1.07.2011

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While my body was busy folding clothes the other day and not letting my brain think about it, for fear my brain would direct my body to more cerebrally pleasing tasks, my brain wandered to thoughts of the internet. The topic kept my brain busy enough to fold and put away several loads of clothes. An interesting thought occurred to me as I crossed the floor to my dresser: while I was away from the internet, the internet was still there. Well, duh, rather obvious; but the thought gave me pause.

You see, I'm back on the internet. I held out for four months, and it was a wonderful four months, but I felt a strong urge to come back to my beloved community, and to this space that's all my own. I began to feel like a knitter without yarn, a painter without a brush, a photographer without - you get the picture. Font, pixel, html, http - this is my medium. The internet is a tool in my workshop, but a tool that can both help and hinder my work.

I wonder what other people are working on, and the tool in my studio allows me to see. Oh you magical and devious internet. You promise inspiration and encouragement, but you have a dark side - distraction and envy. Yes, envy. I hate to admit it, but the more time I spend online, the less content I become with my own work and accomplishments.

Ooh, look at that picture she took. Maybe I need a better camera.
A book deal? I want one of those too.
She knit how many sweaters? Let me stop what I'm doing and cast on.
52 books in 52 weeks sounds like a fun project. Kids, let's go to the library.
I wonder why she didn't mark me as a contact too. Are my pictures not good enough?

There's a fine line between feeling inspired and motivated by creative people and losing my own creative vision in their shadow.

The speed at which things happen on the internet is another distraction to my work. Flickr is aptly named: a brief movement, a tremor, a slight sensation. Everything is instant, what is new becomes old a second after it's uploaded. There's no time to savor, to digest - there's only consumption. During my break, I realized I'd rather be consumed by another instant event: life. It's filling, inspiring, distracting, immediate, hard, enough.

Aidan dished up his own bowl of soup last night and proceeded to scoop the veggies back into the pot. "I only want the breath," he said.

As my children get older, I appreciate their mispronunciations even more. I knew exactly what he meant. I just want the breath too. My challenge is skirting around the contents of the pot to get what I want. Veggies are good for you and tasty too, but sometimes you just want the nourishment of the medium in which they float.

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Just the breath.


63 comments:

  1. Once again well said my friend. On a selfish note, I am terribly glad you are back.

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  2. wow! there's no way I could have said it better myself. It's as if you took all my jumbled thoughts and emotions and put them on the page for me. Thank you.

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  3. This post has all of the characteristics of such divine-tasting broth, I don't miss the veggies. Thank you.

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  4. very lovely and so very true - every piece of it

    I found some balance in making myself stop and enjoy something thoroughly - read and see less and soak in and be inspired and have understanding more.

    There is so much good stuff that I found myself flitting from one thing to another and thinking I would go back and actually read and absorb later but I didn't - and I was left with not much but a cloud of moments that really did not take any shape except to leave me wanting (on many levels - to do more, make more - cook more, be healthier - etc) and while I felt inspired it was really inspired to want more.

    now that I stop and savor and keep myself to less - I can enjoy more and take the breath to find my own inspiration and how those words or images can relate to my own life.

    by the way - I let very few blogs into my email - and yours is one because it fills me up everytime. You speak to my heart and sometimes put words to my feelings at just the exact moment that I swear you must be sitting right in my pocket and commenting (so eloquently) on my own life.

    And then there's the day you served up a maple candy recipe just as I was searching for one online - were you in my pocket that day too?

    Lovely post - loved the breath part - so true - so true.

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  5. I've had similar struggles with the internet and still find it hard to find a balance between the good that comes from it and the bad. I admire your four month break. Sometimes I think I need one of those. :)

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  6. love your post. i too suffer from that envy you speak of. never a good thing. i am glad to see you back, i missed you.

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  7. i love this post, molly. so very well said...and true.

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  8. Lovely thoughts, and very important to remember. Thank you for voicing it so perfectly.

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  9. So eloquently put. I'm finding I have to put a limit on my time reading other blogs these days. Like many others I'm sure, I find myself easily sucked in and at the expense of other things that need attention in my life.

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  10. a) these photos made me gasp.
    b) you hit something there, about flickr. yes, yes! that has gnawed at me lately, but i didn't know quite how to put it.
    c) anna really only has one funny quirky saying left now, and when she "fixes" it, i will surely cry.
    d) love you.

    xo,
    tt

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  11. echoing everyone else. I limit my blog time (really, I'm only reading the ones that link on flickr), I'm glad you are back. I feel similarly about the internets and am setting limits on the time I spend online. 30 min early in the am, 30 min after supper. and, um, now, at lunch.

    xo molly. you are super-inspiring.

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  12. I have been feeling much the same lately.
    thank you for writing about it.

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  13. My computer has been broken for the past two months. The past two months have been times of extreme productivity for me, yet I miss it too. A computer is not only the place where I blog, but also a major learning tool and music library. I will be happy to once again have a laptop when money has been saved up. Good luck to you in your morale (your pictures are very worthy of being someone's contact!) and in keeping your mind focused away from distractions.

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  14. You definitely said it right. I do love to blog and could be an addict at times but I love the inspirations but it can be a source of envy as well. Yet it's also a tool for me a resource to research.
    Hope to breath more and maintain the creativity. Glad your back on the internet.

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  15. Very true and perfectly said ....

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  16. I've always found the Internet, particularly the blogosphere, to be a source of equal parts envy, inspiration and comfort (depending on bloggers' honesty!). Sometimes I'm not sure what the net effect on my sanity is gain or loss ...

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  17. beautiful, molly. it is funny how easy it is to mingle inspiration with self-doubt - funny but hard. i always consider you a pioneer for me and it is comforting to know that i am not alone in my desire to be part of a collective and without feeding my more neurotic side. but i love having compatriots like you in the world, i would be so much lonelier (and was) without.

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  18. So, so true. I struggle with the envy while enjoying the inspiration. Balance, that's what I need.

    Your images are lovely. I especially love the light in the last one.

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  19. i adore and completely relate to this post. welcome back.

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  21. Eloquently said (misspelled the last one d'oh)

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  22. Your honesty is always so refreshing Molly. I wish we lived closer because I think we'd have fun!

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  23. My thoughts exactly: Flickr, Twitter, shallow, rushed, unthinking.....

    Take time to breathe, savour 'the breath' (lovely expression!), and if we must dive into the bottomless pool of the internet, be aware at least of what it does, what it takes as well as gives.

    But without it, we wouldn't have this lovely post!

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  24. yes. yes and yes. and yet, here i am. here you are. here we are. be strong, take the good and leave the bad.

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  25. Molly, that was beautiful put. We have been without internet for over a month, not by choice - by technical difficulties, and while I get a chance to pop on every now and again... at first it was heaven, now it's a mixture of frustration and lonesomeness... but still with the touch of joy to not have to be connected.

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  26. I understand your ambivalence about the internet and often feel it myself. Still I'm glad to see you are back. I enjoy your blog.

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  27. Cheers to that! Thank you for inspiring me to pick up my camera more, log on less and I have always loved your words. It's so nice to read something that is in your own head but wrapped up so pretty in print.

    :)

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  28. I don't know how you take what is going on in your head, the here and now, and make it into such coherent language (if that makes sense) but you do and it's inspiring to read.

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  29. Amen! Bravo! And thank you. You are not alone-- that is evident by the messages before me. Hopefully by putting these thoughts in print, you have rid yourself of some of the negative emotions. Stay true to you. We all enjoy your honesty and realism.

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  30. so much truth.
    i started my new year cleaning out my online spaces. I'm slowly, slowly, weeding out the things that don't fill me with good.
    i love this internet world. But you are so right. Sometimes I just want some breath. A breath. Or maybe a whole lot of breathing room.
    And I'm making it for myself little by little.

    Your blog made it's way onto my reading list and it's there to stay....no weeding needed here. :) Your words fill me with good.

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  31. so glad you're back... missed seeing you here and loved your brilliant commentary today.

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  32. You have explained that so eloquently! I feel the same way you do! I find that I am comparing myself and my creativity to others and I know I shouldn't. The internet definitely distracts me!

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  33. so perfectly put.
    i have quite a few blog-ish writings in my 'in progress' folder attempting to articulate what you have captured here.
    i only want the breath, yes indeed.
    it is why there is now a timer next to my computer monitor, i'm attempting to capture the breath without becoming too 'sucked' in.

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  34. I had that precise "she knit how many sweaters?" envy this week. Bet you know where I got it...

    I think Amy is right--it's so hard to be inspired *without* being a little envious. When I get envious like that, I have to consciously pull my perspective back to my own life. I can't knit as fast as the envied knitter because my life is different than hers. But maybe I could try to knit a *little* more each day.

    Sometimes I forget to pull my perspective back. But posts like this remind me that it's important.

    I think, though, that there are some bloggers who are better at inspiring without making readers feel inadequate. And you, my friend, are one of those. :-)

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  35. I read your post yesterday and it made me pause. I needed time to hold in your words before I could comment. I struggle with the dark side of the internet. Everyone one of your remarks I feel - often. These feeling have not been enough to stop my from blogging or posting pictures to Flickr (I'm not sure why, but I am grateful I haven't.)

    Thank you, Molly. It is a joy to have you back in this space.

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  36. And here I sit, wishing I could have expressed it all so perfectly.

    I think perhaps I hadn't even realized why I felt the need to step back my participation online for a while, at least not consciously...I just knew that inspiration was giving way to feelings of inadequacy much too often...
    ...but, of course, I could not stay away for long.

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  37. Wow! This so hit home right about now in my life. Today is my 54th birthday and there is still so much for me to learn. I can get marvelous ideas from the internet, yet cannot accomplish these goals while constantly on the internet.
    Well said!

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  38. i could not love this more. you are inspiring, molly.

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  39. i took about a year and a half off the internet when i was pregnant with my youngest and while he was a babe, nursing and needing cuddles. i loved all of that time but i did miss the sense of community, the inspiration. it's a fine line to balance but i think you put it beautifully.

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  40. hoorah you're back (and so thankful you made me a flickr contact!!) all things in moderation including lemon ginger martinis!

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  41. What an amazing post-- thank you. I also struggle with coveting other people's lives via the internet. I guess TV advertising has always had that effect on people, too, but I've never been that into TV. But on the internet, in this world of wonderful artsy mom blogs, I too can feel like other people's lives are more peaceful, more meaningful, happier, and less emotionally and physically messy than my own. It's hard sometimes. Anyway, selfishly, I am glad you are 'back'!

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  42. I'm so glad you are back, you are one of the blogs I run to first. I have a huge smile on my face because I can relate so much. Thank you for your honesty and for articulating what so many of us feel. There is a pressure that exists to do more and share more and sometimes I just shut down (although I haven't taken an internet break). Most of the time, though, I'm incredibly inspired - and you are a part of that.

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  43. love... glad you're back!

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  44. Glad your back! Well put my friend.

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  45. Beautiful post and pictures. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I've been thinking about starting my own blog but many of these same ideas come to my mind. For now, in a selfish way :-) I'm glad *you* are back. I enjoy your space and inspiration! Thank you for sharing.

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  46. a tagalog name for god is bathala - "man, woman intermingle in enchanted atmosphere," also it could be called, breath. the spirit is in the medium, not in the consumptive accomplishment. on spot, girl...more goodness from the fallow season. maybe that's the project - the fallow season, pictures & reflections of the perfection of nearly nothing! a can't think of anything more refreshing.

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  47. Thank you for saying in your own way what I am too afraid to say myself: that I can feel small and insignificant in an online world. As your faithful followers above have shown, you are not the only one encountering this phenomenon of balancing a virtual and a 'real' world.

    Blogging seems to be a means of creating a community that stretches beyond physical location, while showing our best side. Sometimes, though, it can take on the air of window-shopping. I walk by your window every day, looking for the new, but until I enter in and become a trusted patron and get to know you you well, I will be but a fleeting shadow to you, a passer-by, and you will remain a pretty window whose display I routinely review.

    I hope you find your balance, though it seems you are not far off.

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  48. uh huh. inspiration and envy indeed. I think we all feel this. Sometimes I get carried away by it all, other times i feel like an addict who has finally hit rock bottom and cares about none of it.
    Whether I want the veggies or not, I know I need the breath.

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  49. Balance... I can relate to just about everything in this post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Molly. It is good to have you back in this space!

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  50. Too true! I laughed in recognition as I read this post! The other thing that I find difficult is that the internet never ends. I have been trying to save money for an overseas trip and have been trying to give up a very expensive, and space eating magazine habit. I used to flick through the magazine, snip out the bits that inspired me or stashed the magazine for later reference. I have replaced this with blogging, browsing and now 'pinning' but you don't get to the end of it like a magazine- I know I've tried, wasting hours with out realising!!
    The other thing that alarms me is not only the envy of the work of others but when you stumble across that site proudly displaying the very thing you had come up with in your head just days before! (Blast that Jungian collective consciousness!) Or worse someone who is doing your thing but better!

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  51. Out of the mouths of babes. That is AWESOME.

    Welcome back, for whatever bits and pieces work. (And thank you for your articulation of the whole can of worms. Your words are skittering around my mind, as I type, and I suspect they'll be there for some time to come.)

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  52. my first time commenting here... so perfectly put, such amazing images, such beautiful words. thank you for making me not feel so alone both in the similarities and in the world of html... :)

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  53. Amazingly, perfectly said.

    I think we all feel that way. It's so fascinating to look into someone else's beautiful life, and yet, so easy to lose sight of your own beauty.

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  54. oh my. now what do i do with my envy here, cause i love you and yet i come here and wish...wish what...wish i could speak more like you, take photos more like you, be consistently creative like you...
    i just think honesty calls for honesty.

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  55. So glad you are back on-line Molly. I was definitely feeling like a blog-reader with a blog.

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  56. Distraction and envy is just right. I need to have a little post-it on my screen to remind me.

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  57. Oh, internet...Why can't I quit you? I, too, struggle with the desire for inspiration from the internet which saps the time it would take to do anything inspiring. Another day striving for balance...

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  58. What a wonderful post. Thank you. I thought I was the only one who found myself feeling this way.

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