Have you ever done something that you know you shouldn’t do?  But you do it anyways.  You push too far and injure yourself?  This past weekend I was working on one of my boxes when my hot glue gun wasn’t working quite like I wanted it to.  I pushed the glue gun button and at first it was sticking.  No hot glue came out.  So I pushed it again, hard, and a gob of hot glue landed on the lid of the box.  It was fine.  A bit more glue than I wanted but I could work with it.  Then the lid flipped over onto the back of my thumb.  Not the side with callouses.  Where it would have been uncomfortable but no big deal.  No, it landed on the other side.  It took off the top layer of skin and gave me a second degree burn.  It was painful when it happened.  But I am healing.

Yes, my injury was of my own doing.  I pushed too far and wasn’t paying close enough attention.  And yes, my injury was caused in the pursuit of creating my art.  This got me thinking about injuries…. injuries from accidents….. injuries from other people….. injuries that we inflict on others….. injuries that we inflict upon ourselves…. injuries that cannot be seen.  When one has a cut, breaks a bone, is burned or is ill, we know what we have to do to take care of the injury.  It’s not so easy with the injuries that cannot be seen.  What all these injuries have in common is that we have the chance to heal, to learn from them.  And this is where we have a choice.

Unlike physical wounds, we cannot see the healing process in the emotional ones.  And I think that this is one of the reasons that we carry the unseen injuries for so long.  But we don’t have to.  We can heal.  The human body and mind are amazing in their ability to heal.  Sometimes we need the help of a professional.  It is okay to need help.  It is okay to get help.  Especially if this is what is needed for that particular injury to heal.

Healing is not comfortable.  Healing itches.  It causes us to think about things that hurt us or that we did that hurt others.  Sometimes this process makes us want to tear off the scabs and revisit the pain.  Sometimes it makes us bind the wound too tightly.  Bury the injury and never let it see the light of day.  But if we just hold on….. get through the itching…… get through the fear and doubt….we will heal.  There may be a scar but that scar reminds us that we are alive and we survived.   And that we deserve to be happy.

I read something the other day on the internet about the seven keys to happiness.  I couldn’t remember any of them except the one that said to let go of the past.  This could be also translated to let go of an injury.  How can we best do this?  By practicing forgiveness.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive others.  Forgive, Learn and Heal.

We only reach our full potential when we allow ourselves to learn from the injury, let go of the pain and move forward.  And as for myself, I am healing and I learned a lesson.  I will be very happy as I purchase a brand new, low heat glue gun.

Hazzards on the Creative Road

On my way to work this morning I saw a Highway Patrol Officer in his Highway Patrol Car talking on his cell phone.  The city that I live in has a law that it is illegal to talk on ones cell phone while driving unless it is a hands free device.  He was definitely talking on his cell phone and it was definitely not a hands free device.

A friend and I have had several conversations the past week about rules and laws and breaking them.  When I told her about the Highway Patrol Officer, we both started laughing.  She said, “See everyone breaks the law.”  Apparently, even those who are hired to uphold and enforce them.

I love to drive.  Of all the inventions and technologies we possess….the automobile is to me one of the finest.  I think having a driver’s license (next to the passport) is a persons biggest ticket to freedom.  Although I tend to drive my automobile a bit faster than I should and I have talked on my cell phone while driving (once or twice), I do see the reason for having traffic rules and laws.  Imagine trying to get across a busy intersection where no one stopped at the red light and no one used their turn indicator.

As human beings we take the rules and laws to whole new levels.  Sometimes we put rules and laws on ourselves that hinder the creative process and our ability to live joy filled lives.  I am not talking about giving yourself challenges thorough setting goals creative or otherwise.  I am talking about rules that you give yourself that hinder your ability to grow.  Telling yourself you are not a good writer so you don’t start the blog…… or believing that you can’t learn to paint with watercolor so you don’t take the class…. or the idea that you are not adventurous so you don’t go on the hiking trip…. or choosing to only like certain foods so you don’t go to the new Ethiopian restaurant.  Whatever rule, boundary or idea that you use to hinder yourself and your creative growth.

Think about the times you have done yourself an injustice by throwing on the brakes when you should have been hitting the gas to move forward.  My challenge to you is to be conscious of the rules and boundaries that you put on yourself and to challenge those assumptions.  When you are in a situation that may not be comfortable because of the rules that you have given yourself instead of saying no and closing that door….. take a step in a new direction.  Join a writers group (you will be surprised that you can write), follow some blogs (you will learn that you have a voice and something to say), purchase a child’s watercolor tray, cheap brushes, paper and play (remember what it was like to create as a child), go on a walk (stretch your legs and your mind at the same time), buy the weird looking fruit in the produce aisle (it is actually quite tasty), make a new recipe at home (if it is awful, you can throw it away and I won’t tell).

Just as it is wise to stop at a red light….it is also wise to challenge the rules and boundaries that we put on ourselves.  I’ll try not to talk and drive, but I can guarantee in my creative life that there will be some rules and boundaries broken!

Recharging with Exercise

Not only do I create my own artwork; but, I teach art and creativity classes.  On numerous occasions students have requested that I teach or have asked why I don’t teach during the summer.  I always respond that summer is for hiking.  In the beautiful state of Montana, where I currently reside, summer is a beautiful brief season.  And any time that you are trapped indoors during this beautiful brief season is a tragedy.

It turns out that one of my oldest and dearest friends loves to hike as well.  It was on a recent hiking trip that we were discussing how hiking not only helps us feel physically better but it also helps recharge the soul.  There is something about coming up around a bend and through the trees is a stunning view of mountains and a waterfall.  You can’t see this from a car.  The real life experience is so much more amazing that a photograph.

I have had this discussion with other friends who are physically active as well.  I recently started taking yoga.  Another friend who is in the class stated that on the nights she goes to yoga class, she comes home with so much more energy.  I have another friend who used to do long distance running in high school.  After a twenty year break she started running again.  Just recently she finished a 10k run.  After several conversations I got the impression that running helps her keep her mind and body in balance.  I have another friend who mountain bikes competitively.  On Saturday, he finished the Founder’s Lumberjack 100.  Yes, that’s riding on a mountain bike for 100 miles.  Biking and karate help him keep his mind/body balance.

Believe it or not, creativity and exercise are linked very closely together.  In the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron there is a section in week 11 specifically dedicated to getting one moving.  Below is an exert from that section:

“The goal is to connect to a world outside of us, to lose the obsessive self-focus of self-exploration, and simply, explore.  One quickly notes that when the mind is focused on other, the self often comes into a far more accurate focus.”

This focus has helped me see solutions or come to a resolution on areas of my life that have been challenging to me.  Exercise is not only good for the body but also for your creative mind.

As to hiking, there is more to it than the physical aspect.  I shift my perspective.  For me, it is experiencing the moment as a whole. I become more aware of my surroundings.  Smelling the air.  Feeling the wind on my face.  Cooling down by wading in frigid streams fed by glaciers.  Watching for signs of inclement weather.  Noticing the brilliant colors of wild flowers and plants.  Watching for animal sign and seeing wild animals in their natural habitat.  The entire experience is fulfilling to me.

My challenge to you is to find what helps you keep your mind/body balance and get moving.  Swim, bike, hike, walk, run, lift weights……whatever you need to do.  I guarantee that not only will your body feel better but your creativity will improve as well.

As for myself, I have challenged myself to hike at least 50 miles on trails before the end of Labor Day weekend.  As of today, I have completed just over 20 miles.  I’m sure there will be future posts about my hiking adventures.  I invite you to join me or investigate the trail systems in your local area.  See you out there.  Adventure on!

The Incredible Lightness of the Right Haircut

I have been growing my hair out since the summer of 2010.  Of course, I had the ends trimmed, and applied products to keep it healthy and shiny; but, I never had more than an inch or two taken off when I went to see my stylist.  The picture below was taken in September 2015 during a trip to Japan.


I had read an article about major changes when getting your hair cut.  There was a specific section for people with long hair thinking of going short.  It said if you think about cutting your hair before you fall asleep at night and you wake up in the morning and are thinking about cutting your hair…….you are ready.  I had been thinking about cutting my hair for a couple of months but still wasn’t sure if I was “ready.”  I did feel like it never looked nice, no matter how much time or energy I put into styling it.  It was heavy when wet and heavy when dry.  I needed a change.  Ready or not, a month and a half ago, I set the appointment to get my long hair cut.

what was cut

That may not look like much but it is twelve inches of hair.  I know what you are thinking……what does a haircut have to do with creativity?  For me, a lot.  You see, I was afraid of cutting my hair.  Yes, it comes back to fear again.  I had been hiding behind my hair.  I knew that I needed a change.  I had been making positive changes in so many other areas of my life why was this so hard.  I needed to remember that my hair is not who I am; but a part of me.  And hair grows back.

short hair

I took the chance on change and cut off a total of 16 inches.  It feels good.  It is a lot lighter and easier to manage.  I think it looks good.  And I feel like I am ready for the next challenge!

So what this whole blog comes down to is that when we face something that is scary, realistic fear or not, if we face that fear with courage and the belief that change is good, we may be surprised by the positive outcome.  What have you been afraid of doing?  Maybe you just need a good haircut to get you started.

Music is a Time Machine

Has this happened to you?  You are in the grocery store and all of a sudden the background music is playing…….. the song that you had your first kiss to……or the song that you heard in that coffee shop in Japan…..or it was the theme song from that one amazing summer with your best friend before she moved to England……or it was the song that was playing on the radio when you got into your car after your divorce was final…..the possibilities are endless.

I was having trouble thinking of a name for a solo art exhibit several years ago.  A friend and I kept going back and forth with titles for the exhibition.  I would suggest something and he would say no.  He would suggest something and I would say no.  Then almost at the same time, we came up with the idea for calling it Visual Conversations.  (I was making and altering books at that time so it seemed brilliant!)  The reasoning behind the title was that by looking at a piece of art, one can have a soul to soul conversation.  I believe that music can also act as a soul to soul conversation.  Just hearing the opening to certain songs instantly touches my heart and transports me to a different time and place.  It is a truly magical experience.

Today with streaming music and the ability to store music on our phones and computers it is easier than ever to create your own soundtrack.  So that’s what I did.  I actually made several for myself.  For example, the following is one of play lists I made for myself (I am calling it weather/wonder mix):

Every Breaking Wave – U2; Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood;  Empire – Shakira; Here comes the Rain Again – Eurythmics; Alligator Sky – Owl City; You and I – Enrique Iglesias; Bright – Echosmith; A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay; Written in the Stars – Tinie Tempah; Please Don’t Say – Breathe Carolina; Counting Stars – OneRepublic; Eclipse – Black Moon Lovers; and The Sun Always Shines on T.V. – a-ha

These are songs that are special to me.  Please, if you are interested, check out these artists and their music.  Whether or not this playlist is or isn’t to your liking……..My challenge to you over the next couple weeks is to really listen to the “background” music that surrounds us everyday.  Think about the music that has made a difference in your life.  Now make a personal soundtrack(s) of songs that touch you.  And if you feel like you would be willing to share, send a copy of your playlist to a friend.

Happy listening!

Right Here, Right Now

We live in a world that is very forward thinking….. plan for the future.  Retirement.  Investments.  Maximize returns. Long term investing.  Accident Insurance and insurance of every kind.  The list goes on and on.  I’m not saying that it isn’t good to plan for tomorrow.  But sometimes it feels like everything I do is for some nebulous point in the future…. some goal on the horizon that I cannot see.  It begins to feel like I am working for an idea and not myself.  I feel numb and disconnected.  That’s when I realize that I am not living in the moment.  I am so forward thinking that I am not experiencing my own life.

There is lots of stuff out there about being in or experiencing the moment.  In the 1990’s there was a song “Right Here, Right Now” by a band called Jesus Jones which talks about being in or experience a particular place and time in history.  There is a line in the song about a woman talking about revolution but it had already passed her by.  She missed the moment.  I think this song is about relishing the time you live in.

I have found the longer I have been an artist, the easier it is for me to be in the moment in my creative life.  Srinivas Rao in his book “The Art of Being Unmistakable” explains it as:

“There is a creative space I am able to enter in which I get completely absorbed in what I am doing.  The world around me disappears.  The voices in the background fade, and I become almost laser-focused.  It is my zone of genius.  This is also a place of great peace, and it is where my best work comes from.”

What Srinivas is talking about is experiencing the moment.

There are other times when I have noticed this experience happen to me.  When talking to a friend who is a mountain biker, he called this experience being in the zone.  I have noticed this happening in my yoga class.  The class begins, I focus on my breathing and next thing you know the class is over.  Where did the time go?  I had a conversation with a friend one night that went on for hours but it felt like we had just started talking.  The time warp experience of being in the moment.  Where time seems to slow down or stop.  There is a Star Trek Next Generation film “Insurrection” that illustrates visually the experience of time slowing down and living in the moment.

These are all positive examples of experiencing the moment.  And I am definitely a person that likes focus on the positive.  However, I do believe that we have to be in the moment for the negative things that happen as well.  That I have to fully experience pain, sadness and loss in the same way that I experience the joy, love, and abundance.  We all have these tough times…..losing a job, ending a relationship, death of someone we love, etc.  By allowing myself to be in the moment during the tough times, I can truly experience the positive ones.  I am not suggesting wallowing in our own pain and misery.  Carrying black emotional black clouds wherever we go.  I am suggesting that one experience the moment and then be prepared for the next moment because life continues.  Remember the only constant in the Universe is change.

How do we train ourselves to be in the moment every day of our lives?  In one of my creativity classes, one student was talking about her granddaughter and how she was taught to take mental pictures to remember things and experiences.  What amazing parents that girl has!  They are teaching her to experience the moment as a child.  So take a mental picture, center yourself in the experience.  What is the light like?  What are the smells?  Do you feel sunlight on your skin?  Where are you?  What about this moment do you want to take with you?

Now go!  This is your life.  Experience the moments.

Willing to do the Research

I had been warned that the movie “Transcendence” starring Johnny Depp was terrible.  That it was confusing and boring.  I read several reviews at the time of the movie’s release which totally panned it.  With a possible total of 5 stars, it got 1 star from Rotten Tomatoes and 3 stars from IMDb.  I live in a town with one movie theater and I don’t remember the movie being here for more than one weekend.

Several years ago while I was waiting to see my doctor, I read an article in Time magazine titled “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal” by Lev Grossman.  I have included the link below in case you would like to read it.  In essence this article was about Singularity and the work of Raymond Kurzweil and his research into artificial intelligence.  Aubrey de Grey, a British biologist, is also featured in the article regarding his work on regeneration of the human body and the work of Henry Markram, a neuroscientist, who is working on simulating a complete human brain (he has already simulated one neocortical column of a rat’s brain).  All of this will sound familiar if you have seen the movie.


I have a theory about why people don’t like this film.  First, they went to a “Johnny Depp Film” thinking they were going to a movie that they wouldn’t have to think about.  Second, they had to think about the movie.  And I mean really think.  Most people don’t want to go to a movie and think.  They want their gratuitous violence, predictable love story, mindless comedy and/or some combination of such.  I get that.  I have times when I don’t want to think about the movie that I am watching.  Third, the science behind the film is not something that people talk about in every day conversation.  It deals with concepts regarding what is conscious thought, what makes one human, and what is the future of humanity.

I enjoyed the film.  Yes, there were some holes in the story.  But a good film, novel, opera, play, magic act, etc. allows one to suspend their system of disbelief and just enjoy the show.  Thanks to the article in Time, I was able to do that.

I’m not saying that you should go out and watch this movie or read the article I provided the link for.  It is your choice to do that if you want to.  What I am saying is that we like to study the things we are interested in.  I am an artistic and creative sci-fi geek.  I drink coffee from my X-Files cup, while reading articles about dark matter, cold fusion, entropy, singularity, quantum physics, etc.  Sometimes I use what I have learned in my art.  So when I finally saw this movie, I enjoyed it based on what I knew about the science behind the it.

So whatever it is that you are interested in and passionate about…. mountain biking, neuroscience, fashion design, hiking the Appalachian Trail, cooking lemon meringue pies, etc. take the time to really explore what you love.  I know that you will find that the knowledge you have accumulated from exploring what you are interested in will show up in other ways enhancing your life over and over.  Be open to learning and willing to do the research.

Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!

Recently, when a friend and I were talking about her marriage she said something that got me thinking about wanting to be chosen.  I gathered from our conversation that she felt happy and secure in her marriage.  I also realized from this same conversation that she was no longer worried about being that girl, you know, the one that no one wanted.  I was shocked.  Here is a creative, confident, beautiful, intelligent woman who can speak eloquently and succinctly about a variety of topics and ideas and she was afraid that she would never be chosen.

Have you seen the movie “Runaway Bride” starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere?  I found it very interesting that Julia Roberts character was incredibly intelligent and creative when designing lighting fixtures and fixing things but when it came to herself, she didn’t even know how she liked her eggs cooked.  She changed herself for every single relationship she was in.  Julia’s character was terrified of not being chosen.

Both the conversation and movie bring up the human need to be chosen.  I feel this need, wanting to be chosen.  I wonder, sometimes if we are so worried about being chosen (and this can be for anything……job, relationship, creative project, etc.) do we lose who we are?

I think that all to often we get caught up in creating superficial perfection….the perfect resume, joining the right social organizations, changing our bodies and faces to be attractive to others or for some unrealistic ideal, etc. that we have forgotten that we are incredible just as we are.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t exercise or that you need to stop brushing your teeth, that the social organizations that you believe in and support are bad, or that you shouldn’t have resume…. What I am saying is before we start changing who we are for someone or something else, we should look very seriously at why we are making those changes.  Are we making the changes for positive and healthy reasons within our own lives?  Or are we doing it to fulfill this need to be chosen?

There are so many voices competing for attention and to be chosen.  How do we stand out?  How do we be unique?  We chose ourselves first.  We chose to be passionate about our creative choices.  We do work that we are proud of (creative and day job).  We choose to donate time and energy to social causes that resonate within us.  We take care of our health and wellness.  I find that when I am doing these things and being honest with myself, the need to be chosen becomes irrelevant.  Other people who are on the similar paths to the one I have chosen, find me and I find them….we choose each other.

That is exactly what I have seen happen for my friend…..she is in mutually beneficial relationship in which they have chosen themselves first and then each other.  And by the end of the movie, Julia’s character figures it out as well.   Choose yourself first.

That said, if you would ever like to get together for breakfast…….I prefer Eggs Benedict.