society

Embracing Hygge

While doing some research on my ancestral resiliency practices last month, I discovered that my paternal grandfather’s maternal grandparents were Danish - making me 1/8 Danish. I’ve never been particularly interested in my cultural or genetic heritage and have always just joked that “I’m Heinz 57.”

I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Scandinavia and once had grand plans to apply to grad school in Sweden [then a few years later an actual person I had a crush on moved there and I let my Scandinavian dreams go, because I didn’t want to be perceived as a girl who followed a boy halfway around the world].

Anyway, once I realized that Denmark is a part of Scandinavia, I decided to dig in and really learn about Danish culture. The biggest thing to know about Danes is that they embrace something called “hygge” in all aspects of life… and I am VERY into it. It aligns well with the mindfulness stuff I practice from therapy, my love of creating cozy environments, and my tendency for introversion.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, and I’ve been trying to make some changes to improve my mental health and general outlook on life. I lean heavily towards a more cynical view on humanity, and don’t spend enough time appreciating what good there is in my world, so this quote really punched me in the gut:

It is not about viewing life through rose-colored glasses or seeing the glass as half-full. Rather, it is experiencing the world via the soft glow of the candles, and seeing that the glass has water, and being grateful for things just being the way they are. — Astrid S. Nielsen, Hygge: Cozy Living The Danish Way 

When I started my journey with therapy, I often mentioned that I wanted less extremes in my life and more “happy mediums.” I’m hoping that trying to implement hygge into my every day life will bring more of this into my existence. I think it might actually be working? I have been put more effort into making my house cozy & decluttered, trying to minimize how often I am multitasking, and putting my damn phone down to pay real, solid, attention to my dog.

I often get so caught up in the daily slam of terrible news and wanting to change society so bad that I forget to slow down and enjoy life. I’ve been learning the hard way that I have to create space to enjoy life if I want to have any modicum of resiliency to stay in this fight for the long haul. I won’t be much use in dismantling white supremacy, the patriarchy, or capitalism if I’m a burnt out curmudgeon!

“Enjoy lifeThere's plenty of time to be dead.” — Hans Christian Andersen

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Lode Runner Decals & Dysphoria

I’ve had a cutting machine for nearly a year and I am only just now making Lode Runner shit? I’m truly surprised. If you met me in college, you probably know my pick up line was basically “hi, my dad made Lode Runner!” (sorry not sorry, pops). If you’re new here, hi, my dad created Lode Runner. I am a goddamn Nintendo princess.

I don’t quite use it as a pick up line anymore though, because then I have to answer follow up questions about him and that gets real awkward, real fast. Since I am kind of blunt to a fault, I tend to accidentally slap people in the face with, “oh, he died by suicide in 2014.”

When he first died, one of the things I did to cope with it was to print out a bunch of little Lode Runner dudes, write RIP DES on the back of them, and hide them around town wherever I went. I have no idea where I got this idea from, but it helped me feel like I was carrying him with me… and seriously, just take whatever the fuck you can find to feel better in the wake of suicide loss. I also attempted for 2 years to get Lode Runner into the Video Game Hall of Fame (and it’s a real shame they still haven’t come through).

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I waffle sometimes on the Lode Runner legacy. With the fame and fortune my dad received in the 80s, came a lot of societal bullshit that didn’t get along well with suffering from depression since he was a teenager (fun fact y’all: money does not solve depression and makes you question the motives of everyone around you). He love/hated the entire thing and it’s not something I can always celebrate without conflict.

However, I don’t want to avoid celebrating it at all. My dad was a goddamn genius, even if he didn’t know it or thought I was just being a good daughter when I said that. His accomplishment deserves to be celebrated. As an awkward college kid with no professional training, he created a video game in his spare time in the UW library that I know for a fact brought joy to millions of people. The creator of Tetris even said it was his favorite game at one point. Often when I do my not-so-humble-brag, the response is “OMG I LOVED THAT GAME SO MUCH!”

He was frustrated that most games at the time involved war and shooting shit… so he made a game of puzzles and fighting monsters and chasing gold. I wish I could have asked him about the irony in all that, but I wasn’t very articulate on my disdain for capitalism before he died. And here I am making vinyl decals to sell in my Etsy store because capitalism motivated me to commodity my hobbies, so I reckon the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, did it?

But you have to admit “Lode Runner” is kind of funny on vehicle, yeah? I may or may not make some little ones to hide around town again.

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Perfectionism is an asshole.

Perfectionism is an asshole. It gets in the way of almost everything creative I want to do. It turns out it’s deeply rooted in our white supremacist cultural values, and I’m trying desperately to disentangle myself from it. However, awareness is not enough to change my behavior. In case you are WTFing about the white supremacist cultural aspect, here’s a snippet from a document I often reference when discussing antiracism work:

perfectionism*

• little appreciation expressed among people for the work that others are doing; appreciation that is expressed usually directed to those who get most of the credit anyway

• more common is to point out either how the person or work is inadequate

• or even more common, to talk to others about the inadequacies of a person or their work without ever talking directly to them

• mistakes are seen as personal, i.e. they reflect badly on the person making them as opposed to being seen for what they are – mistakes

• making a mistake is confused with being a mistake, doing wrong with being wrong

• little time, energy, or money put into reflection or identifying lessons learned that can improve practice, in other words little or no learning from mistakes

• tendency to identify what’s wrong; little ability to identify, name, and appreciate what’s right

• often internally felt, in other words the perfectionist fails to appreciate her own good work, more often pointing out his faults or ‘failures,’ focusing on inadequacies and mistakes rather than learning from them; the person works with a harsh and constant inner critic

antidotes: develop a culture of appreciation, where the organization takes time to make sure that people’s work and efforts are appreciated; develop a learning organization, where it is expected that everyone will make mistakes and those mistakes offer opportunities for learning; create an environment where people can recognize that mistakes sometimes lead to positive results; separate the person from the mistake; when offering feedback, always speak to the things that went well before offering criticism; ask people to offer specific suggestions for how to do things differently when offering criticism; realize that being your own worst critic does not actually improve the work, often contributes to low morale among the group, and does not help you or the group to realize the benefit of learning from mistakes.

From “White supremacy culture” by Tema Okun . dRworks . www.dismantlingracism.org

Sound familiar? It certainly hit home for me. I used to paint a picture of my issues with my dad with this real life scenario: “you can go bowling with him, get a strike, and he’ll still tell you what you did wrong.” As a child, I thought this was unique to my dad being a dad who just didn’t get me… but now as a grown person I see that this was just my dad doing what he was conditioned to do by our own cultural norms. Unfortunately, no matter how much I hated it when he did it to me, I still do that to myself on the regular.

None of the art I create is “good enough” for me. I spend hours looking at other people’s work online trying to assure myself that “I can totally do that!” and “see, their work is no better or worse than yours and they make a living doing it!” but when it comes to execution, I am constantly fumbling with perfectionism. I never know when a digital painting is “done enough.” I dream up 800,000 projects but only stick to the 2 I know I can do to my own impossible standards. I’m afraid to share what I am working on and feel awkward about putting stuff on my online portfolio here… even though that’s what I need to do to realize my possible dreams of becoming a sort of freelance artist working for myself and hanging out with my dog all day.

So anyway, I am going to try to be nicer to myself, appreciate my skillset more, and relax on my standards for myself. It’s honestly getting in the way of even PRACTICING my art skills, because I can’t handle the period of growth and just want to do it exactly how I see it in my head and CAN’T just yet because drawing on the iPad is still new to me after 9 months and designing unique vinyl decals that don’t infringe on copyrights takes more work than I want.