Friday, June 27, 2008

Photo Friday: Religion [Losing my...]


Sign painting upside down
The perspective distorts
The edges all around

Brushes are misshapen
There are exaggerated reports
From backward slants taken

How will I tell the blue from the brown?

Watery blur is what I find
Magnifying tears
Gog of Magog is blind

Not bridled by it's virtual desire
But sunken in obscure fears
I evade it's visual fire

Soaked in brown from peering behind

Haunted waters are glowing
With solid feet grounded
Opaque people are flowing

Underwater lenses are spying
Shapes and colors founded
But refusing to see they're dying

An eye patch focuses knowing and prevents showing

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My blogging friend, Ashok Karra, and I have recently had a discussion on journaling, and he asked the question, "Do you think it is essential for a life coach to get her clients journaling or blogging? " I thought this was an interesting question, and wanted to write a post about it.

As I'm interested in life coaching, but not one yet, I can only answer from my experience as a personal trainer, and from my personal experience. I have found through personal training that the clients who are most successful at reaching their goals, are the ones that keep a journal. All the research on weight loss shows the same.

The first session with a client is usually spent evaluating, and discussing goals and the importance of journaling. At one gym I worked for, we gave every client a free journal when they signed up. I have them write out their goals in the present tense affirmative, and they have to be specific. For example, "I will be able to run a mile without stopping within the next six weeks." Next they are to write what obstacles are preventing them from reaching their goals, and how they plan to overcome them. I help them with the planning and what they can reasonably expect within their schedules. They are then supposed to keep track of what they do daily/weekly to reach their goals, and if the goals involve weight loss/gain, they are to keep a food log, as well.

Just the act of putting their goals in writing, increases their chances of success. I read once that physiologically, writing takes an abstract idea associated with the right brain, and breaks it down into a logical process associated with the left brain, getting the whole brain involved in focusing on the goal. Seeing their own words in writing commits them, or seals their commitment to achieving the goals, like a contract. And then, there is the realization after they start charting their progress, that they don't always eat as healthy or exercise as much as they thought. For my clients who stick with it, journaling is an eye opening experience. So, I would think that for life coaching, journaling would be just as important, if not more to achieving goals.

I asked Ashok what his thoughts were on journaling or blogging to help him achieve his goals. He is currently working on his dissertation for his graduate studies in political science. Here's his reply:

"For me, blogging started out as a way of getting thoughts down. Thoughts don't just come without strings; they're always attached to other thoughts, not all of them good. When I first started blogging, I was really hurting because a girl I liked wasn't interested in me at all. And I wondered if anything I could do or be could remedy that.

So every time, in those earlier years, that I was reading a poem or watching TV or looking at art I would have thoughts of her, and my inadequacy, and thoughts of the object at hand. Blogging helped me sort through those issues: it didn't take me really long to realize I was writing for an audience, and they had needs. Slowly my more self-absorbed thoughts began to subside. They didn't disappear; it was just that the entries focused more on where my audience and I could meet, i.e. Robert Frost's "The Pasture," and the sentiment underlying the whole discussion was informed by the initial desire to express pain. But at that point, it might have been impossible to tell I was pained in any way :)

In terms of immediate organization/dissertation help, blogging has just made me that much stronger of a writer. It must have doubled/tripled the speed I write and edit. It's made me more careful about what words I pick. It's pushed me to explore issues from a number of angles before and while writing. The dissertation right now reads like the poem commentaries I have, except with more footnotes and a slightly denser style all around.

But the main thing blogging/journaling has done is give me a public capacity. Writing helps privately - I still keep a paper journal (I've had one since 2001). But being online and working to build the audience and writing for them is huge, esp. in an age where academics like myself aren't guaranteed work. I don't need anyone to give me a job; I know what mine is, and I'm at it everyday, whether there's money or not. This is my voice, my thought, and if the world doesn't want it, it's the world's loss."

I really enjoy Ashok's poetry commentaries. You can find an index of many of his commentaries here.

While I've seen that there is a correlation between journaling and success regarding physical and academic goals, I also believe this to be true with emotional healing and growth. Another blogging friend, Mary Taitt, has talked about 'writing her way out of depression', and has written a book called Morning Shadows. "Writing my way out of depression," here's where blogging comes into the picture for me.

Ironically, I never kept a journal when I lost weight or started my exercise routine. In fact, I started blogging before I started journaling, but blogging was just a creative outlet for me to post art and photos to get feed back. I didn't know what a blog was when I started. I just wanted to participate in Illustration Friday. Soon I found others who were using their blogs to write about their personal problems, collect thoughts, or as Ashok stated, "sort through issues." I was inspired to start keeping a written journal of my own. That slowly started to spill over into my blog. Keeping a journal has been an eye opening experience in my battle with depression. Physically writing things down regularly, has helped me to see things more clearly. Like Ashok, when I post some of these things to my blog, it helps me all the more so, because I'm searching for the right words to explain my thoughts to others, forcing me to think things through.

Do life coaches recommend journaling? I know Carla does in her Wings 4 You challenges, and I've seen other blogs by life coaches that encourage it, as well. What do you think? Has journaling/blogging helped you to achieve goals? If you write a post or have written a post on this, please leave me a link to it. Thanks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nap Time and Boredom

When I was little, probably about 4 or 5, I decided I was going to run away from home. My reason - nap time was too tortuous. How could anyone just lay there for 30 minutes and do nothing? The boredom was overwhelming!

"Can I get up now?"
"It's only been 10 minutes! Go to sleep!"

If I drifted off into imaginary adventures, my mom always knew.

"Lori, if you don't lay down and go to sleep, you will not be let out or your room!"

How did she know? I would be so careful not to make a noise. Being sent to your room was supposed to be punishment, yet I had to endure this imprisonment every afternoon.

One afternoon, I snapped. I had a baby sitter that afternoon. Sandy Quist. I always looked up to her. She was so cool with her long golden hair, and the finger painting classes she'd have in her garage for little kids like me. None of that mattered, though, when she said it was nap time. I could endure no more. Being little must have been a crime. I needed to find a way to escape this horrible form of punishment. In a moment of desperation, I devised a plan for my great escape. It was to make a mad dash for the front door. Unfortunately, I was caught before I ever tasted freedom.

"Where ya goin'?" Sandy asked in confusion.
"I'm running away from home."
"Cause I'm never gonna take naps again!"
"Well... what cha gonna eat?" She was smiling now.
Hmm... I hadn't thought of that.
"Where ya gonna sleep at night?"
I just shrugged.
"Under a bridge?"

I nodded even though the thought of sleeping under a bridge seemed a little scary. Sandy was able to convince me that 30 minutes of nap time was better than living under a bridge. Now I long for nap time. My mother said that would happen one day. Laying there for 30 minutes is a lot easier when you don't have anyone scolding you for going on imaginary adventures.

Boredom. Now that's another story. I could be in the middle of watching Mr. Rogers, and suddenly be consumed by a feeling that everything in life was hopelessly mundane and boring.

"Mom, I'm bored."
"Well, go outside and play, honey."

Nothing I could do would make that feeling go away, and I really don't think that was poor Mr. Rogers' fault. As a teenager, that feeling turned into a feeling of unexplainable loneliness and boredom, and as an adult, hopelessness. I never understood that feeling, but always associated it with the color brown, and after a while, I began to realize that it's extremity was not normal.

It didn't take me long to realize that crayons seem to posses the magic I needed to keep the brown boredom monster at bay. On one of my nap time adventures, I was able to sneak into my closet with a box of crayons and create one of my first masterpieces on the wall. I thought I was pretty clever, because mom never realized I wasn't napping. Then one day, I heard her yell, "[my full legal name, middle name included]! Get in here right this instant!"

"What is this, young lady?!"

It seemed pretty obvious to me, as she was pointing to my masterpiece, so I thought, "does she know that I wasn't napping?"

Sensing my bewilderment, she announced, "We do not draw on the walls!"

Oh. What a concept. Little did she know, I would get paid to do that later in life.

I think that it was about this time when my mom said she realized that I would much rather make my own drawings than color in coloring books. She was pretty clever in that way. She started buying me colored construction paper, instead. She said it amazed her how I would sit for hours and draw, while the other kids my age would get distracted and wander off. As a teenager, I did so even more, including during class when I was supposed to be listening to teachers. School was unbearably boring to me. I usually understood the teachers the first couple of times they explained something. I would spend the rest of class drawing on my book covers. Like nap time, it was the only way I could make it through.

Now, I escape digitally into photoshop or one of my other programs. I'm finding, though, that I can use it for more than just an escape. It's helping me to understand the monster a little better. The escape detaches me a little from the overwhelming feelings, so I can look at it from a different perspective, especially if I'm escaping into a picture of something I really love. I think the more time I spend feeling positive, the better equipped I am to battle depression. Even if the drawing is negative in nature, though, the escape is still helpful in breaking down barriers, releasing the negative emotions, and in giving a positive feeling of accomplishment. It continues to amaze me how such a simple creative act can do so much on so many levels.

Here's a poem I wrote when I was probably about 16 for a class assignment:

I feel brown
Not a wood stained brown
Not a suntanned brown
Not a brown like the mantle piece
that only appeals the the guest's eye

But a childhood memory brown
Brown like the artist symbol of boredom
Brown like the mixture of
a dull, lonely blue-gray
and a sick orange
Brown like a forgotten feeling
that hasn't died yet

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not Quite Right

For Illustration Friday's Voices on 12-19-08

They all know
Everybody knows
That I'm not quite right
Their timid small talk dissipates
As I stare right through them
With empty eyes
I subvert their ease

Can't let them see
There's no control
Else I'll succumb to the madness
Concentrate my focus
Past their whispers
The worms
And the shadows

Determined to gaze long enough
For reality to be revealed
They don't realize that I understand
Perceive their discomfort
My concern with them is fleeting

Ignore the Whispers
The Worms
And the Shadows
Destroy the imagined
Before escaping past my lips
Fixate on the tangible
The alternative is a nightmare

Two months of fading
Through a disjointed world
Secrets leak without comprehension
Intellect is annulled
Desperate to fill the empty crevices
The spirit randomly dumps images
Else bereft of memory
I would perish

They all know
Everybody knows
My mother repeats the words
I once said
My memories crash in
On the crest of a wave
While hers are sucked out
In the undertow of Dementia

I watch her private fantasies
Tumble out before me
Like a play
Whose script was shuffled in the wind
Now the pages have all blown away
Nothing left to fill the empty spaces
I don't want to watch anymore

They all know
Everybody knows
My brother's uttered these words, too
"I've got brain damage", he jokes
Hoping to excuse his behavior
The voices tell him
He must lead with the right foot
The therapist stretches his mind
Twenty years of trying to see
That he needs to look away

I remember racing down back roads
He doesn't
I have to pretend it's normal
Afraid of the Whispers
The Worms
And the Shadows

Mary sent me a poem I really love called Edge Of Glass, about her mother's dementia. Check it out. You'll have to scroll down to the bottom to see the English version.