Balancing our individual needs with the needs of the group can be a fine line to walk.

No, I didn’t invent a new language. POK is an acronym for “Pissed Off Kids”, and of course, POV is “Point Of View”.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mood.

Why do I wake up some mornings already stressed out, on edge, irritated and annoyed? Why do I sometimes wake up feeling inadequate, or as if I’ve been humiliated? I know it’s usually because of dreams I can’t even remember clearly.  But why do those feelings linger? Probably because dreams feel real, right up until we wake up.

I’ve also read how things we aren’t even conscious are, can affect our mood, even our actions. If we read a list of words, one word like “angry” or “unfair” can cause a change in our outlook hours later–even if we can’t even recall that word from the list.

I’ve always had issues about “fitting in”. Some of comes from being a child of the 50’s, where expectations for women (in art, in academia, in business, even in sports) were different than they are today. (As in, they were lower.)

Some of it is being part of a large family. I’m the oldest of seven sibs. I’ve noticed that younger sibs learn much from watching family dynamics all their lives. They observe what works and what doesn’t when dealing with parents, they learn when to keep their mouths shut and how much information to share. Oldest kids have only adults for their role models. We spend a lot of time explaining and justifying our actions. I tend to believe if only other people understood me, my intentions, and my motives, they wouldn’t judge me so harshly. (Um…I just realized that’s probably why I blog.)

I make black horses, bears, bunnies, otters, and birds. But no black sheep. Yet.

This may also be why I’m so obsessed with the “why” about making art. It’s a powerful tool to connecting others to my work.

Some of it is being a parent. We think we have more knowledge and experience than our kids. That’s true. But we forget we don’t have their experience. Their life is very different from ours. We often make assumptions that get in the way of truly seeing them.

The theme running through all of this is something I learned when I belonged to a craft guild years ago. When you belong to a group of any kind, the group has a lot vested in you being a member of the group, rather than being an individual with different goals and needs. In the case of the quilt guild, group pressure can subtly affect something as big as your color aesthetic over time. When I realized that was happening to me, I left the group. (nb…they were actually very nice people, it was very subtle thing.)


2016-08-16 11.52.41
My color choices were not the maroon-and-navy blue popular with local quilt guilds in the 80’s…

I get it. I really do. It’s easier for groups when everyone is on the same page. When there are common goals, much can be accomplished. Accommodation takes time. Patience. Energy. Even compassion. All those can slow down or interfere with a group’s common purpose.

So, in the group or out? Which do I prefer? I always chose me. What are the drawbacks there?

For me, it’s the fact that I still feel guilty about choosing myself over the group. I want everybody to be happy! So I explain. I explain way, way too much, to people who don’t care–because they want the group. Which isn’t good.

The problem with wanting everyone to understand me is, I’m trying to control what other people think of me.

Explaining,  sharing the “why” about me is only powerful when people want to know. If we’re talking about customers who like my work, then they care.

If they don’t care, if they aren’t my audience, or the group is more important to them, then it’s a losing battle, and rarely works for long.

As I get older, I realize I’m expending a lot of energy that could be put to better use.

I might be a POK.  (Thanks and a hat tip to Amy Johnson, who not only coined the phrase, she has lots of insight about what it’s like, how it works, how to reach out to a POK, and what not to say to a POK. (Hint: If I’m focused on my needs and my POV, it usually will not appeal to the POK.)

Today I realized I’m stuck in the middle.

I want to be understood, and accepted. But the people who I want to understand, do not care. So I’m angry and self-righteous, and unhappy.

I say I must be myself, and not molded and shaped by the group’s expectations. That means I must be comfortable with not being part of the group.

But most groups react badly when a member leaves. This is a fact of life. I was taught to be “a good girl”. The resentment directed at me for “not being nice”, for choosing “me” over “us”, is hard for me to bear.

“Not fair!” I cry.

This solves nothing.

And so I understand I still have a lot to learn. (Hence, the “eternal student” moniker.)

In a very primal way, I’m still learning the only POV I can control is mine. 

The only person whose actions I can manage are my own.

The only people who want to know “why”, are people who care.

Now if only I could convince my dreaming self to get on board with that, my morning moods might improve.

Er…booze and chocolate for breakfast, anyone?

I found a gray sheep! Does that count?







Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.


  1. Geez – are you me?! I wake up angry – a lot. And I’m ticking off a lot of the things you’ve pointed out. However for me – I refuse the group. I just can’t take them. I prefer to walk alone – no – stride alone!!

    Whatever – I find earbuds with my favourite music helps – a lot!! I wear them until I have to go to sleep. Makes falling asleep hard some times as I start to sing in my head some song or another but then concentrating on sleeping helps with that. Then – pop them in again when I wake. If people want to talk to me they usually have to use the phone as I otherwise can’t/won’t hear them. Works for me! Blocking out the world and those type of people I just don’t want in my life.

    Love your work girl. I think you rock. Just was given your blog post by a friend who knows something of me….

    Keep on keepin on….you can’t tell I’m a 50’s child….


    1. Thank you, Aims, for your comments and the validation! I haven’t tried the perpetual ear buds yet, but it sounds effective. You’re right, “selective hearing” can go a long way in promoting sanity and self-preservation!


  2. I am at our local gallery today,, and had a thought that I will share with you.. People stopping in are not what it used to be… and the gallery does not have the funds for costly advertising.. .what I have been doing, and perhaps you could build a re-pour with your local newspaper to write some articles about your work, technique etc.. I am writing articles about the different artists that we have in the gallery.. also our Chamber of Commerce is working with us to get the news out, Change of exhibits etc.
    and we have a local on line/ Facebook source, for tourists… those are all avenues we are trying… hoping that they work… knowing that writing is one of your forte’s, hope this has been helpful.


    1. I’m delighted you shared your ideas today! I will put it in the hopper and see what comes of it. We’re still so new to the area, but I already have an opportunity to do some writing for our Arts District’s website. Maybe that will be a gateway down the road. Thank you, Vivian!


  3. Hi Luann, Watch for some dialogue from me in several days… thing,,,,,I think you’re being too harsh on yourself. I’ll tell you what I’ve learned in the last 6 months. (and it’s all good!!!!!). cheers, Lynne Sward



  4. Oh Luann, I am right there in the middle of the muddle with you, have been for most of my life! Why the devil can’t I figure this out? I’m 67 years old for goodness sake, how long does this take! I do agree that a lot of this comes from growing up in the 50’s, we’re the transitional generation from our mothers’ generation to the new order and we have one foot on each side. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they help me to not feel so alone. I keep moving forward baby step by baby step! P.S. Can’t do the booze and chocolate thing for breakfast–would sleep all day! But coffee ad chocolate sounds good!


  5. LOL, sometimes just know you are not alone, helps. :^)
    Also, it’s an ongoing process. It’s misleading and unhelpful to think we’ll “get it”, and that will be the end of it. It will always catch us off-guard. I believe it’s like meditating: It’s all about the practice itself, not the end goal we hope to achieve.
    Hope this helps, and stay tuned. I’ll be at it again any day now! :^D


  6. Oh gracious me – I don’t think there was a single thought that you shared that hasn’t been front and center for me at some point. On good days, I just move forward in the world, thinking my thoughts and creating my work with just a smidgen of guilt for not doing it the way others seem to do. On bad ones, I despair of ever having anyone really ‘get’ me. It is truly helpful to know others struggle with this issue, and realize that we *need* to separate ourselves sometimes.
    Thanks once again for giving voice to all of this. 😀


  7. Perri, you remind me why I write.

    I started because I had to. It was as important for me to write, to work my way through this stuff, as it was to make my art.

    I couldn’t figure out what was ‘special’ about it. Wasn’t everyone else doing the same??

    It was my darlin’ husband who put it into words, words I still treasure.
    He said, “You write about this stuff WHILE YOU’RE IN IT. Right in the middle of it.”

    Most people wait until they’ve ‘made it’, or figured it all out. Then they look back, and the spin they put on it is how they figured it all out.

    And we’re left amazed and wonder what’s wrong with US. “But you,” he said, “You share it in the moment. That means taking a huge risk. it means being vulnerable. And that’s important, and it’s powerful.”

    So sometimes I think, I can’t write about this, people will think I’m an idiot!

    And you know what? Someone always writes back and says, “You, too?? I thought it was just me!! Thank you!!”

    And that makes it all worthwhile.

    So, thank you, Perri, for letting me know. It means the world to me.


  8. Maybe you are just too nice, Luann. I’m a California girl and I have been told people are nicer from other places, they care more about what the group thinks, says, does. I think my kids are way smarter than me, honoring that keeps us getting along. I am very vocal about my thoughts and actions with any group to which I belong because I don’t care about their judgements. If they want to share their thoughts with me, it’s a learning experience for me usually and I am open to that. I can see their view, comment on it and go on still being a part of the group. Am I missing something?


    1. Nope, you’re doing it right! This is just what it looks like for some of us who were constantly told we had to be nice(r). It can take a lifetime to see that for what it is (“You must fit in!” over “You are your own person”).


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