Friday, December 25, 2015

Game Changers

Life seems to change when we least expect it. And we are prone to see those changes as failures as if success is for the situation to remain the same. In fact, success should be about rolling with the punches.

Anyone can walk on even ground or keep in step with a marching band. Picking your own path or setting your own rhythm is the challenge.

It has been a challenging month. So challenging I have not had time to write a blog in three weeks. No time to pause and catch my breath and re-access. Sometimes the pauses are enforced by other circumstances. And you are stuck in a lobby, or a waiting room, or exam room having forgotten your tablet and your cell phone; all the magazines are five years old; and there is no one to talk to but yourself.

But you know things will be changing if on no other level than how you see yourself.

And there are no quick answers. You have no plan for the days ahead easy at hand.

A choice is to see it as an opportunity. A game changer. The challenge is to figure out the new game.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Campaigning for Agreement

Part of the whole deadly triad of blaming others and impression management is campaigning for agreement. We are herd animals. Especially the extroverts among us. We are not comfortable being shunned or blocked of even not getting enough likes for our posts on social media.

I call it the deadly triad because in just a few hours, thanks to Facebook and email, we can create opinions which once took months to spread by word of mouth and telephone. Thank heavens we have gotten beyond literal lynch mobs. But maybe what we have now is worse, because we do not even have to think about what we are doing when we post on social media. Nor can we take it back easily because once it is out there it is out there.

And some organizations like the Right to Lifers who want to kill abortion doctors don't just shop for agreement but campaign for it. They post names and addresses and hit lists of those against what they believe on websites they manage. And they celebrate in a post when one of the list is taken off. The GOP has found if you repeat a lie often enough everyone comes to believe it is the truth. The Christians have done it with Christmas. Don't want to say Merry Christmas? Well, you are now apart of the persecution of the believers in Jesus. We want to divide to conquer. Not with us than you are obviously against us. It is all in or all out.

But we do it also on a smaller scale on free platforms. There are those on your friends' list on Facebook that will crucify groups or individuals for doing them wrong. And if you do not fall in line and agree with them you will become one of the shunned. It can be very damaging in a small community which relies on social media for its information. The intelligent don't chime in. They whisper in corners at face to face events. Those who speak the truth or even voice doubt in a campaign for agreement can named the enemy.

Words have power. Do not misuse them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Impression Management

I am an artist and a poet. I know how to manage impressions. I have also, in my somewhat checkered career, worked in advertising as a copy writer, been a free lance writer, a theatrical set and costume designer, and acted. You could say I have an advanced degree in impression management. But I seek to be very honest and up front in my personal life. Poetry, not so much.

And while I am at times a real sucker for the narcissistic personality disorder in friends (more and more briefly friends) I am also really good at spotting bullshit. I am sure I could have put that more poetically.  There is currently a lot of impression management going on in my little town. And today that means you take it to the ethernet. Let me say that just because it was posted on Facebook does not make it gospel. It does not even have to make it close to the truth.

Generally I just read these little mini-dramas and not like or comment. FB does not have a button for Liar or even Dislike so not liking and not commenting is the coward's way out of the fray. But I am rather upset about one that just hit our community because it tarred and feathered without proof an individual I know but it also painted with the same brush our volunteer firemen. Rule one on Impression Management: Do not paint false impressions of others to make yourself look good. Rule two on Impression Management: Leave the innocent and others not directly involved OUT OF IT.

I have lived in Black Lake for twenty years now. I have nothing but good to say about the citizens here who volunteer for the fire department. If I was thirty years younger I would volunteer too. Our tax base is about 1400 and yet during the height of tourist seasons the fire department and paramedics take care of 10,000 visitors doing dangerous things they are not in good physical shape for, and with professionalism and compassion. In the past years of drought they have been our first line of defense against our surrounding forest when on fire.

It is totally wrong to blacken their reputation with an oblique reference in a totally unproven and unsubstantiated story on public media.

That is my impression of this entire incident.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Theme is Humble

Alone in the field

The end of the year always brings about agonizing reappraisal. And a questioning of my assumptions. It is always easier to do this with others but not as easy to do it with ourselves. I have promised myself to do better this year at that.

A local business just announced it was closing. They blamed us locals because we didn't shop there enough. But who would want to? I asked myself. And I was one of those that shopped there. They stocked products I wanted, but increasingly I was willing to drive over the mountain to get those products.

The economy gets a lot of blame for failure of businesses. I do not have enough money to shop local a lot. I try to eat at least one restaurant meal a week. It is a budget line item. If I had more money I would spend more money. I blame the economy for the low sales at my studio. That and Google Maps had me in the wrong spot. But maybe it is that I am not a good painter. Or I have a toxic personality. Admittedly nobody needs a painting. And everyone thinks their iphone takes a great photograph.

A few years back this agonizing reappraisal stuff led me to give up painting for two years. I spent my creative energy on photography. That was rewarding but painters don't choose to paint. They need to paint so I went back to it. Our valley has several well known painters and I am probably the least of those. I do know I am third on prices, and second on google listings. I promised myself when I went back to painting that I would paint what I wanted to paint. Maybe that isn't what others want to buy. The mustang paintings go very well, but I get tired of the question, "Do you paint aspens?" "I photograph those," I reply nicely. But everyone photographs aspens. My old truck photographs sell better. Note: I did do a couple aspen paintings. Neither sold.

And one of the reasons I quit painting for those two years was the production line of churches. I sold a lot of churches. "Paint churches. Everyone buys churches." But I still have churches in the studio I have not sold. And a new one I just finished recently. It is from a photograph I took which moved me to paint it.

Alone on the High Plains

I do not know if I have an answer on this appraisal of my business acumen. But the theme is humble because I find I tend to blame myself. And what is the line between humble and self-abuse? Don't worry. I am not going to cut off an ear. Nor will I turn to painting 2000 flowers. That would not make me happy.

I paint what makes me happy. And every once in a while a painting makes someone just as happy as it made me, and it goes home with them.

Thunder Run

 I am a painter and a photographer but not a great sales person. I keep taking course on marketing. But I am better at passing that information on to others than utilizing it for myself.