Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reading deprivation week

Reading deprivation week went something like this:

I cheated. A lot.

It was fairly easy to avoid the newspaper and magazines. The computer was harder; I snuck a couple of peeks at email, and I uploaded two photos to my flickr account. One day, I decided that if I had to read to be able to accomplish something creative, then it was okay. I wanted to take a sketch that I'd done of Chaplin two years ago and get it printed on fabric by Spoonflower. But that involved all kinds of knowledge I didn't have, from how to take black & white photos on my Canon, to Photoshop details, to the actual file uploading to Spoonflower. Reading was required, and I didn't hesitate to jump in. I honestly don't consider that cheating.

The most cheating involved television. I normally don't watch a lot of tv, but I quickly devolved into watching mediocre-to-awful kids' stuff with my son, and hockey games with my husband. (The one bright spot was watching the movie "Be Kind, Rewind," which has a lot to say about creativity.) My excuse would be, "I'm tired; I'll just sit on the couch for a few minutes." Some nights flew by while I was in front of the tube. I wasn't conscious of what I was doing until it was time to herd my son to bed, and only then would I realize what I'd done. And then my well-practiced guilt would kick in.

I am extraordinary at beating myself up, but I went easier on myself than I used to. I realized that this was an experiment, and perfection was (as usual) unattainable. In addition, I was disappointed that I didn't get as much creative work done as I had hoped, and I went into self-blame for a while. Once again, I had set myself up for failure and self-loathing. When I could be kind with myself, I could see that I'd done some good stuff. I hung up some family photos and art in the house. I took a lot of photos. I walked. I laughed. I worked on a couple of new projects:

Peace sign embroidery

(embroidery on a reverse applique t-shirt)

Chenille cat (in progress)

(a new plushie in progress)

I have nothing finished, but that wasn't the point of the week. The point was to be more conscious of the time- and soul-sucking habits in my life. And I think part of the experience was to become more accepting of myself. I want to watch hockey sometimes. If I can do that consciously, without going on to watch another 3 hours of tv afterwards, then I'm being true to myself. It's the unconscious stuff that's the death of me.

P.S. Thanks for all your comments this week, and thanks for cheering me on.


Suzee said...

Jude! You gotta stop beating yourself up!! Print out an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (or maybe like 5!) with a STOP sign on it. Hang these around the house. When you have a negative thought about your self think STOP! Loudly - like you are yelling. Then remind yourself about the good stuff. That interruption in your thinking will make a big difference - I promise. I found this seminar helpful - maybe it will be offered near you soon. http://careertrack.com/mkt_info/products/60.asp

Joanne said...

That chenille cat is looking wonderful! Can't wait to see how you finish it off.
I think even if you 'cheated' you didn't fail. If the point was to make you realise the things that steal time, you were certainly conscious of the time you spent doing the things you weren't supposed to be doing so mission accomplished. Right?
You know, I heard recently that the whole "glass half empty/ glass half full thing" is hardwired into our brains. I've always felt guilty that I am not one of those radiant, happy, always optimistic people who find the good in everything and everybody. Now I'm not a walking misery, but I do worry about things, need to vent to a friend every now and then and tend to see potential problems in ideas and scenarios. Then the guilt kicks in, especially if you have one of those sunshiny people around, constantly saying cheering things. Yuk.
So, this study I mentioned, seems to show that some characteristics are innate. We don't choose which one we are. We can modify ourselves, and external factors have an influence. But we are all different.
Another interesting point I read in an amusing, semi-serious, book that I have on my shelf. Its called '100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What You Can Do About Them.' by Laura Lee.
Amongst chapters such as 'Lawn Ornaments', 'Bagels', 'Deer', 'Vegetables' and 'Teddy Bears' is 'Art Supplies'! Quoting from a 1970's study on artistic creativity at the Universities of Toronto and Harvard, they say:
"It appears likely that low levels of latent inhibition and exceptional flexibility in thought might predispose to mental illness under some conditions and to creative accomplishment under others."
Latent inhibition is the ability to shut out irrelevant information. 'Such a wide focus may be useful for creating original art'.
So the thing that makes us creative, may also make us prone to negative thought patterns, even mental illness.
Now doesn't that make you feel better ;-)

NM_Creatrix said...

I applaud you for doing as well as you did. I could do without actual reading (as in a book) but I listen to books on tape. Does that qualify as a cheat> But I would really have a hard time not reading my email! Horray for you~