamiliarity with the topic, this episode was rich with insights, both specific and broad.

Researching: Reasons for unintended pregnancies. Working on a revision of my novel that requires my protagonist to be older and hence, runs into problems in a more “adult” way. I came across this article from 2012 and found myself still surprised by the findings, even five years later.

“Why We Keep Accidentally Getting Pregnant” by Lindsay Abrams,  7/26/2012 on The Atlantic

Watched: Unreal, the Lifetime Network drama inspired by The Bachelor. I swear this show was made for me. I’ve watched The Bachelor with my mother and sister-in-law as part of a “trash tv night” we’ve had once a week for years. During our viewings, I was always the cynical conspiracy theorist, guessing at what “really happened” to inspire the events we were watching. In Unreal, all my conspiracy theories were validated and then put on steroids. The show is a fiery car crash and I can’t. Look. Away.

(Mini) Things of the Week 3/1/17

Question of the week: After a minor kitchen incident, how does one successfully cut a mango?

Answer: Get your husband to do it for you while you grab the band-aids.

READING

“The Rise of Roxane Gay” by Molly McArdle, February 22, 2017 on Brooklyn

“Against Readability” by Ben Roth, February 21, 2017 on The Millions

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen 

WATCHING

The Indiana Jones Triology: I had only seen the third movie as a kid, so I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom for the first time this week. Gotta say, I don’t feel like I was missing much. Yes, these movies are supposed to be set in the 30s, but the gender and racial stereotyping was a bit much.

Happy Birthday, Page:

Upcoming Workshops

I’ve been collaborating with a lot of great artists lately thanks to the various writing groups and organizations I’ve joined over the last few months. Through these collaborations, I’ve put together a variety of workshops that I’ll be offering in my local community. For ongoing events and workshops check out my new Events page. Here’s a peek at what’s coming up:

 

FEB 23: Channeling the Feminine Divine – A Workshop of Self-Discovery

Tap into your inner goddess and create a connection to the divine in this workshop of self-discovery. Create meaningful change in your daily habits as you learn about feminine archetypes through the Greek Goddesses Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Persephone.

In this course, led by creative writers and spiritual consultants Ashley Warren and Anna Paige, you will be introduced to the strengths of each goddess and how to apply those characteristics to modern life. Using guided meditation and writing exercises, you will connect to your inner goddess and the divine feminine within.

The course includes a special Vintage Apothecary Goddess Oil blend.

LOCATION: Better to Gather Events at 2404 Montana Ave.
DATE: February 23
TIME: 7-8:30PM
COST: $35

What should I bring?: yourself, a pen and a journal.

Click here to register

MAR. 18: Movement as Inspiration 

We often use the term “muscle memory” to refer to motor learning. But beneath these patterns of repetition committed to procedural memory, our bodies hold many stories. We have scars and injuries, birthmarks, tattoos, allergies, and a bad haircut or two. As we write the stories of our bodies, we access opportunities for understanding and healing. Join Ashley Warren and Nia Technique instructor Aimee Carlson for a workshop using both movement and writing exercises to jumpstart the creative process. Participants do not need to have significant movement or writing experience to participate.

Date: Saturday, March 18th
Time: 1:00-3:00pm
Location: Sky Studio, 101 Lewis Ave.
Cost: $25
To register: email Ashley Warren at ajoybliss@icloud.com

MAR. 30: My Voice, My Mantra

In an environment of constant information, what words are you using? How is language serving you or holding you back? In this workshop with Anna Paige and Ashley Warren, we will guide you through writing exercise to find your voice. Then together, we will distill these discoveries into a phrase or affirmation that holds meaning for you.

To help you carry this practice into your everyday life, we will create a necklace that will serve as a physical representation of your mantra.

LOCATION: Better To Gather 2404 Montana Ave.
DATE: March 30
TIME: 7-8:30PM
COST: $35

What should I bring? Yourself, a pen and a journal

Click here to register

Things of the Week 1/25/17

With the holidays and the start of a new semester, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Returning to a routine has provided an opportunity to start Things up again.

So, About That New Year’s Resolution: One of my fave podcasts just did an episode examining one explanation for why some people can follow (or set) New Year’s resolutions and other cannot (or do not). The episode features Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, and her theory of habit natures. Also, there’s a quiz (I freaking love quizzes). I got “Questioner.” My husband got “Rebel.”

The Four Tendencies: How to Feed Good Habits

Reading: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben–I asked for this book for Christmas because I was so fascinated by the Radiolab podcast I heard last summer, “From Tree to Shining Tree.” Wohlleben’s writing style is personal yet informative, and the book is also fascinating.

Catching Up On: Finally watched Stranger Things over the holidays and the show definitely lives up to the hype. Now catching up on Season 3 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Sometimes that show makes me laugh so hard I can’t breathe.

DIY: We decided that the only way we could afford to update our kitchen (circa 1953) was if we did it ourselves. This weekend we began phase 1 (countertops and sink) of our remodeling project. Phase 2: refinishing cabinets. Phase 3: new floors. Bonus phase: tile backsplash.

#workinprogress #diy #kitchenremodel #imtheforeman

A post shared by Ashley K Warren (@ajoybliss) on

Law of averages: I have four students with the same name in my Composition class this semester.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: Often, when I write the capital letter “A” a capital “M” comes out. It’s especially surprising to me to hear myself say “A” in my brain but see an “M” on the page.

Things of the Week: Post Thanksgiving Edition

A greyhound won the National Dog Show:

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via GIPHY

Thanksgiving Miracle: Our greyhounds are cuddling.

In a rare #thanksgiving miracle, the #greyhounds are cuddling. #dogthanksgiving

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Commercials: I’ve noticed that commercials this holiday season have a particularly tenderhearted quality about them. It’s nice.

I Got Gilmored: Yes, I’m a fan. Yes, I’ve been bingeing seasons 1-7 for the last several months. Yes, I bought a box of Pop-Tarts to toast Gilmore Girls: A year in the Life. Yes, I might have squealed when I heard the opening music and saw the beloved gazebo. No, I did not expect the #lastfourwords.

Swimming in uncertainty about whether or not we’ll return to Stars Hollow, I’ve been reading as many think pieces as I can to hold on to that Gilmore feeling. Here are a few I particularly liked or was amused by:

“Turns Out, Rory Gilmore Is Not a Good Journalist” by Megan Garber, November 28, 2016, on The Atlantic 

“Watched All of the ‘Gilmore Girls’ Revival? Let’s Talk About It” by Margaret Lyons, November 29, 2016, on The New York Times

“A Play-by-Play of the Only Thing That Matters in the New ‘Gilmore Girls’: Logan Huntzberger”  by Kara Brown, November 28, 2016, on The Muse/Jezebel 

Reading (too many things at once): With the semester coming to a close and lots of papers to grade, I find that I keep collecting books to read without finishing them, assuming the next one will satisfy something in me that the previous one didn’t:

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thích Nhất Hạnh

 How to Train A Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

(These three books are all an attempt to remedy semester stress)

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

(Recommended to me by a friend because I had never read anything by Anne Carson. I’m reading this with the hope that it will make me feel smart. Instead, it makes me feel like endeavoring is pointless. So now I pull it out and read it when I feel like I’m trying too hard at something).

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology Edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

(Reading this one slowly, a story at a time. Have been pulling it out when I need something to put reality in perspective.)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

(Picked this up because I wanted to get lost in beautiful sentences. So far so good.)

New Addition to the Brain Injury Glossary: gravel brain – when it feels like there are pebbles sitting on top of my frontal lobe, small but still heavy, with spaces between them that allow brief moments of lucidity to shine through.