Saturday, May 19, 2018

Being approached by an art scammer

Last week I got an email from a stranger asking to buy two pieces of my art. Would I please email him photos of a few that were available so he could choose? Of course, I said. He picked two and asked the price. $175 each, I said, and he said fine. He'd send me a check and then have them picked up.

I was a tiny bit suspicious but only because his emails were poorly written and that seemed both unfair and unkind of me, so I set the suspicions aside. We texted back and forth about the check, which he was sending with tracking. It wasn't a personal check and that was fine too. All that seemed good.

Then the check arrived. The return address on the postal form was Dow Chemical, which seemed odd. And instead of the $350 we'd agreed on, it was made out for $1,450.60. I was fooled for about 5 minutes. Had he decided to generously pay me a lot more? Then I noticed that the check, from City Bank, had no watermark and that the word "Offical" was misspelled.

I knew about such scams, of course, but had never heard of them with art work. My credit union was amazed by how shoddy the fake check was (it would never have scanned through their machine). They took it, my email correspondence with "Michael Freeman," and his phone number to pass along to their fraud department.

Curiously, I wasn't angry about this, just very sad. Sad that I had wasted a fair amount of time communicating with this guy and even sadder that he wasn't really interested in my art.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

a recent poem of mine

Saw Joseph, Mary, and Jesus
in the parking lot at Trader’s Joe
The Madonna sat on a big stone
at the edge of the lot
a shawl over her hair and her child
The Father stood holding a cardboard sign
“Anything helps”
I’d left home without my wallet
hurrying to an appointment
in my privileged life
so I blessed them and drove on

Saw God pushing a cart of cans
past my driveway
He hadn’t bathed in forever
and a cigarette dangled from his lips
The look he gave me was hard to bear
the hurt and hate in equal measure
I went back to my car
for a gift of socks
but he’d moved on

Saw the Devil on TV
with his comb-over and tiny hands
but I was mistaken
He was all too human
greed and lust incarnate
and I turned away
with pity and contempt
awash in me

Heard the Holy Spirit
singing its heart out
from a tree in first leaf
no bigger than a minute
but so full of hope and joy
at being alive
that I took heart again
and carried a lighter load

Jill Kelly, 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Out from under the tyranny of shoulds

The same online course I mentioned a couple of posts back asked us to write down a list of our shoulds, those obligations we impose on ourselves. By the time I was writing the third page, I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe. Not only were there several dozen very old shoulds (I should stretch every day, I should lose more weight, I should meditate longer) but there were new ones that both appalled me and made me laugh: I should paint more, I should paint every spare minute, I should write every day, I should have more blog readers). The lists went on and on and the burden of them was heavy. I knew I wanted out from under this tyranny.

Much of "should" is in the use of the word. Shoulds  express an obligation of a future action or condition; they aren't about reality. So I have committed to two things. First, I want to turn all my should thinking and speaking into could thinking and speaking. Instead of I should paint more, I want to be thinking I could paint more. Now it's a possibility, not an obligation. Second, when the should impulse comes up, I want to ask myself this question: Do I want to do this or do I not want to do this? That too is friendlier. And for some things, while I might not want to do them, I need to (like going to the dentist or perhaps finishing a work project on a tight deadline) but it's still not a should.

I'm finding that this change in my thinking and speaking is really lightening my load.  

What is your relationship with should?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I love this poem

If All My Relationships Fail and I Have No Children Do I Even Know What Love Is

Patrick Rosal

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Changing how I monitor and schedule my time

I've been taking an online class on creative focus from Jessica Abel and finding the time to do our creative work. We began immediately tracking our time to see where it was going and how we wanted to shift things. Then the next assignment was to schedule a perfect week. I dutifully printed out the form and sat down to do it and then stopped. I've done this exercise many times before and it never really changed anything. So I wondered how I could do it differently. And this is what I came up with.

Instead of focusing on goals and tasks (which I can still have), I focus on what I want in my life (I'm calling them domains). There are nine: connecting, reading, creating, learning, moving, maintaining, resting, reflecting, and earning.  In every week (every day is even better), I want a healthy measure of each of the first eight (the ninth, earning, may or may not happen some of the time). Some of these happen spontaneously or are habits (for example, taking a shower/maintaining or mediation/resting and reflecting); others are best included through focus blocks, where I set time aside to be in that active in that domain, like creating or reading. Some things I do satisfy several domains. For example, AA meetings are connecting, reflecting, learning. I'm liking tracking this to see what happens.

What might your domains be?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Some new thoughts about anxiety

I've been reading Harriet Lerner's book, The Dance of Fear, and one of the conversations in the book has really struck me. When people live with low-level anxiety all the time (not the big panic kind but the kind that begins to seem normal), they tend to respond in one of two ways to most encounters or challenges. Either they under-function or they over-function.

Underfunctioners give up. They step back, feel helpless, confused, weak, passive. Overfunctioners step up, take charge, move into the situation rather than backing out. That may seem more positive but many times, it's not. Because we overfunctioners--and I am definitely one of those--step up and into places we shouldn't. We give unsolicited advice, we try to fix other people, we act like know-it-all's. I find myself doing this in particular with those of my friends that I perceive to be underfunctioning.

For the first time, I can see what was propelling my childhood bossiness. It wasn't so much a need to push people around as a need to mask my vulnerability and uncertainties. What a revelation!