A New Year’s Strategy — Selective Silence: Is it Crazy to be Sane in this World?

Since the summer – I have been immersed in a new stage of personal inquiry/growth/exploration – and I needed to take time off from writing.  I spent the bulk of 2015 working on two different blogs – one Survival in the 21st century – a spiritual/self-help memoir blog and Rip Roarin Rants –  I took a long pause this past fall – to pull back and consider what direction I want to take in my writing.  And I have decided that I need to share my experiences in a more formalized way. Possibly a memoir, a collection of essays, a mixed media ebook – I have not settled into the what of it, but this means that I will be writing “in the background,” and sharing bits and bobs of my writing, and every once in a while a blog entry.

The following was inspired by the following blog entry from Everyday Aspies- Self-Improvement List where the concept of self-improvement is taken to task when we use it in a negative way, as a result of self-hatred, rather than self-love.  I responded at length in the comments, because that is the way I roll.


Essentially I believe that as humans – our mission is to evolve – and this isn’t a judgmental thing but rather the mission of humanity.

It is not the necessity of change and growth that is WRONG, but rather what is fueling that change and growth – the intention, if you will. I am both Asperger’s and bipolar – the first diagnosed, the second self-diagnosed.  After 40 plus years of intensive study/research/exploration into human behavior –  my own on my own, with others, others, others with others, public phenomena, etc … in my mission to “cure” myself – I have earned the right to say what I am and how I perceive life.

I don’t need an academic or a doctor to inform me of less than I already know. I do not like to identify with either label, because both names have very negative contextual cultural associations. I almost prefer Crazy for BPD and Weird/Eccentric for Asperger’s – Why because it allows for ambiguity and fluidity of one’s reality and experience. I have seen so many people forced into a victim status when they have accepted the medical establishment’s diagnosis and treatments … which approaches one as a freak whose behavior and experience needs to be controlled and monitored. These days I am looking at both diagnoses dispassionately, as a tools for self-understanding and compassionate management which runs counter to the cultural stigmatization of thinking and experiencing life differently than whatever is culturally agreed upon as normal.

New you next exit, sign depicting a new change in life

If one is coming from either the Western medical approach of dealing with mental health, or reading the wrong sort of personal growth books that are very judgmental and critical of one’s essential being  paths of personal growth can be psychically damaging and victimizing. But we should never forget that we are part of the natural world that is constantly changing – what makes us special as human beings – is that we can consciously change our external circumstances and our internal perspective, and this is a natural and beautiful thing that we can be truly thankful for .

We are not driven by blind instinct, we have flexible neural pathways-

And as long as we aren’t self-destructively moralizing the why of our necessary growth as human beings,  then we are merely doing what humans are meant to do – USE our consciousness to evolve. Like computers we are garbage in and garbage out. If we have a consciousness that is corrupted, we will get corrupted results no matter what kinds of data or software we are taking in. So it is up to us compassionately investigate and explore our thinking and being systems, neutrally observing whether the results are productive and progressive, or whether they are destructive and regressive or a mixture. This is simply part of being a human being. We need to strip the morality out of it … in the sense that we are bad people or abnormal people if we think or do things differently or rebel against the status quo ….

I have lived a life dedicated to personal growth, that has resulted in an incredible life – but unless I was in a very dark depressive place – my personal growth mission was primarily fired by improving my experience of life, as an act of love, a way to save myself from myself at times.

I proved to myself that I was and am BOTH my best friend and my worst enemy at times,but mostly it is this struggle and dedication to live the best life for ME, for MY pleasure, and Legacy, to help those I love … that made me love myself even more.

You end up loving the things and people, you make a deep commitment to and that you dedicate your efforts and evolving self toward – whether it be career, creativity, family, etc. I made a mission to live a better life through personal growth practices because I KNEW that I needed to untangle the mysteries in my being that were crushing my spirit, soul, body, heart, mind.

Ernest-Hemingway-On-Personal-Growth-

We pursue personal growth because we love ourselves … it is the Cultural crap that tells us we shouldn’t love ourselves if we aren’t part of the mythological status quo. Over the years, I have to say, from my own serious commitment to personal growth and building healthy relationships – friends, family, community – that I look saner, and saner, and the “normal” world looks crazier every day. This is not said from a point of superiority, mind you, but a grim recognition that society prefers to pigeonhole people in order to control the way they feel about themselves in relation to the sick systems that this culture promotes – everything from valuing the rights of gun-owners over public safety; valuing political leaders who are cruel, callous and hotheaded over leaders that are thoughtful, diplomatic and considered; valuing a medical system that prioritizes profits to shareholders over actual maintenance of Health and PREVENTION of health; prioritizes agribusiness profits over public safety hazards such as pesticides poisoning ground water, killing the bee population; prioritizing trillions of dollars in the decimation of other countries and cultures so we can have free flowing low-cost energy from fossil fuels that will run out in a decade or two – rather than investing in trillions of dollars into our domestic economy via education, building up infrastructure which would include the GREENING of our Energy supply to sustainable and renewable energy technologies …. and this is just the TIP of the iceberg.

Those of us who are “crazy” or “Weird” are just intelligent or sensitive enough to be FREAKED out living during these times where we are being told every second that the Naked psychotic emperor is the next best thing in fashion. I believe we see the truth – Aspergers folks are typically very logical people, and it is really difficult to pull the wool over our eyes and have our brains go along with it. This creates cognitive dissonance, which is one of the greatest stressors that any human can experience. And for myself, growing up witnessing the betrayal of the Government time and time again (Reagan) against the people of this country, and being told at the same time that is was “Morning in America.” – and KNOWING that all of this was a lie! This depressed the hell out of me, and there was no one to talk to about it in that pre-internet age. Even, if one has the perfect family, living in wealthy circumstances, and so on and so forth – we still live in this crazy world.

Peas in a Pod
Peas in a Pod

So it behooves us – to evolve in a way that we become stronger, more resilient and savvy in dealing with the external environmental psychosis in which we are immersed …it is just what we need to do as humans to thrive and survive this twisted age of too much dis-information.

Escaping the Job you Love to Hate – Part 2

Hey …. I have been lost in the vortex of thought-it-tude.

I had promised a part-two post on how to free yourself, from work you hate, almost a month ago.

https://survivaltipsfor21stcentury.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/you-are-successful-and-a-have-a-good-job-but-you-hate-your-life-what-then/

And truthfully, I am the best and worst person to answer this question.  The thing is, I am allergic, absolutely, to any sort of toxic or soul-taxing work situation or environment.  And I have been trying to wedge myself back into the 9 to 5 existence, with lackluster vigor – in the form of temp employment for about a month now.  But one thing I know about myself, is that I have become far more accustomed to living bare bones, with the benefits of freedom of thought, movement and time, than I have become to playing the role of a 9-2-5er.  Try as I might, I can’t get up the gumption or gusto to do what I need to do to succeed in that world.

And truthfully, I am the best and worst person to answer this question.  The thing is, I am allergic, absolutely, to any sort of toxic or soul-taxing work situation or environment.  And I have been trying to wedge myself back into the 9 to 5 existence, with lackluster vigor – in the form of temp employment for about a month now.  But one thing I know about myself, is that I have become far more accustomed to living bare bones, with the benefits of freedom of thought, movement and time, than I have become to playing the role of a 9-2-5er.  Try as I might, I can’t get up the gumption or gusto to do what I need to do to succeed in that world.

NOTE TO SELF – When I am working against my grain, I deplete my life force and the creative strengths I have to realize the life I am meant to live! (Hence the lack of writing this past month)

I never loved money or security enough to stay in a place where I wasn’t respected, or didn’t feel fulfilled in some way, enough to sign away a third of my total life, and a half of my waking life.  I have a restless spirit and have always seen through the smoke and mirrors of what society promises are the “goodies” of devoting oneself to working at a “good job” or even a “steady” job.

What most people who live in a safe and predictable lifestyle don’t understand – and what keeps them tied to a particular situation – is that human beings can get accustomed to practically ANYTHING, even bad things.  What does this mean?

What this means – is you are evolutionarily capable of getting “used” to practically anything if you put your mind to it.  You can get used to being bored and stressed in exchange for a steady paycheck, just as easily as you can get used to the challenges of breaking free from the job you hate.  It is just a matter of time and commitment to change.

motivational-work-quotes2

Human beings came to dominance on this planet, for good or ill, due to their ability to cope with life-threatening and altering situations, and creatively problem-solve their way through them.  They didn’t evolve just to sit in an office cubicle, or follow corporate policies, or serve arbitrary goals of a market-driven society. They evolved to create and participate in the world, at a level far beyond what most bosses want from them or envision for them.

Face it, most bosses don’t want you to be smarter than them, nor to have any priorities beyond your allegiance to them and their company values.  This is great if you are in alignment with your company culture and values, but often many people are not.

Truthfully, the way that work world is set up in the U.S. and other parts of the world, is that employees are supposed to kiss the feet of their employers for having the “pleasure” of trading their services in for dollars.  Yet, often the services are woefully under-valued in the market-place, or over-valued in some cases. (See models and media stars and wall street brokers)  For instance, there has been a blossoming of all sorts of online companies such as 99designs, Design guru, Elance, fiver. and PurpleWall, among a few, that rig up a system that exchanges valuable labor for free or on the cheap, so that the company can profit, and the customer can get away with practically cheating people of their talents and services.

So how do we navigate through this hostile territory, where going after our career dreams seems like it could be a fool’s errand?

1)  Inspiration and wisdom from people who know the ropes –

  • Michelle Ward of http://www.whenigrowupcoach.com/books/ who has taught two wonderful classes on this subject on CreativeLive.com.  The most recent being “Ditch Your Day Job.”
  • Sean Ogle – who has a website and an online program devoted to guiding people toward successful freelance careers that can allow you to work from any old where in the world – http://www.seanogle.com/
    • Both of these folks walk their talk and have good value for little cost to offer.
  • CreativeLive.com as mentioned previously offers a wealth of material, free and/or low-cost that is given by role-model creative professionals and entrepreneurs who are living out their career dreams.

Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure.

~ Rainier Maria Rilke

2) Find support – One of the most difficult things about going out on your own, forging a new career path of any kind, is all the doubts that come with this.  As human beings, we have an amygdala – the part of the brain that warns us of danger – and this is a good thing.  But in the lives of most of us, the amygdala, from lack of having tigers, and famine to warn us about, goes overboard on warning us about things such as trying new things with our lives.  Surely there are risks in starting a new career, but for the most part they aren’t life threatening.  To break through the fears, it helps to be part of a supportive community of some kind. There are a number of  social media sites that offer a good community.  One that I have found to be generally helpful is – https://www.entheos.com and if you buy any of Michelle Ward’s products there is a wonderful facebook group you can gain access to.  Another social media site that I have found to be supportive is https://disqus.com

3)  Create positive rituals that chip away at the TODO lists – One thing I heard recently from Bonnie Christine http://www.goinghometoroost.com/tag/bonnie-christine/ , that inspired me – is that “it only takes 10 seconds of courage” to do many of the things that we need to do to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone toward our dreams.  I was an in-studio student in her class – Design, Print and Build Your Portfolio – https://www.creativelive.com/courses/design-print-and-build-your-portfolio-bonnie-christine, and she is truly a great role model for the sweet, shy people out there who have great passions within.  Rituals and habits are practices that allow us to incorporate action into our lives with less resistance.

motivational-work-quotes1

4)  And to build a sustainable foundation for your future career- one has to be realistic.  Starting a savings program, AND, starting to downsize expenses are a good ways to prepare for a solo or entrepreneurial venture, whether it is on your own or with others.  Time and again, people have mentioned mint.com as a great app for managing one’s personal finances.  I have downloaded the app, and it is on my list of TODO’s as a thing to learn and implement.

PS – This list isn’t necessarily in order, nor sequential.  These are all on-going tasks that need some sort of maintenance as you go along.

5) Gain experience and credibility.  I mentioned disparagingly the elance, 99designs, etc. websites as places that depress the market value of creative work generally. BUT, you can use them to your advantage.  If you are just starting out, they do give you an opportunity to stretch your legs and find your way in a new field.  If you look at them as paid internships, or as free opportunities to get your work noticed out in the vast world of interwebs – then go for it. And you can use this experience for a future portfolio of work.  Even better than selling your skills for next to nothing for random folks is volunteering your services to nonprofits in need – Check out https://www.catchafire.org/.

So that is it for now, kids.  Good luck and be on your merry way!

motivational-work-quotes3

Little Lessons Learned – Martyring ourselves for the LOVE of Social Media vs. Acknowledging the Beauty of Being a Nobody

If you spend most of your life, alone, or being on your own … then you either go mad, or you learn that what other people think or say … people who don’t actually matter in the everyday life of things … should have nothing to do with how you live your life.  Mostly this is how I have lived my life.  I gave up on trying to prove anything to anybody besides myself by the time I was 11.  From moving from one school to another in different towns, in different states … 12 in 12 years … sometimes 3 in a year, and not being given a “heads-up” as to what would be the social rules of this new environment, where I would be landing like an alien, waggling my antennae for signs of kindness or compassion in a sea of – Who’s she? – faces.  I learned the hard way, that most of the time people have made their mind up about you before they have even met you.

Yet, knowing this has given me great freedom, because it is basic a green-light for just being me.   Now, before you get this idea that I have always lived an “in-your-face” rebellious life, I haven’t.  I have often kept to myself, or have been understated about living by my own rules.  Not that I am ashamed about what I do that may not be in accordance to whatever “social rules” my present environment may be enforcing , but rather …. I don’t want to deal with the grief of judgement. When people are given the opportunity to judge, they are given the power to control aspects of your life that they don’t have any damn business controlling.  It makes good life sense, for anyone except an Artist that banks on their controversies to keep your controversial business to yourself,…. especially these days when one’s life could be attached to a virtual megaphone via twitter, Facebook, personal blogs and so forth.

Socail Media - Watch Your Ass

I can see someone reading this and saying – but why the hell are you writing this … IF you don’t want the special attention of  strangers.  Personally, I don’t really care what a stranger thinks about me, but I do have this sense of abstract compassion for people out there … who yearn to be themselves and to be accepted and loved for themselves … and don’t get that reaching out to social media for this, can often be asking for trouble.  When I write my “confessional” blogs … it isn’t for sympathy or validation … I have paid my existential dues for decades coming to peace with who I am and how I have lived my life in my own quiet way, and with my friends and family … I don’t need strangers to tell me whether they think I am doing a good job or not.  Sure it is nice to hear, but it isn’t necessary for my well-being, nor for me to feel that writing “confessionals” is a worthwhile pursuit.

I write, because it feels good to just let feelings and ideas out of my head and into the world, to relieve myself of psychic or emotional pressures.  I write because it is a huge part of who I have been since I was 8, writing stories about a travelling band of anthropomorphic animals, or Harriet the Spy fan-ficition.   I write when I feel like it, and don’t feel the slightest bit obliged to write when I don’t feel a surging passion to do so. And yes, I want my writing to “connect”, to mean something to somebody, but it doesn’t have to be today – it could be tomorrow, next week, years from now or when I am dust and bones in a decorative urn.

Back to the subject at hand – What frustrates me the HELL about social media is that  – Why do people serve themselves up on a virtual platter to be martyred by the tyranny of the social mob?  A very good example is the brilliant “confessional” of Kathleen Hale, written several months ago, which has basically jeopardized the success of her latest novel.  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic .   From this article, I became very curious about Ms. Hale, and was surprised to see her profile photo on GoodReads – a pretty blonde waif in a white t-shirt still in her 2o’s.  Her expression was  the kind that nice girls give to the world when they are trying to play tough.    Next to her profile is a stream of “one-star” reviews from venom-spitting reviewers who have proclaimed her to be the equivalent of a”single-white” psycho – female type, an author to be shunned and shamed, due to their superficial analysis of the article I sited.

Psychos, for one thing, are not self-aware, nor do they air their dirty laundry naïvely expecting the public’s approval for being so authentic.  The worst I can say about Ms. Hale is that she is naïve.  Otherwise she represented herself professionally via her articles and fiction (1st book – No one Else Can Have You, which is a quirky and entertaining murder-mystery) and personally via twitter – as sweet and sensitive , yet sardonic and at times neurotic young woman with a brain bubbling over with intelligence and wit.  She is complex, and  neither she nor her work deserves to be reduced to one creepy element via the reductive powers of social media.

Yet, at the same time, she martyred herself, and this is actually part and parcel of the artistic act – laying out the expressions of our souls transformed via the aesthetics of our chosen media for public appraisal.  What Kathleen Hale did, was that she revealed that she cared too much in fact about what her public thought of her first work, so much that it fueled her self-admitted O.C.D. tendencies which led her to take actions which some see as WHOA- CRAZY!  And I see, as someone who is caught in an obsession to know the truth about something that pains her, which makes her just plain human in my book.  And she had the humility and bravery to share it with us … or?

Or … the recklessness.  What troubles me, is that I wonder if anyone who experienced adolescence/young adulthood, before the social media craze, actually understands or will understand the following –

  1. It is possible to live a content, fulfilled, joyful life where nobody outside of your inner circle of REAL life social contacts gives a damn about you or the sandwich you ate today.
  2.  Social media can be a HUGE time and energy suck from the life you actually could be living and paying attention to, moment by moment.
  3.  The more people know about you, the more POWER they have to control your life in one way or the another.
  4. The opinion of strangers is like the weather, it is not consistent and can never be a reliable source of love and support, in the way that real people can be.  Unless these strangers become “real-life” friends, the social media opinion of you will sway according to the winds of the mob-mentality.
  5. Privacy is becoming a rare commodity in this day and age.  And the only people who seem to appreciate privacy are the oldsters like me, and super-famous folks who actually have talent, and only want public attention if they are getting paid for it.
  6. Another good read – cautionary tales of letting so much hang out that you are hanged by it in social media  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=1

social media beggars

I could go on … but what is interesting to me … is that both the internet and the cell-phone were conceived in the engineering labs of the military-industrial complex decades ago… and here we are now as a society, which used to be vigilant about our privacy, gleefully sharing everything about our private lives, from our snacks to our latest hook-ups to even our most random thoughts, as well as allowing our devices to track our every movement.  We have made Big Brother a moot-issue since we have co-opted “his” task for the love of being seen.  And before I meander off into conspiracy-theory zone …

What is the greatest concern to me, is that many of us, care TOO much about what strangers think, and not local strangers, but all over the world strangers… to the degree that we seek validation for our every move and moment … As if we don’t exist without this electronic feedback.

And truthfully, one who is so invested in this virtual world, to the degree that their happiness, livelihood, identity is based upon the social media buzz about them … who chooses consistently to connect to their phone or computer rather than with flesh and blood people … we are busy erasing ourselves and our lives, one electronic bit at a time.

It is ironic that I write this … at a time in my life, when I will be primarily alone, often working on the computer … and I often think of the internet as a life-force that often nourishes me.  But at the same time, I know its limitations, and I also  am wary of its power to distort reality.  I think it is time, people started realizing that practicing “safe” social media could be just as much a survival skill as practicing safe sex.

Remember – what THEY don’t know, can’t hurt them, or YOU.

P.S. – if you are like me, who feel the incredible urge to be self-relevatory at times, ask yourself – Could you take it if backfired on you? If the pack of puppies who claim to be your faithful followers turn on you to rip you several new ones?

Me, I am so out of the loop of the world’s great swing of things …. I can’t imagine my writings affecting me in any way.  And I like it that way.  And I have always preferred to live at the fringes, where my success or failure financially or socially does not depend upon the opinions of a fickle public.

This is the beauty of being a Nobody : )

I finally figured out it is okay to be who I am ….

My mom was a proto-feminist wonder woman, and my Dad was a red-neck Hippy, their marriage didn’t last long.  So at 4 years of age, I became an only child at a time, when everybody’s parents were married.  Divorce had yet to become “fashionable.”  I was a proto-latchkey kid.  I learned how to cook my meals and cross the streets on my own at age 6.  I was free-wheeling before the kids on milk cartons.  I don’t think my Mom was negligent, she just was busy trying to keep our heads above poverty level.  She taught me to be independent and self-reliant, and besides I was a good screamer, when I wanted to be.  My parents came from religious roots, Unitarian on my mother’s and Lutheran on my father’s side.  But none of this was passed on to me, much to my Gramma’s (father’s side) chagrin.  I didn’t know God was a big deal until I was terrorized in first grade when I gave the wrong answer to whether I believed in HIM or not.  You can guess the answer.  Thankfully, this school placement was temporary, and I didn’t have to grow up permanently scarred as “the Girl who doesn’t believe in God” in a school that most certainly did!

I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but until that day, I didn’t give much thought to God and what role a Supreme Being played in my life.  My parents weren’t amoral, but rather were deeply thinking and caring people who liked to figure things out for themselves.  So, of course they passed this attitude on to me.  I have rarely been at a loss of having an opinion.  When someone says – I don’t have an opinion, on one thing or another, it absolutely BLOWS my mind.  How is this possible?  And I want to crack their head open like an egg, just so I can peer in and see if there are some wires loose.

I have found that this “no opinion” thing is a more typically a female response, which is a bit disconcerting.  Especially when discussing controversial political, economic, world affairs, etc.  So me, being a person that likes to talk about all sorts of things, I often have felt more comfortable talking to men at times.  Men revel in their opinions : )

Even though, I have more male friends than female, these days, I am single, and have been for a while. I love men, and actually understand them quite well, but am not a fan of the drama of relationships.  The last great drama I was involved in, was my failed marriage, which is another story for another time.  Needless to say, after 20 years of either having a boyfriend, or being married … I decided that I needed to forget the whole myth of a man saving me from myself, and find my happiness outside of a relationship.  And I have become so content, it is difficult to kick the habit of being single.  But, until about 6 years ago, I was actually quite distressed that I would most likely never be able to be a Mom, but now I have come to consider myself lucky that I never did.  I only mention this to my childless and content-with-it-being-so, girlfriends.  I love children, but I realize that I must have always loved my freedom more, because I always took special precautions to never become pregnant, waiting for the man who would be a suitable father.  I never met that man. And growing up with a single mother, that was the LAST thing I would do to my own kid, if I had any choice in the matter.  And I did.

We almost lived like nomads, my mother and I.  I went to 12 schools in 12 years.  I changed hometowns so many times, it is always a “trick” question for me, when people ask me the banal – Sooo, Where are you from?

My answer – from a lot of places.  And then I have to correct them, that – NO, I am not an army brat.  (Although, my mother was in the naval reserves when I was a teen.  But this service never affected me or where we lived. )

When I look at my history of being one of a two-person family – my mom pretty much letting me believe what I want as long as I was polite, without religious training, without a steady hometown, without lifelong childhood friends or community, without any ties to a particular region – we lived in the East coast, Midwest and West …. I am as close as you get to a blank slate, or more specifically, a whiteboard.  My reality inside and out is used to being rewritten.  As I get older there are sections of the whiteboard that stay untouched for years, but for the most part – there is regular editing going on in my consciousness.

And I like to think that this a particularly American consciousness, where there is the most dramatic diversity of cultures, experiences, opinions and  expressions of life and thoughts existent in the world.  IF you were exposed to as many of these as I was and cherry picked through them choosing what worked for me and which did not, well … you would become a pretty eclectic personality, like me.  America allows for the emergence of this eclecticism, even though the American media, and our political system prefers to limit our realities to a pinpoint of who we really are and can be as a nation of individuals.

I started to write this blog, because while I am particularly at peace these days … I wasn’t always. Decades of actively creating one’s own identity, is a challenging process, at the very least. I think most of my life, until my mid 40’s was my own personal “happiness” or truthfully “unhappiness” project – trying to understand why I understood myself to be naturally prone to joy, but find myself lost in deep drearies more often than not.

A life story is not told in a day … and this won’t be all memoir …. but the gist of what I was leading to is – Whatever your state of mind is RIGHT NOW about who you are RIGHT now, if it isn’t something all bright and shiny, or something you are proud of, well … take it from someone who has lived many lives in one life  – It is worth hanging out to see how your story unfolds.  And believe me, each day, you can do at least one thing that will bring you closer to the person you dream of being, even if that seems like an impossible thing.  In my last childhood bedroom, I used to have a poster on my wall with a little tiger cat hanging by its front claw-paws to a limb of a tree , “It said – Hang In There Kiddo!”

And I guess I took the advice to heart, because here I am still on the planet healthy and hopeful in the 21st Century.