The temperature

The temperature
Seems to control my dreams
The warmer I sleep
The deeper I dream

Then as I awake
I miss the magic of a just dreamt dream
Its painterly colours and shapes
Its benevolence

The winter brings
The deep disturbing dream
That scratches the surface
Of a deep inner skin

So deep is this skin
That it could be prehistoric
The skin of a lava
Of a lost earth

Where gingerbread men
Are carved out of the crust
And making their way along a moonlit path
They sit down in a dark cave

That I forget as I awake
But sometimes, I’m given
The dreamer’s wage
That I cannot spend in any reality

Creative Anxiety (from psych central)

Anxiety impacts many people, but may be especially prevalent and acute for those who are creative, gifted and highly sensitive.

Psychotherapist Diana Pitaru writes, “Anxiety is a common emotion experienced by creative people and while some of the symptoms may be similar from one person to the next, how and when people experience anxiety differs widely.”
She adds, “Sometimes anxiety is experienced as a reaction to our surrounding environment.

“Something –negative or with negative connotations- happens in our environment, we perceive it as a threat to our current or future self and as a way to protect and defend ourselves we become anxious…”

“Another type of anxiety is a more constant one that we carry around throughout our lives, many times, since childhood. In this context, anxiety has been used as a defence mechanism from a very young age.”

From Keys to Creativity: Using anxiety to create. By Diana C. Pitaru, M.S., L.P.C.

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Lady Gaga This photo is musician, actor and performance artist Lady Gaga.

She once commented about one of the common experiences of many artists: a racing mind.

She said she used prescription medicine because “I can’t control my thoughts at all. I’m tortured. But I like that.

“Lorca says it’s good to be tortured. The thoughts are unstoppable – but so is the music. It comes to me constantly.”

From my article Artists and Mental Health.

(Photo from facebook.com/ladygaga)

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But some anxieties – like an overbearing level of perfectionism – can interfere with our creative inspiration and expression, and be crippling in other areas of life.

Why would high ability and highly sensitive creative people be more susceptible to anxiety and stress?

Paula ProberPaula Prober, M.S., M.Ed., is a licensed counselor who works with adults to “heal unresolved issues from childhood and specializes in counseling and consulting with gifted adults, youth, and families.”

She is author of Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being for Gifted Adults and Youth.

In an article (on her site) The More You Know, The More You Worry, she writes:

“Perhaps you thought that if you were smart, you wouldn’t be a worrier.

“If you were smart, you’d know all of the answers. You wouldn’t have to be anxious because you could think your way out of any problem.

“But, in fact, you may worry constantly. You worry when you’re sleeping. When you’re hiking. When you’re cooking. When you’re driving. When you’re not worrying.

“So what’s with that? Let me explain.

“Your very active rainforest mind is able to dream up so many things to worry about. Less complex minds may worry less because there isn’t as much thinking.

“With you, there’s lots of thinking.

“And if you’re highly creative? Watch out. Even more worries.”

Prober offers multiple suggestions under the amusing heading:
“What, then, can be done, when a lobotomy isn’t an option?”

Among them is “Read the research from the Heartmath Institute and see if you might want to try one of their devices to improve what they call your ‘heart rate variability’ and reduce your stress.”

See information and testimonials about this technology in my article
HeartMath Tools for Emotional Balance.

You can also learn more in this webinar:

Navigating Turbulent Times Using Your Heart’s Intelligence – A free presentation by HeartMath author and teacher Howard Martin.

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Michele Kane, Ed.D., an Associate Professor and the President of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children, gave a presentation on Stress and Anxiety: Helping Gifted Kids Cope – which also has helpful perspectives for us adults.

She points out that stress is universal and experienced by everyone, and that “Being bright, talented, creative, motivated, smart, ambitious, and even good looking can add to the stress in your life.”

“Academic success and drive aren’t enough to make life manageable. The world is too complicated and intense, and it’s changing too fast.”

anxiety woman from Michele Kane stress pdfShe notes “There are no easy answers, simple solutions, or quick fixes for managing stress” but says, “You can learn to understand why your life gets oppressive, depressive, stressed or otherwise unhealthy. You can learn to live in a new and better way.”

Here is more from her presentation:

Sources of Stress for Gifted People

SITUATIONAL

conflict between our values and the values of others (what is and what ought to be)
interpersonal disharmony
lack of intellectual stimulation or challenge
challenges beyond our capability to respond
threats to emotional or physical well-being
lack of resources to accomplish a task
time constraints
SELF-IMPOSED

setting excessively high standards for ourselves
fear of failure
fear of success
negative self-talk
emotionally loaded/highly evaluative beliefs about ourselves and our environment
believing that everyone should love, respect, and praise us
buying into others’ negative evaluations of us
catastrophizing
worrying
EXISTENTIAL

global concerns (e.g., nuclear disaster, war, poverty, world hunger, the environment, etc.)
idealism
anger at fate
isolation
need for meaning and purpose
Strategies to Help Gifted Kids with Stress

Share resources for meditation and visualization; explain the effect on the body
Explain the biology of stress; determine which how the body sends signals
Encourage deep breathing and exercise to minimize personal stress
Supply biographies of notables that were able to resolve personal situations
Promote experiences in nature as a way to self-soothe
For much more, see the PDF of her presentation: Stress and Anxiety: Helping Gifted Kids Cope.

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More strategies to relieve stress and anxiety

In an interview about his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel, PhD comments on why artists may be more vulnerable:

“First of all, so much is on the line. For someone who’s self-identified as a writer, painter, composer, scientist, inventor, and so on, [their] identity and ego are wrapped up in how well [they create] – and when what we do matters that much, we naturally get anxious.”

Mastering Creative Anxiety book Dr. Maisel notes that in his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, he presents “a menu of twenty-two effective anxiety management tools, enough tools that everyone can find at least one or two that will work well.

“The simplest is to remember to breathe; a few deep cleansing breaths can do wonders for reducing anxiety.

“The most important anxiety management tool is probably cognitive work, where you change the things you say to yourself, turning anxious thoughts into calmer, more productive thoughts.

“And creating a lifestyle that supports calmness is also very important: if the way you live your life produces a lot of anxiety, that’s a tremendous extra burden on your nervous system.”

From psychcentral.com

How Artists See

How artists see: Painters may view scenes in a way that’s similar to how the world really is: A mishmash of colors, lines and shapes. By Sadie F. Dingfelder. February 2010, Vol 41, No. 2 American Psychological Centre

Painters may view scenes in a way that’s similar to how the world really is: A mishmash of colors, lines and shapes.

Can you sketch a landscape, or even a convincing piece of fruit? If not, chances are that your brain is getting in the way, says painting teacher and landscape artist David Dunlop.

“People don’t see like a camera,” he says. “We go through life anticipating what we are going to see and miss things — which is why so many wedding invitations go out with the wrong date.”

In his art classes, one of the first things Dunlop tells students is to stop identifying objects and instead see scenes as collections of lines, shadows, shapes and contours. Almost instantly, students sketches look more realistic and three-dimensional.

Artists have long known there are two ways of seeing the world, says University of Oslo psychology professor Stine Vogt, PhD. Without learning to turn off the part of the brain that identifies objects, people can only draw icons of objects, rather than the objects themselves. When faced with a hat, for instance, most people sketch an archetypal side view of a hat, rather than the curves, colours and shadows that hit our retina.

In fact, artists’ special way of seeing translates into eye scan patterns that are markedly different from those of nonartists, according to a study by Vogt in Perception (Vol. 36, No. 1). In her study, she asked nine psychology students and nine art students to view a series of 16 pictures while a camera and computer monitored where their gazes fell. She found that artists’ eyes tended to scan the whole picture, including apparently empty expanses of ocean or sky, while the nonartists focused in on objects, especially people. Nonartists spent about 40 per cent of the time looking at objects, while artists focused on them 20 per cent of the time.

This finding suggests that while nonartists were busy turning images into concepts, artists were taking note of colours and contours, Vogt says.

While it takes years of training to learn to see the world like an artist, a common visual disability may give some people a leg up, says Bevil Conway, PhD, a neuroscience professor at Wellesley. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004, he and Harvard neurobiologist Margaret Stratford Livingstone, PhD, analyzed 36 Rembrandt self-portraits and found that the artist depicted himself as wall-eyed, with one eye looking straight ahead and the other wandering outward.

This condition, called strabismus, affects 10 per cent of the population and results in stereoblindness — an inability to use both eyes to construct an integrated view of the world. Stereoblind people can’t see “magic eye” images, in which a chaotic background turns into a single three-dimensional image. They also have limited depth perception and must rely on other clues, such as shadows and occlusion, to navigate the world.

Rembrandt’s stereoblindness, says Conway, may have given him an advantage in seeing the world like an artist. It’s no accident that art teachers often tell their students to close one eye before sketching a scene, he says. The eye’s imperfect optics, which form a slightly blurred image of any scene, also may be a factor, he adds.

“Rembrandt had a whole lifetime of honing the ability to render three-dimensional images in two-dimensional space,” he says.

Stereoblindness may also give lesser-known artists an advantage, Conway says. A yet-unpublished study by Conway and Livingstone finds that the art students are far more likely to have the visual disability than non-artists.

Vogt, a painter as well as a scientist, says that stereoblindness and concept-blindness help artists see the world as it really is, as a mass of shapes, colors and forms. As a result, artists can paint pictures that jar regular people out of our well-worn habits of seeing.

“As artists, our job is to get people to enjoy their vision, instead of just using it to get around,” she says.

There’s a powerful barrier

There’s a powerful barrier that I can’t break through.
It opens like a kiss and guides the horses through

A gateway to the powers of love
Frozen shut by the enemy of time.

There’s a rule book by a doomsday queen
And nobody knows what the rules inside mean

Written in scars upon the flesh
Written in scars upon the flesh

Inside the walls are the people of the heart
Under siege, the people starve

From their stagnant rooms, there’s no way out
Unless that dream-man calmly shows you how

Happiness is that the goal you seek?
The mecca of the innocent, the holy of the meek

Something under-developed in me

Something under-developed in me:-
My horns breathe in, then they force out the air
Maybe they will branch out like trees
Without them I cannot fight and gore

Something under-developed in me: –
My claws, to crawl, to maul
Without them, I can’t hold on to a thing
Without them, I can’t fight and claw

Something under-developed in me: –
My fangs, my own teeth are crushed
Destroyed by the kiss of a thief moon
Without them I cannot fight and bite

Something under-developed in me: –
My pathways and walls not negotiated
My bones not rigged out properly
My heart unable to cope is an empty railway hut