Category Archives: inspiration

Crafty Guys

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Crafting is not a female only sport. There are many guys out there who are creative and crafty – whether it’s rebuilding an old mustang or making sculpture from junk. Ben Venom happens to be a quilter who uses rock t-shirts as his medium and incorporates lyrics from his favorite and obscure rock and punk rock songs.

His stuff is incredible – check it out.

 

Redefining our Homes

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Saturday I took a trip down to Huntsville, Texas, to visit Pheonix Commotion, Dan Phillips construction company that specializes in building small homes from reclaimed and leftover building materials (which I mentioned in a previous post). Basically stuff that was either headed for the dumpster because of  botched orders (“Oh, you wanted 10 ft boards, not 8 ft boards), leftover inventory or just general waste (bottle caps, wine corks, bone).

I like Dan’s philosophy in making use of these materials to build housing for artists and single moms. The construction industry has tons of waste and using it keeps it out of the landfill and costs down. Not to mention that many new building materials are treated with chemicals that out gas and cause health issues for many people. Reclaimed or recycled materials (like using old barn wood or salvaging stuff from buildings that will be torn down) don’t have that problem because they are old enough that the chemicals have already leached out.

On the tour ($10 per person – very reasonable) we got to see the inside of only 3 of the houses (as the other’s are private residences) – the Bone House, the Tree House and I don’t know if the third house had a name but the front fencing had wine bottles as part of the fence, so I’ll call it the Wine House.

Some of these homes had artist’s studios with them as separate buildings. Personally, I could never live in any of the houses. I found them too confining and with the multitude of patterns on practically every surface, too busy. I like a cleaner aesthetic. Also, I want a flat counter top surface (the counters in the bone house where done in a bone mosaic – as in actual bone). I can’t imagine trying to cut something and having my cutting board bouncing all over the place. Plus keeping it clean would not be fun. The floor in that kitchen was absolutely beautiful but impractical, from a cleaning standpoint, in my opinion. 

I found the artist’s studios much more to my liking, which were mostly one big rectangle with a bathroom. I’m thinking I need about 800 square feet and properly planned will seem spacious and be very comfortable. And most important – paid for. I don’t plan on using bottle caps for flooring (I’m going to go with a stained cement – way cheaper and less time-consuming) but I will be looking in unusual places for my materials rather than hitting up the big box stores.  

It’ll be at least a year before I can even move and probably longer than that before I get another house as I decide on where I eventually want to settle down. Being an empty-nester will free me to go anywhere I want so I am going to explore my options. But Dan’s opened my eyes to lots of options so that when I am ready to build or remodel, I can do it without taking on a mortgage and customized just for me as long as I am willing to put in some time sourcing cheap/free materials and doing some of the jobs.

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.

 

Houses from Reclaimed Materials

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Say goodbye to cookie cutter houses!

I just viewed this TED talk by Dan Phillips. He is a builder from Texas. I love these little houses and how much personality they have. This is a great talk and Mr. Phillips is entertaining and truly an artist.

I want one of his houses.

Check out his website

Who’s Running Your Life?

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Chances are it isn’t you if you haven’t given any thought to how you want to live it.

 If you haven’t given serious consideration to how you want to live (and I mean serious, none of this “win the lottery” B.S.) then it’s likely that you are moving along with the current, going wherever life sends you, adopting other people’s (you parents?) ideas of how you should live your life. That feeling that there must be more to life is a sure sign you aren’t running it.

 Be the Creator of you life. Engage in it, don’t watch from the sidelines.

I’m an introvert. I spend a lot of time thinking. I am inside my head a lot, thinking about ideas, concepts, problems, solutions and what I’m going to eat at my next meal. I’ve recently taken action to move my life in a different direction. It was painful and scary but the right thing to do. Determined not to repeat the same mistakes and live in alignment with my passions, values and talents,  I decided to craft a personal philosophy. I hold creative thinking in high regard so I’ve used the word creativity as an acronym.

 C – Childlike curiosity –  Invite your inner child out to play and have fun. Laugh. Question everything. “We’ve always done it this way” is lazy thinking. Change is going to happen, you can look at it as an exciting new adventure or let it run you over. Innovations don’t happen by following the status quo.

                I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” – Dr. Suess.

R – Rules – Know them, but don’t be afraid to break them (legally, that is). Or better yet, invent some new ones. Or forget them all together.

                “The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.” – Mark Twain

                “Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule.” Freidrich Nietzsche

                “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” – The Golden Rule

E – Empathy – Before you jump to conclusions or judge someone, put yourself in their shoes. Be open to new ideas, new experiences, new cultures, new people. Get out of your own head and explore different perspectives.

A – Amateur – don’t be one. In Carl King’s book “So you’re a creative genius, now what?” he defines a pro, amateur and hobbyist. You want to either be a pro (you love what you do and work your butt off to create a viable career) or a hobbyist (not interested in money, does it for sheer joy of it). Don’t strive to be an amateur: a hobbyist who is half-heartedly trying to be a pro. As the great Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Amateurs fall in the “try” category.

T – Talents – Know yours and align yourself with them. Invest the majority of your time in them. Sure, it helps to beef up your weak areas but you’ll probably always just be mediocre and as a result, those are not the things that will bring you great joy. When you operate from your talents, tasks become easier and life in general becomes less of a struggle, and even, dare I say, a pleasure.

                “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman.

I – Imitate – Growth (as a human being) is important for our mental well-being and learning facilitates  growth. How did we learn as children? We imitated others. There is a saying “Good writers borrow, great writers steal”. There is a reason that art students copy the masters, not to plagiarize them, but to learn from them. Let’s say you are a salesperson. Watch high producing salespeople in action. What are they doing? What are they saying? What aren’t they saying? What are they wearing? What are their mannerisms? Watch the faces of their prospects and see how they respond. Obviously, you can’t be that salesperson (writer, painter, drummer, etc) because we each have a unique set of skills, traits and talents. Find the essence of that great sales presentation, piece of art, poem, music, campaign, etc, learn from it and then put your spin on it.

                “I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” – Eartha Kitt

                “We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.” – Lloyd Alexander

V – Values – Figure out what your top 4-5 values are and use them as a guide for living your life. My top 5 values are: being connected, learning, design, stewardship and appreciation. Funny thing, once I realized how much I valued appreciation (I wasn’t getting any), it dawned on me that I wasn’t being very appreciative of others. Since then, I have gone out of my way to make sure others know how much I appreciate them or what they’ve done. And wouldn’t you know, what goes around, comes around. Not only does identifying your values give you a filter in which to run every decision through, it helps you see your own behavior in a whole new light and when guided by those values, change is a lot easier.

I – Imagination – Use it. A lot.

                “You see things; and  you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and  I say ‘Why not?'” – George Bernard Shaw

                “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Steven Covey

                “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

T- Thankfulness – Humans have a bias towards negativity. We overreact to the bad and undervalue the good.  We get what we focus on. If we focus on the negative stuff then that is all we’ll pay attention to. So to get ourselves out of the trap of negative thinking, we need to take time to give thanks for all the good that we have. It’s hard to do when you are chin deep in troubles but you can’t get yourself out of a negative situation with negative thinking.

                “When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.” – Anthony Robbins

Y – Yin/Yang – Accept and embrace all of you. You’re a flawed being who can be silly, compassionate, petty, angry, sad, hurt, funny, ditzy, intelligent, thoughtful, loving and everything else inbetween. This doesn’t mean that you  give up trying to be a better person. It just means accept who you are right now. 

What would you include in your personal philosophy?

Garden Art

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A couple of weeks ago I visited the Dallas Arboretum. Beside being an avid lover of flowers (peonies are my favorite if you must know), it is having a fabulous Dale Chihuly exhibit.

I have always been a big fan of his and I can’t think of a better setting for his large scale glass art than in an outdoor garden.

The exhibit runs through November. If you are in the Dallas area, it is definitely worth the trip. But be prepared – it’s hot down here!