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USE YOUR FEAR AS RADAR

USE YOUR FEAR AS RADAR

How many times has THIS happened?

You have a really crazy idea that you absolutely, deep down in the pit of your stomach, KNOW will be totally RIGHT for you.  You want this.  You irrefutably NEED this!

You get a truly awesome limited-time chance to make it happen and it is imperative that you do this thing right now, or else….well, you just keep doing whatever you’re already doing.

Right then fear will rear its ugly head.

You get the shivers running up and down your spine.  All the hair on your body — on your arms and behind your neck — stand up.   Sweat pours out of you.

Your eyes narrow down and your nostrils flare as you get really, really focused and all the Boogey-Man thoughts take over your brain.

Your head aches because all of your internal sirens are wailing and every one of the alarm bells are bonging and clanging.

Maybe you start trembling.  Maybe you want to cry.  Maybe you want to throw up.

You get tense and you are all ready to rabbit away…run-run-RUN!  Or you freeze in place, paralyzed by all the noise in your head.

panic-attack
“Panic Attack” by James Barkman via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
(Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m exaggerating a bit.

Sometimes you’ll just get a squirmy feeling in the pit of your stomach, nervous foot-shuffling and a really dry throat.

Other times it’s just a teensy twinge of tingly nerve endings rather than a full-blown panic attack.)

WARNING!  WARNING!  WOOT!  WOOT!  WOOT!

I’ll bet that every time you were on the verge of doing something that was different than what you had done before — every time you tried to push the edges of your comfort zone and every time you tried to go somewhere or do something that you really wanted to do or faced something that was new-to-you and most uncertain — all this trauma-drama showed up like a scary pop-up.

It is a given:  Fear will show up EVERY time you’re growing or going in the direction of your dreams and every time you have to face something new or different or other.

Fear always shows up when you are getting ready to undergo any kind of change — anything that disrupts the life you’ve known so far.

It doesn’t matter that the change is going to bring good things into your life or stop bad things from happening.

It’s Change-with-a-capital-C, and with change there will always be that feeling of risk.  There will always be the feeling that you’re stepping out of line somehow.

out-into-the-world
“Out Into the World” by Aaron Hawkins in Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Basically, the smarty-pants who study such things say that all these body-symptoms of fear are like the blip-blip-blip of the standard-issue radar equipment that’s part of your internal early warning system.

As you go through your day, your mind always scans ahead, looking for things that are out of place or different.  When it detects something that is not-the-same, your brain responds by sending out these fear signals throughout your body.

Fear puts you on alert.  This is fear’s job.  It gets you ready to respond to whatever is coming out of the ethers at you.

Fear is a signal that you are moving into a situation that is different than what you’ve experienced so far.

It is invaluable when you are facing situations that are dangerous and/or life-threatening.

(If you’ve survived for a while in the world, you’ll probably be able to recognize those dangerous or dicey situations easily enough and can work on figuring out how to avoid, mitigate or arrest any developing debacles.)

It becomes problematic, however, when the fear-signals trip you up on your way to your own kind of better.

WHEN THERE’S A TIME-LIMIT

The worst thing about this automatic response-readying system we call “fear” is that it can screw up your ability to take an appropriate action at the time when it’s really needed.

There are times when you are one critical choice away from accepting an opportunity to move forward and reach towards whatever goal you’ve set and that choice is in-your-face right NOW.

freedom
“Freedom” by Padraig O’G via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
If you let the fear-signals stop you, the chance for change will dissipate.  It just won’t be there anymore.

Maybe that’s okay for you.

But, what if it’s not?

In one of his blog posts, productivity and marketing guru  Seth Godin once pointed out, “By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you’re not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said or it will be irrelevant.”

Godin advises that you can use your fear-signals to guide you in your actions.  Rather than shying away or coming to a dead stop, he suggests that you go towards that thing that’s scaring you.

He says, “The reason you’re afraid is that there’s leverage here, something that might happen. Which is exactly the signal you’re looking for.”

If you can make a practice of moving forward to meet and deal with your fear of the opportunity you have been given to make progress in the direction you want to go and to do what you really want to do, then maybe you’ll be able to find more and more ways to keep on doing that.

Maybe you’ll even grow enough to be able to keep on doing it over and over again until you make your dream become real.

go
“GO” by Ludovic Bertron via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
The quintessential go-for-it guy, Richard Branson, once said, “Don’t let fear hold you back from achieving your full potential…I know I’d rather look back on life and say ‘I can’t believe I did that’ than ‘I wish I’d done that’.  How about you?”

HOW TO GET MOVING WHEN YOU’RE SCARED

The thing you have to understand, though, is that your body is really lousy at math and logic.

Rational thoughts and piles of paper spreadsheets, goals, schedules, and lists of pros and cons as well as to-do lists constructed in your more lucid moments do not help make the fearful, fearsome blip-blip-blipping stop.

Being all prepared and everything won’t get you moving.

clutching-her-foot
“Clutching Her Foot…” by Christopher via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
This YouTube Video, “The Secret to Stopping Fear and Anxiety (That Actually Works) was published in 2017 by motivational speaker Melanie “Mel” Robbins.  She is an on-air commentator on CNN, a television host and a serial entrepreneur.

Her book, THE 5-SECOND RULE:  Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence With Everyday Courage, goes into detail about the many flavors of fear, anxiety and other negative thoughts.  It presents assorted techniques and strategies that allow you to stop fear and anxiety from tripping you up.

The technique Robbins demonstrates in her video is one she developed to help people understand that the kind of fear you experience when you are trying to do something outside your own comfort zone can actually be reframed as “excitement” and can be used to push yourself forward.

“The secret isn’t knowing what to do – it’s knowing how to make yourself do it,” she says.

Here’s a poem:


CALLING OUT CAMP GIRL

Camp girl, camp girl,

Those tiny, tiny dreams of yours are

Way too small for the wings you’ve grown.

Time to spread those wings out now,

Make the world your own.

 

Camp girl, camp girl,

You’ve been growing big inside.

Playing small won’t cut it now.

There’s no more need to hide.

 

Camp girl, camp girl,

Winds are calling your name, and

The old fears don’t hold sway.

Now is the time…

It’s your turn to play.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Radar Star” by eskwebdesign via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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THAW THE FREEZE

THAW THE FREEZE

It’s famous…the Fight or Flight reaction dichotomy that happens  every time the adrenaline starts pumping through your system as you’re facing yet another new crisis or unfamiliar situation.

It’s a human thing.  I mean, look at us:  Bad eyes, really limited smelling ability, can’t hear well, small teeth, no claws, weak muscles, can’t run, bad at climbing, and on and on.  In a world of predators, we tend to be a lot wary.  We’ve got good reasons.

Depending on your own propensities, you may want to believe that you’ll stand firm and fight your way through whatever obstacles and challenges you must.

Courage and perseverance and never say die…all the full-blown, pump-’em-up motivational stuff plays in your mind as you keep on trucking on.  Forward, forward, always forward.  A valuable and viable option.

Or maybe you want to believe that you will be wily and smart enough to pull a dig and peel on outa there when the odds are overwhelmingly against you.

Retreat and you’ll live to fight another day.  You’ll be able to choose your battleground and marshal your resources more effectively.  Fall back, regroup, and try again.  Another valuable and viable option.

AND THEN THERE’S THE FREEZE

Then there’s the third reaction that doesn’t get quite as much show-time.  It’s called the Freeze.  Think deer in the middle of the road, caught in the headlights of an oncoming sixteen-wheeler.  Few people want to emulate the soon-to-be street pizza, but very often they do.

deer-in-the-headlights
“Deer In the Headlights” by Shena Tschofen via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The Freeze arises from the fact that we think…a lot.  It’s another very human trait — the one, in fact, that has put us at the top of the food chain and made our species the biggest, baddest predators of all.

THE FREEZE HAS A FANCY NAME

The Freeze is such a prevalent behavior pattern that the smarty-pants scientists even have a name for its extreme form — “tropophobia.”  It’s a genuine, actual condition that can be extremely debilitating and cause all kinds of problems for you.

“Tropophobia,” it says here, is “the fear of moving or making changes.”  People who suffer from it don’t handle surprises well.  They suck at dancing with change.  Even minor changes can cause a complete breakdown.

Tropophobia can be triggered by things like moving to another country, state, city, or even another house in the same neighborhood.  Changing schools or jobs are major obstacles.  Relationships that are changing are excruciating for these folks.

Getting a different vehicle, changing doctors or insurance companies, having new neighbors move in next door, making small changes in set routines, changing your mind or entertaining a new idea….anything that’s different, anything “new and improved” can throw you into a tailspin when the Freeze is your default response.

This is not good.  It’s hard to do your dance when your head’s whirling around and around and you’re feeling dizzy and nauseous.

hurricane-season
“Hurricane Season” by jamelah e. via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

ANATOMY OF THE FREEZE

To some extent, every one of us humans can get overwhelmed by changes that keep coming and coming.  Most of us develop work-arounds and strategies for it that allow us to keep on moving through the changes in outward circumstances or changes in our own feelings and internal landscapes.  Some of us just can’t.

One of the most common traits of people who are affected badly by the Freeze is extreme stubbornness.  Their “Yes-Book” is very small; their “No-Book,” very large.  Things are supposed to happen a certain way and no other way is going to work.  Rigidity is their middle name.

The general anxiety that happens when faced by any change gets blown up into major crisis proportions.  If the anxiety level gets too high a panic attack may set in.

Your heart beats faster and faster.  You have difficulty breathing.  Weakness, fainting, dizziness, tingling or numbness are common occurrences.  You start sweating a lot and may experience chest pains.  Extreme terror grabs you and you spin out.  ACK!

One cause for the condition that stands above the rest, according to the smart guys, is trauma.  Something happened to the sufferer that convinced them that moving made them a target somehow.

Any kind of movement that calls attention to their presence feels dangerous.  For them, it feels better to hide out in the bushes or behind masks rather than to risk an attack that might cause some kind of harm or suffering.

Just the possibility of future suffering or the repeat of suffering that previously occurred gets magnified so badly that they become unsettled and very wobbly.  Who wants to move when the ground under your feet is rocking and rolling and cracks are opening up in front of you?

cracked-earth
“Cracked Earth” by Gerry Thomasen via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
An extreme need for consistency makes people who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder prone to getting driven into a frenzy by any change in daily routines.

Others may just be terrified for no real reason at all.  You don’t need a reason to be scared.  Sometimes you just are.

Hey…let’s face it.  Despite our current status as top dog of the world as we know it, humans are basically descended from a long line of brainy runners and cringing scaredy-cats.

The ones who were brave (and unlucky) didn’t survive long enough to HAVE descendants.  Freeze-genes are part of our DNA.

We honor the fearless ones mostly because the majority of us know that inside our own selves there is a terrified heart prone to a heck of a lot of trembling and moaning.

hikers-at-pilot-rock
“Hikers at Pilot Rock” by Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington [CC BY-2.0]

SO, HOW DO WE DEAL?

Therapy is one solution touted by the smart guys.  Cognitive-behavior therapy can be helpful.  This type of therapy changes the way you react to a feared stimulus by helping you sort through the options available to you when you are confronted with whatever scares you.

Often, by using these techniques, you can even get some insights into what causes you to freeze up like that.  You use your mind to calm your mind by developing routines and workarounds that help you cope with some feared change or other.

Things like shock or exposure therapy have also been used to treat tropophobia as well, but that just sounds like a refined sort of torture.  (The kid’s scared of the water?  Easy solution:  throw him into the middle of a deep pond.  Watch him drown.  End of problem.)

Medication’s another solution.  Specially designed anxiety medication and/or anti-depressants can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.  They can also help with the physical symptoms of panic attacks like difficulty in breathing.

However, the side-effects of the drugs can be gnarly and, for real, popping a pill every time you get scared just shoves the fear under the rug for a while.  You’re going to keep tripping over it…again and again and again.

Relaxation techniques, including the beginning stages of meditation and yoga, listening to music and various breathing exercises have been found to be very effective at alleviating anxiety and other symptoms.  Many people choose these as quick and easy methods for coping with various situations as well.

The problem with all of these methods, practices and techniques is that they are coping devices.  When you use them, you relieve and mitigate the assorted symptoms of the problem, but you are still stuck with the basic problem, which is your fear.

It sits there, a raging stream that cuts across your path and the dream you’re chasing is on the other side of the stream.  Treading water in the middle of the stream just doesn’t get you to the other side.

raging-river
“Raging River” by Szoki Adams via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

WHAT ELSE?

Marketing maven Seth Godin had an interesting take on this whole issue in his book, POKE THE BOX.    He points out that things are always moving and flowing.  He calls that flow “flux” and says that engineers can measure the flux of heat or molecular change by measuring movement.

One example he uses is putting an ice cube in a cup of hot tea.  The heat moves from the water into the ice.  The ice melts.  That’s flux.  That’s movement.

iced-tea
“Iced Tea” by EmberEyes via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The problem is that people often confuse the natural flux and movement of the evolving world around us with risk, and, for real, “risk” is just a state of mind.

The feeling of “risk” is the result when we put some value on a particular outcome.  We want that outcome very badly.  If we don’t get to that particular outcome then we feel we have lost something somehow.

Risk always involves winning and losing.  And risk always brings with it the possibility of failure.  Chances are, the more risks you take the more likely it will be that you will fail at some point.

If you’ve been trained to avoid failure, Godin says, you will be especially averse to taking risks.  Your wonderfully agile mind starts in, showing you all the ways this move or that move could lead to failure.  Not only that, the people around you, who probably don’t like change any more than you do, are likely to chime in as well.

You start getting anxious.  You’re going to lose, Lose,LOSE…oh, no!  So you don’t move.

Anxiety, according to Godin, is “experiencing failure in advance.”  Your mind is doing a ju-jitsu number on you, throwing you for a loop.

Godin likens the reactions of the risk-averse to acting like a rock in the middle of a flowing river.  He says, “People act as though flux – the movement of people or ideas or anything else that’s unpredictable – exposes us to risk and exposes us to failure.  The fearful try to avoid collisions so they avoid movement….”

He tells us, “Like a rock in a flowing river, you might be standing still, but given the movement around you, collisions are inevitable.”

He points out that a log floating down that same river is in the flow of movement and change, but that log is likely to experience a heck of a lot more calm around it when compared to that rock.  Moving with the flow it doesn’t get banged up so much by the floating debris and it can land in a pretty cool place eventually.

its-too-cold-to-jump-in
“It’s Too Cold To Jump In” by Jamie McCaffrey via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Godin’s solution to thawing the Freeze is this:  Flex with the flux.  Move.  You are more likely to get to somewhere else pretty much intact.

ANOTHER TAKE

This YouTube video, “Numbing Pain and Joy” presents an important concept:  when you numb pain (or discomfort or fear) you numb joy.

The video was published by KirstyTV, the You-Tube channel for internationally known motivational speaker Kirsty Spraggon whose main focus in her talks and as an interview talk-show host is vulnerability and working through the issues connected with being a bonafide, genuine human being.

Here’s a poem:


PAY ATTENTION

Pay attention!

This is SERIOUS!

Here you are lollygagging down this road

on your way to your Doom.

 

You are ignoring all the smarty-pants prophets.

They tell you how foolish it is to be

refusing to be ruled by inevitability,

refusing to heed their fingers pointing at your fate,

ignoring their gloomy and direful predictions of your predicament.

 

So what happens?

 

This road of yours takes a left.

then it takes a right…

an unexpected corner – OOPS!

pothole here, mud bog there,

mist and shadows,

caves and heights.

 

You move one more jot

along your meandering trail

going hither and yon along yet another cliff edge,

then down some rocky beach,

under the pretty trees,

totally unaware of that stupendous bunch of heavy coconuts

that just misses your head because

YOU stopped to watch some hyperactive orange-and-black butterfly

zigzag-zipping along through the zinnias.

 

Ya know…

This is not so bad.

 

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Glacier” by Douglas Scortegagna via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

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MORE FUN THAN ONE

MORE FUN THAN ONE

Starting is a series of events.  You decide to walk to Cleveland and you aim to do it on your own two feet – no bike, no bus, no train, no plane or helicopter…not even a hot-air balloon.  You’re going to walk to Cleveland.

So you take a first step in the right direction.  That’s starting.  At the end of the day, however far you’ve gotten, you might stop at a hotel and rest.  And what happens the next morning?  Either you quit this silly project, decide you’d rather ride, or you start again…walking to Cleveland.

directions
“Directions” by Beat Tschanz via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Up close and personal on this long walk, you’ll start to get the underlying idea after a while.  What you’ll figure out is that every step you take on this long-haul journey is a new beginning.

Every time you take another step you are reaffirming your commitment to your goal and you are making another start.  All the way to Cleveland.  (The trick, of course, is to keep going until you get there.)

But, doing the walk all by yourself can be a long and lonely trip.  A companion or two makes the journey much more fun.  A whole tribe could get downright lively on the road trip.

Entrepreneurial thought leader Seth Godin wrote a book, TRIBES:  We Need You to Lead Us, that talks about how tribes have formed down through the ages.  He shows you how to develop as a leader of one.

Any group of people can become a tribe.  Who knows, maybe you can grow your own and take them along on your journey.  This book could point you in the right direction.

IT’S MORE FUN WHEN THERE’S MORE THAN ONE

Another entrepreneur, Derek Sivers, is best known for being the founder and former president of CD Baby, the online CD store for independent music-makers.  He’s also well-known for a TED talk he did that went viral in 2010, “How To Start a Movement.”

During his talk he used a video of a guy in the crowd doing a silly dance at the 2009 Sasquatch Music Festival as a metaphor for his talking points.

The advice contained in the talk is not earth-shattering.  It is, in fact, a bit simplistic, but it did get people thinking about “lone-nut leaders” and how they get validation if they can attract the right guy to follow their lead.

It’s the “first-follower,” Sivers says, who actually shows the rest of the people how to follow and how to join in the fun.

Three years later, Phil Yanov, a technology columnist and public radio commentator, did a TEDx talk in Greenville, SC called, “Bang a Drum.  Build a Tribe.  Start a Movement.”

Yanov takes the idea a little further in his talk.  He gives you three steps to get you off your duff:

  • Find YOUR one true song. (He tells you how to tell when the song you are singing  is your one true song.)
  • SING your song so people can hear it. (Being shy won’t get your song heard, he points out, and reminds you that your mission is more important than little ole you.)
  • Grow your circle everywhere any way you can.

Yanov also offers a bonus bit of advice:  Start today….

If what you’re doing matters, waiting until everything’s just so isn’t going to make it start to happen any faster.

WHEN YOUR KOOL-AID’S BIGGER THAN YOU

There are so many directions you can take this.

If you find an “idea worth spreading,” as our TED-talk friends are wont to say, try asking whether  the idea has been spread as far as it can go.  Has its reach been hobbled by some external factor, perhaps?

Maybe the guy telling the message is a dork-head with zero people skills and his very important idea is getting trashed as a result.  Or maybe that great idea is buried in technical lingo and jargon that leaves everybody dizzy.

Can you help with that?  Can you use your communication skills and make something out of them that the general public can use?  Can you figure out everyday ways to use the seminal good idea to make other people’s lives better?

The framework you build on the one good big idea as you widen your circle of people who are believing in the big idea and helping to spread it and make it happen could become like a sunken ship off some shore that supports a whole colony of reef creatures.  The snorkeling could get good over time.

bowser-the-moray-eel
“Bowser the Moray Eel” by Roy Niswanger (Published) via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

ONE GUY’S TRIBE

As an artist painter Brendan O’Connell has made a name for himself as “the Warhol of Wal-Mart.”  His paintings of the interiors of assorted Wal-Mart stores hang in museums and his art has been lauded by the New Yorker and appeared in the Colbert Report.

O’Connell’s latest works are pictures of branded products on grocery and supermarket shelves. Collectors and aficionados snap these up.   Grocery-cart candidates can be fine art, it seems.

However, O’Connell is more than just another artist with a gimmick.  He has long espoused the idea that creativity is a human birthright and that everyone can be creative.  With this in mind, O’Connell co-founded Everyartist, a non-profit social enterprise that’s bent on sparking creativity by promoting the act of art-making among children.

Every October the group puts together huge community art events (Everyartist Live!) that involve many, many children.  Their goal is to turn the work of a million young artists nationwide into “the most massive community art event in history.”

Here’s a video of one of the events, titled “Wal-Art, Bentonville, AR,” which was published in 2012.

O’Connell built himself a tribe and they started a movement.  They keep on doing good work.

Here’s a poem….


THAT’S THE ONE

The World and the Real:

Two paths to follow.

 

It would be easy if

They just went off in

Different directions…

One going here, one there.

 

But, no.

It can’t be that easy can it?

 

Some cosmic joker went and threw

Another loop into the equation,

Making an intricate Chinese knot

With some pretty name.

 

The paths intertwine,

Over and under and through,

Up and down and around,

No beginnngs, no ends that the eye can see.

 

The cords run parallel; they divide,

Looping and swooping

Through intricate patterns,

They make a beautiful whole.

 

But, how do you tell when

You’re looking for one and not for the other?

How do you know which way to step?

(Too bad they’re not color coded.)

 

The wise guys say if you’re looking for Real,

Here’s what you do:

 

Find the path that shatters,

The one that won’t console,

The one that isn’t some easy glide

Through the same-old, same-old.

 

Find the one that takes all of everything you’ve got

And shakes it up and rearranges it all

Into some new pattern

That you have never seen before.

 

Find the one that scares you,

That bright and sunny one that’s

So full of promise that it hurts

To even look at it.

 

Find the one that starts your fears revving

And makes you dizzy with the vertigo of

Standing next to some edge

Overlooking the deepest abyss.

 

Find the one that makes you tremble,

That makes you long for what might be…

 

That’s the one.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Many Hands” by Four Corners School of Outdoor Education (photo by Jacob W. Frank) via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS?

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS?

Art = Process, Art = Exploration, and Art = Discovery.  Playing with your materials, learning a new technique for making a something, honing your craftsmanship and your ability to go further and further into your medium….that’s the glory part.  That’s the part that makes your heart fly.

One day in the middle of doing all this neat stuff you look up and, gee-wow…you’ve gotten way good at the thing you’ve been called to do.  You’ve also got stacks and stacks of, well, stuff.  You now own skill-sets like you wouldn’t believe, but you’re tripping over all the detritus you’ve accumulated and it is interfering with your ability to move any more.

THE DOWNSIDE OF FLYING WITH ANGELS

Novelist Umber Eco has his Franciscan sleuth William of Baskerville expound, “The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something.  But afterwards you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless.”

Art is like that, I am thinking.  You work on building some sort of construct that will express or explain some phenomena you’ve encountered.  Out of thin air, you make a something.

And once you’ve done it – whether you’ve been successful or not at coming close to whatever truth you think you’ve seen — it sits there.  It turns into a thing that has to be named and catalogued, displayed or stored, dusted or shined up or ….whatever.

It isn’t the thing you make that is all-fired important, really.  The process and the journey you make getting to that thing is actually what your heart is aiming for.  The making of the thing is the Real in all this….

But then, the thing just sits there.  Stuff piles up in doorways and stacks and piles of stuff cover up windows and take up floor space.  Shortly thereafter your creative impulse gets a bad case of constipation and the flow stops.

To be exclusively concerned with art leads to bulging warehouses full of half-remembered insights.  Hmmm.  The eternal conundrum for every artist I’ve ever known – myself included.

wooden-boxes-of
Wooden Boxes Of….by darkday via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

GUT-THOUGHTS ON ALL THIS

My na’au, my gut, is a bit of a nag.  It whines and whimpers and spends a lot of time making up catastrophic  futures. I get annoyed with it.  I have to keep reminding myself:  Your gut’s job is to be hungry.  Its job is to feed you and keep you safe and warm and good stuff like that.

If you can sell the thing you made and get some sort of (decent) renumeration, my gut tells me, you won’t have to make a steady diet of ramen noodles or live in some cardboard box in an alley or something.  My gut points out that it’s really hard to do artwork when you’re living in a cardboard box or under a bush.  It do go on….

My gut is in charge of survival scheming.  My gut wants me to do marketing and turn the Beauty I make into something that other people will spend good money to get.  My gut likes eating.  Good money means better grinds.  ‘Nuff said.

Every creative gets to do this dance.  Maybe it’s part of the deal.  Who knows?  Obviously, there needs to be some negotiating when heart and gut are at odds.  Otherwise all the push-me, pull-you action will drive you crazy.

THE FORK IN THE ROAD

fork-in-the-road-at-decision-tree
The Fork in the Road at Decision Tree by Wonderlane via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Art that is new or different arises out of NOT being concerned with marketing.   Probably there is no way that an artist can make new or different art while keeping an eye on marketing possibilities.  Finding your own voice requires flying off into strange dimensions and risking getting lost.  The edge of Making is uncomfortable.

On the other hand, traditional marketing is basically about making other people comfortable.   It is a truth:  The traditional marketing mindset is not likely to lead to new or different art.  It mostly leads to same-old with maybe one or two not-so-major alterations so that the whatever-it-is can be touted as “new and improved.”

The theory behind the traditional marketing mindset is that people are more likely to buy something with which they are comfortable.   Strangeness is not comfortable for most people.

One of the acknowledged best of the marketers today is Seth Godin.  Here’s a YouTube video, “Seth Godin:  The Art of Marketing,” put together by TheArtOf.com that touches on his thoughts about marketing.

(All marketer wannabes can CLICK HERE for the full interview.)

As a confused creative, you might find it more palatable than most marketing riffs.  As Godin points out, marketing is no longer just about selling average products to average people.  The Internet, he says, has changed all that.

Some art purists would say — in tones of high-brow disdain — that all marketing is “pandering” to what other people like, what other people know, what they find familiar (and what is similar to whatever some star in their firmament owns or possesses).   The purists accuse the ones who are successful at marketing of being pimps, of “selling out,” and so forth and so on.

Mostly, I notice, the creatives who are good at marketing are really pleased when the things they’ve made have found good homes with other people who have made rooms in their lives for them.  The best sign on a shop window, after all, has to be the one that says “SOLD OUT.”

sold-out
Sold Out by Joshua Ganderson via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
“Product” has to be concerned with marketing or it ain’t product. The end-result of the process that is Art-for-art’s-sake and not product becomes like those pictures Mommy tapes to the refrigerator and like those misshapen clay ashtrays she proudly displays on the coffee table.  Meh….

The thing the purist in you has to remember is this:  Other people are not obliged to pay attention to anything that disconcerts them or that requires effort for them to understand.   They’ve got enough on their plates already and for the most part it is not a part of their jones to make themselves uncomfortable.  Because of this, they may not be ready to exchange their hard-earned bucks for your unsettling visions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Developing your own voice, it seems to me, is a good thing.  Using it to scream and rant in other people’s ears is not.

Basically what marketing for you as an artist boils down to is learning to hold another person’s hand and taking them little by little into your new-to-them, different world and introducing them to the wonderments you see a little bit at a time.

It becomes another dance.  In it you explore their world as much as you encourage them to explore yours.  In it, you speak heart-to-heart and try to give them a piece of your vision that they will be able to incorporate and integrate into their own world.

Then, when you’ve done all that, you can ask them for their support.  You ask for their permission to keep doing what you do.  If they like it, if they like you, then you will be able to keep on doing your dance (without all of the boxed detritus lying around).  And isn’t that all you really want anyhow?

This YouTube video, “Neil Gaiman’s 10 Rules for Success,” was posted by Internet entrepreneur and social media marketeer Evan Carmichael.  It’s part of an ongoing project of his to collect the top ten Rules of Success held by assorted successful people in every field of endeavor.  He’s put together videos featuring writers, artists, musicians, film makers as well as assorted business people.

 

You may want to check out Carmichael’s website, #BELIEVE ( EvanCarmichael.com .)  The guy’s new book is YOUR ONE WORD:  The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter.

Here’s a poem:


SELLING OUT

Writers are always selling somebody out.

Poets only sell out themselves…

Or (more often) we chop pieces off ourselves

And try to give away those pieces to

An apathetic crowd.

 

Writers pull out deerstalker caps and magnifying glasses,

Spend their lives dissecting other people’s movies,

Turning knife-sharp eyes to the task,

Looking for the evidence of the lies

Other people tell themselves and the gullible world.

Writers pull out other people’s entrails,

Poke around looking for signs that tell out loud

the sordid pasts and soggy wet dreams

That died along the way.

Writers look for portends in those entrails,

Omens that will clarify what the future holds.

‘Course the subject of the study is dead by then.

(There’s not much future for a gut-amputee.)

 

Poets, on the other hand,

Are writers who inflict

Such Holmesian techniques  upon themselves.

Apparently poets are immortals…

Or maybe they’re just Promethean.

Maybe they regenerate guts

The way starfish grow back arms.

Poet-guts keep growing back,

Ready for yet another ripping out,

Another mucking about.

Poets hunch over with the scalpel and forceps

In their own gloved hands,

Subjecting their own innards to

The scrutiny of their own x-ray eyes.

 

Washing-up is optional.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Collection of Leftovers by Anne Lindblom via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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IT’S NOT FOR YOU

IT’S NOT FOR YOU

For a long while now, I’ve been trying to figure out why certain works of art (and poetry) speak so strongly and most others don’t.  I am thinking that it could be the ones that shout out loud really are attempts by the artist to actually say something Real.  What makes it Real is the courageous, open connection and access to the artist’s heart, it seems.  A lot of times we shy away from being that exposed…and maybe that’s why the work we do only mumbles.

Entrepreneur Seth Godin once said, “As soon as you’re willing to say ‘It’s not for you,’ you’re freed up to make art.”  What he’s pointing out, I think, is that if you try to make something that “everybody” will like, something that will not offend or disturb or otherwise ruffle feathers, you are probably compromising your art.  You’re taking the nickel bet, churning out lots of little bits of meaningless stuff that most people will feel lukewarm about rather than aiming for a heart-grab that squeezes your own heart just as much as it squeezes your reader’s … one that actually means something to you and to the person with whom it resonates deeply.

The thing is, doing that means you have to shoot from your heart…and you know that’s going to hurt.  So you waffle and  you winge and you compromise and you piddle away the juice and it all turns wishy-washy.  Pfui!

NEW RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

  • Make what you love as best as you know how and use what you learn from that to get better at it.
  • Have the courage to follow your instincts and your intuition even if they take you way, way out of your comfort zone.
  • Take the risks you need to take to speak with your truest voice.
  • Stand up for your work when you must and push back at the fears that eat at you (A-A-A-A-H! Nobody’s gonna like it.  Everybody’s gonna hate it!  A-A-A-A-H!  I’m gonna have to eat Worms!  Argh!)
  • Turn it loose and let it fly or limp or lurch or whatever the heck it wants to do.

Do that over and over.  Your audience WILL find you and they’re gonna love you (or possibly hate you).  They will not go to sleep, however.

On to the poem:


ATTACK OF THE INNER BITCH

I am a sweetie-pie,

Really I am.

See my saccharine face?

It’s all overflowing with

The godawfullest sweetness and light.

I am sweeter than Krispy Kremes,

You bet.

 

But, I gotta tell ya…

There’s this voice that comes:

The motormouth in my head,

The one that revs whenever

Someone comes all over “poor-t’ing me,”

And this is what that bitch says:

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah…

You are a precious and unique being…

One in seven billion and counting

And, yeah, you are in distress.

But, I gotta tell ya, babe,

You are trying my patience.

The histrionics that accompany

Your latest tale of woe-some-mo’…

Well, they bore me.

 

All that cryin’ and wailin’

Get in the way of working

Toward better solutions and resolves.

All that moaning

Trivializes your ordeal.

AND, it is giving me a headache!

 

Frankly, I ain’t got the time.

On a scale from one to ten,

In my world, your hell that’s playing itself out

In this here slice of heaven rates about a 1.5.

I mean, come on…

I only have the standard issue

31 million, 536 thousand seconds

Allotted to me every year, ya know.

Get on with it, get over it, or get it away from me….

 

Your choice.

By Netta Kanoho

photo credit:  by Joi Ito via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]

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