Changing things up

I’ve just finished up with moving, and have been scarce. Now that I finally have some time to sit down and write, I’ve realized that I want a more cohesive plan.

This blog should resume regular service by next week.

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Down this path

Uncertainty is awful when it’s about very important things. It’s hard not to know what’s going to happen when the potential results are monumental. We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re going together – along with everyone who agrees or disagrees with the direction we’re headed. 

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Anxiety soaked instances of power

When you’re in a powerless situation, it can feel so good to fantasize about suddenly gaining the ability to fix it. Imagine telling off the boss about not giving you enough hours, or the bank about unyielding policues and fees. It seems like it would be so good.

However, in situations where we do technically have the upperhand and the power to do something, it can be really hard to do anything with it. Even when you are clearly in the right, other people can simply decide that you don’t – and then try to pressure you into not exercising your rights.

The fantasy is shouting “I HAVE THE POWER!” He-man style. The reality is trying not to appear like you are shaking.

I don’t know of any way to make other people stop trying to intimidate you like this. There may not always be a way to do that – and that is really unfair. All I can offer is what helps me deal with this stuff.

  1. Learn everything you can about the situation – especially what your rights and responsibilities are. Knowing what ought to be going on provides something strong to lean against.
  2. Prepare to be treated badly. Maybe they’ll relent or they suddenly realize they’ve been awful. Maybe. You’re better off hoping for that, but preparing for them to take advantage of you.
  3. Keep your communications limited if it gets abusive.
  4. Seek out resources. In some cases, advice and info on dealing with situations is all you’ll need, and chances are whatever you’re dealing with has been covered in a blog article, forum discussion, or on a website. If it’s a legal issue, there are often helpful organizations that will offer you free assistance.
  5. Always try to give yourself time to think about other things. When you have a moment, pull up music you like or clips of TV shows. Keep looking till you can find something that absorbs your attention. Having a mental break can do wonders for your ability to process what is happening and to respond effectively. I use playlists and Youtube’s “Watch Later” to set up things to watch specifically when my brain is too frazzled to try & find something. 
  6. Do self-care. Eat food. Bathe. Rest. There are social media robots you can follow that will remind you periodically to breathe & chill. And there are sites/apps like Habitica where you earn points for completing to-dos. I find these really help me focus, and free up mental energy to deal with my problems.

Everything may or may not be okay, no way to tell till it’s done. When the outcome of a situation is outside your control, try focusing on what you can control that will set you up for the best possible result. 

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People don’t always change for the better. If you’ve known someone a long time (or thought you knew them), it can be jarring to see them act in ways you never expected them to act. And if their views suddenly seem to be the toxic things that most hurt you, it can be devastating. How could they do this to you?

There are a million ways to react to this, and I don’t have any expertise on whether there is a ‘best’ way to do so. But when I am experiencing a tense situation with someone else, I am able to handle it best when I can successfully reconcile their new behavior with what I think their experience of these new thoughts might be. I consider what things were going on in their life that might have brought the change about.

If I’ve known a person like this a long time, I read up on whatever the thing is they’ve changed their mind on, and I reconsider. If someone I respect who used to think the same about something I feel strongly about suddenly has changed their mind, then I figure there’s a chance I may have missed or have not realized something before.

I also think about what’s going on in the world at large. Is the economy good or bad? What’s the political landscape like where they live? What entertainment is going around these days? And are there people who are having a similar change of mind on that same thing?

Whatever the thing is that is so jarring, there is always a chance that it can be too big a barrier to let a relationship continue. We can’t always heal relationships, even with our biggest effort and most sincere wish to make things okay. And when that happens, it will deeply hurt – possibly forever.

But I find that if I have honestly done the things I mentioned in this post, then no matter what I have gained the most valuable thing that I could out of that experience. I also find that I am more prepared to understand and engage with people who agree with what my friend now thinks. And when it comes to large scale politics, I find I am better able to understand what is happening and why.

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You & The Brick Wall

Everything feels like a big slog through the muck right now. It feels like that because it is a big slog through the muck.

It isn’t fair when you’re dealing with a brick wall that refuses to bend or change in any way. It’s not right that you have to do all the work on these occasions.

When there is nothing to be done but continue trying to deal with a brick wall, remember that there are ways around, under, over, and even through brick walls. You can find a way.

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Preparing for an art show: A brief note about iOrnament

I have an art show coming up in August at the Black Drop Coffeehouse in Bellingham. I’m super excited – but with a move coming up, I’ve been worried about finding the time to finish all my pieces. I hadn’t even nailed down a theme! Thankfully, one of my favorite apps came out with an update that makes it vastly more useful, and it will allow me to completely streamline how I design my knotwork.

iOrnament is an iOS app that lets you create lines on multiple axes at once. You can create awesome tiled patterns with it. I snagged it early on when it was free, and later paid for an upgrade that included an eraser, new brushes, and layers. Before that it was like a more interesting version of Microsoft Paint – all of the ease of use with the usual expected limitations. Here are some of the pieces I made using the earlier versions:

I really love these designs, and I learned a ton about knotwork while making them. Instead of spending hours painstakingly drawing the whole thing by hand only to find out I did something wrong, I could test out ideas and quickly see & correct my mistakes. This freed me up to do tons of experimentation.

However, I found that when I tried to use my art for commercial purposes, it was barely useful. It wasn’t in a high enough resolution to make prints of, and it barely worked well for print on demand services. It only saved images as jpegs, and not something higher quality. I got so frustrated that I eventually stopped doing much with it. To top that off, I couldn’t do anything that was not perfectly symmetrical. If I chose 4 axes at the beginning (Creating 4 distinct sections), I was stuck with that choice – which really limited what I could do.

Here is a screencap of my latest iOrnament project:

I use the bottom layer to make my guidelines. In the old version, I could only make a circular tile, but now I have the full square – which will allow me to make full size knots, instead of just wheels and circular pieces. In this piece, I am trying to create some forced perspective. I used the second layer to make the basic structure of the piece. I erased the black grid in the first layer, and I’ve just started adding dots in the third layer. The dots help me estimate where to put my lines, so that my knotwork will be even and fit perfectly in whatever shape I need it to be. After the dots are in place, I will use the first layer to create the knotwork. Then I’ll erase the second layer, trace the knotwork there, & erase everything else. After that comes the satusfying task of figuring out which lines go over or under.

From there, I could add a background and atmospheric elements, but since this is meant to be a design for use with a larger canvas, I may not do that after all. Or I might wait till after I trace it

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Rest day: 2 minutes of peaceful waves

No one can promise you that it will all be okay. But we can share our gifts with others, and we can take moments of peace where we can get them.

Here is a souvenir I got for you last week.

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