Edit Your Life – Words of Wisdom

Masterpiece, life, simplify, mental clutter, clutter, distraction, obstacle

Masterpiece, life, simplify, mental clutter, clutter, distraction, obstacle

In a small house, it’s easy to go from clean to cluttered in just a few minutes.  When things get left out of place or something new comes into the house that doesn’t yet have a place, the flow of traffic becomes hindered.  Suddenly you’re reaching around, tripping on, and stepping over things that are in the way.  It’s only okay for a short while.  Then it’s down-right annoying.

I have a couple of pear trees on the property.  They were loaded down with pears this year.  I’ve seen entire crops of pears lost to crows, turkeys, and wind storms.  I was determined to harvest my pears this year before they were lost. With the help of some friends, we relieved those two pear trees of nearly 300 lbs of fruit.  And stacked it all up in my kitchen.  

I’ve given away a bunch already but after 5 days there are still boxes of fruit stacked in my kitchen.  There isn’t anywhere else to put them until they finish ripening and I can preserve them.  They block the cabinets, are in the direct path to the trash can, and leave very little space to get through to the basement and garage.  I bump into them countless times a day.

There are things in your life that you bump up against constantly too.  Maybe it isn’t physical clutter.  Maybe it’s mental clutter.  There’s that thing that irritates you but you keep working around it and trying to ignore it.  Some unfinished business perhaps.  It’s become a bottle neck that hinders the flow of everything else in your life.  Every time you think of something you want to do or accomplish, that thing gets in the way.

Nothing else can happen until it’s put away.  

These things have to be addressed.  They don’t go away on their own.  In fact, if it’s left too long, it will begin to rot into a mess and stink up your attitude.  Not only will it affect your life but it will have an impact on those who share your space.

The task may seem daunting.  It might be a big project and a long process.  Putting away 300 lbs of pears is going to be a big job.  But once they are canned, frozen, dried, or given away, I won’t have to think of them again.

Get your hands on that obstacle in your life.  Pick it up, process it, put it away, let it go, or find someone to take it.  Just take care of business.  Decide that today is the last day you ever bump into that heap of stuff again.  And then make it happen.

Take note of the things you mentally bump into every day.  Then edit your life accordingly.  Life will never be smooth sailing, but you have the ability to move the obstacles.  You don’t have to become frustrated or hindered by them.  Your life is your masterpiece.  Build it the way you want it.

Have you ever had to face an obstacle that hindered your personal progress?  What did it feel like when it was finally put away?  You can share your comments here.

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Schedule Some Awesome In Your Day

time management, schedule, discipline, yoga, multi-task, mono-task, work, focus

time management, schedule, discipline, yoga, multi-task, mono-task, work, focusTime is something that no one has enough of.  I’ve found myself, daily, lamenting the lack of time to get everything done on my  to-do list.  Between family, work, projects, school, events, and household chores, it seems I just get further behind.

People have many modes of operation when it comes to using there time.  Here are just a few variations I’ve witnessed recently.

Squirrels – There are some people who are busy all the time.  It seems like they run in circles, always in a rush and never really getting anywhere.

Loafers – There are others who focus on the wrong things and the important items get left undone.  Those unfinished tasks build up into catastrophe.  Read this article on putting the big rocks first.

Sergeants – Then there are some highly efficient people who get stuff done.  No frills.  No excuses.  No sense waiting around when it can be done now.

Creatives – Finally, there are highly motivated people who write out the most sophisticated schedules in elegant planners and then spend all there time creating little beauties, dreaming grand schemes, and admiring the works of others.

Oh, boy. 

Confession: I totally binge crocheted for at least 3-4 hours a day for the last 3 days.  My blog post was late today.  The things I wanted to do last Monday, haven’t been done yet. I have some super cute dolls to list in my Etsy store.

It doesn’t take a genius to see it’s not a time management thing.  Time doesn’t have to be managed.  You can’t tell the clock when it can strike the hours.  You can’t hold off 3 o’clock just because you’re not done with 2 o’clock yet.  Time ticks along without any help.  Just like always.

You don’t manage your time.  You manage yourself.  Ouch.

It’s not easy.  Let me just say that first.  I like to relax.  I don’t like to be rushed.  I want the events of my day to be evenly spaced out.  I also need my days to be balanced between stress and social interaction vs. quiet and solo projects.  My introvert battery has to stay charged. 

Keeping that balance is where it gets tricky.

So to help me and to help you, I’ve found some ideas to try.

1. Mono-task.
I learned this from yoga practice.  Focus on one thing at a time.  Start it, complete it.  Then move on.  Yoga does a lot with balance.  You have to stay focused or else you fall over. You breathe easy and deep and keep your mind focused on maintaining your balance.

Multi-tasking only keeps you from doing your best work because you can’t devote all of your mind and efforts to one thing.  Mono-tasking will get the job done, and get it done in a timely manner.  Big projects don’t have to be completed all at once, but block off time to work on it.  Then focus on that one project for that specific block of time.

2. Use a simple to-do list.
Grand schedules and beautiful planners only make you feel like a failure when you can’t keep up.  I just started using an app called Todoist to keep track of my tasks.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do, but my favorite thing is that it’s so easy to move your tasks from day to day.  I can move things that just didn’t get done today to tomorrow or another day in the week.  It stays on my list and doesn’t get forgotten.

3. Breathe easy.
Being in a rush is the quickest way to get behind.  Whatever you are currently working on, let yourself focus on just that.  The rest of the things will still be there when you’re done with your project.  There’s no use wasting worry or anxiety on it when that emotional steam could be fueling your best work that very moment.

4. Create a space.
Yoga happens on the mat.  Most yogis will tell you that the hardest thing about yoga is getting on the mat.  It’s getting yourself to the place where the work can take place.  That’s called discipline.  Yes, I said the nasty D-word. Unrolling that mat gets your mind prepared to focus and body ready to work.

Having a space to do the work you need to do will help you mentally prepare to get stuff done.  It doesn’t have to be an office downtown or even a spare room in your house.  It could be a comfy corner of the couch or a nook with your tools in it.  Just have a space where you can work.

So, I’m obviously no guru.  I’m trying to get myself in shape and my life in order just like you.  Feel free to share with me some “time-management” ideas or personal disciplines you use to keep up with life here in the comments.

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When Your Creativity Outgrows Your Circumstance

creativity, world view, potential, seasons of life, grow,

creativity, world view, potential, seasons of life, grow,The creative’s world-view is expansive. You see the whole picture.  Your life is founded on growth and you feed on potential.  It seems so strange that others can’t step back, consider where we are now and where we want to be, and simply take the steps to get there.  You know there is always room for improvement.

The fact that some people are so close minded often frustrates the artist.  When there is an infinity out there calling us to grow and expand and use the limitless capacity that each one of us has, why would anyone be content to stagnate and tread water?

You may find yourself in a situation where your world-view is too big.  It intimidates smaller minded people.  You’re told to follow procedure, take orders, and don’t get so excited.  That’s not how we do it around here.

Don’t settle.  You don’t have to conform to mediocrity. 

Not all places are suitable for your talents.  Though some positions may call for your exact skill set, the ability to reach your full potential may not be there.  They just don’t have the capacity to grow with you.  Before long, you hit a ceiling.  When you hit that ceiling, then it’s time for a do-over.  A jump.  You’ll never be happy or satisfied again in that position, even though it “fits you perfectly.”

It’s possible to outgrow a job, a relationship, a ministry.  You may be stunned for a bit when it happens.  It may seem sad and unjust.  But it will always happen to people who grow.  Eventually.

The world was created in circles.  There is a cycle to everything and the seasons of your life are no different.  There are summers of toil and hard work.  The autumns full of abundant harvest.  The winters of scarcity and endings.  The springs of potential and new beginnings.

You may be facing a winter in your life right now.  But spring always follows winter.  Always.  The circle never goes backwards.  Your obligation to yourself is to keep expanding with every spring.  Keep growing.  Keep learning.  The mind is boundless.  There is no limit to how much you can fill it with.

The hermit crab finds a new home every time it outgrows the last one.  Instinct tells it when it’s time to move up.  Your instincts are telling you too.  Now.  Right now.  It’s too cramped in here.

You’ll know when you’ve reached the limit in your situation.  You’ll feel restricted, dissatisfied, and unappreciated.  If you current position does not have the capacity to grow with you, then find somewhere bigger.  You’ve gone as far as you can go here.

But what about contentment?  Aren’t you supposed to be happy where you are?

Happiness has nothing to do with contentment.  Contentment means to be grateful for what you have while working for what you want.  Keep your optimism up.  Thankfulness opens doors of opportunity.  Cynicism closes doors.

Be thankful for your skills and passions instead of cynical about where you can’t use them.  Work towards what makes you come alive.  Then the right space will open up for you.  Then you can grow again.

Until the next season.

What season are you going through in your life?  Can you still see personal growth in your current situation?  You can leave your comment here

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Believe in Magic – Words of Wisdom

magic, perseverance, art, create, success, show up, work, simple, passion

magic, perseverance, art, create, success, show up, work, simple, passionYou know what the problem is with your life?  You want to go after your passions but you refuse to believe in yourself.

There is a process in achieving success.  You have to create it.

You will never become a writer if you don’t write.  You won’t become a painter if you won’t paint.  You’ll never record an album if you don’t have the courage to sing.  You’ll never be anything if you don’t show up.

We try to make things complicated sometimes.  We want the answer to the question of life to be complex yet easy to accomplish.  Alas.  The opposite is true.  Achieving success is very simple.  And it’s hard work. That’s all it takes.  Simple? Yes.  Easy? No.

Success doesn’t fall into your lap.  Fulfillment isn’t served on a platter. If you want to create a life of meaning and purpose you have to run, stretch, and push yourself to progress. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort.  And then come back and do it again.

That’s where the magic happens.  In showing up time after time.

Imagine you have to do as many push-ups as you possibly can right now.  Suppose you can only do 5.  What if you did 5 push-ups every day for a few days?  All of a sudden you’d be able to do 10 push-ups.  And if you continued to do 10 push-ups every day, suddenly you’d be able to do 20.

It’s magic!

Actually, it’s work.  The magic is in your perseverance and belief in yourself.  Don’t go looking for the easy way out or complicate the process.  Just show up.  And show up again.  The magic will follow.

Do you believe in yourself enough to show up?  What are you going to do this week?  I’d love to see your comments.

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Mental Cleanse with an Info-Fast

mental, cleanse, info, fast, blocked, artist, creative

mental, cleanse, info, fast, blocked, artist, creativeWe live in a world where information is forever at our fingertips.  We used to say that when the internet became available, but it’s more true now since smart phones have entered everyone’s back pocket.

It’s wonderful.  Want to know about realism? Taylor Swift’s latest album? Who were The Monkees and why should I care? (Before my time, y’all.)  The answer is just a tap-swipe away.

Any question can become a study.  Any study can become a rabbit hole.  One bit of information leads to the next and before long you have information overload.

Artists like to learn about art.  We want to learn from those who have succeeded and accomplished great things.  We need some more great ideas.  The internet makes it so easy and accessible.

However, information overload is a big cause of artist block.  You get so much great information and learn what the famous people have done but you’re left with no path to take.  Because you can’t follow the exact footsteps that another creative has taken.  When you do, you become a copy.  A wannabe.  An impersonator.  And nothing is ever as good or as successful as the original.  Besides, you want to be known for your work, not for someone else’s.

All the information about other people is great for a knowledge base, but it doesn’t propel you forward on your own path to excellence.  Instead you become stymied.  Frozen with too much knowledge and no instruction.

Good artists copy, great artists steal – Pablo Picasso.

Who can argue with Picasso?  He’s famous, his art is known world wide, and he’s dead.  Your chances to debate him are fairly limited.

He’s got a point here. You can have a lot of talent.  Really be a good artist with all the details of your craft worked out. You study the greats and copy their work.  It’s great stuff, after all.  But those ideas are not yours.  You’re not producing original works of art.  They’re copies.

Copies are a great way to practice.  They’re also a great way to learn new techniques.  But they will never be the thing that makes you great.

Great artists steal.

How can you become great by stealing an idea from someone who has become great by it and not just be a copycat?

You have to let those ideas morph into your own.  That means an info-fast.

An info-fast is when you no longer allow yourself to study, read about, or copy someone else’s work, process, and ideas for a period of time.  I recommend no less than a week.

Just as a food fast helps to cleanse your body, an info-fast will help you clear your mind.  You have plenty of information already.  Too much, really.  You have to stop adding more to it and let what’s in your mind simmer for a while.  Then, the ideas that have been planted in your mind by the information you have taken in have time to take root and start to grow into something unique and original.

It will.  No doubt.

Any idea that originates with someone else can become your own unique idea in time. Because you add the fertile soil of your mind.  The nutrients of your experiences.  The water of your dreams and musings.  Given enough time, someone else’s thought will grow into a completely different looking plant.  It will reach into different areas.  The roots will dig up things that you’ve never taken the time to think about before.  You’ll want to visit it, water it and prune it until it becomes a masterpiece.

It’s tough to shut off the flow of information for a while.  Especially for creatives and introverts and readers and perpetual students.  (AKA, me.)  But you will be wonderfully surprised and rewarded for the time you take off.  All of a sudden, finding direction and taking that next step isn’t so hard.  Your mind will lead you.

Have you been copying great works when you should be creating your own?  Will you challenge yourself to an info-fast? You can comment here.

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The Unfair Judge

judge, creative, artist, blocked, truth, standard, fail

judge, creative, artist, blocked, truth, standard, failThe Unfair Judge

You take a beating.
The last bruises still show.
You didn’t meet the standard.
You didn’t hit the mark.
It’s a moving target and the judge is unfair.
You should have.
You could have.
You didn’t.
Now it’s in the past.
Forever etched in your history.
Everyone knows.
You’re an embarrassment.
A failure, a liability.
Try harder.
You deserve the correction.
It hurts. 
You break a little.
It’s for your own good.
You can do better.
You did your best.
Try again.
Raise the bar!
Set the standard higher!
No! Higher still!
It’s a moving target and the judge is unfair.
You’re losing ground. 
Is it worth trying again?
You’ll never make it.
You’ll never measure up.
You set the standard higher.
Your judgement is unfair.
You beat yourself up again.
The bruises still show.

It’s true.  You’re unfair to yourself.  Your expectations surpass anyone else’s when it comes to your performance. You’re often ashamed of your imperfections.

Creativity and art are direct reflections of who you are at your core.  Expressing yourself in art makes you extremely vulnerable.  It’s like looking at yourself in a two way mirror.  Other people see you as you see you.

So many creatives stay blocked for a lifetime because they judge themselves, deem themselves unworthy of any success and repress their true essence as to not allow anyone else the opportunity to judge. It’s safer in the shadows.

And yet, they do.  People judge.  It’s what we do best.

The problem is when you hide yourself and play pretend, people can and will judge you only on what they can see.  A fake.

You are misread and misunderstood and it causes you extreme bouts of frustration and heaviness.  Then you judge yourself even harder for not being real.  You know better, but it’s scary to be real.

Examine the areas in your life where you judge yourself the harshest.  Where does the truth of who you are end and the facade begin?  What are you trying to prove?

What if the things we shame ourselves for has less to do with righteousness and more to do with appearances? I wonder how many of the “rules” we have are things we do to keep up the facade of a higher standard.  When a higher living comes when you open yourself up instead of locking yourself up.

We get life backwards sometimes.  It’s not about keeping out the bad and the dark.  It’s about letting in the light and the good.  When you live in the light, you have more light to share.

Living life on the defensive sets you up for negative thought processes. It shows up in your countenance and your conversations. Instead of backing into a corner and defending your territory, move forward and gain some ground. Take that next right step.

That first step is to stop beating yourself up for being who you are, feeling what you do, and doing what you love.

Open up. Be real.

At least with a few close friends.

You have some true beauty and light in you.  You can make a positive impact.  That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The truth is that we’re all vulnerable.  We’re all imperfect.  We’re all talented and messy and creative.  And we’re all our own worst critic.

Stop beating yourself up.  The bruises show.

Do you feel like you have to prove yourself to be accepted?  How can you be real with someone this week?  Comment here. 

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Terrified? Good.

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotion

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotionYou keep waiting for it to get easier.  The writing.  The expression.  The honesty with yourself.  The accepting of who you really are.

You show up, day after day and do the hard things.  You feel with all your heart.  You work with all your might.  You do the next right thing.

Show up.  Create.  Share.  Repeat.

It should get easier, right?

The process eventually becomes routine.  But sharing is always scary.

Art is just one way of baring one’s soul.  It may be with words, music, or color.  But art is more than just sharing thoughts and ideas.  Art shares emotion.  Raw and unrefined emotion.

There’s no way to tame your art.  If you try, it becomes watered down and unappealing.  Like iced tea left in the sun too long.

Art that resonates with people has a shared emotion with the observer.  It portrays a deep emotion that can’t be explained without an experience.   Real, raw, emotional art strikes a chord of understanding, empathy, and insight.

There’s nothing easy about being real.  Real means vulnerable.

That’s scary.  Your human nature is to protect yourself from harm and painful experiences.  So you hide and try to blend in with the scenery.  But your spiritual nature is to be whole and understood.  And so, there is a constant war of revealing your soul and hiding your heart.

It takes both soul and heart to make art.

I don’t believe it ever gets easier.  It just becomes a necessity.  Like breathing.  The artist must create and connect.

Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  It means you do it afraid.

Be strong and courageous.  Don’t give up.

Show up. Create. Share. Repeat.

What are you doing every day to show up and do the next right thing?  Do you find it easier to share your art as you become better at it?  Share your comments here.

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