Facing Fear

I really dislike ticks.  Okay that is probably the understatement of the century.  I hate them and see no reason for their existence.  Yes, I know they are an insect, that they are small, that they are attracted to animals and people.  Ticks freak me out.  Even though I douse myself in anti-tick spray (on occasion I will douse myself several times), somehow a tick will be on me.  I freak out and do what is affectionately known as the “tick dance.”  I just shuddered thinking about ticks.  Where am I going with this?  I don’t let my fear of ticks keep me from going hiking in the woods where a majority of the ticks live.

Part of the “tick dance” is my personal version of fight or flight, the primal instinct that remains from our earliest ancestors.  I instantly react to the tick by getting it off of me as soon as possible.  That doesn’t stop the skin crawling and involuntary movement of my body trying to get away from the tick.  I just shuddered again.  Did I explain how much ticks freak me out?  Everyone has their own fear, freak out, and fight or flight situations.  Just as everyone has their own personal fear situations, each person deals with theirs in their own unique way.

Sometimes in our dealing with fear, we make our worst fears come true.  We are so afraid that something will happen we actually make it happen.  I have a friend whose mother was a helicopter mom.  Hovered over her.  Smothered her.  Her mom insinuated herself in every area of my friend’s life.  I met my friend when she was going for her bachelor’s degree at a University four states away from her mother.  Her mother would call her every day.  (This was before cell phones.)  Most of the time she would have whoever answered the phone tell her mom that she wasn’t there.  Her mother’s fear was that she would lose her daughter.  My friend lives on another continent and has an ocean between her and her mother.  (She confessed to me at one time that she had done this on purpose because her mother is terrified of flying.)  My friends mother made her fear come true.  By constantly inserting herself in her daughter’s life, up until college.  Once my friend had some autonomy, she found that she really enjoyed it and didn’t want to go back to the way things were, providing the outcome her mother feared would happen.

There are occasions when we face our fears, often by taking a risk, and find out that our worst fears about the situation did not come true.  I am a professional artist.  I submit my artwork for juried exhibitions and solo exhibitions.  A person or group of people look at my work and decide if it is appropriate for the theme of their show, good enough for their museum or exhibition space, and acceptable to their standards of what art is.  Every time I put together an exhibit proposal or fill out the form for a juried exhibition, I am afraid.  Afraid of not being accepted and almost equally afraid of being accepted.  For every acceptance letter there are two or three “thanks but no thanks” letters.  The crazy thing is that after I have put it all together and sent off the materials it doesn’t really matter what letter comes back.  I conquered my fear by doing the work and taking the risk.

As a side note about facing fear, I have noticed that when you take a daring risk, the universe notices and rewards you for being brave.

When talking to a friend recently about being brave, he reminded me of this quote, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue in-spite of fear.”  This is my hope for all of us.  To make decisions based on hope and love, not fear.  To take risks that may be scary but the rewards out weigh the fear.  To thrive in-spite fear.

Also, if you see a tick on me, please get it off me as quickly as possible.  Thank you.

Dark Night of the Soul

If you don’t know what I am talking about, stop reading now.

Seriously,  I’m not joking.  If you have never had this experience.  Stop.  Close out of this page and continue on with your life.  You won’t be able to relate to anything that comes after this paragraph.  So stop reading.

Okay.  I warned you.

There are these moments when you question your entire existence.  I call these moments the dark nights of the soul.  They are not frequent occurrences.  And although they often happen at night, they can occur at any time.

These experiences cause you to lay in your bed, sit alone in your dark studio or where ever you happen to be.  You cannot speak.  You can hear and feel your heart beating as if it were a distant object you are observing separately from yourself.  All sounds seem amplified.  And it almost feels as if your thoughts are a spoken conversation.

The one thing that you know….. the one thing you hold onto is…. the thought that if I can get through this night.  If I can just make it to dawn.  If I can get though tonight, tomorrow will be easier.

These moments may happen because of something that you have done, a choice you have made.  It may be because of something that has been done to you, a choice made by someone else that affects you.  It may happen because of forces out of your control.

I want to be very clear that this experience can come about because of a positive change.  It may be hard to see it as a positive change at the time though.  Most of the time it comes when you are questioning yourself, a decision, or something that is happening in your life.  Major life changes can cause the dark night of the soul.

In these moments the doubts, all the negative thoughts you keep at bay, loneliness, and fear come rushing into the vacuum of quiet and sit on your chest.  You roll that last conversation through your head once again and possibly over and over again.  You agonize over the decision that got you to this place.  You agonize over the decision made by the someone else that threw your world out of alignment.  You contemplate over and over again, did I make the right choice?  Am I making the right decision?  Should I do this?

The last time this happened to me, I felt as if my world had imploded.  I was so confused and hurt.  I remember going over every little detail.  I remember laying in the dark of my bedroom listening to my cat purring.  I kept thinking if I can make it through tonight, tomorrow I will go on with my life.  Yes, there will still be pain.  Yes, I may have to make some major changes to myself…to my life.  Yes, I may not be happy for a long time.  But I am strong and this too I will survive.

I don’t have a magic formula for surviving these moments.  I just know that you have to live through them.  You have to feel through the experience.  There are no short cuts.  And if you have lived through a dark night of the soul once, you know that it doesn’t make the next one any easier.

For those of you who have had this experience you know of what I speak.  Yes, there is pain.  Yes, you may have to make some major changes to yourself and your life.  And yes, it may take a while before you feel again.  But most importantly, I want you to know that you are strong and you will survive.

Dawn is coming.

Masks

Have you seen the commercial, I’m not even sure what product is being sold, where two people sit down to dinner?  It is a date.  And the woman says, “I made plans for later in case this doesn’t pan out.”  And the man smiles and says, “So did I.”  The background voice says something along the lines about how refreshing it would be if everything was as up front as whatever item is being sold.

I have been thinking about facades a lot lately.  It’s like the scene in the movie the Wizard of Oz.  “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”  The “wizard” is a gigantic floating head that speaks with thunder and lightning.  Toto, the dog, uses his nose to sniff out and “unmask” the man behind the curtain, who just happens to be a magician that blew into Oz in a hot air balloon.  We may not be using the theatrics of the “Wizard” but there are faces we put on in the different areas of our lives and roles we play with certain people.

I want you to really think about this idea for a moment.  Are you different when you are at work?  Do you behave differently when you are with your family?  What about when you are around people you don’t know?  Do you have close friends that see a different side of you than your family or co-workers?

I think it is a rare person that remains the same no matter who they are around.  I don’t necessarily see behaving differently in different situations as a bad thing.  Think about the chameleon in nature that changes colors with its surroundings in order for it to avoid predators.  Does the human animal have subtle shifts in personality in order to survive in different social situations?

One of the ways in which humans develop as species are by mimicking the behavior of other humans.  Children learn about social interactions by watching their parents.  As we get older we begin to emulate our peer groups and those that we admire.  Where and how you grow up is a determining factor in how you are or will be as a person.

The following is a poem about masks:

Cloak and Mask by D. Eric Hanson

The veil that hides our battered selves from view

The masks and veils that we wear are not just to hide pain.  They are also used to hide parts of ourselves that we are afraid to share with others.  And there is good reason for this behavior.  Have you ever shared something with someone you thought would be supportive of you and they are not?

While in art school, I told a classmate who I thought of as a close and supportive friend that I also wrote short stories.  This person responded positively and asked to read some of my work.  So the next day I brought her the two that I thought were the best.  I waited anxiously for several days for her to respond.  When she finally did…. she handed me the stories and told me to stick to drawing and painting.  I ripped up my stories and didn’t write a fictional short story again until fifteen years later.  Other than at that art school, for that brief period of time, we never remained friends.  The point here is not her critique.  The point is that I trusted the wrong person at the wrong time with my short stories.

Just as we are all unique and have different abilities and life experiences, we are not going to be all things to all people, all of the time.  There are certain people in our lives who are allowed to see behind the mask.  And other relationships where you never remove the mask.  And that is okay.  The challenge is determining who we can truly be ourselves with and who we need to wear masks for.

Brain Freeze

There is something about a snow storm and icy roads that brings out ridiculous behavior in some drivers.  These ridiculous behaviors, I think, are brought on by brain freeze.  The weather is cold and they get into their vehicles and instantly….their brains freeze allowing them to operate their motor vehicle without their brain working.

For example, there is a person in a red mustang with Texas plates who drives 5 miles per hour down Central Ave.  Yes, it is great that they have slowed down and are driving cautiously; but, this is too extreme.  Then there is the person in the white pick-up truck with Georgia plates who was driving 40 miles per hour (this is an estimate) in a school zone (The speed limit in a School zone is 25 mph).  When they got to the corner with a four-way stop….they slammed on their breaks.  The near miss of them sliding through the intersection was terrifying to watch.  I’ve lost count of the number of times individuals have driven the wrong way up the one-way street in front of the office I work in.  Then there are accidents caused by people who pull out without looking or do not stop at the stop sign.  A friend and I were comparing notes one morning.  She saw a three car accident happen at a corner that has notoriously bad visibility.  I saw the same accident as the tow trucks were taking away all three cars.

One of the strangest things I have ever seen happened at the drive through mailbox at the post office downtown.  A woman in a SUV was trying to put mail into the slot on the mail box.  She was having trouble reaching.  So she opened her car door and tried to reach it that way.  She still couldn’t reach so she stepped out of her vehicle.  The vehicle started rolling.  She still hasn’t gotten her mail into the slot.  She turns back to her vehicle and I think grabs the steering wheel as she is trying to get into the SUV.  Mail is flying everywhere and there is the distinct sound of metal on metal as her vehicle grinds against the light post pinning her between her vehicle door and the vehicle itself.  She cries out as she falls to the ground.  The vehicle keeps rolling picking up some speed as it goes up the side-walk and drives over her leg.  It continues into the post office parking lot and only stops when it hits a truck parked in the lot.  Many of us came to check on the woman and ask if she needed assistance.  She said she was fine.  Someone picked up her mail and put it in the post office box.  The guy whose truck her SUV hit, put her SUV in park and called the police.  I was very concerned for the woman.  I told her that she needed to go to the walk-in clinic and get checked out because she may have injuries that could not be seen.

Some of these behaviors may be because the people do not know how to drive in the conditions.  Some of the behaviors may be because people are not paying attention.  Some people just don’t caring and expect others to watch out for them.  What they forget is that it is sometimes hard to stop when you are driving on icy streets and they pull out in front of you.

As I was watching snow fall and thinking about brain freeze behavior, I realized that we all have our brain freeze moments.  A friend, who is a carpenter and does wood working for fun, told me about a time when he was using a table saw and his concentration wasn’t 100% on the task at hand (pun intended) and cut off part of his finger.  Don’t worry, he was able to get it sown back on at the emergency room.  One doesn’t have to have such a dramatic brain freeze experience.    I once put sour milk on my cereal and didn’t notice until that first disgusting bite.  I was reading a book while making my breakfast.  I was in brain freeze mode. Those little moments when you are not fully paying attention, those are brain freeze moments.

Brain freeze illustrates how important staying in the moment is.  That being aware and experiencing life as it happens is not only critical to your creativity, but to your health and wellness.  Paying attention to what is happening around us, gives us an edge in avoiding those who are suffering from brain freeze.

I just heard the weather forecast….. they are saying cold and snow.

Why I don’t Facebook

Over the years friends and family have said to me, “You don’t have a Facebook page.  Don’t you want to stay connected to people?  Why don’t you Facebook?”  Or there are the those that say, “You need a Facebook page.  As an artist, you are committing career suicide by not having a page.  Everyone has a Facebook page.  You don’t want to appear like you don’t know what you are doing tech wise by not having a Facebook page.”

Other people have said that you will not get hired by a company if they can’t review your Facebook page.  If this is the case, with some of the things that people post on their Facebook pages, I am surprised anyone gets hired EVER!

I want to make this VERY CLEAR that I do not judge those that choose to Facebook.  I have heard and understand the myriad of reasons why people choose to do so.  Those are your reasons and your choices.  Again, I do not judge anyone for their choice to use Facebook.  That decision is entirely up to you.  I also ask that you do not judge me for my choice to not Facebook.  That being said, below are the reasons why I do not Facebook.

As to the constant question, “Don’t you want to stay connected to people?”  Of course, I do.  And to be brutally honest, I am already connected with the people I want to be connected to and communicate with.  I don’t need a Facebook page to reach out to those I care about.  I can call them.  (Yes, I know actual conversation is a lost art.)  I can send them an email.  I can send them a piece of real mail.  (Again, I know….. writing a letter or sending a card is a lost art.)  But these are ways in which I enjoy communicating.

Someone once said to me, I post all of my pictures on my Facebook page.  Don’t you want to see them?  Of course, I do.  But if you value my friendship and respect my choice to not have a Facebook page, can’t you send one or two in a text or email?  A couple, three or four images, possibly your favorite one or the ones you think are best, will suffice for me.

This brings me to another reason for not having a Facebook page, crime.  It seems like every other day you read about a burglary happening, a murder, stalking, child abduction, identity theft, etc. because of things that people post onto their Facebook page.  The latest fad is to post a picture of your passport covering your boarding pass.  While this says that you are about to go somewhere fun, adventurous and/or cool.  This also says two things to any potential thief.  You are not home and you are going to be away for a while.

Maybe people feel the need to Facebook because everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.  I wonder if some people think that by sharing every thought and every second of their life that it validates their existence.  But are they really living?  What did they learn about life, about themselves, about the place they live, and the other humans around them by sharing their emotional status, what they are doing and/or a selfie every 15 minutes?  Is a life posted just as valid as a life lived?

Facebook is a façade.  It is a carefully crafted experience that the person who has the page has crafted.  And you, as the viewer, have entered into a social contract about believing or supporting this image or experience that has been provided to you.  Sounds a lot like watching TV or a movie and/or listening to political speeches.  You have to decide how much of what you are “seeing” is reality and how much is fluff.  One could argue that anything posed on-line is a façade but that is an argument for another day.

“I spent hours last night chatting on Facebook.  And then a couple more playing that new game.”  Facebook can be an incredible time suck.  It takes time to create that perfectly constructed facade and/or post 40 images from the vacation to Ireland.  And the latest version of whatever game that is played requires urgent attention if you are going to master it.  I feel that my time is limited already.  I do not need to add Facebook to my list of things that demand my attention.

Privacy.  I have been told that you can make your Facebook as private or open to the public as you would like.  That is fine.  But you are forgetting one major thing.  You are posting information on Facebook.  If you have read the agreement between you and Facebook when you signed up for your page, you would realize that Facebook owns your page and any and all content that you post.  They can do what they like (within the parameters of the agreement) with your content.  Also, a subpoena by any law enforcement division (police, FBI, NSA, etc.) requires that the entire content of your page including chats is turned over to the agency providing the subpoena.  So those conversations that you thought were private could become evidence.

Recently I found out that I am not alone in this decision to not Facebook.  A friend that I hike with does not have a Facebook page either.  There seems to be a small movement of people choosing not to Facebook.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who portrayed Harry Potter, does not have a Facebook page.

“But the thing is, in my job, you’re being more and more encouraged to give away your privacy. The studio says, ‘Can you get Twitter, please? Can you get Facebook?’ And I’m ‘No, I don’t do that.’ It’s not for any moral reason. I don’t think it’s wrong for anyone else to do it. But for me, it would be the worst thing in the world to suddenly have a new thing to be obsessed with, to have a constant feed of what people are thinking about me.”

“One day I’m going to have kids, and some paparazzo is going to take a photo of them, and I’m going to try and stop them, and there will be some huge debate about it. If somebody says, ‘Well, you’ve had Twitter for years,’ it’s hard to say you want your privacy when you’ve been making every moment of your day public.”

“Daniel Radcliffe Continues His Intrepid Post-Harry Potter Career” by John Powers for Vogue, July 2016

What it comes down to is my choice.  I have the freedom to say no.  Above are the reasons why I say no.  I respect that you may or may not choose to Facebook.  Please stop asking me set up a Facebook page.  Like Daniel Radcliffe and many others, “No, I don’t do that.”

Figure Yourself Out

Don’t ever tell someone else how they feel.  Ever.  Period.

Emotions are complicated.  Very complicated.  And sometimes I don’t understand all of the things that I am feeling.  It would be very presumptuous on my part to think that I could tell you how you are feeling.  Although I am pretty sure that I have been guilty of doing this on occasion myself.  But I try very hard not to because I know how frustrating it is when someone does this to me.

“No one else has lived your life, heard all of your jokes, experienced your disappointments, listened to the noise in your head.  As a result, no one else sees you (and your actions) quite the way you do.

And, to magnify the disconnect, every single person has their own narrative, so even when two people see you at the same time, they have different interpretations of what just happened, what was said.”  -Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog “The foggy Mirror”

While at art school in Seattle, Washington, I met many amazing creative people.  I was dating a guy that I’m going to call M.  He was a very creative artist, did stand-up comedy and was very good at telling me how he was feeling.  That was great.  But then M would tell me how I was feeling.

For example.  One Friday, he had a gig doing his stand up and he wanted me to go.  I had misunderstood the directions on a project for my color theory class and the professor was giving me until Monday to do it over and do it right.  Friday night was the only night (because I worked on the weekends to pay for my education) I had to do the project.  I told M that I couldn’t go because I had to do this assignment again.  He told me that I didn’t want to go because I was mad at him.  I asked him, why am I mad at you?  He said something about not having lunch with me.  That was also my choice.  I cancelled lunch in order to go on a class field trip to the Seattle Art Museum.  When I pointed that out.  He then told me I was jealous and that is why I wouldn’t support him.  I told him he was being ridiculous.   (Probably not the right thing to say.)

While I was working on my homework that night, I kept thinking about the interactions of that day.  I realized that this was a pattern with M.  We had only been dating a couple of weeks but he was constantly telling me how I was feeling.  M had no idea how I was feeling and it made me angry when he would tell me how I felt.  And I realized at that time, that this wasn’t going to change.  I broke up with M the next day.

I was discussing this behavior with a friend of mine.  He told me that his Mother does this to him all the time.  It started when he was young and continues to this day.  When he was younger he would try to tell her “no, that is not how I feel” but it would just cause arguments.  He has since realized that he cannot talk to her about what he is feeling.  Now when she tries to tell him how he is feeling he changes the subject.  He said that it is best to avoid these conversations with her altogether.

I have noticed a pattern with people in my life who tell me how I am feeling.  Frequently they don’t express their own emotions very well.  They often live in their own heads and project what they are feeling onto others because expressing their own feelings is terrifying.  I understand.  Emotions are complicated.  Puzzling out how I feel about something is hard enough without me telling you how you feel.

I try very hard not to tell someone else how they are feeling.  And I ask that others not do this to me.  Instead I suggest we ask each other, “How are you feeling today?”

Sometimes a duck is just a duck.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and swims like a duck…..its a duck.  Right?!?  Unless…..you want to see something else.  Then it could be an duck-billed platypus or even an aardvark.

Human relationships are complicated.  Imperfect beings are trying to figure out their own feelings, where they fit into this world, and how they relate to other people.  We use any tools we possess (feelings, perceptions, intuition, ideas, conversations and our own decisions) to figure these relationships out.  Sometimes we only see what we want to see.  And sometimes we see something that isn’t there.  We all do this.  And it is so much easier to see this happening to someone else.

When discussing this behavior with a friend, he told me a story about a time when he was in high school (age 17 or 18) and was going to be staying over night by himself.  For some reason, he got the idea in his head that there was someone else in the house.  Rationally on some level, he knew this wasn’t true.  But the idea was there in his mind, stuck like it had been glued.  He had to search the entire house in order to get the idea out of his mind.  It wasn’t logical.  It wasn’t reasonable.  But he was seeing what he wanted to see.

Have you ever had an idea about someone or had been told something about someone and the idea just stuck in your head?  Even though you had no proof of that behavior or even had proof of the contrary, you continued to believe your original idea.  You are seeing what you want to see.

I have a friend who had a short first marriage.  She worked at a women’s clothing store.  All of the sales associates were women.  In all the time she worked there she did not deal with any man on regular basis with the exception of the UPS delivery guy and it was a different one all the time.  Her husband started accusing her of having an affair a month after their marriage.  They would have huge fights about it.  He would go through her phone, purse, computer and never found anything.  After a year of this behavior she filed for divorce.  She never had an affair.  She was tired of being accused of something she wasn’t doing.  It turned out that he was the one having the affair and couldn’t imagine that she wasn’t doing it too.  He was seeing a behavior that wasn’t there.

I was talking (okay emailing) my friend in Japan.  And she shared a phrase about how blind people can be.  The Japanese phrase  “kuuki wo yomenai” roughly translates as “He can’t read the air.”  Wow!  Not only is it beautifully phrased; but it perfectly illustrates when someone misses the obvious.  They cannot see what is right in front of them.

Whether we are looking for something that isn’t there or seeing something we want to see, what we are really doing refusing to see what is right in front of us.  I’m not saying that you should second guess every decision or interaction that you have with others.  What I am saying is if something doesn’t feel right and you don’t feel like you are reading the situation correctly, maybe you need to step back and re-examine things.  Talk to someone you trust and ask for their advice.  An outside perspective may help you see things more clearly.  I know that when I need to gain new perspective it helps to talk to people I trust.  Then I can see things for what they really are.  Sometimes a duck is just a duck.

Quack.  Quack.  Waddle.  Waddle.

No, No, No, No, No and No!

Several years ago over the Christmas holiday my entire family had gathered together.  My then two and half year old niece was very excited.  First there were all kinds of people to show off for and get attention from.  Second it was Christmas Eve.  I don’t remember what my brother, her father, was trying to get her to do but she wasn’t having any of it.  She stood with her hands on her hips and shouted, “No, no, no, no, no and no!”

Of course, to a two and half year old the word “No” is the best invention ever!  And to my Brother and Sister-in-law, it was a word that they heard way too often from her.  Due to some recent events in my own life, I got to thinking about the word “No.”  As a creative person do I say it enough?  As a nice person do I say it enough?  When my intuition is saying it, do I listen to my intuition?

Last week at work, when answering the phone I got a marketing call.  A woman answered my greeting and asked if I had health insurance.  I responded that I did.  She asked me how much my insurance cost.  I told her that I would not answer that question.  She then stated that her company could get my health insurance costs cut in half.  She could not see me, but I was raising one eyebrow skeptically.  (It always makes me skeptical when people make promises without knowing anything about me or my situation.)  I stated firmly and politely that was very nice but I was very busy at the moment…. Before I could finish my sentence she launched into a monologue about if I would only answer 5 quick questions she could give me an instant quote.  I responded no, thank you…. Again before I could finish she launched into a barrage of questions requesting my age, height, weight, educational background, and income.  That was it.  I had tried to be polite.  I tried to give this person the benefit of the doubt.  I said to her, this time not letting her finish a sentence, “That information is none of your business.  Do not call this number ever again.”  And I hung up.  Telemarketers are trained to push and keep you on the phone.  It’s their job to get your information and sell you whatever product. It is okay to say no politely.  But sometimes one must use stronger language and if all else fails….hang up.

In the book The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, during week 5, she talks about “The Virtue Trap.”  We worry that if we are not nice and that our friends and family won’t like or accept us.  We worry what other people will think.  We worry that we will not appear generous, supportive, or of service to the world.  And we neglect ourselves.  This trap ties in directly with our ability to say “No.”  Instead of taking care of ourselves by saying no, we say “yes” and be nice.

“We expect our artist to be able to function without giving it what it needs to do so.  An artist requires the upkeep of creative solitude.  An artist requires the healing of time alone.  Without this period of recharging, our artist becomes depleted.”   The Artist Way by Julia Cameron

When you are a nice person, people don’t want or expect you to tell them no.  It is important to take care of yourself and say “No.”   If you have flown on an airplane at one time or another, you have seen the safety presentation where the flight attendant demonstrates how to put on the oxygen mask in case of an emergency.  You always put your mask on first before helping others.  The reasoning is that without oxygen you can’t help others.  If you do not take care of yourself by saying no and setting boundaries, you are not giving yourself oxygen and are of no help to anyone else.

Have you ever noticed when your intuition says no?  Do you listen?  I had a situation a while ago that required my intuition.  I had known a gentleman because of my job.  We would always say hello.  There might be some small talk about the weather but that was it.  On one occasion we were waiting in line and he asked me if I was seeing anyone.  At that time I was not and stated such.  He then asked if I would like to get together with him for dinner or coffee.  I said that would be nice.  He called me at work, gave me his phone number and asked me to call him that evening and I did.  It was an odd phone call but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  We set up a time and met for lunch one Saturday.  The restaurant had these round tables.  I sat down, thinking we would sit across from each other in order that we could talk.  He sat down next to me.  I would scoot away.  He would scoot closer and again I would scoot away.  It almost became an odd game of chasing me around the table.  The conversation was not flowing very well.  He made a couple statements about his ex-fiance that made me uncomfortable and then proceeded to grill me about my divorce.  I felt that the experience was awkward, uncomfortable and generally dissatisfying.    He told me to give him a call when I had free time.  I said okay (being nice).  I thought he felt that the relationship wasn’t going anywhere as well and was “letting me down easy.”  But for him this was just the beginning.

This person would text me and if I didn’t respond within a certain amount of time accuse me of ignoring him.  Even if the texts were in the middle of my work day.  He would call me at work and if I told him I couldn’t talk right now he would demand that I promise to call him that evening.  Even if I told him I was busy teaching or already had plans for the evening and wouldn’t be able to talk.  I decided that I was going to have to tell him no and to leave me alone.  After several more bizarre texts from him, I finally told him that it wasn’t working and wished him the best.  He still wanted to engage in a relationship with me.  I had to not respond to his texts in order for him to leave me alone.

From the odd phone call and icky lunch, and the way communication continued my intuition was screaming at me…..”GET AWAY FROM THIS PERSON!!!”  I have since heard some things that validated my intuition in regards to that individual.  I am very glad that I listened to my intuition and got out of that situation.

The thing was that he didn’t look or act like a “villain.”  On paper I’m sure he looked very typical or even normal.  But intuitively I knew something was off.  When the intuitive voice speaks we need to listen to it even if in all other respects the situation appears normal.  In a blog post called “Intuition” Seth Godin said, “Don’t dismiss intuition merely because it’s difficult to understand.  You get better at it by practicing.”

There are people in our lives who push us to do things their way or by their own agenda.  We all want our own way at different times.  But part of living with other humans is compromise.  But this blog post is not about compromise.  It is about protecting ourselves.  No is a powerful word.  As a creative person, as a nice person and especially when your intuition is saying it, I give you permission to use it.  Now put your hands on your hips and repeat after my niece and I, “No, no, no, no, no and no!”