Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 194

When I was deep into creating the carnival works for Dark Caravan, I would tell people that I liked 'working on the edge of failure.' What I meant was that I liked pushing my abilities past my comfort level. I was traveling with the pieces quite a bit, and talking in various programming. So I said that a number of times. I sure didn't know what I was headed for.

I finished Dark Caravan years ago and it's comfortably housed at the museum. But the last three years have been more like a carnival act than any of the time building the carnival. Every day I'm a juggler and a clown. Most days I feel I'm walking a tightrope and on what seems like a fairly regular basis, I must pull a rabbit from my hat to get by. Some days I think I missed disaster "by this much."

It's not at all the edge I'd hoped for. I wanted to be hacking away at some colossal chunk of marble or wood. Or building a full sized carousel.
This is a different sort of edge entirely. It's living in these circumstances, at this age, swinging from day to day without a net.
I'm not done learning this lesson, if I hold to my belief that there's a human curriculum. If I were, I wouldn't wake up with a stone of anxiety in my gut. I take a step back, do a little digging. I'm not alone, I see.

Is this how I look to Poppet? My eyes wacky with panic, every little thing a big ! deal? Am I overwhelmed with my job at panic central? I wouldn't have to work quite as hard at finding peace. So I'm still stumbling, but not falling.

It starts with breathing--simple to do, takes discipline to do well. Breathing well leads to calm. Calm leads to better choices. And so on.

No, this is not at all the edge I planned on, but it's the one I've got. It's up to me to find ways to survive here. I start with a look at my own anxiety. Poppets don't have anxiety. They simply watch and mirror ours. They imitate us, so we can see ourselves. Some people find that scary. But not me.

Are you more anxious now than you were, say, three years ago? What are you doing about it?


KnittyLynn said...

I'm no longer like that because I'm medicated. One of the best decisions I've ever made for me and for my family.

lisa said...

knittylynn; what's working for you? Can you talk about what led you to that decision?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that I'm less anxious, but I'm definitely anxious about different things. The past six months have brought me major life changes, both positive and negative, and I suspect that my anxiety is mostly result of trying to assimilate those changes into my life. We tend to forget that the core of eustress is still stress....

My biggest goals are (a) to keep breathing and (b) to try to spend each day moving towards rather than away from. I'll let you know how that works!

Mélanie said...

Two years ago, I realized that even "ordinary" stress can be too much sometimes, and when it hits you for good, it can spoil your ability to experience anything good and leave you completely exhausted. I decided I could try to work on small things. Working during the weeks but not the weekends (I work at home and make my own hours). Keeping a few quiet weekends when I don't have to leave my place if I don't want to. Taking the time to cook, which helps you change your mind... Having a cat around helps a lot. Mostly, I'm trying to slow down and not do things if I don't have to and if I feel they will require too much energy.

(I don't usually comment but I'm a frequent reader of this blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.)

Drinne said...

The anxiety peaked at about two years ago but it's aftermath is situational depression, not enough for an SSRI just enough to make life difficult.

But recently I realized I might be experiencing depression specifically as a coping mechanism to not feel the incredible anger that might be underneath it. The body is an interesting thing when it works to protect itself with the brain. Anger is a lot more physically damaging to the body so the depression might be a defense mechanism.

But I did use medication to manage the anxiety when it was causing hand shaking and some other physical effects. I used clonozopam because you only had to take it when needed and you could either take it prophylactically or during an episode.

It worked beautifully since it didn't require any major brain chemistry changes or long term drug therapy. It didny make me fuzzy or tuned out or someone else - it just managedvthe aniexty and I got to do the rest of the work.

lisa said...

ulffriend: change always brings stress, and change always is. Your goals are smart, because they'll help you get through whatever specfics pop up. Please do keep me posted.

wv is Oraggi---what I am after an hour of hard pool play with Orion.

lisa said...

Melanie: I hear you. I work at home too and I know how hard it is to 'get away.' Work and home easily become integrated, homogenized,so that we can't get a break. Thank you for reminding me! I need to set a stop time for today and cuddle with kittens.

wv is clows: what I'll do with the studio door at four.

lisa said...

drinne: I've taken Paxil in the past for depression with good results. These drugs are tools and are really effective when used as such. I'm including marijuanna here as well, because I've also used that for depression and know highly functional, successful people who use it for anxiety.
If I can't get this under control with breathing and exercise and self-talk, I'll probably use something. Unlike depression, I can pinpoint the source of this anxiety--changes brought on by the recession. I constantly remind myself that other artists are struggling just as hard as I am. When i do that, I feel obligated to chin up and carry on. Sort of like the difference between motivating myself to exercise and showing up to exercise with a friend. Friend wins every time. Just wish I had more direct contact with others. I'm pretty isolated in the desert, beautiful as it is. Thank you.

spacedlaw said...

Less stressed, because I have applied for a work change.

Michaela said...

i am at this point too,now,sometimes... i just keep going,there is no other wait, there are other options but not better ones
i think the work you do, the work that i do is and will never be easy and very rewarding moneywise. but it´s rewarding in many other ways.
food helps.the healthy bits and the darn cappuchino and puddings too
music helps, and if it´s just to make the sorrow come out through the tearducts.or takes you elsewhere.stories help and if i´ve been working to midnight - so be it an audiobook..
maybe knowing you´re not alone helps ? slightly,but ?