Aug 102016
 

About a week and a half ago, I was in NYC with my family and we stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a day of fun. While there, we saw the exhibit, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” It is about the place where old-school fashion techniques meet technology. It is also about how one technique isn’t better than the other, rather, how both traditional fashion techniques and new techniques in fashion using technology can complement each other. What I found most fascinating about the exhibit was watching the production of the pieces, the hand-beading and stitching, and the intention behind each piece. Great stuff!

Here are some of the most striking pieces I saw:


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If in NYC, I urge you to check this exhibit out. It is quite beautiful.

I find that viewing beautiful things inspires me to not only find the beauty in life, but also to bring this beauty into my writing and other creative projects.

Happy creating!

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Nov 062014
 

I just had a piece published by Chicago Literary Map.

If you haven’t heard of Chicago Literary Map, you should check it out. Here’s what it’s all about:

“Beyond the bright lights and cityscapes, stories unfold. Some are true, others are fiction, showing you a side of the city that often goes untold. Chicago Literary Map is charting the text and putting it in the palm of your literary-loving hand.

Navigate Chicago on a new level, guided by the voices who have been, where updates bring new vignettes from around the city.”

Rad, huh?

Please check out my piece called Ohio Street.

If you’d like to more about the creator of CLM, Stephanie Plenner, please follow her on Twitter: @splenner. You can also follow Chicago Literary Map here: @literarymap.

Your turn. What was it like where you grew up in Chicago?

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Apr 022014
 

When I began freelancing, I didn’t have a computer. I’d write out all of my short stories and novel ideas in notebooks. Then, I’d take them to the nearest computer/coffee shop where I’d spend hours transcribing. I thought I was spending my time and energy wisely, but looking back, I wasn’t as productive as I should’ve been.

I should’ve been writing, not transcribing, but I didn’t have a proper tools or workspace. It’s easy to talk yourself out of being productive when you don’t have either.

It took me a few years, but I now have what I need: space, a laptop, software, books, a coffee maker, a routine, and the ability to say no.

This works for me, but every once in a while I dig a change of scenery. Unfortunately, I get easily distracted at coffee shops and bookstores. This leaves me with my current workspaces. I have three desk areas, but they are all very small.

Here’s what I need: space, light, color, and convenience.

Here’s what I need to do: purge and purchase new matching supplies.

When my workspace is unorganized, I find that I am mentally unorganized. I am going to fix my workspaces. My timeline to get these workspaces complete is in 1 month.

I will show before and after photos of my workspace on Monday, May 5th. Stay tuned.

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Jul 162013
 

30. Moisturize. Enough said.

29. Recognize your part in everything and take responsibility for your action and inaction.

28. Exercise is a necessity. If you work your body, you will work your mind.

27. Fun is essential.

26. There are a lot of bullies in adulthood. Don’t let people treat and talk to you any old way and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Remember, if you don’t, who will?

25. Fresh foods are the key to healthy living.

Fruit Bowl

24. Go to the doctor and the dentist regularly.

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23. Don’t say you’re sorry unless you mean it. It comes off as disingenuous and everybody knows that a phony apology is worse than no apology at all.

22. Having good friends is important.

21. ABL. Always be laughing.

20. Don’t talk to people any old way. They’ll always remember the way you made them feel – disrespected and insignificant.

19. Sometimes it’s better said with a look. Remember the folks from The Office?

18. Take a moment for yourself during the day and go to bed on time to ensure that you’ll always be and feel your best.

17. Travel and make photo books.

16. Some people will disagree with the decisions you’ve made and are making in your life. This is okay.

15. Love yourself.

14. Sometimes you’ll go through a rough patch. Just remember – it’s temporary.

13. Splurge on good coffee. Trust me, you will not regret it.

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12. Believe in yourself. Now take a chance.

11. It is okay to indulge sometimes.

10. Listen to what people are saying and not what you think they are saying.

9. Your spouse/partner/significant other is one of the only people you’ve chosen to have in your life. Remember that and treat them as such.

8. Your body tells you everything. Pay attention to it when it’s shouting at you.

7. There are many young, brilliant minds. Respect the youth.

6. If somebody hurts your feelings, be confident and tell them straight away. Under no circumstances should you let those feelings fester.

5. Your tongue can be just as cutting as a knife. Choose your words wisely.

4. Always be in control of your emotions.

3. Life plans are amazing.

2. Have a running list of nouns that make you happy and refer to it often.

1. When you love the people in your life, love them hard because they won’t be around forever and chances are you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

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That’s what I’ve learned in the past five years. What about you? What did you learn in your 30’s or are learning?

 

*Note: all images were created by me – Janina R. Williams. Please contact me for permission before using.

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May 122013
 
I sketched these two fellas using Paper by FiftyThree

I sketched these two fellas using Paper by FiftyThree

When I found out Roger Ebert passed away, I felt hollow and sad. Much like the way I felt when I found out that Ray Bradbury had died. He was my favorite short story writer. Most of that sadness has passed and I now feel inspired by the work they’ve both left behind.

Ray Bradbury was a brilliant writer. Most people would probably know him by his novel Fahrenheit 451, but I know him by his short story, “All Summer in a Day.” It’s the story of a girl named Margot who lives on Venus where it always rains and where the sun only comes out once every seven years. It is a wonderful short story I recommend checking out if you haven’t already read it. I read it for the first time when I was eight. It was one of the stories in the Great Books series given to me by my teacher. I read it over the summer and fell in love. I was most drawn to the human aspects and emotions of the story. “All Summer in a Day” changed the way I viewed story telling and writing by opening my mind to the possibility of constructing unhappy endings.

In the same respect, I found Roger Ebert to be a ridiculously talented writer and reviewer. I looked up to him in more ways than one. He went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, was in an interracial marriage, and loved the city of Chicago. I can relate to all of these things. I went to U of I, am in an interracial marriage, and love the city of Chicago.

Ebert wrote a great piece about his love for his wife. Check it out here: Roger Loves Chaz. It’s a good read. I have yet to write such a beautiful piece about my husband, but that’s another post for another day.

I attended the Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois with my husband one year. Roger Ebert showcased a brilliant documentary about amateur boxers. Afterwards there was a Q & A session with the director, which I found fascinating. My husband and I were talking about the movie while exiting the theater when I looked over and saw him walking with two gentlemen. To be honest, it caught me off guard. He was so close. I’d seen him on television so many times, so to see him in person was surreal. I wanted to talk to him, but I didn’t know what to say and by the time I did, he was gone.

My husband and I finally made our way outside and started to walk towards our car when I looked back and saw Ebert. He turned his head and looked directly at me like I was the only person on the street. I said to him, “That was awesome!” His reply? “It was, wasn’t it?” And I shook my head yes. He could’ve very well left me hanging and not answered at all, but he didn’t. It was like he actually cared. I will forever cherish that memory.

I actually thought I’d have the opportunity to discuss his take on writing one day (it’s good to hope), but nope. Now, his books will have to do.

What an amazing legacy Ray Bradbury and Roger Ebert left behind.

I wonder if anybody else will ever come close to their genius.

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Nov 192012
 

Why does living life seem to take up so much time? There are twenty-four hours in a day to spend however we’d like, which seems like a lot, but it’s not. Not when you have to spend eight of those hours recharging. Not when you’re getting ready for work, commuting, actually working, commuting again, eating dinner, spending time with family, cleaning up, decompressing, and getting ready for bed. In that case, twenty-four hours may as well be one.

I think the lack of time is getting to people. Well, it’s getting to me. There are way too many distractions. I’ve noticed that I’m happier when I spend time doing the things I love. Don’t people seem to be happier when they’re spending time doing the things they love? It’s like a personal road map to happy.

What would happen if we took a few moments during the day for ourselves? How awesome would you feel if you did something you truly enjoyed? Now how often do you do that for yourself?

I vow to spend a few moments of each day on myself and you should too.

I made a short video about this very thing. Take a look.

Thanks for watching!

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Nov 172012
 

Hey all,

I’ve finally completed some projects. Yea! Check out my projects page to see what’s new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also added some new photos to my Chicago Picture Project, which is seven years strong. Enjoy!

What projects do you have in the works?

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May 172012
 

Whoa, it’s been a while folks. Sorry, I’ve been you know, living life. But I’m back on the regular.

Recently, one of my friends came by my house and showed me his current picture book project, which is almost complete. It was rather impressive. He’s been working on this project for a while now, so it’s great to see him progressing. Whenever a friend of mine is doing what they love, it’s easy for me to be happy for them especially when they’ve been supportive of my goals. But this visit did something else to me too. It made me want to finish all of my works in progress. It made me want to take inventory of my life.

When was the last time you took inventory of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you see yourself going? You’ve never done that? Well, maybe you ought to try it. It’s a great focusing tool. I try to take inventory of my life about once a year around my birthday. This is always a good time to start anew, don’t you think?

So how do you do it? Here are some questions taken from the My Simpler Life blog to help you get started:

1. Where do I see myself in the next year?
2. What am I passionate about in my life right now?
3. Am I living by my values? Is there any place I am not in integrity?
4. Are my needs being met? Am I meeting the needs of those close to me?
5. What are my strengths? Am I using them?
6. Am I doing things to the best of my ability or is there a place I need to raise my standards?
7. How are my boundaries with others? Do I often feel taken advantage of?
8. Is my daily routine helping me or boring me? Is there anything I want to add or take away from my routine?
9. What is standing in my way of doing my dream? What can I do about it?
10. What am I tolerating in my life that is draining my energy?

Good luck with your life evaluations folks!

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Mar 192012
 

This past winter in Chicago has been surprisingly warm and it’s been fantastic. Normally, it’s blistering cold and dreary and it kinda sucks, but the universe must love us because we’ve had a series of sunshiny days. As much as I appreciate this glorious weather, it wasn’t enough to recharge my battery. It was time to get away.

My family and I took a work/fun trip to Orlando. Why Orlando? Well, because it’s warm and sunny. Plus, it’s kid friendly. Last, but not least my parents and brother live there and I miss them. It’s the ideal vacation spot for us.

As usual, I packed a week before and wrote an itinerary. I planned to spend most of my time maxin’ and relaxin’. Thing is, I have a hard time relaxing on vacation because I have oodles of energy. I wake up every morning at six a.m. without an alarm clock and with the kind of oomph I crave in my normal, everyday life. Where this comes from I don’t know, but I’m glad I have it. It gives me a few hours to spend alone.

We stayed at my parent’s home, which is about twenty minutes from MCO. They live in the boonies. The boonies equals limited cell phone reception, acres of land between homes, no street lights, deer crossing signs, darkness and crickets. At first, it weirded me out. It was too quiet. I didn’t have anything to do. Idle hands and all. I’m used to constant multi-tasking, but Orlando was challenging me to sit down and take a break. After twenty-four hours, I began to appreciate the quietness and the quirkiness of the south.

The last time I was in Orlando was four years ago. Things look a bit different now, more built up. The streets were reminicent of Chicago highways except everybody in Orlando drives between fifty and seventy mph. There are no minor fender benders. They also have a Family Dollar and Family General within a block of each other and I swear they are the exact same store! There are also horses all over the place, which of course I wanted to ride, but didn’t get the chance to. Note to self: must make horse-owning friends in Orlando, Florida. The nearest convenience store was at a gas station that wasn’t convenient at all, but that’s the beauty of the boonies – ample amounts of space.

Every time we visit, my husband says the same thing. He could not live there. I used to say that, but I am growing fond of that old place. It’s a place for me to get away whenever I need to recharge my battery. Of course, part of its charm is that my parents and brother live there. They are my allies and it’s good to connect with your allies every once in a while. I also like being forced to unplug from my normal life because given the chance I know I wouldn’t. Other pluses are the sun and having long conversations with people I really like. It was all rather wonderful.

I so needed that time away.

When you need a break from your regular life, do yourself a favor and take a vacation. It will do you mind, body and soul a lot of good.

Check out these photos of the world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios:

Happy traveling folks!

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Feb 132012
 

One of the best things about living in Chicago or any big city is having access to a plethora of restaurants, live theater shows, concerts, literary readings, sporting events, art installations, transportation, cultural events, and shopping among other things.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen some pretty fascinating stuff that has blown my mind. I’d like to share two of those things with you.

At the Bulls vs. Nets game, I got to see one of the funniest shorts put on by Big Ben and Benji the bull. Check them out below:

To learn more about Benny, Big Ben, Benji and the entire Bulls family, check out this site: iwantbenny.com.

Another cool thing I got to see was this incredible light sculpture at the Chicago Auto Show. I’ve never seen anything like it and I had to get it on video. Turns out, it was created by Chuck Hoberman, of the Chuck Hoberman Sphere. Check out what it does and be amazed:

Well folks, there you have it.

If I find any other cool things around Chi-town, (and I’m sure I will) I’ll be sure to post a video.

Stay tuned for more awesomeness and in the meantime, peace and happiness.

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