"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, June 30, 2012




  [vey-key-shuhn, vuh-]  Show IPA
a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity,usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess orholiday: Schoolchildren are on vacation now.
a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normalactivities of law courts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.
freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
an act or instance of vacating.

Summer is vacation time!

My family is on vacation this week, separated all over the North America!

I came home to an empty house from what normally is drama personified! No one is here, they are all on vacation!

I want to do nothing of any depth! No deep movies.... no deep conversations .... no thinking .... no feeling .... no pondering ... no writing....NOTHING! I have vacated the premises of my mind.

I plopped my suitcase in the middle of the floor of the kitchen! Left it there... didn't matter... This week, I don't cook! I made one frozen pizza to eat for 3 days worth of meals. Left it in the fridge and heat it up piece by piece. I'm on vacation.

I chose not to answer the phone. I'm on vacation.

I chose not to reply to some emails.... I'm on vacation.

I did pay the mortgage but left the rest of the bills on the table for another day. I'm on vacation.

I fed the dogs and gave them walks, but will not bathe them for now. I'm on vacation.

It's temporary....but it needs to happen. It's like bleach in your wash cycle.... my brain is on bleach. Just want to laugh, dance, sing, have fun with no commitments... no nothing...

Life will continue. People will continue to need things from me. I will again work. The bills will remain. But for today.... go away....I'm taking a vacation from my life and especially from my problems!

My mind is at rest.... my body is at rest .... my passions are at a state of heightened arousal. It's what vacation is all about!

It's your turn.... take a vacation - it's good for the soul!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Are you Creative?

"The Issue of talent is the most effective defense against expression. It is also a crippling obstacle when used against you. My experience has repeatedly proven that any person can express himself or herself in an authentic and intriguing way with just about any art form." Shaun McNiff, Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go. 

I went out to dinner the other night with my cousin. We had a marvelous time talking and catching up on life. Whenever we are together we both marvel at our similarities of thought, experiences and interests. She is an incredibly talented artist and we love sharing ideas. At one point in the conversation we got into a little discussion about who has more talent! Each of of insisted that the other was more artistically gifted and we both meant it fervently. 

Some of the most gifted people artistically do not realize the gift that they have been given and struggle with feelings of failure or inadequacy while others who are seemingly less skilled are undaunted by other's opinions and enjoy their creative processes immensely. 

The truth is that we are all in different places in our creative journeys. People vary in their confidence levels and the intent of their art. Some people do art for the sheer pleasure of it while others do it to forge a pathway to existence. Art can be an expression for some and a science for others.

Everyone is creative. In a way we do our creative selves and others a disservice  when we label each other as gifted or not gifted. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others and come up short, often discouraging us from exercising our creative gifts. Others may in turn label us as the "artists" and then not dare venture off on their own journeys in creativity. My sister, living in my shadow, didn't discover her creative gifts until years after she married and moved on with her life. Her creativity came together not only in use of the english language but in beautiful centerpieces, food and greeting cards.

I will say it again because it's THAT important....everybody has creative ability (whether or not they know it). Art is a gift that everyone can partake of. We need to leave judgements aside and express ourselves without fear of not being good enough.

Often when I'm teaching I give the students time to play on their own with poses and lighting for the models. It usually takes a few minutes for people to move on their ideas, partly due to a sense of politeness and I think partly due to a small sense of intimidation. It's so easy to think that others ideas are better than our own. In addition, there is something so personal about creativity... it's like undressing in front of others - it's bearing your soul and it's so painful to put the gift up for scrutiny.

Scrutiny has it's place, in competitions and school. There has to be some measure of excellence as we all need to strive to our highest competence level.

At the same time, art should have the freedom to just be about creating. Creating is really about the process... it's about what it does for us and in us. It's about what we are expressing, how we are getting in touch with our inner core or belief system. Art comes from how we view the world from our own unique standpoint. Sometimes it's just about our need to create something from nothing and the feeling of accomplishment that is gathered from the act.

So, put aside your feelings on how much talent you have and how creative you may or may not be. Create just for the joy of it. Make art because its fun! You don't have to show anyone what you've done unless you really want to. Celebrate art for art's sake in your life today, it's good for the soul!

Monday, June 25, 2012



Sometimes we contemplate.... and sometimes we just sit with an empty brain... in peace. I'm having a great time passing the time in joy with rarely seen loved ones. Tomorrow I head home and get back to business as usual. For the next few days, continue to enjoy some of the images that I took at West Coast School in San Diego.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Clown Fun

Here are a few image that I took last week in the class that Arthur Rainville and I taught in San Diego. Much thanks to our great models!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Play and rest and relaxation are so important for everyone - especially the creative soul.

I'm practicing what I preach here and taking a few days to play coming off of an amazing week of joy and experiences with our great class at West Coast School this year.

Talk to you soon.... Anne

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Images from Yesterday

Hi my dear blog readers.... I'm in San Diego teaching a class on creativity and art to photographers. Here are just two of my images from yesterday's shoot.

I will resume my soul words in a few days.... but until then, please enjoy some new images.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself. 
(Samuel Butler, novelist)
Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your 
heart. (Paulo Coelho)

Fear - an ugly, human emotion... one that many of us struggle with.

You've probably heard the acronym for fear: "False Evidence Appearing Real". Our minds are really adept at thinking up worse case scenarios and taking them for a long drive in our souls, fearing what most likely will never occur.

People have different ways of addressing fear in their lives.

I had a friend who willfully practiced fearing her worst nightmares so that they wouldn't happen.  Hmm.

Equally unhelpful and a complete opposite approach is to believe the adage "what you fear will come upon you".  Funny, when I am told NOT to think about something, it becomes the elephant in the room. Now I fear it happening because I couldn't stop my fear. That's a dead end trail of terror.

Then there's the "do it afraid" slogan. Just do it, despite your fear. This seems to work pretty well for many.

Still others go to their faith to find peace and comfort in the midst of fear. Again, very effective if you have the will to release those fears and trust that it will all be fine.

My dear Grandpa once said to my Grandma, "Dear, you suffer everything three times; first before it happens, then when it happens and again after it happens".

Fear robs us of precious emotional energy that we need to navigate our way through our life's circumstances. It is hard enough dealing with what is concrete and in front of us, without having to worry about what hasn't even happened.

We cannot avoid some of the catastrophes that will come upon us in life. Fear has no value and will neither stave off nor prepare us emotionally for bad things. Frankly, it's a waste of time and emotional energy. We would be much better served in focusing on the good things around us.

Do you have a fear or two or three lingering around in that little mind of yours? It's time to do battle with that pesky disabler.  Resolve to let go of your fears now.

I know that life can be scary. There is so much that is out of our control. Most people will tell you that when the worst happened, they found a deep inner strength to be able to endure their trial. It's called grace and it is there when you need it but not a minute before. Do not suffer everything three times like my dear grandma - who incidentally was named GRACE! Embrace the grace and let the worries go. It's good for the soul!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quote for the Day...

Life is a song... sing it. Life is a game... play it. Life is a challenge... meet it. Life is a dream... realize it. Life is a sacrifice... offer it. Life is love... enjoy it. (Sai Baba)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Never Give Up...

I was watching a movie on Lucille Ball the other night. Did you know that she was kicked out of acting school because they didn't think she had any ability? They even refunded her money in full!!   Lucy, a household word and the lead funny lady in many shows that kept generations of people laughing and still does, was told she had no acting ability!

Lucy never gave up. She kept going for her dreams and starred in quite a few movies, eventually becoming the first woman to run a major television studio.

Although she had raw talent, she did not fit into the Hollywood mold. She was a square peg in a round hole. A "movie star" was glamorous and showed great decorum, something that Lucy appeared to lack. Try as she may to fit in, it wasn't her and it showed. She could not sparkle when she wasn't being true to her nature.

Lucy needed a little tweaking, a little direction to be the woman that we all know and love. Among Lucy's great circle of Hollywood friends was Buster Keaton. Buster explained to Lucy that she wasn't just an actress, she was a clown and he worked with her to maximize her comedic gifts.  Because of Buster's mentoring, Lucy was able to realize her potential and soar in her abilities - not to mention she made an incredible amount of money.

I found three lessons that we can learn in the Lucy story.

One: Lucy had the ability to keep trying and not get discouraged by roadblocks. She did not stop acting when others told her that she had no ability, she persisted in following her passion. In fact, she took it further by using some of her setbacks and failures as fodder for her comedic acts. She poked fun of herself and it worked to make others laugh.

Two: She was willing to take the steps that she needed to become a star. Lucy didn't start out as a star, she took whatever job came her way in hopes that some day she would reach her goal. She endured pies in the face, nothing parts and low budget movies. But she kept marching toward her goal.

Three: She had a mentor that came beside her to give her direction and training. Without Buster, she never would have been able to define and hone in on her greatest distinguishing attribute - being a clown.

What are the roadblocks that are standing in your way from reaching your full potential?

Are you willing to do anything to reach that dream?

Do you have a mentor? Mentors can come in many forms through reading and education but a real flesh and blood person that has your best interest in mind is hard to beat. A mentor will take you to the next level in your gifting and open doors for you in places that you wouldn't be able to go on your own.

If you want something bad enough, don't let anything stop you. Go for your dreams and never give up!

By the way... here's my Lucy. Her name is Heather.... isn't she great?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Close Quarters....

Are you a "box" person? Are you the type who likes to have your world defined and live within it's confines? Do you like to have structure and routine? Do you appear to the world as a very "stable" person because people always know where you are, what you are doing, what you will order at the restaurant, what style of clothing you would prefer, etc? Do you get rattled if the mailman is 10 minutes late or if you run out of your breakfast cheerios?

Or are you a person who likes to live without boundaries... free to roam the open world and experience all that life has to offer? Do you feel hemmed in by rules and authority? Do you like to eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired and just let life unfold before you? Does routine bore you to the point of nausea.

Maybe you are one of those people that live somewhere in the middle, able to bridge the gap between the two extremes. I know people like that, always up for an adventure and yet content to spend quiet times in their room, reading their favorite books.

The world is a colorful place full of many types of people. My precious mother is a box person, while I prefer a river with undefined banks. Growing up was a struggle for both of us as she tried to teach me to live in the box and I banged at the boundaries with a sledge hammer.  Many years later, we appreciate each other's differences - she comes to me for decorating and creative ideas, and I go to her for book keeping and practical advice.

It takes all kinds of people to give the world balance. Part of each of our strengths is knowing who we are and what gifts we bring to the table. Own and celebrate your unique brand of you! Go with your flow and let it take you deeper into self-revelation. If you know that you will be anxious in a situation that you can't control, take a structured vacation all planned out for you. On the other hand, if you are dying to explore places unseen, don't go camping with the same people, in the same campsite every year.

Appreciate each other's differences. No way is right or wrong... they are just different. Do not impose your ways on others or criticize their choices. Learn from those that are opposite and accept yourself just the way you are.  Life will be more rich when we all learn to love and value one another.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Balance and Super-Focus

I've been having this ongoing conversation with a friend of mine regarding "balance" in life. He feels that I'm all over the place.... sometimes I'm about reading, wisdom and finding the deepest secrets of my soul and how it relates to the world, while other times I just want to play and laugh and create.

He insists that balance means putting a little bit of everything into your day. My theory is that to lead a balanced life, you must look at life as a whole. If I take all the pieces of my life and do a pie chart, I would imagine that my slices would be fairly equal in the thinking, creating, service and social categories when it is all said and done. It's will be different for everyone as they fall into their own patterns.

For me, as a creative, what works is focus - complete focus on what I am doing right now. In conversations with many artists, I have found that we tend to get "lost" in our projects. Creating art takes a great deal of time and energy since we are getting in touch with some deep inner feelings while using our technical skills to translate our message into our art, all the time experimenting and evaluating. If I'm working on a project and leave it to make dinner for example, I'd have a hard time coming back to the place where I was and would probably lose vision and motivation.

Focus also comes out in a commitment to riding a certain art form to the end - pushing the limits and seeing where it will take you. Right now I'm feeling the retro-beach vibe. I'm going to follow this and see what happens. In the midst of it I will go about my daily commitments - in this case it's teaching a class of professional photographers next week in San Diego - heh - what a great place to ride the wave of my beach theme! Funny how life presents opportunities if you just look for them.

So if you are bothered by your obsession toward your art and feel that your life may be out of balance, just relax and go with the flow. That super-focused quality might be the very thing that is taking you to new heights.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beach Party

Just 2 more images that I did today - just for fun....

The first one is a digital painting from the photograph hand painted in Photoshop. The second image is a cell phone self portrait taken into corel painter and then finished off in photoshop.

Life's a Beach

Since doing those images yesterday I have the beach on my mind. Truth is, anyone who knows me knows that the ocean is my place of solitude and rest, where I recharge. You pretty much can't drag me away. Some day I hope to have a place by the ocean, but until then, I will satisfy myself with ponds, pools, lakes, rivers and all other bodies of water that are near by and my hour long trips to the sea whenever possible.

Years ago when I was living in the midwest, I painted ocean murals and sea themes in every room to give myself the presence of the peace that the ocean brought. If you are longing for the carefree days of summer, you can preserve those feelings in your art, be it photography, painting, collage, music, poetry or just a table scape. Be inspired and know that your art can be as unique as your summer interests.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some Alex Katz Fun...

I took things to the next level like in my last post. Since I have all these bright, sharp images in my mind and since a good friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that she thought my art was "dark", I decided to lighten things up a bit. I took some of my cell phone pics that I snapped off last week at the beach and made them into a mixture between Alex Katz and Ed Hopper. I had a great time doing it and now I have lots of ideas swimming in my mind for some new images!

How to View an Art Exhibit

Yesterday I took my "artist's day" at the MFA and spent some time in the Alex Katz exhibit. Here are some of my favorite images from the show. 

When I view a special exhibit, I go more than once. Since I have a membership to the art museum (money well spent) I can go as often as I like.

The first time I go through an exhibit, I read all the comments on the walls and the paintings and get a feel for who the artist is. Then I take another spin around the room to look more closely.

Here is an example of what to note:

1. Content - people, landscapes, etc. 
2. Color and Contrast- is the color bold, subdued, monochromatic. 

3. Relationship of the artist to his subject matter? 

4. Style - contemporary, pop, impressionist, realism, etc

5. What is the artist trying to say through is work?

6. Do I like this artist? How does the work make you feel? (happy, sad, pensive, etc). 

7. If I could choose one image to take home, which would it be and why? 

Now you can take it further and incorporate it into your own work.

1. How does this compare and contrast to my own art?

2. Does the artist use any technic, color, or crop that I may be able to incorporate into my work to make it more effective?

At this point you can purchase the exhibit book or some postcards to take home for further study and reflection. You may also want to google the artist and the exhibit and see what others are saying about the work. 

Take it to the next level.

If you like, you can take your growth to a whole new level by emulating the artist -  copy some of his paintings or make photographs that resemble his images. I suggest this for your own personal growth, not to copy someone's style. Even the great painters of old used to sketch and paint off each other's work for educational purposes. Through this process you will have a deeper appreciation for the skill of the artist and you may develop a new style of your own.

Visit the exhibition as often as you would like. With each time you will take something new back with you and your art appreciation and knowledge will grow.

Monday, June 11, 2012


For rarely man escapes his destiny. (Ludovico Ariosto)

My oldest daughter and I were conversing today about destiny. She has her college plans, grad school and internship experiences all mapped out along with how she hopes her life to look in the far future. I told her that I envied her clarity and wished that I had the wisdom that she does at her age. I said that if I could have a do-over, I would go to art school and study overseas (to see my college story read my "Crimes on Creativity" post). When I got to the "and then what would my life look like now" part of the conversation I realized an amazing thing. I would be doing EXACTLY what I am doing now - creating, writing and teaching! Somehow, in the course of life with all it's twists and turns, I've actually discovered my destiny and am living it! How many of you can say that too?

Is our destiny programmed into our very being? 

Are we guided by a higher power to the point that even when we get off the road that the detour takes us right back to where we are supposed to be? 

Do we control our future or is it so predetermined that even the decisions that we make are already known ahead of time and used as part of the plan? 

Think about it.... This is a great mystery of life.

Perhaps we are all living out the destiny that has been planned for us. This is not to say that we can't make decisions to change the course of our lives - but maybe even that is predestined. 

Life stacks one experience upon another. Step by step we march on toward our fulfillment.

If this is true, it means two things.

First, it a waste of time and energy to regret the past. The past was exactly what it needed to be for you to be who you are today! You married who you married because you were supposed to. You were intended to have those particular children. The jobs that you had were marked with your name. The places that you lived, the people that you've known have all been part of your story to make you who you are supposed to be! Even your painful experiences are all programmed into your DNA so that you can fulfill your destiny.

And second, you can rest assured that you will fulfill your purpose. You can know that the good work that has begun in you will be completed. You can know that you will be guided to where you need to go and that your paths will be made very clear. The doors that need to open for you will open. There is a great deal of comfort in this thought.

Maybe this is true. What do you think?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Seek Adventure

Let today be about finding a new adventure or experience. Explore this big, wonderful world! Here are some ideas:

Take a "Sunday Drive" in your car to a place that you've never been.... could be a store, restaurant, new church, park, etc....

Take a walk down a street that you've never walked down before....

Talk to someone new....

Try a new food...

Buy a new article of clothing....

Book your summer vacation and make it someplace exciting...

Buy a puppy or kitten... :)

Babysit someone's kids....

Go swimming with your clothes on...or off perhaps (only in a secluded place please, and don't get caught)....

Throw a last minute party and invite your best friends....

Have a barbecue and invite a neighbor who you'd like to get to know better....

The point of this exercise is to give you a day off from the normal or the mundane. Have fun with it!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crimes against Creativity, Part 1...Seeking Validation

A little girl sits at her desk and painstakingly colors a beautiful masterpiece of her family. Carefully she puts the final touches on the face of her little sister. "Done", she says proudly as she walks over to her parents sitting on the couch in front of the TV watching the season finale of "The Bachelorette." "Look what I did", she says confidently. The father glances over and pats her on the head "That's very nice Bridget" he says. The mom, absorbed in the final rose moment says "Yes dear" without lifting her eyes from the screen.

The process of seeking approval has started. Bridget will then proceed to enter 13 years of school where she will continue to seek endorsement from her teachers and her peers in the form of grades, awards, number of friends, invitations to parties, dates, boyfriends and college acceptances.

On through college, graduate school and into the workplace it goes. Round and round and where it stops nobody knows - BECAUSE IT NEVER STOPS!!! We seek validation our entire lives - whether it be from family members, church and community, bosses, online chatrooms, etc. We are looking for people to define us by our actions or our accomplishments.

SEEKING VALIDATION KILLS THE CREATIVE SPIRIT! It kills our ability to function to our proper level. It kills our joy and makes us nervous creatures who partake of validation's evil twin "people-pleasing" (I'll cover that another day).

It is counterproductive to let other people define your life. What sets anyone up as an expert on you? Do they understand your inner workings as well as you do? Do they feel your emotions to the same extent that you do? Do they view the world through your lens? Have they experienced your particular brand of challenges and accomplishments? Do they even think like you? Do they have your best interests in mind?

Why do we give people that much power?

When I was in high school I loved art. It was so much fun for me every time I created something original. When I made something at home just for myself, I proudly hung it on my bedroom wall, feeling complete and happy. In addition were the things that I created for my art class at school. Things that I worked harder on and was even prouder of. I would pass it into the teacher, seeking affirmation... B+! "What? What do you mean a B+?! - that's an A if ever I saw one! Why did you give Bonita over there an A? That's not half as good as mine! "

Did, I say that to the teacher - NO, I took my project back and quietly stored it at the bottom of my locker with a little piece of my soul. As the year continued, alone with the B+'s my spirit became more deflated and my joy in art started to decrease incrementally along with my belief in my artistic abilities.

Soon it came time to go to college and choose a major. I went to a liberal arts college but did not plan on majoring in art because.... no one encouraged me to do so! I was afraid people would mock me or think me out of touch with reality. I could just picture it : "You want to pursue art? oh...", as their eyes drop to the floor. I couldn't bear the thought of being told that I wasn't good at the very thing that made my spirit soar. Because of this fear, I avoided taking art classes or expressing my interest in the subject. After two years of floundering through dead end courses,  I quit college, directionless.

Flash forward a few years. I was happily working as a graphic artist by some strange twist of fate. As I progressed in the field I considered taking a job in NYC. During that time I helped out in the church and three people affirmed my ministry gifts.... so I left the art world and signed up for college to receive a ministry degree! Where was my brain?!

Throughout my life, art has been my sole source of income and continues to be my great joy. Had I had the confidence to follow my heart I would not have wasted so much time chasing the wrong goal.

Today's challenge is to recognize where you are seeking your kudos and stop! Make your art because it pleases you, not the judges or the masses on the world wide web. Write that story because it is in your heart and it wants to come out! Play that song just because you can! Take that picture because it's begging you to!

Don't worry if other people like it or not. It's for you. It's a piece of your spirit to share with the world - and that, in and of itself, makes it beautiful! You have a song to sing... sing it! Do the birds sit in the trees and worry about what other's think about their song?

There is no accounting for taste or preference. There are top recording artists that I don't listen to. Personal preference. There are rooms in the art museum that I don't enter. The art is good, It just doesn't speak to me. It does speak to others however.

Everything creative starts from someone's heart. It is their personal expression to the world. Respect that we all have a right to create and put our art out there. It's ok if no one gives you a thumbs up as long as you like it!

Maybe only one other person will be blessed by your work. When I started this blog I did it because I had something stirring inside of me. I didn't know if anyone would read it (except for a few people who were obligated because they loved me and wouldn't hear the end of it if they didn't). But I decided if it touched just ONE person then it is worth doing, and usually that person touched is ME!

Don't wait for the affirmations of others to continue in your passion. Do it boldly and proudly knowing that for today, you are doing your best, and your best does matter!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Are you stuck?

I pulled this off my Facebook feed today. How on earth?!?!

Of course I got to thinking.... In the world of dreams (I mean the kind when you are asleep), a car signifies one's life or an aspect of such. When we speak of life we sometimes say, "you are in the driver's seat" or "who is driving your car?".

Sometimes, like in the above image, our lives get off course. We may feel trapped in one or more areas like we are going nowhere. We are blocked, hung up, crashed, etc.

I'm hoping that every one of my readers is in a smooth sailing mode, full speed ahead - but I'm thinking not. Being stuck tends to be a human experience. No matter how hard we work at controlling our lives, we are bound to make some poor decisions that can lead us down the wrong road. And even if by some rarity we are super-people, circumstances and other folks have a way of getting us off track. Sometimes we are so wedged in it would take a miracle or in this case, a crane to get us out!

So what is a person to do who finds themselves in this unfortunate situation?

Most of us start with expletives! Venting, screaming, crying, pacing... jumping up and down. This is our initial response to a crash. It's a great thing, because it relieves the immediate pressure. It must come out.

When that calms down we usually enter the complaining phase. We grumble and speak to anyone who will listen to us about the injustice of life, who put that wall there, how it's not fair, blah blah blah. If we aren't careful of course at this time we can tax our family and friends whose patience eventually wears thin of hearing our complaints. We may even then take our case to a rung higher like the boss if it's a job thing, or the government. That usually gets us nowhere either - except for maybe making matters worse.

Some people get stuck in the bitter phase. We all know people like that, who just can't let it go, who always have a list of gripes and negativity ready to spew out of their mouths whenever we have to unfortunate experience of happening upon them. Maybe there are people like that in your family and you are subject to that every day. There are those who yes, have maybe had it really hard, but don't do a thing to move on. None of us wants to be one of "those" people, who's pain has become their identity. Soon they have no friends and just live in their misery. Their car never moves again. Because misery loves company, soon there are graveyards of cars where they all flock together in a holding pattern of decay.

Which begs the question, are you willing to move? Do you believe that you can get unstuck? Do you think that your car will run again or is it all over for you? Do you even know that you are stuck? Could you be spinning your wheels and yet going nowhere?

If you want to keep traveling down the road of life in your car then there are ways to get out of the mess you are in. It's complicated though and you might not get out without some scratches and dents depending on the severity of the "stuckness".

Right now, consider the areas in your life where you may be wedged against the wall. In fact, put a name on that car for every part of you that's not moving forward. Remember, you only get one car and the years move fast. Life can get away from you if you stall for too long. Some day you may look back and wonder with great regret where all the years have gone and why you didn't do more with what you have been given. When you finally feel ready to retire your car, you want to know that you drove it as hard as you could and that it took you where you needed to go.

Step 1 - A cry for help

I start with a 911 call to the God of the universe.... "HELP ME PLEASE! I can't get out of this mess. My life is not working out as I had planned and I'm feeling really off course. Please give me wisdom as to how to proceed because I know that you don't want me stuck anymore than I want to be in this situation. Please show me what to do."

After my panic prayer I feel quite a bit better because I know that I'm not alone in this. I have an OnStar out there who knows my location and is sending help in the form of massive amounts of love my way. I can trust that I will be guided to the right people. This clears my mind and allows me now to think straight because I'm no longer in the fight/flight mode. This might not happen overnight, depending on your ability to release things. It may take days or weeks to get there. But pouring it out is always a good place to start. (Don't forget those morning papers that you need to write. Do it as a prayer if you want).

A good book/movie about this very topic is "Eat, Pray, Love". Read it or watch the movie if you haven't already and let your mind wander to your own particular circumstances in life.

Step 2 - Help is on it's way

There are many avenues for help to come in. It may be a sudden peace and clarity of mind. A thought hits you and you realize where you went wrong. You might have to backtrack to find your way to the right road. For instance, maybe you made a poor choice in your career, marriage, business investment, place to live, etc that has affected the outcome of your life. You might need to make a few changes and hard decisions.

Now I want to tread carefully here because there are 2 camps of people in this world; those who believe that everything happens for a reason and those who believe that we mold our own destiny. I'm in the middle.  I believe that we have a free will that we exercise and that it results in certain givens and circumstances in our lives. I also believe that if we are faithful to learning and growth, all experiences can turn out for our good, but it doesn't mean that they will be easy or that our good necessarily means joy. I do not believe that we should endure a bad situation for a lifetime so that we CAN grow or that we should manufacture pain in our lives in order to learn perseverance and the merits of suffering. I think there are plenty of opportunities for pain without seeking them out! (Do I hear an AMEN to that!?) And on the flip side, I don't believe that we give up and run away too soon either. I have a tendency to stay in a bad situation longer than I should, exercising patience and endurance but I'm not always sure that's the best idea. You might waste too much time against the wall that way and need a longer stay in the repair shop of life!

Maybe your car is working for most of your scenarios but you are just stuck in your creative endeavors. You know you were born to create, you have a message to share, but you just can't do it because you have no time. The demands of earning a living and supporting a family have choked out your creative juices and given you a flat tire. Again, the solution is to go back to where you missed your mark and start again. Small steps can yield big results over time.

Step 3 - Enlist the support of others

The truth is that when we are stuck we need the support of others. Support groups can be a wonderful thing if there are other people in it that want to keep moving ahead. There is pretty much a support group for everything. People who have kids, people who want kids... people with aging parents and people who's parents died too young....addiction... mental illness...grief...college issues, etc. The list goes on and on. I'd say that in all phases of our lives, we could fit into a number of groups if we find ourselves stuck. Since we can do it all online, you have no excuse not to participate! Support groups aren't for everyone, but if you are feeling waylaid, it's a good place to start. A good support group can give you strength and ideas for getting out of your mess, or at least dealing with it.

Therapy too can help when your issues seem to be of a more personal nature. Sometimes there are things haunting us from our childhood, beliefs that wall us in. Or maybe it's just helpful to get the perspective of an impartial person so you can think things through and find out there is a way out that you hadn't considered before. It's a good thing to get some professional help if you need it.

In addition, life coaching may be right up your alley. It's the goal of a life coach to get your car running down the right road and a good one will have many tricks up their sleeves.

A continuing education course may be the answer to changing your road or enlisting in college or a graduate program.

Traveling abroad may be an idea for you. If you are fortunate you can go on a nice long vacation or perhaps volunteer for an organization that feeds the hungry, cares for orphans, builds homes for the homeless, cares for baby seals, or whatever strikes your fancy.

One thing that I do is google the problem. I google everything! Things like "I hate my job, boss, husband/ wife, life" or "my straight A student didn't get into college"... whatever... The search engine can turn up some very interesting reads. Although sometimes it's like the blind leading the blind, if you glean through the vast number of opinions, you may just find some pearl of wisdom that will direct you.

For all of you I would urge you to find some solace in the form of like minded friends or a peer group. Join a creative group of people who are traveling down the same road as you. They can be your road map on the pavement of life.

Get a mentor in your area of interest. You will be amazed how this catapults you into your destiny.

Quite a few years ago I attended a prayer group full of seasoned prayer warriors. These women were amazing to me! They were so loving and wise and their prayers always seemed to be answered. In fact, I was sure that they had a direct line to God. I wanted to be like one of them when I grew up (I was 28 at the time but felt like a babe compared to them). As I got to know them I found out that they collectively contained an alarming amount of pain in their lives and in the healed scars was their power. If they carried a sword for every battle fought and won, they contained a whole armory! I decided that I would just learn from them by absorbing their wisdom without learning it the hard way - chuckle, cough, cough....

I know now that people who have not hit the wall in a certain area may not be able to help you get out of your predicament. Wisdom comes with a price tag. Those that have paid the price and have successfully kept their cars rolling are those who will best be able to guide you.

And for some of you readers: If you have already found some victory navigating through life's struggles you can now be the one to help someone else get their car unstuck. We are all in this together. There are times we help and other times we need help. We may even be able to help some people in some areas while we are receiving help in other places. Pay it forward!

Life crashes are not the end of the world. They are opportunities for us to re-evaluate the road that we are on and pursue a more healthy course. Hitting the wall may actually be a blessing in disguise, alerting us to the fact we are heading in the wrong direction. But don't be too hard on yourself - you were at least moving, that's admirable. Ok, so you're stuck: stop, breathe, send up a 911 and then look around for the changes that are coming your way!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today we allow ourselves to dream

It's been a week of reflecting and purging clutter from both inside and outside our minds. Today I want you to dream.... and dream BIG. I want you to release all limits of time/space/money and just imagine.....

Imagine a life filled with great possibility...

Imagine yourself with your own art studio filled with only the art you really love. What does it look like? Who is there to share it with you?

Imagine yourself with your own successful business. Tell me about it....

Imagine yourself at the end of a full and enriching life. What was your life like? Who were you as a person? What will people describe as your best attributes and accomplishments? Be detailed...

Imagine today that you are creating just one painting/photograph/story/song or anything else that has been burning in your heart. Do you have it in your mind? Good - now DRAW THE LINE!

I'll see you tomorrow - I'm going to go play with my art!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life Isn't Fair

I got my butt to the gym this morning. I just did it, didn't think twice about it. I figured that if I dare write how important exercise is in my blog, I was going to follow my own advice.

I used to work out 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. I did this for 6 months and before that I walked 3 miles a day for 1 year. I started because my blood pressure was climbing a little on the high side and I wanted to be kind to my body and live a healthy life. Initially, I was just looking for my workouts to lower my blood pressure, which it did. I even rather enjoyed my time at the gym.

As time went on, I wanted more from my workouts. I increased the intensity of them and noticed that I felt an increase in energy and health over all. I stopped worrying about strokes and heart attacks and settled into a place of health.

My only problem was that I wanted to drop some weight. I was eating right (albeit too little apparently) and exercising and yet my body showed no signs of slimming. I kept at it for a while telling myself that it would take time because I'm older and the sacrifice would pay off... but it didn't.

I started to lose conviction and found excuses not to work out. Soon I just went for zumba/yoga one day a week. Since I could still breathe and not die of a heart attack during that strenuous workout I was rather pleased.

A few days ago I started feeling my heart beat in my ears again. To me this is a sign that my blood pressure has gone above normal - not high enough for concern, but certainly a warning. The panic started again about stroke and heart attack and I found myself in the place I was before.

I started thinking about why I stopped working out in the first place. I was ticked! I was mad at my body for not going with the program. The program says you increase your exercise and eat right and you will lose weight. I still looked like the line up for The Biggest Loser program - the people who confessed to eating large amounts of fast food and potato chips every night. I do not eat like that and my body should have done right by me! Not to mention, those people DO lose weight and look great by the end of the show. My physique didn't play by my rules - it didn't play fair!

So I decided to punish my spirit's "temple" - I would show it! I told myself (this is all subconscious mind you) that if it wasn't going to give up some of that fat reserve, I would just stop working out! My body responded not with a weight loss reward or regrets, it answered with high blood pressure! Things got worse - not better.

Isn't life like that? Life isn't fair. Some people are born into wealth and have everything handed to them on a silver platter while some are born into poverty. Some people seem to have an immense amount of talent and others struggle to find something that they are good at. Some people take the easy way out in school and get a lucky break and rise to the top of companies while others work hard and never get beyond their entry level positions struggling to put bread on the table. The working poor is a real class. Some people are born with beautiful genes, perfect skin, tiny noses, skinny bodies that never gain a pound and others practically starve themselves to be a size 13. And to make matters worse, no matter how gorgeous someone is, they never really believe it about themselves wishing their hips were smaller or their hair was a different color. Added to this are early deaths and illnesses that rob people in the prime of life.

I'm currently reading a book called "The Burden of Sympathy: How families cope with Mental Illness". Mental illness in a family robs the whole family of peace and joy and leaves its members, exhausted, drained, living in chaos and without hope - for an entire lifetime!!! How is THAT fair? And worse of all, often the people are judged for not "having it all together" by others who are not experiencing the same challenges.

But Anne, I read this blog for hope and as I'm reading this I'm becoming more and more depressed. What's the answer here? Of course, there isn't one. The truth is that life is not fair. If I had the power to change that I would, but I can't! Believe me, it's not for lack of trying.

The answer here is acceptance and grace. As long as we are fighting against the unfairness, we cannot win. I'm going to repeat that.... we can't fight the system! Life is going to hand out it's cruelty as long as the world turns. We cannot change that!

The only thing we can change is our attitudes. I hate that word - don't you? When I was growing up my parents used to fling that word at me every time I had a complaint - "It's all in your attitude". I'm not going to tell you to change your attitude - that's up to you - but I am going to tell you that when we accept the truth and stop denying it or fighting it, we can at least make something better. My working out didn't give me the smaller sizes, but it did keep me from taking blood pressure medication. I'm sure it did many things under the surface that contributed to my health. In that truth, my body did reward me for my efforts.

Acceptance provides us with breathing room and an opportunity to figure out how to cope instead of using all our energy to fight the injustice. If we are able to view the problem from a different stance we may not come up with the cure but we may come up with a solution to part of the problem. Fighting something that we can't win only zaps our energy and builds resentment in us.

Sometimes acceptance brings nothing but release - a realization that we don't have to keep striving, that we can't find the answer at all and that this is just the way it is going to be. Once we can accept something, there is room for grace to minister to our hearts. We now have the chance to grieve our loss and view life from a different perspective. As we sit in that grace, we can find peace for our spirits.

There are some things that should be fought. I'm not telling you to lie down and accept everything that comes your way without a fight. I can keep fighting this weight battle with a different tactic but I can't fight the fact that my blood pressure will go up if I don't work out.

I guess it all boils down to the serenity prayer. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen".

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's over...move on....

It's been dark and gloomy the past few days. I've been nestling in sweats peering out my window at the rain. I get contemplative and a tad melancholy when skies are gray and I'm tempted to feel a bit sorry for myself, rehearsing my past pains and all the things that really haven't gone right in my life.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all have those moments where we think about our past failures, dashed dreams and wrongs done against us. Sometimes words that others say can inhibit our ability to move forward with our dreams and goals - the naysayers or the non-supporters or even worse, the critics. For some reason, these words and evaluations are especially hard to release. Our own failures are very hard to reconcile too and lay prey to our hearts bringing great shame and regret.

It's time to get it all out of your system! Remember how a few days ago I spoke about using your writing to "word vomit" all that's inside of you? Maybe a better term is "emotional vomit".  Getting the emotional baggage out so that you can deal with it and move on. It's going to come out one way or another, this is a more constructive way of dealing with things than road rage or yelling at the phone solicitor or stuffing it in a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice-cream.

In the past day, I've written at least 20 pages of thoughts to get some things that have been bothering me out of my system and to move on. It does us no good to stay in our past memories. They are just breeding grounds for resentments, un-forgiveness, self-pity and anger. These things keep us hostage and never enable us to move on with our lives in positive ways.

So next time you get a rainy day use it as an opportunity to cleanse your soul as God is cleansing the earth and spend a few moments writing down anything from your past that you are still having trouble reconciling. Get it all out there and then make a conscious decision to forgive whomever has hurt you, through word or deed. Don't forget to forgive yourself and God too while you are at it.

It's time to move on and recognize that all the failures in the past are over - maybe you could have done things differently, but you didn't. Yes, it would have been nice if you got the support you needed, but you didn't. Maybe you did deserve that creative award and it was held back from you - but it's ok. Move on and embrace what today has to offer without all the negativity from yesterday following you around. It's time to be free to cherish life.... to love ... to create and experience everything with passion and fresh vision!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Consider the Flowers

Take a few minutes to watch this amazing video.

There are rich lessons to be learned....

1. Close up images of what seem common can be very beautiful. The artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, understood this and it worked beautifully for her. (See some of her paintings below). Could there be some art inspiration here for you too?

2. Take time to breathe and notice all the little miracles that occur each day in nature, right under our noses. Spend some time with your garden. I have a hummingbird that visits my hanging basket daily and I relish those moments when I see him. All else stops as I experience gratitude for the beauty and sweetness of that flitting bird.

3. Things do not happen overnight. This video is time lapsed. The strawberry does not ripen before it's time. The flower petals cannot be forced open early. This goes for your creative endeavors too! It's easy to get impatient and want to produce beautiful images immediately, but your skill set may not be developed to that level yet. Maybe you are a pianist that can't get past chopsticks or poet who struggles with words. Continue to learn and grow and understand that it takes time to pollinate your life. There is beauty and joy in the very act of pollination. Cherish the hope that the good work that has begun in you will continue.

4. Things that we view as scary and pests, are really beautiful when they are fulfilling their purpose. Yes, a bee sting or a rabid bat in our hair are definitely things that we would like to avoid, but look how beautiful they are in their natural environment. There may be some gifts in your life right now that are masked as trials. Surely none of us wants to experience a dread illness or a painful divorce, however there are people who believe that those very things brought the start of new life to them. Certainly we don't seek out pain and don't welcome it when it comes, but use the trial as an opportunity for gratitude and understanding that while things may seem dark and hard, there is a grace that is occurring under the surface that will bring forth beauty in time if we don't despair.

5. Sometimes it takes someone outside of you to see your beauty. The artist who made this movie knew there was something beautiful beneath the mundane and drew in to take a closer look. The bees don't understand their purpose, they just do what they are genetically programmed to do. The flowers are made to bloom but they neither have a will or a mind. They bloom for the soul purpose of the enjoyment of others and to give the birds and the insects what they need from them. I'm not a scientist, nor do I really want to understand the workings of nature (as evidenced by my science grades in school), but what I DO know is that sometimes we get so caught up in the every day things that we do, that we don't really see the beauty of who we are and what we are adding to the world. When our beauty is disguised from us we may not perceive our value to others.  Every one of you plays an important part in the world around you. Every one of you is a beautiful, unique individual made by a loving God with purpose and value.

Next time you swat at a bee or reach for a juicy strawberry remember these beautiful life truths!