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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Conundrum


Today, I have a post to write, but then there’s the hurricane. I face a conundrum, if that is the right word for it. I should look that up. A conundrum is a riddle, or a puzzle, right? Yes, right. I checked. Why did I check? Why didn’t I just trust myself?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Good News for Moi!

Hi there, Readers! I just wanted to mention that I am now blogging in two places at once. Why? Because I am magic.

Okay, the real reason is that Psychology Today thought my blog was pretty interesting and so now I'm blogging there and here.

Eventually, I will have a button on my blog saying something cute like "Read me on Psychology Today." Right now, however, I have a bunch of code and words and no pretty button. I am working on this, but to tell you the truth,  I don't think the problem is all on my side. I may not be Ms.Techie, but I have installed buttons before. As well as sewed actual buttons onto actual garments. So I do have some experience.

Anyhoo, I wanted to thank all my readers who are not robots or porn sites for reading, and let you know you can read me here or at Psychology Today. As ever, I will endeavor to produce a weekly post on something that relates at least tangentially to success, and always directly to, well, me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Instances of the Persistence of Resistance


In my last post, I may have showed a little, um, resistance, to Stephen Pressfield’s ideas about Resistance in his book The War of Art. While I made a pretty good case for how wrong he is in my last post, I am forced to admit that indeed, he may be right. Resistance may be just as wily and insidious as he says. Perhaps even more  pervasive than he suggests. Indeed, I find the existence of resistance and its persistence to be widespread in my life.

For example, there I was yesterday, typing on the computer, sticking to my plan, which I mentioned in my last post, my plan to write a book proposal, send it out, and then, while awaiting responses from agents, find some bread-and-butter freelance writing work in corporate communications. That was—and is, my plan. So I was following it, for a good thirty minutes or so, when I gave myself a little break—just a small one--to do important things like check my email (nothing) and Facebook (nothing) and my Twitter feed. And oh, look what we have here, a very compelling link to an article about someone who set herself on fire—No. Stop. Do not read. But then, there was another link to another article, and this one was about freelance writing, which is pertinent to my life, right? So I read it. The article was about how women tend to undervalue themselves when quoting rates to clients, particularly in the higher-earning circles of freelance writing, where people can earn hundreds of dollars an hour as freelance writers. So, important, right? Hundreds of dollars an hour would go a long way towards filling in those budget line items that keep me awake at night, the most important being my retirement fund and college funds for my children. And I thought, Hell, yeah, I’ve done that. I’ve undervalued my writing in my quotes. I’ve figured that I’m starting out, so I should start low and develop clients and then raise my rates slowly. But what am I waiting for? I thought, I am going to call my number one client/company and not only am I going to touch base with her, not only am going to tell her I’m ready for more work, I’m going to ask for a raise.

Readers, I had my hand on the phone, when I realized what was happening.  Resistance.

Remember my plan? My capital-P plan? The thing God would laugh at if God were a human-like being? The Plan involved first one thing, a creative thing, and then the next thing, a practical thing. Of course the practical thing seems like the more important thing, the thing I really ought to be doing. While the creative thing seems like an indulgence, a guilty pleasure, instead of what it really is, which is my life’s true work. So there was Resistance, just as The War of Art says it is, lurking, using any means necessary to stop me from doing the creative work.

That instant of being overcome by the sense that I had to follow up on the freelance writing now or never was a false dichotomy. Freelance strategy will wait. It will be available to me when I finish the proposal and move on to the next part of the plan. If I leap after every lead before I finish the proposal, we all know what will happen to the proposal. Resistance will toss it back like a canapƩ at a wedding and move on to something else.

Meanwhile, I returned The War of Art to the library. I tried to renew it, but someone else wanted it. Resistance is after all, a formidable enemy, and the best defense is education. Education and a good offense. I’ve been reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Before I dozed off on the couch I read something about pretending to be weak when you are strong, to outwit your opponent, which I hope applies to President Obama. 

But I digress. The ending of The War of Art got a little loosy-goosy and Jungian. Actually, I like Jung. Every time one of my children reports having a dream about flying, I note to myself that Jung would have considered this a sign of her empowerment. I hope. Anyway, Pressfield talks about how the Ego is the seat of Resistance, and the artist’s job is to “smash” the ego, through whatever means necessary, which seem to include, along with more mundane suggestions such as regular working hours with no distractions, and therapy, Vision Quests and psychotropic drugs—my ears did perk up at that—to access the vaster, less controlled Self where creativity resides.

Which is disappointingly nowhere near my Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, under the heading of resistance, let me mention that the 13-year-old turned 14, and after I encouraged her to sign up for the extra-curricular science project her Biology teacher is running, so that she can meet new people in her new school (and, yes, provide a solid entry under “community service” on the college application), she “forgot” to go to the informational meeting. This may not be the Resistance Stephen Pressfield writes about. This may be more along the lines of outward obedience-inward rebellion best adopted by a 14-year-old with completely uninvolved and not at all pressuring or overinvested parents.  Just like me. Ahem. Or, as the husband says, perhaps its not passive aggression at all, just absent mindedness. But who believes that?

Finally, in support of other forms of resistance, I got my flu shot today. Did you get yours? I hope so, if you’re sitting next to me on the flying tin can I will be forced to clamber aboard to visit my father this weekend. Because the air on those airplanes, I tell you. Sheesh. Don’t worry, though, my immunity will protect you, too, and you won’t have to worry about catching anything from me, in any case, because I’ll be wearing my protective head gear slash gas mask that I picked up when we lived in NYC and had to travel on public transportation every day. Also, I’ll be wearing Latex gloves, and will be wiping down my tray table with a Clorox cloth. Plus, I’ve requested a window seat, and even if I do have to “go,” I’ll just hold it, because you couldn’t pay me to use one of those so-called bathrooms on board.  Purely for your protection, of course. I wouldn’t want to pass on anything to you, Seatmate. Your Resistance just might be weaker than mine.

Stephen Pressfield, I surrender. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Persistence of Resistance



The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield is on a lot of Top 10 Writing Book lists (for example, this one:Brainpickings Best Books on Writing/)Its subtitle is Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.  The title is a riff on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, which is a famous book I’ve never read. A lot of business folks do read it, though. It’s no doubt full of Eastern Wisdom about the nature of war, applicable to the battle for business supremacy as measured by dollars. Pressfield’s title is a catchy inversion, no? Creative folk also seek success, although perhaps on different terms, and we can use all the help we can get, especially in our business-centric society. In a nutshell, Pressfield’s idea is that resistance, or should I capitalize it, as Pressfield does, Resistance, is the Enemy when it comes to creating. According to him, creating art, or undertaking anything that moves us “from a lower sphere to a higher,” such as education, “an innovative enterprise,” or spiritual growth, forces us into pitched battle against Resistance. Resistance is what stands between “the life we live, and the unlived life within us.”


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One of These Days I'll Be Proactive


Neighbors
A family finally moved into the house across the street. The previous owner was a single guy who bought the house two years ago, planning to marry someone with kids. Those plans fell through. The result was a poorly kept yard with a statue of St. Francis that bothered me more than I like to admit, and a mostly empty house that took a long time to sell. Now, there are kids, one in 5th grade like my 5th grader, and one younger, and the parents are about my age. Knowing how miserable I felt when I moved here, I baked some blondies with the kids and brought them over to them when they moved in. Then, the first day of school, when the mom, let’s call her Lulu, cried when her children boarded the bus, I  invited her over for tea. I felt all “I did a mitzvah” for inviting her, while also thinking that I didn't want to be too friendly. Because. Uh. Because maybe being friends with the neighbor across the street is just too "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and could get awkward.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Non-Epiphany/Habit # 1 Redux


I’ve been feeling like a visitor in my house and in my life. It’s a weird passivity. The other day, I came back home from something, I forget what. The husband had been working flat out. It was Monday. I had been away, where was I? I can’t remember. I was tired from traveling. I looked in the fridge and in the cabinets for something to eat and saw there wasn’t anything easy. Just staples, staples requiring some sort of preparation and chopping and there weren’t any onions or garlic. I just felt like lying around reading and I found myself thinking, I wish someone would get us some groceries. Partially, this wish expressed annoyance that the husband hadn’t done it, because usually he goes to the grocery store on the weekend and I go to the food coop during the week. However, like I said, he’d been working that weekend as well as driving the children to their various activities. I was aware of this, so not really annoyed at him. What it really was, was me feeling like Somebody was going to come along and do this annoying stuff for me, so I could get to the real stuff, like lying around reading and resting.

I need a lot of rest, apparently.

I was standing in my kitchen, and I had one of those moments of clarity. I won’t call it an epiphany because I’m not James Joyce, and also, it wasn’t an epiphany. It was just one of those moments when you see something clearly, as if your mind is wearing smudged glasses and you realize they’re smudged so you clean them and put them back on and everything is clearer.

I thought, Ohhhh, Somebody is me. I’m the one who has to do it. So I went to the grocery store.