Monthly Archives: July 2012

What you do is irrelevant until you do this

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I’ve been trying to follow my bliss (it’s not a destination, it’s a journey). The thing is, I have a pretty good idea of what interests me, what skills I possess, what my talents are and what I need to improve. There is no ONE RIGHT WAY. This is all good news.

But I wonder if I’ve been asking the right questions. Or more specifically, if I’ve asked the right question (singular).

What is that all important question? It’s not what I want to do or what I am passionate about. The question I think we need to ask ourselves first is this:

 WHO do I want to be?

 We are all multidimensional people who have lots of interests, skills and talents but what we do and who we want to be are not the same thing.  Asking WHO we want to be opens up a completely different dialogue.

 To answer this question, you have to dig deeper.  And I think your success in achieving a life you love is determined NOT by what you do, but by deciding WHO you want to be. And then using that as a means to align all of your efforts and make decisions. WHO you want to be affects your thoughts, behavior, beliefs and emotions unlike what you want to do.  WHO you want to be lays the foundation for what kind of (doctor, teacher, artist, banker, mother) you will be.

Here’s an example. Gordon McDonald said that there are two types of people: Driven and Called. Driven people believe they own everything and spend huge amounts of energy protecting what they think they own (relationships, things, businesses). Called people believe that everything is on loan. As a result, called people tend to foster or cultivate relationships. They understand that people and things will flow in and out of their lives and are more grateful for the chance to have them and while in their possession, will act as stewards, caring for it for whomever has it next.

The point isn’t whether you agree with McDonald or if one is better than the other. The point is becoming aware of your subconscious thoughts and how they might direct your behavior.  Once you become aware of them you can decide if they are serving you well or not. Awareness will help you make a different choice.  You can live life on automatic pilot or you can take control of the wheel and steer in the direction you want to go.  Accept the responsibility.

Most of us don’t give a lot of thought about what we want to do, often falling into the first thing that comes along. We probably give even less thought about WHO we want to be. Asking what I want to do before figuring out WHO I want to be is putting the cart before the horse.  Humans are illogical and imperfect beings. Our behavior is determined by our feelings and emotions so figure out who you want to be and that will help you reframe your perspective and align your behavior in a (hopefully) more positive direction.

Figure out WHO you want to be and your path to what you want to do will be a lot simpler (not necessarily easier).

Learn how to Draw

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I’ve always loved to draw but I was way too critical of my work. I thought that “real” artists came out of the womb drawing like da Vinci.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we demand perfection and great technical skill right at the beginning? If we demanded that of our children we would have never evolved.

A couple of years ago, instead of coming up with New Year resolutions, I declared that it would be a year of my art. I took several art classes and a bookbinding class.

One of the art classes was at SMU and the teacher taught Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Drawing is like any other skill – sewing, cooking, driving, etc. You can learn it. I think the big hang up to learning how to draw is most people don’t learn how to see.  Your teacher tells you to draw your shoe, so you try to draw what you percieve as your shoe. In other words, your perception of “shoe” gets in the way of actually seeing your shoe.

I would highly recommend that you learn how to draw. I think Edwards’ book is the best because it really breaks down the skills you need. Some other fun books are:

Drawing Lab by Carla Sonheim

Any of the Zentangle books

Drawing for Older Children and Teens – A creative Method for Adult Beginners, too by Mona Brookes.

All you need is some paper and a pencil to get started. Relax, doodle, let your mind wander and be free. Learning how to draw will help open up your creative channels. 

 

Crayon Batik

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All of this talk about finding my bliss has put me on a DIY journey. I’ve been itching to flex my creative muscles and someone put a bug in my ear about dyeing. Which led to a book about batik. Which got me thinking that you should be able to do this with crayons. Which eventually let to this tutorial.

My first effort was definitely a learning experience. Here’s what I learned:

1. Trying to take off the paper from crayons that are 10 years (or older, I raided my 16 year old’s art box) could be tricky. Paper can stick to crayons.

2. If you plan on doing this more than once, buy an electric skillet that your muffin tin can fit into. It took me twice as long for this project because I had to keep putting the crayons back in the oven to remelt them (not very energy or time efficient).

3. When you apply the dye, wipe off the excess, unless you want a lot of black blotches.

4. Start small to get the hang of it. I decided to do two rather large panels and it took me 6 hours. I was losing steam and enthusiasm the last two hours.

The end results weren’t bad but they weren’t perfect. As I pointed out above, I made the mistake of not wiping the excess black dye from my panels. While they are usable, they aren’t as good as I hoped for.

I can understand why batiking is not a popular craft. It takes a lot of time. First I had to prewash my fabric (I used muslin). Then I had to figure out my color palette. It took me a lot longer to peel the paper off of the crayons. The biggest time waster was having to put the crayons back in the oven every 5 minutes. And then there is the ironing, but that is the most gratifying part of the process because you can see your final design coming to life.

I intend to try this technique again, after I get an electric skillet. I hope to  find one at the thrift store or a garage sale. I have lots of crayons left over and having gone through the process once, I know how to make it go faster the next go round. I was hoping to use these panels to make a bag but going forward, I think I’m going to stick to six or eight inch squares and use them in quilts or smaller bags.

Please leave me a comment about your crafty adventures – the good, the bad and the ugly!

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Bliss – Midterm Break

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Or “Don’t be in a hurry to figure it all out”.

 I’ve been trying to pinpoint my passion for a long time. My search always centered around a defined set of variables but I’d jump from one thing to the next, convinced each next thing was “it”. 

My first mistake has been to frame each of my little ventures as “the one” instead of seeing it as playing around – trying it on to see how it fits. I would have saved a lot of heartache and left more of my self-esteem intact if I had approached it with that mindset.

 My second mistake has been to jump right in – guns loaded. Don’t get me wrong, action is good. You should act, but maybe you should hold off investing in resources and education (i.e tons of money and time), etc until you know it’s really what you want. And sometimes you can act too soon. Sometimes it is beneficial to just let things stew around for a bit. Let your subconscious work on the problem. Do a little bit more exploring, let more of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

Here’s what happened to me since I’ve started posting about finding my bliss. I’ve done all the steps that I talked about and I continue to learn. All good. But I was anxious to get on with it. I wanted to have it all figured out – NOW – even though some aspects were still a little blurry. I felt as if something was not quite right. But I chalked that up to insecurity, stepping out of my comfort zone.

But yesterday I made a connection between two pieces of unrelated information that I found and suddenly it all became clear. I knew what it was all along but I was focused on the wrong part of the equation. I may not have made an earthshaking discovery, but a little tweak in my thinking (remember “If your not getting the results you want, do something different – that includes thinking about the problem), brought about such a sense of purpose and clarity that I hadn’t had before. And I know that this time I really hit the nail on the head because I suddenly came alive. I felt as if I was an electrical cord and someone just plugged me into the wall. I was energized and literally buzzing with excitement.

It’s not fuzzy or blurry anymore. The pieces are falling into place and all because I gave it a little more time. Sometimes procrastination can be your best friend.

What have you learned about your journey? I’d love to hear about it.

Inner Peace

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Peace of mind. I want it.

 So I picked up Dr. Wayne Dyer’s 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace. (As a side note, I got it at the Salvation Army for 50 cents. I get great deals on books there. Just the other day I got 6 books for $8, If you are a bibliophile like me, it’s worth checking out.)

This book is exactly what I need. As an introvert I am always inside my head and sometimes it can cause me heartache. Let me summarize the 10 secrets:

1. Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing.  In other words, don’t judge and don’t make your happiness or success dependent upon an attachment to any person, place or thing. You don’t let other people’s opinions or your things (or lack of) have any bearing on your worth.

2. Don’t die with your music in you. Follow your passion. Do what energizes and engages you.

3. You can’t give away what you don’t have. According to Dyer, the universe responds with the same energy we send out. I had a revelation recently that illustrates this secret. Being appreciated is important to me. I spent a lot of time whining that I wasn’t being appreciated. Then I realized that I wasn’t being very appreciative of others. So I started to make a conscious effort to thank and appreciate others and guess what happened? More appreciation started coming into my life.

4. Embrace silence. Find time to still your mind. Commune with nature. Our lives are too hectic and that hectic energy not only affects you but everyone around you.

5. Give up your personal history. You are not your past. You can’t change it, you can only learn from it. Get over it, take responsibility and move on and don’t let it define you.

6. You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. Change your thoughts. You get what you focus on so focus on the positive – being more loving, more empathetic, more peaceful.

7. There are no justified resentments. First, remove blame, own your feelings whether you understand them or not. Second, respond with love, peace, joy, forgiveness and kindness instead of reacting from your ego (who is always getting you in trouble because it’s always a contest about who’s the best, brightest, smartest, etc).

8. Treat yourself as if you already are what you’d like to be. It’s the “act as if” principle. What do you think a person who is a (insert what you want to be here – i.e. writer) does? For writer you might say that they write daily, they read a variety of things, they subscribe to trade journals, they belong to a writing group, they submit proposals to publishers, they accept rejection as part of the job and don’t take it personally. Then do it.

9.Treasure your divinity. Quit looking on the outside (externally) for your source of strength. It’s in you.

10. Wisdom is avoiding all things that weaken you. Everything you think either strengthens or weakens you. Dyer talks about power vs. force.  “Power urges you to live and perform at your own highest level” Force, explains Dyer is movement and for every action there is a reaction or counter force. Force is a negative energy and is associated with judgment, competition and control. Instead of choosing to “wipe out the competition”, a more peace-inducing thought would be to perform at your highest capacity and give it your best shot.

Got other ideas? Please comment and let me know. I can use all the help I can get.

 

Follow Your Bliss – Part 2

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I got a little long winded on Part 1, so I am going to keep it short with Part 2.

I liken Part 1 to laying the foundation. I’ve got some guidelines to keep in mind, know where my true interests (essence) lie and now I am ready to put it all into action.

Between Part 1 and 2 I kept coming across a theme in my research. I’m taking that as a sign and hence I give you Part 2:

PLAY.

That’s it. In this stage I intend to just go for it and try it all. Kind of like throwing it all on the wall to see what sticks. Too often we cut our self off from experiencing all of life. Do you always go to the same restaurant, take the same route to work, eat the same foods, go on the same vacation? I’m no better than anyone else except that now I intend to just go for anything that looks interesting and try it. Getting different books and magazines are helpful, but actually going out and DOING something different or trying a new hobby, volunteering somewhere  – these things can help change your perspective and introduce you to something that you never even realized you liked.

School has made us so rigid – there’s only one right answer – only one path to follow. Who says? This is my life and I’m going for it. I’d rather try a hundred different things (and ignore most people who will think you are flighty and can’t commit or “settle down”) because there is so much out there to experience, why limit yourself. Each new experience, skill you learn etc just adds to your knowledge and you never know where it might lead. It’s all good.