The Awesome Things Newsletter is my weekly read featuring ~10 interesting things I found on the internet that week. Sign up for free at Substack and get Awesome Things delivered to your inbox fresh and hot each Friday AM.
There are few things in life that have a bigger impact than becoming a parent. Motherhood, in particular, changes a woman in profound ways—not just physically, but emotionally, too. Photographer and mother Vaida Markeviciute-Razmislavice noticed her own transformation before childbirth and after her son was born.
Since 1995, artist Ai Weiwei has been flipping the bird to a myriad of global landmarks steeped in oppression, censorship, and overreaching control as a means of reminding the people to question the status quo and represent their own personal values.
Seen as a sign of success and financial comfort, a six-figure salary has long been an important milestone for American workers. But the times have changed and $100,000 isn’t quite what it used to be, especially as rampant inflation continues to sap the purchasing power of money and push the cost of living higher.
Of all the things you can do with an oven—make chocolate chip cookies, roast veggies, or reheat leftovers—the last thing you’d think to do is bake your sweater. Yet this is precisely what Audrey Danser, owner of Salvage Studio in San Francisco, proposes in an Instagram post.
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Let me begin by saying I absolutely love what’s happening in the AI space. I started playing with image generation on DALL-E last year. The results were…meh. But it was fun, and I saw the possibilities on the horizon. I continued to experiment with DALL-E, I tried Stable Diffusion, then I discovered Midjourney and that’s where things really took off. Then ChatGPT was released to the public. I do a lot of writing for my job, and AI has helped me create better content faster. It’s not an end-all/be-all (although someday it might!). AI for writing should be used as an aid, not a robot, to finish your work. The combination of writing and imaging tools used in concert is an amazing thing.
“The enemies of progress are those who maintain the status quo, resist change, and cling to outdated ideas, while the rest of the world moves forward.” — Unknown
AI and Art
AI is helping artists worldwide to create new and original pieces of art. It’s helping them create new and exciting worlds, stories, and visuals they could never produce. AI is also helping writers with their work by suggesting new and creative sentence structures and words. It’s also assisting musicians in creating sounds that they could have never done before. AI allows people to explore new worlds of art and allows for more creativity and innovation.
Why Should Artists Care?
Artists must take the time to learn and understand AI and how it works, as this knowledge will be invaluable for them in their work. Major companies are already using AI to create new products and services, and it will only get bigger. By understanding how AI works, artists can use it to their advantage and create artwork that can stand out from the crowd.
True Art Is Not Going Anywhere
Hear me out: AI will never replace things crafted by hand. Sure, we already see electronic exhibits filled with motion and color, but how can you compare that to a beautiful painting, drawing, or sculpture? No AI can replace the personal touch of an artist. Art is, and will always be, a form of expression that a computer cannot replicate.
My Personal Art Struggle and Backstory
Things are moving so quickly, and I wondered how this would affect my art production. While I love to sit in Midjourney and crank out wild imaginative images, it is not the same as a pen to paper or brush to canvas.
For the last 11 years, I have been a hobby lettering artist. I have loved letters, lettering, and typography for as long as I can remember. I was a graffiti artist briefly in my youth, and I embraced lettering and posted almost daily for about five years.
The ‘problem’ arose that I spent much more time playing with the latest shiny object on the computer and iPad and less time putting pen to paper. I slacked off and eventually stopped posting. I also noticed a shift on Instagram, which was once the haven for artists to share their work — it’s now a TikTok ripoff filled with vapid videos and memes.
As things have accelerated these past few months, I’ve thought about what would make me stand out again in the blur of the AI art movement. I’ve decided not to fight the tide — I’m still all in on AI tools — but I need to take a step back to my roots and have the discipline to step away from the computer and get back to the (literal) drawing board.
AI is already taking over many aspects of everyday life, and art is no exception. AI can provide an excellent opportunity for artists to explore new ideas and create unique pieces. However, it is still important to remember that there is no substitute for the human touch in art. AI can only be an aid to assist in the artistic process, not to replace it.
This is the time before the rest of the world is up, so make it your own.
There’s a feeling of accomplishment watching the sunrise — like you’re arriving before anyone else.
Whether you’re a ‘wake at 4 am’ person or a ‘snooze the alarm’ type, having a healthy morning routine can be important for mental and physical health.
A consistent morning routine can help regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm, improving sleep quality and being more restful. And we all know we need better sleep.
A good morning routine can also help reduce stress and anxiety by providing a sense of structure and predictability, and can help to set a positive tone for the day. Knowing what to expect and having a plan can help to reduce feelings of overwhelm and uncertainty.
It also gives you an opportunity for self-care and self-reflection.
Here are a few simple habits to incorporate into your AM routine to supercharge your day.
Whether you wake with an alarm or just ‘greet the day” when your eyes open — don’t touch that phone. Don’t put on the tv or radio, or playlist. Instead, take a moment to enjoy the silence that the morning brings.
Hydration before Coffee
Before your morning coffee or tea, drink at least 8–16 oz of water. You may not feel it, but you’re dehydrated when you wake, losing hydration as you sleep. Water also boosts your energy levels and mental alertness.
Some health ‘experts’ say you should wait at least 120 minutes to drink your coffee to hack your cortisol, but I’m not a freak — I’m enjoying that first cup right after I hydrate.
Meditation and Affirmations
If you’re too busy to meditate, you’re exactly the person who needs to meditate. Some of us wake to a jolt of anxiety (raises hand), and meditation helps quiet the mind and get you mentally ready for the day ahead.
Take a moment before you start your day to breathe. Many apps can help you get started with meditation, and I highly recommend Insight Timer. It’s free and offers meditation tools, music, and courses; a paid plan provides more extensive courses.
Affirmations are an excellent way to put your brain in a positive state for the day. As an anxious person, I always thought this was a bit silly, but it works. I keep a list of affirmations on a note on my phone and look to them as part of my morning routine.
The last thing we want to do is leave our cozy beds and get up and exercise. But even some simple stretches get the heart going and help the body shake off the grogginess from sleep.
Journaling (either on paper or electronically) is a great way to unburden and offload your mind before the day sweeps you away. I have been journaling for about 15 years, and it is interesting to go back and see how much of your life has changed — or not — which helps you figure out what might need changing in your life.
I have been using DayOne (an electronic journal) for the past 12 years, and it helped me to see where I’ve been and how I’ve grown. It’s also great for preserving memories, as you can add photos, videos, and audio clips.
Exposure to sunlight in the morning can help regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm, improving sleep quality and contributing to overall well-being. Sunlight helps to suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness.
During the winter months, we folks in the northeast don’t have the luxury of walking outside to get a burst of sunlight in the morning. The lack of Vitamin D causes many of us to suffer from seasonal depression (or SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder). Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy, and medications. A good sunlamp can help.
Reading in the morning can have several benefits for mental and emotional well-being.
Reading helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It provides an escape from daily stressors and allows you to focus on something enjoyable and engaging, which can help reduce anxiety and promote calmness.
Reading in the morning can stimulate the brain and improve cognitive function, and it can help increase focus, attention, and concentration, enhancing productivity and mental performance throughout the day.
Reading in the morning can improve mood and increase feelings of happiness.
Who doesn’t want to be happy in the morning?
I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. Depending on what you read, books can transport you to another place, giving you a sense of calm, or inspire you to be your best self.
Make Your Bed!
This one may seem either obvious (hello, fellow OCD people) or silly, but making your bed can help cultivate a sense of discipline and attention to detail. Plus, what would you want to come home after a hard day and see your bed in disarray?
You can incorporate some or all of these life-changing habits into your mornings. If you feel overwhelmed, start small; pick one and see how you adapt. You’ll be surprised at how these small habits will change your perspective on the day.