The Best Reminder I Ever Received

yin yang

I was sitting alone on my lawn feeling frustrated, angry, sad, and depressed. For several days I’d avoided people and refused to make any commitments. I wanted to be left alone. While the details leading up to that difficult week have been forgotten, one general theme stuck with me: I’d begun to reject the notion of myself as a creative person. 

Like I said, I was sitting on the grass and out of the blue I heard “You are here to live in joy.” I turned to see who had spoken. No one was there.

I didn’t know what to think, but I knew that I’d clearly heard the words.

My self-imposed time out gradually came to an end. I resumed tasks and for the next 25 or so years, I worked at a job and at being a wife and mother. Once in a while, I’d think about that afternoon. I read a couple of books about how to feel joy, but I never really did it. Not until 2018.

The message is delivered again.

I’d purchased an online painting class and the book Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks was on the recommended reading list for the class. I bought the Kindle version of the book and started reading. On page 8 in bold type I read, “You said, I will live in joy.” 

In the paragraph that followed, I read:

You said, “I will go forth into the physical time-space reality among other Beings, and I will assume an identity with a clear and specific perspective. I will learn to see myself from that point of view, and I will enoy being seen as that point of view….You said, “I will love pouring myself into this physical body, into physical time-space reality, for that environment will cause me to focus the powerful Energy that is me into something more specific. And in the specifics of that focus, there will be powerful motion forward—and joy.”

I didn’t know what to think. But I kept reading.

On page 23, I read:

By paying attetnion to the signals of your emotions, you can understand, with absolute precision, everything you are now living or have ever lived. By understanding your emotional connection to who you really are, you will come to understand not only what is happening in you own world and why, but you will also understand every other living Being with whom you interact.

Now, I felt stunned. Here someone was saying that my emotions could help me understand myself and what was happening around me. I’d been trained through all the years of my life to control my emotions, hide emotions, and to insert logic before emotions in every circumstance, because reason and logic (as we’re also taught) are reliable while emotions unreliable and lead to Trouble.

Fast forward: Why was that the best reminder ever?

Because I’m learning to honor my emotions and when I focus on feeling good, I FEEL good and things go well for me. When I let negative emotions shatter my focus, I don’t feel good and things don’t go as well. These things are true. No exceptions.

Disallowing and misunderstanding emotions are only ever what holds me and you apart from feeling good, living with more joy in our lives, and CREATING the lives we want to live.

With every thought, we have a choice to make. When thoughts are:

  • Should I trust myself?
  • Do I know enough?
  • Am I smart enough?
  • Am I worthy enough?
  • Is fate working against me?
  • Do I deserve ________?

You feel negative emotions. When you choose to not trust yourself or feel worthy, or when you blame fate or someone else, you feel negative emotions. These negative emotions are not signaling us that we’re wrong or bad or stupid. We feel negative emotions because we judge and value ourselves based on what we perceive others will think about us. Always.

Feeling emotions is the way to understand with absolute precision everything you need to know about you and what to do next and next and next. By paying attention to how you feel and understanding that when you feel bad, you’re going against yourself for no good reason, it becomes easier and easier to live more joyfully.

I don’t expect you to take my word for any of this. You shouldn’t.

Power Play

We learn through experience. If you want to learn to create you life deliberately, check out Ask and It is Given or listen to Abraham Hicks on YouTube—when you’re ready to believe in and trust yourself.

Are you creative?

Good Measure-process img

Yes! If you feel desire (and we all do), you are a creative person. We tend to confuse “creative” and “talented,” and they do overlap, but they’re not inter-changeable. You can be talented and creative. You can also be creative and have little or limited talent, which I define as “an aptitude or skill.” The desire to create something, anything, is all you need to be creative.

Playbook strategy

For a week, keep a list of the times you cause something to happen.

There’s an easier way to be

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is contemplating death and the unfairness of life when he says that. He goes on to say:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to?

Hamlet is thinking about his father’s murder and the expectation that he will seek revenge, but he hesitates. For far less dramatic reasons than Hamlet’s, we have to make decisions every day about “being” in this world. We experience heartache and shocks to our being—who we are—because we live, and like Hamlet, we often wonder if it’s worth it to “take up arms against a sea of troubles.”

I told my parents I wanted to be an artist when I was in my early teens. My mom was silent on the subject, but my dad let me know what he thought. He was against the notion because, he said, “You can’t earn a living as an artist.”

It was easier then, as it is now, to earn a living wage by working for someone else. Some part of me abandoned the artist who lived inside and got on the merry-go-round that’s life. I went to college and then went on to earn a master’s degree in education. The question that fueled my desire to learn was: When most people hate what they do and often dislike who they work for, why do they tolerate a system that requires them to do what they’re told to do, what is expected, every day of their working lives? I paid $35,000 for the answer. But why do you think we learn to be other than we are? Because _________ (fill in the blank).

It often seems easier to do what is expected of us, to ride the merry-go-round, but is it? What did, or do, you want to create? Is there time in your life for you to do whatever it is that you need to do? Who do you think you are? Does the last question irritate you? Why?

Are you being urged to create something new?

A lunar eclipse occurred this morning (January 31) when the sun and moon were on opposite sides of earth. Our earth actually blocked the sun’s light from reaching the moon. For a brief time, the reflective moon was darkened as it passed through the earth’s shadow.

A bit of trivia

In ancient times, astronomers in Babylonia studied events that occurred around eclipses (there are a minimum of four eclipses every year), viewing them as omens that would impact humans in the months to come. According to these ancient scholars, eclipses could predict the death of kings. If Jupiter (the planet associated with kings) was not visible during the eclipse the king could die. FYI: Jupiter was visible in the predawn sky today during the eclipse today.

What astrologers have observed about lunar eclipses

The moon is at its fullest during a lunar eclipse and immediately after the eclipse it begins to diminish in size until it completely disappears about fourteen days later. Not everyone is equally sensitive to lunar activity all the time. But some of us will notice events occurring (in recent past and in the months ahead) that can be described as coincidence or even omens of what is to come.

The sun was in Aquarius and the moon in Leo during the eclipse today. If your birthday falls between January 28 and Feb 3 or between July 28 and August 3, you may be experiencing changes in some important relationships. If this is happening to you, you may also be thinking about what you can do or need to do now. These thoughts and any emotions attached to them are behind the urge to create something new.

I used a photo of settlers moving west during the 1800s because those folks who decided to create a new life had to make decisions about what to leave behind so they could make the cross-country journey. Their wagons could reliably carry about a thousand pounds, but many people packed their pianos, good china, and furniture in addition to all the food and supplies they needed for the months ahead. Once on the trail, they had to decide what was more important—their dream of a new life or their possessions. The trails west were littered with all that they had to leave behind if they wanted to survive the trip.

If you’re feeling the need to create something new, you need to decide what to abandon so you can survive and reach your destination. You may feel resistance to leaving what you have behind, and that resistance will limit your ability to create what you’re being urged to create for yourself.

 

 

What does fear of failing prevent you from doing?

7-100 Nod to Kahn

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.  ∼Edwin Land

I painted in my twenties and thirties. Then I put my paint box on a shelf in the basement and went on with life. The “idea” of painting sometime in the future never left me, but as time passed, fear set in and I began to believe painting—an activity that I loved—would remain shelved, like the supplies I’d left in the basement.

Three decades passed. I felt the urge to paint a couple of years before I actually picked up a brush and mixed paint on a palette or applied it to a canvas. But by the time I acknowledged to myself that I wanted to be the artist my younger self had believed in, I was too afraid to paint. So instead of painting, I got interested in polymer clay.

I didn’t want to use the clay to make jewelry or cute animals. I wanted to paint with clay. I searched the internet for examples and artists who used clay the way I wanted to use it and found few who had tried. In the meantime, I learned about the tools clay artists use and I started making small landscape clay paintings. The one above is 4×4 inches. I developed some skills with the medium, and then I hit a wall. I couldn’t make the clay comply with my vision. Clay, like every medium, has its limitations.

Working with the clay had shown me that I wanted to paint landscapes. I also knew I couldn’t realize my vision using polymer clay. I needed to use paint. So I put aside the fear of failing and began again to paint. My “clay period” showed me some things about myself. It was an important and necessary step to take. But I’m so glad I decided to move past the fear, because that decision opened doors to new communities of people, new experiences, new confidence in myself, and it reconnected me to my joy, which is painting.

What brings you joy? What do you want to try doing? Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying.

Daily Practice is Fun!

Day 2

I joined artist Mary Glikerson’s 5-day challenge last week, and finished five quick studies (see here) for the challenge. The challenge was to paint for a set amount of time—20 to 40 minutes—and to stop when time was up. The intention: start a daily practice. All my studies took 40 minutes, but I plan to keep trying to get closer to 20 minutes.

It was a fun challenge, and it caused me to remember things I’d learned before and discover new things, combine objects in different ways to solve problems, test my skills with mixing and placement of color, and so much more. The work strengthened my creativity muscles, too.

What Motivates Us to Make Art?

Advice that’s frequently dispensed to people in creative fields goes something like this. “If you want to be successful, then develop a unique, marketable style. Know what buyers want. Then, go forth and create paintings people will like and buy.”

This may actually be poor advice.

People like paintings of dogs and cats and of kids playing near or in water. This is a good market niche. That doesn’t mean we should start churning out paintings of dogs or cats or kids at the beach in the hope of reaching the market. In fact, artists risk being cliché if they do. I know a woman who paints delightful cows and pigs and, occasionally, sheep. Her paintings sell well, because she has developed technical skills and because she has also developed her talent for seeing and capturing each animal’s special essence. She loves her farm-yard animals and that love shows in her work.

The point I want to make is not that painting any of these “marketable” subjects is wrong. It’s not. But painting simply because there’s a market for certain subjects is poor advice that often results in cliché paintings.

There is a lot of good advice for artists (and writers), too.

Connecting with other artists by studying their works (maybe even copying their style for a while) for the sake of arriving at one’s personal truth is good advice. Creativity coach Eric Maisel says that this kind of connecting “extends tradition” and is a good way to arrive at a personal style.

I love to paint landscapes with oils, frequently in plein air, as do thousands of other painters. I’m not sure my “style” will ever appear. I’m also not sure that it won’t.

 

Music is to Painting …

Consider this:

Does listening to music help us be creative?

I arrived early at Joe Paquet’s Thursday night studio painting class to get set up for three hours of painting and critique. Joe likes to play music while we paint and on that evening, he started out with opera music. The painters around me weren’t diggin’ it. The music wasn’t bringing out our “inner Italian” as Joe had suggested it could do. After awhile, the opera was replaced with another piece of music, and we painted on until it was time to clean up and go home (or stop in at Kelly’s Depot).

I don’t listen to music when I paint, but I know lots of people do. And some research in this area indicates that listening to music, or even an audio story, can help people problem solve. There is a caveat, though. You have to like the music that is playing for it to have a positive effect on brain function.

Apparently, the brain’s default mode is “wandering.” While focusing on tasks requires a lot of effort and is mentally exhausting, the wandering mind activates creative thinking.

I can’t say the music playing on in the background as I painted Thursday night helped me solve the problem of how to paint beautiful branches on the trees in the landscape I was working on. The branches I created did not have the “flowing” quality Joe suggested I could obtain if I “relaxed” and “exhaled slowly.” Perhaps I am too focused (my branches looked a little tense) and I need to listen to music when I paint.

Do you listen to music while you create? Is it helpful? Let’s make this a conversation. Share your thoughts in a comment.

Read more about how music can help you be creative here.