How Do You Handle Immense Amounts of Stress?

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So, I’m really interested in how you deal. Really. I’m experimenting and learning new things about myself daily with this new venture that I’m up to my eyeballs in – the All The Pardons app.

When you get deep into it…how do you maintain a sane level of anxiety? Or do you? I want to learn from you here.

Well, here’s what’s going on all at once:

  • New versions of the app where I have to visually show what needs to be adjusted
  • Finishing the editing of the video
  • Researching as many Kickstarter campaigns as possible for layout, content and funding
  • Starting and planning getting my Kickstarter video off the ground
  • Planning for promotion once Kickstarter gets off the ground
  • Adding Facebook and Twitter accounts for the All The Pardons app and now planning posts for two accounts from each place, preferably twice a day but this is proving challenging (this is no small feat)
  • Setting up new site hosting accounts
  • Being terrified that this project will crash and burn and I will lose my shirt and end up alone and crying (did I just say that out loud?)

And all of this in addition to my usual obligations and, oh yeah, trying to have a life too.

But I’m not complaining – no matter how much it sounds as if I am… You know why? Because I am a lucky girl! I have been given the great gift of being able to even attempt this risky endeavor, that not many people get the chance to attempt. That’s why. I am grateful. I am.

So, share with me how you deal with stress. I truly want to know.

And don’t forget to enter the contest to name the All The Pardons app logo here.

Have You Ever Made A Video?

Hey all!th

So, video making is easy these days. Seriously, when I was in film school it was a huge freakin’ deal to put a film, or even a video, together. If you made a film it was really expensive, you had to make well sure you got every clip you needed the first time, editing was stressful as you had to literally cut and match the sprockets (I haven’t used that word in a really, really long time) up and tape them together…ok, yes, I know, dating myself. Anyway, it was an ordeal. Video was the tape version and you needed big heavy equipment to do anything.

Soooo, today you need a phone and iMovie, or it’s Android equivalent. So awesome!

The skills are basically the same and I was so happy to find that they hadn’t left me, phew. I shot 3 vignettes that showed little instances where the app would come in handy with guest appearances by some of the Youth Scholars from work, friends of friends, my niece and my mother and then MC’d it myself with my friend Silvia Graziano (thanks Silvia!) who added a great bit of humor. Oh, and another friend, Donna Diamond, who helped shoot the parts I couldn’t (thanks Donna!).

There’s one vignette on the subway that was really challenging as we had to shoot multiple takes on the train with the doors opening from different sides and trying to keep the continuity straight. Not easy I tell you! People were so nice about it though, giving us space and moving to make life easier for us. The train conductor even came over to ask if everything was ok because people kept getting off and on the train over and over again at every stop, heh, heh. You’ll have to tell me if my instincts are any good but the video should be done sometime this weekend. Please let me know what you think!

All The Pardons logo

All The Pardons logo

Oh, and don’t forget about the logo contest! I’m looking to name the All The Pardons logo (see just over here >). Contact me on my website contact page here, or however you want to get it to me, and the best name entry will get an All The Pardons T-shirt with the logo on it after my Kickstarter campaign ends. I’ve got some great entries so far and I might even have some multiple winners by the end. Come on and enter! It’s free!

Are You As Excited As I Am?

All The Pardons logo

All The Pardons logo

Hello y’all.

Though at the brink of exhaustion, I am making good headway on the All The Pardons App. Oh so close to having the website up and running, the video is 75%-80% done and the Kickstarter is being formed (ok, mostly in my head, but that is where it all happens, Peeps).

This is more work than I could EVER have imagined, and what a risk we take in our creative endeavors when we put ourselves out there like this? There is no certainty of success or that any of this will come out as I had originally envisioned (in fact, changes are happening every day as I adapt to what is possible and what is not), but it’s rewarding anyway. Funny, isn’t it? It’s new and exciting and challenging and I believe in its goal. That’s what’s driving me. Passion, baby!

In the end, I hope y’all like it and that it makes a positive difference in your lives, or the life of someone you know. That is it. Simple, yet true.

That little person you see to your right is the All The Pardons logo. He’s nameless at the moment but here’s my idea…

I would like to conduct a little contest. This little androgynous person needs a name and would love some input here. Whoever comes up with the best name gets a free All The Pardons T-Shirt, with the logo on it, when I print them after the Kickstarter event ends. Up for it? Come on, it’s free to enter so why not? Just go to my website and go to Contact.

I will be using high quality shirts, made in the USA and made of organic cotton. Not sure of the end date yet but will probably keep it going until the right name finds me. I’m waiting….

Do You Really Listen?

So, my life really revolves around working on my new app, All The Pardons, these days and just the fact that I’m constantly thinking about social etiquette makes me at my most socially conscious. So….. you (whoever you are…is there anybody out there?) are the imagesrecipients of my current brain state.

What I’ve noticed is how little everyone is listening to each other these days. Now, I’m not talking about politically, but of course that’s true as well, or in passing, again true, but in situations where you should be absolutely giving your full attention to someone you care about. In social conversations where people are confiding in one another.

Just to clear up the definition here, listening is not defined as “waiting to talk” while someone else imagestalks. Listening would mean that you are not thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner or how hot the waitress is that just walked by. You are with the person who is talking and trying to feel what they feel. When was the last time you felt that?

Here’s the secret that no one tells you…it gets you out of your head and makes you feel better. Really.

We are hardwired to have empathy (in person) and doing something about the empathy gives us the feelies. These days we are in a hurry and all of that seems like a giant slow down, but no! Well, yes, it does slow us down a bit but makes us feel so much better, less stressed, overall more blissful.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Can You Identify With This Photo?

Family of Four at Algiers, Cambridge, MA

Family of Four at Algiers, Cambridge, MA

So, last week I was kind of obsessing on this photo that I took at one of my favorite hang spots in Cambridge (when I’m in Cambridge), the Algiers Coffee House. This place has the best vibe, and vibe is the right term (I’m not trying to be all hippy dippy here) as it has a warming “you are welcome here and, by the way, stay as long as you like” feel to it.

It’s been there as long as I’ve known Harvard Square and while a lot of the surrounding square has gotten more and more trendy and expensive (in addition there used to be a ban on chain stores and it now has 2, yes 2, Dunkin Donuts’), Algiers has retained the same casual, beautiful atmosphere that it’s always had.

Algiers Coffee House, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

Algiers Coffee House, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

Ok, so getting to the picture I took….I took this on a lovely, lengthy hang out with a friend of mine, after attending the Icelandic Film Festival (yes, there is such a thing) at the Brattle Theatre. We enjoyed the private corner, lack of pressure to leave, as well as the fact that often (as we did that day) you have to get up and find your own menus and sometimes even find a waiter when you are ready to order. I mean, when I say lack of pressure, I mean lack…of…pressure.

So, I took the above photo when my friend went to the loo and I had a moment to myself, just admiring the simplicity and significance of the 4 little objects before me. They were all functional objects on the table, with much in common in the spice world, yet they were all mismatched. Now, when was the last time that you saw a mismatched salt and pepper on your table in a metropolitan city restaurant? Who will allow that these days?

I find this so refreshing as it relieves the air of perfection that seems to exist everywhere around us these days. We expect ourselves to be perfect at everything to the point of depression. We expect our sports teams to be perfect, our public figures of all sorts (and of course, if they’re not, we enjoy reveling in their destruction), everything we buy, eat and interact with….yikes!…it’s exhausting.

The result of this is that everything pretends to be perfect and appears sanitized. Anyone who reads this regularly or follows me on social media knows that I love Dick Cavett. Those interviews were raw, honest and personal. We’ve sacrificed this for the late night TV circuit where all of the discussion topics are rehearsed, cleaned and laundered ahead of time and are booorrringg. I have no interest in watching that fiction.

Long live Algiers and all of the other Algiers’ of the world!

Have You Seen the Whitney Biennial This Year?

The Whitney Biennial used to be hit or miss and pack as many artists in as possible. One, maybe two, pieces per artist and no real cohesive plan (at least that’s how it appeared to me in the days of yore).

This time it’s different. There are less artists but more work by each one and there is a cohesive theme that runs through the entire show. This theme reflects the world we are now living in, as the Whitney puts it, filled with “racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics. Throughout the exhibition, artists challenge us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community.” Amen it does.

Cameron Rowland, Public Money, 2017

Cameron Rowland, Public Money, 2017

Though I can’t say that every piece does it for me (now really, when has that been the case anyway), there is some really strong work in there – AND, it all does, or attempts to do, what the theme states. Some of the most compelling work shows how to take responsibility for, and sheds transparency, through projects (and, I have to say, taking responsibility for anything these days is so “splash me in the face” refreshing). For example, Cameron Rowland who documents a Social Impact Bond, also known as a “pay for success” contract, to reduce adult incarceration rates, between the Whitney and Social Finance, Inc. and has all of the paper work framed for all to see including the non-disclosure agreement as well as a copy of the $25,000 wire transfer, holding all accountable. It doesn’t get more transparent than that!

Samara Golden

Samara Golden, The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, 2017

My favorite piece was by Samara Golden who did an amazing installation called The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes. The installation is disorienting in that you are looking at a series of building levels that are seemingly incongruous to each other – a penthouse apartment, a dirty and neglected institutional setting, a middle class apartment before or after a party – that you are looking at from an outside edge with mirrors top and bottom and an outside museum window framing the scene, it’s hard to know anything for certain except that there is much disparity and little in common between these scenes except that they are so close yet so isolated from each other.

My inclination is to interpret the title as a hard and messy reverse of The Emperor’s New Clothes. What you see is what it is and there is no pretending that it’s not. Good stuff!

Curious Dog = Empathy. Dig?

I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Boston Opera House last night, for the second time. I saw it on Broadway in NYC last year and fell in love. You should know that this is the first play of any kind that I’ve seen twice. It’s really something special and I could feel the audience get that – they were enraptured.

Winner Best Play 2015 Tony Award

Winner Best Play 2015 Tony Award

Here’s why I think this connection happens with this play in particular. Empathy. Yes, I know, I’m always going on and on about empathy and compassion, and I’m unapologetic because these are important topics that make us human and make us whole. Without them, we are grumpy, sad and feel as if something’s missing from our lives. Just do something nice and/or thoughtful for someone else and you will remember what I mean – the opposite happens.

So, this play puts you squarely inside the head of a 15 year old boy with autism, literally, inside his head (the stage is a grid of the inside of his head but also transforms through other people into all kinds of things) and you can feel what he’s feeling and how he neurologically interprets things in a different way than we do. Being in that grid transforms your experience to his experience rather than yours. What an amazing thing, and an incredible gift. We could all use a little more experiential empathy in our lives – kind of like virtual reality empathy.

I can’t really say enough about this play – GO SEE IT, if you can, if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity. You will find it to be a gift and we don’t get that many true gifts handed to us these days….do we?

Are We In the Age of “Like” but No Action?

Ok, here’s what I’m thinking about this week….th

As I dive head long into the digital world of, All The Pardons, my new app (first app, only app), I’m thinking about the age of “like” that we’re living in. We are asked to “like” everything on a myriad of social media sites, blogs and anything that’s digitally interactive.

So, what does it mean to “like” something? Has “liking” things replaced our ability to act on things, interact with people in real life? If someone dies, is “liking” a post on Facebook equal to sending flowers or a personal note? How do we really feel about that when looking at it in a realistic light and not thinking about it as “just the way things are now”?

I’m truly interested in what you think about this.

I’ll tell you how I feel about it. I miss real human interaction. Don’t get me wrong. I interact with people and do have my quality connections but now go out of my way to do things that, yes, aren’t how things are done anymore. It brings more quality to my and others’ life. I can see on people’s faces how much they appreciate my extra effort and how I’m not treating them as they are being treated by others.  This is something that has happened slowly and deliberately over time.

Don’t think that I’m not getting something out of this. I definitely am. It makes me feel good. It gets me out of myself (as we all tend to go deeper and deeper inside all the time) and makes me more empathetic to others. It makes me feel more human and feeling human feels good – probably because that’s how we’re naturally wired.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to lose my humanity and I feel like there are constant attempts to slowly pull that out of us. That’s the way we lose things, right? Slowly and barely noticeable. Scary.

thOk, so do one thing this week that wasn’t expected or “just isn’t done anymore”? Maybe even just think about doing one thing that fits one of those two categories and let me know what it is? Would you share? Go below and “leave a comment”.  Plleeeaaassee!

When I write these I feel like I’m talking to myself and I’d love to see some evidence that someone is out there. Connect with me baby!

Thanks.

Where Do We Really Live?

Ok, so I am bogged down in the details of my app building and learning so many new things each day that my head feels like it’s going to explode, however, I’m going to take a little break from that and write about an amazing artist I saw at the MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Cleveland a year ago December.

New York City Apartment, Do Ho Suh

New York City Apartment, Do Ho Suh

Why so long ago, you ask? Well, I was going through the trauma of caring for my ailing and mistreated-at-hospital parents (well, that part was just my father) and was in Cleveland dealing with that, taking a break to see this show with my friend Claudia, and just couldn’t get to blogging at all during that part of my life. Life, such as it is, just takes over and decides what you can and can not do at times. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do. So, getting back to the art….

The show was the work of the amazing South Korean born artist, Do Ho Suh, who has quickly become one of the most important artists of our time and named “Art Innovator of the Year” by The Wall Street Journal in 2013. His work deals with the boundaries between public and private space, global identity, memory, displacement and nomadism – all of which I was dealing with at the time, feeling the abandonment of my childhood home and city and the thoughts of life in my family as finite, individually and as a whole.

The first visual texture that hit us upon encountering this work was transparency and the undulation between solids and opaque surfaces. Suh had recreated his entire New York City apartment in polyester mesh fabric and bright solid colors. The layers and feeling of x-ray vision was amazing, not to mention the attention to detail which was mind boggling. Once being in it and moving around in the space for a while, I was overcome by a feeling of ghostliness and melancholy as the space was the shadow of a place to live, but was it a home?

The Specimen Series, Do Ho Suh,  Aren't these fabulous?

The Specimen Series, Do Ho Suh, Aren’t these fabulous?

Suh also had a room with what he called the, Specimen Series. Several normal household appliances and fixtures, also in polyester fabric, that were “framed” in plexiglass light boxes, glowing eerily in a darkened room. Soft, stark, beautiful and lonely.

So, you can see why this exhibit was hitting so close to home (yes, pun). It begged the viewer to consider their vision of home and what that means and what it feels like to have a home or not. It also made me think about how we are like mental turtles, carrying all of our past, present and future memories of “home” around in our heads, which is really where it is, clearly spelled out as I watched my childhood home slowly turn into a generic house as it was emptied of its contents.

In the end, there is universal empathy from all of us as we understand that globalization and digital communication slowly erase our traditional notions of time, space and place, driving us further and further into our heads/homes.

Have You Ever Taken On Something You Know Nothing About?

Hello y’all!

I am here today to talk to you about the imposter syndrome.  Are you familiar with it?  Well, on Wikipedia it’s known henceforth –ClickHandler-1

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.[2]

It is not a coincidence that this syndrome is most often found in women (though I know that it does sometimes appear in men) and that it was discovered and identified by women.  I think every successful female artist has, at the very least, stumbled into it at some point and at varying degrees of intensity.  I am no exception.

At the moment, I’m working on my next project under the heading of Social Acupuncture/Social Meditation (SASM) – project number 2 – an app called All the Pardons (you may recall, the first project called, All the Bandages, which I will get back to once this one has launched).

Now, you must understand, I have never designed an app before, nor did I have the slightest idea how to do so before I started this endeavor and came up with the idea.  I’ve been through all of the stages – being terrified that I don’t know how to even begin, asking for help from fellow artists and receiving someone who supposedly knew what they were doing, realizing they didn’t have any idea what they were doing, being paralyzed with fear and doubt, then slowly gaining confidence in my own knowledge and instincts (with never underestimated support from mentors and friends) to take the reigns and proceed slowly and cautiously forward.

So, my question is, why is this syndrome mostly attributed to women? Why are men so much more naturally confident? Or are they? Is this a gender thing or a genetic thing? Hmmmm.

I picked up a great quote while reading Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. She says “The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not.” Interesting, yes?

 

thLastly, saw another great, and I mean great, film last night, A United Kingdom. A fabulously acted and written film about Botswana’s independence that would never have come about without the amazingly beautiful love story of a British white woman and a prince from Botswana who fell in love facing more adversity than one can imagine. Don’t miss it.