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February 2010

In This Issue

We hope to see you at our next

Sunday, February 7, 2010
4 - 9pm

The home of Bruce Taylor, Roberta Gregory & Purrrzac D. KosmicKat

February FOKUS will be at Bruce and Roberta's and will not ONLY be FOKUS but, what the heck, help us celebrate our last remodel that kinda went crazy when we had to deal with water damage from November's storms and, since we had take up the carpet because of THAT problem, well, we might as well do some other things as well--come and take a look at the results. Nice. Nice. Indeed, nice. Also, come and take a look at Bruce's new book, Mountains of the Night that was published on the Espresso Book Machine at Lake Forest Park Third Place Books. This machine prints a book in about 7 to 10 minutes. Bruce is their first published author to have a book published on their machine--one of only 7 of this type in the world--three of them in Western Washington--two in Seattle. The results are beautiful! Roberta is also publishing her work on the EBM with her book that is coming out soon.

Lots to look at, share. talk about! Hope to see you then!

For additional directions and info
phone 206-323-5483
or e-mail Bruce at bbtaylor@drizzle.com
or e-mail Roberta at Roberta@drizzle.com

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Rules for Sharing At Fokus

Again, the whole context of our FOKUS Celebrations is creating safety for those sharing by avoiding invalidation, instead fostering a sense of respect and the artistic community. So, with the input received, here is the final version of these rules, which will read at every FOKUS meeting so there will be no confusion as to the expected conduct at the meetings or derailing of our mission -- providing a safe, comfortable and welcoming experience of sharing for all concerned.

  1. The Artist's Option. The artist gets to say what they want from the group regarding sharing. If they want feedback, then during the break, members of the group may so engage the artist. If the artist does not want feedback, that is their right and that is to be respected.
  2. Sequence of Sharing. Artists go according to who is ready. There is no cross talk (this includes sounds of appreciation or derision, as newcomers may be very nervous and magnify or misunderstand these sounds, and break-ins to deal with signing the attendance roster, etc.) during the sharing or after. The artist shares, there is applause, we move on to the next person. This is avoid derailing of the sharing so that we don’t end up at the end of the evening with people who many not have an opportunity to share because the group got off on a tangent with another’s sharing.
  3. Sequence of the Celebration. We have four artists sharing (sharing is no more than l5 minutes for each person), we then take a l5 minute break for food and discussions, then another round of sharing. At the end of the sharing, it’s a free form discussion of what was shared, provided the artists who shared want feedback. But it is assumed in this case, enough will have been shared for a lively discussion.
  4. Conduct of Participants. During the sharing, we pay attention to the person sharing. No reading, talking, knitting, sewing, doodling, etc. no other activity, though eating/drinking is ok. The idea is to give the person sharing OUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION (I’m sure all of you have had the experience where you been talking to someone only to see them glancing away, looking at their watch, etc. What that conveys is the message that: “What you are sharing is of no interest to me” that is called invalidation and it feels like you’re invisible. That is the exact opposite of what FOKUS is all about.) So, eating and drinking ok, but please, no other activities .while people are sharing. If you really aren’t interested in the sharing process or think that what you have to share is more important than what other people have to share, which is really against the intent of FOKUS, then you should probably ask yourself why you would want to come to FOKUS if you aren’t interested in the artistic work of others.
  5. Conflict Resolution. If you are uncomfortable with someone and don’t feel safe about talking to them directly, you can talk to me or write your concerns in a note to me. I will then talk to that person or intercede to help defuse the situation.
  6. Celebration Times. FOKUS officially begins at four and goes until nine. While we try to generally have it on the first Sunday of the month, this can vary by a week. If other people wish to host FOKUS, this is encouraged. The main potluck sharing is from four until six but continued eating and drinking is ok as long as it is not distracting. to the performer or to the group.
  7. Potluck Courtesies. Bring items to share that are eaily shared or divided. Please do not eat from the Potluck Table with fingers or utensils. Instead, serve your selections on your plate and eat from your plate only. When done, do not return used plates, utensils and/or unwanted food to the Potluck Table. The hosts will provide a receptacle or place for these.

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Other News

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FOKUS Editorial
By Bruce Taylor

Dancing on Someone Else's Dime

The light bulb at the top of the stairs has been burned out for weeks. I've piled stuff on the stairway to the loft and it's been there since Christmas. I had planned to go to a birthday celebration for a movie producer friend in Portland. Cancelled it -- in part due to the fact that the carburetor on the Subie is going out but no time to get it in to get it fixed. Just yesterday, I discovered that RSVP to a friends wedding on the 22nd of February. Which I didn't make. Ooops! I cancelled all on-call work shifts at Harborview and may well lose my on-call status. Oh, well. What's going on?

I'm dancing on someone else's dime.

What's that mean? Imagine when you sign on to Microsoft and all of a sudden, you have to work overtime, or weekends to get that project in on time. Imagine you're a doctor, and while you are at the show, or ballet, you get that emergency call. What you've chosen in terms of your livelihood or profession may well dictate your life. You let it because you know that this is the bargain you signed up for, you knew the risks when you decided to pursue your dream and sorry to say, the price of admission isn't free. When you go for your vocation, no matter what it is, when this is how you perceive yourself and this is how you are perceived in the world, and when this is how money or purpose in life comes to you, you're dancing on someone else's dime; that's the way it is in that if what you are doing, the fortune that is materially or spiritually yours or your purpose in life is intrinsically tied up with the fortunes of others. If you don't understand the nature of The Deal, you may not take The Deal seriously and if you don't, well it's easy to slip into that mindset that goes like so: you've put in your hours to Microsoft, to hell with the overtime! You can sneak out early. Eh, you've put in your time at the hospital, you can turn off the pager. Oh, hell, you don't have to really honor that contractual clause that says you have agreed to actively participate in promotion of your book. Yeah, you know you told yourself that you'd get the rewrite of the novel done by such and such a date, but God, it's such a pretty day… With these thoughts, how long are you going to stay employed at a job? How much art are you going to get done? How well is your credibility going to be seen by others? Even more importantly, by yourself?

There are certain key elements to not dropping the ball if you take yourself seriously in what ever it is that you endeavor, including your art:

  • You must regard yourself seriously in what you endeavor. Period.
  • You must show up for work and you do what is required.
  • If there is a contract, written or implicit with others (or even yourself!) you must honor it.
  • Do not make promises unless you are absolutely sure you can keep them.
  • In regard to your art, remember, this is your job; you must treat it as such.
  • In all aspects of your job (as an artist) you must be professional.
  • If you find yourself getting in your way, you must do what is necessary and what ever it takes to get out of your way.
  • As you pursue your art, you must also promote it; whatever opportunities avail themselves to this end, you go after them.
  • Watch our for (unconscious) expectations. It has been said that “Expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments”.
  • If you find yourself feeling jealous or resentful over another person's success, remember, that's about you! Not them!

Sometimes I think I am, at age 60, where I should or wished I would have been at age 40. Because of my ambivalence about the worth of my art, thanks in large part from a family who, for their own unconsciousness, couldn't or were unable to help give me what I needed (because they didn't have what they needed to pass on that strength of conviction and purpose themselves), I let go of a lot of opportunities or did not know what it was to be an artist or just did not believe in my talent or myself and then dealing with systemic Candida (yeast infection) which took years to get past and took a lot of time, money and energy to deal with and there are other factors, for example the entertainment society in which we now live which doesn't exactly take kindly to the type of writing that I do. It's been a life-long process of learning how to believe that who I am, and what I say fucking matters and to take myself seriously. And to not be afraid to be seen as I was afraid in my family, for to be seen meant you got smacked. And an artist is seen -- well, you get the picture. Yes, I had some work to do but part of me never gave up, wanted to heal, to be ok being a writer, being seen, and doing what it took to make that happen (thank you Mark Johnson for Family Constellation Workshops!!). The end result is where I am now: with three books out, another one coming out in October, looks like several more contracts are coming my way, more material out to short fiction markets. And in the last three months, two books basically finished which gives me now five in circulation and out to editors with hopes of writing three or four more in the next eighteen months.

It has not been easy. The finances are not fun. I still drive a temperamental, funky- looking '82 Subaru that now needs a new carburetor but a car which I keep for the fantastic gas mileage. And in the last four months I have worked by butt off, dealt with a computer crash, been promoting like crazy my new book, Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Infinity. But because I'm taking myself seriously and as a professional writer, things are happening that are fabulous, basically being seen by others as having "made it". being "as equal" in stature and status as the best writers, in the field of Fantastic Fiction. That is wonderful and wealth far, far beyond money. This I can live with and it has been worth it for so rarely, rarely do we get a second chance to go from what might have been to dreams do come true. And I got to say as I write this, yeah, I may be dancing on someone else's dime, but hey, I'm grinning. Even if all of this work has meant that the light bulb at the top of the stairs has been out for weeks -- well, just goes to show -- I had my priorities right! Now I can change the damn light bulb!

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Bob Olson: Book Review

Anxious to Please -
7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice

James Rapson & Craig English

Nice People try harder, yet finish last. Nice Guys and Girls live with anxiety, depression, obsessions, low self-esteem, and the inability to establish fulfilling relationships. They often become doormats, dirtying themselves while stomped on. The overly nice are emotionally starved and flounder, believing that their contentment and security is based upon their ability to please others. They crave affirmation, obsess with romantic longings, cover-up their inability to love themselves, idealize others, elude happiness, and expect disappointment in life and romance. James Rapson and Craig English are “doctors” up to the task of treating this epidemic through the prescriptions in their book Anxious to Please – 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice.

Chronically Nice People are often victims in our greedy society, where top-dollar/bottom-penny salaries thrive. Comedy Central comedian Dave Chappelle is known for his characterizations of tormented frustrated victims – sort of Nice People facing daily turmoil. Oprah Winfrey’s interview of him on her TV program Tuesday, August 22, 2006, after Dave mysteriously walked away from his 50 million dollar contract, illustrated the progress of a transforming Nice Guy contradicting the norm of top dollar for top talent. When Chappelle walked away from a 50 million dollar contract, he disappeared without explanation, and everyone thought he might be having a breakdown, was mentally or physically ill, or upset with his employers and co-workers. Not really so. It seems Dave really is a frustrated Nice Guy - overwhelmed by 50 million dollars. He doesn’t think anyone is worth 50 million dollars, and is frightened by the offer. How can he please himself, or anyone else, with “50 million dollar” expectations hanging over him? Dave resents the change in status such an exorbitant salary would create with companions, co-workers and associates. In Oprah’s interview, Dave Chappelle only agrees to return to his contract if he can negotiate these concerns to benefit his entire work crew.

Anxious to Please is the best new self-help book on the market today. We are all overly Nice People to a degree, and we can all transform our lives. By reading this book, I understand situations of my own self-destructive “niceness”. And, I better appreciate my Nice Guy/Girl friends, improving our relationships.

I recommend this book as a must-read for everyone.

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Newsletter Update

We still seek to have members subscribe to our mailed newsletter. A $15 (US dollar) yearly contribution will put you on our mailing list.

Subscriptions to the mailing list are 15.00 US Dollars per year. As FOKUS does not have a bank account, please make checks or moneyorders out to either Bruce Taylor or Bob Olson. Send your check with a letter providing your mailing address to either of them.

  • Bruce Taylor
    2001 E Yesler Way, #23
    Seattle, WA 98122, USA


  • Bob Olson
    252 168th Ave SE
    Bellevue, WA 98008, USA
  • and we'll send you the newsletter via US Post.

    Alternatively, at no charge, you can choose to access the newsletter here. Meeting details and timely announcements and other news will be posted here first. The remaining content of past issues will be available a month after the printed issue has been out -- editorials, creative works, and articles. (If you would like a current, complete newsletter, please subscribe to our printed version!). Work on the back issues online is underway -- please check back. To our loyal web visitors, thank you for your patience.

    Submissions are welcome! We want to know what is happening to you. And we want to publish your submissions to the FOKUS newsletter. There are three ways to do this:

  • Call Bob Olson, the FOKUS newsletter editor, at 425-747-3879 to share information over the phone
  • Submit illustrations, poetry, short stories, articles or announcements through the mail to
    Bob Olson, 252 168th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98008, USA.
    (Note Bob does not have e-mail. Material that is two single-spaced pages or less can be mailed to him. Longer material should be on a floppy disc for his editorial convenience.)
  • Submit via e-mail to fokus@pantarbe.com SUBJECT: NEWSLETTER SUBMISSION (which will go to Bruce Taylor, who does have e-mail.)
    Any online submissions specifically for this page should be e-mailed to editor@pantarbe.com SUBJECT: FOKUS SUBMISSION.
  • Please address concerns to Bruce Taylor (bbtaylor@drizzle.com).

    Thank you,
    Benjamin Miller
    FOKUS Member and Pantarbe.com Host

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    Last updated:  February 2, 2010