A look into the inspiration behind the work.

Selfie - Looking-Glass

Interacting online often feels like falling into Alice’s Looking-Glass. You expose yourself to an unknown and surreal world which can make us hesitant to show our real selves.

Unlike Alice we are in full control of the images and interactions we have online. This can be empowering rather than intimidating.  With the use of photo editing software we can certainly put our best face forward, design our persona and become virtually anyone we wish to be.  

The ability to be anyone online is not only liberation but also a warning. Are you talking to the person you think you are actually talking to?  Is that 15 year old girl that you only know online really a 54 year old guy posing as that girl? Intimidating right?

Although I personally don’t understand the allure of completely changing who you are online, because it seems like a lot of work! It isn’t that much different in real life.

We all put on our public faces when we go out into the real world too. But it is much easier to create our own Wonderland in the comfort of our own home with the entire world wide web to scrape from and become who we wish to be than to expose who we really are.

In the extreme, this is called “Catfishing” which is a full blown false personality created online and they can do damage to those who the lure with the bait of personal drama and mystery. This activity was brought into light with the movie “Catfish.” http://www.iamrogue.com/catfish.

There are warning signs for these, inconsistent stories, unavailability, items sent from a different address than where they claim to live and the list is long. Basically it is an elaborate rouse created to attempt to live another life virtually and that is where they will keep it forever as long as you continue to play in their Wonderland.

With all of the dangers online, I think we just need keep our heads and to stop and evaluate the situation as we do in real life. When it comes right down to it, no matter where we interact, in real life or online we are still dealing with other fallible human beings. So my friend just be careful out there and keep it positive and you’ll be good.

Have you ever ran into a person creating their own Wonderland online? If so tell me your story.

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Selfie - Really?

Were you wearing your lucky t-shirt or rubbing your rabbit foot on Sunday? For my entire fellow Kansans whether KU or WSU fans the sad news is that your superstition didn’t work this time. We all like to win and competitions such as the March Madness tournament bind us together with a common thread. Just as in the gladiator days of old we have blood lust that comes out when our teams play in high profile games.

The startling part of the KU loss was the shot of a young fan at the game sitting in the stands with tears streaming down his face. His emotions were a reflection of thousands of other fans across the US even in the bar that I went to where many fans gathered to watch the game on multiple TVs.

You know I love to see my team win as much as the next guy, but I couldn’t help but wonder. The question that came to my mind is, are we too emotionally invested in a few talented young men who statistically my win or lose equally by 50%?  

WSU lost even with a record of a 20 game winning streak! As fantastic as this is, in reality, it is statistically improbable for them to continue their streak yet we sit in anticipation hoping for that 21st game.

I find this behavior fascinating but what concerns me is what does it do to our own since of self-worth? Going back to that young fan with tear stained cheeks, if our team loses then we take it personally. The team has let us down!

We have absolutely no control over the players or the outcome of the game, yet their failure is our own. As much as our own as if we were out on the court being able to omnisciently manipulate the game for ourselves.

Even more interesting is that every play on the court is like the coin toss at the beginning of the game and the winning team is simply the one with the most heads. Statically speaking it is very rare for a single player to have much over a 50% field goal record.

In the entire history of Basketball only six NBA players: Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant were good enough to have the 50% field goals, 40% three pointers and 90% free throws playing record. Yet we want to believe that our young and much less experienced college players will somehow beat those statics.

My point being, we all love to win but everyone has loses that happen at inopportune times and I think it is important to look at our love of the game with a smidgeon of reality. We should teach our young people that winning is awesome but a lot of lessons can be learned when we lose and the number one is that there will always be another game to be played and the opportunity to win that one, well it’s 50% just like the one that was just played.

What are your thoughts? Are we too emotionally invested in sports?

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Selfie - Energy

Life is simple, we are what we think. If I believe I cannot do something it is guaranteed I will never be able to do it, but if I believe in my heart that I can achieve a goal, I know eventually I will do it.

It is all in the mind; it isn’t a trick but the reality we create for ourselves. The other necessary element is taking action to make it happen. As simple as this appears to be, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Sometimes accomplishing a goal takes longer and we stumble along the way. When this happens we can find ourselves in a dark place where our dreams suffer. To ward off this we must pick ourselves up and look around there may be a lesson to be learned from our failure. If we take time to learn from the event, we may discover a new path to our goal.

My father described it this way. “Back when we plowed a field with a 36 inch plow, I could be out there all day and when I walked back to the house and looked back at the field, it looked like I had done nothing all day. I knew I would have to go back tomorrow and the next day and maybe for several days to see that field complete from the house.”

He knew no matter how much he wished to see the progress of his work that first day; he wouldn’t see any results until he spent more time to accomplish the simple goal of getting the field plowed. Of course there was more work ahead, to plant, grow and receive the rewards the ground had to offer.

This is how it is with all of our plans. We need to keep looking up and working toward what reality we wish to have in our lives. This is absolutely the best advice I have received in my life and I work every day to take at least a little action toward my dreams even when I’m not sure where I’m going to end up.

It takes a lot of energy both mental and physical to make our dreams come true.  There is no such thing as an overnight success. There is a huge amount of failure that precedes the perception of instant accomplishment. However sometimes fun of success is all the cool things that happen along the way as we try to figure out how to get there.

Tell me how you are spending your energy to accomplish your dreams today.

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Selfie - Sleeping

While we sleep we are the most vulnerable we can be during the day. It is something everyone must do or we will die. It is also that mysterious time when our brain offers up strange visions that can leave you wondering why you dreamed that.  There are many theories to how the brain works and why we dream from the metaphysical to the psychological.

What I know from personal experience is that it is a resource for creativity, as my brain is let loose for the night, it gets busy putting things together that I would dismiss during the day. The best time to gather that kind of information is in those moments between awake and asleep. They call that place on the threshold of consciousness, lucid dreaming.

I experience this on a regular basis and I pay attention to those moments, often hurrying to write down the idea to keep from losing the vision. Some of them are crazy and others are entertaining but useless. In one of those moments I came up with the idea of my Stroke of Genius game that has proven to be fun artistic game that I have been able to sell and share with friends.

This very short wonderful moment is a wellspring of original content taken directly from our lives. Artists throughout history have used this resource to entertain us with these visions. Edgar Allen Poe attributed the "fancies" he experienced "only when I am on the brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so," in his writing.

Even Tinker Bell in Steven Spielberg’s film Hook, “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

It is comforting to think that maybe a fairy is our tour guide for our most vulnerable moments rather than the Poe’s version of the raven.

The next time you stop and see a piece of art and wonder where the artist came up with that vision. It may have come from that moment between awake an asleep where unusual connections can be made and it was powerful enough that the artist believed they had to share it with the world.

What is the most remarkable dreams have you had lately?

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Selfie - Critique

An artist who tentatively shows another person the work that they do opens themselves to hear the critique of that audience. This can be a very difficult thing to do for the new artist, but for the experienced artist it is a way to monitor response.

Art is a form of communication. What an artist wants is a reaction. A good reaction can be just as rewarding as a bad reaction. The worst is when there is no reaction at all.

The artist spends their time and energy to create an image that usually says something deeply meaningful. It may be something bright and beautiful or it may be something dark and ugly. Either way the artist is trying to tell the viewer something not only about the artist but also about the viewer.

An artist friend of mine was creating pieces that were pretty dark and I would suppose most people would find them showing a general state of misery. While at an opening a woman walked into the exhibit and was visibly shocked by the images and announced, “These are demonic; they need to be taken down!”

Most people would have been offended by such a negative statement but my friend was elated! It was an honest emotional response to the pieces, exactly what was desired.

I think in today’s world we are bombarded with images through the media, news is only news when it is something out of the ordinary and it is usually presented with an emotive blanket that is meant to prompt a response as well. Is the effect of traditional visual arts getting lost?

What I wonder is, in our current agenda skewed environment, are we becoming numb to responding authentically to something created by a fellow human being? Does it have to pack a strong emotional punch that mimics the trending media?

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Selfie - Mischief

Being mischievous is one of my biggest pleasures. Joking with sarcasm, accusing my husband of crazy motivations for his otherwise thoughtful actions or forgetfulness, each playful comment usually responded to with equal or better mocking remark.  It is a little bit of spice that peppers our relationship.

After 23 years, we know each other pretty well and we no longer tip toe around each other. It is like an unspoken understanding that can only come from trust and understanding even when it appears we are being mean.

This easiness only comes from knowing each other well. We would not think of interacting with other people in such a manner. No one else in the world would understand the history behind the comment, why it came up at that moment or to divine the real meaning without a long explanation.

Along with this mischief is the knowledge that we have built trust and understanding over the years along with accepting our own strengths and weaknesses without expectation of change.  Even so, change is inevitable and we rejoice in each other’s personal growth and support each other in our failures. It is something you can’t build without years of work.

Considering the divorce rate and the number of couples we know who have more than 20 years under their belt at our age, we are an anomaly rather than the norm. Each of those years are worthy of celebration, gratitude and yes, a bit of mischief every so often.

This is what I see in this playful expression but art is about bringing yourself to the piece, which means you probably see something completely different. What does this expression say to you? Make it into a meme at http://meme-a-leivan.com

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Selfie - Moderation

They say that everything is good in moderation. But there are times when we just can’t seem to help ourselves, especially when it comes to the holidays. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is a huge holiday like Christmas or a smaller holiday like St. Patrick’s Day the temptation to treat ourselves seems to get the better of us.  Do we get caught up in the jubilation of getting our friends and family together or do we just see it as an excuse to over indulge?

This can bring on feelings of undeserved guilt and anxiety. The way I see it, maybe we are too hard on ourselves, and we probably deserve a bit of a break from the daily grind, as long as we don’t make every day as a holiday. Going a little overboard is part of enjoying life. It can be opportunities to joyously unite with our loved ones and celebrate!

So go ahead and cut loose today – the day everyone has a little Irish in them. Have a cup o’ gold for me but don’t drink so much that you actually see leprechauns! But, do stay safe and make a smart plan for your activities.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

P.S. I redesigned my Meme-a-Leivan this weekend. It now has its own website Meme-a-Leivan.com and it is less complicated than the former one. This most recent piece along with most of the past pieces are available for you to use to accompany your pithy thoughts! I also added several sharing opportunities and not just Facebook! Go and check it out and have a bit of social media fun!

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Selfie - Expectations

We’ve all heard “You can please everybody!” No matter how true this is, somehow we run around trying to do exactly what is impossible to do. Doesn’t that just seem crazy?

How do we deal with this obvious a path to failure?

First of all we must ask ourselves, why is it up to us to make other people happy?

It would seem to me more often than not that when people have unreasonable expectations of us it is due to a limitation in them. Usually that would mean their inability to say “No” and to make their life easier, they shift the responsibly on you with the hopes that you have the strength to say it. How selfish is that on their part?  

This would include everything from the extreme of a husband that drinks and then blames his wife for him beating her as a result of an argument that happened at the bar.  To going out to dinner with your friend and that annoying companion, where you are expected to put up with the repulsive jokes the buddy always tells.

In either case it is the inability to say “NO” that keeps us and them in undesirable situations and it is our decision not to say it and we must bear the responsibility to ourselves when we do not have the strength to say “NO”.

Personal resolve comes easier if we can see the deflection for what it truly is. Then we can decide if pleasing that person is going to make ourselves happy.

There are always those situations that you must pick your fights and it can be easier to make someone pleased rather than making a stand. The important part is whether or not winning the battle or choosing not to let it slide is actually going to make our lives better.

Letting go and pleasing another can be rewarding as long as your recognize that it was your decision and push aside resentment for choosing to please another.

However, the path to happiness does not lie in defining yourself by how big of a doormat you are. Making a stand can be even more exhilarating and life affirming when you live for yourself rather than living in the shadow of other people’s expectations.

When it comes right down to it, as hard as it can be, when we live to make ourselves happy we have so much more to offer other people than the artificial duty of solving their selfish problems.

I think we all struggle with the balance of service to others and pleasing ourselves.

Where do you think this habit self-denial intention of trying to please everyone else comes from? 

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Selfie - Doorway Effect

You’re on a mission, things to do and little time to do it. You walk into a room only to experience: Oh man, what was I looking for?

Yeah, the Doorway Effect has struck again! Dang it!  

I’ve been a repeat victim of this little brain trick for the last few days and it is driving me crazy!

It is almost like we really live in the Matrix or in a Holodeck and as you pass through the door there are subtle shifts in the programing as we move from one room to the other. Somehow that little piece of programing defining your intention from the last environment has been lost in the recode even though it was important enough to move you to go get it.  Frustrating!

This is a phenomena is real according to Notre Dame Psychology professor Gabriel Radvansky.  It all hinges on the way the brain catalogs information and doorways are “event boundaries in the mind.”

Knowing that it is a natural way for your brain to respond really does nothing for you when you discover that you have completely lost your mission the moment you pass through a door, except maybe reassure you that you aren’t in the matrix and that you aren’t getting Alzheimer’s.

How do you deal with the Doorway Effect? 

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Selfie - Jinx

Have you ever had that moment when to look at the work that you have done and had a feeling that maybe you may have finally found yourself caught up on your “to do” list? Relish that moment as long as you can!

There is a jinx on getting things done. Not a life threatening black curse but a simple gremlin and you must be warned to avoid this frustrating little critter.

As you stop in that flash of elation and consider that you might just be able to add another item on the list. You might want to wait a day or two before expanding personal expectations.

When you approach your work with passion and drive the universe responds in kind by blessing you repeatedly, giving you more to do to fulfill your purpose.

I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy these moments of achievement because there is always more fun things coming through the door to keep me busy. I also have to remember that I have already plenty to do and there is no need in that moment of accomplishment to add to my “to do” list and possibly making it impossible to keep up.

The next thing I know I find myself in an overwhelm mode that no amount of planning will rescue, suddenly facing the horrifying abyss of failure to deliver the new plan. This is a state of affairs that is the most uncomfortable and will avoid if at all possible.

My days go so much smoother and my life is so much sweeter when I can remember those couple of things enjoying the down time. Then quickly realize why I do what I do and want to continue doing it and life can be fulfilling even when I don’t have a huge pile of things that have to get done. It also seems during that quiet time; the more creative I become and even discover ways to be more productive in less time.

Have you experienced the jinx on checking things off your “to do” list? If so tell me about it.

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