June 30, 2015: Three Good Things

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This week I’m sharing three good things about myself rather than my day. Today is going to be a challenge, because I really don’t know if I could even relate three good things about my day, much less myself, right now. My brain weasels have taken hold and won’t let go. I’m sitting in a dark, quiet apartment, prohibiting myself from everything, even drinking water. And I have to come up with three good things about myself. This should be good.

1. I’m organized. I function better in a non-cluttered space than a cluttered one.

2. I’m loyal, to a fault. If I’ve given you my friendship or my love then it is eternal.

3. I’m polite. I was raised in the South where responses like “yes ma’am” and “no sir” were drilled into me starting from a very young age. It takes a lot for me to be impolite to someone.

So that’s done, back to staring at Facebook and waiting on the evening to pass.

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge: Day Three

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Warning: brief language

Once more, thanking brightonbipolar for nominating me for this challenge. It’s been fun!

Day Three

I figured I’d end this challenge with a humorous quote, which I share with you through the magic of typography below.

The quote is from Cave Johnson, one of the characters in Portal 2, a game by Valve Corporation (the guys behind Steam), and voiced by Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons. In it, Johnson, who founded Aperture Science Laboratories and acts as its CEO, offers a different outlook on what one should do when life gives you lemons.

Johnson is an eccentric, which means he’s strange, but wealthy, and has the entire think tank behind Aperture Science at his disposal. He’s also the “take-no-shit” kind of businessman who isn’t afraid to change his reality with the tools he has. Give me lemons, will you? I’ll turn them into weapons and lob them back at you, life!

There are days I’m capable of doing that. I have the strength and the energy to weaponize the adversity that I’m given on a daily basis through my mental and physical health struggles, and I can take that energy and do amazing things with it. There are other days, though, that it’s all I can do to be appreciative of someone else turning that adversity into a mild-mannered, tasty drink and handing me a glass to sip.

I wish I had more days that I was like Cave Johnson: brash, in-your-face, no-nonsense, get-stuff-done thinking. But those days are fleeting for me and I’m aware of my shortcomings in that area. My mental illnesses often keep me from being so gung-ho about any given situation, and my physical health often tag-teams in to make sure I stay down.

It seems silly to take what’s supposed to be a funny quote and turn it into something deep and thought-provoking. But it is. What if we had the power to take all those struggles that life handed us and figuratively set the world aflame with that fuel? There’d be no stopping what we could do.

So I strive to reach that ideal once in a great while, all the rest of the time quietly sipping my lemonade and lost in thought.

“Soon.”

“I’m going to burn life’s house down. With the lemons.

June 29, 2015: Three Good Things

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As stated in yesterday’s post, this week I am concentrating on good things about myself instead of good things about my day.

1. I’m a talented cook. I make a chicken Marsala that is the best I’ve ever had in nearly 25 years of looking for its equal. I make a pulled pork barbecue that even avowed barbecue haters look forward to, and I have someone trying to back the commercialization of its sauce. I can prepare anything from beef Wellington to salted caramel truffles.

2. I’m an excellent and attentive listener. I don’t offer advice unless solicited, I’m capable of asking questions that help others solve their own problems, and when told something in confidence, would never dream of betraying that confidence. I am where secrets go to die.

3. I inspire people with my story and my perseverance. It is because of this that I am so public with my struggles, in the hope that I can continue to inspire people that need to know they aren’t alone and there are others fighting the fight alongside them.

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge: Day Two

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Again, my thanks to brightonbipolar for nominating me for this challenge.


Day Two

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

~ Ira Glass

I tried to find a graphic for this quote but every one of them wound up being rendered so small in the end result as to be unreadable, so instead of a pretty graphic today, you simply get the quote. It’s a long one, so I hope you’ll understand.

I’d like to think I’m a creative type. I like writing, pottery, calligraphy, weaving, and want to get into a lot of other art forms as well. But I run into a mental block with regard to my art that paralyzes me.

Because I haven’t devoted a lot of time to any of my art forms, none of them are really that good. And so rather than push on, as Ira Glass encourages in the quote above, I’ve been holding myself back.

“I’m not as talented as Person A is, so why bother trying.”

“Person B dislikes me, and is really good in that discipline, so my work will be unfairly critiqued, so why bother trying.”

“Person C wants to help me and encourage me, but all I’m going to do is disappoint them, so why bother trying.”

And just like that, my fears about my artistic ability become subject to my mental illnesses, and get blown out of proportion, and the end result is that I don’t actually produce any work.

This blog is the longest writing assignment and biggest artistic project that I’ve ever undertaken, and it’s nothing like I originally intended it to be. I wanted this blog to showcase my sense of humor, and only rarely am I even trying to be funny. I wanted this blog to highlight my struggles with self-esteem, yet I seem to be writing about everything but my self-esteem. I wanted this blog to be good and, well … that’s open to interpretation.

But the point is that I am keeping at it, this once. (If I had a dollar for every failed blog with which I’ve littered the Internet …) I’m not giving up, I’m seeing it through.

Which means that I can do the same with my other artistic endeavors.

Yes, my work is going to be fairly crap at the beginning. But so was the work of all those people who I look up to artistically. Not one of them was a prodigy. The difference between me and them is that they started earlier and kept at it longer.

I don’t read this Ira Glass quote as often as I should. I should have it on the wall in my home so I can read it every day. It would inspire me not only to not give up, but to keep at it, regardless of how bad the outcome might be.

I’m in that gap between where I want to be and where I am. And the only way of getting through that gap is to keep moving forward, by continuing to create.

Today I’m going to see what I can do to start down the road of creating art again. I’m limited on art supplies and funds right now, so I can’t guarantee that I’ll have a finished piece by the end of the day, but at least I can start the process – shopping around for pottery studios, maybe finding an old calligraphy pen someplace and practicing a hand for a little while – and have something to show for it by the end of the day.

And maybe, just maybe, that gap will be a little more narrow because of my efforts.

June 28, 2015: Three Good Things

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This week, I’ve decided that I’m going to do something different with this feature of my blog. Instead of relating three good things about my day, I’m going to share three good things about myself.

1. I do a lot of stuff around the house. My wife does the majority of the laundry, but I help with folding it and putting it away. She does a lot of the cooking lately, but I almost always clean up afterwards. I do the majority of the deep cleaning (dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, etc.). I maintain our budget and help make sure we stick to it. I usually brush this stuff off, but it helps to take a lot of the pressure off my wife from having to both work and do everyday things around the house.

2. I have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Even during times when we’ve literally had less than $10 to our name I’ve still made donations to others less fortunate than us. We may not be well off financially, but we’ve got a roof over our heads and food in our bellies and clean water to drink, and that’s more than a lot of people around the world can say.

3. Even though I get stage fright, I am an extremely capable public speaker and performing artist, having won awards for my work in the theater and titles in performing arts competitions through my hobby. In addition, I’m a competent master of ceremonies for our awards presentations in that same hobby. I’m also a decent singer and have quite the repertoire of songs that I can perform very well in karaoke.

Paradoxical Thinking

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I was recently able to vocalize a thought process that I regularly have, and that’s gotten me to thinking about it.

The thought process can best be summed up as “I don’t know what I want to do with myself/day/life/etc. but regardless of what it is, I don’t have permission to do it, so it’s a good thing that I don’t know what it is I want to do, because I couldn’t do it anyway.”

So which comes first here, working on giving myself permission to do what’s going to make me happy, or figuring out what will make me happy in the first place?

If I work on giving myself permission, that opens the doors to me pursuing my happiness, but doesn’t point me in the direction of where to find it.

If I try to identify what will make me happy first, then I know where I want to go, but will still be holding myself back from going after it.

If I work on both, however, identifying one thing that will make me happy in the moment, and then allowing myself to do that thing, then I’ll find happiness for a fleeting moment.

And that’s all life is, a series of fleeting moments.

Maybe I should stop writing and go make the most of the one I have right now.


Afterthought: Thinking my way through blog posts sometimes helps me work out problems in real time. This has been a prime example of that. That mechanic is what keeps me blogging.

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge: Day One

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I would like to thank brightonbipolar for nominating me for this challenge. I’ll do my best.


Day One

different drummer

A wall decal of the above image can be found on singlestonestudio’s Etsy shop.

This is the first quote I can remember ever being given to me as an explanation of my life. My parents gave me a card one year for my birthday with the quote on it, and my mother’s handwriting explaining how my parents felt it always fit me. It fit me especially well that year, since I had taken up drumming lessons and I was having a blast with it. (I still miss drumming.)

This quote has long been with me, close to my heart, as so often with my own quirky personality and my mental diagnoses it was apropos. It has reminded me to be myself and to not attempt to change who I am based on what’s popular at the time. I’ve followed that advice to varying degrees, as there was a time in my life (and still is, to some extent, from time to time) that I wanted to be in the popular crowd. But almost every time that I strayed from Thoreau’s advice, I wound up in pain, because I got hurt either by own clumsy attempts to fit in or (more accurately) others inability to accept me for who I was and especially for who I was trying to become. It took me a long time to learn that I would be happier just being me, so while this quote has held some meaning for me since childhood, it wasn’t until I got older that the depth of its true meaning sunk in. I’m fortunate and thankful that it finally did, because when I started being myself, I found lots of others being themselves alongside me, and somehow I became one of the popular crowd among my newfound friends. I forget that fact from time to time, and my symptoms tell me no one likes me, but rationally speaking, I know I’m well loved in my broad circle of friends and acquaintances.