What Is Your Most Important Creative Work?

 

Spring Fling

Finding time to be creative may seem like a stretch when earning a living, maintaining a home and personal relationships, and sleep take up most of your day. Time to express your creative self may seem like a wishful thought: a pipe dream. And being the creator that you are will continue to feel like a pipe dream until you decide you want more.

Often, it’s a belief about what it means to have a creative life and do creative work that holds people apart from those things. No one wants to be a starving writer or artist, or an underpaid actor. So the desire to do creative work is sidelined and may never be given a chance to play out in real life.

Changing Beliefs

EVERYONE is creative and creating all the time, but most people don’t realize that. The word “creative” doesn’t apply only to those who work in the arts. You create your life with the minute-by-minute, day-to-day, year-to-year decisions that you make. It’s only when you feel that someone else has control of you and your time, and many people do feel that way, that finding time to be and do what turns you on seems like only a dream that can’t be realized.

The first thing you need to do if you feel out of control of your own life, is recognize that you are the captain of your life. You are. And as the captain, you get to decide how and where to spend your time and energy. More importantly, you get to decide how you’ll feel while you do the things you do.

A Personal Story

I attended an art exhibit last evening. The art on display was painted during a three-day plein air event and I knew several of the artists who had participated in the event. I congratulated everyone who won some recognition and complimented others on their paintings. During one conversation, I asked the artist (an acquaintance) about the process of being accepted to participate in the event because I’m interested in doing it myself next year. She told me that most of the artists who have participated in the past will get the limited number of available spots next year. I asked her if she was suggesting I shouldn’t apply, to which she replied, “I just don’t want you to feel heartbroken when you don’t get in.” I said, “You don’t need to worry about my heart. I’ll be fine.”

Then, I found the woman  in charge of the event and asked her what I needed to do and when I needed to do it if I wanted to be considered for next year’s event. She gave me her card and told me to contact her in January 2020.

Power Play

I’m in control of what I do and how I feel. And you’re in control of what you do and how you feel. If you want more time to feel and be creative, start by answering the following questions for yourself:

  1. If there is only one thing you can work on now, what would it be?
  2. If there is only one direction you can take your work in for the next three years, what would it be?

Do you notice a pattern emerging that might be your important work? If so, write a sentence that clearly explains what that work is.

The value in this exercise is focus. If you can focus on one thing that is really important to you know, you can let go of (for a while) other things that pull at you and want your attention. This isn’t a goal setting exercise. It’s a process to help you focus and understand what’s important enough for you to make time for it. That’s your important creative work.

My next post will be about how to carve out a small block of time, a little as 20 minutes a day, to do your creative work.

 

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.

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.

 

Freedom to Create Joyfully

 

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“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.

 

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

 

Thinking about Creating a Business of One?

EPSON MFP image

Have you ever felt the entrepreneurial bug bite and thought about being a “business of one” so you can sell what you create—books, paintings, ceramics, graphic design, web design, sculptures, dolls, toys, costumes, cakes, jewelry, gift cards, photographs, workshops or training—to name but a few possibilities? There are big opportunities for people who decide to take the leap. In 2014 there were 28 million small businesses in the United States. Fifty-two percent of those businesses were home-based.

The U.S. government definition for a small business is:

  • Organized for profit
  • Operating in the U.S., or making a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through taxes and the sale of products
  • Independently owned and operated
  • Not dominant in its field on a national scale

To flourish as a “business of one” requires the same mindset as that of someone who wants to operate a successful franchise, a coffee shop, or any other endeavor. How you perceive your self and your life will define your success.

Think About It

Step 1: Visualize your business. What can you confidently accomplish as a business of one? Have a focus. All entrepreneurs need to stand out in the crowd.

Step 2: Keep a positive attitude. Understand that not every idea is a good idea. Expect to win some and lose some, learn from failures and then move on to the next thing you need to do. Hundreds of decisions will need to be made every day and the choices that are made will determine what is accomplished and experienced. The key to success is to avoid negative thinking. It follows that to avoid negative thoughts, you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions.

Here are some tips from the book The Entrepreneur in You by author A.A. Edmond Jr. for people who want to be, or who have already claimed the role:

  • Always plan your options. It’s more empowering to have options than it is to have obligations
  • Develop a daily routine and stick to it
  • Replenish your energy by taking a walk, a nap, or just resting for 15 minutes

An “A” Power Play

Meditate (everyday in the morning if possible) for as little as 15 minutes. Sit in a chair or on a pillow on the floor, but be comfortable. Set a timer. Listen to something that will distract you from thinking—a ticking clock or a fan work great! Sometimes, when that isn’t enough and my mind wants to chase after thoughts, I start counting down from 17 to 0. I continue this until the thoughts subside, which usually takes only a short time. Why 17? Because that’s how long it takes for one thought to lead to another thought. Make this part of your daily routine and just keep doing it. You’ll notice, after while, that you’re getting “good, useful thoughts” that will help you reach your goals.

Step 3: Pace yourself.  Don’t worry about procrastination. We tend to criticize ourselves and feel negative emotions when procrastinating, and then we try to drive ourselves toward the finish line. That’s actually counterproductive. What procrastination tells us is that we’re not yet ready to do something.

An “A” Power Play

Be ready to be ready. If you don’t have the things or information around you that you need to do something, you don’t have the momentum to easily follow through and the whole effort will be fraught with problems. You’re own thoughts will pile up as  additional resistance. Instead of pushing, just state or write down your goal and then stop worrying. Let your mind relax. Go to a movie. Take a walk. Meditate. Meditation helps to calm the mind so you can get ready to be ready. It’s important to stay away from negative thinking. PAY ATTENTION to what you receive via ideas, observations, overheard conversations. FOLLOW UP on any thoughts that cause a good-feeling emotion, because those good feelings will guide you to the things you need in order to do what you want to do.  Be a lifelong learner and constantly seek to sharpen your skills. Be ready to be ready.

Once you have your vision defined, your goals are set, and you feel ready to be ready, you will feel confident about taking the next steps.

Thoughts are Energy that Create Worlds

yin yang

Magnetism is the force of attraction or repulsion. Magnetism is caused by spinning electrically-charged particles moving around, and the magnetic field of an object can create a magnetic force that attracts other objects. When two magnetic objects are close together, there is a force that attracts the poles to each other.

Our human bodies generate internal magnetic activity (every cell contains energy) that keeps us alive. This internal magnetic energy interacts with all the other magnetic fields on the planet we live on. Our brains are a dense mass of energy producing cells that create measurable brain waves. And it’s in the brain that thoughts are produced, transmitted, and received. The laws of nature apply to humans in the same way they apply to a magnet or any other magnetic force on earth.

The difference between us and a magnet is that we have conscious choice. We can choose whether or not to be drawn into a force field. We can choose to join an activity, stop at a sale, go to a movie, say yes or no to an invitation. We can decide how to respond to the randomness that surrounds us. We can decide, if we’re conscious, about what kind of thoughts we let in. This is important to understand and to remember, because EVERYTHING is energy, including thoughts.

Reflect for 60 seconds on anything and pay attention to how one thought leads to another and to another. Those thoughts collect and can create enough momentum to, in turn, cause you to take an action or feel a feeling that’s often a reaction.

The Law of Attraction says that we invite our experiences through our own thought processes. Nothing can occur in your life experience without your invitation of it through your thoughts. For a lot of reasons, few people want to accept that we shape our experience of life through our thoughts. Not wanting to accept the physics of our experience here on earth doesn’t change the physics, though. We are made up of energy. Our thoughts are created from energy. They’re transmitted and received because they’re energy. The key to having better thoughts and better life experiences is to remember that we have conscious choice.

Power Play

Understand the Law of Attraction and remember that you can choose which force fields you are drawn in to. The news is a force field. If watching or listening to the news upsets you and causes you to feel negative emotions, you can choose to either not pay attention to news or you can be selective about what you pay attention to. People around you are force fields. You can choose to stop receiving thoughts that upset you or you can interrupt the thoughts that you’re attracting by changing your focus. You get to decide what affects you, what you accept or reject, and what your actions or reactions will be.

Everyone is Creative

Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh IV 1957 by Francis Bacon 1909-1992

Study for portrait of Vincent Van Gogh by Francis Bacon, 1957.

For several years, John has curated the work of landscape artists for a cyber art show that he shares with his audience of landscape painters on Facebook. Every week, he asks his followers a question. A recent question was: “If you had to pick just one thing that being an artist has taught you, what would it be?” The question elicited over a hundred responses, such as:

  • Don’t self promote. It’s embarrassing and self-defeating.
  • Perseverance, persistence, and patience.
  • Not to be an artist. I quit six years ago.
  • Never stop learning and pushing your boundaries.
  • There will always be someone who is better than you. Don’t compete.
  • How hard it is to be an accomplished artist. I sometimes think I’ll never get there.
  • Marry well.
  • Admire, appreciate, and understand other’s work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Midweek, John posted a comment in which he said that he had observed only about 2 percent of the population are truly artists and another 10 percent consider themselves creative. Everyone else just likes to paint.

I was quite surprised that John thinks so few of his artist followers think of themselves as creative and even fewer see themselves as artists, but I don’t disagree with him even though I have come to other conclusions. That’s what he’s observed and what he believes. John explained his reasoning this way: “TRUE artists suffer. They struggle to fit in. To get enough money to eat and live. To find time enough to create what is burning them up inside and to get recognition in an indifferent society and world.”

That was Van Gogh’s life story. It’s a story and a mindset that many painters, writers, poets, sculptors—artists—have adopted, though. It’s a belief that is worn by many, perhaps the majority, like sackcloth and perpetuated by its repetition. It’s a belief that is passed from generation to generation. But here’s the thing—beliefs are nothing more than thoughts that people continue to think, and as long as people continue to tell each other their stories of lack, they will continue to manifest and share those experiences.

Power Play

Tell a different story. Chronic attention to unwanted things holds you in a place (through the thoughts that you think) of disallowing what you really want.

My conclusions

Everyone is creative. If you doubt that is true, take 15 minutes and recall/make a list of things you’ve created (brought into your life) because you imagined/thought of something that you wanted for yourself.  The Law of Attraction says that “that which is like onto itself, is drawn.”

Power Play: Share Your Expertise

New Greens_Dodge_5-7

Are you waiting to be ready before you share what you know? We humans often think that we’re not ready to share what we know or what we do, because someone else does it better and, well, we’re not quite good enough “yet.” That kind of thinking is the result of comparing yourself to others. And since thoughts are what create beliefs, if you think you’re not good enough yet, well then you don’t believe that you are.

I’m a student in a studio class that’s offered by a man who routinely gets paid $15,000, and often more, for his paintings. He does beautiful work. He’s also a great teacher, and every week he shares his expertise with me and his other students. I will never paint like my teacher paints, because I’m me. I’m different. My hand is different. I hold my brushes different. My brush strokes are different. My eyes see color differently. I choose different subjects to paint. It’s my very differences that make me uniquely different from my teacher.

You’re unique, too. So don’t compare. Share. Share what’s unique about you, because you’re the expert. Never mind what you are not. Decide on what you want and stay focused there on yourself and your flow.

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.

Fields and Clouds

Don’t try to paint good landscapes. Try to paint canvases that will show how interesting landscapes look to you — your pleasure in the thing.
~ Robert Henri in The Art Spirit

When I passed by this Wisconsin farmstead on a summer day in 2015, I had to stop the car and just take it in. The cumulus clouds floating above a field of ripening grain was, as they used to say, “A Kodak moment.”

The small 6×6-inch oil painting was done on a birch board in 2015. I leaned into this painting, using a palatte knife to paint the field. I say “leaned in” because I’d only started painting again after setting aside my paints and brushes for 30-plus years. But something about this landscape gave me the courage to try. I gifted the painting to a friend, and it remains one of my favorites.

I’m painting the landscape again. This time on a 9×12-inch linen panel. The house is hidden, protected behind the windrow of trees. The small barn and silo, once so common in rural areas, are an anomaly in today’s world. Many of the older barns and silos have fallen into disrepair, or they’ve been replaced by sheet-metal barns and shiny aluminum silos. My motive for painting this little landscape (which still needs a little tweaking) is reason I stopped my car and took the photo — it was a beautiful summer day for watching clouds sweep past, high above the field.