Values

What are your values? Acceptance, Adventure, Assertiveness? Safety, Sensuality, Skilfulness? A choice of 58 with helpful explanations of each might help self-knowledge.

Authenticity: to be genuine, real, true to myself. That fits. Ploughing my own way, now, seems the most important thing in my life. And yet, Conformity: to be respectful and obedient of rules and obligations fits too. Only when under pressure, I think. I use fitting in as a way of seeking safety. Safety: to secure or protect myself or others. I seek that a great deal. Can I claim Courage:to persist in the face of fear, threat or difficulty? Sometimes I have shown courage, sometimes I have run and hidden.

I feel Conformity and Safety are introjected values, I would show more Courage if less badly hurt. Courage calls to courage everywhere– odd, I remembered it as Courage speaks to courage, that is, courage recognises courage in others. “Calls” could have different, valuable meanings. I have shown courage and dedication. I don’t feel courageous, now.

Beauty: to appreciate, create, nurture or cultivate beauty in myself, others, the environment etc. Definitely. It makes my heart sing. I devote time and effort to it. Freedom: to choose how I live and behave, and help others do likewise. No question. These are what I observe in my actions, and feel in my desires.

Humility: to be modest, let my achievements speak for themselves. Hmm. Sometimes I am, sometimes the opposite- not Boastfulness necessarily. “Let your light so shine before men” does not sound modest. I don’t know if either is a Value I would claim, or if there is any consistency. Self-regard, knowing ones value and achievements, might just be arguable as a value.

Honesty? Um. If it were not so important to me I might not hate and notice so much when I lie.

Flexibility. I would like more of that, perhaps just to get me out of problems. I imagine I could have been OK, with hindsight, had I been “flexible”. Possibly that is a mirage.

Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here and now experience. Yes, I think, of course, and then reconsider Self-awareness, to be aware of my own thoughts feelings and actions and wonder whether I am so ignorant of the former I confuse it with the latter, so internally focused that the Outside seems illusory. With my mantra I am here. This is. I am I am turning outwards.

Spirituality: to connect with things bigger than myself. Being materialist, I think my Inner Light is myself, though a greater self than the ego or monkey-mind. And Spirituality is Here, This life, focused. I am Spiritual.

Open mindedness: to think things through, to see things from others’ points of view, and weigh evidence fairly. Definitely. I am certain of some things, yet eager to understand more, to see more clearly. This blog records growth in understanding.

Which on the list are not importantly to me? Adventure. Fun. Excitement. I get excitement from ideas, but am not seeking new experiences other than new encounters with different people. Equality. Fairness. Reciprocity. I am not now seeking equality. Do I value myself sufficiently? From seeing myself as worthless I come to value myself. These may be values I have not articulated to myself, or recognised, working unconsciously within.

Not Power: taking charge, leading, organising either. I know that proposing a decision can be a service, relieving others of responsibility, but I don’t want my way. Or perhaps I do, just don’t see attempting to take power as the way to get it. I don’t perceive myself as ambitious.

Not Skilfulness: to practise and improve, and apply myself fully when using them. I like to write. Yet my revision is only of the odd sentence, not rewriting the whole structure of a piece to improve it. I am not developing. So, not really, as it happens. I devote my energy elsewhere. I don’t play the piano any more.

Do any of these values speak to you?

Agnes Martin

These prints express innocence of mind. If you can go with them and hold your mind as empty and tranquil as they are and recognise your feelings at the same time you will realize your full response to this work.

The work is extremely simple. She moved from naturalistic landscapes as a student through biomorphic forms to formal abstraction; then she eliminated all curved lines, having only vertical and horizontal lines. A work might have one main colour, or two vertical lines and one horizontal line dividing it into six equal blocks, of one or other of two colours; or broad stripes of colour.

After psychotherapy, I choose to be open to this. I take a stool, and sit before a choice of paintings, to drink them in. Biomorphic forms: those blobs are (to me!) clearly heads, in relation to each other.

The picture on the poster for the exhibition, Friendship, is 72″x72″, covered with gold leaf and a grid of fine straight lines ruled in graphite pencil. I sit before it and it moves me. The light reflected on the gold is very beautiful. I am aware how noisy this place is: even though this is far less popular an exhibition than Turner, or even Sonia Delaunay, I hear noise from the main galleries, echoes, voices, footfalls. I become aware of irregularities in gold or graphite, and they become important. The poster does not show that reflected light; such images can only ever give a sense of the work, but in this case not even that. Light reflects from a rough curve or triangle, digging down from the top edge towards the centre of the work, moving as I move my head slightly.

Those prints are grids of even lines. Sometimes the lines end in a printed edge-line, sometimes beyond it as in a noughts and crosses grid. Vertical lines are usually further apart than horizontal, sometimes closer; lines are different distances apart (always the same distance for one print), thinner or thicker. I move along the two rows of prints, eschewing sentences in my mind, sometimes even words, a wash of intense emotional response: joy and horror commingled.

I have picked a few paintings to sit before, the ones that speak to me, then the grey ones in room 8 are too much. I dash through. I cannot stop before any of them. I don’t know why, I feared them. That is the room I must go back to, the piece of myself I could not face.

It is not black per se: in the next, I sit before a symmetrical trapezium in perfect black. Those triangles with green tips show a sense of humour in their creator, then 91. I started chatting to Michael, a guard. “Did you see the lime green line?” I had not noticed it, though see it when he points it out; for him it produces purplish after-images resonating with the other colour, though it does not have that effect for me.

F, like S, exercises spirituality separately from emotion. For me, the full awareness of my emotion is my spirituality, and being strongly affected is a spiritual high; F is aware of hers, yet separate from it. That judge which is my prison, setting me at war with myself, could free me if I could be open to myself, permitting rather than resisting.

Happy Holiday 1999 Agnes Martin 1912-2004 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00179

Happy Holiday 1999 Agnes Martin 1912-2004 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00179

Heart undefended

My heart is open.

Here is the theory. One states affirmations in the present tense, positively, and without qualification, because the brain takes them in better that way (this is a psychological, even neurological theory).

What does that feel like? Writing, here, alone, it feels lovely, like a letting go of false defences which would never have defended, only hurt me; like new openness and awareness. Completely safe: “It’s a fucking bloke!” only hurts me if I believe it, if I devalue myself. I am with Dorothy Parker in part

Should they whisper false of you
never trouble to deny
Should the things they say be true-

There I am with Gene Hunt:
-An overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding?
-You make that sound like a bad thing.

My heart is open. I can do this. I had thought of writing that I had pushed people away in fear and anger, accepting and absolving myself for this, but no detail is needed, it is done. And I have always opened and created friendship and communion: again no detail is needed, I know it, I have no need to prove it.

My heart is open.

When I have had spiritual growth experiences before, I have always hoped that they will bring an end to uncomfortable emotion. I will still feel uncertainty and fear, but do not fear them. Recently I have been very low; and in my lows, I learn.

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Self-care III

What would self-care look like, with self-respect?

Essence Advance gave me self-respect. I am soft, gentle, peaceful and for the first time I see that as good. I have always sought out what I thought would benefit me, and guarded myself from harm as best I could, and now I know myself better, and so can care for myself better.

This morning I was moved to tears by Octavia Butler, Seed to Harvest, the story of Thomas. She crushes him, then despite his insults another feels empathy for him, and he responds, and acts nobly. From this example of empathy I learn empathy. After, I feel exhausted, turning it in my mind. Seeing that and loving it is all the work I want to do today.

So, goals. I hated work because I got in fights. I am now challenged to write my financial/ career goals for 2015, and am tempted to have none. Too difficult. I look back at work, and see almost all pain. Moulding that with Positive Thinking is just too difficult right now.

I am happy to carry on without work at the moment. Nothing George Osborne could say about this is worse than the words my inner critic has for me- coward, parasite, etc; and I know those words are not true, and they need not hurt me. And, perhaps I am unfit for employment: Butler writes of people sensitive to others’ thoughts, whose gifts plunge them into Hell, and I am sensitive to feeling. I imagine work with dread.

The goal with work is to respect and cherish my hurt self,
and to be open to possibility- anything that might come along that might fit.

Goals of having a job by the end of the year would miss the point, be not what I want, and be ignored, or be a weight to carry and another sense of failure.

Being open to possibility-
I have a way of blocking out my surroundings, and not noticing the people around me. Of course it is not only me, I see others hurrying by oblivious. This is another trait of self-protection, which possibly has become too strong a habit. So opening myself-
being

open

to possibility

is the goal. It is huge.

“Why don’t you look into publishing your poetry?”
Out came my no, immediately, before thought. Well, because I don’t think it is good enough, and because if I put it out for judgment it will be found wanting and I will be hurt. And it is too much work anyway.

Alternatively,
What would be a first step?
That.
OK.

Margaret Macdonald, Summer

Vulnerability and-

Many times I have seen Bren√© Brown’s first TED video circulated, on Facebook and email lists, and I am endebted to the ever-wonderful¬†Judy¬†“Twoblogs” Wall¬†for her second. I also recommend Dr. Brown’s blog.¬†Vulnerability is a good thing. Vulnerability is the bravery which speaks to people, which elicits the Yes, the Yay, the true connection. What other words apply?

Strangeness. I get the feeling of being more alive, more real, and this is a strange, heightened experience. A good one, I want more of it, I want to play in it, get to know it, get to trust it, and that needs time. (Not necessarily effort. Let go the effort. Let the experience bed in in its own way, I tell myself.) And “strange” may be a better word than “good”, because I still name some emotions unpleasant, or difficult, and I can find those there too. This does not make it “wrong” or “difficult”.

Authenticity. I link these experiences¬†to¬†my first sense of the Real Me. This is a word Dr Brown uses at least once in her videos, and I prefer it to “vulnerability”- because how vulnerable are we? We are not being Defensive when we are being Authentic, but how many people want to attack us anyway? And if someone does, perhaps it is easier to block an attack¬†in a state of¬†relaxed aware authenticity than of fearful, clenched defensiveness. Or the block may be proportionate to the attack, whereas an attack out of the defensiveness may be too violent.

Bravery. Dr Brown also says this is brave. Trans women habitually deny bravery- I transitioned, we say, as a matter of survival, not because of great courage. I feel like that here. My masks are just too constricting. I cannot live like that any more. And yet, OK. Why should I deny a good quality in myself? Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is brave. Moving forward in unknowing, where I may feel even illusory fear, is brave.

Openness. This vulnerability makes us open to others and to experience, which looks beautiful and inspiring, and invites connection.

Receptivity. Not monitoring so much in myself in order to hide it, I am more able to see what is around me: opportunity and beauty, and human beings more as they really are.

The word “vulnerability” is scary. It may be a way in to the state I crave. The rewards I may get from it encourage me to seek that state out.

I love this photograph, public domain via Wikipedia, because I do not see foundation or other makeup on it. If there is, it is subtle. That is a vulnerability many women find testing.