30 April 2011

Perspective on the decay of beauty

I was driving cross country and spent a few days photographing at Capitol Reef and Arches National parks. The desert sun was fairly brutal even though I slathered up with 50 SPF sunscreen and wore a hat.

After a few days in the desert, I noticed a couple of darker skin patches on my face. It was as though I'd missed a couple spots when applying sunblock that tanned a bit more. Though that didn't seem likely, I didn't worry about it, figuring the coloration would even out over time.

That was August 2004. The dark areas have not gone away.

For these photographs and many more I made then, I accept the trade.
North Window Cards
North Window Cards by RocklawnArts

Double Arch Cards
Double Arch Cards by RocklawnArts

Sandstone Fins Greeting Cards
Sandstone Fins Greeting Cards by RocklawnArts

The problem is that decay continues to accumulate without balancing benefits.

A couple years ago, I noticed a small bump or two on my face which I assumed was acne initially, but after some time had passed I realized it must be something else. There's the hair that started sporadically growing out of my mole. There's the bruise from last August when I smashed my shin into a metal movie theater arm rest that's still visible 8 months later. A colorless bump on my forearm, the appearance of more moles and bumps.

Having reached a critical mass of bumps, spots, and oddities that were concerning me, I finally made an appointment with a dermatologist to have a full skin exam despite my aversion to seeing doctors. Naturally, his first available appointment for a new patient was 5 months later, but yesterday that time arrived at last.

I parked behind the office building, opened the back door, and the old carpet and smell in the hallway reminded me of apartment hunting in LA. Not high marks so far. A bit further down, there were stairs, split level style. I followed a sign and walked down a half flight of stairs where there was another door. This one opened into his waiting room.

I checked in and perused the grandma decor, wooden chairs and benches with country style cushions on them, like walking into a time warp.

Along one wall, he had all of his diplomas and certifications hanging. I had appreciated the fact that he was board certified in both dermatology and internal medicine when I researched him. To the right of his dermatology credentials was a smaller framed certificate: he was an Eagle scout. I smiled because he's been practicing medicine for 30 some years and still has that hanging, but I also appreciated the accomplishment it represented.

Right on time, I was taken back to an exam room. She left so I could change into a paper gown. I set my notebook and magazine on a plastic chair and pondered where to put my clothes. There was a counter, a stool, an exam table, and the aforementioned chair. Over the counter, there was a frosted glass window that faced the hallway. Dude, what the hell's up with that? I opted to ignore it and decided on the chair. Everywhere else would be in the way.

I hung my blue fuzzy hoodie on the chair's back, took off my watch and shirt, started to put on the gown lest someone come back too quickly but then put it down figuring I'd tear it while trying to get my shoes, jeans, and socks off. I stripped the rest off in a flash, draped the gown over my shoulders and wondered what I was supposed to do with the short tie hanging from one side of it. There were no slits to loop it through that I could see. It was long enough I could tie it around my waist but it'd be a close fit and wouldn't he have to untie it anyway? I left it undone.

Now that my clothes were on the chair there wasn't anywhere to sit since I didn't want to be on the table, so I grabbed my catalog of flaws and stood waiting. After a couple of minutes there was a knock at the door.

"Yes," I said.

The doctor and the woman who'd initially showed me in entered. He introduced himself. I had imagined him heavier and older, but he was trim and friendly.

We chatted briefly, and then I sat on the table for him after setting my notes down.

"Oh, you don't know this because you're new here," he said as I thought Um? "...but we get really punchy on Friday afternoons."

"Oh," I said, relieved, "That's all right." Somber doctors don't really put me at ease.

"Do you mind if I mess up your hair?" he asked.

"No."

He stood beside me and started running his fingers along my scalp. "Free scalp massage with every skin exam," he exclaimed brightly. Then after a moment, "You're really tall. I don't usually see people like this." He tipped my head towards him so he could see the top of it. He moved around to check all of it and then stood in front of me.

"Do you have any questions about your face?"

"Yes." I turned towards the chair and leaned reaching for my notes. His assistant handed them to me which is a good thing because there was really no way I could've reached it without falling off or sprawling across the table. "Thank you."

He handed me a mirror so I could point things out to him. I was feeling self-conscious listing out my facial flaws with him right in front of me and also because of the nurse standing quietly to my left. He commented kindly, "You're getting nervous," and pointed to my collar bone, "Your skin's getting blotchy." She nodded in agreement.

I ran through various spots and bumps and jotted down his comments (all harmless) as he looked at them through his magnifying spectacles. Unbidden, he started spelling the medical terms out for me.

"Thank you. So often doctors just rattle off all the terms without even pausing."

As I pointed out various flaws, his assistant maneuvered a bright standing lamp to illuminate them. "Your fingers are really long," he said. The nurse/assistant concurred.

Really? I'm tall, they don't seem long to me. "Um, OK?"

The odd colorless bump on my forearm had a particularly hard to spell name, so he said, "I'll write that one down for you."

When he was looking at my back, he mentioned some moles of a certain type I had and then found one similar on my arm so I could see what he meant.

"I'm covered in moles," I said.

Immediately, both he and his assistant said, "No, you're not." They were right when I considered it for a moment. He continued, "You have a light spattering of moles." And then, "Your skin's beautiful. Are you good about skin care with the sun?"

"Um, I don't go out that much and my back's always covered because my shoulders burn so easily."

"So that'd be yes."

He came around front, sat on the stool, and picked up my right foot extending my leg towards him. As he looked it over, he said, "Are you a runner?"

I shook my head, "No."

He shared a look with his assistant that I couldn't quite decipher, so I added, "I do some yoga?"

After he finished checking my skin, he asked if I had any other things to check. I looked down the page and then flipped to the next one to double-check.

"There's a page 2," he exclaimed.

"Oh, it's just stuff I use." I hadn't been sure what I was going to need to fill out for them.

He stood beside me so he could read it. I appreciated that he was sincerely interested in my notes (unlike some doctors I know, ahem). I asked about a few products, but ultimately he said, "Your skin looks great! What you're doing works."

I thought again of the zits on my chin that hadn't gone away yet, the dark patches, the annoying small bumps, all the imperfections that could now officially be chalked up to age. If you think it looks great now, you should've seen it five years ago.

"So there's nothing I need to worry about?"

"You get an A++."

I smiled and was about to write it down, when he said, "Do you want me to write it down for you?"

"Sure."

"Let me get a red pen." He snagged a red sharpie from the counter and wrote an A+ with his initials below it and encircled them at the top of the page.

He noticed I'd written "light spattering of moles" at the top and clarified that it should be "very light."

"Your skin's beautiful," he said again. The assistant nodded in agreement.

Despite my internal protestations, I believed they meant it, and not just casually but in a more objective manner. "Thank you."

I wish all my doctor's appointments would go this well. For once, I actually felt better for having gone.


A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #12

29 April 2011

Life of Art SitRep #64 The road back

Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
*******
This week, I

  • Shot 15 photographs: flowers, fungi, bark.

  • Prepped Puffy Clouds On Blue Sky photograph, wrote a product description, and created a product line:
    Puffy Clouds On Blue Sky sticker
    Puffy Clouds On Blue Sky by RocklawnArts
    Make a sticker online at zazzle.com

  • Tweeted, Zblogged Puffy Clouds On Blue Sky.

  • Prepped Golden Gate Bridge Suspension Cable photograph, wrote a product description for it, and created a product line:

  • Tweeted, FB'd, zblogged Golden Gate Bridge Suspension Cable folder link.

  • Revised store profile.

  • Wrote interview answers for zazzle store feature blog.

  • Submitted 3 products to a promotional blog.

  • Tweeted, FB'd card and Easter sales.

  • Watched "Shadow Highlights - The Forgotten Adjustment" photoshop tutorial. Pretty cool! Also "Creating Image Templates with Clipping Masks" Photoshop tutorial. Pretty cool for making template where you can swap out photos. Also watched "Creating A Reflecting Pool in Photoshop" Meh.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?


    A year ago on TTaT: Interrupted Golf: j'accuse le printemps!

    26 April 2011

    I'm Over All That

    I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions24. I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions by Shirley Maclaine

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    I love the format Shirley MacLaine chose for this book: it is a collection of reminiscences and opinions which reveal the things she is over in this life, as well as the things she's trying to be over, and those she will never be over.

    She is, for example, over liberals and conservatives, rude young people, and flying. She's not over good lighting, Africa, or having her hair colored. She covers a lot of ground from the political to the metaphysical, Hollywood stars, affairs, travel, and more. She's a thoughtful person with a sense of humor who can write well.

    Not my favorite book by her but quite enjoyable. It's worth reading just to start considering what you are and aren't over in your own life.


    A year ago on TTaT: Dear Lego, your sexist policy is appalling!; improv wisdom: don't prepare, just show up; Aquarium

    25 April 2011

    So frakking anti-climactic!

    After a week of trying to reach my doctor...

    She was off the Friday that I called, so her medical assistant left a message saying she'd relay the message, but my doctor would be out the next Monday as well, at which point the medical assistant would be off for the week. Though assured someone was covering the medical assistant's voicemail no one returned any of the three messages I left last week.

    My first message was rambling and kind of nervous, a recap of what I'd said on Friday with some new facts.

    The second, simple and direct but I think I said "few" instead of "a couple" for how many questions I had.

    I should point out here that at my last appointment, my doctor encouraged me to call if I thought of additional questions after I'd read up a bit.

    Thursday, I actually called the front desk but got the most deft blow off ever as the receptionist assured me someone was checking my medical assistant's messages and someone would get back to me.

    Here I should point out that phone calls stress me out: making them, getting them, leaving messages, or the agonizing waiting for someone to call back. This has been fucking with my sleep is how stressed phone calls make me. I don't mind a short simple call when I know what to say or chatting with certain people (as long as they're not totally preoccupied with something else), but this is another tier of preoccupation, continually trying to find the briefest, clearest set of words to convey my meaning. No doubt it doesn't help that doctors stress me out too.

    I wrote down my questions and eventually typed them out to get a better order for them. If I could just get 5 to 10 minutes, I'd be set.

    Actually the longer this went on, the less I cared about getting certain questions answered. I prioritized, I streamlined. I knew I had an appointment mid May during which I could hit any straggling queries.

    On Friday, I left my third message: brief, simple plus impassioned plea for someone to get back to me.

    No one did, so after 5 PM (but really 6 due to wishful thinking), I did my best to chill out for the weekend.

    One good discovery is that though I've been distracted from working on my shop lately, it turns out that if I can get over that initial hump to start, working on it provides an excellent distraction from phone call nonsense.

    Today, I hoped the medical assistant would be back though her voice mail message made it seem she'd be out until tomorrow. I was so disheartened when I heard her vacation message that I hung up before it was over.

    What to do? Call the front desk again? I really had to psych myself up to call and leave another message: brief, simple, and "hey, I've been trying to reach her for a week..." Think I managed to stay impassioned without sounding too pissed off.

    Do I think I have a right to be pissed off? Oh yes. But I'm not trying to antagonize these folks. I just want to move forward.

    So...after a week of trying to reach my doctor, my phone lights up with their number at a quarter to five. I grab a pen, glance at my typed out notes, answer, and... it's not my doctor. On her behalf, I get scheduled for another appointment so we can go over things.

    TWO WEEKS FROM NOW. If an appointment opens up sooner, they'll call. ha ha ha.

    I really hate health care.

    What's worse is that I also kind of hate myself. I'm 37, why am I not over my quasi phone phobia already? And since I know that the stress it causes isn't good for me, why can't I just let it go?

    I was thinking of this earlier when I read Sizzle's post Disjointed Self-Perception today. She wrote about weight and body image, but I just kept thinking: it's always something.

    Go to your happy place is a phrase that comes up in tv and film, a way to cope with difficult situations. I swear I tried to come up with one, but I kept finding flaws in them. A beautiful meadow with a blue sky would set off my allergies. The beach seemed hot and I burn easily. A cabana then? Is that where I'd really want to be? Heading to the fictional, I thought of Rivendell, beautiful and serene among the trees and waterfalls. But also cold with all its stone. A wooden treehouse then? Around here, I gave up. I knew I could set my own conditions like no sunburns in my happy place but I just wasn't finding anything helpful.

    For now, I'll try to remember how ridiculous all this is, that it is worthy of laughter.

    (Forgive me if this is a bit ramble-y, I needed to get it out of my system.)


    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 22

    24 April 2011

    Mostly cloudy becoming partly cloudy

    Right now it's actually a blanket of light grey, but I needed a break from it.

    I remember I was standing in a cemetery when I took this photograph. It was late afternoon and I liked how canting my camera made the clouds seem to break apart on the diagonal.


    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 21

    22 April 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #63 In the realm of distraction

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    *******
    This week, I

  • Shot 195 photographs of fire/burning brush. Ethereal, fascinating fire. When you shoot at 1/400 second and preferably faster shutter speeds, you start to see the rolling pattern I've always loved that they paint on vintage cars.

    I don't know why I ever doubted myself. My photographs are better when I shoot in manual mode.

  • Tweeted, FB's Easter sale:
    Get 20% OFF your entire order from my Rocklawn Arts shop!
    Use code: EASTERDEAL20
    Cool photography & design on customizable items!
    Offer valid through April 24, 2011 at 11:59pm PT.

  • Narrowed down to 16 possible fire shots for store.

  • Took all starred photos and made album of store contenders. Narrowed it to 350 to start. I could really use something that lets you rate photos more than starred or not.

  • Fixed stamp denominations for the remaining 46 product lines. Then checked Molto Groovy Photos store, but it only has 1 medium size stamp for each design, so no problem there. Finished, woo! Also rearranged some items in a bunch of the folders. (Perfect mindless task for someone unable to concentrate.)

  • Tweeted a few items from my store.

  • Submitted store/product links to 8 forum leads.

  • Sent thanks DMs to new twitter followers.

  • Watched "Create An Action Sequence With Multiple Images," and two "Using Gradient Maps and Blending Modes," and "Layer Tips and Tricks" (this one's pretty cool, lots of keyboard shortcuts and tips for getting around on layers) Photoshop tutorials.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?


    A year ago on TTaT: Spaztastic! Coming to you live from the realm of reason...

    18 April 2011

    Flame whoosh


    Fire is awesome, no?


    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 20

    17 April 2011

    Tired of waiting

    Sizzle tells me it's National Poetry Month. She's taking 5 minutes every Friday over breakfast to jot down a poem. It's neither Friday nor breakfast, but it is still April, so here's something resembling a poem that I wrote:

    Tired of waiting,
    waiting for bad news.
    Getting it is no better though.

    The anxiety I held at bay
    latches on to my next options,
    none what you'd call good.

    Pragmatic mode tries taking charge:
    the one that surfaces when
    someone has died
    and flights and lodging need booking.

    But the demands are greater
    and sometimes that cool, efficient calm
    slips out of my grasp unexpectedly.

    I do not like any of this.


    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 19

    16 April 2011

    Bossypants

    Bossypants23. Bossypants by Tina Fey

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars


    Determined, vulnerable, tough, obedient, and funny. Tina Fey reveals these qualities and more through stories from childhood to the present. If you're looking for tales about Second City, Saturday Night Live, portraying Sarah Palin, or 30 Rock, they're in Bossypants. There's also musings on Photoshop, sexism, and weight; a behind-the-scenes look at a magazine cover photo shoot, tales of teen angst and triumph, wondering whether or not to have another child, and more.

    The overall tone is light and humorous but there's quite a bit of depth within.

    My favorite chapter is "I Don't Care If You Like It" because it just makes me want to read it out loud to people. Amy Poehler FTW!

    I really liked Tina Fey before, but I like her even more after reading her book.

    Bonus points: No typos! (That I saw - I'm never looking but they tend to leap out at me all too often in books these days.)


    A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #10

    15 April 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #62 Keep the faith

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    *******
    I thought I was going to get back on track this week but realized I needed to research other matters. No good choices, just mitigations with their own slew of consequences. I'm hoping to get my head back here more soon.

    This week, I

  • Shot 42 photographs of smoke and fire and 107 photographs from car, manual settings, baby!

  • Finished creating the last of my stickers with the new shapes, yay! Made Rainbow Squares oval and rectangle stickers:

  • Noticed all my postcard stamps have been switched to 44 cents, many of the larges also changed since various postal rates changed. Fixed prices on templates and 5 other designs.

  • RT'd sticker sale.

  • Made a few adjustments to my zazzle store's arrangement.

  • Watched Jasmine Star Creative Live wedding photography business course.

  • Listened to GoingPro episodes #36, #35.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?


    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 18

    10 April 2011

    The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

    The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human21. The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human by V.S. Ramachandran

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars


    Ramachandran shares his experiments, studies, and theories on bizarre, disturbing, and amazing neurological conditions to figure out what makes a person human. By studying people with damage to their brains, it reveals a lot about how healthy brains function.

    And there are a lot of strange neurological disorders out there. A person with Capgras syndrome is convinced close relatives are imposters. Cotard syndrome: the patient believes they are dead. Blindsight: the patient can't see but can accurately point things out though they feel they are guessing (Visual information travels on 2 pathways in the brain and it seems only one pathway is damaged in these patients.).

    I preferred the less theoretical chapters in which he describes experiments he (and others) performed to learn more about various conditions and how to resolve them. The mirror box is an elegant, simple solution for helping patients with certain kinds of paralysis or phantom limb pain.

    Signals in the brain getting mixed up or cut off is a recurring probable cause of many perceptual and sensory changes. The discussions on autism and synesthesia are fascinating.

    Synesthetes may see numbers or sound as colored, or taste shapes, or feel certain emotions when they touch certain textures. There's quite a variety of ways synesthesia can manifest.

    When he gets into more theoretical musings about what makes humans unique in the animal kingdom, I don't always agree with his views. Nonetheless they did make me think.

    The glossary was quite good (it's what peaked my interest to read the book in the first place). Also, do check out the notes section. It is not the typical series of bibliographic references but rather actual notes that explain things in further detail: for the most part, well worth the time.

    I would have preferred less acronyms since often several would crop up at once making them harder to keep track of. Aside from that though, the book was quite enjoyable. He's good at explaining concepts without getting overly technical, and he has a sense of humor.

    Well worth a read if you're interested in learning more about how the brain works, what constitutes our sense of self, creativity, and humanity.


    4 years ago on TTaT: A Life I could've had

    08 April 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #61 Sticker binge

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    *******
    This week, I

  • Shot 28 self portraits with Photo Booth.

  • zblogged and tweeted new stickers and sale:
    Get 25% OFF Stickers in my shop through April 11, 2011 11:59pm PT!
    Use code: STICKERSHAPE

  • Made 66 stickers in the new shapes available: heart, star, triangle, square, oval, and rectangle:
    Burning Brush sticker
    Burning Brush by RocklawnArts
    Make a sticker online at zazzle.com
    Construction Crane sticker
    Construction Crane by RocklawnArts
    Make a sticker online at zazzle.com

  • Revised store intro and added sticker sale note to it. Changed Downtown Kansas City postcard and Bokeh in Spring iphone case "top picks" to Bokeh in Spring and Blue Bokeh low men's keds.

  • Submitted Rocklawn Arts links to 5 lenses.

  • Consolidated zazzle accounts.

  • Read March 2011 Popular Photography. Definitely some tips to try out in that one.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?


    3 years ago on TTaT: Day 33 of 30 (Huh, I work out ~20 minutes every day now. You too can find discipline in under 3 years.)

    If you liked this post, please share it using the links below.

    04 April 2011

    6 years of TTaT

    Here we are again. It's hard to believe I was all paranoid about blogging 6 years ago. I thought about it for at least six months before I finally took the plunge and posted my first entry. Mostly it was my perfectionism that delayed me, wanting to present myself in a certain way that would lead to opportunities. It took a good while for me to deem anything worthy so I could even begin.

    What the internet keeps reminding me is that as in "real" life, quality is not so important as networks. And I've always sucked at networking. Ah well, introvert am I.

    This past year is the quietest I've ever had in terms of feedback. Not enough engaging stories in the line-up I'd guess. A few years ago that would've really bothered to me, but this past year is also the one during which I made the most headway on what I want to do.

    So why continue blogging? Because I'm an introvert who likes to express herself, and it gives me a way to put my perspective out there whether there's feedback or not.

    Aside from a few stray jerks and a couple of uncomfortable interactions, I've been very fortunate with the people who've commented over the years and the bloggers I've virtually befriended. I appreciate everyone who's taken the time to read.

    On a celebratory note, I wanted to post a new photo of me dressed up for the occasion, something you hadn't seen. There's a bunch of stuff in my closet I don't have much occasion to wear. Well, none of it's super fancy so I could put it on, but I don't to prevent wear.

    Here's the thing: all the items I tried on didn't look like I'd remembered them looking. None of them appeared as flattering as I'd supposed they would. Except the skinny jeans which are out of frame in the following photo. It's OK though because I'm pretty sure it means that what my brain is seeing and what's actually there are aligning more than they used to.

    Could we be entering an era of clothes that fit? It's possible...if I ever go shopping.
    In lieu of fancy, here I am in a t-shirt, very much myself, pushing my winter shag out of my face.

    Here's to 6 fuckin' years - RAH!


    A year ago on TTaT: 5 years of TTaT!

    If you liked this post, please share it using the links below.

    03 April 2011

    Lay down a list of what is wrong

    Though not strictly about Grey's Anatomy, please note there are spoilers ahead if you're not caught up through the musical episode.

    For the most part, I'm not a lyric person. When a phrase catches my attention, more likely than not, it gives me a reason to like a song less rather than more, so I endeavor to keep the music my focus. On occasion though, a lyric makes me like a song better.

    Since Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy, "Song Beneath the Song," this lyric from The Fray's "How to Save a Life" has been running through my head:
    Lay down a list of what is wrong
    The things you've told him all along
    Say whatever you will about the Grey's Anatomy musical, but it reaffirmed how much I love the character Arizona Robbins. When she sang those lines, it made me wonder if she'd really be able to do that, if this would really be a turning point in her relationship with Mark.

    I admit going into this episode, part of me hoped Callie would survive while the baby wouldn't, so things could get back to normal between Callie and Arizona, i.e. their relationship could progress without Mark being an integral part of it. (Another part of me knew the baby's loss would be devastating and would prevent anything from being simple.)

    I still don't quite accept that Arizona did anything wrong when she broke up with Callie before leaving for Africa. Once in a lifetime, dream job opportunity that Callie's bad attitude was ruining. That Arizona then essentially gave up to be with her. Going further back, I considered their relationship doomed when it became clear Callie wanted kids and Arizona didn't. There is no compromise to that dilemma. I accept that people can change their minds, but I was a little disappointed when Arizona did. I was hoping she'd find a better match instead.

    Hopefully Cristina will stick to her guns on this matter despite Owen's exhortation that she's just immature and will change her mind about having kids. All this seems a cautionary tale to bring up those deal-breakers before you get too attached to someone.

    Despite all their crazy history, I love Arizona because she puts Callie's desires first when it counts. Also that she seems really on board with having a kid and isn't just saying it to stay with Callie. It can be hard to give up on a relationship that doesn't quite fit if it's comfortable, but in their case, not much about it is particularly comfortable or easy at this stage.
    Lay down a list of what is wrong
    The things you've told him all along
    Laying down a list of what's wrong is not my forte. My memory is long and at times relentless. I read a really interesting related article this week, My month of no snark, which chronicles a month-long experiment: "I wanted to see if I could change the way I felt by being nice to people. The weirdest part? It worked." (The whole article is definitely worth a read.)

    Her rules:
    I cannot say or write anything that could be construed as not nice.

    I do not have to school other people on being kind.

    I am allowed to tease in a good-natured way.

    After an exchange from which she "walked away furious and with no way to vent," she writes:
    But here’s the thing. Without the ability to vent, I had only two options: to let something relatively stupid eat away at me — or to just let it go. So I tried that. What did it matter if a stranger thought my marriage was challenged because of my first name? Giving his weird, offhand theory any stock would be as productive as stepping on a crack in the sidewalk and worrying it would hurt my mom. So I decided there was something to the old preteen-teen mantra: Whatever. Surprisingly, it worked. If I couldn’t bitch about the exchange, I stopped thinking about it.
    Makes sense and not thinking about it seems ideal, and yet in my own experience, I know there have been times where without the opportunity to vent in writing or speech, I simply replayed the incident over and over in my mind until I did express it in some way.

    There's actually research which shows that writing about your feelings lessens the strength of those emotions. And talk therapy, of course, has been around for a long time.

    There's also the matter of restraint to consider. Don't think I can find the research article or podcast that talked about it offhand, but there's a study that shows when you use will power to keep yourself from doing one thing, you essentially lower your reserve of will power for the next thing. So you might refrain from snarky or cutting remarks all afternoon but then indulge in dessert even though you're trying to be healthy.

    The reserve of restraint theory makes a lot of sense to me based on my own life. I'll let things go in conversation to be nice or polite or because the inaccuracies don't really matter, but eventually my restraint gives out and there's my mom looking at me fiercely or idly threatening to smack me upside the head once again.

    What's worse is that my will power is less strong for observations that are true albeit entirely unwelcome, which in my mom's case provokes her to lash out strongly in return.

    I accept (mostly if I'm to be honest) that I can't change how other people think or behave. I can only change my actions and responses. Even as I write that I wonder how much I believe personal change is possible beyond theory. Thinking back, however, I can see that I have made conscious changes. (The scathing barbs of high school, thankfully, mostly faded away on their own.) Holding my tongue in other arenas still takes effort, but I'm much more likely to do so than I was before I read The Four Agreements (sometime before I started keeping records of what I read in 2004). Innocuous inaccuracies don't get to me like they used to. I'm also much better about conceding I'm wrong when I am and apologizing as soon as I know I've misstepped. Be Impeccable With Your Word!

    Despite my progress, I still fail in my interactions far more often than I'd like. There always seems to be more work to do on: Don't Take Anything Personally. Until my manners, prosody, and behavior are flawless – a lifetime's work no doubt – I will keep mulling over ideas, assimilating new approaches, and practicing to be the person I want to be. I will try always to do my best.


    A year ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 16

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    02 April 2011

    Countdown to infinite crisis. The OMAC project

    The OMAC Project (Countdown to Infinite Crisis)20. Countdown to infinite crisis. The OMAC project (Coundown to infinite crisis, The OMAC project #1-6, Wonder Woman #219) by Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns and Judd Winick; Artists: Jesús Saíz, Rags Morales, Ed Benes, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, and various

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    This is the book with the back story I was looking for which sets up the series that starts with Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman? Well, most of the back story. There's still 3 issues of Superman that are only summarized in this collection. Close enough I think for me.

    I think I'm finally get a grasp of all the superheroes I'd never heard of until recently. Not sure what I think of most of them. I've long been a fan of DC's trinity: Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman.

    I read things a bit out of order which is not a big deal, but if you'd rather read in order (I like to), it should be:
    Crisis on Infinite Earths
    Countdown to Infinite Crisis - The OMAC Project
    Infinite Crisis
    Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman?

    and on from there. There are lots of other tie in stories to the Infinite Earths/Crisis stories, so if you prefer other characters there's loads to choose from. It's basically hypertext, just in print.


    A year ago on TTaT: Life of Art SitRep #8

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    01 April 2011

    Life of Art SitRep #60 A semblance of headway

    Every week, I work towards creating a life of art for myself. This is the zigzag filled journey.

    Play along in the comments with your own pursuits if you'd like. (That's where I'll cheer you on.)
    *******
    Could've sworn I did more this week. Getting back on track after being laid out last week at any rate.

    This week, I

  • Made 18 new stickers for my shop using some of the new shapes available including rectangles, ovals, squares, and hearts:
    Desert Wave sticker
    Desert Wave by RocklawnArts
    Design custom stickers using zazzle.com


  • Made horizontal and vertical rectangle sticker templates.

  • Submitted links/products to 12 forum leads.

  • Watched "Create A Pop Art Effect," "Sharpening Images In Photoshop - Part 1," "Sharpening Images In Photoshop - Part 2" Photoshop tutorials.

  • Finished reading Popular Photography February 2011 and October 2010 issues.

  • *******
    How are your pursuits going?


    A year ago on TTaT: 3 days left until... no, not Easter

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