Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Walkabout for Creativity

Coming to Seattle, I was astonished by how many people preferred to "visit" on foot. No chatting in cafes over coffee and apple pie, but strolls (a paper coffee cup in hand) or brisk walks through one of the Emerald City's approximately 200 parks. More often than not, we would forego window shopping and trot up and down boulevards with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula, or downtown with the Cascades and Mount Rainier as backdrop.

People watching from side-walk terraces had been a favorite pastime, but these active visits were right up my alley. My walks elsewhere had been solitary, now I was getting to know people as well as Seattle's seven hills, finding my way around Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge, and West-Seattle the way only walkers and cyclists do.

Talk about cyclists, being Dutch my main form of transportation back home had been a bike,  yet in Seattle I couldn't get used to pedestrians passing me while I was struggling up hill on my bike. So I took to walking up and down the hills instead. Within a few months my Achilles tendon acted up, the verdict, no more walking uphill. A year after our arrival I called on my doctor complaining about sharp pains in my heels. He told me I had worn out my foot pads, taught me how to tape my foot, prescribed anti-inflamatory meds and told me not to walk downhill anymore because the shifting of weight on my feet caused to much friction. The solution? Take the longer route, zig-zag up or down hill, or taking the bus to level ground. Walk I would.

As a young stage designer I told a reporter friend who had invited me for an outing on his boat that I couldn't go, because I had to come up with a design concept for a play.
"Don't deprive yourself of outings, going for a walk, a bike ride, or an afternoon on the water. Your brain continues working on the project in the background, subconsciously you're solving any problem by not focusing on it, but doing something relaxing, or exercising."

That afternoon I chose to believe him, and I'm still thankful I did, for I learned an important lesson. Back in my studio after boating and dinner with strangers along the shore of the IJ, an idea popped up I had not thought of before. So, the outcome of a Stanford Study that walking improves creativity doesn't come as a surprise to me. But the same could be said for road and boat trips, or building costumes for that matter. Anything that transports you away from your familiar, whether for real or metaphorically, will trigger the little grey cells to do there work uncensored.

As for my feet, it took getting rid of high heels, years of physical therapy and exercise before the plantar fasciitis healed, but today's bouncy shoe soles make it possible to adhere to my credo:

When in doubt, go for a walkabout. 

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Quest for Love of Self - Getting Rid of Toxic Shame

Some might say I had a difficult childhood older parents, one with double PTSD (WWI + WWII) the other suffering from chronic psychosis, both suffering from losses.

Yet, I count myself fortunate that my parents loved me and showed me their love, however age inappropriate my father's sharing of wise lessons may have been at the time, and however confusing my mother's actions and though patterns.

In 1974, at eighteen, I came to America as the spouse of Albert Alberts, a nine-year-older Post-Doctoral Fellow, with a position at D.J. Cram's lab. Wanting to find out what my possibilities were to enter UCLA as a student, I made an appointment with a counselor at the career center.

At the end of the session the counselor deducted I had a rough, and unconventional start, but "your parents showed you their love, and that's a good basis."

People deprived of unconditional love may carry the shame of unworthiness for the rest of their lives.

And here I feel the need to cry: No, no, no, don't let that be so!

Something can be done to mend and heal that early pain
It won't be a walk through the park, although a walk through the park may be healing during that difficult and worthwhile quest for love of self.

Take 3 minutes to read Ross Rosenberg's enlightening post 
"Unearthing & Ridding Yourself of Toxic Shame", and then take action, find yourself a good therapist, and embark on that quest.

Yes! You are worth the trouble, you deserve to rid yourself of shame that has nothing to do with you!

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License