Ta Da!!!

This past year I set three primary goals for myself: a fitness goal, a financial goal and a creative goal.

They were significant goals too (in my opinion) considering I’d never had much (i.e. any) luck achieving anything even remotely close to them before and I devoted nearly 100% of my time working toward them. I had to. I didn’t give myself much/any wiggle room to do otherwise because I knew my track record with goal-setting all too well. If I took my eye off the prize for just one minute I knew what would happen and what always did happen in the past. It simply wasn’t an option this time.  
After the year was up (actually, it was more like 10 months) and after successfully achieving all three goals I’ve come to a few conclusions about goal-setting in general.

First, let me clarify a couple of things: A) I definitely expected to have more of a “TA DA!!!” moment on completion, and B) I really expected to have more of a “TA DA!!!” moment on completion!!

I mean, seriously! I worked really hard and relentlessly so!

The TA DA!!! moment never came. I’m still very happy I completed the goals and would definitely do it all over again knowing what I know now but I was more than just a little perplexed by the lackluster finish.

I recently read that as we make progress toward our goals, our goals will continually change. They will increase to become deeper and more meaningful. A good example of this would be the goal to lose weight. As you work toward your goal and once you achieve your goal, you find yourself at a healthier place from where you first began. You’ve lost the weight but now see a bigger prize on the horizon. You’re no longer satisfied with simple weight loss – now you may be considering a 5K or a weight lifting competition.  The simple weight loss goal may propel you to set your sights even higher and possibly in a more long-term/life-changing way. And…as an added bonus: we’re no longer left contemplating the question, “now what”.

You begin to see a bigger picture. It’s a picture full of possibilities and one that offers the potential to serve as a jumping off point instead.
And there is something really intriguing about having a goal out there on the horizon waiting for us; something new to set our sights on, just barely out of reach, but not too far – so that we have to stretch a bit further, focus, plan and get excited about something once again. 

In retrospect, there really is no reason to celebrate with a TA DA!!! moment as if it’s the big finale; instead of the usual, “now what” we could say, “what next?” and start making plans – reminding us, yet again, that it truly is all about the journey. 
The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up. –Charles L. Morgan 

Rock.Paper.Scissors

I read a good article on Tiny Buddha recently (I’ve attached it below).  
The message was great – but I read a lot of great articles; the difference with this one was – there’s a really good chance I might actually remember it. Why? The author chose to use metaphors in this article and I’m a big fan of metaphors – I guess that’s because I’m a visual learner. I’m wondering if most creative people are.
But even though I’m aware of the fact that I’m a visual learner and that I relate well to the use of metaphors; I was also a bit curious why this was.  

I know that metaphors create mental images that help to paint a picture or tell a story. I know that. I get that. I actually create metaphor scenarios all the time; it’s my version of mental note-taking, but I’m sure not everyone benefits from it as much as I do. I wanted to know why.  

So, I went on-line hoping to find the common denominator. Finding a common denominator is helpful when I’m trying to sort things out or organize thoughts and ideas. It’s usually a first step in my thought organizing process.    

And I think this quote by Orson Scott Card sums it up nicely. “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”

I like that.  

The power lies in its ability to drill down to the subject immediately without the additional confusion of gathering too much information too soon. Like diagramming a sentence to determine the noun and the verb before worrying with all the other stuff…(a good example of one of my metaphor scenarios in action) and for those of us who need that type of organization, simplifying makes perfect sense.  

 So, here is the article…hope you benefit from it too (whether or not you need the help of metaphors!).

You Don’t Need to Fix the Past in Order to Have a New Future

By Amy Johnson
“The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” ~Pema Chodron
My family recently drove from Michigan to North Carolina—twenty hours roundtrip. To entertain themselves, my five-year-old daughter Willow taught my three-year-old son Miller to play rock-paper-scissors in the backseat.
Miller learned the hand signals and got the overall concept pretty quickly, but he had a hard time with the fast speed of the game. Willow narrated, “Rock-paper-scissors…go! Okay, next round!” But Miller wanted to linger.
When he chose paper and Willow chose scissors, he’d see her scissors and quickly try to change to rock so that he could win the round.
Or if he chose rock and she chose scissors, he’d want to stop and hang out in his win for a while. He’d celebrate, gloat, and become frustrated when she was already on to the next round.
My husband and I tried to explain to Miller that it was a quick game with no time to hold on to what was already done. There’s also no need to hold on—each round brings a brand new chance to win or lose.
While we tried to teach him that it made more sense to leave the past behind and look toward the next round, his let-it-go-and-move-on wasn’t up to par compared to his older sister’s.
Miller turned rock-paper-scissors into a slow, thought-heavy emotional roller coaster, where every move felt important and meaningful. What could have been a fun and easy game was not very fun for him.
It was clear to see how Miller was getting in his own way. And then it hit me that I—and most people I know—do the same thing in our adult lives. We innocently get in our own way as we focus on what we don’t like and try to make it better when it would be far easier to leave the past behind and look toward the “next round.”
Life is always moving through us—nothing is permanent. New thought and emotion flow through us constantly, creating our rotating and fluid experience of life.
Sometimes we stay out of the way and let our experience flow. Willow was staying out of the way as she played rock-paper-scissors (and she was having a great time, I might add). And sometimes we’re more like Miller, innocently blocking the easy flow of life with our opinions, judgments, and disapproval. We don’t pick up and move on as much as we focus on righting what is already over.
In hindsight, I can see how I’ve dammed up my own flow of experience at times in my life, especially when I was struggling with things I wanted to change.
When I was facing a confusing and uncontrollable binge eating habit, for example, I thought what I was supposed to do was to examine it, analyze it, talk about it, and focus on it with a whole lot of emotion and energy until I made it go away.
But more often than not, that created more suffering… It left me even more convinced that my habit was a serious problem that I needed to solve, and it left me feeling hopeless because I didn’t know how to solve it.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for understanding ourselves and our experiences in a new way and taking action where action is needed. Those are absolutely necessary. But keeping our “problem” under a constant microscope, trying to use our intellect to solve it as if it’s a crossword puzzle, is not the way to freedom.
If new thought, emotion, and insight are always flowing through us like a river, doesn’t it make sense to look upstream at what’s coming next, especially when we’re experiencing something we don’t like? It’s just like we told Miller in rock-paper-scissors: if you don’t like what happened in this round, let it go and look toward the next round.
But we forget this when it comes to the big things in life, don’t we? It seems responsible, necessary, or adult-like to hold the problem tightly until we fix it.
If our moment-to-moment experience of life is like a river rushing through us, our “fix-it” attempts are the equivalent of standing in the middle of the river, filling a bucket with the water that has already flowed past and carrying that bucket with us everywhere we go.
We obstruct the momentum of the river and analyze that old, familiar “problem” water to death, not realizing that if we only turned and looked upstream we’d have an excellent chance of seeing something new and different.
Looking upstream we might see with fresh eyes—looking downstream, we’re just looking at more of what we already know.
With regard to my binge eating habit, I realized that my best chance for change would come from letting go of everything I thought I knew and being open to fresh, new insights and ideas. Not carrying around the past or analyzing the problem; instead, being open and unencumbered.
As I began to see my habit-related thoughts and behaviors as things flowing by me that I didn’t need to grab ahold of, they passed by more easily. Each and every day I found myself less in the way, realizing that I was very separate from those unwanted thoughts and urges.
When my habit-related experience looked more like leaves floating on the surface of the river than like gigantic boulders, life took on a new feeling of ease. I saw that I could gently dodge some of what was coming down the river rather than stop and fight with or fix it. The healthy “me” was more visible than ever.
Not staring at your problems is not ignoring or denying the issue any more than Willow was ignoring or denying the previous rock-paper-scissors round when she easily moved on. Take note of how your experience feels. When life—which really is very game-like—feels like a difficult, not fun, emotional rollercoaster, you’re holding on to something, innocently getting in your own way.
Maybe even the bigger issues in life really aren’t so different than rock-paper-scissors—you get what you get, but you don’t have to stay there and try to change the last round. Let life flow and as you do, the healthy, clear, peaceful version of yourself will be more visible than ever too.  
Dr. Amy Johnson is a psychologist, coach, and the author of The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit, and Being Human: Essays on Thoughtmares, Bouncing Back, and Your True Nature.

Improbable

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“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.  I want to be light and frolicsome.  I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.” – Mary Oliver

spin cycle



I’ve been dabbling a bit with digital artcomposites mainlywhere I take a photograph from my camera rolltransform it into something else by applying different apps, most times blending with another image, and then refining that resultSometimes the process varies but usually not by much.  


I do this on my iPad.  I limit myself to images already on hand and most always use only one or two – sometimes three apps.  And since I’m already traveling light, I prefer not to bother with using a stylus 


The workflow is simple and the process very relaxing; I’ve never been so productive! Changing my method of approach has been a real game changer.


I walk into my studio (it’s recently been organized) and I can see all the tools and supplies everywhere I look.  My big studio table is clean and clear and ready for art making.  But sometimes that can be a little overwhelming – even a little intimidating. What do I do first?  The idea of a big, white canvas sounds more like a lot of loud, white noiseMore times than not, I just turn around and walk right back out of the room.


I read somewhere that having too many choices can paralyze our ability to make any choice at all and that couldn’t be any more accurate – for me anyway.  


That’s why I think this limited approach works so well – especially for an artist with limited time to spend in the studio.  


And then the thought came to meLimitations can be very freeing.  


As odd as it sounded at first; I was quickly able to see how much it really makes sense.


Limits are put into place to keep things in check.  We set boundaries for our kids, we put up fences for our pets…we set boundaries all the time. 

   

This limited way of working has definitely put the emphasis on the creativity part – I’now working with only what is available at hand (my existing camera roll) and limiting myself to using just a couple of apps.  I now have to be more creative with what I haveand in the time I have to use it.  One thing I do know is: my productivity has greatly improved.    


But should that really be a surprise?  


Isn’t that how we do most everything else?  Isn’t that how we all spend our daysmulti-tasking to meet multiple goals in an already tight schedule?  


Maybe it’s not such an odd thing after all.  Maybe I’m just part of a new evolution.  


And that puts a whole new spin on things!  

 

Right now I’m working on self-publishing a book of images, interestingly enough called, ‘Spin Cycle’.


Funny how things work!

 

It started with a sticker

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I get inspiration from all sorts of places; beautiful scenery, songs on the radio, inspiring art, magazines, catalogs, etc, etc…and today it was a sticker.

One of my stickers ended up on this painting.

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But when I moved the painting aside to let it dry – I noticed the blotter sheet had some interesting marks and paint strokes on it.

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Unfortunately the interesting compositions were in the middle of some not-so-great compositions. I wanted to explore it further but was distracted by all the surrounding marks. But I had an idea…

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I made a frame with an opening the size of a 4×4 cradled panel.
It became a viewfinder and made it much easier to find the compositions I wanted amid all the distractions.

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Mounting these small “paintings” onto cradled panels will elevate them to star status instantly!

Just remember to use light pencil marks when framing your compositions and add about an eighth of an inch extra around the perimeter of your painting when cutting them out – to allow for trimming and positioning ease when mounting them onto the panels. Of course you’re not limited to 4×4 size – you may have a much larger sheet that you’re finding interesting arrangements on – this is just a starting suggestion.

The point is to keep our eyes open for the unexpected – sometimes it’s right there in front of us!

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“I guess we’re all two people. One daylight, and the one we keep in shadow” Bruce Wayne

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Reading an interesting book…”The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing our Power to Change the World” – Deepak Chopra – decoding the laws that govern the realm of superheroes, our fascination with, their relevance, and perhaps most important – how to apply them to our daily lives.
An interesting and entertaining perspective!

Digital composite of two infrared photographs.