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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting Ready for the New Year

The year is coming to an end. It is never too soon to start working on those goals and a plan of action to reach them. If we don't lay out our goals down to the T... chances are we are leaving our life to luck - and we all know how that goes!

I found these cool little planners the other day. You can order them online for only $17 and change. They are downloaded to you as PDF's after you pay for them. You can then print them out and put them in a journal to enjoy. They were filled with some good questions and cute ideas to help you reach your goals in the coming year.

When I was young, I used to park myself under the Christmas Tree lights on New Year's Eve and reflect on the year behind and plan the year ahead. (Yes, I've always been this way apparently). I was a great little exercise that reminded me that I do have some control over the direction that my life takes.
If you'd like to purchase these - please click on the picture at the top right of my blog and it will take you to the website.

Happy Planning!

Laughing all the Way....

I tend to get kind of intense - so take a little break and watch this video - it will bring a smile to your face and laughter to your heart.

Re-inventing the Body, Day 2

Part 2. Read yesterday's article first if you haven't already.

One day I was shopping and found the PERFECT little black dress for my event. I chose to buy it one size smaller figuring that three months to drop one dress size was a reasonable goal. My plan was to increase my exercise initially. I really didn't plan on dieting because I knew I was down to 600 calories a day as it was and that weight was not budging. I figured that maybe my body would respond to the inertia of a long daily walk. This was the first step.

Step number two, plan on fitting into little black dress - UP the exercise. I knew this in and of itself wouldn't do it but I had to start somewhere. In order to stay true to that goal, I enlisted an exercise partner and we started walking fast and furiously with weights. I found someone who already WAS successful at the goal that I had. This had to be someone who struggled as I had and had lost a boat load of weight.

I was not ready to "diet" yet - just wanted to get the ball rolling. As time went on, I felt a bit more firm and stronger. At this point I mentioned that I was having a problem with wanting the cold creamy stuff at night and she suggested that I try to go one night on and one night off. Just a little cut back.

I went one day like that. The next day I decided that since I did made it through one night successfully, maybe I could eliminate sugar, wheat and dairy too for one day. I did that too. THEN a miracle happened. Because I was strong enough to go two days without the dairy and one day without the other I thought just maybe I had enough in me to be disciplined again like I was in the past and start living with true integrity in my eating. I decided that I could go back to the old healthy way of eating when I was super skinny and felt good about myself. I KNEW that would get me in the little black dress by January.

In order to do that I needed a little more brain programming. Throughout the years, with many moves to different states, I had purged myself of all my great books and resources. I had to start from scratch. I went to the bookstore and started perusing the shelves for more inspiration (something I do with my art all the time). I found a book called "Skinny Bitch" and settled in.

As I read with great interest, interrupted only once by a Barnes and Noble employee offering me a sample of The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake (really?... I LOVE cheesecake), I once again armed myself for war. Veganism it would be! I am truly sensitive to wheat, dairy and sugar (as are most people actually) and they needed to go. The meat went when I read about the cruelty to animals in the meat plants and about the horrible chemicals that are used on the animals to ward off insects. The icing on the cake (oops... excuse that delicious reference) was a reminder that we could feed all the hungry in the world if we fed them all the grain that we are feeding to fatten up our animals. More resources to produce less food... bad idea. The Dust Bowl documentary on TV last week even mentioned that the farmers are irrigating with water that they will need for drinking but are using it up to water the crops to feed the pigs. We seem hell-bent on self-destruction and making poor choices I'm afraid. We think much more in the present and our enjoyment without thinking about what kind of world we are creating for our children.

So, I'm vegan and I'm feeling very proudly "green" with my choice. For 15 days now, I have eaten fruits, vegetables, nuts and other whole foods. I'm drinking homemade ginger tea right now in fact and am soon heading to the fridge for a nice spinach salad.

For me, this is a lifestyle change. I see the weight coming off... although I am not stepping on the scale because I'm sure the initial shock would send me to a trip to the grocery store for my chocolate bandaid. The doctor has my stats and someday when I'm feeling skinny and happy to step on the scale, I will return and find out the ugly truth of that one. But for now.... I'm feeling good and excited about the future.

I have taken the first step into re-inventing my life. The first step that will give me increased life expectancy, a cute wardrobe that expresses my personality, health benefits, a boost in self-confidence that will benefit my business, a good example for my children and others, hope for those feeling that they just can't get rid of that weight and untold other joys. Already I feel more 'in control' of my life and it feels good. Good things have a way of spreading just as bad ones do.

Do you have something in your life that seems to be the "hinge pin"? Start with the basics. If it is your weight... start there. Take a drastic step to reinvent yourself and see where it leads.

Tomorrow I will lay out my little plan of attack. The tools that keep me focused and honest. Until then... have a piece of fruit.. it's good for the soul!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Re-inventing the body... the background

I'm breaking the "blog rules" here and writing a lot today but my message has to get out there because many people struggle with their weight. It can be a stubborn 10-20 pounds or a more extreme problem. I want to share with you my struggles at the start of yet another journey into weight loss in hopes that some of you will find it inspiring or helpful. Not only that... putting it out there keeps me honest.

As I said yesterday in my blog... I share freely and willingly because we all have places where we struggle. I can't stand in front of you and act like I "have it all together" because it would be a lie. Truth is that nobody has it ALL together. It's my hope that I can just get it more together and can help some of you do that too in my process.

Let's start with the basics.... I am fat. No two ways about it. I was a fat baby, a "solid" kid and a "heavy" college student (my freshman 15 turned into the freshman 40 thanks to a job working desserts in the cafeteria). Many times in my life I was at the "acceptable" range of humanity and lived maybe 10 pounds above the top of my weight scale for my height and build. Not bad, but certainly not perfect. I had to "hide" my fat behind skirts or long shirts. It made me a bit uncomfortable and self-conscious but not too bad. I wanted to be thinner but didn't quite have the where with all to figure out how... or the desire to say no to the "goodies", ice cream in particular. sigh

One day, I became very sick with mono. The illness held on for years when I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Since I was sick of being in bed (4 years and counting), I decided that I would do whatever it took to try to get healthy. Part of my plan was to extensively research foods and in the process I discovered that just like you put gas instead of molasses in the tank of your car, you needed to put fuel that the body recognized verses sugar in your body to let it run at optimal efficiency.

I became obsessed with research! I read scads of books on nutrition and health. I read books about how our food is processed, how our meat is raised. I read information linking cancer to all the pesticides used on our crops and on the animals that we eat! I will tell you right now... it was astonishing!!!

Not only did I become a walking book of knowledge (an incidentally, no one else wanted to KNOW about it - because they wanted to eat their food in complete oblivion and hope for the best), but I started to believe and live what I was learning. It's amazing to me that we all close our eyes because we just don't want to deal with certain things. I get it - I do it too - but I'm trying to stop. The truth really does set you free.... it's those things that we deny, ignore or don't attend to that get us into trouble!

What happened to me was that I started to get a bit healthier. I say a bit because I went from the land of the dead to the land of the living - but I still didn't really feel well. But I persisted! And I lost 70 pounds and became a slim, wonderful machine for the first time in my life. I was SKINNY!

However, now I got all kinds of other comments from people. "You are too skinny", "put a little meat on your bones.. your face is too bony... you don't look good". I could eat a huge amount of food and people would watch me eat and comment that I would gain all the weight back again (on lettuce??). I got skinny by eating and fat by starving... go figure.

Fast forward a few years and a few kids. I managed to live at a nice size 6 for quite a few years... with a bit of fluctuation for child birth. It was a beautiful thing.

One day, I was feeling especially sad about the way other things in my life were going, namely our livelihood was at stake. To soothe my soul, I sent my husband out for a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice-cream . He came back with two pints and we each settled in to the chocolate decadence to soothe our pain.

Things did not improve in our world and so the ice cream became a nightly occurrence and the pounds started to pack on at an alarming rate! When the dreaded unemployment came and we moved our family away from our world and our friends and settled into real poverty the weight gain continued. We no longer ate the ice cream but settled into pasta, bread and cheese as a staple diet (because it was all we could afford). This went on for a quite a while as we visited to food bank and were forced to eat all the processed foods that I knew would poison my body and bring my health down again.

Now let me just say this.. I was not an "over-eater". You know those folks, the ones on "The Biggest Loser" who admit to their evening binges. I was just getting older and my body was not processing what I was taking in. I didn't sit down with a bag of potato chips a night and binge - but I did make poor choices in food. I paid the price.

I was frantic, frustrated and became quite depressed. My weight now started to balloon and I worked very hard to find a way to lose that weight again. I exercised regularly but it didn't touch the pounds. I started eating less... smaller portions of bad food. As my weight increased, I ate less and less and less.

And then it stopped. I stayed fat at about 80-90 pounds more than my initial weight and nothing would budge it... nothing. (That's not really true, it LOVED to go up). I went on regular walks with friends and worked out at the gym up to 2 hours a day.... nothing.... Unfortunately, I continued to eat the "wrong" foods because I couldn't afford to feed a family of four all the "right" foods.

Ten years later - here I sit... Now, at this ripe old age, other things start happening. High cholesterol, high blood pressure.... high risk. Health insurance prices go up.... Anxiety elevates with exercise as I experienced pain in my left arm.... better just sit it out. Clothing choices are ugly.

To make matters worse I entered a profession that "exposed" my problem (pardon the pun). As a professional photographer and being on the speaking circuit leaves you open to people taking your picture! I'd suck in my stomach and push out my face and still... I looked BIG! I thought REALLY - am I THAT heavy? I didn't see that me when I looked in the mirror. (Little tip here... we adjust to a certain weight in the mirror and don't see what is really there - fat or thin.) Viewing those images caused a terrible drop in self-esteem as I realized that new people who didn't know me, saw THAT person and I felt like a loser. My first impulse was to hide. But anyone who knows me knows that's pretty impossible for me - I'm an out there kind of person.

The spill-over wasn't good either. Although my husband and one of my daughters had a very effective metabolism, my other daughter unfortunately inherited my propensity to gain weight. Now I'm looking at her health going down and bringing other worries in there because of some of the available poor foods in the house and in her world. It is the gift that keeps on giving - only worse.

America is the fattest nation in the world. We are raised on junk food... it's cheap and excessive. Poorer communities have more problems with their weight than the wealthy for they have the resources to eat right and exercise. Poverty breads hopelessness. When one feels hopeless, often they will reach for a vice... eating being the most socially acceptable.

I ate for joy. Not a lot. No. Maybe one night I'm feeling a bit discouraged with the way my life has turned out and I got to the golden arches to get a nice "snack size" creamy treat or a quick trip thru the drive through for a Mcdouble for my dinner. That's all it took for me to stay in the fat zone. I know others do it and don't get fat... but I guess I'm not them and that was the FIRST 'get your head out of the sand' moment for me to take in order to turn the corner. I resented that I couldn't live life to the fullest without paying with extra pounds!

We all have to find out what "truth" will make us move forward and awaken from our slumber. We all need to look at our habits and understand that you will not get different results by doing the same thing. Sometimes little changes are enough, and other times desperate times call for desperate measures.

This is what woke me up... I was going to get a photography award and walk in front of hundreds of other photographers. The cameras were coming out and I was supposed to wear a cocktail dress. UGH - do they even MAKE them in my size?! Well yes, of course they do but did I want to look like an elephant on stilts walking across the stage? I think not! I still have a little sense of pride left. I decided that enough is enough... yes, right before the holidays.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what I decided to do....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I've been more silent as of late than I normally am. There are times that one needs to share and then there are other times that one needs to go into seclusion and gather. What I "give" in my blog, comes from my heart and from my own experience. This site is after all named Anne Clay's Art and Soul and I try to put my soul into everything that I write.

At first when I started this blog, I wrote some great solutions and antidotes for life and uncovering your creativity. Each could be used separately for life skills improvement. Perhaps I wrote about this because I felt that MY life could use some improvement and I was taking you all along on my journey to reaching my full potential as a person, artist and any other role that I fill but that does not define me. I am a spirit, living in a body and engaging in a myriad a temporary roles. Right now my role is as an entrepreneur, an artist, a photographer, a mother, a wife, a daughter/sister/niece, etc. These all change as stages in life progress. My body changes as I am no longer experiencing life as a young adult... In a while, I will experience life as and "older person" (we'll just leave it at that).

Ok, so what exactly am I trying to say???

I'm metamorphisizing! I am shedding old skin and becoming new. I'm somewhere "out on a limb" and spinning my little cocoon and transforming. Since we all have so many facets, we may be in different places at different times and sometimes through life we take the same journey over and over again until it sticks.

Little by little I am questioning my beliefs and re-defining my world and myself. This doesn't mean that my old definition was bad or faulty in anyway (nor does it mean that it wasn't), but it means that I have outgrown those clothes and need some new ones.

I invite you to join me on this journey. I will share with you some of my tools and some of my insights. I will not hide my victories or struggles from you because I believe that we are all here to help each other on our journey. This path of life is not easy as all of you know! Just when you think you have it all figured out, the rules change and you find yourself back at square one. We all have trials ... we all struggle with parts of ourselves and things in other people that complicate our own lives.

Here's where I want to end up and I want all of you to end up too..... I want to be all that I was meant to be! I want to do all the things that are in my heart to do (and for that I need money). I want to be a strong, lean machine  - meaning my car (body) needs to run at optimum efficiency. Many of you know I deal with a chronic illness that has tried to house itself in me for more than 1/2 of my life. In as much as I have power, I don't let it stop me and I will continue to fight it. Bringing my body to the best possible health gives me a fighting chance.

I want my businesses (yes, I have a few) to take off and fly. I don't do business just for the money of it - I do it because I believe in what I'm doing. I believe in sharing and teaching others to develop their art and creativity skills. I believe in encouraging others to be themselves and break out from the boxes that have been placed on them throughout their lives. I believe in helping women thrive in their small business ventures. I believe in making this world a better place. In my own little world, and in my own little way, this is my goal. This is what keeps me going day after day.

I pour into my children. I support my husband. I love on my family and friends. I want to be the positive part in a person's world so that they can smile and feel joy and thrive!

So, if you are up for this.... continue to tune into my blog and tell others about it. If it helps you, please comment on the bottom - I so welcome your comments. If you don't like to do that - that's fine too... I'm easy going...

I love you guys! I appreciate your readership and support!

For today... have a GREAT day! Be love to your world. Give some extra hugs and kisses! Hold open doors for strangers and great everyone with a smile! Say a prayer for those you pass who are hurting or challenged. Your smile may just make someone's day!

Must Have Book... Online Reputation Management for Dummies

How is your business going? Do you have a good online presence or would you like more help in establishing a brand and identity that will bring you in the business that you want?

I have a great treat for you here. My good friend Lori Randall Stradtman has authored a wonderful book called Online Reputation Management for Dummies. It is chock full of great wisdom and step by step instructions on how to make your business soar. Do yourself a favor this holiday season and pick up a copy of the book for yourself and for anyone else who is even considering starting a business. It's an investment that will return to you in great dividends!

Lori is just another "one of us".  She is a woman has who worked hard to become an expert in her field. Her research for this book has been extensive. You can help her out by purchasing a copy of this book and in return she will help you out by imparting to you her vast amount of knowledge and experience on a subject that could literally transform your business!

Lori and I are working together on a new business venture that will help all of you "entrepreneurs" out there turn the corner in your business. Stay tuned for more details.

Click here to buy the book!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Artistic inspiration... Michael and Inessa Garmash

This couple takes "musing" to a whole new level. Many of you know that I love to speak about "muses" how couples have inspired art through the ages. The story goes like this... boy artist meets girl artist, boy artist is inspired more deeply to paint, girl artist stands strong in the background behind her man. Once in a while girl artist gets the kudos because her talent shines. Michael and Inessa have joined forces to paint together!

Michael and Inessa are both extremely gifted people. Michael Garmash was born in 1969 in the Ukraine and became an art teacher at Lugansk State Fine Art College where he was also valedictorian. 

Inessa Kitaichik was born in 1972 in Lipetsk, russia and excelled in ballet, music and gymnastics. She later entered Lugansk Fine Art school.

Here's where the story gets interesting..... Inessa and Michael met at a bus stop on campus one day. The next day Inessa awoke to find her portrait painted ALL over town, around the staircase of her apartment building, on her building and her road. The police arrested Michael but he was later released! Ah... true love....

Quite a few years into their marriage Michael painted a portrait of his daughter. Their little girl decided to get into the act and altered her father's painting. Inessa "fixed" it, not telling Michael. When Michael submitted it, he was told it was one of his best paintings. Together now they are a husband and wife painting team.

Artistic synergy at it's best!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What would you do if money didn't matter?

In our family we spend quite a lot of time talking about careers that will produce a good income. We train our children who are on the verge of adulthood to get a job that will pay AND that they will enjoy doing. One does not have to be exclusive.

Years ago I chose NOT to be an artist so that I would be assured of an income. Fast forward a few years and I'm an artist making a good income. But that wasn't good enough for me apparently because soon I chose to go back to college and go into ministry. For some reason I thought that ministry would be more stable a career than art (that's really a silly notion). Fast forward again and .... I'm making money doing art.

I love art. I love everything about it. I love to study it and I love to create it. I love to talk about it and to think creativity and I love to teach it. Because I love it, I have worked very hard at my craft and it has paid off.

A few weeks ago I mentioned a book, Talent is overrated: What Really Separates world-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin. In his book, Colvin shows scientific evidence and studies that suggest that people aren't born talented, they develop their talent. Granted, we all have different aptitudes and interests in our personalities but what distinguishes the good from the great is practice. I'm not speaking repetition as much as applied technics that improve your skill such as the drills a great teacher would put you through.

Bottom line, if you have a deep, penetrating interest, you CAN get really good at it. Once you are a master, there are people out there who will pay for your service. Don't let naysayers discourage you or tell you otherwise. You have one life, one go around. Do what makes your heart sing! By doing so you will bless the world with the true gift of what you have to offer.... it's good for the soul!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So how are you at delayed gratification? Does it drive you nuts? Are you able to put off what you want right now for what you want in the future?

Good question to ask during the holidays when we drink that extra drink or want to take a daily visit out for our special holiday treat at an easy to find food establishment.

I decided last week, 1 week before Thanksgiving to become a Vegan. I've done it before with amazing results. I had a hard time keeping it up for more than a year because it was so counter-culture at the time. The thing is that I felt and looked GREAT! As pressure increased and my income decreased for a while there I ended up going the route of dairy and adding other things to my diet that proved to be the beginning of the end.

Society has changed a bit. There are many more vegan options at restaurants and cafeterias. Grocery stores have health food departments now on their shelves so a weekly trip to a health food store is not always necessary. In addition, Whole Foods have sprung up all over giving me the ability to find pretty much anything I need fairly close by, even my in rural environment.

So, I'm trying again. I'm doing this for a number of reasons. First, my health. Like the rest of you, I fear the signs of aging, stroke, heart attack and cancer. Anything that I can do to reduce those risks are appealing to me. Second, I'd like the side affects of a slimmer me. I don't know why conventional plans like diet and exercise don't seem to work for me anymore but drastic times call for drastic measures.

So far in one week I have more energy than I remember having in years. Granted, I have been walking 12-19 miles a week too, but I believe my diet has more to do with it. Many of the aches, pains and arthritic conditions that I have been experiencing is all but alleviated in just one week. My glands are less swollen and there's a bounce in my step.

A few days ago my daughter fell off a three foot stage during her performance. She's find thankfully but it was such a shaking experience that what I wanted to do was reach for a bowl of Ben and Jerry's, but instead, I drank a cup of tea. By denying my short term satisfaction, I was able to focus on my long term goal... health. The next morning I did not wake up with guilt, I woke up with a stronger sense of purpose and fortitude.

If you want some "encouragement" to go vegan or to just get some of your eating more under control, read Skinny Bitch. A bit of knowledge is a great tool.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Artistic Inspiration... Christopher Cuseo

Christopher CuseoChristopher Cuseo

I have a thing for butterflies. They are free and colorful and represent a passage of time from the lowly worm to something so much more enchanting. I think the metaphorical imagery gets me every time. I found Christopher Cuseo on "artist a day" and am enthralled. Watch the video below for some great creative inspiration on this the 15th and middle mark day of our creativity challenge.

Now check out a collaborative video with another painter. Inspiring! Do you have someone that you can collaborate with to take your art to a whole new level or just to have a good time?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Artistic Inspiration... Leszek Sokol

Just when you think you've seen it all comes a new, fresh spin on romance and whimsy. Leszek Sokol brings beauty and flow to his images with vivid color and charm. Leszek studied art in Warsaw and I have to tell you, most of what I can find written about him is in a different language so there's no link for you today, but lots of pictures for you to feast your eyes on. I'm going to spend some time with them, studying them and seeing how I can incorporate some of these feel into my own work. I have some ideas. This is a bit out of my current "dark" comfort zone but art can generate a happy mood in addition to a melancholic air.

Speaking of which  - it is day number 14 in your creativity challenge - that means we are almost halfway through. If you are going to be creative this year and make some Christmas presents, this month would be the time to do it before the rush of the holiday season hits you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Life Mapping... Creativity Day 13

I got pretty creative last night I'm pleased to say and it spilled on to my morning. In doing so, I think that I came up with a very clever idea (if I say so myself). Sometimes I struggle with "figuring things out". It's like life is a puzzle that has to be solved. If I have a problem I have to come up with a solution or I'm not satisfied. The trouble is, as we all know by now... there isn't a solution for everything!

I'm a self-help book junkie. It's true. If you look at my Kindle list... you will see it! Most of my books are about marketing, relationships, building businesses, and living with people on the autistic spectrum. A look at my library ten years ago and you would have seen 500 plus ministry books on worship, prayer and spiritual warfare. Five years before that you would have noticed that I was searching for peace with a chronic illness and dietary direction. I knew everything about the standard american diet and why it's destroying the health of our people and I was determined not to go that route (which I held to for a few years at least). I was very near becoming a homeopathic healer. Before I married I read lots of books on "how to be single" (just in case). Yes, I have a long history of self-help books.

Have they helped? Good question. Some have, some haven't. I really think that they have probably made me the person that I am today; someone who questions life and weighs the cause and effects of my actions. They have made me more aware. That coupled with a few good stints of therapy have helped me view life from a broad perspective.  I have learned how to look after my own needs, while I meet the needs of others. I have learned how not to lose myself and how to continue to march forward in the face of adversity. I have learned to give grace to others. I have learned how to take really good care of my body and although I've slipped in that regard, I'm trying to get back to that. Most recently I have learned how to make demands on my life and the world and to be very specific about what it is that I want and need. I used to be afraid to do that because I thought that God ordained my every day and action. It felt kind of futile to make plans if my almighty Father was just going to come in and change it all around anyway.

As a child, one of the many verses that I remember is James 4:13-15. I recall sitting on the stairs in the kitchen facing the back door while my father read that verse one day after a meal and it stuck.

"Now listen, you who say, "today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"

If you read on the next verses are about boasting. This whole passage is about boasting NOT planning! Somewhere in my little young mind that day I decided that it was not 'godly' to plan. That my friends is a recipe for disaster in a life that needs direction and focus. My 25 year bout with chronic illness only secured the knowledge that I really didn't have a lot of control over my life.

Today I decided to balance that notion with a few other verses. (Ok, I was probably 12 when the first idea dawned on me and now almost 40 years later I'm 'getting a clue').  Proverbs 29:18. "Where there is no vision, the people perish".  Or Habakkuk 2:2: "Write the vision, make it plain on tablets that he may run who reads it".

Which leads me to my point. This morning, I sat down and planned. I didn't plan a general "where do I want to be in the next 5 or 10 years" plan like the books tell us to do. No. I planned out my life and the lives of my children too. I planned their marriages, graduations and grad schools. I speculated on timing of things I will not mention.  Lest you think I've gone mad, rest assured I know I can't REALLY plan these things and I know my life really IS in the hands of God. However, I just needed some focus, some direction. The last time that I set goals it went like this: "Get married, have kids, do ministry". Then the goals changed to "make enough money to support the family, get healthy". Then it was "be a good photographer and teach". I think it's time for an update. In lieu of the fact that I have passed the half way marker of my life (maybe by quite a bit), I think it's time to get even MORE specific.

I started out by recounting the past five years. In thinking back on them, so many things have become a blur. Seems I may have been living on sheer adrenaline with little use of my brain. Systematically I mapped out my years broken up by summer and Christmas. I noted things like the death of my little dog Angel and the time I replaced her with my current fluffy family members. I thought back to the three year long attempt at selling our house in North Carolina and the years of redoing it by ourselves on a shoestring budget while my husband worked two jobs and I ran my busy photography business. I recorded two moves and a bunch of conferences, photography schools and projects. It was actually a tiring experience seeing all that I had done in the past five years and wondered where I found the energy.

Then I set my sights on the next five years. Two children in college, my husband and I each planning on going back to school, him for an MBA (he already has an Mdiv) and me for an MFA so that I can teach art/photography at a college level. I planned my weight loss goals and how much weight I could lose by a certain time if I'm really disciplined. This added 20 years of health to my life so now I was free to figure things out past the age of 60.

Before, my goals went something like this: "Some day I will get my MFA". Some day I will go to Europe. Some day I will make more money so that I can do what I want with my life (I didn't even set an amount)." By getting specific and laying it all out by the month and year, I now have a goal to reach for. It tells me that life will not always be the way it is now. I won't be paying school tuition for my kids forever. They will eventually move on and get jobs and hopefully marry and have fulfilling lives of their own. I will get to travel and see all the places in the world that I'm itching to visit before they have to wheel me around in a chair. I will meet my life's objectives (God willing). :)

Ok, it's your turn. This week sometime or maybe today as your creativity exercise, can you map out your life? Be specific. What are the things that are really important for you to do? What are the challenges that you face now and what is your plan to eradicate them or at least bring some sense of peace? Do you need a job or are you interested in starting your own business? Are you happy and fulfilled? When you look back at the end of your life what will you wish you had done? What regrets can you fend off now?

Life really does go fast! In your 20's you don't think it will, in your 30's you still feel pretty invincible. At 40 you feel like you've hit your stride but as you near your 50's, 60's and 70's, you realize that life passes in the blink of an eye. Don't let your days flitter by without purpose and determination. Be as deliberate about your life plan as you are about your career plans or about education for your children. Get that pen and paper out and start planning... if you want make it an art project... be creative about it! Look ahead to the future with hope and passion... it's good for the soul!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creativity Challenge Day 12

How are you all doing on your creativity challenge? I have a confession to make - I'm doing very poorly. It's amazing to me that as an artist, someone who enjoys creating with everything in me, I'm having a hard time carving out a little bit of time for creativity every day.

It's not that I'm not being productive - on the contrary, I'm using my time very well. It's not for lack of want, because I always WANT to make something out of nothing, to create beauty. I think it's because sometimes life gets in the way.

Maybe my use of "creative" is too narrow. After all, I am being creative every time I walk/run my multiple miles a day.  I'm always wondering if there is a better way to try to get in shape and how can I get the most out of my work out without placing myself in cardiac arrest.

This past week I spent a good deal of time reading and researching for a new business venture. It's been exhilarating - but has it been creative? No, I've been spending most of my week in the left side of my brain. Although some of my research has picked up that when you exercise recessive part of your brain, it actually develops your creativity more. I have a friend who is living on his left side right now that could probably argue against that but the proof will lie in the future.

It's hard to mix the left and right sides at the same time. This is why artists can be (not always) notoriously bad at business because they live in a world of ideas but can never bring them into fruition. Yes, that's me if I don't go over to the left side and channel "Barbara" which is my nice way of saying I try to thing "what would mom do" in this situation.

There are other interesting things that I am turning up on my research. Last night I accidently bought a book for my kindle. I hate when that happens! My thumb slipped so when I meant to push the thin box to move the curser down to "delete sample",  I pushed the "BUY" button! Being Dutch I then felt I must read the book to make it worth my while. Did you know that there is no such thing as a naturally talented person? According to this author and lots of research, they have decided that people actually develop skill through practice. Tiger Woods is a golf genius because his father trained him from early in his years. Even Mozart had great training and the help of his teacher who apparently "corrected" his earlier music. This is good news for those who feel "ungifted". The bad news is that according to the studies you have to get an early start on your passion - preferably in your toddler years. Hmmm.

Well, I must get back to that book. I promised myself that I would finish it before I could delve into the stuff that I really love. OUCH....that might just be my problem right there. Priorities! I'm making myself finish a book that I didn't even want to buy so that I can go spend some time being creativity! Do you do that too!?? Is creativity your reward for a day well done? If it is - maybe we can turn it around... I will finish my tedious work AFTER I spent an hour in the studio. Try it and let me know how it works out for you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Artistic Inspiration... Pierre-Auguste Cot

A little painters artistic inspiration for you today. I have these two posters in my bedroom and stare at them every morning when I wake up.... I LOVE them.... although I would enjoy the real deal more - a painted, physical portrait with depth, the posters give me a sense of the image.

There is just so much I love about these images. I love the translucent and flowing quality of the draping over the women. I love the great attention to detail in their anatomy - almost perfect really. I love the way light directs your eye through the background. I love the young, loving, carefree feel of the partners. If you are interested in owning them, I purchased these posters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.