The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. — Henry David Thoreau
… Practically, time is a non-renewable resource that determines the redeemable value of almost all renewable resources on a personal level. Income, for example, cannot be traded for experience without the requisite hours or minutes. Time is the master limiting factor.”
Oh yeah, I hear that, Timothy!
To Blog or Not…
So, I’ve been thinking lately about writing blog posts. Or actually, about not writing them, which is exactly what I’ve been (not) doing. Why? Well, I’ve identified three main reasons. Maybe you wouldn’t mind helping me make a decison.
Simpsons version of The Persistence of Memory by Salvadore Dali (No, I haven’t quite lost my sense of humor yet!)
The Limiting Factor
Reason 1: My old nemesis – time. No matter how hard I work or how organized I try to be, I just can’t keep up with everything. There are so many tasks involved with being an entrepreneurial artist, and I’m a work force of one. I’ve been whining about this for years; if you’re interested, you can read my posts about it here, here, and here.
Despite not having grown up in the computer age, I have managed to learn much about the internet and how to use it as a business tool. Granted, I sometimes succeeded only through the persistence that comes from sheer ignorance. Having no idea what was involved or how hard it would be, I just threw myself into it. Then, stuck in the mucky messy middle of it, decided that it was too late to turn back, and had no choice but to finish.
Needless to say, this kind of undertaking has consumed an awful lot of my time, and continues to do so. Writing blog posts is especially time consuming for me. The experts say that to rank well in the search engines, a post needs to provide useful content to the readers. I put a lot of effort into my posts, which means researching and editing and re-writing. Being a partially-reformed perfectionist doesn’t help to speed things up, either.
Remember Peabody and Sherman from the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” show? If only I had a WABAC (wayback) machine!
“Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.” -Tim Ferriss
The Temporal Conundrum
OK, I have to admit it: Tim Ferris and Zig Ziglar have a point. Not that I completely lack priorities or direction, but it is definitely something I struggle with. Frequently, I feel so overwhelmed by everything I think I should be doing that I can’t focus on any of them. I begin to feel panicky, which makes it even harder to think.
While I’m working on one thing, my brain is telling me, “No, you should do that!” And if I do that, I feel guilty about all the other things I should be doing. It’s a total lose-lose situation. Pretty soon I feel so stressed that I’m unable to be productive; my thoughts turn into a big tangled mess of worry. Which brings me to:
The Brain You Have
Reason #2: I rarely talk about this, because it requires me to reveal information that’s very personal and well – frankly – embarrassing. I’ve always been an introvert, doing my level best to avoid what my friend Crystal Neubauer (by way of Brené Brown) calls the “vulnerability hangover.” This is the feeling of intense regret you have after allowing anyone, especially people you don’t even know, to see the secret parts of you that you’re most ashamed of.
It’s like, Ohmygod, WHY did I do that? and Ohshit, can I take it back? Crystal has begun to share the whole unvarnished truth with her blog readers, in spite of the vulnerability hangovers. I’m in awe of her courage; she inspires me to hope that I might be able to take a small step in that direction.
Out of the Darkness was the first piece of art I made when I began to feel better.
OK. (deep breath!) Here goes. About 5 years ago, I had a breakdown. And it was more horrible than I ever could have imagined. I had suffered from depression for years, but was caught completely off guard by the debilitating effects of severe anxiety and panic attacks. For about the next year and a half, I was barely able to function. Forced to retire from teaching much earlier than I had planned, I wasn’t even able to make art. I wrote about it once, and very briefly, here. And the vulnerability hangover was HUGE.
According to David Hellerstein M.D. (Depression and Anxiety Disorders Damage your Brain, Especially When Untreated, Psycholgy Today), symptoms of depression and anxiety include “…difficulty with cognitive functioning- trouble remembering things, difficulty making decisions, planning, setting priorities, and taking action.” If these disorders go untreated, physical changes can occur in the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage.
But here’s the kicker: Many of the drugs commonly prescribed for depressive and anxiety disorders have exactly those same effects. For instance, there is now evidence that benzodiazipines (such as xanax, klonipin, valium, atavan, etc.) may cause permanent brain damage. “…benzodiazepines also may interfere with cognition and memory when used regularly for an extended amount of time. Benzodiazepines are thought to particularly interfere with visuospatial abilities, processing speed, and verbal learning abilities, as published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.”
Conclusion: You’re screwed if you do, and screwed if you don’t. But the upshot is that I struggle with most of these symptoms every day, and will likely continue to do so for the rest of my life. You have to go to work not with the brain you think you should have, or would like to have, but with the brain you have now. Er – you know what I mean, I hope.
A page from my artist book “Interconnections” (You can view the slideshow in the footer of this page.)
So, in the interest of getting off of some of these meds, and having more time for the important things (like making art and playing with my granddaughter), this blog will be changing a bit. I’ve decided to give up on being a slave to SEO (search engine optimization) as well as my own unrealistic expectations. I’m going to write more from the heart – less research and more stream-of-consciousness. It may not be the greatest writing, but it will be real.
Finally, reason # 3: And if no one reads it, that’s OK, because no one reads it now. Which is the main reason I have the nerve to reveal this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take it personally; I rarely have time any more for blog reading myself, and I’m sure you don’t either. But it definitley lessens my motivation when I write a post and then… crickets. Right? So I’ll see what happens from here, and then decide if I should continue blogging at all. What do you think?
Of course my cricket pic has to include scientific information! I just can’t help it! hahaha!