I think that I could
Fall in love with You
Then I remember
That You never loved me
Category Archives: Communication
Why So Fearful?
I had read an interesting article many years ago about culture. This was in college so forgive me for not remembering the author or name of the article. The premise of it was that the fears of a culture are more telling than the achievements. Blew my socks off. The idea is that what scares us tells more about us than all of the accomplishments. Ponder that for a moment.
Fear is very powerful. Franklin D. Roosevelt said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. In the novel “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” the boggert caught by Professor Lupin would turn into a dementor when Harry approached it. Which meant that Harry was more afraid of fear than Lord Voldemort the most evil wizard of the time. Harry’s best friend Ron was scared of spiders. Other people in the novel were afraid of snakes, full moons, etc. What students of Hogwarts learned by facing the boggert was to face their fears and overcome them. Well, at least make them less scary.
Thinking about the article for a moment, as a culture or society that expresses so much through the internet and social media, could these outlets become amplifiers for our fears? Just as the “boggert” of Harry Potter stories reflected fear, could the internet and social media be doing the same thing? I remember when the internet was beginning. One of the things that was said in praise of it was that you could find anything on the internet. And when social media started, it was said that you could find anyone or any group you could ever want to identify with on social media. It could be said that there is good and bad aspects to both of those things. And I am not going to go into what is on television and the news. (War, inflation, disease, hate.) Scary things happen in the world.
Believe it or not, there are benefits to fear. What might those be, you ask? Don’t worry. I have a list:
- Fear keeps you safe. You have an internal danger alarm. It notifies us of dangerous situations and compels us to take action. Helps you make a wise decision. For example, if you are crossing a street and a car comes toward you, your inner alarm urges you to get out of the street and away from the car.
- Fear helps you lose weight. Feeling a bit of fear helps burn calories. While walking through the haunted house a ghost jumps out at you. Your body releases a surge of adrenaline. Adrenaline causes your metabolism to go into high gear, causing you to burn more calories.
- Fear temporarily boosts immunity. In 2009, Coventry University in the United Kingdom did a study where Scientists tested white blood cells in participants. They then scared the participants and measured the number of activated white blood cells. Activated white blood cells are the ones that help fight disease and repair the body. After being scared, the participants had an increased number of activated white blood cells.
- Feeling fear can be exciting. Feeling fear, in the right dose, makes you feel alive. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be exciting. Have you ever given a speech or had a role in a play? Feeling nervous before you start speaking or the play starts leads to the feeling of excitement and being alive after the speech or play has ended.
- Fear gives you a natural high and sense of empowerment. Not just adrenaline, the body releases dopamine and the endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin helps the brain work more efficiently under stressful situations. Fear is energy.
- Fear relaxes you. That’s right. You read it correctly. The adrenaline has surged and dopamine has been released into the body increasing blood flow. After the fear or situation has been faced. You are now in a safe location and there is no danger. Your body has had influx of oxygen to the heart and muscles. When the body comes off of this natural influx, it relaxes completely in a healthy way.
- Fear helps you stay in the moment. Focus. The hormone norepinephrine helps keep you focused instead of panicking in stressful situations.
- Fear helps you socialize and bonds you to other people. If our ancient ancestors had not bonded together and helped each other survive, our society would not exist. It is in our best interests to help one another. The hormone Oxytocin produces pro-social behavior. Bonding. Every see a race, like Ironman, and notice that the contestants competing against each other also help each other by encouraging each other. The hormone Oxytocin in action.
- Fear allows you to live life to the fullest. Fear tends to cause people to make one of two choices. They can either stop and limit themselves or face their fear head on and expand the possibilities of their lives. Personally, I am in favor of the second option.
- Fear gives clarity on what is important. Fear makes one realize that the only time is now. How often a terminal diagnosis or finding out about a disease like cancer causes people to live their life fully. Spending time with those they love and doing things that they have always wanted to do. The fears they had before become less important than spending the time they have to the fullest.
Maybe fear can help us as a society. Help us be better people. Learn from our mistakes. Make the world a little less scary. I certainly hope so.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
It is amazing how something small and simple as a smile has the power to change and make your day better. That smile with some kind spoken words is even more powerful.
While attending college my sophomore year in Billings, MT, I had been having a really bad day. My alarm didn’t go off and I woke up late. I didn’t do as well as I thought on test that I studied really hard for. It just seemed like everything I did wasn’t working. While walking to work at McIntosh Art Company when it was on Grand Avenue, I passed two little girls playing. One of the little girls came running up next to me on the sidewalk and said, “You are really pretty. I love your red hair.” And she gave me the biggest beautiful smile. She made my day. I smiled back and thanked her. From that moment on, my day went so much better.
You have probably heard the saying “It’s the little things.” Just like pennies in a bank account, the little things add up.
I am working on an Artist’s Journal project. One of the things that I am working on is observing little moments of beauty and document them in my journal. The bright red of blooming poppy. A spider web caught in dew and early morning sunlight. Hints of changing colours creeping into the autumn landscape. Little things. Small things. Things that would easily be missed.
I recently watched again the movie “The Crow.” There is a scene where Eric Draven’s spirit is talking to the police officer about his dead fiancé and how the little things always mattered to her. He continues saying that he sometimes thought they were trivial. Nothing is trivial, he goes on to say.
Here is what I want to leave you with. Little things are important. Especially when it comes to how we treat one another. Notice things. Notice the little things. Take time to experience and appreciate them. The little things… they aren’t little.
Have you ever been told something that means one thing? “I want you in my life.” And in the very next sentence you are told something that completely cancels it out? “I can’t be around you.” The result is…… confusing. What does this person want? Do they realize they are sending mixed messages?
One unintended consequence of giving someone mixed signals is that the person receiving the signals has to choose what they think you are actually trying to say. A lot of misinterpretation can happen. Wouldn’t it be easier to say what you mean?
I have a theory about people who send mixed messages. I think that they don’t know what they want or what they are feeling. A person cannot express something simply when they themselves do not know how they feel.
I can understand how mixed messages happen. Most of us are a mixing bowl of emotions. Imagine cookie dough before you blend it together. Every ingredient separate but in the same bowl. That’s like our feelings and emotions. We are the bowl and our feelings and emotions are the ingredients. They are all there together inside our heads. The emotional mix we get is unique to each of us.
And like making cookies if you take the time to stir everything together, it will become dough. When you take that dough and make it into little round balls and cook it, you get a cookie. Or in this case a fully formed thought.
I like it when someone is honest with me and tells me what they mean. I think that most people would prefer to be treated with honesty and respect. I also think that most people are like me and would prefer to be given a straight forward answer.
I am not talking about saying cruel or hurtful things. Mixing signals doesn’t spare anyone’s feelings. Both of those behaviors cause hurt, confusion and mistrust.
When you give someone the benefit of the doubt and do not try to second guess their feelings by giving them mixed messages, you treat them with respect and provide an opportunity for them to deal with their own feelings. It is a positive and healthy experience for both parties.
Enough about mixed messages. I really do like cookies. And all of this talk using the cookie dough metaphor has made me hungry. I’m going to mix together a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and bake some cookies!
Fifth Anniversary of Cats Out of the Box
It is hard to believe that five years ago today, I wrote and shared my first blog post. I would have quit long ago if it hadn’t been for the following people. A special thank you goes out to……
- As my friends and family know, I ponder things. I had been pondering writing a blog for years. My friend Joe said just write a blog already. Stop thinking and start doing. And I did. Thank you, Joe.
- My friend, Eric Hanson, is an amazing poet and I have used his poems in my blogs off and on over the years. Thank you for letting me share your beautiful creative work with others. Eric has also let me bounce ideas for blog posts off of him. Some are definitely a lot better than others. Thank you for listening, making suggestions and not letting me embarrass myself in the written word.
- To my family there are not enough words to express my gratitude for your assistance, patience, feedback and support. I know that having me in your lives can be a challenge. You help me to be the best artist and creative person I can be. I am truly grateful for you.
- To my friends, so often the conversations we have are the creative sparks for a blog post. You go hiking with me in all kinds of weather. Thank you for your emotional and creative support. You help me be a better writer, artist, creativity coach and teacher. I am grateful for all of you.
- This year I started teaching art classes at Flathead Valley Community College for the Continuing Education Program. I would like to thank Debbie and all of the helpful staff who work in that program. I couldn’t do it without all of you. Your support and assistance makes me look good!
- I would also like to send a special thank you to the students who participated in the Art Sampler, Beginning Acrylic Painting, Fine Art of Book Making and Mixed Media Collage Classes. You have inspired me with your stories, questions, and amazing creative work. You are all amazing creative people and I am excited to see where your creativity will take you.
- To my readers and blog friends who follow my blog as part of the WordPress community, I am grateful for your support. I am continually inspired by all of you and the creative work that you are doing. No matter where you are located on this planet or what your blog is about….. your creativity, bravery in sharing feelings and ideas, and support make me proud to be a part of the WordPress blogging community.
- Thank you to those that like my posts. I appreciate you taking the time to support my creative work. You motivate me to keep writing.
- Thank you to those that post comments and provide feedback. I enjoy hearing your thoughts about my work. I am so proud when something I have written inspires others. Your words mean the world to me.
I have been asked recently by a friend and previous student, what advice did I have for someone who wants to start writing a blog. I came up with the following five tips:
- Have an idea of what you would like your blog to be about. Mine is about creative living. But there are blogs about all kinds of things. There are blogs that focus on photography, poetry, movie reviews, travel, cooking tips and recipes. The sky is truly the limit.
- Give yourself goals. I try to write two Haiku poems a week and two or three other posts each month. I don’t always succeed at getting as much written as I would like, but the goals help me to keep focused.
- Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t reach your goal or can’t write for awhile. Hey, life happens. In April, after my Grams (Grandmother) died, I could’t write for the rest of that month. It is okay to take a break from your blog if you need to.
- Follow other peoples blogs. Make comments (but do not be a troll). Like posts that you enjoy. The support and friendship you will build within the blogging community will surprise, delight and inspire you.
- The most important thing….. have fun!
Thank you so much for another amazing year of blogging! I am so happy to share this journey of creativity and exploration with you!
April is National Poetry Month in the United States. If you are a regular follower of my blog, you are aware that I write haiku poetry. I also highlight poet’s and poetry in a special blog post each April. This year, I wanted to do things a little differently. I am inviting my readers to participate in a poetry challenge.
HERE ARE THE RULES:
- The poem must be an original creation of the person submitting it.
- The poem must use the word “Vicariously” as either the title or as part of the poem.
- The poem cannot be longer than 500 words.
- The poem must be sent to me via my contact page or by my personal email address, before April 1st.
- Please list your name or how you would like to be recognized and the name of your blog, if you have one. I will try to add a link to all WordPress blogs for other authors on this site.
- Poems received will be posted on my blog in a special post celebrating poetry month. I am anticipating publishing this blog post on April 2, 2020.
I am purposefully not giving very much time to write a poem. To often, creatively, when we see something like this if we say to ourselves, “oh that’s cool, I’ll do it later.” We think too long or we forget and we miss the opportunity. But if you want to write a poem, quick write it, submit it to me via my contact page or email and it is done. You have shared your creativity.
Disclaimer. As author of the blog “Cats Out of the Box,” I have the right to determine if a poem is ineligible to be posted on my blog. If that happens, I will contact the author directly.
Last and probably the most important question… why the word “vicariously?” The definition of the word from Miriam Websters Dictionary online states that it is the “experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another.” At a time in history where so many people are having to work from home, practice social distancing and participate in shelter in place, it felt appropriate that the subject of a poetry challenge be experiencing and realizing life through another person, a memory, a fictional place, dream, etc.
I am excited to see what other poets and creatives come up with! I am looking forward to hearing from you.
2020 Haiku – February #8
means playing with words and phrase
Haiku and stories
Ability – Creativity Series
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” -Albert Einstein
The other day I was going through some art papers, notes about classes, ideas on sticky notes and quotes. I came across a folded up little piece of paper that had this quote from Albert Einstein. It really spoke to me and I found it to be the perfect inspiration for my second post in the “Creativity Series.”
Some of the lessons that we need to learn about being creative are not learned through doing an activity or by reading a book. They are learned by changing our perspective. In this case the perspective we are changing is allowing others to hurt us or judge us with their opinions and harsh words.
Just like the fish in Albert Einstein’s quote, we are not going to be good at everything we attempt to do. A great pastry chef may not be able to grill the perfect steak. And then again maybe they can grill a perfect steak but are unable to speak in front of a crowd of people. What is being said in this quote is not to allow yourself to be judged by the things that you have trouble doing. The chef is still an amazing chef even if they can’t do public presentations. If the chef is content with their life, does it matter what others think?
Enough time and practice can help anyone to gain a basic understanding and minimal skill set in any area. For example, I took an accounting class in college. For me, it was a tough class. I did fine, I got a C. I am perfectly capable to do basic book keeping for my art as a business. But I will not be remembered for my interest accruing skills on a spread sheet and I am more than okay with that.
Take a moment and think of how you have been compared by others or yourself in doing something that you are not proficient at. How did it feel? Did it hinder your ability to try to do the task in the future? Did it alter how you felt about yourself?
I have shared this story in the past, but it fits so well with the Albert Einstein quote that I have to share it again. I had a student who was in her seventies when she took my creativity class. She shared a story about one of her creative blocks. She had always been very tall for her age. In her school choir classes she would stand in the back row and sing with her whole heart. When she was 12 or 13 a teacher told her that she shouldn’t sing. That she should just mouth the words instead. My student was devastated. She never sang out loud again. The words of one person had the power to quite literally silence a voice.
My student shared that she still wished to sing. We talked about the fact that the teacher who said that had become her internal critic when it came to making a joyful noise. We talked about ways to silence this critic. We talked about ways that she could sing and feel comfortable. Her church choir was recruiting “new songbirds.” She auditioned and was accepted. She was finally singing again. After sixty years of thinking that she couldn’t sing, she had auditioned and was accepted in a choir.
I leave you with these final thoughts. You are a genius! You are a creative, imaginative, amazing human being. Believe these words. Believe in yourself.
2020 – Haiku February #4
Sweet, tart candy hearts
Marked with messages of love
Be my Valentine
2020 – Haiku February #3
Glue, scissors, markers,
Lace, glitter, paper, stickers