Self created isolation?

I have no idea if I posted this before. It has been sitting, patiently, as a draft for over two years. Sure I can scroll back in my dashboard, to see if a version of this did get posted.

However, it feels relevant to now. There are no health issues this time around. Aside from a weird skin allergy and the aches and pains of starting up an exercise regime, I am pretty darn healthy.

I believe it is the isolation, that resonates. This time, though, I need it for creative purposes.

Anyway…

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Lately, I find it difficult to reach out to people I know. Family members, friends, health care providers, most people I need to keep in contact with all – all of these people I am having trouble reaching out to? I will stare at my phone, tell myself to call or text my aunt, for example. After about 30 seconds of this, I turn my phone off and I place it down. Sitting at my computer, I will open up my mail program, stare at the inbox, and nothing. I look at it and then I “Command + H” it and walk away.

Why am I having trouble reaching out to people? I have news to share, but I am not sure how to share it. Maybe that it is? No. It has to be something else. Like, the evil little depression that I have suppressed, or so I thought.

What I think happened is that with the good news, I got bad news, and some life changing news. My mind is not sure how to process it all.

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When a brain does not operate smoothly.

For a few weeks, braining has been hard. In particular, this week has been a really tough week to brain. Each morning started off alright. However, as the day progressed, my brain would give up the driver’s seat, letting the Bad Thoughts take the wheel. Never good. Never good at all.

Over the past two mornings, I have been working out what is going on in my brain. Why is this week so hard? Why does my brain have a hard time this week? What is my brain having difficulty processing? If referring to my brain as a machine, what is it stuck on? What broke? Where are the faulty parts?

Initial diagnostics found three problem areas: “Time. Being Scared. Being Lazy.”

Time.
Time has always been faulty. In the past, I have never found a good solution for fixing Time in relation to my brain. It is finite. It goes by quickly. It always sits there, tick-tick-ticking away, one second at a time.

Being Scared.
No, I am not talking about being scared of spiders, heights, or anything of that sort. What I am scared of is starting new things. I am terrified of starting new challenges. I am afraid of failure. I am not afraid of others considering me a failure. I am afraid of considering myself a failure.

Being Lazy.
Being lazy means sitting around all day, playing computer solitaire, goofing off on the interwebs, or not doing anything that I consider productive. I feel this most in my office. I have a mental association that my office is a place where I should be productive, doing productive tasks and projects, and making something of myself. Instead of doing productive tasks, I sit around, visit the same web sites, play the same games, tell myself to be productive, beat myself up for not being productive.

My husband thinks being lazy could be considered procrastination. Perhaps, it is a symptom of procrastination, which stems from Being Scared, which stems from Time. It always comes down to time for me.

I could ask myself why is this so hard to do? Why is it so hard for me to address/work on my own tasks/projects/problems? Maybe because when I look at my items, I feel bad. I feel afraid. This is a problem, because life is good. My life is really great. I am in a place where there is stability, support, and I have to ability to be who ever I want, do what ever I want. And I don’t. Instead, I hide away, behind errands, behind chores, behind little things that I feel are more important to take care of, right away, which leads me to looking at the clock, seeing how little time I have left (there is plenty of time), and I sit down to open up a Solitaire game which I will play for the next 30 minutes to an hour. And I have wasted an hour now. I have wasted an hour where I could have been productive. I beat myself up, I feel exhausted, and I give up. But tomorrow will be different.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

So, how do I fix the broken parts? Are there replacements? What do I need to do allow my brain to run, effectively, on all cylinders?

Maybe, I need to detach. Maybe instead of assignments or To Dos, I make them challenges. Or as the kids say, make it a game. Shit, even my organizing courses/books suggest making it into a game. Make it fun. I should try it out. Keep it simple to start. Already my brain is trying to break down and organize how I would make it a game. What would be the reward system? Is there a category breakdown? Levels?

I cannot go that far. I need to keep it simple.

I need to say, “if I _________, I can ________.”

Let us see if I can do this. Let us see if this “fix” can stick.

Friends don’t let friends exploit one another

I am a good person. I like being a good person and doing things for other people. If I am not looking out for me, I would say that I like helping people out, even if it causes distress for me, because it makes them happy. Some part of me feels if other people are happy around me, because of me, then I can feel good about myself. It is stupid, I know. I am finally dealing with this behavior.

And I do, albeit for a short time. Then, there comes a time where I could use their help. Instead what I get are excuses why they cannot help me. Or I am ignored. Or I get this response “Sorry, I have no time, but hey, can you do me a huge favor?”

I feel my last job followed along very similar lines. I did the clichéd “above and beyond” year after year, with no rewards or recognition. It is because I am a good person. I keep telling myself I am a good person.

Why do I feel this need to be a good person, even to people who are not good to me? For me? More so, why is it so important that I need these people to like me? Is this a behavioral thing I learned while I was growing up? Maybe. Possibly. Very well could be. Sure, it is a behavioral thing, but I can change this. I am changing this.

Possibly, this is why right now, instead of being paranoid about one of those “exploiting friends”  ignoring me right now, I feel annoyance. I listen and acknowledge you. It is time for you to listen and acknowledge me.

Friendships are supposed to be shared between two people. Friends should be supportive of each other. They should not exploit the friendship. Year after year, I have done things for this friend, professionally-related things, where she did not acknowledge it as what I do for a living. If I were to put into financial terms what I have done for this one friend, I could pay one month’s rent for a decent 1 + 1 bedroom apartment, in a nice area of Studio City. Instead, I got a $50 gift card months later, as well as several sob stories about how money is tight at the moment, because “you know, kids and their medical bills and all.” Sure. I understand, as I now have to dig into my savings to pay my bills because I am short this month because you could not pay. But hey. at least I have free coffee.

It is one of those reasons why I ended my previous career at the end of last year. I was tired of being exploited by friends who thought they could get a good deal because we were friends. Yes, we were friends.

I guess I needed to release a little there.

Dry cleaning words of wisdom

Make Change, Not Excuses.

Driving to the airport last Friday, the dry cleaner on the corner featured these “words of wisdom.” I had to laugh. I had spent the week leading up to that moment, asking my loved ones to make one less excuse a week.

It is a learned behavior. I inherited it from her. I still find myself making excuses from time to time. Ok, I still struggle with this, but I call it procrastination or laziness. I am really good at procrastination and laziness.

Wait, this is not about me. Maybe it is? Yes, it is about me, but through learned behaviors I inherited from my parents. So, it is about both my parents and me.

It is so much easier to make excuses than to take action and make change. Excuses are simple. You make them and you can not face the potential outcome of failure. Who wants to fail?

Lately, I fail. I fail a lot. I also learn a lot from my failures. I will continue to fail and I look forward to it. As I continue to fail, I will continue to change.

I actively make changes in my life, because I am tired of making excuses. The excuses only cause me to feel more depressed or overwhelmed. Change keeps me moving forward. Change energizes me. Change gives me the motivation to try new things.

Change has always had a positive outcome in my life, even when (at the time) I did not think so. It can be a bitch, making change. It requires energy. It requires determination and/or will power. It does not matter where you are in your life, you can make changes.

I want my loved ones to make less excuses and make more change. It is never too late (their number one excuse), it does not need to wait to happen until after “blank” has come to pass (their number two excuse),  and it does not have be overwhelming (excuse number three).

Want out of the rut? Tired of complaining about the rut you are in?

Make change, not excuses.

I can do this

Like my singing, I am shy about my art ability. I know I am talented, but I do not feel like I am “be out there” talented. I follow several artist communities on Instagram, whose work is always amazing. I see what they post and I beat myself up because I feel that I am not as talented as they are.

Yesterday, I finished up a piece I am really proud of. It shows that I can do this. I can be an artist. I am riding an “I can do this” high right now. I want to ride this for as long as I can.

TheFluffies_darcher_012616
“The Fluffies” © 2016 Darcher

This painting, aka “The Fluffies,” is proof that I can do this. For me, it is.

Let us see how long I can keep this going.

Inner dialogues

I thought about writing more about my grandmother now that we know for sure how much longer she is going to be with us, physically (not much longer). The thoughts I have about my grandmother – I am not ready to share those yet. It is too soon and I, still, have so much to digest. In time, I will write about my grandmother.

Instead, I am going to write about inner dialogues. We all have them. I am referring to the inner dialogues you have after those kinds of emotional confrontations (or any conversation for that matter). Wait, I am not saying this right.

I am referring to the conversations you will have, if the opportunity ever arises, where you get to lash out or being in control of the conversation, saying your piece, and walking away knowing that you never have to thing about that part of your life again.

The inner dialogue I feel like getting out is the one I envision if I ever run into someone from my past. Without giving away too much (protecting the innocent here, like me for example), I present how I think this conversation will go.

Note: Names have been changed, again, to protect the innocent and the stupid alike.

The Scene: A totally weird and random place to run into someone whom you are never expecting to run into in this location. Let us go with a mall, no where near where this someone resides. I am wandering about when I almost walk into him while I head into a store.

Me: Derwood.

Derwood: Fifi!!!

Me: You know I hate that name. I would rathe you not call me that.

Derwood: Okay Fifi.

Me: And this is further proof while my life is so much better.

Derwood: What’s wrong Fifi. Not happy to see me? Your life is much better with me in it.

Me: Really? I should spend my life dealing with someone that picks on me all the time? Someone that does not respect me and does the exact opposite of what I ask?

Derwood: I am only teasing. I was only ever teasing. C’mon, Fifi, lighten up.

Me: Serioulsy? Lighten up? You are an ass. You are a pompous ass. Worst, you are a bully. A pompous assed bully. You walk around like you are the smartest person in the room. All the time.

Derwood: Now that, is not true. Well, not all the time.

Me: All the time. See? Worst part is how oblivious you are the the bullying and the aristocratic attitude. You do not give a shit about anyone else but yourself. You never listen to what other people have to say. You never really care about how other people feel. You make people feel bad about themselves. Worse, you make coerce people to see things your way. You manipulate. You take advantage of people’s emotions. You break them down.

Derwood: My, someone is acting a little irrational isn’t she?

Me: No, not at all. Remember during catalog production, when you would bring out the ruler to make sure everything was aligned perfectly?

Derwood: And?

Me: Then, you would say to me “Great job. Now do better next time.”

Derwood: I wanted you to always do better. There is no such thing as perfect.

Me: Right. So why the ruler then? Do you understand the damage that did? My next job, I made a mistake and I thought I was going to get disciplined. Instead, he told me everyone messes up every now and then. And you what I did then?

Derwood: No.

Me: I cried. I cried because I was conditioned to be perfect, by you. I did not know that it was okay to mess up.

Derwood: Well, that is not my fault. You are the one that is responsible for that.

Me: Sure, I admit that part of the blame goes to me, but the rest is all on you. My work was never good enough. It really fucked me up. However, it was not the thing that fucked me up the most. You know what that was?

Derwood: No, I do–

Me: It was you coercing me into being with you. The entire time, I felt so dirty, Whatever you want to call it, what we were doing made me feel dirty. Was my self esteem so low at that point? Was I so broken down by then?

Derwood: But you loved me! You said so, first.

Me: After you constantly urging me to say it. No. I did not love you. I love the idea of someone wanted me. I was not in love with the idea of being with you, a married man. I told myself I would never do that, and then low and beloved, I was that person. I hated myself more than I did before.

Derwood: I do not see how that could be blamed on me.

Me: Really? You do not see how you, taking advantage of an employee, telling her you will leave your wife – you would never leave your wife, EVER.

Derwood: I would have.

Me: No, Derwood, you would not have left her. So please, let us not pretend that the two of us would have ever been a forever thing. Thank the heaven it was not in the cards.

Now, as you can see, I am not so damaged anymore. Apparently, I could repair the damage you did. Now, I am happy. I am working on something that will lead to amazing things for me. am married to the most amazing person ever to be in my life. I have someone one my life who challenges me and loves me, encourages me and I would do anymore for.

Derwood: So, will does this leave us? Are you forever going to be mad at me?

Me: Mad? No. Have no respect for? Yes.

Derwood: Well then.

Me: Well then.

And, that is that.

That time when I found my “Eureka” moment

This past weekend, I talked with my husband about the trouble I am having is dealing with the fear of starting. When I want to start something, the fear kicks in. when this fear kicks in, another issue also surfaces – I am afraid of letting people down. Not so much letting myself down, but letting others down.

In my head, everyone depend on me. Everyone depends on me to do something great, or have the answers, or know how to obtain the answers. I have the talent. I am the smart one. I am the one that always either knows what to do. It is a lot to live up to.

Since I can remember people expected me to do great things because I am talented. My art teachers, my design teachers, my family, and even friends. These people expected me to do amazing things. So, when my mother said that I do not have the emotionally strength to be a designer – it stuck with me. It has always been there in the back of my mind, since the late 90’s when I was out of college and just starting out. I wanted to prove her wrong.

And maybe that might have been a key point in how I began to approach my career in graphic design.

Creativity needs emotion. It thrives on it. Maybe that moment in time, that car ride (yes, i even remember the she said it – on the 101 E, No 1 lane, just before the 405, it was daytime) was the starting point of my shutting down, creativity, to get the job done. I removed the emotional factor related to my work. Subconsciously, I chose that moment to separate my creativity from my ability to be a designer. It is why I tended to enjoy layout & production of catalogs. It was confined and tapped into the logical, puzzle solving portion of my mind. If creativity was needed, it was to creatively make everything fit and not how it made me feel when everything did fit. (Okay, there were feelings, but I can compare the feelings more in line with when you can pull on a pair of pants a size smaller than you use to. That feeling.) I started to gravitate towards geometrical as opposed to organic shapes. My work was structured, everything had a specific place. Creativity, was not needed after a while, at all.

The few times I had to create something, it was a very simple element. Symbols.

Being a designer became a profession that was an emotional void for me, creativity. It is something I only realize now. If there is no emotion, there is no passion left for what I did. Sure, I was still emotionally charged, but it was the wrong emotions. Instead of emotions of release and joy, an creative fulfillment, I was feeling and encouraging emotions of stress, rage, panic, and doubt.

So, this loss of passion did not happen over the eight years at my last full-time job, like I had thought. It went away when I started my first design job in 1998, when I started my first job.

There is that moment, when something in your head clicks, and all the scattered pieces start clicking back together, fitting into place, like a puzzle. This is that “Eureka!” moment that happened this past Monday morning.

Since, I have been enjoying each day, feeling really good. I love feeling this good. I plan on keeping this good feeling going for as long as I can.

And I will need it. I have a lot of creative projects to work on.