Konmari Changed My Relationship to Books

books for mercury rtx course

I binge watched episodes of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up on Netflix last weekend. Kondo is a small woman with a big mission. She teaches people to sort and tidy their belongings in ways that she says will bring joy into their lives. In every episode, I saw people change as they worked through Kondo’s tidying process. But I had to go through Kondo’s process myself to feel the change, to understand the burden related to carrying the books with me, and to experience the joy and freedom when the tidying was done.

I love books. I prefer to buy rather than borrow books because I enjoy having them around me. Like many book buyers, I intend to read every book, but half of them go unread. They’ve sat on shelves throughout my house, some for YEARS, waiting for me. I’ve never felt any guilt about buying and not reading them. They don’t spoil.

The Japanese have a pretty word that describes stockpiling books that are never read: tsundoku. The word doesn’t carry any negative stigma in Japan according to Prof Andrew Gerstile, who teaches pre-modern Japanese texts at the University of London.

tsundokuillustrated

Over the years I’ve bought, shelved, boxed, and moved, from one house to another and from book case to bookcase upstairs and downstairs, hundreds and hundreds of books. These are books from one bookshelf. Some are already in bags to be donated or sold. The piles grew over the weekend as I added books that I collected from other rooms and from the basement. Kondo recommends sorting by category (books, clothes, etc.) rather than by room and placing all the alike items on the floor in one room. The purpose for gathering things in one place is so we can see how much we actually have.

books piled

As I cleared the shelves and sorted my books into piles to keep or not, I followed Kondo’s guidance, and asked myself two questions:

  • Is this book and it’s contents something I want to bring into my future?
  • Does holding this book bring my joy?

If the answer to either question was no, I put the book into a donate/sell pile. After all was done, I’d moved eleven bags of books out of the house.

books to go

I had more books than I could read in ten years, and not so long ago, I believed this:

bookclutter

The Way to Joy

In three days of sorting and tidying books, I’ve reduced my book stash to only those books that I believe will bring me joy today. Tidying up also freed up space in my mind and that gives back to me time that I’d committed to reading. I can create more.

Moving and sorting books revealed something I wasn’t expecting, though.

space cleared

Sending the books away uncovered a big question

Almost since I began reading, I’ve believed I could write. Writing became a driving force in my life. Suddenly, as I considered and appreciated all the empty space in my bookshelves and felt relief from the burden of reading books that no longer interested me, I had the thought: Do I still want to write?

That question needs more thought. In the meantime, I’ll still buy books. And I’m OK with that.

Power Play

It’s easy to get caught up in obsessions, like reading is for me, and forget to check in with yourself about what is exerting influence in your life. Stacks of books were exerting influence and pressure on me. But we can control what has influence in our lives.

You most likely know what is influencing you. Do you need to interrupt the pressure? Do you need to tidy up something in your life so you have more time to feel creative? I’d enjoy hearing from you.

 

Prosperity Habits for Artists

Sharon Leah Art

The myth of the starving artist is a MYTH that got a foothold in society’s consciousness in the 19th Century, when a man named Henri Murger wrote a tragic love story about Bohemian artists Mimi and Rudolfo. Murger lived among a group of uneducated, poor Bohemians in Paris. He knew that readers are entertained by larger than life characters who live in exaggerated circumstances, and as a good writer does, Murger started with what he knew about—the Bohemian lifestyle and from there he fabricated a story. His story was turned into the highly-successful play La Boheme; it also became a model for artists who identified with the romanticized notion of living poor on the edge of society. And so, the starving-artist mindset was born. Do a simple search on Google for “Starving Artist” and see proof that the concept is still going strong in 2019.

Believing in the starving artist…

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Freedom to Create Joyfully

 

42_Autumn Oak_200dpi sm

“Autumn Oak” is #43 in my 100 paintings project. All rights reserved.

I’ve had lots of interests over the years and I like to write. I’ve had the freedom to create blogs to my heart’s content on this platform and write on a lot of topics that have interested me. As my interest in some of those topics has waned, I’ve archived or deleted the related blogs. I’m down to three. I blog about creativity, astrology, and my artwork at these sites (click on the links below or in the left Menu):

There are good reasons to keep them separate, but I also experience these different areas of interest as related. I create art and write about it. I write about creativity. And I use astrology to explain the creative process and provide insight into the freedom to choose and create a life within the context of the life fate handed each of us. The common thread is creativity. So, I’ve decided to provide connections to my other blogs and in a sense bring them all together. I don’t have a “schedule” for posting. Sometimes, I’m more active on one blog and less so on others. Check them out.

 

Art Journal – Plein Air Water Lilies and Zen

Sharon Leah Art

Pond lotus

I went out four times in July to paint pond lilies and almost gave up after the second try. Every plein air painting experience has its challenges, but the rewards make it “mostly” worthwhile so I continued to try. This post is a summary of that experience.

Plein air paintings of water lilies

There’s just something about water lilies and lotus. They’re enchanting and beautiful in their simplicity, and many artists both before and after Claude Monet have painted them. Monet’s series of water lilies paintings, over 100  in all, have a tranquil beauty that both painters and collectors appreciate.

Monet Lilies

Water lilies by Claude Monet. Completion date 1917.

Monet loved gardens and painting, and it was to his gardens in Giverny that he retreated as World War I ravaged Europe. He was aware of the war and could sometimes hear the sound of gunfire in nearby battlefields.  “Yesterday I resumed work,”…

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Should Artists Keep Art Journals?

Sharon Leah Art

orchid-still-life.jpgI have journals and notebooks scattered all around my home. I love them. And I love to write in them. I’m just not very consistent about when I write or what the purpose of my writing should be. So sometimes, often, I have two or three journals going at once and I’m about different things that I do in each of them. I can frustrate myself when I want to find something that I wrote and I have to look in all the possible places. On the other hand, I’m often pleasantly surprised when I open an old journal and reread things that I wrote.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about possible benefits of keeping a journal while I do my artwork. Knowing myself as I do and knowing my propensity for starting a new journal on a whim, I decided to give this idea of an artist’s journal more thought…

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Thought Precedes and Creates Change

kung fu

To create means to take what is and make something new or different. We learn how to take raw materials—canvas, pigment, paint, brushes, pencils, paper, clay, dirt, stones, glass, water, seeds, food, technology, fire, even pressure; and most important of all, our thoughts—and create. We create art and music, tools and technology, community and communities, fun and fitness, first with our thoughts and then with things. In all instances, we as creators have to either allow or facilitate the changes that make what is into something different.

There is one thing that interferes with change, though. Resistance. Others resist our desires. We resist theirs, because _________ (fill in the blank). Things that are big—like a tree or a building—resist our efforts to move or change them (until we think of a way to make the big things smaller and easier to manage). We’re accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for the person or thing that’s behaving like an obstacle when resistance interferes with our plans. Often, however, we’re actually getting in our own way with our own split energy. This happens when we direct some of our energy toward a desired outcome while also expending energy to resist very changes we want to make. Mental resistance, while it has no size or weight, because it consists entirely of thoughts (which can’t even be seen), is the BIGGEST reason we don’t get what we want in life.

I watched Kung Fu starring David Carradine when it was on TV in the 1970s. That was my first exposure to the fascinating world of martial arts and Eastern philosophies. I enjoyed watching Caine, as he was known in the series, demonstrate the power of non-resistance. Every episode had a fight scene and when Caine was threatened, he practiced non-resistance. I don’t mean that he let himself be attacked. But when the person came at him, Caine deflected the attack or stepped aside and allowed the attacker’s momentum to carry him until he stumbled and fell, sometimes over a cliff. In every instance, it was the attackers’ behaviors that caused their own self-undoing.

The Kung Fu philosophy is grounded in the Tao, meaning “the way, or the path,” and that means simply living in harmony with nature, other people, and within oneself. While living with nature and others is important, it’s the relationship to self that forms the foundation for everything that follows. And thinking anything that goes against yourself and splits your energy will make it more difficult to create whatever it is that you desire to create: artwork, a fit body, healthy relationships, etc.

Everyone is a creator, because thoughts turn to things. If you really want to create a painting, you’ll think about it and do what you need to do. If you want to be a better painter, you’ll think about what you need to do and then do it. If you want to be more fit, you have to start where you are, think about what you want to do, and then do it. If you don’t let your thoughts get in your way, you’ll succeed. It’s hard to ignore the truth that “thoughts turn to things.” But if you doubt that’s true, look around you. How did you get to where you are? Did you have thoughts and did you’re thoughts become actions or beliefs that you live with now?

To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance.  —Master Po in Kung Fu

What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.  —Carl Jung