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It’s been a long year … and then some. I have struggled with finding joy in any type of creative process. It has been a struggle to write blogs and harder to take photos.
I knew there was a big problem when, coming home from a trip to Machu Picchu, I took almost three weeks to download all my photos, sort through them, delete those not wanted, and highlight the ones I wanted to process. And then they sat there. For four weeks, and then five. I better put something out, I thought, and so I quickly put together a spark presentation video of unprocessed photos of the highlights of the trip for friends and family. But I knew the truth. I just didn’t feel like doing it. I had lost whatever creative mojo I had experienced that had fueled my passion.
This had weighed heavily upon me. I felt guilty, lazy and displeased with this turn of events. I could remember the absolute joy I had felt when I was fully creating for about a year. I was taking a daily photo, creating a unique piece through iPhone apps and posting it on Instagram, all while writing a weekly blog, which included taking photos just for the post. It felt so enlivening and fulfilling and I clamored for that feeling again.
As I stood taking this photo of the Kingston harbour, it happened. All of a sudden, I felt a calmness and excitement, all at once. I felt joy, that joy of creation, once again. And then … a thought. It was not just any thought, but more of a voice. I heard a voice. I don’t mean externally, I mean a voice, like one of them that are in your head, you know, that you often converse with …. err … at least I do …. doesn’t anyone else? …. and no, I’m NOT schizophrenic! Anyway, there was this voice, not quite my voice, and not quite familiar, but a voice and it said something like this, “You need to Vlog about your recovery. You need to reach out and touch other alcoholics as an old-timer. That’s your purpose.” Now I’m not Moses, or a Moses-like person or even a Moses possibility, but all of a sudden, I felt like I had been ‘commanded’ and I was feeling a bit weird, to say the least. They talk about improving your conscious contact with God in Alcoholics Anonymous, but really? “Okay Karen, quit debating and find out what a Vlog is?” That voice, was the one I recognized, me talking to me.
A Vlog, is short for video log, like a blog, but it’s a film of oral stories and narratives. This of course, begs to question why they called the written log blog and not Wlog? That’s because blog was originally called a weblog, which became a blog. But back to Vlogs, which can be simple, as in ‘talking head’ type videos, where one sits statically in the middle of the screen and just talks. There are also the educational and teaching videos, which show users how to apply make-up, fix just about anything, or turn your computer screen into a virtual classroom. Then there are the epics, the cinematic-type films that cover everything as mentioned, only Hollywood style. These types of videos are mostly hosted on YouTube or Vimeo. YOUTUBE!!???!!! Are you kidding me???
I have spent the last part of my social media life ensuring my photo never ends up on the Internet. Yes, I’m that pain in the butt, who, when you try and do a group photo, I raise my hand and emphatically say “Not me.” I even went so far as to buy and wear fancy masks when I was part of the Arcanum, a photographic mentoring apprenticeship program. Every month the participants submitt works to receive feedback from the instructor and the sessions are all taped so anyone registered in the Arcanum can learn from your session. I relished finding a cool mask each time to ensure my identity was concealed. Now I had heard this voice, telling me I needed to do a video to share my experience as an alcoholic with other alcoholics? Really? I can’t have understood that right! But something strange started to happen. I started to consider “What if?” What if I did do videos and exposed my face? How would that feel, I wondered? So I immediately went on Instagram, brought up the stories section and I started to tape myself applying filters. At first I was so afraid I might accidentally upload these, but once I figured it out, I played to my hearts content. I made myself look this way and that. I added bunny ears and whiskers in one video and hats and lipstick in another. I felt a freedom and a silliness which I had not experienced or allowed myself. My mind started to race with ideas, creative ideas. I could start a YouTube channel. I could make it all about photography and videography. And travel. But I need to clean things up first. And so, I started … creating … and feeling the passion.
But back to that ‘commandment’ which lurked in the back of my mind. How do I do a Vlog about alcoholism while maintaining my anonymity? I wasn’t sure I was ready to put my face out to the world as a labeled recovering alcoholic. Then the idea of a podcast came to me. Something in the tradition of Two Minute Tuesdays, where I just ponder about topics in sobriety for two minutes or a bit longer. I’ve never been totally obedient to anyone or anything in my life and I wasn’t about to start, but this felt like a good half-way point to me for setting up my purpose. And I’m sticking to that! So after a few more questions surrounding the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, I set up the podcast in such a manor that for the most part, I am maintaining the traditions. Or at least as much as I want to while still doing this.
So, where this leads me to is much change. I have started to use a social video messaging service with my sobriety sisters and besides maintaining daily contact with them, it has helped me be in front of a camera and talking. I did an ‘About Me’ video where I stitched together photos of myself, just getting used to the idea and feeling of my image being ‘out there’ on the internet. I am currently working on a video to replace that.
So, with my website newly designed to accept the podcasts and soon to be videos, my creativity has been spurned on again and I’m passionate and excited. I am looking forward to continuing to tell stories, as I am a story teller. Now it will not only be by the pen, but by video and audio too!