Where do the garden seeds come from?
My mother was a frightful woman. She had crystal blue eyes with tiny pupils that would pierce right through you. Her odd look was emphasized by her “Lizard Lids” (as my dad called them) which was a result of trichotillomania where she would pull her eyelashes out (then eat them). My mother had many odd habits which our family chalked up to her high IQ (172). Her high IQ was not to be overshadowed by her extreme craftiness and creativity. She was an expert at any craft she tackled because she had an incredible ability to “zone in.” She could focus and loved the process of creating relishing each and every moment in the creative process; never looking at any part as a chore. One time, she had spent weeks knitting her boss an intricate intarsia sweater. Once it was complete, one of our Guinea Pigs somehow got into it and chewed a giant hole in the middle. When my mother discovered the gaping 6 inch hole she just giggled and called the guinea pig a “Pip.” She then went to work re-knitting the damaged area… I still marveled at her patience when it came to things a normal person would “lose it” over. The patience she displayed for “disasters” wasn’t extended to her children. My mother was dangerous woman and extremely unpredictable. Her physical violence was unmatched by her ability to freeze you out of existence. She could go for weeks without talking or looking at you (and you’d have no clue what you did). I lived my entire childhood in fear; a continuos pervasive feeling I live with to this day. Fear is a creativity and performance killer. A person can’t be creative or perform optimally when they’re afraid (that’s why there are books like, “The Inner Game of Tennis”) devoted to removing fear from performance (any type).
Plant the seeds
I learned about color early, not specifically because someone taught it to me, but because I was exposed to it; color was everywhere. One of the things I would sit in wonderment over were the amount of colors that went into painting our late 1800’s Victorian house. It had intricate gingerbread which my mother painstakingly and methodically painted with different shades of olive. She wanted the scrolling and designs that adorned the porch to have constant depth and dimension even when the daylight or moonlight was uncooperative. Inside the house, she stained the oak wood floors a deep mahogany and painted the foyer and stairs in black and white. Wallpaper was not in vogue at the time, but my mother decided to wallpaper the dining room in olive paisley (with turquoise, orange and pink accents) and then used red oriental carpets to highlight the richness of the deep colored floors. My mother loved accenting rich deep natural colors with “pops” of color. She’d acquired some massive antique mahogany furniture and to accentuate their glory, had the pieces upholstered in scarlet and deep red velvet thick striping. I was in love with those furnishings; items we were forbidden to use. When my parents were at work, I’d slump down into the giant chairs and feel the prickle of the horsehair coming through the cushions. I’d sit there and and “pet” the velvet; brushing up against the grain, then bring my hand back down to smooth down the grain. I liked to watch the colors change depending on which way I brushed the fibers.
I think it’s ironic my childhood was filled with fear and uncertainty yet I gravitate towards the colors I saw in my childhood. One day I looked around and saw olive green walls, scarlet curtains with chartreuse paisley lining in deep olive. I walked on hardwood mahogany floors which had red oriental carpets strewn about. I’d purchased a love seat covered in Scarlet velvet with dark wood. One random day, I had an “ah-ha” moment; “Wow, this looks uncannily like the house of my youth. I’m sitting in my own physical version of my childhood.” I wonder if I’m the only one?
The Potential for Growth
I really had to look at why I would be reliving my youth through color and physical objects. I’m still deciphering this and I think it has something to do with, “do overs.” So, if I take the aesthetic of my youth but change the narrative, can it erase the fear? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know if a person has a fear they refuse to acknowledge, they’re giving away their own power. You cannot, “hide” something and expect it to be really gone… it’s not gone, it’s out of sight. This “lying” to yourself takes away your own power and gives it to the situation. The situation is forcing your to emote? What’s the emotion? Denial. The alternative to that is to confront the situation and face it. Even if the situation is not remedied by you confronting it, the emotion will be reconciled. I use the analogy that “emotions are like a whistling tea kettle.” The apex of the emotion is when the tea kettle whistles. In anger, it would be when a person “loses it.” When you don’t confront the emotion, every action relating to that situation is bringing the kettle closer to building steam and having the kettle whistle. When you confront the fear, it’s like removing the lid from the kettle and releasing all the steam so there’s never an apex. You can’t be afraid to confront emotions if you want to grow.
I believe you’re literal power starts with your emotions… you can’t let your emotions run you. You must be in control of how you look at situations in your life and how you feel about the world around you. I remember talking to a friend who was a psychologist and she very casually said, “You know Natalie, in today’s world, your parents would be in jail for the way they treated you.” I was actually bothered by that, not out of loyalty to my parents, but because I’d already reconciled my childhood. In my mind, having my friend say what she did was almost “inviting” me to feel victimized. I ‘m not a victim, my parents were just people who were also horrible parents with real problems. I took back the power lost from my childhood; my childhood is not relevant anymore.
Controlling the Soil
I live “empowerment” and because of it, I won’t listen to people complain because it’s un productive and insidious. My giving attention to their complaints is helping to disempower them and, it’s bad for me too. What many don’t understand? Constantly talking (complaining) about a bad situation is actually making you relive it emotionally. Every time you talk about it, you’re re-stimulating your mind and body. Stop reliving it and fix it. So, what’s the difference between “explaining” a situation rather than a straight complaint? Victimization. If, when someone tells you something and at the end of the conversation your understanding that an action was “done to them;” that is a victim. Conversely, if you have a similar conversation and, instead, whatever was “done” was simply described as an “action,” that is just fact. So, example?
Victimized Speaker: I’ve always seem to have bad experiences with men. Every man I’ve ever been with has cheated on me.
Fact/empowered Speaker: Certainly, I’ve had my challenges with men. I continually choose ones who are unfaithful.
The victimized speaker doesn’t see (or want to see) their participation in the a situation. The fact/empowered speaker, doesn’t allow something to be “done” to them, they take responsibility by realizing they made CHOICES.
I constantly encourage people to NOT use language that re-enforces victimization; RULE 1. We all make choices and we have to keep ourselves in check by asking ourselves, IN ALL SITUATIONS that are not favorable, “What was my participation in this?” That question=empowerment. So, what about things like ill health or losing a loved one… what about the tone of those conversations? These situations are for another blog post, but, once again, as long as a person perceives the world as being unfair (in any way), they’ve robbed themselves of power. Being powerless is probably the single most dangerous mind set; especially to someone who needed to survive (like me). I will say, I’ve become quite skilled at “getting my power back.” Occasionally, I need help and this is where I reach out to the people in my inner circle. For me, it takes the balanced people I surround myself with to drum up rational dialogue so I come back to center. Rule number 2; I purposefully do not have unbalanced people in my inner circle. I want to solve the problem because of my increase potential which will ultimately be visible in my work, my performance and my “inner game.”
Check back on Dec. 18th for another installment!