Month: March 2013

Resolution Revamp: March: We’re All Mad Here!

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I’m bringing in the March Resolution Write Up just under the wire.  But, I’ve been spending a great deal of time thinking about what it is I actually want to express here and how best to convey it. 

 

All month long it seems I have been a party to conversations and situations revolving in some way around craziness.  One friend has a batty ex-spouse.  Another friend has an insane work situation.  A loved one is ‘going crazy’ sinking into an unwanted depression.  A colleague is behaving in the most ridiculous ways making the rest of us wonder how many times she’s been hit with the crazy stick.  Which, of course, is making us crazy.  And so on and so forth it goes in a maelstrom of emotion.  It’s become such an unusually prevalent topic in my day-to-day world of late that I felt it might warrant some contemplation.  Then I thought of the idiom – mad as a March hare – and I decided it was an appropriate discussion for the March blog entry. 

 

I’m no stranger to crazy.  In fact, I don’t think I really know anyone who is completely devoid of a little madness.  (Frankly, I don’t think I want to … a little mild madness can be great fun!)  But what is it that lies at the root of madness?  That is something to ponder. 

 

Science might explain that our brain’s chemical processes sometimes go awry causing us to lose “normal” thought and emotional functioning.  Religion might blame madness on gods, devils or demons hijacking our free will and ability to make good decisions.   I am not here to refute or support either of those options.  After meditating on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that vulnerability lies at the root of madness.  (And if you really want to debate:  A religious person might admit that only the spiritually vulnerable are open to demonic attack; and a chemical imbalance could be argued as vulnerability in the structure and/or function of the brain.  But, that’s only if you really wanted to debate.) 

 

Vulnerability is defined as susceptibility to being wounded or hurt; openness to moral attack, criticism or temptation; or an openness to assault.  I can’t think of any experience of crazy that didn’t germinate from some kind of wound or attack, real or perceived.  And, before you make a fuss, I am not saying that vulnerability always leads to madness, but, rather, that madness cannot exist without vulnerability. 

 

I also have come to the conclusion that how we respond to and deal with our feelings of vulnerability ultimately determines our flavor of madness.  This leads me to TEDtalker Brene Brown’s research on Guilt Vs. Shame.  Click here and here to hear her talks.  (Trust me.  It’s good stuff.)  Ms. Brown tells us that Guilt and Shame – often used interchangeably in our social lexicon – are two very different things.  Guilt, she says, is a response to behavior, and Shame is a response to Self.  Guilt teaches us whether or not we are behaving according to our own principles and values.  Therefore, it is a good and necessary emotion.  It can provide us with awareness and motivation and, ultimately, healing.  With Shame, however, we are not feeling badly about our thoughts, words or actions.  When we feel Shame we feel badly about ourselves.  It’s not “I feel badly for something I did.”  Shame is “I am bad.” 

 

These newly hatched ideas and beliefs about madness and vulnerability; Guilt and Shame, make my mind naturally bend to the understanding that vulnerability gets expressed in similar ways to Guilt and Shame.  When we take the more Self-assured response to vulnerability, we can usually manage what threats present by trusting that we are worthy and capable individuals even if external circumstances have us feeling a little weakened at the moment.  We recognize that we may have made some choices that lead to undesirable results, and, therefore, we can learn to make different choices next time.  This is how we grow.  Things tend to get hairy when we begin to see vulnerability as a Self defect.  Then the Self becomes the problem and the external factors are just reacting negatively to the unworthy Self.  Then we tend to give up our power to be active participants in our lives.  We become victims, and either become angry or depressed or both. We get into a Self-centered Shame spiral and eventually our behaviors start becoming more and more erratic, unpredictable, and, yup, crazy. 

 

So, that’s my theory:  Crazy is really just a Self- and Shame-centered response to vulnerability. 

 

What do I do with this theory?  Well, I am using it to remind myself that I am only as crazy as I allow myself to be.  I remind myself that I am worthy and strong and capable of taking care of myself.  And when my choices create a situation in which external challenges start piling up on my plate, I can allow myself a little weakness.  Then I can look those challenges in the eye, and tackle one issue at a time until I am back in control again.  (Well, as in control as we ever are, but that’s a blog post for another day …)

 

Happy March madness to you!

 

xoxo,

 

Melanie 

Cin City

016

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 4 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

Last Saturday the family ventured off to Cincinnati to visit some friends. We knew them when we lived in North Carolina almost four years ago and within a year of one another the four of us moved northward: we to Indianapolis, they to Cincinnati. That’s less than a two hour drive.

In the past four years we have seen each other three times (not including this most recent trip). Really, with as close as we are geographically, this is a little ridiculous, but not surprising given our side’s hesitancy to do anything with people outside of our family. Have I mentioned we have that problem, yet?

It was a beautiful day to get away and drive. I won’t give you the play by play of the visit but here’s what I learned and some good trivia for you if you ever find yourself talking about/visiting southwest Ohio.

  1. When spelling the city name, just count 1-2. That’s 1 N first, then 2 Ns.
  2. Compared to Indiana, this area has so much more elevation. It caused our adopted Hoosier eyes to stare and our Hoosier-born son to throw his hands in the air and shout “roller coaster” every time we went down hill.
  3. If you ever decide that Cincinnati is not the right place for you, you can just jump over the river and head to Kentucky.
  4. The only restaurant I can recommend is Bakersfield. They have awesome and unique tacos that you can order a la cart so you can try more than one.
  5. If you want a crazy shopping/browsing experience, head to Jungle Jim’s International Market. We spent an hour and half there. Husband, who recently developed an interest in spicy foods, found and purchased the hottest pepper in the world, which will probably never leave its bag. This was in lieu of purchasing the $5,000 bottle of hot sauce he found behind a locked cabinet.

But this was really supposed to be a reflection of the reconnection…so:

We ended up spending too much time catching up and reminiscing to take pictures or explore the city. It was worth it. And,  just for kicks (and speaking of trivia) here is a glimpse of the four of us (plus one) during our last week in North Carolina together. Yes, you are looking at coffee-shop trivia winners. Thank goodness we didn’t have to spell Cincinnati. That may have lost us our title.

Capture

Thanks for the day out, K & A. Maybe again sometime next year?

318: The Second Ten Days

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

In case you missed it, here are the first 10 days.

What have I learned during this second third of the project?

1. Late afternoon seems to be becoming my official nap time. I might be on just as much of a nap schedule as my three-year-old. Maybe this is a sign that the baby growing within will easily fall into sleeping on a schedule. One can only hope.

2. …yet I still seem to be balancing my nap time with work. It is so easy to get distracted when one works from home. I’m not the world’s most disciplined self-employee, but I have photographic evidence that I do actually accomplish things.

3. I had fun with some photo filters and touch-ups this time around. Might as well spice it up. Some of my photo subjects have been a bit ordinary.

March 11.

Work Break: descending the basement stairs to switch laundry

020

March 12.

Work Meeting: I need to get gas

012

March 13. (no photo today)

Down for the Count: sleeping off some food poisoning

March 14.

Surprise: actually at my desk

014

March 15.

The Greatest Love: he half-sleepily called my name and that was my cue to go cuddle

015

March 16.

Get Out of Town: a pleasantly warm day on the porch with friends

016

March 17.

Hand Buzzer: Photo-reminder alarm goes off just as I am about to make a call

017

March 18.

3:18 on 3/18: another mundane activity

018

March 19.

Delicious: Some naps can be so

019

March 20.

Research: just kidding I was napping again, but this is what I did as soon as I woke up

001

A Herd of Cats

by Graham

Artists can be pretty emotionally flighty people. In some ways it’s a job requirement, and fostering the ability to embrace one emotional state or another at the drop of a hat is a useful skill in many creative fields. It’s not without it’s downside, though. As any musician will tell you, organizing a committed and reliable group of folks to form a band with is a significant hurdle. One which many times is never surmounted. Organizing artists for anything beyond personal interests is almost laughable most of the time. Yet, that is what I am trying to do with Fair Trade Music, organize musicians around the concept of equity in their business dealings for live performances as well as organizing their community around the idea and the musicians. It’s an idea which is met with general enthusiasm by most who encounter it yet little actual support in the way of action and engagement. It’s sort of passively accepted by musicians that they should be making more but they won’t stand up and say it out of fear of being labeled greedy or self-righteous. It’s a vicious cycle. Despite this, the idea is spreading. Seattle, Portland, and New Orleans have formal campaigns to recognize venues that treat musicians professionally and it’s in the works elsewhere. I’m personally working to establish a working group in Washington D.C. and may soon need to connect a few entities in NYC to solidify a campaign there.

In keeping with my theme for the year of being more intense, the next few months for this are going to require some big moves. The main issue facing the initiative is actually the support it receives from the American Federation of Musicians, the musicians union. The AFM is a group which exists solely to uphold musicians rights and equity, yet they have a slight handicap. They aren’t really setup to deal with situations where there isn’t an employee-employer relationship. Most (if not all) of the independent musicians out there fall outside this realm, we’re entrepeneurs and business owners by default (well really U.S. case law, but that’s another story). For ultimate success with Fair Trade Music it’s going to take me and a couple other folks to initiate at least a partial refocus of the AFM, a 120+ year old,  international organization with tens of thousands of members.  Yeesh!

An Afternoon Out

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 3 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

 

 

Relationships are so important but can be easily neglected. I especially have to work  hard to make sure I don’t get wrapped up in my insular life of family and home. I get very focused on my present environment and have to make a conscious effort to break out.

This weekend I was finally able to get out and about again. After three months of attempting to get together with CT, we finally committed to an event and a date. It was as simple as frozen yogurt and a movie, but still a refreshing change of pace. I probably would have napped and cleaned otherwise.

Like my first connection in January, this was the first time that CT and I had done something social. We met in grad school and had always had good conversations at school and, later, in professional settings. Now was our chance to change the conversation. Over coconut frozen yogurt we talked work (just a little) but easily veered to more personal topics. Then it was off to the movie where we later marveled at how Maggie Smith, though on our radar for close to 20 years now, seems to always be the same age. (In case you are wondering, she is almost 80 now.)

I always have a little anxiety when hanging out with a person for the first time. It is so much like dating (without the added stress of worrying about the goodnight kiss).  Will I be interesting enough? Will they? But, in this case, if CT agrees, I would be ready for another “date” anytime!

 

318: The First Ten Days

   by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative (project 2 of 12)

What is this that you are about to see? I explain the project here.

01

March 1.

Afternoon snack: homemade banana chips

02

March 2.

Napping house: pleasure reading

03

March 3.

Indiana landscape: 124 miles from home

04

March 4.

Dinner preparation: quinoa burgers

004 (2)

March 5.

Onsite work: understanding audience at the art museum

06

March 6.

Pregnancy: more procedures, more blood draws

07

March 6.

Megatron: unexpected playtime with the kiddo

08

March 8.

Yard inspection: signs that Winter and Spring have met

March 9.

(I was in a movie theater. I contemplated taking a picture, but though better of it.)

 10

March 10.

Weekend chores: vacuuming

Lessons learned so far:

1. I do, actually, take some time for myself every once in a while. Why doesn’t it feel that way?

2. Although my calendar was a good hint, March is shaping up to be a busy month: appointments, meetings, trips, and visits with friends and family.

3. I don’t snack around this time of day nearly as much as thought I would.