Monthly Archives: April 2008

IMP AGAIN

One of my favorite columns by writer Martha Beck is “You Spot It, You’ve Got it!” It appeared in the July 2004 issue of Oprah Magazine.

The article describes a cognitive phenomena that psychologist Daniel Wegner calls IMP: ironic monitoring process.

In essence, IMP is our powerful tendency to recognize our own faults in others.

We need to feel good about ourselves–it’s human nature. To do so, we often tend to overlook our own flaws and shortcomings.

But since our brains also tend to think about the things we’re trying not to think about (“brass monkeys!”), this “blind spot” makes us hypersensitive to the same flaw we’re trying to repress, in others.

The result is a dynamic of “you spot it, you got it.”

Hence the artist who reamed me out a few years ago (“for your own good”) about me being stuck with “same tired old techniques and the same tired old designs”…whose own work had not changed in 20 years. Hence the hypercritical teacher who, it turns out, was battling the same demons I was.

And hence my impatience with people I see making the same mistakes I struggle with.

There are some people who take this tendency to extremes. Their cognitive dissonance about what they’re doing makes them difficult to even be around. Once we recognize what they’re doing, we can take steps to avoid them.

But there’s also an interesting flip side to this tendency. And there’s something positive to be gained by recognizing it.

Sometimes, I find that the people who are the most aggravating in my life have much to teach me….about myself. It’s an opportunity to work on the same tendency in me.

And sometimes, I find the people who are hounding me the most about some perceived “lack” on my part, are simply looking for me to be their hero.

In their mind, if I can overcome this flaw, this adversity, this setback, this roadblock….

…then maybe there is hope for them.

Maybe they can overcome theirs.

This actually happened to me recently. There was someone who seemed to be pushing me about overcoming injury, who seemed determined to not take my age into account when it comes to my abilities.

It turns out that person needs to know they can overcome their injuries. And they are hoping age will not eventually hamper their efforts.

The artist who thought I was stuck, made huge creative leaps forward, and is enjoying huge success from it. (I wish I could claim credit, but she did it on her own.)

Sometimes we are the very demon we fight against.

And sometimes, we are someone else’s angel.

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Filed under art, business, life, mental attitude

GREAT PACKAGING MATERIAL

I received a piece of this packing material awhile back, and went nuts trying to find out more about it:

funny honeycomb paper stuff
more funny honeycomb paper stuff

It’s a sliced kraft paper; the slits allow the paper to expand and stretch beautifully around any item. It has a tissue paper underlay. It’s really neat, and I finally found the company that makes it:

GEAMI Ltd.

And this was brilliant… You know how I finally tracked down this company?

On the edge of the tissue paper, they’d printed their company name and phone number! (919-654-7700)

After spending fruitless hours trying to find the product on-line, and trying to describe it to shipping supply companies like U-Line, I finally saw the info on the tissue paper and found them in one minute.

Don’t be put off by the text (which implies they only work with big companies), they were happy to sell me a single roll.

A 175′ of 12′ wide paper (both the honeycomb and the tissue underlay) roll is $25, and the special dispensing machine (that rolls both out together) is $50.

I LOVE the way this material works with my natural kraft paper boxes and kraft paper name labels! It’s definitely more “green” than plastic, easier to deal with than packing peanuts and shredded paper. It’s a great company to work with, too.

Plus, if you are a paper artist, you’ll find other cool things to do with this stuff.

Not affiliated with the company, just happy to find such a cool product!

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Filed under art, business, craft, going green, packaging materials

BLAME IT ON DRUGS

It’s been a hard, hard month. And this is a hard post to write. I’m not sure where it fits with my professional posts on my life as an artist.

But how I deal with depression has been a topic in the past, and perhaps it’s not so out of place this time, either.

Simply put, the long winter, my laundry list of surgeries and injuries, and my inability to work in my studio caught up with me awhile ago.

In hindsight, it was not a surprise. A good friend, an artist as well as a therapist, pointed out afterward that all my usual coping mechanisms were unavailable to me this year. I slipped from my usual mild depression into a deep depressive state.

It was bad. But what was worse was when I went on medication for it. The side effects from Wellbutrin nearly killed me (figuratively.) I fell lower than I’ve been in decades.

I experienced massive anxiety and agitation. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin. And I cried a lot.

Worst of all, even though I was now able to return to my artwork, I had absolutely no desire to.

I was devastated.

I didn’t realize it was the medication til I followed up with my doctor a month later. By then I was so low, I thought I would never come back up.  I went off the meds immediately, and soon felt merely depressed instead of suicidal.

But tiny little miracles have shown me there is a way back.

I look back now and see the chance encounters, the simple words of near strangers, that gave me a light to see the path at my feet.

I realize once again that though many friends cannot, should not or will not be present for someone in this state, there are some who can–and will. (To be fair, I spared many people the fact I was even going through this.)

I can now accept that chronic pain may be my constant companion, but that regular exercise can help–a little. And as my mood improves, I can bear it.

I realize how blessed I am to have found the martial arts teacher I have. When I am ready to start that journey again, I will have safe passage there.

I am blessed many times over in my loving husband.

When I called a friend who beat cancer last year and found out he’d had the same reaction after he’d gotten through it, I realized my feelings may be normal. When you get through something awful, you expect to feel better and different when you reach the other side. But sometimes you feel let down because you simply don’t. Looking back, I think it’s because it actually takes much, much longer to recover emotionally than we think.

I have a great referral to some docs who will help me sort out what my best choices are. I hate depression medication and their side effects, but I need help figuring out whether that is my best option or not, from someone with more oversight and “industry perspective” than me.  (One said dryly, “Please do not take more Wellbutrin til we can talk, yes?”)

And somehow, knowing all this has actually helped me feel better.

I even worked a little on my new ideas for polymer the last few days, though the results were embarrassingly dismal and uninteresting. But I can remember failing before I found my way to good designs, and the process doesn’t seem as awful as I thought it would be.

There you have it. That’s where I’ve been for the last month. Down, down, down in the dumps.

But suddenly, it doesn’t look so far to the top of the hole anymore.

p.s. Now for the funny part.

The Wellbutrin also raised my blood pressure 30 points, and I lost my appetite.

And even in the depths of my depression, when I weighed myself and found I’d lost five pounds without even thinking about it, I thought, “Well, maybe I could stay on it a little bit longer….”

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Filed under action steps, art, depression, life, mental attitude

HAT DISASTER UPDATE

Robin has insisted I change that word to “underwear” and I have.

And she made me put in that we did that when she was a baby, which is true.

And she says she loves the H.D. and wants to try it on when it’s dry (presumably to see how far down her nose it comes.

And the second hat (periwinkle!) is looking good, though far too warm (wool) for Seattle.

And today I’m going yarn-shopping with another friend at Webs, an incredible yarn store/warehouse in Northampton, MA.

So yarn will be found. Purple yarn. Not wool.

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Filed under funny, knitting, life, life with teenagers