Saturday, October 26, 2019
She was a live guest on the "Strange Brau" podcast; while I had a vendor table for my painted Alchemy Stones.
The event took place at a popular local hotel; there was a pretty good crowd gathered in the hotel dining room. It's an old building from the 1890's and the quarters were pretty cramped. We found an alcove to set up our vendor table that was out of the main traffic patterns.
Well, not exactly. I enjoyed myself — as did she — and whereas we were happy to leave and get back to the piece and quiet of our house after about six hours of being "on," neither of us felt particularly overstimulated.
This morning, however, I feel like I have "the blahs."
In other words, both my brain and spirit feel "tired," like I just attended a four-day convention of some kind. Since we are both HSPs, we were both feeling this.
The Importance of Knowing What's What
As I sit here and type these words, I am reminded of the importance of we who are Highly Sensitive to be aware of "what's what," when it comes to managing the effects of our trait.
It's easy to fall into the trap of attributing everything in our lives to "overstimulation," simply because it's a popular buzzword that tends to be closely associated with our trait. But it's not always applicable, nor accurate.
In this case, Sarah and I are — quite simply — tired. So we're taking this day more of less off, as an act of self-care.
Part of what we gain from learning how we are affected by our High Sensitivity is an awareness of what we are experiencing, rather than simply "that" we are experiencing... which is why I always encourage my fellow HSPs to really learn all they can about the HSP trait.
It's not a "label," it's a life coping tool!
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoyed your visit here! HSP Notes has been published continuously since 2002, and I do this entirely as a "labor of love." However, if you feel that this site is of value to you, please consider becoming a "supporter" of HSP Notes, via my Patreon Art Account.
I have created a special $2 support level, being mindful that most HSPs are on a budget. Your contributions allow me the TIME to continue writing, rather than being forced to abandon the blog and use my writing time to pursue an additional outside job. Your consideration is greatly appreciated, and — as the idealist that I am — I believe the best way we can create a better world for all of us is to support each other's creative endeavors!
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Or we may be fond of change, but still find it massively disruptive and overstimulating to deal with it.
The latter, I suppose, holds more true for HSS HSPs.
I have been absent from these pages, for a while...
There is always a "tipping point" in these situations... very minor events set a much larger action in motion. In our case, it was our homeowner's insurance. The renewal policy for the same insurance coverage we've had for six years arrived. Normally, the premiums have been ticking up 2-3% a year, which is bearable. This year, however, the monthly payments jumped from $108.50 to $132.17, an increase of 21.8%.
We all know that inflation is only about 2-3% a year, so what gives? Well, our home "turned 40" this year, which means being part of a different "risk pool."
"Stuff Should be Free!" is Bogus!
It's a nice piece of idealism to suggest that we should do things simply because it's the right thing to do, but until the supermarket thinks it's "the right thing to do" to give me my food for free, I'm not convinced.
Certainly, I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't do things for each other and help each other out; what I am talking about here applies on a larger scale. I am talking about things we continuously bring to the world that most people find to be "of value," and yet we are never compensated for them. Ultimately... there is no reciprocity!
Not so long ago, I was having a conversation with a spiritual teacher who opined that you should never give away that which you have the most talent at.
I agree with my spiritual friend that such a line of reasoning is not only hypocrisy, but also garbage.
More about those, later.
Cha- Cha- Cha- Changes...
To clarify, Voluntaryism is NOT the same thing as Volunteering. Voluntaryism is more economic in nature, and centers around the idea that things are basically free, but if a "recipient" believes that what they are getting "has value" — either to them, or to the greater community — there is a "payment system" in place that allows those recipients (or readers, or beneficiaries) to voluntarily compensate whoever created the thing of value.
Those who are willing to "co-sponsor" my efforts (basically, allowing me to spend time writing, rather than being at work during those few hours a week, making a living), would be helping me not only make the book possible, but they would end up having "prepaid" for their own copy, when published. Hopefully, it will be a win-win situation.
And no worries, we are talking about a monthly commitment of probably less than you pay for a cup of coffee or tea at your local coffee shop! And, again, it will be voluntary... but hopefully it will make you feel like you are doing a "right thing" for the HSP community, as well!
I am simply trying to make some things — things that are important to me, and to quite a few other people — functionally possible, in the context of my life.
Stay tuned for more frequent updates, as the process unfolds! At this point, I'm looking to have the whole redesign and new direction operational by June 30th.
Thanks for reading!
I want to hear from you! I grew up in the era of "social blogging," and I believe blogs should be interactive, like mini message boards. Thus, your comments, feedback, ideas and thoughts are always welcome here, and I will do my best to respond, as well!
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Although we don't really talk much about it, my doctor knows that I am an HSP, and she respects what that entails. In the course of our conversations, we have gently agreed that "Being an HSP" is akin to what was once upon a time thought of as "being highly strung."
We don't talk much about it, though. It has become "old news."
Actually, I should phrase that very carefully.
You see, I don't suffer from any kind of "anxiety disorder," I simply suffer from overstimulation, HSP style. I am perfectly capable of going into the world and dealing with "whatever hardships come up," and there are few things I can't handle. My body, however, disagrees.
One of the interesting things we've learned about me is that — absent stress and the need to interface with the world — my blood pressure is actually within the "normal" range.
Yesterday, we had this conversation again, as my vitals were once again elevated. My body simply doesn't like the process of "adulting."
Alas, few of us have the luxury of simply sitting in a lawn chair, watching clouds drift by... while "the stuff of life" takes care of itself.
The Progression of HSP Self-Awareness
After the doctor's visit, I got to thinking about this whole thing called "being an HSP."
At first, it tends to be all shiny, exciting and new; we absorb everything we can read and hear; suddenly it seems like we have a natural and well-fitting explanation for why we are the way we are. Which is a marvelous thing!
Then we go through a period of learning and integrating. This often involves joining groups, going to workshops and doing something akin to "becoming an expert" on the topic, as it relates to ourselves.
Oftentimes, we slip into a state of cognitive bias — just about everything that happens is "because I am an HSP." Of course, that's probably rather inconsistent with reality, but we're looking for ways to "make the shoe fit."
After a while, we move onto "integration." We start to become more honest about the ways the trait affects our lives... and the ways it doesn't. At least... that's what happens for those who are honest with themselves; some, it seems, stay in that place where "EVERYthing happens this way because I am an HSP."
But THEN What?
Perhaps the ultimate objective of learning all we can about being an HSP is that we get to return to "just being a person."
I understand certain things about myself, and understand which of those things happen to be a consequence of my high sensitivity, and I try to arrange my life accordingly.
In formalizing this realization last night, I also came to understand why we see "familiar faces" in online HSP groups, as well as keepers of HSP blogs and web sites suddenly "fall off the radar." They've simply gotten all they needed from their activities, and then moved on.
Think of it a but like attending University: You learn a lot, and then you get a degree and graduate. Maybe you stay on and keep learning, getting a graduate degree. But eventually you're done. And that's actually the natural order of things —if you're NOT seeing that, you run the risk of becoming "that eternal student," working on their 6th degree because they never found the courage to actually go out and be part of life, using the learning they'd experienced.
And so — aside from the fact that I occasionally teach and give workshops — I am done with "being an HSP." I have returned to simply being ME.
How about YOU? Where are YOU, on your HSP Journey of Learning? How long ago was it that you learned that there is such a thing as a "Highly Sensitive Person?" How did it change your life? Do you feel you know what you need to know, or are you still "studying?" To what degree to you find that you "identify" with being an HSP? Leave me a comment-- be part of an ongoing dialogue!
If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing with others through social media, your own blog, or your Facebook feed! Thank you!
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Monday, December 05, 2016
As I pulled out my ancient dog-eared copy, I also remembered that it was less the actual title than the byline "How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You" that I related deeply to.
"... When the World Overwhelms You."
As of late, I have not been writing much, not contributing much to the HSP "dialogue" for the very simple reason that the world has been overwhelming me.
In fact, I'd submit that the world has been "overwhelming me" on a full-time basis for about 4-5 years, now. Before that, the overwhelm was more "sporadic and periodic."
Don't misunderstand me, here. I am not trying to start a "wah-wah pity party" here, I am merely observing reality as I am experiencing it, in a non-attached Buddhist sort of way.
Nonetheless, my current state of mind leaves me pondering the question "Have I changed... or has the world changed?"
They (whoever "they" may be...) say that our sensitivities heighten as we age. I am not sure I agree entirely with that. It seems more likely to me that as we age we become more self aware, and thus more capable of recognizing that we are experiencing an extension of our innate sensitivity, rather than attributing our turmoil (or whatever we're feeling) to something else.
So that leaves "the world."
Thanks in large part to technology, I have no doubt the world is eternally "speeding up." Stated a little differently, the volume of stimuli-- information, news, activities, entertainment, obligations and so on-- increases every year. Meanwhile, a great many people-- at least here in the USA-- are experiencing that they need to spend ever more time and effort to merely "swim in place," financially, socially, functionally, psychologically and so on.
When I sit with that and contemplate it, it feels like I have less and less time to process more and more stuff. I am simply like an hourglass-- I process a fairly constant volume of stimuli well, but if more and more sand gets poured in the top half, the narrow opening can never "clear" the inflow. As an HSP, that leaves me feeling overwhelmed.
For example, it's one thing that there was a controversial election that seems to have polarized this country. It's also a thing that there's a standoff over a pipeline in North Dakota and there's naturally a flood of attendant news. I can deal with that.
But now the new "time thief" is this whole concept of "fake news." Not only are there endless news stories, but now I have to spend additional time trying to determine whether any given story really IS a news story, or just some sensationalist clickbait created by a couple of profiteering vagrants who find it amusing to watch other people fall into a chaotic frenzy. IF (and that's an important question, here in our modern world) I want to remain a truly informed citizen, a five minute news story has now become a 15-minute research project.
But my day didn't become 24 hours and 10 minutes long to accommodate the new paradigm.
And so, the world overwhelms me... which is also a somewhat long-winded explanation for the repeated question I often get as to why I don't write anymore.
Of course, well meaning folks tell me I should turn it off and simplify my life... but isn't the whole ignoring it and sticking our heads in the sand with the excuse that "we can't deal with it" precisely part the the problem that created this whole mess? And how can you hope to make the world a better place if you're tuning it out?
Aside from which, how do you simplify a life that has already-- out of functional necessity-- been trimmed to the bare bones? I'm sorry, but living in a tent in the woods is not going to reduce my overstimulation... I like indoor plumbing and a bed! Of COURse there are lots of people who are "far worse off" than I am, but comparing our situation to the lowest common denominator doesn't fix the problem, it merely creates a greater pool of discontent... a sort of "misery loves company" circle jerk. I'm sorry, but that's not the world I'm looking to live in.
As of this moment, I am not entirely clear on that, but it somehow will involve a reiteration of a process I last went through in my mid-30's, when I abandoned working in the mainstream and became self-employed... which wasn't just about changing how I worked, but about changing how I lived, removing the expectations and trappings of "corporate life."
With 20 years of "creative independence" under my belt another revision now seems due, as I sit with the reality that I am not exactly thriving... I am surviving and getting by. I may have more "psychic income and wealth" than ever before, but the supermarket and electric company does not accept that currency in consideration of groceries and power. Which ends up creating a sort of inner dissonance which is another contributing factor to the overwhelm... if I am spending 70 hours a week in the business of simply maintaining, there's little left over to pursue other interests.
What is clear to me is that Being A Highly Sensitive Person is merely a piece of information about who I am. Whereas it influences and affects how I experience and interact with the world around me, it's not "a thing," in and of itself. It doesn't "do" anything. It doesn't "entitle" me to anything, nor does it make me "special" in some cosmic way most people give a rat's ass about. I am still a Human Being who needs to negotiate life, just like everyone else. Go to work, make dinner, pet the cat, take out the garbage, pay the bills. I am primarily a Human Being... who happens to be a Highly Sensitive Person.
In closing, I am considering that this is perhaps the natural "end point" in the journey of understanding ourselves, as HSPs. We start as "confused humans" who then learn we are HSPs; there's relief. Nothing "wrong" with us. We learn. We take on the "label" and adjust. We become wise in the ways of our sensitivity. And then we go back to simply being human, with an additional body of helpful knowledge.
Stay tuned for more ramblings; as I wrote a while back, I have let a number of my web sites and blogs quietly pass on... as a result of which, this will now double as both an "HSP" and a "personal" blog space. But not to worry, I'll still post the more inflammatory political and social commentary elsewhere!
Feel free to leave a comment!
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
The whole process of dumping these sites that had been part of my life for many years-- as well as part of my efforts to familiarize the world with the concept "HSP"-- made me pause to consider this world we live in. And it made me pause to think about the numerous HS people I know who are eternally "living on the edge" of barely making it.
We want to make a difference, and we want to have fun, and we want to make the world a better place but find ourselves living a world that demands 110% of our energy, focus and bandwidth merely to stay alive.
I suppose I am a bit of an idealist and I am trying to swallow the (somewhat bitter?) pill that my inner sense of how an ideal world could be seems to be perpetually at odds with the reality around me.
Although I have never really been someone who's "motivated by money," I am-- to some degree-- motivated by the idea of reciprocity. Not in the "giving to get" sense, but in the sense that it's nice to see one's efforts rewarded to the extent that continuing them seems worthwhile; at least to the extent that "doing right" is minimally self-sustaining... not just an expense.
our art gallery gets organic farm fresh eggs from her auntie. They cost $5 a dozen. I know as well as the next person that supporting local organic farmers is the "right thing" to do. I also have a coupon from the local supermarket for eggs at 79 cents per dozen. $5.00 vs. 79 cents. In so many cases, our choices are made for us, because we only (metaphorically speaking) have two dollars to spend.
As I pondered-- with a bit of sadness-- the demise of my long-time projects, my mind drifted back to earlier times when I was writing and trying to get articles published. And how often I was met with statements like "We'd love to include your article, but we're not able to pay contributors at this time... but it'll look great on your resumé!"
I used to believe that something good would come from persevering, anyway... so I did. These days I am more cynical, knowing that the supermarket doesn't accept "great looking resumés," they accept money. And I like to eat... at least occasionally.
Back when Sarah still had her radio program (another attempt at "doing right" that cost money, rather than made money), one of the things said by one of her guests on the program was "It's hard to change the world when you're always broke." As I thought about that, I realize that most people wanting to change the world are broke... because when you're doing well, odds are you're interested in keeping the system that led to your success.
In a strange turn of events, I was looking for a (re-) starting point for HSP Notes... and it became this story about endings. Funny, how that sometimes works out.
Saturday, April 02, 2016
This morning, as I was wading through the daily deluge of email, there was an update from an HSP group I belong to on Google+ (It's a nice group, if you want to look at it). I expect many of us get these "so-and-so posted a new message to such-and-such a group" updates.
OK. Had it been spam? That didn't entirely make sense to me as the "so-and-so" person who'd shared the original post was somewhat known to me and is definitely not a spammer.
So I decided to poke around a bit to see if I could figure out what was going on.
Then I understood (I think). The original post had been an announcement of this person's new web site. Nothing wrong with that-- it was definitely "on topic" and relevant to HSPs and might be both useful and informative to those learning about our trait.
The real problem? The post had been an announcement of a web site that wasn't actually built or running yet, just "in the works." The splash page at the end of the link did nothing more than announce that "exciting content coming soon!" and then offered a popup form to ask for email addresses to "be notified of exciting new features."
Whether it's an "HSP cautiousness" thing or not, I now understood why the group owner had deleted the post. I, too, find it annoying to be be asked to support something that "isn't there." And if I am going to give someone my email address... I want to SEE what I am actually agreeing to, not just be offered some promise of future benefits.
As always, I had a lot of items in my email this morning. Whereas I had just experienced a "tiny incident," it made me consider how much time, energy and bandwidth we often waste on "empty information," especially in these days of every more complex social media.
Of course, it's easy to just take an all-or-nothing approach and shut ourselves off by saying "I'm just going block EVERYthing in order to keep my sanity!"
But is locking out all the noise of life really the best solution?
For the Highly Sensitive Person, what really matters is finding balance, not shutting yourself off to all forms of external noise. And that means we do have to take the time to decide what is really meaningful and allowing those things in.
I still meet HSPs who fiercely state that they "don't do Facebook" with fiery determination... but ALL of Facebook isn't evil, per se. Like most things, there are good bits and bad bits. "Not doing social media" may eliminate that aspect of stimulation from your life, but is that necessarily ideal?
To that end, I am reminded of one of my Teachers of many moons ago-- I was attending a workshop, and the discussion somehow ended up on our social lives and connecting with people. A number of people commented that they felt like recluses and that "nothing ever happened" in their lives. The teacher then asked what they were doing to create a better social life. There was generally silence. In the end, he made the point that in life-- be it 3D social, or with managing social media, or with general experiences and adventures-- we can't expect much of anything if we are not willing to put ourselves "in harm's way," metaphorically speaking.
And so, in the end, I may complain a lot about information overload but ultimately I feel more informed, educated and balanced as a result of allowing my own version of "filtered noise" to reach me... because some of it really does turn out to be "gold nuggets."
How do YOU handle social media? And the endless stream of information we're subjected to? Have you found a good balance? Have you created "filters" that allows the useful, and lets the useless go?
Monday, March 21, 2016
Sometimes, we just get sidetracked... today was such a day, for me.
If you haven't been by "HSP Notes" recently, you might notice that things look a little different around here. Even though it wasn't planned, I found myself spending most of today undertaking a much needed "modernization" of this web site.
So now we have a new look, and there's even a mobile friendly version of the site.
Aside from a more modern appearance, quite a bit of site content has been updated-- and there's a lot more to come, in the upcoming weeks.
Meanwhile, I also want to draw your attention to the HSP Notes Bookstore which has been greatly expanded.
The bookstore attached to this site is a lot more than just "your average collection of amazon links from a web site." Instead, it is a large collection of handpicked books that are either in my personal library, or I have read, or have been recommended to me by people I know and trust... no "fillers," no "fluff."
There are hundreds of titles either directly about high sensitivity... or about topics that are near and dear to many HSPs. I hope you'll check it out!
Yes, I do earn "a few cents" from having it... but trust me, it's a few cents; If I'm lucky, enough to pay my annual web hosting fees. I mention this because some HSPs are put off by any and all forms of sales/marketing. I also mention this because-- absent those few cents-- I probably wouldn't be able to justify spending as much time as I do, doing this. So this site wouldn't even exist.
A Change of Voice
Last, but not least, what I publish here is going to change a bit. Well... the type of content won't change, but the way I write will. Here's the deal:
To be honest, I didn't really expect to get "a readership," but was certainly thrilled (and felt very validated) when others started reading these pages and shared that they could relate to my experiences.
HSP Notes was a very "personal thing" back then.
Somewhere along the way (perhaps inspired by "wisdom" from the greater blogosphere that blogs should fit niches and have a tight focus?), it seems that my posts became more and more academic and "third person."
As I was updating the site and looked over old posts, I became aware that I have increasingly "written myself out of the picture."
I won't comment on whether that is "good" or "bad," but I realize now that the increasing time interval between new posts could be attributed to the fact that the blog was no longer serving me-- as a cathartic journal-- and so I was less interested in writing.
Who do we do things for?
This made me consider the age-old question many creatives and artists have asked themselves: "WHO am I doing this for?"
Sure, I write in a public space because I hold an idealistic belief that maybe my words will resonate with and help someone, but ultimately I write because clarifying my thoughts in writing helps me solve problems and answer my own questions.
So not only will HSP Notes return to its more personal roots, I am planning to "free" some of the more "personal insight" posts I have written but kept private in the course of the past couple of years.
Of course, I still want HSP Notes to remain useful-- to which end I will be adding more book reviews and more web resources, as time goes by.
In the meantime, thanks for being part of this journey!
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