West Virginia Writers’ Workshop 2017

This week WVU will be hosting the Writers’ Workshop. Enjoy a lecture open to the community!

2017 Poster

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How to be More Me

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As an architect creative work can be challenging in both big and small jobs when working on a deadline and within unknown expectations. The only way to continue being more me is by recognizing opportunities and reinforcing my hopes while being open to growth.

Life is a web connecting all experiences. Memories of hiking blend with writing and sketching while sitting in the shade of my back porch watching the flowers birds and bees. Encouraged to create the life I want to make for myself has made me feel lighter in everything I do. With positive thoughts all parts of life will begin to point toward the central meaning of life.

In my professional life everything goes into the process of architecture. The key is finding the spark in doing the work. Architecture school teaches how to push work to its best by researching, collaborating and asking questions. Whether trying to sell work to new clients or the motivation to finish a project well, keeping the sense of excitement in work is important. Getting lost in the enjoyment of work is the best feeling.

Thinking these thoughts this week while walking to work the simple T-shirt statement OBEY clicked with me. Created by Shepard Fairey, the shirt has a political connotation to it as does most of his art. What OBEY meant to me that day was out of context. I read it on my morning commute and that day, more than usual, there were more business people with backpacks, students going to class on skateboards, and hotel-goers out for a morning stroll. I felt a kindred spirit with them all. We were enjoying exercise and the outdoors, on our way through the day. ‘Obey’ meant obey myself, obey my desire, be more me, and I liked it.

When I open my mind to be perceptive I see clues all over the world. Nike’s iconic statement ‘Just Do It’ and the film that still brings me to tears, ‘Move’ are other advertising examples. These messages are about pushing yourself, believing in yourself, knowing yourself. It’s what I love about getting up early before work to take a run, knowing that this time is mine and I am achieving a goal.

The meditation series ‘Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life’ by Deepak and Oprah is about allowing creativity for yourself while promoting others creativity. We are all motivated when engaged in something we personally enjoy. Reflecting on work then, how do I make these moments an open place for growing? All parts of work aren’t enjoyable. By finding creativity in different tasks, we can feel lighter and more encouraged. After all, this is where most weekly energy is spent.

The book Bossypants by Tina Fey offers some great co-creator* thoughts. Fey’s number one advice is agree and then offer yes, and solutions. The yes, and approach means building on ideas. That is, building on their ideas instead of saying no. Make positive statements when addressing co-workers. For example, statements that recognize accomplishments and task items are better than beginning a meeting with ‘where are we?’ Share empowered feelings while acknowledging everyone’s role in the product. This is easier said than done, as not everyone you work with may be so cheerful. ‘In any situation when faced with unsolicited advice ask yourself “Is this person between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used during your work and outpacing people that way… If yes, use the Sesame Street strategy of “Over! Under! Through!” to be yourself. Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.’ Fey encourages.

Twelve years an architect and I realize doing the best kind of architecture comes from within and from collaboration. At this point in my career I can attract the kind of work I want because I have had the experience of doing it. Living within a six-hour drive from New York City, DC, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, all megacities of art and architecture, my life is relatively easy-going and continues to grow in my profession. I am an architect in a community setting. I want to work. I garden, know my neighbors, have time to run, practice yoga and meditation. These are a part of my practice. I have time to hike and upkeep an old house with my husband, money to travel and money to save. I have a great quality of life that influences my work.

I want to be me more in my architecture by promoting the work I enjoy doing. This week I was pushed by being open to noticing the ways in which the world gives opportunities. Being my best person and architect is done by thinking and acting on what I love to do. I encourage you to do the same.

 

*Common saying by Deepak Chopra

Ostia Antica

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Ostia Antica is the site of an ancient Roma civilization. Our family spent the first night we arrived on the back porch of Ostia Antica Park Hotel, the site of our worst Italian experience. The first communion celebration extravaganza should have tipped us off. This place was an in-between place, convenient for travelers to the nearby airport with nothing more of the community to be shared. I would have to pay to swim, pay to sit on the front patio, pay to stay too long at breakfast. So, we eventually figured out other places to spend time while staying at the hotel. Walking around downtown wasn’t so bad, considering the well maintained private drives.

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This place was beautiful but I wouldn’t recommend our hotel for many more reasons by the end of our stay. The first being the common ‘misunderstanding’ of many restaurants serving American tourists. They loved to give us 5-times the portion of appetizers. I tried out all of my verbs, condividere – to share, or the simple word for divide, dividere. But, none of them worked. The waiters all wanted to see our faces when what was meant as an order to share was way too large for any group to split. See the mozzarella balls below.

Ostia again

We had to say goodbye to my brother who would be flying back to the States earlier than the rest of us. We’d also have to say goodbye to my Mom’s camera and all of her beautiful pictures that was lost or taken somewhere in the lobby of this hotel or as we boarded the bus out from the front door. The hotel staff, with access to the security camera, refused to watch the tapes for us as we called and called back for help. That is, they refused or saw something they didn’t want to share with us. It was difficult to understand either way. Even a year later it is hard to digest the faces and scenes my Mom had captured with her creative eye, then lost.

We’d spend the day my brother left playing in the ruins around an erie feeling of a spirit returning.

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What should Architecture be?

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What should architecture be? What should I be as an architect? The class discussion about Le Corbusier required that I define something for myself!

The more I learn about how to be a better person, the more I believe everything I do should relate back to the same thing. When my family traveled in Italy in 2014 we took an 11 o’clock taxi ride to our hotel outside of Venice. The three miles was something like 30 euros, a rip-off, of course. My mother was upset and when she demanded an explanation the cab driver simply handed over his laminated ‘terms and conditions’ sheet. My family then decided that we all needed terms and conditions of ourselves and that declaration has been with me ever since.

So, with the task inspired by Le Corbusier from an architect’s perspective and my belief that all things in life relate, I’ve drafted the following.

I must try to write every day. Language relates my actions to my beliefs. Sometimes not until I write, do I fully understand what I think.

Help others.

Reading and writing influence my work.

Everything is better with a good cup of coffee.

Authentic experiences must evolve.

In architecture, there exist inner and outer forces, meaning that there is the way people want to use a space, and the conditions of the site, culture and area in which the project exists. I’ve started a chain letter to a colleague that describes how I start a project, and I believe the next step to understanding the conditions of project is to evaluate the materials with which one is to be working with. Then, the structure, something holds up and together a project, and then the infill may be allowed to be more fluid.

Homes are for eating, cleaning, sleeping. Beyond the home there is work, social interactions, and commerce, everyone sharing their work. I need to develop my thoughts architecture beyond the home.

All things great or distressing become better when they are shared with someone else.

Live life how you believe you should be living. (What you identify with, you become. – from the Deepak Chopra meditations.)

What are your ‘rules’ of life?

~ Take in October ~

Fall time with the low sun, the crisp mornings and cool breezes throughout the afternoon, October lets me see the world around me with fresh eyes.

Some images from home:

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Out of a stump

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The Front porch