On Childbirth & the Reinvention of Self

When I turn my reflexion on myself, I never can perceive this self without some one or more perceptions; nor can I ever perceive any thing but the perceptions. ‘Tis the composition of these, therefore, which forms the self.

– David Hume: Second Thoughts

For the majority of last year, I was creating a tiny human.


An amazing CGI rendition of what happened inside of me…
These twelve minutes stretched over 40 weeks…

While I was in it, I don’t think I realized how much it was taking from me. I had physical symptoms that reminded me that the bulk of the good nutrition I took in was going straight to the baby, but I didn’t really notice that I didn’t have my usual oomph in regards to creative pursuits.

I just pressed on… creating that tiny human… and working at light speed to try to transition to my new business model… Continue Reading

Wisdom from the Trenches

I did some volunteer consulting for Women’s Initiative the other week. What fun it is to reach out to fellow woman entrepreneurs! People who understand what it’s like; whose lives are similarly a roller coaster ride that never ends.

One of my clients shared the following lyric as one that helps her be okay with not knowing how things are going to play out…even when it comes down to how you’re going to pay your staff or afford that necessary expense this week.

A mind, that wants to wander,
round a corner,
Is an un-wise mind

– George Harrison, Be Here Now

It turns out the song’s pretty weird though. But don’t let that ruin this wisdom!  Since I acquired it, I’ve applied it everywhere…from planning travel expenses, to dealing with tumultuous relationships.  Fretting about the future takes pleasure from the present.  And who knows, we might not be here in another ten minutes.

Continue Reading

When Does a Doodle Become an Art Piece?

Of all the dozen or so museums Will and I saw in Europe last month, the exhibit that keeps coming up is one that neither of us liked.  At all.

At the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin we saw the exhibit Secret Universe, the works of Horst Ademeit.

Each day of Ademeit’s life, he would take a Polaroid of something that bothered him about the world and record his thoughts and complaints all over the edges.  He would number them, so he could keep track.

Horst Ademeit "5805" Archiv-Nr.: Ad 621 Mischtechnik / Polaroid 11 x 9 cm © Courtesy Galerie Susanne Zander, Köln

Only after Ademeit’s death, as the exhibit related, was his “body of work was discovered.” This body of work — these thousands of Polaroids lined were up, one by one, in numerical order forming a grid stretching through three rooms.

The ramblings of a disturbed man set out in the meticulous fashion in which he formed them for all to see.  This obsessive tracking of each day is something we have come to associate with psychosis or other mental illness.

Though we didn’t like the exhibit especially, we are still talking about.  It strikes me now as a wonderful glimpse into the pain of what it is to be human.  At least this man had an outlet for all the complaints that many of us swallow in the effort to be gracious human beings!

But at the same time, I don’t know if it’s art.  I wonder if perhaps it would be better characterized as anthropology.

But when a doodle become an art piece?  When you have thousands of them lined up side by side? Continue Reading

This Valentine's Day Let's Practice Some Self Love

Have you ever stopped and noticed what’s happening in your head only to realize that you’re beating yourself up?  Criticizing yourself for–I don’t know–not accomplishing enough last month, drinking too much last night, burning the chili, or forgetting your lunch at home again??

I’ve realized lately that I do this.  A lot. There’s a word for this: Self Abuse.  And it’s the opposite of Self Love, or the practice of loving oneself.

Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics made a huge impression on me in college.  When he starts down the road of discussing friendship (and other relationships involving love), he begins with an inquiry into “Self Love.”

Aristotle suggests that love from other people stems from love from oneself. We should treat others the way we would want to be treated and the way we treat ourselves. Continue Reading

Fill Your Heart

Yesterday was a bummer of a day for a laundry list of reasons that I’d rather not get into.

I was brought up with the beliefs that one has power over their own mind: when you’re in the depths of despair the shining sun is a curse on the world, when you’re happy as a clam, no amount of rain could pull your spirits down. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the ethos is basically, when you’re bummed, try to feel better. If you’re stuck in thoughts that make you feel bad, stretch your mind to find a thought that feels better–even very marginally. Once you get even that millimeter closer to a better feeling thought, you’ll have access to even better feeling thoughts.

My philosophy and cognitive science education proved to strengthen my beliefs in the power of thought. In particular, Heidegger’s philosophy of the mind rings true and supports this. He points out that if you’re thirsty, everywhere you look you will see the possibility of quenching your thirst. Or, if you’re tired and on a long hike, a boulder that otherwise would have blended into the background jumps out at you as a place to finally rest.

I noticed last night that I was stuck in a place where everything looked like failure. I’ve been spinning my wheels on a few projects, and it’s lasted far longer than I ever would have expected or hoped. When it came time to do the dishes and then take off for my evening activity, I knew that I needed something to lift my spirits. The song I chose to facilitate this was “Fill Your Heart” by David Bowie.

He sings, “Fill your heart with love today…things that happened in the past only happened in your mind. Forget your mind and you’ll be free…Lovers never lose because they are free of thoughts unpure and unkind…”

The mind is a powerful organ, one capable of ruminating about failures and embarrassments ad infinitum. I like this notion that if you fill your heart with love (try it! It feels great) you almost are out of room for the brains obsessive ponderings. The feeling left instead makes room for forgiveness of ones self and others, and celebration of your own power.

It also helps that the song is pretty cheery.

really&truly,

I believed,

that it had been a number of years since my heart had fluttered. Since I’d caught myself happy in a moment; found myself rather completely serene.

It wasn’t a week ago that I was driving to work listening to Kfog or whatever, and I was thinking about how unfortunate it was that I had fallen so far in love so long ago, and never since.

Like so many things, perhaps a matter of interpretation?

A matter of evolution?

Delusion???

Only time will tell.

on the function of psychics

Aristotle was a strong believer in the notion of every organism having a function unique to that organism. A flute-player has the function of playing the flute; plants produce oxygen… It goes on and on. Everything has a function, the function of a human being (generally) is to be eudaimon, or, to Aristotle, something along the lines of perfect. Let’s leave that particular notion behind. My query is into what the function of a psychic is, and how then, I am to relate to them in my life.

I met a few psychics during my sojourn as a traveling salesperson. There’s always a psychic booth at the fair–except in Puyallup, WA, because they’re far too conservative. As the Puyallup Fair was my last fair, and I had yet to get a reading, I felt a dire need to get one during the fair just before: the California State Fair. But the psychic booth was unconvincing, and I was therefore unconvinced.

I was mulling it over during my boring job selling Nail Jazz–they’re nail polishes with microtips so you can do all your own designs at home–when a fairly ugly, hairy lady came up to me attempting to get free stuff. It turned out she was a psychic, and she really wanted to trade me a free reading for a Natural Nail Care Set (retail value $11, but we give them away for free all the time). My bosses were distracted so I let her pocket the demo set, and took in exchange her phone number and address. She said I could come get my reading at any time, even though I warned her that I work til ten, and it’d have to be late. I didn’t know when I was to go there, but I figured I’d fit in. I was meant to have this psychic reading!

Little did I know, but meanwhile my cohort was making arrangements for us to trade mops for readings from the psychics that had a booth at the fair. Much more convenient! This, then, must be the reading I was meant to have!

Among what the psychic told me:
1. My ex is not my soulmate. But if I am still unconvinced, she’ll provide me a compatability assessment for $85–no! not for me, for me–only $75!
2. I’ll have three children.
3. There was a woman in my life with brown hair and blonde streaks that would throw me off my path for two to three months.

Now, I’ve always planned on having two kids. But three wouldn’t be so bad. Or so I’ve come to consider since this reading. But if the psychic had never mentioned it?! Then how many kids would I have wound up with? One can easily draw the conclusion that some sort of accident would have left me with three anyway.

But, here’s the is the kicker: A few days previous, I had met a woman with brown hair and blonde streaks that offered me work selling the EuroSteam: Wonder Iron from Italy!

I had spent the days consequent grinning and smiling with dollar signs in my eyes, looking so forward to selling this $200 iron with a simple demo requiring no Diet Pepsi or paper towels. They sell like hotcakes! It really is a good iron–retails for $400. And you can iron your clothes while they’re on their hanger. Seriously. And you’ll never burn yourself or your finest fabrics–the steam won’t even pop a balloon!

We all need a EuroSteam. I need a EuroSteam.

So what was this bullshit from the psychic?!! A path?! Who needs a path!! I was so shaken up following the reading I drank two beers in the dark of my sleeping motel room.

To no avail. The psychic had me so upset for days that I never called the woman with the blonde streaks, nor her boss, who calls himself “Swerve” (a coincidence, however relevant to our metaphor).

And now I have a job. And no EuroSteam. And you too, will have to live life without one.

So where is this woman who was to throw me off course? Did I avoid the diversion?

If so, then the function of the psychic cannot be to tell the truth about one’s future. Or that truth must be so transient that one can only accept a psychic’s word for a matter of minutes.

Which means my ex could by soulmate.

I often wonder where I’d be if I had instead taken a reading from the first psychic who offered her services.

“Step on up folks. I’ll show you how this works.”