On Being Brave

I was watching the movie “Justice League” the other night.  There is a scene in which Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and the Flash are about to go into battle with Steppenwolf.  The Flash pulls Batman aside and says something along the lines of (I am paraphrasing) it is great that you are all ready to go into battle but I’ve never fought anyone.  He goes on and lists several things he is afraid of (again I am paraphrasing) bugs, guns, drowning and grotesquely tall people.  Batman tells him to just rescue one person and that he (the Flash) would know what to do after that.

I found that this scene of the movie resonated with me long after the movie ended.  It is important because Batman is explaining how to get through moments of not knowing what to do or moments of fear.  He is explaining how to be brave.

“In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.” -Kirk Douglas

Being brave isn’t about conquering fear.  It is about recognizing it.  Facing it.  And yes, knowing you could fail.  Being brave is going forward recognizing that failure is a possibility.  The key is the still going forward.

So often we think of bravery as huge moments that confront you.  That bravery can only be found in matters of life or death.  I am here to tell you that being brave is definitely in those moments.  You know….the moments that make people heroes.

What you don’t hear about but is just as important are the smaller more subtle moments.  They may not be life or death, but being brave at these times are just as important.

For example: Being brave is daring to start a new career after being fired or let go.  Cooking a holiday dinner for your in-laws for the very first time.  Starting your own business.  Entering your artwork in a juried show.  Bravery can be found in the ending of a marriage or dating relationship that is unhealthy.  Performing your first solo piano recital.  Bravery is in the person who keeps going to work at a job where they are being bullied until a new job can be found, because they can’t afford to just quit.  Being brave is purchasing a home for the first time.  Sending your manuscript to a publisher.  Getting on the bicycle after falling down.  Hiking a trail that scares you because you are afraid of heights.

Being brave is knowing that you could fail but you push through the fear and go forwards.  Being brave is knowing that the odds may be stacked against you but you keep on going.

I just want you to know that you are brave.  Whatever it is that you are facing.  However hard it may seem.  Keep going.  Yes, you could fail.  But you can and will succeed.  Keep on being brave.

Just Start Somewhere

Life has an interesting way of teaching us lessons.  I think that for the most part it is good that we don’t know that we are learning a lesson at the time we are learning it.  When we look back, we can say to ourselves “Wow!  That was one hell of a lesson I just learned.”

I would love to say that the preparation for my move was easy breezy and everything happened so smoothly.  But I can’t.  It didn’t.  And for a couple months leading up to the move, I felt frozen.  Unable to focus on any one thing or really accomplish things the way I normally do.  I was completely and totally overwhelmed.

overwhelmed

My being overwhelmed was two-fold.  The enormous task of moving.  I have lived in the same place for thirteen years and for the last six years my studio has been my bedroom.  Art supplies EVERYWHERE!!!  Just organizing and going through them seemed to be an un-accomplish-able task.  Then there is the psychological leap of quitting a perfectly okay job that provided income….. without having a new job in place to go to.  A major car repair.  My savings starting to dwindle.  It felt like things were starting to spiral out of control.

The second part of my being overwhelmed was emotional.  I couldn’t face all the things going wrong for what I was hoping to be a very positive change in my life.  You can plan all you want and think that you are in control.  Control is an illusion.  Planning is fine if you can account for every possible outcome.  Impossible.  I was as frozen as a deer in the headlights and accomplishing nothing.

I was having my breakdown in order to have a break through!

“The best way to get things done is to simply begin.” – Daphne’s Diary Number 1 2017

Never underestimate the power of kind words from a friend, multiple friends, complete strangers or positive signs from the Universe.  A smile really has the power to change someone’s day.  A kind hello can help someone who feels invisible to realize they are seen.  And just telling a friend or family member that you are thinking of them, let’s them know that they are not alone.

My friend Eric and I had talked about being overwhelmed and some of his tricks for helping himself get started.  He makes lists and does what I call Eric’s Principle of Picking up 10 Things.  So here is the deal with Eric’s Principle of Picking up 10 Things….. it is exactly how it sounds.  You pick up and put away 10 things.  Once that is done, you pick up and put away another 10 things.  And you can keep doing this until everything is picked up and put away or you need a nap.  What is great about this is for each 10 things you put away you have accomplished something.

As to making lists, they can be great because you get to cross things off of them.  Getting one thing done… cross it off the list.

Things started to happen.  I got things done.  Life got better.  And then the move, this thing that was supposed to be a positive change in my life really did become a positive change.

Being overwhelmed sucks.  Don’t give up.  Just start somewhere.  Things will get done and life will get better.

4th Anniversary of Cats Out of the Box

Four years of “Cats Out of the Box.”  Four years of creative discovery through writing.  Four years of documentary film reviews.  Four years of book reviews.  A year and a half of haiku poems.  Four years of stories about hiking, traveling experiences, observations, explorations, conversations with my friends and family.  Four years of sharing what creativity and creative living means to me.

Angus for blog

Angus, who helped inspire the title for my blog, Cats Out of the Box

I would like to share some of my favorite blogs from the past four years and why I like them.  If you click on the name of the posts that I have listed, it is a link to that post, and you can read them for yourself:

  •  One Reason – I chose this one because it was one of the first blog posts that I had written.  I feel it is pertinent to creative living because we can get caught up with reasons for not doing our creative work.  We only really need one reason to be true to ourselves.
  • Making Decisions Based on Love or Fear – This blog post receives the most views every year during my four years of blogging.  It was the first time I used one of my friend Eric Hanson’s poems.
  •  Tesla Illuminates Creativity – Those who have been following my blog since the beginning or have taken my creativity classes know that I am an admirer of the creative inventiveness of Nikola Tesla.  This post provided an opportunity for me to share some of the many ways that Tesla’s life and work inspire.
  • Forbidden Art and Censorship – One of the many moments of synchronicity that I have had in my life was having just finished reading the book The Tsar of Love and Techno and then watching the documentary “The Desert of Forbidden Art.”  I highly recommend the book and the documentary.
  • Dark Night of the Soul – 2017 was a really challenging year for me.  This is One of the blogs that shared with my readers that I was having challenges and how I was choosing to face those challenges.
  • Transitions – Another blog from 2017 that I think is a bit more positive.  I liked that I could use a photo from my 2014 trip to Japan as the featured image.
  • A Round of Eureka’s on the House! – I really loved doing the research for this post.  Also, I feel like it is such a happy and hopeful post.  As humans, we can never have too many good ideas.
  • Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park – This post was fun because I got to write it right after my dad and I had gone hiking at the park.  It is an easy hike and the weather was perfect.  A magical time that I was able to share through my blog.
  • March Haiku #6 – My favorite post, so far for this year, is this haiku.  It says so much in three (3) simple lines.

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”  -Brene Brown

Finally the most important part, the thank you section:

  • As my friends and family know, I ponder things.  I had been pondering writing a blog for years.  My friend Joe said just write a blog already.  Stop thinking and start doing.  And I did.  Thank you, Joe.
  •  My friend, Eric Hanson, is an amazing poet and I have used his poems in my blogs off and on over the years.  Thank you for letting me share your beautiful creative work with others.  Eric has also let me bounce ideas for blog posts off of him.  Some are definitely a lot better than others.  Thank you for listening, making suggestions and not letting me embarrass myself in the written word.
  • To my family there are not enough words to express my gratitude for your assistance, patience, feedback and support.  I know that having me in your lives can be a challenge.  You help me to be the best artist and creative person I can be.  I am truly grateful for you.
  • To my friends, so often the conversations we have are the creative sparks for a blog post.  You go hiking with me in all kinds of weather.  Thank you for your emotional and creative support.  You help me be a better writer, artist, creativity coach and teacher.  I am grateful for all of you.
  • To my readers and blog friends who follow my blog as part of the WordPress community, I am grateful for your support.  I am continually inspired by all of you and the creative work that you are doing.  No matter where you are located on this planet or what your blog is about….. your creativity, bravery in sharing feelings and ideas, and support make me proud to be a part of the WordPress blogging community.
  • Thank you to those that like my posts.  I appreciate you taking the time to support my creative work.  You motivate me to keep writing.
  • Thank you to those that post comments and provide feedback.  I enjoy hearing your thoughts about my work.  I am so proud when something I have written inspires others.  Your words mean the world to me.

I am grateful for the past four amazing years of blogging.  I am grateful to share this experience with all of you.  Thank you!

The Burning Dark

Has this ever happened to you? You read a review of book.  It sounds really interesting, so you find said book.  The description on the book cover or jacket is clever and draws you in.  The first chapter is enjoyable and you think, this is going to be a really good book.  Only it turns out to be an okay book.  That is what happened with the book, The Burning Dark.  There was every indication of greatness, it just didn’t quite get there.

Here is the description from the back of the book:

“Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the fleet into battle against a machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds.  After saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleet space, overseeing the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station.

Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic.  Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that echoes across a thousand light-years of space.  But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past — or a warning of an undying menace?  – Book Cover of The Burning Dark

As you can tell from the description on book jacket, it has the makings of a really interesting story.  I will confess, that this book although not my favorite was not awful either.  There were a couple things that I really didn’t like about this book.

One thing was the harsh break on page 19 of the book.  The story jumps from a battle to a group of people drinking together telling stories.  The actual drinking get together doesn’t really happen until much later in the book, chapter twenty-eight, to be exact.  It was confusing and introduced characters in such a way that I didn’t put together who some of these characters were until much later.

Authors will often skip from character story to character story to move along the plot.  It was used in this novel.  However, instead of moving the plot along, it was choppy and sometimes confusing.

But as I said before there was some really good things about this novel.  The back stories of the characters, even the villain were very interesting and well written.  Even if their inclusions were at odd times and places.

The authors descriptions of space and the anomaly that the space station was orbiting were very well written and researched.  Also the descriptions for setting up scenes and places on the space station, and Zia Hollywood’s ship were well done.  I could really visualize these places.  Adam Christopher has a gift for describing a place.

My final thoughts about this novel is that it is an okay novel.  If you have read it and have different thoughts or opinions, please comment.  I would invite discussion about the novel The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher.

Awards for My Words

mysteryblogger.award

I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by Patrick of Patrick’s Real Stories.  He is a very sincere person who is trying to understand the world through his and other’s stories.  Thank you so much Patrick for nominating me.  It is an honor to be awarded the Mystery Blogger Award.  Please check out Patrick’s blog here:  Patrick Stories

WHAT IS THE MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?  

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts.  These bloggers not only captivate; but inspire and motivate their readers.  They are one of the best our there, and they deserve the recognition that they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion. -Okoto Enigma (https://www.okotoenigmasblog.com/my-greatest-creation-yet/)

HERE ARE THE RULES:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to them as well.
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

THREE THINGS ABOUT Me:

  1. I have “red” hair but I have always thought it looked more orange.  For other orange/red heads out there, the driver’s license people do not like the answer “orange” when asking you your hair colour for your driver’s license.  Just a head’s up.
  2. I believe that everyone, yes that means you, is creative.  Sometimes one just needs a little help in finding out what they are passionate about and awaking their sleeping creativity.  Just in case you need help in finding that creative passion, I am a creativity coach.
  3. I firmly believe that if you want to experience life fully, you have to let go of control and experience being.  For the control freaks out there I know that this is hard to do.  If it would help to have a scientific reason or explanation of the art of being, check out the philosophical work of Amit Goswami, PhD, a theoretical nuclear physicist.

Questions for Me:

  1. Do you like classic art or modern art and why?  As an Artist and creativity coach the only right answer is Yes!  But just like everyone, I am drawn to certain artworks and artists.  Art is a soul to soul conversation.  Different pieces speak to each person differently.
  2. Who do you live with?  A beautiful black cat named Angus.  She thinks she is a princess, not a cat.
  3. Are you organized in your home (closets, bathroom, drawers)?  Some drawers and closets are but others are the chaos theory in action.  The only thing that seems to stay organized on a consistent basis is my art supplies.  No, I won’t tell you about the coloured pencils.
  4. What is your happy song? I really pondered this question.  I have a lot of songs and music that makes me happy.  Here are just a few of the songs: Metropolis by Owl City; Life in Color by OneRepublic; You and I by Enrique Iglesias; Bright by Echosmith; Sweet Lullaby by Deep Forest; Brighter Than the Sun by Colbie Caillat; and Lifelines by a-ha.
  5. Do you have a full-time job? I am sure that this question is about day jobs or “working”….. but my answer avoids the social norm.  I believe that living life to the fullest and doing something creative every day is my full-time job.

My Questions:

  1. What is one place you would like to travel to and why?
  2. What book have you read that has had the most influence on your life and why?
  3. What do you think of when you look at the stars in the night sky?
  4. Why do you write a blog?
  5. My funny question: What sounds more appealing as a potato chip flavor: ketchup, dill pickle or salt and vinegar?  Or all three?  Or none of the above?  Why?

Some of My Favorite Posts by year:

  1. 2015: One Reason
  2. 2016: West Yellowstone, Montana
  3. 2017: Opinions are like….
  4. 2018 (so far): Annihilation, the Movie

My Nominees:

  1. Living What You Love
  2. Ckonfab
  3. Living!
  4. Thoughtsmith
  5. The Moonlight Reverie
  6. A Blooming Scribe
  7. Tanja Britton
  8. Brian, Just Brian
  9. Metaphysical Reflections
  10. Sands of Time

I wish to thank Romina from the blog Living What You Love for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award.  She is a passionate blogger who writes motivational and Inspirational posts.  Romina’s site is elegant, inspiring and full of beautiful images.  When you visit her blog you will leave motivated and up-lifted.  Please check out her blog by clicking on the following link:  Living What You Love

The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers for this award.
6. Comment on each blog to let them know you’ve nominated them and a link to the post you created.


I had wanted to write a blog for many years.  I followed several blogs and read articles about starting and writing a blog.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was scared of putting my thoughts and ideas down on the page.  I think that part of this was because I did not think of myself as a writer.

A friend of mine encouraged me to start writing my blog.  Translation: He gave me the much-needed kick in the seat of my pants to get me started.  I created my blog site called Cats Out of the Box and my first blog post was on May 23, 2015, called Impermanence or Why I Started Writing a Blog.

Thanks to the support of my family, friends and the WordPress blog community, I have written over a hundred posts, there are people who are following my blog, I have developed amazing blog friendships, and have a new confidence in writing.  To all of you, thank you so much for your encouragement and inspiration.


My first piece of advice to new bloggers is to write about what interests you.  Don’t worry about having people follow your blog or getting likes.  If you are doing something you enjoy, it will show and people will discover your creative work.

My second piece of advice is to check out the blogs of others on WordPress.  The WordPress blog community is incredibly supportive.  Also it is a great way to read and learn amazing things from other creative writers.

Good Luck!

Nominees:

1) Patrick Stories

2) Living!

3) Ckonfab

4) Thoughtsmith

5) The Moonlight Reverie

6) A Blooming Scribe

7) Tanja Britton

8) Dread Poets Sobriety

9) Metaphysical Reflections

10) Learning to Write

11) Sands of Time

12) Miss Liv Adventures

13) Alphe’s Corner

14) Life of Chaz

15) The Godly Chic Diaries

sunshine-blogger

I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Brian of the blog Just Brian.  Brian’s blog is filled with amazing poems, short stories, comments regarding life, and so much more.  You can even listen to him read his poetry.  To me, poetry read by the poet has so much more impact than when I read it to myself.  Thank you so much, Brian, for nominating me for this cheerful award.  If you haven’t checked out his site, you can do so by clicking on this link: Brian, Just Brian

The Rules
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions asked by the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
4. List the rules and include the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.

The Questions for me
1. If you could travel back in time where would it be and why? I think the “Dr Who” approach to time travel is best.  Why just go to one place in time when you could travel backwards and forwards through time?
2. Painting or Reading?  Both.  I like to read and I love to paint.
3. What is one country you would want to visit and why? So many places to go and things to see and so little time.  Top five, as of right now and why: Ulan Bator, Mongolia – museums & Genghis Khan; Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia – largest fresh water lake in the world; Fiji – 333 of the happiest islands on earth; Galapagos Islands – this place is amazing; and Patagonia in Argentina and Chile – mountains.
4. What are you most afraid of? This is a challenging question.  I’m not a fan of zombies in any form.  What I find scarier than flesh-eating, mindless, once were people, is the thought that I may not be living up to my creative potential.  That scares me.  Keeps me awake at night.
5. As a child, what did you dream of doing? I wanted to be an adventurer.  Explore the earth.  Still want to be an adventurer and that is why I enjoy hiking so much.
6. What would you name your boat if you had one? Cats Out of the Box
7. If you had to change your name, what would it be and why would you choose that name? Honestly, I love my name and will not change it.
8. Would you rather be famous when you are alive and forgotten when you die or unknown when you are alive but famous after you die? Not sure that I care for either option.  Fame is fleeting.  I just want to enjoy being in the moment.
9. If you could only keep five possessions what would they be? Backpack, sleeping bag, compass, port-a-stove, and portable water purifier.
10. If you could get rid of a part of your body, what would it be? I am not sure about this question.  My body makes up me.  Taking away part of my body would take away from who I am.  Long answer short, I wouldn’t get rid of anything.

11. If you won the lottery what would you do? Pay off my debts.  Help family, friends and select charities.  Set up a fund that I would have income for the rest of my life.  Travel, write and create art.

Questions for the nominees
1. Why did you start a blog?
2. What types of blogs do you follow?
3. Would you rather be nice or kind?
4. What are you most afraid of? (This question was to good not to pass along.)
5. Do you like to go to see movies at the cinema or plays at the theater?
6. If you own a car, does it have a name?  What type of car is it and what is it’s name?
7. What was your favorite childhood toy?
8. Coffee or tea and why?
9. What is your favorite time of year?
10. Have you ever told a secret that someone had told you and asked you not to share?

11. If you won the lottery what would you do? (Another great question that I had to share.)

My Nominees:
1. Living What You Love

2. Ckonfab

3. Living!

4. Patrick’s Stories

5. Thoughtsmith

6. The Moonlight Reverie

7. A Blooming Scribe

8. Tanja Britton

9. Metaphysical Reflections

10. Sands of Time

11. Alphe’s Corner

I want to thank Patrick of Patrick Stories, Romina of Living What You Love and Brian of Just Brian one more time for nominating me for these awards.  Thank you!

Slade House

Just in time for the spooky season of Halloween, I read the novel Slade House by David Mitchell.  This novel takes place during the month of October over a span of 36 years.  I had read a review of the book when it was first published and was intrigued.  The review ended by saying that this is not a typical haunted house.

The description on the book cover starts with the sentence “Keep your eyes peeled for a small iron door.”  It is the kind of sentence that grabs your attention and draws you in.  Very much like Slade House does to its guests.

house2

The rest of the description from the book cover is as follows:

“Down the road from a working-class pub, along a narrow brick alley, you just might find the entrance to Slade House.  A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside.  At first, you won’t want to leave.  Later, you’ll find that you can’t.  Every nine years, the residents of Slade House extend an invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student.  But what really goes on inside? For those who find out, it’s already too late…”

The reason this isn’t your typical ghost story or haunted house is because it is not scary in the sense of horrifying.  It is more suspenseful.  Like a Hitchcock film, the tension keeps building and building right up to the ending.

I have a conflicted view of the ending.  It is brilliant and could lead to another book.  On the other hand, I don’t know that I want this person to survive.  If you have read or planning on reading this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on the ending.

I highly recommend the novel Slade House  by David Mitchell.  It is interesting and different.  Magical in a new creative way.  To me, it illustrates that all people are important.  That life has value and meaning.  I could relate to the characters and their lives.  (However, there are two characters who view the lives of others only in how they can be used for their benefit.)  The novel also asks questions about what we view as reality.  How much of what we perceive is real?

If you are looking for a different kind of story, beautifully written with interesting characters and a hint of spooky, this novel is for you.  Enter into the magical world of Slade House, if you dare.

Wheelwork of the Universe

“Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe.”          -Nikola Tesla, Inventor

I seem to have mislaid my purpose.  Stay with me here.  I am not having a crisis moment.  This is not a cry for help.  It is a serious question about my place in the cosmos and the work that I am doing.  You may have felt this way yourself…. that you are doing work, creative or other, that no longer satisfies you in any way, shape or form.  It is a restlessness that cannot be described in words.  It is a need for change that the social, religious, and political constructs cannot help you work through.  You just know that things are not right for you and you have to change.

I am not alone in this feeling.  Recently, a friend of mine who has worked tirelessly along the lines of law enforcement for the past fifteen years shared that he is dealing with this exact same thing.  He has been questioning the career path he has been pursuing (pun intended) and his life trajectory.  He worries that he cannot change the course he has been going down for so long.

While taking cultural anthropology classes in college there was a great quote used by my professor.  He would often state that for human beings to make changes “the pain of change had to be less than the pain of staying the same.”  I have reached my threshold of pain and staying the same and am actively pursing change.

I have noticed in myself that when I have reached this threshold, I feel very rebellious of the things that I am “supposed” to do.  Things that you are “supposed” to do often come with the word “should.”  Should is a guilt implying word and we use it when we want people to conform.  When I hear the word should, I shudder.  “You should have gotten a degree in education.”  “You should give up on/not get involved with that person.”  “You should have saved and/or used your money wisely.”  “You shouldn’t have bought that car, house, etc.”  “You shouldn’t have trusted that mechanic, invest banker, person, etc.”  “You should go to the doctor/dentist even if you feel fine.”  And the shoulds go on and on to infinity.  I just want to shout “Stop shoulding on me!”

Human beings, for the most part, want things to go along smoothly.  We want everyone to do their part and get along.  And as humans we have come up with social contracts, religious and political ideologies telling one exactly where and how they fit and what they are supposed to do.  These ideologies tell you that your life has meaning and you have a purpose….. What happens when none of these things are working for you?

My advice is to look inside yourself.  Who are you?  What kind of person do you want to be?  What do you do to have purpose?  I have used the following quote from Steve Jobs in a previous post but feel that it works here as well.

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most import, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary” -Steve Jobs

For me the re-examination of purpose is leading me to make a major life change.  I have turned in my notice to my day job and am in the process of preparing to move to a new city in a different state.  I am daring to imagine a different life for myself.

When you have that moment that you have mislaid your purpose, remember the shape that change takes in your life is entirely up to you.