Tag Archives: art

Break the internet

Break the internet: a campaign for net neutrality.

stopthefccimage

Hello fellow internet-users,

Today’s post is a public service announcement for this issue. I read my daily post from Seth Godin and decided to join the cause.

As a blogger myself, I appreciate the freedom to be able to post whatever I want on my platform and to read what others want to share as well. It truly is a democratizing force, and has changed the way we communicate and engage politically.

I watched a short video to understand more about net neutrality and the potential costs of losing it. If you have not seen it, click here. It is less than 3 minutes. Well worth it.

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Service providers should not be able to dictate which sites or items we are able to see, and internet users may not even be able to imagine this now.

Part of the problem is that service providers could “package” websites and be able to sell you what they recommend, rather than what you choose to see. I doubt this could actually succeed, given what I know about the contrariness of myself and other internet users. However, this video explains what a world WITHOUT net neutrality might look like.

Today I am at home recovering from appendectomy surgery. So I am kinda free and just sitting here in my p.j.’s. I am counting myself lucky in a way, since I have a little extra time today to campaign for this cause. I hope you can take a few minutes, maybe on a break or a lunch hour to do the same. It’s for all of us, peeps.

If you see other videos or links of interest you want to share in the comments below, please feel free.

 

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Take me to Regions Hospital

When I arrived home from my trip on Thursday night I started having abdominal pain and nausea. I attributed it to something I may have eaten in Mexico, and did not think much of it until the next morning when I still felt crappy. Hubby texted me in the morning to tell me I should see a doctor. I had canceled my calls and meetings for the day, and just collapsed on the couch to rest. By noon I was thinking: this is not good.

Regions Hospital

I have a fairly high pain tolerance but not wanting to get up off the couch because of the pain and because I still felt nauseated was a warning sign. I texted hubby and asked if he could drive me to the doctor. He left work immediately and drive me to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. From the moment I walked into the emergency room (around 2:15 in the afternoon) until I checked out an hour ago, the care was excellent.

Every nurse, physician, surgeon, PCA, CT tech and all other staff who attended to us were friendly, professional and kind. They explained everything they were doing, the tests, what they indicated, and how long things would take. Once a diagnosis of appendicitis was confirmed, they explained the procedure to me, and asked if I had questions.

Later, when I was scheduled for surgery that same night, other residents, and health care professionals (HCPs in my world of clinical research) asked me to explain what I understood would happen in my own words. As someone who reviews informed consent documents as part of my work as a clinical researcher, I really appreciated how much they checked my understanding at various points in the process.

I was prepped for surgery starting around 8:15 and then taken in around 9 p.m. My husband tells me the surgeon came out a little before 10 p.m. to let him know the status of the surgery. Fortunately it was a laparoscopic appendectomy with only three small incisions (about an inch long each). The appendix was intact, so the procedure was standard and without complications.

regions waiting room

I woke up around 11 p.m. and the people around me told me everything went well. They planned to keep me overnight for observation, so my husband said goodbye and let me know he would return in the morning. A couple of times during the night a nurse checked my vitals and blood pressure, but for the most part I was able to rest and sleep. I woke up around 7:30 a.m. as the hospital staff were switching shifts, and my care team introduced themselves.

I was able to order coffee, which I had not wanted the day before (another sign something was off for sure – I love my coffee first thing). Around 9:30 I had some breakfast which I was able to order from the patient menu (like room service!).  Having fasted for ~40 hours, I was happy to feel hungry again, a sign of healing.

I am so grateful to have high quality healthcare and good health insurance coverage so I did not worry about that during the process. Also, the entire health care team was amazing, without exception. There must have been 15-20 people who interacted with us over the course of the ~21 hour period we were at the hospital. If you are in the St. Paul, Minnesota area, and you have a choice of hospitals I recommend Regions without exception.

The woman in the bed next to me while I was in recovery did not speak English, but the nurses and doctors accessed their on-call translation service, which was a little box like a phone where the translator could speak and listen to the patient in Spanish. Later, when her family arrived, someone in the family helped to translate, but I really liked knowing that service was available to remove any barriers to excellent care.

Now I shall stay home and take it very easy over the next few days. My hubby is already off to the grocery store and pharmacy to pick up a few things. He is a good man. I am glad I finally listened to him when he said ” you can’t mess with this shit” and drove me directly to a hospital. While I was waiting for surgery, I let my sister know the situation. She is an RN, and she explained to my parents what was going on.

My father almost died from a burst appendix about 45 years ago. While my case was less severe, it was an excellent reminder that good health and access to excellent care are so important, and such blessings. I realize the privilege of having good care comes from an employer that pays for ~80% of the cost of premiums, and a philosophy that employees deserve good benefits.

I will write more on my views of health care policy in the future. For now, I will put the laptop away, get out some books, sit and drink so tea with my kitties and give thanks. The healing journey continues.

 

 

Compulsive blogging

Now that I have committed to posting daily since the beginning of October, I realize that I always make time for this activity, no matter what. I start to wonder if that is a little compulsive.

It is nearly 300 days since I started meditating daily, and I recognize the benefit to my life of that consistent habit. Is writing the same thing? Or does it have a down side, a dark side? I suppose any good thing can have its down side it taken to an extreme.

During the holidays when I had a little less access to wi-fi, I pulled out my handwritten journal a bit more. That is a good thing. Electronic media are a nice luxury, for sure. But my brain processes differently when hand-writing is a necessity.

Laptop with watch

I felt a little withdrawal when I was unable to write, a little melancholy. I realized that writing gives me joy, and this blog community I have discovered has become a little more part of my routine than I expected. That said, I adapt to the change in routine that holidays typically bring.

I wrote haiku, did a photo-blog piece instead of a longer journal-like piece and I did more personal reflection instead than public blog posts. Changing it up can be good, despite those habits we cultivate getting modified a bit during the holidays.

I realized that, in prioritizing this blog, I put aside some tasks that I was “supposed” to do this weekend for work. In fact, I chose not to work on them because I prioritized what was important to myself rather than my employer. This is probably related to my tendency as a Questioner, more easily moved by inner expectations rather than outer expectations.

So maybe it is less a compulsion than a strong desire and discipline to shape this writer in me. I can demonstrate to myself that this commitment is not just a fleeting one, but a more fundamental part of how I intend to live.

How do you want to live? Are there things you dream about doing that keep entering your consciousness? Are there nudges you keep getting to try things that make you a little anxious but also excited? What if you committed 15-30 minutes each day to getting those things done? How would your life change?

 

 

Embracing our darkness

Last week I wrote a bit about dark nights of the soul, a contemplation of my battles with insomnia, and coming to terms with changes I anticipate in my life. I also wrote about home, and what that term means to me. I realize in writing every day, what I am doing is mining my own stories and allowing them to take shape in a purposeful direction.

I began reading Thomas Moore’s Dark Nights of the Soul and I am surprised and delighted by some of the insights. Moore’s biography also intrigues me. His amazon author page describes him this way: “He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist. He also writes fiction and music and often works with his wife, artist and yoga instructor…”

I love his eclectic career and life. He clearly mines the depths of his experiences and others’ stories, both light and dark. The darkness is not something to be avoided, in his view. He describes the transformation that happens in this darkness this way:

Your story is a kind of water, making fluid the brittle events of your life. A story liquefies you, prepares you for more subtle transformations. (p  61 “The Self in Solution”)

I so completely identify with this passage. And it speaks to what I attempt to do in pursuing this daily writing practice, using the process of story to understand my own life, and the path thus far.

The Triple Hecate

William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

He uses mythology as a key to understand and cultivate our relationship with the darkness, which is a part of all of us. The imagery he uses of Hekate (Hecate) the moon goddess really speaks to my need to delve below the psychological models that seek to bring things to light, to overcome darkness and to make things manageable. There is a role of this, of course. Most of us have bills to pay, people to care for, work to accomplish. When we are pulled totally into the dark, these things become difficult, and we need assistance to accomplish the basics of survival and maintaining our foundation.

But the “Lunar consciousness” of Hekate helps us put things into a context of deeper meaning, beyond our surface concerns. By mining and embracing the “waste” of our dark nights, we actually may open to some deeper truth within us. The more we try to banish our darkness, and live a moralistic life the more this darkness will assert itself in unhealthy ways. Moore writes: “I want to enter the darkness, because that is where the soul is.”

Yes. He describes the magic of this dark place, and the cyclical nature of light and darkness in our lives, the yin and yang. This all speaks to my struggle with discovering the next steps in my life, knowing my soul is calling forth different actions than what worked in the past.

I am in a cycle of change right now. Some parts of it are joyful as I realize realize my concepts of marriage and commitment have evolved. I may return to some types of work that I really enjoyed but left behind over a decade ago. And yet, I may have to let go of some comfortable notions of my middle class life, and embrace the discomfort of growing into new roles. I may leave behind people with whom I enjoy working, so that I can more fully realize my potential outside the confines of a corporate bureaucrazy.

I am mindfully preparing myself and my husband for these types of transitions. And I am often impatient with this soul-mining. I want an action plan, a step-wise process for this, a clear path. But human lives are seldom so orderly and the soul does not operate on command. So I will embrace this period of quiet, with these occasional dark nights and creative dreams to guide me.

Some wisdom from Rumi (The Guest House) can perhaps serve as a reminder:

“The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”

 

 

 

 

Woman as Creator

There is a funny lyric in an Ani diFranco song that I like in her latest album from the song (alrighty):

next time i watch a man give birth
i’ll try to picture the creator as a dude with a beard
’cause right now i gotta say it’s seemin’ kind of weird

Ani Difranco Binary

Album cover from Binary

When we make a meal for our families, it is work. But it is also creation. It is making something out of other raw materials. It is a sacred and ordinary act. And yet, it is de-valued, and trivialized as “women’s work” so often.

What if we saw each act of caring for another human being as an act of creation? What if we considered our interactions with other people as a way to “create” an experience? How might this change our view of being a Creator?

What if we play with the notion that to create is human? To clean one’s space and arrange one’s home is to create an experience for oneself and one’s living companions.

I am not a fan of cleaning. I dislike it, actually. Right now I pay for the privilege of cleaning help once a month. Usually what happens before each cleaning is that I scramble about our rented townhome and spend time de-cluttering and putting things away, sorting and organizing.

I always saw home-caring as an unsavory burden, something that recalls times when my Mom asked me to clean my room. Usually I would go upstairs, begin the process, and then find a book that had been buried in a pile, and start reading.

Hours later, Mom would check on my progress. I had often finished the book and totally forgotten about cleaning my room. Dear Mother: thank you for your patience in raising me. I have been truly blessed.

When I consider that cooking and cleaning are acts of love for ourselves, and for the people who live with us, it creates less resistance for me. I used to joke that I refuse to conform to a “Latina stereotype” and therefore I calmly refuse to clean up after others. I have been in long-term relationships (one was an 8-year marriage) with men who loved to cook for a reason: I had no intention of carrying that load.

These days I am attempting to clean and organize my space because I would like to set up a true “office” at home. Right now my dear husband has ceded the dining room to my home office. But someday I would like to use it as a dining room again.

This means that I will spend time clearing out the spare room and fully cleaning and de-cluttering it. The job is intimidating to me, I admit. I have an interest in minimalism, and I completely cleaned out the closet in my spare room in the Spring of 2017.

Then Summer in Minnesota arrived, and with it, the desire to spend far more time outside, as is appropriate and necessary for a cold-weather people. No regrets on this, none whatsoever. But I am far from achieving a more minimalist ideal.

Now that winter has arrived, with it a bit of snow, and a desire for warm drinks and inside time, I will recommit to the KonMari effort I started back in the Spring. I am letting go again, and clearing space in my home and in my consciousness for the next “big thing.”

Returning to the original theme of this post: think of all the ways in your life that women are creators. For me, I realize I am the creator of my own life, and of my own experience. If I do not like where it is going, I have the power to change it. I can choose different actions, and create different results.

Women have always been Creators, giving birth not only to babies but to new ideas, to different ways of working in the world. Given that so many have been responsible for the care of our families, with or without mates to share the load, we are by nature creative and innovative.

When we fully own that creativity, and celebrate it, we begin to create great change in the world. We refuse to be caged in a reality that undervalues women. We begin to understand that our value comes from our own sense of worthiness, and that nobody’s opinion of us is more valid than our own belief in our efficacy.

Women of the world, we are Creators. Do not deny it. The world needs what we are willing to share. Let us have the courage not to worry about the “messiness” that occurs in the process of creation. Let us instead embrace the satisfaction we can take in truly owning our creative natures.

 

 

I write for me, not for you

If you get some value out of what I write, then it is a bonus.

But I write this blog for me, not for you. That probably sounds selfish, doesn’t it? Yes, I agree. I used to think blogging was the most selfish, narcissistic thing to do. Probably roots back to a decade ago when I lived with someone who blogged three days a week and had difficulty keeping a day job.

He was pretty selfish and narcissistic, come to think of it. Hmm. I now forgive him for the ways in which he took advantage of my kindness, and I appreciate what I learned in the process.

Some people like to talk, and like to hear themselves talk. It gives them comfort when words spout out of their mouths, and they get to “be” out in the world in this way.

Some of us prefer to write, and it gives us comfort when words spill out onto the page or a screen. But it is not so much about “being” in the world, as it is a way to figure out what we really think, what we really want.

What is the difference, then? As an introvert, I prefer the latter. I used to work for a boss that told me she figured out what she wanted to do by bouncing ideas off someone out loud. It was a way of brainstorming and getting to a solution.

Once I truly understood her process, and that it was enormously helpful to her, I could stop running off and trying to implement all of the ideas that flowed out of her like a fountain.

For me, an introvert, I like to let words flow out on paper, or leak out from my fingertips onto my screen. Then I can go back and edit, select, revise and “mine for meaning.” I accept the concept of shitty rough drafts – thank you my dear Anne Lamott.

Not all words are precious, and the majority of them are not. (Thank you, Liz Gilbert.) But words can be a process for us, a way to dig down into the marrow of a situation, really an exploration and an excavation. The provide clues to what we desire and our buried hopes and dreams can re-emerge this way.

Decision fatigue

Other creative media can do this too. Sometimes I engage in whatI call “color work” with my pastels and sheets of newsprint paper. It involves choosing colors I want to work with, using broad strokes on the page, and then smearing the colors with my hands and fingers in a way that is pleasing to the sensations in my fingers.

Writing (in black and white) seldom provides this pleasing sensation. Though it comes much more easily to me than “color work,” my right brain yearns to play with my left brain sometimes. When I indulge it, my soul seems to reward me with deeper insight now and then. When I hear an internal dialogue about how I am not an artist, or that people would laugh at me if they could see this, I quiet that critic and realize it is not about them, it is about me.

It is about bringing my whole self to more of my daily life, my logical parts and my creative parts. It is about bringing the inner fountain to outer manifestations. When we generate and create a lot of ideas, a lot of them will be crap. No worries, mate. That is the nature of ideation and innovation. A few of them might be decent, and maybe a tiny number of them will be brilliant.

But the practice of generating and letting those ideas loose? That is where the magic lies. It is the flow and the discipline of doing this every day, or every Saturday, or twice a day or whatever your preferred rhythm.

This is what brings me joy these days, creating color work that nobody will ever see, and generating words and ideas that please me, or sometimes challenge and annoy me. What a gift, the privilege of doing this. I am eternally grateful that this universe has seen fit to grant me this opportunity, as I know not everyone has as much freedom to do the same.

May you write and read for you, dear reader. If it touches others in some way, invites them to do the same, may we celebrate this incredible privilege together.

 

 

When work is play

Today I am working on a Saturday to prepare for a workshop that I will be co-facilitating on Monday with a favorite colleague. It will be a 2-hour session on “Innovation Jams, Design Thinking and the Medici Effect” with 16 students, mostly engineers and program managers at our company. The workshop filled up fast and apparently there are actually a few more people on the waiting list who had planned to take it as well.

I am so excited about this opportunity and the fact that I get to offer this type of workshop. The idea came about when we were brainstorming how to spread the word about how to use design thinking for every day problems, and how diversity drives innovation. It is a message that resonates with me, and I have so many stories and examples of how opening up to the “intersections” in our lives, whether cultural, or between fields or between genders, actually changes how we think.

In order to open up our creativity and to begin to invent novel solutions to problems, we must be willing to go beyond conventional thinking. Since our brains tend to resist that process, and are much more comfortable doing things as we have always done them, there are some tools and strategies we can use. One is to pay attention to what is happening around us and to notice things. Another is to talk with people who are different from us, who may have other perspectives. Yet another is to assemble teams from diverse backgrounds in order to solve problems. My favorite way is to PLAY! Do art, work with colors, play-act, do improve, and just have some fun. It is good for your brain.

Art store spree

Blick art materials – today’s spree for materials at our workshop

All of these are fairly simple and low cost, but yet they yield enormous benefits. I work in a very large medical device and health care solutions company that has big ambitions. My worry is that we are TOO BIG and the bureaucracy to get just simple things done is killing us. I think that stifles innovation, when we are weighed down by big systems that keep slowing things down. But I also want to help people find creative ways around this problem, because the mission of the company aligns with my personal goals.  There are a lot of brilliant scientists and engineers working there. I would love to help them find a way to tap into their best thinking to design products and services for patients around the world.

I often say when I am working on these types of “special projects” which are technically outside my job scope as a clinical research manager, that this work feels like play. I got to go to the art supply store and pick up an assortment of fun crafty items, so we can have the class members actually build physical prototypes to represent the solutions they create. Using tactile materials can help stimulate creativity, especially for those of us so used to working with ideas, words, and paper all day. I had a blast picking out various items that I thought our class could use. It truly felt like play, as it does when I work on design for these type of events.

How fortunate I am to be able to do this kind of work. Yes, I still have a pile of other things to do for my “real” job that I will have to catch up on as a result of spending more time on this. But what a privilege it is to get to do work that feels like play for some of my days. Namaste, friends. Hope you have plenty of time to play this weekend!