Really? Can I just be UNINSPIRED for a change?

OK… I am just as guilty as the next person on this.  I write these blog posts and usually wait until something really philosophical or inspiring hits me to write about.  And then I started using Facebook.  Don’t get me wrong… I really enjoy all my friends.  But we all (me included) seem to have a penchant for wanting to post “inspirational stories” or “inspiring quotes” or “inspired photography/art”.

Now I’m not knocking inspiration.  It’s the food of a good day, a great buzz for the body when you’re feeling down  and I’m sure somewhere there’s some inspirational research that tells us how good it is for our health.

But every now and again I like to let out my inner cynic and just say “do I really have to be inspired right now?”  My good friend Cheryl has an awesome inner snark that comes out from time to time reminding me that it’s ok to just be snarly at the world.  It’s good to laugh from the sarcastic side of the fence from time to time.  It reminds you that the goodie-two-shoes always got it in the end at school.  Phew – dodged that bullet!

So here’s the deal – I’m just gonna sit here and be uninspired for a while.  Hope you don’t mind.


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Everyone Should Go to Art School

We all know that book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”.  But for me, well, it was Art School.

I attended Art School at the very young age of 33.  It was an explosive and growing time in my life, I was ripe for the experience.  Luckily for me I ended up at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  Just perfect.  It had been billed as a sandbox, a place to explore mediums, styles and push the boundaries of your abilities and sensibilities.  Wide eyed and excited I jumped in.  Well, turns out, it’s not so easy to be an artist.  It takes a lot of personal fortitude.  It takes a fierce sense of vision and the ability to express that vision and push it forward.  And the SMFA pushed all those buttons for me.  It was hard.  You have to dig really deep and find your truth.  That can be one of the most stressful processes ever.  I remember being over the top stressed during finals one time and calling my doctor for some help.  He said “so what kind of school are you attending?”  I said Art School.  He then said “it’s not like it’s medical school or anything.”  Ya.  That will be a post for another time… on to the topic at hand.

When the anxiety finally settled and I was able to take in what was really going on I started to realize the gift that this experience was.  What was happening was that I was figuring out how I really ticked.  I started to find the ways that I took information in, looked at it, worked with it and then how I expressed it.  I was learning MY process.  Not being told by someone else how to learn or how to organize what I was searching for was liberating.  It gave me the permission I needed to really find my way on any subject I wanted to.  What a cool thing … I was learning how I learned!

But wait.. there’s more.  Not only did I have that amazing epiphany, but I also got a magical piece of advice.  It was in a drawing class that I took with a soon to be friend – Greg Mencoff.  Greg is an easy going mild mannered guy who has sharp perception and a fabulous dry wit.  I will never forget the speech he gave the first day of class:

 There have only ever been two natural geniuses when it comes to art, Picasso and Rembrandt.  For the rest of us it’s all about doing the work.  So, let’s get started.

That was the most amazing relief I have ever experienced.  Phew!  I’m not a genius, I don’t have to be and oh, if I do the work I will grow.  Amazing how such a few short sentences can change your life.

So let’s see, here’s what I learned in Art School:

How to find out who I truly am and be that in the world.
How to persevere and do the work, not just thinking that because it’s not instant I’m no good.
How I learn things.

For me, well that’s a damn good list.  I’ll take it any day.  It’s a set of skills that serves me in all that I do.  Wouldn’t trade it for [insert appropriate, overused phrase here].  Take a leap of faith… take an art class.

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Master of All

Follow the shiny objects.

Focus, I was always told to focus.  Focus on ONE thing and you’ll get really good at it.  They (you know,  the ubiquitous “they”) always told me if you put as much energy into (insert current activity here) as you do (insert other current activity here) then you’ll be really good at (the first one). Uh huh.  Guess what… IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!

Phew, I said it.  But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t concentrate on things that bring you joy, bring you bliss, get you excited to get up in the morning and start your day.  Here’s where you find your flow, your mojo, your buzz.

OK, I’m going a bit fast here (I’m excited about this idea) so let me back up and explain.  I’ve always been a swiss army knife kinda person – good at lots of things.  And for a long time I thought that was bad.  I would be so sad that that I wasn’t great at just one thing.  I’m a musician, artist, have studied economics, love literature and Russian language studies.  I love to cook, entertain and garden.  So many things and so little time!  I was always excited about whatever had my attention at the moment.  There were a few constants – cooking, music and art – they have been around for a long time.  But otherwise, any time a shiny object showed up in my life, I grabbed it and followed it to wherever it took me.  In fact, that’s how I found myself in my current career, just followed each step as it presented itself and ended up becoming pretty good at what I do.  But never THE EXPERT in my field, or even AN EXPERT.  And for years I thought I was a loser because of that.

So I tried to “get serious” about one thing.  Really dig in and focus on one thing.  Oh the pain.  It sucked all of the joy out of my life.  I forced myself to stay focused and became miserable.  And at the same time, I wasn’t accomplishing anything!  I wasn’t really learning anything new and I wasn’t becoming any better at anything!  Blech.

But why was that?  I was putting the time in, reading the books and doing the work of learning.  Work harder and get smarter, right?  Nope.  What was missing was the key ingredient that had made it all so effortless before – the joy.  My energy was so shut down that nothing in my life was working.  Grey begets grey.  Tightness begets tightness.  You get the idea.

And so I learned, the hard way, to do what had fed me all my life, follow my bliss and the shiny objects. And of course, things got a lot better and I was back in sync with my life energy, my bliss.  Back in the flow.  Nice.

Not everyone is built the same, some find that one thing is their joy.  But for those of us who love so many different things we should never feel as though we are jack of all trades, master of none.  Embrace your ability to be flexible, to adjust and follow a new path as a master of all.  Enjoy your multi-facetedness,  because in the end, what will feed you and everyone you interact with is the happiness you find in all that you do, whether it’s a million things or one.  Keep collecting the shiny objects and love the necklace it becomes, it looks fabulous on you!

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Make Art: Create the Flower

Recently I picked up an Eckhart Tolle book – A New Earth.  Yeah, I’m way behind, this was an Oprah book club selection in 2008 (just to remind me the wrapper and sticker from Oprah’s Book Club came on the book!).  Not to be deterred, I have dug in.  At the same time I’ve been leafing through another recent acquisition (a birthday present), The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Very cool book.  So why am I sharing my reading list with you?  I’ve started to stitch together some messages that have answered some long standing issues for me, and well, I bet someone else could use the insights I have gained.

In A New Earth, Tolle talks about the flower as the leap of faith that nature has made to express spirituality.  His point is that the flower exists in most cases to bring pleasure, to excite our visual senses, sometimes our olfactory sense and is a pure expression of that which our minds can not process through normal logical methods.  It takes a mental shift to get into the “zone” of appreciation when admiring a flower.  You really have to move into the left side of the brain and suspend linear thinking.  It takes “a leap of faith” to suspend and allow your spatial brain to be dominant for a while.  After some practice it gets easier and the chatter from the logical side settles down, the monkey mind sits quietly, and we find a deeper satisfaction and experience.  Tolle speaks of this as the origination of Zen.  I buy that.

Further on in the introduction (I’m slow but thoughtful in my reading) Tolle goes on to speak of artists expressing the essence of what they see.   It’s not the table but how the table feels, it’s not the face but the sensation that every wrinkle expresses.  The artist transcends the physical existence, and expresses the spirit.

Then while thumbing through The Book of Symbols I stopped to read the introduction.  After describing the method that the authors group used to determine what archetypal symbols should be included in the book – with a bow to Jung of course – they had a quote from Paul Klee that stopped me in my tracks, “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”  And time stopped.  Forty-five years of struggling against my work as an artist melted away.  It took me 20 years to understand that exact representation was not my forte (that hand never really looked exactly like my hand) and another 25 to give myself permission to embrace that.  It really was one of those life altering moments.  And I realized that drawing, creating, expressing the world through my spirit was creating the flower.

Wa hoo!

Out came the watercolors, the brushes, the paper, the pens and pencils that had all been packed away and I was ready to begin again.  It’s cool being a born again artist.  I’ve got a whole new perspective to work with and a lot more leeway in where my imagery can go.  Now it’s really fun.  Now there is energy.  Now there is the Zen of creating.

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Be in the Boat

Sometimes you need a place to reset, find your ground again and feel safe.  Sometimes you just need to protect yourself from what’s going on around you.  And sometimes you just need to escape. Whatever the need for retreat is,  going to a magickal place is a great way deal with stressful situations.  For me it’s my boat.  When things are spiraling around me I just remind myself to “Be in the Boat”.  Works like a charm.  But, how I found my boat is a really great story.  Empowering.  Here goes…

I had a dream a few nights ago. I was on a beach, the water was a little choppy, but crystal
blue green with little white caps.  I was going to go swimming.  Next image: I’m in the middle of the ocean completely and utterly alone.  Not a bird, fish, whale, ship or boat to be seen.  No land in site.  Nothing.  Absolutely.  I freaked.  Hyperventilating in the dream I thought for sure that a shark would eat me or I’d just slowly sink to wherever the bottom was.  This was fear personified for me.

So scary.

Somehow my inner voice got ahold of my runaway fear and said “Wait a minute”.  In my

dream I started reasoning (ignoring the fact that this was a dream and that real rules don’t apply… I bent them for just this moment). So I started thinking,  I got here somehow, so there must be a piece of wood floating around, a lifeboat, a zodiac, something!  Instantly a board appears.


I grab on.  I’m still afraid of sharks eating my legs so I think I really want to be in a boat and …wait for it… a small lifeboat appears.  Nice.  Now I’m feeling a bit empowered and decide to have some fun.  I’m thinking it would be really cool to be in a boat like the Polynesians used to get to Easter Island (I have always wanted a Thor Heyerdahl like experience) but my boat has jewels on the outside (who knows why) and on the inside is all white like the stucco.

The sun is now shining, I’m loving just lying there and zooming over the ocean.  The boat is floating just above the surface like a hovercraft.  This is cool.  Then I start to think again… hmmm… the sun is getting a bit strong and I should be under cover.  Once more, on my command, a canopy appears over me and I’m now in the boat comfortably shaded but able to move out into the sun if I want to.  I’m thinking this just rocks.  How about some people?  The boat opens up with throngs of people milling about on a wide open, flat deck.  Yay!   But if we’re going to party we need something yummy to eat.  Go!  Large trays of pineapple on sticks, shrimp, chicken satays, and other delectables appear.  Everyone is having a lovely time.

And then I woke up.  Well it had to happen some time.  But this was such a resonant experience that I remembered everything and  I keep remembering how delicious everything felt while I was in my boat.  So now not only do I start thinking about “being in my boat” while I’m awake, but I play with the idea of “on command”.  The physical manifestations aren’t the same yet (unfortunately that million dollars didn’t just appear for me) but the sensations are strong and powerful in the ability to transport me right back to that relaxed, grounded, happy place.  Perfect.  Be in the Boat.

How cool is this?  Now when I get in my car in the morning to go to work I just imagine that my car is my boat (thanks for that one Joy!).  Traffic doesn’t bother me, and I seemingly sail to work. Ouch… corny metaphor.  Boring meeting?  Be in the Boat.  Things not going well at work?  Be in the Boat.  Whiny dog?  Be in the Boat.  The beauty of this whole thing is that when I get in the boat, not only does it shift me energetically, but it affects everyone around me and things just get better.

So this was me; my boat.  You may find a different place  that makes you feel all warm inside and glow.  But if you want a boat,  I’ve made you a coloring page that you can download and color.  Hang it in your cubicle at work, on your mirror at home so you see it every morning or on the dash of your car.  Wherever you put it,  every time you think about that picture, you’ll be able to instantly find yourself in that amazing place.

Here’s to Lucid Dreaming.

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Goals are good, life is better.

My psyche really kicked my ass last night. Wow. The message was loud and clear, PAY ATTENTION!

It was a dream, very cinematic as usual lately. I’ll extract all of the really weird stuff (my dreams are way off the charts in that category) and give you the gist. I was in a community type of area, a school of the arts. My sole focus was to find something. Something that I thought was so important that I didn’t stop to pay attention to anything along the way. (hmmmmm) There were a myriad cartons with packed away “stuff” that I felt like I needed to go through. I kept searching. Down one corridor and then another.

Without really taking notice (until after waking up… damn!) There were people all along the way saying hello! They knew my name, they smiled and said hello and tried to engage in conversation. I was cordial, said hello back, but stayed ever focused on my search.

Well, I’m sure you can guess that I never found what I was looking for. And, of course, I missed out on all those lovely spirits that I could have engaged with and had a bit of a chat with along the way. I could have had some very fun, elucidating and lovely interactions. But… (I won’t beat the horse).

Of course, like most dreams that follow you after waking, I really started to think. It became much too clear to bear that in all my searching for “something” in my life I have probably passed by so many riches it’s ridiculous. Time to wake up? You betcha. There’s too much out there to keep passing it by. Too many people who have something to share that will enrich my life, too many unexpected joys that will leave me glowing for weeks, too many relationships that will feed my heart and soul.

But what about having those goals? What about achieving something? Yep, I get that. I’m taking the expansive route, goals are good… but I’m tasting every dish life has to offer along the way.

How about you?

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Float free.

A week ago I got really lost. Not GPS lost (you can find your way anywhere these days, right?).  It was that figurative, spiritual, “what am I doing?” lost.  De-railed.  Insecure.  Feeling like a looser.  It wasn’t pretty.

I raged. I yelled.  All of that pretty much made it worse. The world around me seemd small, limited, closing in.   Struggle was the feeling du jour for many days on end.

I searched high and low for answers. Why? Why do I have to go through this? What purpose does this serve for me? I checked my horoscope at my fav astrology site. The words rang true and provided some insight, but I was still unsettled.   I added up my year, month and day of birth to find a clue through numerology.  I pulled Tarot cards in search of an answer and again, insight but no relief.  I could not lift the cloud – ironic for something so light to be so heavy.

And then, just as my rage/fear/anger became more intense, it lifted. As quickly as it had arrived the struggle was gone. I felt light, free. It seemed like magick.

After thinking about the whole process I realized that maybe it wasn’t so magickal after all.

Just as things became darkest I remembered that I finally just let go.  Resigned, I gave in to all the energies from within and without and allowed them to just envelope me.   And then, all of a sudden, in that moment, I floated free.  Much like being caught in a hydraulic, a back current caused by a rock on a river, the more I struggled, the stronger the forces pulling me down became. The only way I would break free would be to let go and allow myself to “pop” up to the surface and float.

I did.  Somehow my inner guides and instinct told me to just release.  At that moment all seemed perfectly right in my world.  The broken pieces fell immediately into place.  I could see clearly, vision and light returned.   My world once again felt open and expansive,  filled with the excitement of a million possibilities.

The answer?

I think we will always find ourselves getting lost (note the intended pun 🙂 for longer or shorter periods of time.  These are the normal  cycles of the cosmos that provide us a time to clean out, re-establish and reset our path.   It’s a time where we get to see all the emotional “junk” we’ve collected and take the opportunity to release it.

Bottom line?  Don’t struggle against it.  Simply experiencing and riding on the surface will make the journey through this patch a more valuable process. By allowing we are able to see,  and cast off from a vantage point of observation.  This gives us more understanding of what we are releasing and why it doesn’t serve.  It’s a perspective that supports growth and evolution as opposed to “just making it through”.  Hopefully this means we don’t collect the same “junk” and repeat the cycle in the same way all over again. We will find ourselves at this place again, but this time from a higher, wiser place.

So the next time I see this coming I’ll come back to this post. And I’m sure I’ll say “YEAH RIGHT, THIS IS DIFFERENT”. But then, I’ll remember and let my arms go, release the struggle to watch what I jettison this time and grow.

Here’s to you as you find the easy way too.

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Yep, I’m here.

This Blog, this post, this day represents a great leap forward in my life. I’ve taken the reigns back from many of the messages I grew up with and have started again – at 51.

I look at it this way, based on the average life expectancy of a female born in the 1950’s I have about 21.2 years left. That’s a good amount of time to create a life for myself that looks more like what I want than what everyone else wanted for me.

So this is the beginning of my story. It’s New Years Eve 2010 and I’m finally ready. If you’re looking to make your life count more for yourself too then join me. I promise it’s going to be a fun, funny, insightful ride as we craft a journey that feeds the soul and lights up your spirit.

Stay tuned…


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