A Funny Thing Happened…

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Tax Day / My Mother’s Funeral / Mother’s Day / (Insert Huge Event Here) / The End of the Semester…

You’d think I’d have gotten around to this one before this but, as you may have guessed from the title, life happened.

I’ve had a book! My goal as a freelance writer is to put out two books a year. The first one is out this month (people who mistake flexible schedules and dress codes for not working take note!)

It’s a little book but I’ve learned a lot in doing it and had a lot of fun with it.

What is it?

Well…

cmbc6x9 cover front

Would you like to have a cool and attractive way to carry that water (or soda… or (insert beverage)) bottle with you? Would you like to have a project and skill that allows you to be productive in meetings or watching tv? Have you ever wondered about medieval technology and how to make it into a modern fashion statement? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this book is for you.

In Chainmail Bottle Carriers you can learn (or expand your knowledge of) how to make cool projects with the ancient art of chainmail. You can turn wire rings into a flexible fabric and an attractive wearable accessory that repays you by helping you be healthy.

For more information on the book (or to buy it) look here. (There will also be a PDF version (that I think is better) released in the near future…)

For more information on what I learned from this process, stay tuned for future posts…

For right now dear reader know that you two can find a way and fulfil your dreams. It’s not always easy, but it’s possible (and sometimes less about the dream itself and more about what you find along the way.

That’s it for today dear reader. Until next time…

Sometimes you have to dream it before you do it!

Write That Story!

Yes, I mean that story! You know, the one in the back of your mind that you keep telling yourself. The one about the traumatic incident (if you’ve been born you have one…).

Write that story it can be really good for you.

Why?

Back in the old days, before we carried internet connections in our pockets, some of my early research in psychology was about writing and the emotional effects of writing. I sort of got away from it but like writing itself I keep coming back to this research.

This week I ran into an article titled Stepping Back to Move Forward: Expressive Writing Promotes Self-Distancing by Park, Ayduk and Cross. The article supports a thought that I’ve had for a while, and even takes it further!

As a writer I’ve always felt that writing about things could help me get perspective on things and had a definite emotional effect. Back in the nineties I demonstrated that writing on some topics made people more nervous than others. I was pretty sure writing was helpful for long term thinking about things and for helping you put things behind you. Well, Park et al demonstrate that.

What they found…

Writing is something I do. The written word is something that people find compelling. If you do it right it lets you safely look at things that can feel pretty unsafe in other parts of life. What Park et al found was that expressive writing, writing about emotional things and putting your emotion on paper, helped participants in their study gain emotional distance from the event. It helped the writer to look at things as an observer and not as someone stuck in the moment of the event.

Why is this important? Well, first off looking at things from a larger perspective (which you can do if you can back up and look at things from the perspective of an observer) gives you a broader view of things and makes things more understandable.

Incidentally (from some of my own research) just being a literate person does some of that too…

When you understand things better. You can deal with things better and find solutions.

Park et al also found that the emotional distancing was associated with a decrease in emotional reactivity. Remembering events can put you through an emotional wringer. Decreasing emotional reactivity means you can remember events and figure out how to deal with them without having to deal with as much of the emotional spikes that came with the original event. You gain protection from being retraumatized by the event.

There’s still more to study on this part, but Park et al also found a link to actual physical wellbeing and emotional distancing. It’s not a direct line, but it seems to be there. The trick is that it’s seems to be a bit of a relational chain… you write the story; you gain distance; your emotional reactivity goes down; and then your physical wellbeing improves. It’s not a direct, A causes B effect, but it’s something that can help.

What it all means…

Well it kind of means what I said at the start!

Write that story. Use your words. Use your writing to help yourself understand yourself. Use your words to help you gain a little distance from that event, thought, or situation that keeps nagging at you; and help yourself find a solution.

That’s it for today dear reader. Until next time I’d like to thank Park, Ayduk and Cross for their good research and…

Like I said write that story!

 

Citation.

Park, J., Ayduk, O., Kross, E. (2016). Stepping Back to Move Forward: Expressive Writing Promotes Self-Distancing. Emotion, 16, 3, 349-364.

Mother’s Day 2016

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, the day that by convention we spend a lot of time eulogizing mothers and motherhood. It is kind of an interesting day because we as a group are honoring a nebulous idea which often does not (and cannot) match up with reality and real people

Mothers (and mileage) may vary

In reality I’m not sure we agree on what that nebulous ideal is and as for the actual mothers our experience with them can vary wildly.

Actually, if we ignore multiple births the number of different mothers and mother images we have can be calculated by taking the number of people on earth and multiplying by one.

What about siblings?

Being a mother’s second (or third… or fourth… or…) child is different from being a first or only child. So, the experience with mom will be slightly different.

I’m Ok with all of us having different ideas and ideals about motherhood. We are all different, so if we all had exactly the same perception of our mothers that would be kind of weird.

Common good from uncommon people

There are commonalities. Whatever your situation your mom did bring some good into your life. If you’re reading this you exist, and probably aren’t dead. Your mom gave birth to you. You exist in part because of her, and that should be honored if nothing else is.

Your (earthly) mother isn’t perfect. If you choose to believe in a heavenly mother, or goddess, or whatever; I’m Ok with that, but your mom here on earth wasn’t perfect. Mother’s Day is a day to honor the good in, and about, your mother regardless of what else may have happened in life. (As I said above, since you’re here she has to have done some good)

The idealized mother we think about is often a nurturer, a teacher, a protector, someone who loves us. If your actual mother was those things honor them.

If not… well…

Honor the good in her, by being a better mother (or father, or just person) than the example you had. No matter how bad of a job we (or our mothers) think our mothers did there was really some good there, so honor it by making that good grow!

I think that’s how you honor your mother and Mother’s Day, make the good grow!

Conclusions

I think that’s the take home idea from this one dear reader. Take whatever good your mother has given you (no matter how little or how much) and let it grow!

If your mom really is that ideal ‘good mom’ she’ll be pleased to see it. Making the good grow is an ideal gift for the ideal mother. The perfect gift.

If your mother wasn’t the ideal… the good that was (and is) in her, and came from her, can grow with your help.

I’ve written this from the perspective of a child. I haven’t said much about being a mom. I will leave it to my wife and others to give the ‘good moming’ advice. Do the best you can at it, learn, and share what you have learned. The ability is in you.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Happy Mother’s Day.

P.S.

I know this isn’t the ‘usual’ Mother’s Day post (I’m not the usual person (especially this year)), but I hope it helps someone out there.