Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Circle 1, Circle 2
David Smith
Recently, I've been more deliberately customizing my life to my quirky needs.  You'd think I'd have thought of that before, but no, I tried to customize myself to fit into some mythical ideal that, being neither mythical nor ideal, made me feel crummy when I didn't match up. Feeling contorted and uncomfortable seldom moved me forward.

Now I'm working within my own odd little framework, and happy with my hops and skips into changes and fun.

A few examples of how to skirt around some roadblocks:
  • Bring a friend. As the interviews and collaborative poems on this blog suggest, I do more when I have someone nudging me forward, if I feel accountable to someone else. How did I finally get over the threshold anxiety of actually taking a class at the yoga studio? Asked a friend to come along. And it was a great class complete with a teacher with a fabulous New Zealand accent, and now that the seal is broken, I'll go back easily. How did I decide to finally commit to the expense of trying a discovery test flight flying lesson in a small plane? Asked around and found another budding pilot enthusiast (test flight still pending as we had to reschedule because of high wind).
  • Go with your gut. Rather than slog forward with the first hospital I talked to about volunteering (where, for a laundry list of reasons, rational and not, I got a bad vibe), I said, you know what, there are options. I talked to another hospital volunteer coordinator yesterday at a place that is a much better fit on levels both practical and personal, and now I'm looking forward to diving into the experience.
  • Details matter; change approach. After roundly ignoring my oil paints all winter, I finally admitted oil painting fails the smell test of fun activity, particularly if you live in as small a place as I do. So I sold some of the paints, and invested the proceeds into buying more acrylic paints, a more straightforward medium for me. They don't smell, they're easy to clean up, and woohoo! I'm painting again, in the brief fits and starts that acrylics allow way more easily than oils.
  • Ask the experts. Obviously, in the interviews I've been posting, I've been asking about expertise in arts, and learning from others' art talents. In the future, in more of a healing arts bent, I'll be working with a friend who does nutritional coaching professionally (more on that later). Notably, however, her first point of advise was, work within who you are. I'm just not an eight-course meal vegan raw food chef with nine food processors and unlimited funds. That doesn't mean finding ways to eat a few more veggies wouldn't make me feel better.  
  • Love that Calder
  • Just go! Last weekend, it poured rain all day on Sunday, and by 4:30, I'd run out of steam for any creative project at home. Claustrophobia was setting in. Sunday has traditionally been museum day for me, and so a quick check on hours led me to the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art. I could have decided it wasn't worth driving downtown in the rain for 45 minutes in the museum. But the thing is, having hustled out the door and gone, it totally was. Having default places that are quick, easy, free and inspiring -- that's a fantastic resource. If it's your local coffee shop or a garden or a museum, making the effort to push out into the inspiring space means meeting inspiration half way, meaning a happier Muse. As it turns out, the Gauguin exhibit had opened, and had I not zipped out, I might have missed all those self-portraits of a very unusual man. 
So today's summary: find ways to take small steps in the direction of your dreams. And if you need to reconsider the details of that path, that's just fine too. Small steps allow for course corrections and clarifications. 
No photos allowed at the Gauguin exhibit, but I got to visit one of my favorites, Kandinsky.

Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle)
Wassily Kandinsky


  1. I love that you are spontaneous and productive with your time. Here's hoping I find inspiration in your blog!

  2. I love shirts that have a cool saying on them. One of my favorites says "the journey IS the destination." I think that's what the "small steps in the direction of your dreams" approach is all about.

    I believe that every step you take toward an ideal that doesn't match your internal compass only makes you feel more lost. The trick is figuring out what direction that compass *does* point. Experimentation and a willingness to pay attention to your natural reactions helps with that.

    I think that kind of "self awareness" is what Carlos Castaneda meant by "a path with heart."

  3. @ Shannon, Awww, thanks! I'm not sure how productive I actually am, but I'm definitely trying to be more so...

    @ Daniel, I love those types of sayings. Two 'fridge magnet I have are "Leap and the Net Will Appear" and "Not All Who Wander Are Lost." Yes, I agree on trying to work that tricky compass. I'm working on finding that path.