Bears, sharks & lightning

Bears, sharks & lightning…and not necessarily in that order.
What are you afraid of? 
For me, the very idea of setting off on an adventure continues to top by bucket list.
At least once each day I’m either day-dreaming about the possibilities of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, or setting off on a solo voyage across the ocean. Now, I don’t actually ‘actively’ hike nor do I own a boat, but the very idea of it all sends my heart into flutter mode. Of course that could also have something to do with the bears, sharks and lightning I mentioned above. 

I mean, I can deal with bugs, and I can deal with blisters and too much sun, and being dirty for days. I can even deal with eating the same meal day after day or any other similar deprivation which would result from removing myself from civilization for months on end, but I cannot for the life of me even begin to imagine suddenly finding myself face to face (eeek!!, I can’t even print it!) with a bear, shark or lightning encounter! This is where i get tripped up!
I read somewhere that our ‘real life’ is out there waiting for us. And I guess I think mine must be either in the woods or on the ocean. 

Stepping outside our comfort zone allows us to grow. It pushes us to tap into all our potential.  And I hear we all have loads of it if we’re open to it. All risks are growth opportunities; good and bad and the transitional skills we gain help us deal with changes in our lives.  

As we accumulate transitional skills we are able to move to the next ‘level’ kind of like Mario…storing up an arsenal for future challenges.

And as our arsenal of skills increases in size we may find we need a bigger comfort zone to house them in and that’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Evidence



“I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think—
no, you will realize—
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your heart

had been saying.”

Evidence – Mary Oliver

Creativity is a Release

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Do you enjoy taking tests that tell you a little something about why you do the things you do?

I do!

I ran across a cool site completely by accident called psychologies.co.uk and took a test called ‘What’s Your Creative Style’. It was short and sweet and quickly got to the good stuff.

For me, I soon discovered (but wasn’t too surprised to learn), creativity is a ‘release’. Not that it isn’t a release for most people,,,but it goes into a bit more detail than that.

It explained how important it is for me to, not only get a grasp of my emotions but the importance of releasing these emotions as well and that I need to be able to touch them or look at them in concrete form to make sense of them in order to be able to sort them out.

I said something to this effect on my ‘about me’ page when I first created this blog. I think I mentioned something about how my art helped me to sort out thoughts and ideas…I wasn’t exactly sure ‘why’ though.

Now I know!

You might find out something interesting about yourself too…

The above image is something completely different from what I’ve been doing lately. I like the hands-on approach and the spontaneity, power and movement I feel when I’m creating these ‘selfies’.

Which, btw, is because ‘I’m usually attracted to art that demands physicality, that allows me to express what’s inside’. –According to the test results!

KEEP CALM AND ROCK ON

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What is so soothing about nature? Why do people talk about nature and relaxation? Can nature help you to relax? If so, how?

Intuitively we know that nature is healing. We are drawn to nature and wilderness. We go hiking, we love gardening, we swim in the ocean or in the lakes. We go for walks, or we go camping, and we sit by the campfire staring at the night sky.

Yes, we know that nature and relaxation are connected. We know all of this intuitively. We know that spending time in nature makes us feel good.
But there is more than just our intuition when it comes to nature and peaceful feelings. There is mounting scientific evidence that nature is healing.

Scientists discovered that nature helps us to recover faster from a stressful event. After showing people stressful scenes on a video (such as a car accident), scientists showed people either a video of nature or a video of city and buildings. Those who watched the video of nature recovered faster from the stressful event.

No wonder we love landscape photography! So, if you can’t go outside, look at pictures of nature. Science shows that it helps to lower your stress levels.
One of the reasons why nature and relaxation are connected is that being in nature helps us to connect with the present moment; we pay attention to the here and now – this moment and nothing else. We enjoy the beauty of the natural world and we stop having stressful thoughts; we stop worrying about the events of our lives – we simply enjoy the present moment in nature.

Looking at pictures of nature helps to create images of nature in your mind…and you benefit from this imagery. (Found on stress-relief-tools.com).

The above is an image of some rocks along the coast of Maine (from my last visit there a couple of years ago). I decided to play around with it in Photoshop and created this version. I liked the original image a lot but really enjoy looking at it after enhancing it with the ‘oil painting’ filter. I really love the interplay of all the neutrals and the textural quality it now has.

I hope you enjoy it too!

And now for something completely different…

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I completed this painting mere minutes before beginning the one in yesterday’s post…(yep, the pink one) – wonder what Carl Jung would have to say about that?!

No Regrets

imageWhy We Have Regret
By Leo Babauta
We’ve all heard the phrase, “No regrets!” usually uttered when about to do something a little unwise perhaps.
And yet, as alluring as the “Living Without Regrets” philosophy sounds, it’s not always so easy.
We regret missed opportunities.
We regret things that made us feel dumb.
We regret not telling someone we loved them more before they died.
We regret not spending our time more wisely, accomplishing more.
We regret procrastinating, not forming better habits, eating too many sweets, not writing the novel we always wanted to write, not reading all the books we planned to read, not mastering Russian or chess or the ninja arts.
We regret getting into bad relationships, or making mistakes in a past relationship.
Yes, we regret things, and sometimes it can be consuming.
Why We Have Regret
Simply put, we regret choices we make, because we worry that we should have made other choices.
We think we should have done something better, but didn’t. We should have chosen a better mate, but didn’t. We should have taken that more exciting but risky job, but didn’t. We should have been more disciplined, but weren’t.
We regret these choices, which are in the past and can’t be changed, because we compare them to an ideal path that we think we should have taken. We have an idea in our heads of what could have been, if only a different choice had been made.
The problem is that we cannot change those choices. So we keep comparing the unchangeable choice we actually made, to this ideal. This fantasy can’t be changed, and it will never be as good as the ideal. The unchangeable choice we made will always be worse. It spins around and around in our heads.
Why can’t we let it go? What’s so important that we need to keep thinking about it?
Why We Keep Thinking About Regret
I’ve noticed that I have a hard time not thinking about a bad choice because of how it conflicts with my self-identity.
We all have this idea of who we are: we’re good people. Perhaps we’re smart, or competent, or good-hearted. We make the best choices we can, of course, because we’re good people. Even if you have self-doubt and a bad self-image, you probably think you’re basically a good person.
And so when someone else attacks that identity — insults your competence, calls you a liar, says that you’re a cheater — it hurts! We get angry and defensive. We can’t stop thinking about this offense.
And when we believe we made a mistake, this also is an attack on that identity. We made a bad choice … why couldn’t we have been a better person and made a better choice? This bad choice conflicts with our idea that we’re a good person.
So the problem spins around and around, without resolution. There’s no way to solve this problem, because the bad choice can’t be changed and we can’t resolve the conflict with our self-identity.
How to Let Go of Regret
In examining why we have regret, and why it’s so hard to let go, we can see a couple of root causes that we can address:
1. We compare past choices to an ideal.
2. We have an ideal identity that conflicts with the idea of the bad choice.
These both revolve around ideals, which are not reality but our fantasies of how we’d like reality to go. They’re made up, and not helpful. In this case, these ideals are causing us anguish.
So the practice is to let go of the ideals, and embrace reality.
Here’s the reality of those two root causes:

1. The choice we made in the past is done, and we can’t change it. And in fact there’s some good in the choice, if we choose to see it. Being able to make the choice at all is an amazing thing, as is being alive, and learning from our experiences, and being in the presence of other really great people, etc. And we can be satisfied with our choices and see them as “good enough” instead of always hoping for the perfect choices. Some choices will be great, some won’t be perfect, and we can embrace the entire range of choices we make.
2. We are not actually always good, and in fact our identity can encompass a whole range: we are sometimes good, sometimes not, and sometimes somewhere in between. We make mistakes, we do good things, we care, we are selfish, we are honest, and we sometimes aren’t honest. We are all of it, and so making a bad choice isn’t in conflict with that more flexible (and realistic) self-identity. It’s a part of it.
That’s all easier said than done, but when we find ourselves obsessing over past choices, we can 1) recognize that we’re falling into this pattern, 2) realize that there’s some ideal we’re comparing our choices and ourselves to, and 3) let go of these perfect ideals and embrace a wider range of reality.
This is a constant practice, but it helps us not look for perfection, not constantly review past choices, but instead find satisfaction in what we’ve done and focus in what we’re doing now.
Regrets are a part of life, whether we want them or not, whether we’re aware we’re having them or not. But by looking into the cause of regrets, and embracing the wide range of reality, we can learn to be satisfied with our choices, happier with the past and happier in the present moment.
And that is a choice you won’t regret.

Another great article to make you think…and a newly finished acrylic painting.

No Rules, Just Art

20140607-220557-79557228.jpgI went into the studio and made this. I didn’t plan anything. I used the colors already on the palette; the choices based on which ones became liquid first. And I just kept at it until it was done. I like that plan.
“Faded Flowers” 12×12 encaustic on cradled panel