“Your Job is So Cool!”

I am both blessed and cursed by the ability to step back from situations and see things from every angle. Blessed because it makes my ability to understand and work with other people very easy and cursed because it can give fodder to my inner critic.  The evening the Paris attacks began and the other terrible events worldwide were brought to my attention in succession, I had to continue working on a very sparkly fairy tale commission because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to deliver on time. And it fully struck me how really ridiculous my job is, both my day job and most of the commission work I do. Incredibly frivolous. In the daily disasters occurring in the world, the discussions and problem-solving and creating that I am doing is fluff. I should be devoting my energy instead toward actually helping people or at the very least toward more meaningful art.

In that frame of mind, I left for a fast work trip to NYC. I was helping the lead on our next project pull it off under very tight time constraints. I managed to squeeze in seeing a Broadway show (Hand to God – very funny) and as I walked through Times Square with my local friend, two NYC officers stood in a 4’x4′ barricade each holding an automatic rifle at ready, scanning the crowd. My friend didn’t even notice them as we walked by. Very few did. And that alarms me more than the officers standing there on guard. So that thought also was on my mind as I worked.

Back home, the lead and I frantically scrambled to get things ready Wednesday, running out and buying certain needed items as part of our prep work, and the ball of stress and tension and minor annoyances just built and built. Finally, while in one of the stores, someone stopped and asked what I was doing/working on, and I told him, and he responded with “your job is so cool! that’s really cool!”. In that moment, feeling sweaty and disheveled and annoyed and guilty for being all of that in such a frivolous field, I didn’t feel very ‘cool’. I thanked him and smiled though, and then commiserated with the  lead about how people have no idea what the job actually has to deal with and the amount of work involved. Wah wah wah.

But upon reflection, my job is cool. It is ridiculous and at times very stressful but also joyful and unlike anything else that I could possibly find to do, and maybe while frivolous on the surface,  it gives me the opportunity to meld all of my interests into one process that then allows me to help other people tap into their own creative process and build their confidence and occasionally tap into dreams/fantasies that they have. And the joy and confidence they feel because of my work then spreads out to others. Since that is one of my main missions in life, to be a ripple that causes waves, to help others find their own transformative abilities in their lives, the fact that I’m able to do so and get paid for it while simultaneously being creatively fulfilled is really cool. It’s not easy in the least, but it is cool. And for a self-acknowledged lifelong dork, that is really neat to discover.

Skating the Edge of Darkness

So, I haven’t been posting much the past couple of weeks. I have old sketches and poems I could be posting, that I had earmarked to post, and I haven’t because I’m fighting that old voice of doubt again.

When I finally was able to play the piano last week, I felt so at peace, but immediately after, all this self-negativity started rearing up. Probably everything I had bottled inside in recent months began making its way out. In the past, I would sometimes get hung up on the nasty things my mind would come up with, berating myself for being less than perfect at anything I do, and then obsessing over my physical or mental flaws because when I feel bad about myself inside, I feel so ugly outside (which I suppose is better than the opposite, maybe?). This past November, when I was going through massive growing pains and dealing with some mental anguish, I had to fight against myself to stop from deleting all of my Facebook photos from my personal site because I just hated the sight of myself. I’ve mentioned before that I feel intensely, right? :-p

Anyway, this time, when I started going on about all of my supposed flaws to my husband, who rolled his eyes slightly but listened nonetheless (he’s used to having to go through this every few months, and he’s learned that other than listening, he can’t really do much for me because I have to get through the feelings myself, hence the “here we go again” eye roll), I had to start laughing in the midst of my complaining because I sounded so ridiculous. I think the moment was after I went through how I couldn’t do anything professionally enough and was moving on to a catalog of my physical flaws and how I’m not really attractive, and even if people DO find me attractive, it’s only because I’m fooling them with the force of my personality – but duh, personality is part of attraction anyway – that was the moment I burst out laughing at myself. And laughing broke the cycle that usually grips me. I’ve still been fighting the negativity for the past week and 1/2, but I’m letting the thoughts pass freely rather than clinging to them and allowing them to freeze me up. Which is a huge improvement. But still, I’m left feeling a little bit fragile at the moment, so posting old work is difficult for me at the moment.

The other thing that has helped me immensely this week is that I am so insanely busy right now. I took on that extra project, which has pushed back some of the work I’m doing for that shop, so I probably won’t be caught up until the middle of next week, and then I have to start immediately prepping for the Small Press Book Fair in Buffalo, and my son’s birthday party still needs planning, and I’m still waiting on my final tax sheets from my retirement fund to get our taxes sent out to our accountant, and there’s still a list of personal projects a mile high, and our house needs cleaning, and… I’m exhausted, but I’m thriving on the chaos. Keeping busy makes me get out of my own head and lets me not trip myself up.  And I was SO happy to have taken on the extra project, to work with someone who has spent time out in Los Angeles too so we could talk about our old favorite haunts, to be getting my hands in doing the work that I used to do, some of it dirty and annoying, but it felt good nonetheless. I’ve made a new friend and some extra money of it too, always a good thing.

So anyway, why am I posting this here? Because I know a lot of other creative people fight self-doubt. The inner critic is the worst one there is, at times, because that critic knows all of our weakest spots. Laughing at how ridiculous the critic was helped me last week. Maybe it can help you?