Plans, Dreams, and Months that Fly Like Birds

The Inspired Artist, The Inspired Life

Image by Wendi Kelly

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

~Oprah Winfrey

Such great plans I had for posting here  last year.

Obviously THAT rarely happened!  I had great dreams of doing the 365 project and posting the pictures here every day and on Flckr. You can see how well that turned out. The funny thing is I took the pictures. Hundreds of them. Far, far more than 365 of them. More like thousands of them, some horrible ones, some great ones ones, some that are as boring as a plain vanilla pudding.

I took so many that I couldn’t manage all of them. Some of them ended up on Flckr. Then, I opened an account on Picasa and many of them are there. Others are strewn about on various computers around the house that I happened to upload them to, because it was the closest one at the time. I admit it, I have been a photographer management disaster. Somehow, I kept telling myself that I would sit down and get it all organized but…huh…I looked up the other day and somehow, magically, it was 2011. Looks like I know what one of my resolutions should be. Find some way to organize mountains of digital photographs into one place.

The Inspired Artist (Ahem…that is supposed to be me…) picked up a paint brush a total of three times last year. She posted on this blog exactly ONE time.  Her garden was a collection of rambling roses, self-seeding annuals and hardy perennials who refused to give up on her and weeds that were faster then her once every couple of weeks attempts at yanking them out of the ground. The only time she took her guitar out of it’s case was to tune it once and put it back in.

SIGH….

I could beat myself up over those things. But I’m not going to. The thing is, that despite my best laid plans, dreams and aspirations at the beginning of last year,there was no way I was going to keep up with all of the lofty goals I had created on my New Year’s Dream List last year. But I got to a lot of them. And besides, I am practicing the art of imperfection. I find I get a lot more done and have a lot more fun doing it if I focus on what I do and not what I didn’t do.

Here is what I DID do in 2010.

Focused on a year of learning the basics of my new camera, taking thousands of pictures and documenting all of the events of our fun year.

Wrote a paranormal fantasy adventure romance novel, Loyalties, with my business partner, Deb Dorchak and published it through Blue Sun Studio, inc. It is currently available at Amazon.com and will be available in a growing number of places shortly.

Partnered with my husband to write an original drama, which we then performed, at Church for Reformation Sunday.

Directed the third annual performance  of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the first week of December.

Formed a new corporation and had a very successful first year of business at Blue Sun Studios, inc.

Won the War against Clutter and kicked out an entire dumpster of …excuse me…CRAP…out of our house this summer with the help of our family.

Also won the War against Rabbits this summer by building- (This one was mostly my husband) a fenced in Vegetable garden complete with cute little door that kept those buggers out and provided us with delectable veggies well into the third frost.

Went on a spectacular Michigan week long, beach-side family vacation in July with John and the kids and extended family.

Went on the best ever anniversary camping trip to Door County, Wisconsin with my wonderful husband John and spent the entire time trying out great recipes in this old, old, old Dutch Oven that I fell in love with and almost loved more than him…..

Went on a autumn retreat to Asheville, N. Carolina were I received great mentoring from my coach, Christine Kane, and came away with new knowledge, clarity and vision for the new year to come.

And those are only a few of the highlights. The day to day parties and family stuff, that’s always worth writing about.

I’m tempted to say, “My oh my…where did the months fly off to?” But when I look at my list, I can see clearly where they went.

The Inspired Artist has been writing and taking pictures. Oh- and cooking. I have hundreds of pictures of new recipes, some good- some, that are…well, we can call them experiments and just move on. I won’t tell you what my kids called them. I’d like to think of my cooking as art…just don’t ask my kidst, they would rather have McDonalds. But what do they know, they have yet to even begin to fully explore the vast ways that life can become artistic.

What lies ahead for the Inspired Artist in 2011

Our first book in the series, Bonds of Blood and Spirit, Loyalties, now available on Kindle, is coming out in hard copy any time now. In fact, I am spending my days waiting by the mailbox for my copy. Then we start the challenging process of marketing and selling. That may not sound artistic to some, but there is not much that takes more inspiration than the skills of marketing, advertising and promoting.  The world of sales writing and marketing is a creative beast at best! I know I will be spending plenty of time here this year. But not to worry, sales and marketing is where I got my start in business back when my family first started our own business and I’ve never shut up since. It will all be good.

Book two in the series, Uncivil Wars is being written as we speak. Deb and I carve out sacred time every week from January to May to write the novels. The rest of the year is spent in editing and formating and creating the fine details of the next story. This story has already written itself through part one and is so clear to both of us I’ll be surprised if we don’t beat our four month time line of the last book. This one is a movie playing in my head already. It just may pick up the pen and write itself if we don’t get to it!

Photography improvements– it’s time to go to stage two. I’ve spent a year clicking away and teaching myself everything I can on my own. Me and my camera have just celebrated our one year anniversary together and we are ready for something new in our relationship. I am looking forward to this being the year I really kick up the game. I want to master some key Photoshop skills, some editing tricks and learn some advance photo shooting tips. Oh- yeah, and then there is that storage problem. I need to find a good system for keeping all my photos in one reachable place.

Writing, writing, writing... There is so much more to my writing besides the novels. Amazingly, they take up only a small disciplined part of the week. the rest of the time is spent coaching clients on their writing projects, writing plays and smaller scripts and stories, writing articles and blog posts for various websites and editing and reviewing other content and writing.  Writing has began to take up a growing number of hours in my day. And I can asure you- I have NO complaints about that.

Directing- The theater group is growing. This year I expect it to grow even larger with more theater meetings, workshops, dramas and opportunities for participation in a lot of different ways for the members of the Beginnings Drama Team.  John and I have already put our heads together to start picking out dramas for the Sunday ones and are looking for a great script for Good Friday.

Art– In all of its glorious forms. I really want to pick up that paint brush this year. The question is what kind of paint do I want to put on it after I’ve picked it up? I’ve been focusing on watercolor while the kids were little, less mess, no smell…but now my heart is yearning for bolder strokes, brighter color, richer tones…and I am feeling the pull back to oils and acrylics. Maybe I’ll take a class and brush up. No pun intended there…  I’m also getting the feeling that I’d like to go back to practicing making jewelry again. Don’t hold your breath on this one. I might just go lie down til the feeling passes, but it’s there. For the moment anyhow.

Gardening. So help me lord, if I have one more year with a weed garden, I’ll spit. That’s all I’m going to say for now. But seriously. I have to spend more time in the garden this year. It’s embarrassing.

So, unless I get too busy living life instead of posting about it, I’ll use these pages as an Inspired Artist Journal to keep track of the artistic endeavors of the year.

Welcome to my artist’s playground.  Please, I’d love it if you leave your thoughts and comments and share what you plan to do in 2011. Hopefully together, we will both be around to play here this year!

Blowing out Candles

Attitude of Gratitude, family, Healthy Lifestyles, self improvement, The Inspired Life

Another birthday week has passed us by in our birthday intense family. No worries, there will be more. Between my large family and my Irish husband’s clan, there is never a shortage of birthday cake and parties to go around. Never a lack of reasons to gather the troops, fire up the grills or ovens, let the music play and the laughter begin.

One thing we are good at is celebrating and playing. Birthdays aren’t the only reasons to be bringing out the cake and candles though. Celebrations remind us of what all the hard work is for. It’s the victory at the top of the hill. Even if the hill is small.  It’s the TA-DA when you finally get it right. It’s taking the moment to appreciate everyone around you and be grateful for the privelege of playing the game we call Life.

“Each day comes bearing it’s own gifts. Untie the ribbons”
-Ruth Ann Schabacker

It is so easy to get caught up in the work of our daily toil. It is never-ending. For most of us, the To-Do list is a mountain that is never going to be fully scaled. It is a two steps forward, one step back sort of thing- if we are lucky. If we aren’t so lucky, it can be a slippery slope toward self-loathing as we beat ourselves up for what we never seem to get done. Learning to celebrate and play is an important tool and life lesson for success and happy living.

Why Celebrate?

Celebrating our victories helps to keep us focused on what we are accomplishing rather than what we aren’t getting done. James Allen states “As a Man thinketh so is he.”  If you are thinking of yourself as a person who gets things done, chances are you are going to feel better about continuing the momentum. If you are thinking of yourself as a loser who never finishes anything, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as well.

One of the best tips I have ever heard concerning the To- Do list was instead of crossing off or checking off the completed items on your list, highlight them in your favorite color of highlighter. How much more fun is it at the end of the day to look at a nice bright pink, blue or green page rather than an ugly scratched out list. That isn’t very appealing! Celebrate your hot pink day! Go you!

Celebrating our victories helps to deter procrastination.  No one wants to work day in and day out, struggling though the sludge of drudgery with no end in sight. If you doubt it, spend time working with children or pets! They want that immediate treat, the fun reward. They want to know what is coming next AFTER the work. They spend their work time thinking about the ice cream party coming after, the doggie treat in your pocket or the positive reinforcement and praise that may be the reward. Nothing energizes them more than the prize at the end of the rainbow. But take away the incentive and work them over and over without a happy goal in sight and suddenly the focus is lost. They are dragging their feet, they are too tired, they suddenly remember excuses that are mountains high. And that doggie? It will just lay down and go to sleep. You can’t teach an unmotivated dog a new trick.

However, when it comes to being our own personal coach, we forget to plan time in for celebrations. We keep plodding on and then wonder why we are exhausted, burnt out and have no motivation to continue on. Playing isn’t a luxury, it’s an important part of getting the job done!

Celebrating our victories together promotes teamwork and friendship. Sometimes we feel like we don’t deserve to celebrate. We minimize our accomplishments and successes and feel like we don’t deserve to take the time or we feel like we are bragging. What we DON’T take into consideration is that when we treat ourselves this way, what we are telling others is that when they celebrate -what they are really doing is being a slackard while WE are the hard worker. Well, hey martyr, get off the cross they need the wood to build a campfire! Of course, no one means to send this message. It is an unconscious, worn-out old tape that is stuck in our heads that we don’t even hear. It is a knee-jerk reaction of being very responsible and wanting to please everyone.  After all, there IS too much work to be done, and SOMEBODY does have to do it. It just doesn’t have to be you right this minute. When we work as a team and then play as a team, everyone comes out a winner. So come on down and take a rest, it’s not only good for you, it’s good for everyone else too!

Celebrating makes the job more pleasant. Mary Poppins says “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.”  Her secret to success is that she starts celebrating even WHILE she is working. Mary knows that as long as the work is getting done, there is no reason not to crank the tunes, start the singing and have some fun! Why NOT whistle while you work? Why NOT sing a happy tune? Why NOT make a game out of it? Who says we have to act like boring grown-ups all the time? Who says that the only way to get the job done is to take it seriously? Safety first…YES…seriously boring? NO WAY!!! Let the good times roll! For sure you will have more people willing to work with you the next time! Nobody lines up to work with Oscar the Grouch!

Looking Forward to Blowing out the Candles

Remember the last time you were at a small child’s birthday party? Remember how excited that child was when it came time to blow out the candles? Remember how all the other children leaned in close, wanting to be as big a part of the candles as they could be, a few of them even gathering up their lips to help with some participatory air? Children love to blow out the candles. They often even have to be reminded to make a wish! They are delighted, entranced, right there in the moment, their entire little bodies all jazzed up with glee. They don’t stop to think, “Gee, I’m not worthy of this attention and effort. Gosh everyone, really…you shouldn’t have… I didn’t work hard enough, I don’t deserve candles this year.”

Nope. They squeal. They clap their hands in appreciation. They scrunch up their little eyes and lips and blow… hard. Often, all they want to do is do it all over again. They’re in for the game. They’re in for the fun. They don’t second guess anything. They just let it all go.

When was the last time you really let go like that? When was the last time you were able to put down the Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda list and the To-Do list and went out and really played? Looked forward to doing something with the same total abandon as a child blowing out candles?

Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it
-Luke:18:17

Life is difficult. That isn’t going to change. Not for any of us. We have to become ON PURPOSE about finding the gifts and presents that each day has to offer, untie the ribbons and celebrate. We need to remember what it feels like to play like children. It isn’t only the Kingdom of Heaven you have a better chance at, but the Kingdom here on Earth as well. If you are having too much trouble, follow the kids, follow the pets. They will remind you. Follow the laughter, follow the glee, follow the wagging tail. Remember what it feels like to play again.

Remember what it feels like to blow out the candles.