Learning is the best. I love that we, almost quite literally, are born into this world as blank canvases. Short of all of the pre-programmed stuff, like breathing, the drive to communicate, recognizing basic needs like hunger, etc., we're kind of just little worms ready for programming. From learning to walk and forming sentences, to learning ballet and multiple languages, our capacity to learn is nothing short of astounding. We go from zero to infinite possibilities over the course of our lives, and THAT, is the coolest. I also believe every time we learn something, we evolve, and that's our gift, and our choice. We have the choice to evolve, simply by learning.
1. the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.
2. the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
I'm down for both definitions, but for the purpose of today's blog, I'll focus on definition #2.
Like I said earlier, we are born into this world as little human worms; squishy, immobile, and lacking communication skills short of cries and coos. But over time (if we're lucky) we learn to make noises that sound vaguely like our caregivers' speech. We scoot and crawl, and eventually teeter on our own two feet. We speak more clearly, and build our vocabulary out of words that we learn to read and write. Walking becomes second nature, followed by running, skipping, hopping, and jumping. We can use our brains for critical thinking, and articulate ourselves verbally, physically and through the arts. This evolution happens because of learning, and it isn't limited to words and walking. We can evolve in all matters of our lives, mental, physical, and spiritual. And we do it all by learning.
Learning takes practice. No baby gets up and just starts walking. They have to repeat a long series of trial and error before they are able to expertly walk. Their brain has to learn new ways of communicating data between their internal body and their external environment. They train and fine tune their proprioceptors and vestibular system, so that they can understand physically where their body is in space, what action is required, and finally, how to call upon the body to maneuver about their terrain. And they do this by falling down, and trying again. A lot. This is what Jimi Hendrix did with the guitar. He practiced, learned from his mistakes, and evolved. This is what Julia Child did with food, Hemingway did with words, Aretha Franklin did with voice. Learing and evolving.
This is painting for me (and a number of other things like meditation, yoga, relationships). Am I saying I'm on a Hendrix level of painting? No, absolutely not. But I could be. And I'll get there if I continue to learn and evolve my skills. Often I find myself in a bit of a painter's jam. So, I look at books, or do a Google search on techniques that I'm interested in. Or I study other paintings and try to dissect what I see in their brush strokes. And I experiment. I "waste" materials. Pads and pads of paper, stacks of canvas, bottles of paint and ink have been sacrificed in the name of my self taught art education. I use quotations around the word "waste" because these materials will never be displayed on walls or turn out an income. But they're not truly wasted. They're a part of my evolution as an artist.
I get pretty jazzed by this concept. That in the beginning of my days I didn't even know how to hold a pencil, and now I'm imagining and producing paintings. I found what feels good and chose to focus my energy into it. I chose to practice and learn and experiment and evolve my craft. And I have this power to evolve in anything. Anything. Throwing my hands up and declaring "I can't," is just silly. Of course I can, and so can you.
As I mentioned before, I'm really working on evolving in a few areas of my life. I practice yoga and meditation pretty much daily. These typically are the most challenging for me because I'm pretty good at getting distracted. But they're also the most important things for me to practice. I find if I really put in the effort, evolving my meditation and yoga practice aids in evolving my personal relationships (especially the one I have with myself). And when my relationships are jiving, practicing art becomes effortless. I'm not as hard on myself to "succeed" with a painting, or with anything for that matter.
Anyway. We all have the choice. We can sit and say "I can't" or "I don't know how" and remain stagnant where we are. Or, we can choose to evolve. We can be brave and curious and try and fail and learn. And I ask, how are you evolving?
Sometimes you have to forget about the writing. Forget about the painting. Forget about the laundry. Just forget about it, because the weather is too damn nice to be inside. So, that's today's post. I give you permission to forget about self imposed obligations you may have. Forget about it.
This weekend I had the good fortune to spend time with friends, one of my favorite things to do. There are few things greater than sharing laughs and good conversation with people you feel at home with. Connecting socially has actually been scientifically proven to boost one's physical and mental health. I always feel more complete after hanging with my pals, and, there's a certain sense of global wholeness that happens, too. Like, I'm a little more connected to the world. As though there's an extension of my self spanning the globe. I feel as though each person I get to know in the world (no matter how well) actually holds space for me wherever they are, connecting their space to mine. Consequently, this makes the world feel less scary, and provides me with a sense of belonging, no matter where I may go. Perhaps that's why I'm compelled to talk to strangers. I'm just trying to make as many connections as I can, so we can all feel at home here on this planet.
I also think people are AMAZING (interesting if anything), especially my friends. Maybe because I'm bias, or maybe because they are indeed super badass, but my friends, they are the shit. Seriously. I have friends who have raised children and then, decided to build careers, starting from scratch with their education. I have friends who have built their dreams, literally with blood, sweat, and tears, from the ground up. I have friends who put their community first. I have friends who continue to evolve and fine tune their crafts, talents, and hobbies to epic proportions. I have friends who feel confident enough to publicize failures and use themselves as models for perseverance (totally heroic).
So, with each person I liberally call, "friend," I not only have a connection geographically, but I also have an abundant source of inspiration. This past weekend was no exception.
doesn't sound like fun to me. He's confident, yes (he has to be) but he's also very aware of his journey which brought him to having such skills. He also recognizes there are others who have even greater skills than himself. And something even more impressive, if you love to fly, he would encourage you to learn. He'd tell you that you can. Awesome, right?
aircraft then in the Army Air Forces' inventory. This is the 1940's we're talking about, people. Very cool, Nancy Love. Very cool.) Anyway, he loves everything about flying, from the flight itself to the history of aviation. He even made his own plane. Everywhere you look, aviation station. And musical instruments. And a couple of skeletons... So. Rad.
That was Saturday.
Sunday was filled with just as much awesomeness. Totally different flavor, however. There were several friends that I got to spend time with on Sunday, but I'll just mention a particular couple.
Like I was saying, it was Sunday, and I went to a music festival that hosted several bands ranging from blue grass to Cuban. Each group possessed epic levels of talent, and produced shows you couldn't sit still to. It was great fun and I have the sore hip to prove it! ...well, the folks who were primary sponsors for this gig happen to be friends of mine. They also happen to be some of the most well traveled, laid back, and professionally and personally successful people I know.
shop, selling imported clothing and jewelry. They traveled the world, looking for beautiful wares to share in their home town, here in Midcoast, Maine. Having three children didn't slow them down, either. They raised these three beautiful golden haired love-nuggets while traveling southeast Asia. And they didn't glam it up. I love their stories about the crazy places they've stayed, or how they'd travel, with their family of five, on two motor bikes. Craziness.
Today, they have several large stores filled with the most beautiful things from clothing to home goods. They're carrying on many of the same relationships with the weavers, tailors and designers they did when they first started. These relationships began as business, but have transformed into friendships in places like Bali, India and Thailand. If you aren't familiar with their store, you should check it out. It's called Mexicali Blues. And their children, who are now adults, are continuing their own adventures across the globe, spreading their own brightness. Stellar family. I'm lucky to call them friends.
Now, there was a time when I would have either A. felt jealous or envious of my friend's coolness, or, B. felt like a complete loser because nothing I could ever do would be as cool as what they were doing. But somewhere along the way I had the good fortune to receive an attitude adjustment. I couldn't tell you how or when, but it happened.
I stopped comparing things. Honestly, the difference between people is not all apples and oranges. It's more like apples and squirrels and oranges and screwdrivers and mason jars and... It's all so different. We're so different. That's their passion, not mine. Do I love to fly? Hands down, yes. Do I love to fly enough to devote all my time and money into the skills? Nope. I love global travel and textiles. Am I going to start my own imports shop? No way. I love painting. That's what I lose sleep over. That's what I'm willing to devote my time to. Not crafting the best beer, not running a marathon, not playing the piano. Painting. Painting's my jam. But to have friends who DO these things is an extraordinary gift! I can absorb thier excitement when I ask about their jam. I want to know all about their passions, and why. It's like I get to share thier experience. I also like asking people about the stuff they're passionate about because the energy they emit is contagious, it fuels me. ...and I totally gain coolness by their extension.
So, if you're feeling like you're kinda stuck in the mud, go find your friends. Ask them about the stuff their excited about. Or, share your exciting stuff with them. Create a big buzzing community full of the coolest people you know!
time to the craft of painting. I'd be lying if I said it was anything less than glorious. I have the convenience and comfort of both my home and art studio as soon as each client exits the door. I can alternate work linens with my personal laundry (when I actually devote time to personal laundry, that's usually my manfriend's job. Yeah, ladies, my guy does the laundry. Total score...). I can whip up lunch in my cozy little kitchen. I can flop on the couch with the little dog to eat said lunch. I'm blessed, I'm lucky, I'm grateful. It's great. It's comfortable.
It is, however, a little lonely sometimes. No coworkers to jabber with. No contact wtih the outside world on one's commute. Just me and my little dog, holding down the fort, until Lovie comes home... It's also a bitch to keep a regular schedule.
Every morning starts between 5:00-5:30am, when my furry friend and I make a few laps around the yard to work out a poop, or at the very least, a good long pee. Weather permitting, we may toss the ol' frisbee around to further stretch our legs. Then it's back inside for a bowl of smooshy food for her, and a cup of coffee for me. Between the six 'o clock coffee and the nine 'o clock client, it's a total crap shoot. These days I'm trying REALLY hard to whip out a blog (like the one you're reading) while I have my coffee, so I can do some exercise by 6:30am, breakfast by 7:30, and a shower by 8:00. Fresh, centered and ready for the first client of the day at 9:00. Well, dear reader, it's currently 7:14, my coffee is half consumed, and I'm still not sure where I'm going with this blog. Ready or not, 9:00am will come, so something has to give. It may mean a bowl of microwaved oatmeal in lieu of a veggie scramble. It may mean I take a shower, but NOT wash my hair. It may mean I just jump around for 15 minutes in exchange for a proper workout. In any case, my good intentions of having a routine are already out the window by 7:00am.
I seem to excell with the pressures of both time, and expectation from an external source. Having a boss makes me work hard. When I've worked for someone else, and was given deadlines, I was always early on every account. What's more, is that I seemed to accomplish much more in my 'outside of work' life, too. My home was tidier, I met with friends more than I do now, I was productive creatively, I seemed to pack much, much more into my day than I do with my la-la schedule working from home. Why is that?
I'm totally type A and type B, depending on my situation or what mode I've set my brain on. I'm also totally all or nothing. If I'm on structure-mode, I'm totally type A. I'm prompt, I'm efficient, wicked productive and actually, I love it. I'm a mad woman, kicking ass and taking names and getting all the shit done. But, if I stray from structure-mode for even a minute, I'm day dreamy, distracted, tardy, and a little miffed. I get a little miffed because I know I have the potential for great productivity. I know I can really pack in a day. I know I'll be left with an adrenaline high, a belly full of pride, and stacks of accomplishments. BUT, I also know that I can't run like that 24/7. I have a little thing called 'adrenal fatigue' and am prone to burnout rather easily. I get run down, I get sick, and it's no good for anyone. Lame. I've litterally had medical professionals tell me, "you just need to take some time off." Really? From what? My completey charmed life? I have the LEAST stressful life of anyone I know, and I need to chill out? You're kidding, right? Affraid not. So, what's a girl to do?
I know I thrive on structure and love the feeling of productivity. It's like mother's milk. How do I create, and more importantly, stick to, a regular routine, but also allow myself to honor those daydreamy moments without letting it become a runaway train? How do I create the perfect schedule, and stick to it without having someone looming over me every minute? How do I NOT get sucked into the tidal wave of distractions? How do I become my best boss? A boss that gives me a stern look and says, "you need to get this shit done." But, also throws a wink and says, "it's ok, you've worked hard. Why don't you take the rest of the day off?"
Every day is a new opportunity to practice keeping a routine. Actually, every minute is. That's a great gift, don't you think? The idea that every minute we're alive, we're given another chance to fine tune our lives into something that suits us personally. Something that nurtures our creativity, but also guides us into a healthy discipline.
I'd love to read what you have to say about your routine. Your structure, your balance, your tidal waves, and your drive.
Shit. It's almost 8:00...
Less than 24 hours ago my self-published book, The Sea People, was released for purchase. Needless to say, I was excited.
Sure, the prospects of earning some income from book sale royalties is way cool, but it's bigger than that. Holding this glossy, 7x10, nugget of achievement represents countless hours of sitting at the drawing table, conjuring imagery of each little Sea Person. Watching them come to life with each layer of ink I applied, wondering, who will be next? It's all of the social media updates followed by followers' encouragement, praise, and 'atta-girl's. It's all of the hours spent learning and evolving the craft. It's the time invested in writing the poem to go with it, and being brave enough to share those words with the world. It's page layout, cover design, and multiple fails. This book represents starting a major project and seeing it through, something I'm not always good at. But here it is. Proof of my efforts. Not for anyone else, but for me. And that, is exciting.
Right, I was about to say, "So, you should get excited about something."
It's one of the raddest (most rad?) things I think you can do, BECAUSE, it makes everything else in your life a zillion times better. Sure, you can wake up and do your day over and over again and see it as nothing more than mundane. OR, you can wake up and get excited about something "smaller" than a vacation or a car. Get excited about holding that plank for an extra 10 seconds (that's a workout move, not a piece of wood). Get excited about pefecting your coffee brewing skills. Get excited about the stuff your kid learns, chances are, it will get them excited, too... For me, I get excited about more things than I can count. Some things I'm currently excited about:
-Training my dog
-Getting an MRI next week. Dude, seriously? Every ounce of science that goes into that is amazeballs. Just think about it, pictures of your insides, using magnets? WTH? That's so cool! ...and no worries, we're just taking a little looksie inside to see about some potential wonky disks or something...
-Pefecting the biscuit
-Dancing this weekend
-Putting my laundry away - it looks like my closet thew up
Getting excited about (finally) putting my laundry away, or an MRI makes putting the laundry away and being still inside of a capsule SO much more enjoyable. How does one get excited about such things?
STEP 1: Take your ego, fear, negative anticipation out of the equation.
STEP 2: Look at the experience as a whole, then break it down, piece by piece. Find something worth admiring/enjoying about all of the small parts of the experience.
STEP 3: Be with the experience. Don't be somewhere else. When you're in the dentist chair, BE in that chair. Feel your body in it. See the meticulously cleaned and arranged instruments. Hear the hilarious soft rock remakes of all the classic songs.
STEP 4: Then, think about the education and training that goes into this job. Think about your tooth that wasn't once there. You were a baby, grew a tooth, lost it, and now you have this grown-up tooth, rooted in your gums, somehow attached to your nervous system, which the dentist can temporarily numb, so they can do the work on your tooth, which you use for chewing the food that you bought at the store, that was grown by farmers who (we hope) has the good forturne to have teeth. You have teeth. That's exciting. Not everyone has their teeth, or a dentist to take care of them. Grattitude is a turn-on. Turn yourself on and get grateful.
So, I think it's the honoring of the thing or experience, instead of the dreading of it, that creates the excitment. Instead of dreading something, find reasons to honor it. Instead of seeing a dentist appointment as something that's taking you away from something more enjoyable, maybe try to see it as something you get to do. I get to care for my teeth. That's cool. I believe the more we practice this way of thinking, the more enjoyable all of life becomes. Even the "shitty" parts.
So, like I said before, you should get excited about something, anything. Lots of things, even, no matter how pedestrian they may be. The four steps mentioned above are just what *I* do. You may have your own steps to getting excited about stuff. I'd LOVE to know what those are!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go brush my teeth. WOOT!
So, you go back to your life. Moments, days, weeks, or perhaps, months pass without even a glimpse of this beauty. You try finding others like her, only to be left disappointed. You give up completely. Making peace that a glimpse, perhaps, is all you will ever have. And then it happens...
You see her, all of her, and she's coming towards you. It's exciting. It's terrifying. Once you have her, can you handle her? Something so inspirational and beautiful is intimidating. What if I don't know what to do? What if I mess it up? What will other people think? But you know you'd be a fool not to try. You've been waiting for her return, and here she is, giving freely of herself. Go. Be with the muse.
She's ruthless. She's feirce. She consumes you. She's like an oncoming train that you can't stop. And you love it. She's the most magnificent thing you've witnessed. You're so caught up in her that you forget to eat, you forget to breathe. Your life is a mess. She is the only thing that matters, and she is both completely saticfying your every need while also making you crazy. You neglect your friends, your home, and yourself. You're exhausted, but oddly, you're fulfilled. You beg for a break from her, but are struck with horror at the idea of her leaving you. You need her.
She sticks around long enough for you to let your gaurd down. Every morning you wake, seeing her by your side. Together, in your disfuntion, you create beautiful things. You trust that your muse is here to stay... until the day you feared most, arrives. She's gone.
Your life becomes void of desire, of color, of anything worth staying out of bed for. You fill your time with wasted efforts and distractions. You can't think of the times that were whisked away in passion. They're over, and perhaps, so are you. Maybe you'll start reading more. Maybe you'll take up yoga. Who knows? One thing is for certain, you must get out of this funk.
You finally get your life back in order. You're showering regularly again. You've tidied your house. You've contacted your friends. You're even drinking tea instead of coffee because you've vowed to become healthier, more whole. Curled up with a book you've re-read a hundred times, and a cup of tea you felt obligated to brew, you feel a presence. Your heart flutters, your stomach drops, you look up. There she is. She pretends not to see you. You're finally functioning without her, and there she is. Do you chase her? You bet your ass you do.
...seriously. this is what my create streaks feel like. I love/hate them, and totally need them. How about you? Do you ever get struck by the muse? Or is there some other obsessive force in your life? Can you find balance when you're struck? ...or, is all of this crazy to you? :) I'd LOVE to know!!!
Oh, dear god(dess).
This is the thing that drops me to my knees. This is what makes me clench my fists and shake them at the heavens. This is the reason why I'd rather binge on Netflix, safely tucked in bed, than even bothering to sell my wares... Pricing.
Pricing is a bitch.
Go check out Etsy, Amazon, your local galleries, art sites, etc. You can find art (let's say prints, since that's what my main focus is) that ranges anywhere between $5-$5,000. Fine. There are lots of variable here such as:
Who are they? How long have they been in the biz? How popular are they? How "skilled" are they? Where do they live? Is there something that makes them stand out, like a physical limitation that may have otherwise inhibited their ability to do art, but because of perseverance and grit they manage to create (look up Chuck Close - he's amazing and severely paralyzed, but was also kinda famous before all that happened so, chicken/egg...)
How long does your process take? How much money do you spend on materials? How many years did it take for you to get as skilled as you currently are? How much time and money do you spend on testing reproductions? How much time does one invest on marketing, web design, online shops, customer building, promotions, social media, etc.? (here's a hint, just round whatever number you may be guessing up to infinate).
Do you make hard calculations of the metioned above and create your price in a litteral mathematical way, or do you make it "affordable?" What is affordable? Do you do the noble thing and price it super low so that anyone and everyone can have art in their home, though you risk actually losing money in the end? Are you a charity? No. This is business. Also, by pricing low, do you risk appearing as though you're selling junk? So, you take the emotions out and charge what you're worth? Worth. What am I worth? Ugh. Now it's supremely personal. Taking one's self away from art is like taking the very soul away from a person. You can't. It's art. Every drop of paint is personal. Every brush stroke was preconceived, second guessed, and scrutinized, and becomes a reflection of one's skill, judgement and creativity. But what is that worth? Does the pricetag reflect personal worth, thus the becoming art for the elite with fat pockets? I don't know. This is why I hate pricing...
So, I try to find some common ground, affordable, but somthing that still indicates that I have worth both personally, and in skills, but I still hate it. Every now and then I get asked to do commission work. I want to hide in a hole, though it certainly is flattering. The idea that I'm painting something FOR someone else is nauseating, my nerves almost can't handle it. But then I have to stick a price tag on it? Fu......dge.
So, I ask you, what do YOU do? How do/would you price your wares? Do you find it as paralyzing as me? ...I hope so. xo
Wake-up, kiss the little dog on her head, pee, shuffle downstairs, grab little dog's leash (it's kinda dark outside and there might be critters lurking), turn on the coffee maker with leash in hand, drink some water with leash in hand, rinse yesterday's coffee cup with leash in hand, check my phone with leash in hand, notice the little dog with a full bladder who's waiting for the leash in my hand. Oh. Right.
"Let's go pee Little Dog."
This 5:00am scatter-brained sequence isn't something strictly devoted to just 5:00am. It's not my "morning brain." It's my all day brain. I can recall a day when my boyfriend/manfriend, who will be known as "Lovie" from here on out, had to stop me from pacing around the house completing forgotten chores with ONE SHOE ON. I had the other shoe in my hand with full intention of putting it on, but didnt'. Instead, I went about completing said chores while juggling this second shoe.
Lovie: "Babe. Stop. What are you doing?"
"Why don't you put your other shoe on...?"
"Yeah, that might be easier."
I am a pinball and my life is the machine. I bounce from one thing to the next, sometimes in the matter of seconds. I'd like to say that this only happens during the day, but I'm known for waking up several times throughout the night, needing to change rooms, write verse, paint, complete a task, etc. Sitting, writing this blog post is a true test of focus for me. My body feels antsy, my brain wanders, and I'm ready to switch gears. I'm always eager to get back to my original task, and often do, even quickly sometimes, but I MUST wander. It's my DNA. It's who I am.
Friends often tell me, "you should try meditation." And I DO meditate, believe it or not. But I can't do the sit 'n OM kind of meditating. I mean, I can, but it's wicked hard and leaves me feeling frustrated, like I've wasted my time. Whatever. I can meditate like a champ though if there's a ton going on around me. I've meditated in coffee shops, city streets, outside in a blizzard (yup, really).
So, you may be wondering, "how the hell do you get any painting done?" I most often paint to podcasts, Netflix, audio books, or really loud music. I need to overstuff my senses so I can focus. I had to doodle in school in order to focus, and when the teacher(s) got pissed at me for "not paying attention," I had a hard time defending myself. Oh well, being a kid is challenging. Good thing we get to turn into adults.
I recently read an article about how messy people tend to be more creative (who's got two thumbs and is messy? THIS GIRL!). So, I wondered, are scatter-brained people more creative, too? Perhaps. What do you think? Are you scatter-brained as well? Are you creative? How do you focus?
On a seperate note, what are your favorite podcasts or audio books? Do you drink coffee? Did you remember to let your dog out?
Oh, my coffee! I'm gonna go drink that now...