Build a Line Challenge and Master Class

“Mary is her own worst enemy.”

That phrase has turned up on  high school and college report cards, employer reviews, and even a letter of reference.

I drafted my application to the class many times. I edited, rewrote it and started over many times.You might have thought it was a PhD thesis. In the end what I submitted was a paragraph and a half of run on sentences and unfinished thoughts.  I was accepted!!  Maybe, just maybe I demand too much of myself, and I am my own worst enemy.

My struggles with Attention Deficit make me pretty  good at the unfinished. I have have started projects all over the house. Scrapbooking, painting and jewelry designs. To apply for this challenge, I had to trust myself that I will finish. Aside from completing 5 prototype pieces for a line of jewelry there will be 3 blog hops.  Kind of like a semester report in High School. Something I failed miserably at.
But I have been working at techniques to work with my distracted mind instead of against it.  Learning why I lose interest in a project has helped me to stay on task.

I am so excited to begin this endeavor! I will be sitting in the virtual classroom along side  very talented jewelry designers. We will be discussing fashion trends, how to design a cohesive line and branding.

This class will make me better. At design, recognizing trends, branding.. and maybe just maybe I will learn to  love my creative self, and stop being my own enemy.

Being Afraidknot12034379_10153396891579232_7541209791967433524_o
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Abandoning fear

lI have discovered bravery is not  about proceeding with out fear. Courage is proceeding despite the fear.  Last May, I hopped into my little car and drove a bit more than a thousand miles to meet some people who previously had only existed in a box on top of my desk. Christi Friesen, world renown polymer clay artist was offering a weekend of classes. Bohemian Vibe, sponsored by Brenda Sue Landsdowne of BSueboutiques.com. Of course, I already felt as though these women were my best friends. I’d logged quite a few hours watching them in their instructional videos on youtube.  Both, very down to earth and easy to like.  I was among the first to reserve my place at the retreat. If I hesitated at all the fear would win and my weekend would turn into a huge regret.

I have decided this year to schedule in my creativity breaks. Just as I fill my calendar with work hours, gym time, and other obligations I need to put into my schedule creativity sessions. It is all to easy to sit at the computer Crushing Candy when I need to be productive. I know I am capable. I just have to stop giving into 288 procrastination and distraction. I’ve spent the last two days reorganizing my work space and clearing my head so I may visualize what I intend to work on. This is my year.I’m going to use the same self discipline  that has helped me stay with a workout routine, eat healthier. The next project is “me time”. By  inking it into my routine the time becomes dedicated to my art.

And I had so much fun in Ohio I am planning on going again. I cant way to see Brenda, Donna, and all the gang. It is so rewarding when artists share ideas and best practices. We all save ourselves so much time by sharing our experience, what works… what doesn’t. You might think that  a group of artists all interested in marketing their art would be more proprietary about their knowledge and techniques. This group is amazing. We all grow together.  It’s pretty neat how it works… when you share what you have you wind up getting what you need.

Be Afrayedknot.

Days of Future Passed

Or Not

I spent the first couple days of the New Year with a walk down memory lane. While considering the future and all the possibilities available to me, I realized how easy it is to become chained to the past.

I am a member of a FaceBook group who’s members have ties to a small town in New England. Often we talk about past experiences, residents or places of note.  Every now again there is a squawker about how things aren’t the same. The town has changed. Things are no longer as they were in retrospect. These comments are made in a negative manner as though time should stand still.

I find my self being frustrated by these comments, but really can’t find a pleasant way to explain – Nothing stays the same… things evolve. There are some good changes and some not so good… but the only consistency in life is how fast things change.
Just as when we were young and thought we ruled the world, we wanted transformation. We changed musical history, created technology, invented, designed new clothing styles and tore down the old and built the new. We innovated.

And now the young people continue to innovate and evolve and change. The older generations continue to shake their heads and say things have changed.

I do my best to embrace technology. I stay connected with social media. Learn how things work. I try to keep up. It keeps me young. But most of all it keeps me independent. The more flexible I become and the more I embrace technology and keep up with the new and the changes the better I am at adapting to my world and remaining relevant. I truly hope as you age you refuse to become bitter at how things change. You may have been that fresh faced kid watching that Elvis guy swivel his hips while the parents declared it an indecency. Perhaps you enjoyed classic rock while  the old folks lamented the end of the swing era.

You changed the world once… it isn’t going to stop changing. Open your mind and your heart.

This Year It Will Be Different

Or Not

My mother loved Christmas. She gracefully hosted a houseful of her kids and their kids. There were piles of gifts under the tree. The “good” china came out of the closet and the linen table cloth was used.

Mom loved to cook, it never seemed an effort for her to put out a meal for 12 or 15, however many showed up, got fed. And they were well fed. With all of us around the table there was always laughter

Everyone would gather in the living room, we would exchange gifts. It was just as much fun to ooh and ahh over what every one else received as it was to open your own packages.
Well Into my 40’s I still looked forward to the holiday with the excitement of a child waiting for Santa. Every bit of her condo decorated, the table set just so, it was, well, it was Christmas!

Having taken over hosting Christmas since my Mom died it just never seemed to have the same magical feeling to it.

For various reasons this year, some having to do with changing employment, my children opted out of a gift exchange. Now, mind you, my children are in their 30’s and 20’s.. It wasn’t like telling a kid the truth about Santa.. but that’s exactly how I felt.

Initially I was in denial  I was pretty sure they were going to come to their senses.  One of them would call and say it was all a joke. Just Kidding.

Then I became angry with these kids, who did they think they were anyway… I can buy you gifts if I want to! And you can just take them too! So what if you choose not to shop for me..  you are gonna take what I give you and be happy damn it.

Then I tried to cajole them into it. It’ll be okay.. just a couple small gifts.. nothing like last year.   You don’t have to exchange gifts… just take the ones I get for you.

I cried, not because of what I wouldn’t get, but because of  what I couldn’t give.

The day came,  my children and my siblings arrived. Family.  My sister brought Hula Hoops, and Paddle Balls.It was fun remembering how great mom was  at paddle ball. I even went out into the front yard to see if I could keep the Hula Hoop  up off  the ground.  Not so much.

I realized the gift exchange had nothing at all to do with presents.

It really was about taking time to focus on each other. The love that went into choosing the perfect token to carefully wrap and then present to a parent or sibling or child. It was about watching someones face to see their expression as they unwrapped something you had especially chosen for them. It was the time taken to thank someone for thinking of you.

Next year it will be different. Whether we have a gift exchange or not, I will not spend so much time fussing in the kitchen. I won’t be agonizing over making sure every side dish comes out of the oven at the same time for culinary perfection. After dinner I am going to linger over dessert and lottery scratch tickets.  Who cares if the dishes get washed now or later.  So what if I don’t get the casserole covered and in the fridge.   Next year… I will take the time to sit with all of my family and simply appreciate  and enjoy being together because

it’s all about the presence.

Executive Function

Or Not

It sounds a bit like a group of people in suits having cocktails, but Executive Function is the core of your every day life.   A mental process, EF is the set of cognitive skills that keeps you on time, organized and in control of your life. When there is Executive Function Disorder,even simple tasks can become immensely difficult.  EF is independent of intelligence. Individuals can have extremely high intellect and low functioning mental processes that control planning, time management, organization and impulse.

Almost every one at sometime has had “doorway amnesia”-  when you walk into a room and cant remember what you came in for. Faced with a transition, your working memory has moved on and forgotten that thought, once you passed through the door, Someone with EF may struggle to write a phone number or address down as it is rattled off to them. Your working memory holds multiple pieces of information as you are manipulating them. Except, when it isn’t working. For most, distraction comes with a sudden loud noise, or an unexpected movement, something shiny. I can be distracted by my own thoughts.  Trying to count anything usually results in something like this: 2,4,6,8 ( I wonder if I ate that banana this morning) 16, 18, 20, (oh in 20 minutes I need to get on that conference call) 32…. “oh crap! where was I??”

You see how that could be a challenge.

 If you ask an adult with Executive Function Disorder  to clean their apartment, or desk, or task them with organizing a cluttered mess,  it can be akin to making the request to a 3 year old. With out the cognitive skills to break the project into manageable chunks it will quickly become overwhelming. If you ask a 3 year old child to clean his room with out simple direction you can reasonably expect to find him playing with his toys when you check on him in 5 or 10 minutes.  I spend a lot of time playing with my toys.

In essence EF is your command center, The processes that work together to let you plan, organize, estimate the time a task takes, your mood and emotion, working memory, and impulse control all function with in each other and at times overlap.

Not having an appropriate braking system on your impulses can lead to substance abuse or other compulsions which often go hand in hand with Attention Deficit Disorder, or EFD. It is difficult to see the consequences of an action even when your intellect is telling you otherwise. It is like the old joke of having the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other.

Ironically the suggested tips for coping with EFD are the very same skills I have difficulty with. Recommending to me that I remove clutter and become better organized is a moot point. This is why I am researching strategies to cope with EFD, I have no organizational skills.

But the understanding that this is a neurological disorder is helping me to know, finally know.. I am not lazy. I am not incompetent. I just  need to find better strategies to keep myself on task.

Be Afrayedknot

On the playground

Or Not

Once you leave the playground and your crayons behind you probably feel your fear of bullying is behind you.

Sadly, a percentage of childhood bullies will go on to become an  adult bully. With age and experience they learn to be more covert and manipulative. Some adult bullies will have been bullied in childhood. Others become a bully when they experience a need to exert control and authority over another.

Work place bullying can be very difficult to document. Typically it comes in the form of verbal abuse, if not witnessed by others it can be impossible to prove.  It may not be the words themselves but the tone in which they were said.  It can come from a superior or a peer, and take different forms. Verbal abuse, impossible expectations, sabotaging productivity and humiliation are all forms of bulling. Often, the target of bullying is the only one to experience this side of the bully’s personality. Telling others is frustrating, as they are not privy to this side of the individual. Coworkers or friends not having witnessed this behavior may find it difficult to believe it exists.

Contrary to perception, targets are not loners or socially in-adept. They tend to be well liked and veteran staff members. The choice of this target is to assert control and to intimidate or threaten the targets  reputation or well being. You can become the victim of a neighborhood bully, or someone in an organization or club you are a member of.  Bullying can come from a customer.

 If you are victimized please know you did nothing to encourage or invite this behavior.   Acknowledge that what is happening is real. As an adult being bullied you may find your self esteem and confidence threatened. Workplace bullying can lead to depression, and effect other areas of an individuals life. Speak up before it causes damage to your mental or physical health.

There are many resources on the internet. Reach out.

Be Afrayedknot

Gratitude

I once  worked with a woman many of us would have considered “perfect”.
Pretty, slender, tall, well liked and smart. She seemed to have it all. How I envied her, for her metabolism, her figure, the easy way everything seemed to be for her. In time it became apparent her life was no easier for her than mine was for me.  Budgets, mama issues, whiny kids, arguments with hubby. She thought her butt was too big, her boobs too small. She doubted herself. I discovered we all really have our own insecurities and anxieties. Even the perfect ones.

Having smaller hips, blonder hair, or being the pretty one didn’t make her life any better, so why was I wasting mine wanting what I would never have?

How much time did I spend, when I was young, wishing to be older. I refuse to waste my time now wishing I was younger, or prettier or slimmer. Or wishing to be anything other than who I am. I am going to enjoy my life  and look forward to the next chapter…….I’ve kicked off the stilettos, traded up for flip flops and comfie shoes.

Maybe this happens to most who make it beyond middle age. I find I am losing so many loved ones. As much as I hope I have somehow made a difference in their lives, I am finding it much more important to let people know the impact they have had in mine.

I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. Sherrie was there with me when my daughter was born. She coached me thru labor, laughed and cried with me. Once the baby’s head was crowning the doctor encouraged her to leave my side and come around and watch the birth. After a quick glance,  Sherrie turned pale, announced she was  going  out to make coffee and stated she would never ever have children of her own.
A few years later I hosted the baby shower for her third child. We floated in and out of each other’s lives.

And then we didn’t.

Her sudden death 4 years ago shocked me. I never had the chance to tell her how much she  meant to me.

Recently another strong woman  left us too soon.  I never told her how much I loved her. She never knew she made a difference in my life.

 So many strong women have pulled me along in their wake. An encouraging statement, or simply believing in me has made all the difference in the world.

I admire people who can reach out their hand and lift up those of us who cant do it for ourselves.  The ones who get it,  understand that building up someone else doesn’t bring you down,  we all rise. We all become stronger when we acknowledge our weaknesses. Share what you have learned with others along their journey. You just don’t ever know how much it might help someone else in theirs.  Thank someone every day. It matters. Dont be afraid to reach out to someone and let them know how you feel.

Be Afrayedknot.