“This world of ours…must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Fear in America”—mixed media • layered digital image—2018
“Fear in America”—mixed media • layered digital image—2018
I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept. Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.
Who wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap? I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.
I want my anger and resentment some days. I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion. In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.
Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them.
Damnit, I tried pretty hard. Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.
I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.
Good luck noticing, folks.
A NOTE OF COMPASSION: Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns. I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience. I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me. I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.
listening to my AUTHENTIC SELF even when my SOCIAL SELF is screaming at me to act in accordance with societal expectations and not listen to my inner voice.
AUTHENTIC SELF: who I am at my core, the true substance of what makes me uniquely me, how I desire to live in my heart and soul, who I am when no one is watching
SOCIAL SELF: who I am in relation to others, more protected and very concerned about how others see me, often scanning for what’s appropriate in any given situation, ego
When my authentic self and social self are out of whack, things get pretty weird and I can feel like a fraud. I don’t want to feel like a fraud.
However, now that I’ve identified what courage is for me, I’m noticing which voice I’m listening to much more quickly. I think simply noticing is a great first step.
I believe right now in American history is an important time to explore what courage means to us on a very personal level. I’m working on a mission statement for myself, a courage mantra in succinct language I’ll be able to summon when needed.
I’ve scribbled and doodled and drawn circles and arrows, however, I don’t quite have it yet. I’ll let you know when I do. I would be curious to know if you have a statement of this nature that you would be willing to share.
I hope you have a uniquely courageous day.
I was reminded today of something from my children’s early education days.
That was fine when my kids were developing a sense of how to behave around other kids and caring teachers were asking them to give language to their feelings. However, as adults that’s not nearly enough of a “gut check” on the huge amount of messages coming our way all day, every day. Our bodies give us so much information…heart rate, muscle pain, hunger, thirst, fatigue, shaking hands, sweating and so much more. I know at least for me, the more I notice, well, the more I notice.
Terribly well written, I know. If we were talking in person that might make way more sense to you. OK, I’ll try a little harder…
On one hand it’s a good quick question to keep in mind? Does this feel “yucky” to me? However, yucky alone requires deeper exploration as grown-ups. Is my body trying to tell me something my mind wants to override or disregard?
My mind wants to override messages the rest of my system is sending constantly.
Sometimes I have to tell my brain to step out of the room. Because it says some utterly crazy bullshit sometimes. I’ve had a quickening heart rate in a situation recently and I took notice. When I listened, I realized that what was required of me was courage, not medical attention. I know I’ll tell my body to leave me the hell alone and let my brain take the wheel again, but now that I’ve noticed…well, you know, I can’t NOT NOTICE.
Positive Psychology teacher/author, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches that sometimes we’re having a “bad brain” day. It’s simply offline. Makes sense, right? Just like having a bad: hair, back, skin, belly, knee, wrist, neck etc. day—we should gives ourselves permission to recognize that we can indeed have a bad brain day. It’s just sending some false data today and if that’s the case, listening to our bodies instead can be the balance our system requires.
If I want to improve my listening skills with other people, I have to at least try to give myself the same courtesy every once in a while. That means I have to listen more. Talk less. It’s 1:24 am and my body is telling me it’s time for bed. Goodnight folks.
Why we need to question everything
This form of psychological abuse typically plays out like so: The gaslighter states something false with such intensity and conviction that whoever is on the receiving end is confused and begins to doubt their own perspective.
The term comes from a 1938 play called Gaslight, in which a husband drives his wife crazy by secretly altering things in her house and making her question her grip on reality.
I was in South Dakota with my family last weekend. On Saturday I had the opportunity to borrow my niece’s truck and go on a late afternoon abandoned farmhouse hunt. What I found was visually very pleasing to my eye. The light was gorgeous. I was walking in ditches wearing my favorite cowboy boots. It was warm and I kept finding these images seemingly rising out of the sky. These photos represent resilience, strength, courage and yet they also convey a feeling of loneliness and longing. I found the starkness quite beautiful.
On my farmhouse hunt I got so excited as I did a u-turn into an overgrown driveway and I was ready to shoot loads of pictures. However, I quickly realized that I was at the same farmhouse I shot in August with my Mom. Perhaps there is a reason that I got to shoot it again in different light in a different season.