Archives for posts with tag: do you?

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are.Β It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… πŸ˜‰

Sipping my coffee and thinking about all the many things I’ve tried out over the years, qualities I have explored, places I have seen, styles enjoyed, projects undertaken, seems like a lot of variety – whole lifetimes of change. A lot of what I have been, I am not now. A lot of what I have done, I no longer do today. I’ve picked up skills, and built practice, that have since fallen into disuse… I give a moment of thought to the things that have mattered most (not all of which I pursued beyond the past moment in which they existed). I think of how all of this contributes to who I am, now.

…Hell of an interesting and varied journey… certainly worth giving a moment of thought to. I put on some music. I get a second coffee. I look around the studio, half-finished canvases… just everywhere. lol This back and forth stuff between here and there every weekend takes a creative toll. For the moment I satisfy myself thinking about the not-too-distant future that is (hopefully) retirement. My life is, I am hopeful, barely half over. πŸ™‚

Try things. It’s okay if you don’t “stick with it” endlessly forever. Learn new things, try new stuff, make things, do things, learn things – there isn’t anything “wrong” with taking something up, learning a bit about it, moving on to the next interesting thing. Oh, I know, there’s a ferocious culture of “don’t quit” and “you never finish anything” lingering about to discourage shallow interest, and changes of heart – and that literally does not have to matter at all. Interested in the sound of Mandarin Chinese as a language? Start learning it. Lose interest in things that are hard? It’s okay; languages can be quite difficult, and maybe you give up on that – you are still changed by what you have learned. Expose yourself to the world of options and opportunities that exists. Become more than you are.

Become more than you are. Be the person you most want to be – whoever that is. πŸ™‚

It’s not too late.

Begin again. πŸ™‚

 

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about life as art. Authenticity, creativity, beauty… transcendence of pain, finding voice for those things in life for which we lack language or words… isn’t a life well-lived, itself, an artistic endeavor? Life, lived, as an art form, itself… means… what? Another day in the studio. Today, a lot of questions, consideration of the day behind me, work already started, unfinished – like life.

Who is the artist?Β A question for answering, individually, subjectively, personally. There is only one answer, for any one artist, really;Β gnothi seauton. The journey to the answer, is the life as art.

A woman told me, once, some long time ago in another life altogether, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body – I’m not an artist. I don’t do anything creative.” I took that at face value, at the time, and it fit my understanding of the world, then. I later saw her in her home. Her home struck me as a piece of fairly wonderful artistry, and the lack of paint staining her jeans, or dust under her nails, or bits and pieces of creative moments needing to be cleaned up didn’t detract from that impression at all. Her home was lovely, orderly, cared-for – each piece of memorabilia, each ornament, carefully selected, an impression exquisitely crafted – how is this not also art? Wherever she moved, she appeared to be quite carefully placed to communicate a mood, a moment, or an idea of beauty. The point I’m trying to make is that, as an artist, it isn’t really for me to define “what is art?” – only to define who I am, as an artist, myself. Those choices are not made of words – they are conveyed by my actions. By my art.

Words over coffee. It was a good day in the studio yesterday. Playing with paint – and chaos. I choose my materials with care.

A pair, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and UV. “Chaos Theory”

I did several pieces as pairs yesterday, specifically indulging my fascination with chaos theory. I started with two canvases, the same palette of colors for each, the same measured amounts of those pigments, placed similarly on each canvas, the canvases placed side by side, and worked as a single larger piece, to the same playlist. Mood, movement, brush strokes, technique – all as much the same as I can easily make them.Β  In every instance, of course, two different canvases still result. Not just different-as-in-separate-and-individual, but also just… different, as in – not the same. It was a fun day in the studio, playing with science, chemistry, and philosophy.

I spent the day in a meditation made of movement, color, and music, contemplating differences and similarities, considering the way I’ve carved up my life into “separate canvases”; the life of the artist, alongside the life of the analyst. The lover, alongside the angry woman. The professional, alongside the free spirit. The citizen, alongside the protester. I spent the day thinking about life as art, and contemplating this vast broad canvas of experiences as a single unified whole. I spent the day free of any constraints aside from those I have assigned myself. I answered a few questions – I asked a lot more.

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

I gardened later. I grilled a lovely summer evening repast. I meditated as evening came, and watched the dwindling twilight become night. It was the sort of day I could single out from among many and say “this is some of my best work”, as an artist.

Happily enough, it’s already time to begin again. The day stretches ahead of me, a blank canvas. You, too. What will you do with it?

I’m “taking a media break” from news feeds, streaming contact, social media – pretty much most of the digital distractions available have been paused, logged off, or shut down for the weekend. I suck at this, so it is a constant effort to be vigilant about the potential time and bandwidth drains, and to choose wisely – and consistently. This? This right here is part of who I am. If I were not writing this blog post, I would be perched on a sofa, chair, or rock somewhere, with a hardbound blank book in my lap, still writing. Probably about the same number of words. This is a thing I do – and have done so since I was quite young (12?13?).Β  No point, really, in trying to halt the flow of words, entirely; it would be an endeavor with (historically) limited success. πŸ˜‰ Gnothi seauton.

Today I’m spending the day (and likely the weekend) in my studio. Painting. Sorting through years of stacked canvases to select inventory for sale. Giving thought, too, to the installation at the gallery where I am presently showing my work. I could rotate something out, put up something different… or… not. πŸ™‚ I could paint all day, instead.

In the studio, I’ve got a couple larger, time-consuming works that I am working on slowly, with care, but today “feels like” new work…

I sometimes find it tougher to get started on new work than I expect to. I have an idea in my head of where the work should finish, what I want to see, but the “point A to point B” of that journey rarely seems to straightforward. Do I begin with a finished background, already painted? Will I “ruin it”? (Which really only amounts to painting something different than I’d planned on – which happens a lot. πŸ™‚ ) Truth is, like any beginning on any journey that seems to have a fixed destination, but an uncertain route, getting started sometimes feels… hard. So, I put a fresh canvas on my easel, much the same way I’d write an observational first sentence when I’m unsure what to write, and grab a big brush, a tube of glow in the dark, and a bunch of glitter. “My first sentence” on this weekend’s journey isn’t written in words – it’s done on canvas, in glow-in-the-dark and glitter. πŸ™‚ Just a bit of fun, loosely inspired by summer mornings, and fireworks shows, and a chill, happy place within myself that is purely okay with who I am. It’s an excellent beginning, lacking in performance pressure, crafted of coffee, birdsong, and personal delight.

…a beginning has to start somewhere… (an unfinished work of glitter and glow, begins the day).

What makes your day – or your life – “sparkle” for you? What do you yearn to make, build, or do? What do you resent your job over, that you wish you “had more time for”? I get it… we’ve got to get out there in the world and hustle, make some motherfucking money, pay the bills, “get ahead”… but… what about what matters most? What about your passion? What about that spark in your soul? Write a novel? Poetry? Paint? Sketch? Sculpt? Craft? Build? Create? Restore? Grow? What excites you about life? Who are you when you are not at work? There’s time for that, too – there has to be, otherwise, what’s the point of living? The thing is – sometimes we have to set a firm boundary, snatch our time back from those who would have it in service of their agenda, instead of our own. Don’t forget that person in the mirror – you matter. Take care of you. Live some tiny fragment of even your boldest dreams!

“All that glitters” is most definitely not gold – some of it? Some of it is actually, literally, “just” glitter… but glitter has its place, too.Β  (My Traveling Partner calls it faerie scabies, and some days its “place” does seem to be… everywhere. lol) πŸ™‚

Enjoy life’s sparkle!

Start somewhere. Begin again. πŸ™‚

 

 

Which matters more, skillful self-care or following through on plans? Or, how about this one, is keeping regular hours more important than “being there” for a friend? Or, what about “work life balance” – is the work more important than the life? Is the income more important than the quality of the experience? Is it more necessary to be a skillful emotionally self-sufficient adult, or to hold on to a child-like sense of wonder, whimsy, and joy?

Here’s a thought; maybe stop trying to divide every damned thing neatly into two clear choices? Life does not actually exist in that form in any common way. We have immense power over our own experience, through our choices, and life’s menu is far more vast than any one false dichotomy.

Yes – good self-care really matters. When I don’t care for myself skillfully (nutrition meals, appropriate caloric intake, good sleep hygiene, getting enough exercise, taking prescribed medication on time as directed, following a strict meditation practice, and generally treating myself as someone who matters to me), my world and my experience of life slowly begins to degrade over time, until my quality of life overall suffers, and I am not the person I most want to be.

Yes – following through on commitments matter. We count on each other as a community. Our shared strength far exceeds our individual strengths. Planning and following through allows us all to level up based on shared strengths.

Yes – work/life balance matters; when we work for pay, what we “earn” is a direct conversion of our life force into spendable currency that we need to meet other obligations and care for ourselves, but it also comes at the cost of giving up precious limited life time, life force, and individual resources. Clearly, there needs to be a balance, and most likely that balance should favor us as individuals, rather than our employers, generally. Or so it seems to me. We are not machinery.

Yes – learning to adult skillfully takes a lot of the strain out of adulting at all. If we can’t adult for ourselves, more than likely we’ve pushed that burden off onto someone else, who is now having to be the grown up in the room for more than one person. Be your own boss. Be your own grown up. Be the person you most want to be.

Yes – child-like wonder, a sense of whimsy and fun, a playful nature, and the willingness to let go a little, and to enjoy life, are delicious additions to a generally adult experience of life. I highly recommend it – but perhaps not the expense of the adulting basics necessary to keep one’s shit together appropriately day-to-day. <shrugs> I don’t know. Do you.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not a choice between two things. That’s a gross over-simplification of how real life works for real people in a real world; it’s so much more complicated than that, so much richer. Choices. Subtlety. Nuance. All the things.

I know. It sounds like a lot to deal with, and it is so easy to become overwhelmed. Narrowing things down to two clear choices seems so much easier – but that’s an illusion. It’s a game we made up that doesn’t really work very well, due to overlooking all the many other choices beyond just whatever to we’ve decided to admit exist in the moment. Mix and match. Choose your adventure. Allow yourself the freedom to look at the whole menu, don’t just sit down to life’s table and fall back on some shortcut for efficiency’s sake – this is your fucking life!! Live it.

Should I go to the store for windshield washer fluid at the end of a long work day – because I do need it – or should I “just skip it” because I am tired? Well, come on now, there are clearly more choices, right? I could… pick it up on the morning from the gas station down the street on my way. I could order it online and have it delivered, and hope that I don’t really need it sooner than that. I could make some homemade from ingredients on hand. So… yeah. More than two choices, by far. This is true of most experiences. Give yourself a chance to consider more than two choices. Yes, and even consider choices that you, perhaps, see as “not really an option”; you may be filtering out more than you realize.

False dichotomies are everywhere in our thinking. Advertising is practically built on them. Politics, too. It’s a lot of bullshit, frankly, and we can do better. That is also a choice. Are you ready to choose differently? Are you ready to begin again?