Winter Light

Photography, project 365, The Inspired Artist

Winter Light

This is day two of Project 365.  I spent so much time trying to upload Day one’s pictures in my very nontechnical way that by the time I got around to actually using my camera, it was dark outside and frigid.

The wind was kicking up around my ankles and the temperatures had dropped below zero. Not very much fun for my first adventure out with my new camera. Luckily for me, the porch light was right outside the front door. It caught my eye the way the light glowed pink against the stark gray branches lighting them up with a haunting glow.

Funny how that lamppost has been right outside my front door every night for the past seventeen years. Have I ever paid attention to it? Did I see the way the pink  light spilled from its casing to spring to life the withered branches?

NO, not really.

It took a camera frame to make me see what has been right outside me door every night.

I wonder what else is waiting for me to see?

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Art & Project 365

Photography, The Inspired Artist

Lately the paintbrush has been put down and replaced by my latest toy, my camera. Santa was oh so generous and brought me a new digital camera for Christmas and I am truly in love.

I won’t even pretend to say that I know how to use it or that I have even a clue as to what all of the buttons and settings mean, but my first resolution of the year is…by golly by the end of this year I WILL!

My friend and business partner Allison sent me a link to a flickr project called The 365. Every day for 365 days, we who choose to join will add one picture to our own 365 projects and upload them to flickr.

So, I have joined. And because The Inspired artist! is the place for all of my artistic experiments and endeavors, I shall do my best to upload them here as well. Perhaps not daily, maybe a weekly diary of the week or something. I’m not sure how it will go.

But join us if you want. It isn’t too late, your day one can start on any day.

One of my goals this year is to immerse myself more into my artistic side this year-in other ways besides the written word. Oh, I’ll still write. Of that, there is no doubt. For me, not writing is like not having air to breath.

I write in my journal almost daily. And if more than a day goes by that I am not creating fiction with my writing partners, it is a very sad and lost feeling. That part of my life has become a part of me.

I wish for my painting, my camera and my love of design to all come together this year in the same way. To lift me higher in my awareness as an artist. To open my eyes wider to the world around me. To bring me closer in touch with who I am in connection with the world.

My imprint…through art.

Join me, share with me, here and at flicker and in the other places I play. I look forward to getting to know you.

Toasting the New Decade

The January 1st Entry for the 365.

New Beginnings and a New Name!

The Inspired Artist

If any of my long time readers have suddenly found this blog in their Readers this morning and are confused, I offer my apologies!

This used to be the original blog of Life’s Little Inspirations, however since we  moved that blog over to it’s new home in July of last year, this one has sat, silent and alone for the past several months.

Except it hasn’t. Despite the fact that I haven’t posted anything since last July, LLI- The Original has stubbornly lived on with readers coming here every day since we closed the doors. It makes me feel bad to watch these numbers of dedicated or new readers linger on each month looking for something new. 

So…I’ve come home, slapped on a new coat of paint and given it a new name. I will begin posting here again but with a tighter focus on all things related to Art in the most general sense of the word. Since I have many artistic endeavors such as writing, theater, painting, gardening, cooking…just to name a few…this will be a nice place to share some of my more personal artsy side.

I am not going to take away any of the old posts, even though they are now posted on Life’s Little Inspirations. But starting today, this home has a new purpose and one I hope everyone will enjoy!

 

Welcome to the birth of: The Inspired Artist!

If you enjoy what you see here, you may also enjoy our sister blog: Life’s Little Inspirations, a blog about living an Inspired Life. See you there!

The Perils of Perfectionism

self improvement

 

On the blank canvas I saw a majestic, proud Eagle, wings outspread in magnificence glory. Perched on his chosen spot, his view spanned the countryside, searching high and low, king of the skies. In my mind he was perfect. He inspired awe to look at, and made me feel excited as I gathered my brushes and paint. I could see the colors that I would choose. Just the right blues, the cool toned and the warm toned browns, the Payne’s Gray for blending. I mixed and I worked, the large sweeping strokes, the tiny painstaking touches.

I worked for hours. I came back day after day. I put him aside. I worked on trouble spots that didn’t match the image in my mind.

I brought him to California on vacation hoping the ocean air would inspire the majesty I needed to flow through my fingers and out of the brush. I finished it sitting in the warm California sun.

I brought him home and sat him on my art desk. And left him there. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since.

He isn’t the Eagle of my mind. When I look at him, I see the flaws, the imperfections. The way the blues and the browns don’t flow together properly. The way the wings on one side are much sharper than the other. The list of flaws is long. You don’t need to hear them all. I abandoned him. Worse then that, I abandoned myself. The disappointment ran deep and I just lost the momentum to paint. I wasn’t in the mood. I ran out of time. Something else- writing- was giving me more positive feedback so I drifted over there. It was nicer there.

I hadn’t realized I had done it. Sometimes we do these things to ourselves and it isn’t a conscious gesture. We don’t have an outward temper tantrum and throw the painting down and say, “That’s it, I hate my Eagle, and I’m never painting again!”  We just drift. Just suffer a little disappointment in something and drift slowly, like a gentle current in the opposite direction. Then one day we look around and notice we are far away. Sometimes it’s a hobby. One day we are a painter or dancer or runner, and then it has been months or years since we picked up a brush, or danced or ran. Sometimes it’s a relationship or job. We just begin to move away. We don’t even remember why.

The other day a friend e-mailed me a picture of a cat. I needed it for a story line I was writing on Escaping Reality. The expression on the cat’s face caught my interest and I started drawing his face. Then a pen and Ink. Then the idea of doing a pen and ink watercolor popped into my mind and I suddenly realized I hadn’t picked up a paint brush in over a month. I couldn’t think of a single reason why not. I love to paint! I have plenty of time to paint. It’s summer! The perfect time to relax with brush in hand!  Only then did I think of the Eagle. Only then did I realize I had been a victim of the perfectionism drift.

I had high expectations of that Eagle. I had a perfect vision of how he was going to look in my mind. When my ability didn’t match up to that vision, I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or just didn’t at that time, cut myself any slack. I decided on some level that I’m just not a very good painter anyway so what’s the point. I’m obviously not very good at painting Eagles.

All because my Eagle wasn’t perfect.

Well…you all can tell it’s an eagle right? It’s not like I’m expecting someone to buy it. I just paint for the fun of it, for relaxation, for a hobby, so why was I acting like I suddenly was UNWORTHY of a hobby if I couldn’t do it PERFECTLY???

Hello, my name is Wendi and I am a recovering perfectionist.

This is an issue I have battled with over the years my entire life. Getting perfect grades in school, being the *perfect* friend, the *perfect* daughter, the *perfect* wife, then the pendulum would swing to the other side of “forget it; If I can’t do it perfectly, I’m not doing it AT ALL. I QUIT.” You would know that if you looked at my desk. It is either perfectly spotless or it is a mess. When it is spotless, I won’t let someone move even a PAPERCLIP on it. Because once it’s messy again, I just give up, until the next time I clean it. Then it starts all over again.

It doesn’t make me proud to tell you that. In my defense, I will share that I have come a long way up this hill. The journey has been paved with many scars and battle wounds. Many of you have heard me say that I am a two time high school drop out. What I might not have mentioned is that I was on the Honor Roll. Both times. YEP…I’ve had a long hard climb learning how NOT to quit, how not to have to live the perfect life. How there is no such thing. I’ll say this, making a million mistakes and failing a lot does help you to get over yourself. It’s one cure for being a perfectionist. Not the easiest way. But it is a cure!

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly
~Robert Kennedy

So when I catch myself still doing things like quitting on my painting for not having a perfect Eagle, or quit running because I’m getting discouraged for being so slow, or get frustrated because it’s summer and I can’t seem to keep the house as clean with all these kids around and my schedule isn’t working out quite the way I thought it would or the vision I had of how this summer was going to be the very best one ever or that there wasn’t going to be A SINGLE WEED IN THE GARDEN OVER MY DEAD BODY OR ELSE…

I just have to sit back and take a deep breath.

I’m not perfect and I can’t quit. I can’t let the pendulum swing to either side. I have to take each day as it comes and know that it’s good enough. The house isn’t perfect. The kids aren’t perfect. My art isn’t perfect and my life isn’t perfect. But it’s good enough. As long as I keep on going, one step at a time, being realistic and doing my best and never give up, I have a perfectly good chance of being very successful at whatever I do. Here is the secret it has taken me most of my life to learn. I am more than happy to share it with you here.

Persistence is better then Perfection.

It’s that simple…and that hard.

 

Unplugging for Peace

Attitude of Gratitude, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life, Writing

I have been sitting by the pool all week, warmed by the California Sun caressing my pale Chicago skin. A trickling waterfall, babbling with playful birds has been my twitter and my social network. I close my eyes and breathe in oxygen that does not have toxins of technology and To Do lists. I am alone. Unplugged and at peace. 

My Zen-filled fingers dip a loaded brush filled with ever-changing colors into swirls of paint. The muse awakens from within, my own fountain thrusting upward and out of the vessel-it doesn’t matter what happens to appear on the page-only that it is authentic to the peace…and the feelings that are sprouting there. Perfection has no place here, the only audience is the birds and the Sun. The Creator and creation are the same…if only for the moment…unplugged, serene, focused.

I open my journal next, words spilling on to the pages as fast as my pen can scratch them out. Free-forming associations create new thoughts, new ideas, projects and brainstorms, some will be discarded, some will be created, some will be brainstormed further with new partners in-put. More creativity to follow. All gifts from the Muse-gods. I am always grateful.

Totally and reverently standing in the golden light, filled with energy, filled with creativity, filled with peace…

 

I am hoping to remember this feeling when I plug back in. Hoping to put a piece of it in my pocket to hold on to. Hoping to be ABLE to close my eyes and remember the smell of ocean air, the sight of mountains in the near distance, palm trees swaying, trickling fountains that whisper to birds. Hoping to remember that I can BREATHE unplugged, that they all survive without me, that I do without them….once in awhile.

I love my community, My e-mail, my friends. I love my tranquility, my peace too. My creativity MORE. I need them both. I need to go home and find the balance. Learn to unplug for peace.

What about you? How plugged in are you? How does it affect your peace? Your productivity? How balanced are you in your plugged in-ness?

The Pebble People

Attitude of Gratitude, leaving a legacy, The Inspired Life

Get ready to meet the Pebble People.

I’m getting ready to take down The Blog Log… For a very good reason.

I’m not building a LOG here. WE are building a community. A community of people who share, get to know each other, get to communicate with each other, share ideas, inspiration and help each other.

A neighborhood. A place where people come to hang out.

When I first arrived at Life’s Little Inspirations, and took the dust covers off of all the old antique furniture and started trying to spruce the place up, I used to think that maybe this was a house. But the longer I’ve been hanging out here the last few months, now I think it’s maybe more like a community arts center. Lively conversations with good friends Karen and Ellen, sitting around the table, chatting about balancing our balloons,something we all struggle with I found out! All of the the art and people that come in and hang around the big old giant kitchen table, with their creativity and creations, Daz with all of his brilliant paintings, and Amy with her art, and Brett with his crazy shoes and Tei with her Band of Rogues, Melissa with poetry readings, hanging out by the huge old stone fireplace on the weekends, everyone sitting cross-legged on the rug telling stories and sharing ideas and things that matter to them…the vision is getting clearer. It is all becoming a community of like-minded writers, artists, and inspiring, warm-hearted friends all making a difference in our own journeys though the world we travel in.

 

Sometimes we tease each other, some times we share stories, some of us share projects and cross each others blogs with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. ALWAYS we support each other and always we cheer each other on. Holding each other accountable and helping each other dream, laugh, win. We help each get through the day. We help each other grow.

So instead of a blog-roll, I am growing a community page for those who are frequent members of the Life’s Little Inspirations Community. The ones who comment often, contribute and make the journey together. The ones making a commitment to be there for each other, to reach out and be a part of this with each other.

The Pebble People Page.

The ones who are willing to Pick up their Pebble and throw it in the water and watch how it makes a wave. Realize that their Pebble DOES make a difference. The ones who understand that yes, they may have JUST a pebble, but even a pebble makes a wave and every wave is connected. Every comment counts, every member of our community counts and is celebrated and important. Every opinion matters and forms us.

I have been working on the page and it’s growing. It will be a page-not a post- and it will always be there-as a link to the major contributor’s of this community. You can help me write whatever you like about your site and yourself as we work it out. If you are one of the frequent contributors here, you can be assured you will be on it, if you want to be. If you don’t have a blog, no worries, you will be on it anyway.This isn’t an advertisement for blogging. It’s a way for each of you in the community to get to know each other better and tell each other something about yourself.

Thanks you for being part of this community. We are all pebbles in the water, making waves.

How do you see this community growing and what are you enjoying the most about it?

NOTE:
Starting this Monday this week, I will be in California. Partially on a mind retreat, writing and painting and then at the end of the week, John and I will be doing some volunteer work at a camp. I will be writing, I don’t know how much posting and commenting I will do. I am planning on unplugging as much as possible and letting the Muses do their thing. Please come on in and keep the community going…I filled the fridge, there is plenty of coffee and lots of logs for the fireplace. I’ll check in as much as I can. You guys are awesome.

 

Being Enough

family, leaving a legacy, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life, Writing

Ah, the weekend. Family time for me, what about you? How will you be spending these next few days? Share and let us know!

I will be going to birthday parties for my nephew and myself. We promise to eat cake for all of you! It has been an entire week of eating and parties around here for birthday week. Any surprise we were inspired by cannoli and pie?

Every birthday gives me a reason to take a moment and reflect on where I am and what I am doing with my life. Am I on track? Am I following the goals and steps that I have laid out to get where I want to be? Am I living an on-purpose life or am I just blowing in the wind?

Sometimes all the striving gets to be a little much. Planning for the future always needs to be balanced with accepting where I am right now, right this minute and being OK with who I am. I remind myself that I am in the place I am at so that I can learn and grow and help others where they are at. We are all where we need to be at the moment to become who we are growing to be. I don’t need to wait to become something more before I get on with the job of living and doing my life’s work.

One of my favorite authors sums this up well, and as I like to share with you some of my favorite authors on the weekends, here is an excerpt from a passage in the book The Sound of Paper, Starting from Scratch, by Julia Cameron.

If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend them to you. The Sound of Paper is one of my favorites.

Have a wonderful weekend friends. Please…take a moment to say hi!

Wendi

Remembering Who We Are

A great deal of the difficulty in making art springs from this conviction that what we are at any given moment is not enough. We want to be better, wiser, more ready to write before we write. We want to be more in the mood, more inspired, more alive before we try to paint. And yet, over the long years of work, it is clear that some of the best writing comes through when we are not feeling struck with light. Some of the finest painting gets done on the days when we just show up at the easel because that is our job. In other words, when we practice self-acceptance of where  we are and who we are instead of striving, always, to be better. We are enough, exactly as we are.

It is very easy to forget our divine origins. It is very easy to see ourselves as the products of our birth families, shaped and colored only by those transactions. We are much larger than that. We are each a soul, unique and distinctive, bringing to bear on life a rich legacy of spiritual gifts if we but open ourselves to the possibility that we are not merely the products of our conditioning. We are spiritual beings with spiritual business to transact here on this earth. We have a destiny to fulfill.

Julia Cameron

The Weekend Wrap Up

Attitude of Gratitude, The Inspired Life, Writing

Ah, the weekend already? This week blew by fast, I could barely keep up. It was a busy week in blogsville. In summary, here is where we are:

Getting To Know You:

Welcome to all of the new visitors to the site this week, and to the rest of you as well. I am so happy to have everyone here. The increased participation in the comments section is a lot of fun for me and I cherish every single one! Thank you so much! I hope everyone feels comfortable chatting amongst yourselves as well. Building a community here is a very important part of what I want to do.

Last weekend’s Q & A had a fair amount of turn out for the answers to my questions. But there is plenty of room for more. If you want to participate, check out the post at Getting to Know You and add in your comments. Don’t forget, it’s also your chance to add any suggestions for post ideas or questions that you may have for me. Jump right in! Lurkers, please say take a second to say hi, you will make my day!

We have just finished our one month anniversary in the Blogging world. (April 8) For better or worse, cause I really don’t know what all these numbers mean, we have had 1567 hits in the month that we have been here and over 50 of you have become subscribers in the two weeks since I got that little button to work. As I said, without any Benchmark data, I have nothing to compare those numbers to, but I want you to know that I am grateful for every single one. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support.

Blogsville Round-up

There have been a few extra-fun things that have been happening around Blogsville this week.

Melissa Donovan is doing a poetry workshop for the month of April that is fun to participate in. You can check that out at Writing Forward. If you like it, tell her I said hi.

If you are a newbie Blogger and are looking for some tips on how to succeed without getting burnt to a crisp, go pull up a chair over at Monika’s shop, The Writer’s Manifesto. Class will be starting soon, so you haven’t missed anything yet.

Daz Cox has painted some really amazing art over at his house. Why not go on over for a vist. If you haven’t been there yet, you won’t be disappointed.

Congratulations to a brand new blogger for making it through her first full week in the Blogging world. If you have a minute, go on over and say hi to Jenny at Random Ramblings.

 There have been a lot of other fun commentaries and great posts going on this week. Check out the blog roll that I finally got up (go me!) for some of my favorite spots! If you like thought-provoking posts that lead to really long discussions that never end, Men with Pens and Six Weeks are the places you will want to be. I’m not kidding, some of those discussions seem like they go on for six weeks! ( Now we know the REAL reason for Brett’s new name change.)

Finally, if its a combination of beauty, thoughtful contemplation and inspiration that you are looking for, go where Life’s Little Inspirations goes to get inspired over at Lives Less Ordinary.

Oh by the way, If you know of anyone that would enjoy any of these folks up above or what we are doing here at Life’s Little Inspirations, please pass these links around. Referrals are the highest compliment you can give. Thanks. Have a great weekend.

Wendi

Poetry Time

As I mentioned before, on the weekends, I would like to share some of my favorite inspiring poetry with you. This next week will be my birthday so it is fitting that I share a poem that I was given as a gift on a birthday card for my 30th birthday. ( For the answer to how long ago that was, you will have to have been paying attention earlier in a different post.) When I read the poem, I cut it out and put it in a frame. I have kept it on my desk framed ever since. Rarely does a birthday card make that big of a splash, but this one has meant a lot to me. Oh, and if you go to Melissa’s poetry class, I shared this in the comments section yesterday too.

  Life
 
 
  Let me but live my life from year to year,
With forward face and unreluctant soul;
Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays its toll
To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.

So let the way wind up the hill or down,
O’er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy:
Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
My heart will keep the courage of the quest,
And hope the road’s last turn will be the best.

Henry Van Dyke 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Silence are the Answers…

Healthy Lifestyles, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life, Writing

 

I think I was twelve the first time someone turned to me with hands on their hips, frustrated, ready to rip out their hair and shouted, “Wendi! You know what your problem is??? YOU THINK TOO MUCH!!!”

Oh, OK, then…I’ll just…stop…???

But what if…????

The world is an amazing place. Under every leaf and rock is a whole new world just waiting to be explored and questioned. Taken apart, piece by piece, examined, put back together again with all the pieces topsy-turvy and somewhere new. Creativity is the child of the questions Why and How.  The answer to the why-nots, and the-oh, yes I can’s.

Questions, Questions, Questions. Yes, I can be the Queen of questions. I started asking them at three and never shut up. So I am told. Guilty as charged. I honestly believe that if I have a ‘secret to my success,’ it is the asking of questions and looking for answers.

After all, I am a high school drop out. Twice. But that didn’t mean I had to stay there. I tried going back once and circumstances knocked me off my feet again. So… off to get the GED and on to College. There is always a way around to go get the answers if you really want them. Then there are books. Amazing, wonderful books. If you can read, there is virtually nothing standing in between you and anything you want to know.

And now we have the Godzilla of information…the INTERNET. Oh…we live in a privileged time of answers. What do you want to know? Within moments, the answers can be at your fingertips. Technology, Shakespeare, how to make your first million. Right there…Google can set you free…Ask and you shall receive…glory be…

But there are some answers that can’t come to you with the click of a button. Google can’t answer the nagging little questions bottled up in your spirit. It won’t tell you why you ate that stinking rotten doughnut not ten lousy minutes after you PROMISED yourself you were really going to diet this time FOR REAL. It can try, but it doesn’t know you. It won’t write your next article or tell you why you are procrastinating today. It won’t let you in on why you feel restless or angry and don’t even know why OR why you changed your outfit seven times and swear you gained ten pounds, even when the scale assures you it is only one.

What’s the matter? Why the sudden writer’s block?  The lack of creativity? Why aren’t things working the way you planned them on the goal list? Maybe you haven’t even come up with one? Why not? What are you afraid of? Why the anxiety, the sense of self-defeat? Why the little voice in your ear telling you it’s not enough, that you aren’t enough? Why are the things you say not adding up to the things you do?

There are answers to those questions too. Not on the Internet. Not at school. Not in all the self-help books. Not even here. They are in you. Within you are the answers you seek-if you will take the time to be quiet and listen.

Here are a few of the methods that I use to do this:

Prayer/meditation

Find yourself a very quiet place, get comfortable and make sure that you will not be disturbed. Now I am not going to begin to tell anyone how to pray in any specific religious sense here so please interpret my use of the word to mean whatever spiritual power works for you. What I find to be very powerful is to just have an honest unloading of what is going on, along with the problems and questions that need solutions. I actually do this out loud. If that is too uninhibited for you, try it in your mind. Then be silent. Do your best to calm and relax your mind to have no thoughts at all. I find focusing on a candle helps a lot. With practice, it is amazing how much creativity, answers and solutions come through the silence. It might be a good idea to have a pad of paper close by so you can jot down any great brainstorms as the free flow of ideas loosens up.

Journaling/ reading

The written word has a powerful ability to communicate with us and send us messages we hadn’t seen before, even if we have read the same passage over and over again. Anyone who is a frequent Bible or inspirational book reader can speak of specific quotes that have jumped off of pages and were “just what they needed to hear” at the right time. This can be enhanced by combining it with journaling out specific issues and questions, therefore solidifying certain topics firmly in the mind’s focus. Then picking up random reading, the mind seems to focus on just what it needs to bring you the answer that you were looking for. It may seem magical, but it is a way of communicating with your subconscious, (or God or higher power if you like) which has the answers that you need.

Another journaling tool is to just start free-form writing down everything that enters your head, letting creativity flow, and brainstorming solutions. In the privacy of not having to worry about being wrong, your creativity is freed to open up and explore new ideas and solutions. Promise yourself that you will burn or shred the paper so that you are freed from the constraints of worrying about what you write if that is an issue for you.

Nature/exercise

The solitude of running, walking, boating, camping or any way of communing alone with nature is a wonderful way to seek the answers that you need. While it is true that I have heard of athletes who can get “in the zone” at health clubs enough to feel that sense of meditation, I think it is a rare person who has that kind of focus. Out in nature, one can think and soak up the nature, the beauty and the silence and the world and its problems almost naturally take on a different perspective on its own. It is a wonderful way to use the methods of exploring the asking of questions and then waiting in silence for the solutions. The only drawback that I personally have had with this method is when I have had such great ideas, I have become frustrated due to not being able to run and write at the same time and  by the time I get back, I have lost some of them. When I was training for my first marathon, I carried a little portable recorder for a few of the long runs to record ideas that came to me.

Drawing/painting

Art. Although I also paint landscapes and *things*, when I am in the listening mode, I am more apt to put on some very quiet meditative music and doodle. With pencils or paint, I just let whatever is *in*, come out. I am often very surprised to see what lands there. The intent is to have no pre-conceived idea or plan, just let *it* out. The result of a session like this is usually like an awakening, a feeling of an AHA, then peace.

I highly recommend messy art. It is good for the soul.

I would love to hear how other people listen for their “Inside Voice Answers.”  We all have them, sometimes it’s a matter of how often we are checking in.  How often do you check in? How do you get there? I would love to know. Please give me your thoughts and your methods!