Anyone who wants to write, especially on the internet, is supposed to have a thick skin. Criticism, and dealing with it, is something everyone accepts as a fact of life. Unfortunately, I don’t have that thick skin. Not only I am afraid of criticism but I’m also afraid of being afraid of criticism.
Sometimes Google provides the most appropriate answers to the strangest question. One night I typed “Why does criticism destroy me?” into the machine. The very first result was Proverbs 13:18 from the Bible:
If you ignore criticism your will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.
Wow! What a way to powerfully inhibit creativity and social change. Here I found a new perspective. I was raised on the Bible and, for sure, I don’t want to to end up in poverty and disgrace. But then, which criticism do you live by to prevent this disintegration into poverty and disgrace? I was seven years old when I was hit with a leather strap for talking in school. Then in high school, I was told I would never be successful in life because I was “too quiet”. There’s no way to win this game. I know, I’ve spent fifty years trying.
The second Google result in my experiment was a quote on the website of psychologist Dr. Bill Crawford.
Constructive Criticism = An Oxymoron Criticism can be effective when there is something that must be destroyed or dissolved, but it is capable only of harm when there is something to be built. -Adapted from Carl Jung
I’m inclined to agree with Carl Jung. Do you notice how you feel when someone says, “Can I offer you feedback about that?” You can feel the enthusiasm for your project sink even though nothing critical has yet been said.
My take home message from the wisdom of Google is:
Constructive criticism isn’t real.
I won’t end up in poverty and disgrace.
Fear monster vanquished….. at least for the next few minutes.
Addendum – May 21, 2016
Here is a great video that talks about dealing with criticism:
photos by Petr Kratochvil from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net
I had the privilege of attending a talk sponsored by the Alberta Wilderness Association. Biologist, Jim Butlerwas speaking about his trip through the Pantanal in Brazil and Bolivia. The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and is teeming with wildlife. Among this wildlife is the largest population of jaguars on earth.
The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world – following the lion and the tiger. It is large enough to pluck a good sized crocodile out of the river for lunch which, apparently, is something it does quite often.
Jim Butler came back with amazing photographs of jaguars taken while on a boat tour riding the river through jaguar country. After watching this National Geographic video I’m not sure how safe I would feel on a boat, but I have to admit I’d like a few jaguar photos of my own.
Ecotourism is providing income for the people living in the Pantanal and helping to preserve jaguar populations. In some areas jaguars are now worth more money alive than dead as they provide income for thriving tourist lodges instead of being killed to protect cattle ranching.
This was the first time I had heard about safaris to the Pantanal. These trips are as exciting, or maybe more so, considering the abundance of species, as any safari in Africa. Numerous organizations are working to create intimate wildlife observations for travellers. Arcana Mundi Expeditionsoperate the Jaguar Flotel and guarantee that if you do not see a jaguar they will refund you $1,000. Jaguars even walk in broad daylight on the riverbank within 5 meters of the flotels.
It is my hope that these magnificent creatures continue to grow and thrive through future centuries.
Cultures all over the world celebrate the coming of spring. Spring is marked on the calendar by the spring equinox, or by the local season for the beginning of planting. In the Christian traditions across Europe and North America spring is celebrated as Easter. Muslims in many countries celebrate Nowruz. Jews celebrate the festival of trees called Tu b’shevat. Hindus celebrate Holi, the most colourful festival by far. Google images gives us a great feel for each festival.
Celebrating spring is a valuable event in a northern climate, like ours, where we may have six months or more of snow. What we now know as Easter has evolved from various traditions across the centuries. The Persian festival of Nowruz is an ancient spring festival that originated over 3,000 years ago, before the existence of either Muhammad or Jesus. Traditionally the holiday is celebrated for two weeks with time off from work and school. Two weeks might be too long for modern North American sensibilities, but wouldn’t it be great to have a week of spring break for the whole country? It could be holiday for people of every ethnic background and every religion that share our common climate.
Spring equinox is a little early for us to be celebrating in Canada. Parts of the country may still have snow banks. It’s not a suitable time for picnics or planting. For Edmontonians “May long weekend” is the first real day of spring. It’s official name is Victoria Day but I don’t know anyone who still calls it that. May long weekend is when people plant their tomatoes hoping that all freezing temperatures are over. Parkas can safely be retired into storage and camping gear is dusted off.
Instead of a three day weekend I suggest a whole week of spring break to celebrate warm weather. After six months of snow and staying indoors we need this. What fun could be created by combining the traditions of all our varied cultures! We could have a week filled with family dinners, chocolates, Easter egg hunts, picnics in the park, gardening, tree planting and also water fights and coloured powder parties. A week of multicultural parties and outdoor activities to celebrate the end of winter. We’ve been a country long enough now – it’s time to create new, unique Canadian traditions.
Yarn Bombing – Guerilla Knitting – Yes, It’s a thing.
I am weary of violence and outrage. There’s a political campaign in the U.S. and my Facebook feed is filled with outrage all day long. Just scrolling through without reading it’s clear that people are not in their happy place. Apparently some have even resorted to asking our prime minister to be their president. Sorry, there’s enough mess to clean up in this country.
Graffiti is often an expression of outrage and anger. People see graffiti as something dirty and destructive. Some knitters have decided to do a different take on graffiti. This is graffiti without harshness and without anger. It is soft and cuddly. Knitting or crocheting adds bright colour and softness to concrete side walks and roadways. Instead of knitting baby blankets or mittens they have tossed knitting across the urban landscape. These knitters are bringing their grandmothers’ craft from the hearth into the outdoors of the concrete jungle.
Instead of just putting a blanket over their head when the world is too harsh, knitters are putting the blanket on the world. Our grandmothers knit to bring beauty and warmth to their families. Guerilla knitters are knitting to remind us that beauty and warmth are necessary for the whole world. They remind us that our cities need the characteristics of the stereotypical grandmother. They remind us that we all need gentleness, nurturing, and warmth, no matter who we are or where we are living.