Finding Motivation

I’ve invited people to ask me questions about my projects, process and whatever else they are curious about on my tumblr & twitter. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on my blog. Here’s the first one:

Where does your motivation come from? When you get a good idea are you ever worried someone else is already doing it? How do you keep going?

Sometimes, honestly, its hard to get motivated. Especially when there are lots of ‘life factors’ to deal with on a daily basis (working/finding jobs, wondering when I’ll do my laundry again, actually doing my laundry, trying to stay healthy, etc). I talked about this a bit in an interview with the Vessel Collective earlier this year. I try to prioritize the things that matter most to me and then make sure that the things that I’m doing reflect progress on my priorities. For instance, one of my priorities right now is to figure out how to sustain myself financially with my personal projects. I want to be able to work for myself and not work a 9-5 job. I want to work on projects that I care about and excite me. Anytime I’m not doing things that reinforce that, I’m cheating myself of what I want which makes the process take longer. I’m not saying that I spend all of my time working towards these goals, because I’m human and there are lots of days where I don’t make any progress at all which is where the next source of motivation kicks in: Guilt. When I’m not working towards my goals, I feel incredibly guilty. Maybe that’s because I was raised catholic. I continuously need to have self-motivating talks in my head. Or I write in my journal and reflect to remind myself of whats important to me. I also read A LOT of self-development and motivational/entrepreneurship books. Reading books like that energize me to stop wasting time and get to work!

Reading over that, it seems like I place a high priority on “work” but by “work” that means a lot of things. For example, I “work” on my health, so reminding myself to go to the Kickboxing gym and making sure I eat healthy meals and take my vitamins, etc are all included in that.

Sometimes its as simple as hearing an upbeat song to get me motivated. Or taking a power shower.

This may seem counter-productive, but I also dream a lot. I’m a visual person, so visualizing the possible outcomes of things helps to motivate me as well. Like if I work on a certain project and its successful then I can live the life I want to live. BUT I do have to make sure that I don’t spend all of my time dreaming. Otherwise, none of those dreams will come true.

To answer the part about being worried about someone else already doing an idea: Sometimes I get a ‘genius’ idea and get scared to type it into google to search if anyone is doing it. Not so much because of fear that someone else is doing it, but fear that no one is doing it and by typing it into google, google will know my idea! (Does that even make sense??!) But yeah, I will usually do some research to see whats out there that’s similar. If it turns out other people are doing it, I will try to figure out how I can make it different from what others are doing. I ask myself questions like “why do I want to do this? What makes it important to me? From my background and experiences, how can I put myself into it in a way that’s different from others? How can I make it relatable in a way that people will associate this idea/thing with my idea/project?” And then if I feel really strongly about the idea, I’ll pursue it. I’ll put my blinders on and not worry about how or what the ‘competition’ is doing. Sometimes its even possible to join forces with others who are doing the same thing. I think of it like this: We all had this idea and feel strongly enough to put it out into the world that we are working together to put this idea out there to reach as many people as possible because we believe in this idea so much. That also depends on what that idea/project is too I guess.

Some things just pull at you no matter how many people are doing it. There are definitely other people out there who take photos of broken umbrellas. When I started doing it, I knew that it wasn’t unique. I have a friend in San Francisco who takes photos of abandoned mattresses and the lovely chanteuse Mirah takes photos of yesterday’s bananas. But as much as I try to resist taking a photo of an umbrella when I see one, I just can’t. Something inside me screams “CAPTURE THAT UMBRELLA”. There have been times when I’ve walked past umbrellas saying “I don’t want to take anymore photos of umbrellas!” But then a few blocks later I just can’t get it out of my mind and I find myself back tracking to the umbrella. This happened recently and I ended up taking the umbrella home with me. It’s under the couch. I can’t wait for my roommates to find it and be like WTF?? haha

I guess maybe art is just an obsessive compulsion. I just can’t stop creating. I can’t stop appreciating the beauty in all the things I see. That in itself motivates me. It distracts me from feeling empty. It fulfills me in a way that makes me happy. And now that I think of it, that’s my number one priority: being happy.


Selected as semi-finalist for Scion/Motivate competition

Earlier this year I entered the Scion/Motivate competition, a program to help young entrepreneurs who are turning their passions into their professions. I applied on behalf of Homoground and was selected as a semi-finalist out of 1700 entries. As a semi-finalist, I was flown out Santa Monica last month where I attended 2 days of workshops on various topics of running a business. On the third day, 10 finalists were chosen and received $10,000 and a Scion car. I met some really amazing people and it was definitely an experience I won’t forget.

Every time something good happens to Obama it snows.

I remember vividly the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States because it snowed. I was still living in Wilmington, North Carolina where snow is a rare thing. Fast forward approximately 4 years to the day after Obama’s re-election where we received around 4-6 inches of snow in my current residence of Brooklyn, NY. Only this time, people just go about their day as usual with the snow being a minor inconvenience (a major inconvenience for those impacted by Hurricane #Sandy).

Here’s the progression of my first snow of the year:



Moving to the North doesn’t exempt you from hurricanes.

I recently relocated to Brooklyn from North Carolina and I thought I wouldn’t have to experience hurricanes again. Hurricane Sandy proved that wrong on October 29th, 2012. Luckily, the area that I live in wasn’t affected at all by the storm. But all the areas surrounding me got hit pretty badly and there’s so much flood damage. The map below shows the affected areas.

It was really interesting to see the affects of a Hurricane on a major metropolis scale compared to smaller, more rural towns. Up here, everything is more compact and there’s a lot more people, so if a storm hit either place with the same strength, the damage to the major city is going to experience more damage of course.

My fondest memory of hurricanes while growing up was always the sense of community that was felt after the storm. When all the neighbors were out in their yards, walking the streets and checking on their neighbors. I always liked it when things brought the community together. There are a lot of relief efforts happening in NYC and the affected areas.

Here are some really intense photos from Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.