Sunday, October 24, 2010

Living "In the Moment"

Good Morning!

It's another autumnal morning as I sit here typing away. Molly is perched on top of her "kitty condo" on the watch for any daring birds that might happen to perch on our balcony. The truth is when they do, Molly hides behind the curtains furtively watching these tresspassers, but too afraid to do anything about them. I'm sitting at my desk watching her antics and sipping a nice hot mug of tea. We're living in the moment, this moment, right now, that's what we're doing and consciously aware of it.

I hadn't really given this phrase much thought until I won a ring from @MerCuriosJewels and this was the phrase engraved on it. See Mary-Jo's web site listed to the right under the heading "Some other sites you might enjoy." Mary-Jo ran a contest and I was the lucky winner of the ring. I wear it all the time and have spent a lot of time thinking about the phrase she engraved on the ring. Mary-Jo is a very positive person and has been a great influence in my life during the short time that I've known her through our tweets. She's the kind of person you need in your life because she doesn't sugar coat anything and tells you exactly what she thinks. She picked up on my doubting myself, who I was, what I was doing and so on. She pretty much told me in no uncertain terms that I'm in charge of my own fate and it would be wise for me to read "Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting" written by Lynn Grabhorn. Once I read the book, I would understand how badly I needed to read and put into practice the concept of positive thinking.

I owe Mary-Jo a big thank you for making me stop and re-evaluate myself, my life and where I wanted to go with it. So, Mary-Jo, this post is dedicated to you for your help in making me live in the moment.

What does the phrase mean to you? To me, it means to live in the here and now not thinking so much about what could or might happen. Deal with what is happening now, pin point what you don't like about it, whether it's your life, your job, or your livingroom and deal with it in a positive way. Don't approach the thing you don't like negatively, approach it with optimism. You don't like your life, what part of it don't you like, why does that part bother you so much, why are you spinning your wheels not doing something about it? You identify what it is that is negative and keep asking your self question after question until you find the underlying truth.  For me, I wasn't really happy with the way life was rolling out for me, but the reality of it was I was the one putting up the stop signs, detours, delays and so on. I was responsible for my own fate.

What a concept! It was so true and even though deep down I had realized that I had to make some changes, it took Mary-Jo and this book to make me realize this, admit it openly and force myself to move on and do something about it. I wanted and still want to be a mixed media artist so badly that . . . What was I doing to further my aspirations? Well, I wasn't really putting myself out there, out in the world saying not that I want to be an artist but rather I am an artist with a lot to learn, but that doesn't mean I'm not an artist or that I'm not creative. For my entire life, I had always made do with what came my way. That was good enough for me, I didn't really deserve more. Hold on, stop the bus! Did I just say I wasn't good enough? Basically, that was just what I was saying and even worse, I believed it. Making it even more devious, those were the vibes I was sending out to all. My bad! I had a lot of thinking to do and I had better get thinking fast, make a complete 360 turn and make myself the master of my own fate. I had better begin to live in the moment, stop thinking about past mistakes, hopefully I had learned from them and moved on in life. Not so much, so it seems. I perpetuated the view of myself as being not so smart, making poor choices and not knowing where I was heading or why. Further, I was worrying about the future when I hadn't dealt with the present. It doesn't work that way. So, what I've learned is that I need to kinder to myself and not reprimand me for not moving ahead fast enough, not doing enough, not knowing where to turn. It was up to me right this very moment to know what was bothering me or what it was that I needed and work on accomplishing and finessing the fine details, all the while feeling that this was to be, this was what I wanted and be positive about it in how I thought about myself. I have every right to be an artist if I choose to be. There is no cosmic law out there telling me that no, that's not for you, you really can't do that. Why not? Because I didn't believe in myself.

So, what changes have I made? I define myself as an artist, a mixed media artist. When I'm in the art supply store and another customer asks me if I'm an artist, I answer in the afirmative. Yes, I am an artist. YES, I AM an ARTIST. Sorry, didn't mean to yell, but I had to make my point. Turns out that while I have a lot to learn in technique, I do have direction in my art, I know and understand my weaknesses, I am working to be the person I want to be because I am that person. Wait a minute, I hear everyone out there thinking - she said she has a lot to learn so how can she be an artist? The same way a doctor is a doctor. Even though s/he has the initials M.D. after their name and has graduated from medical school in the top ten, doesn't mean that the learning stops there. A doctor is always updating his or her knowledge in order to keep up with new advances in medicine. But, that doesn't change the fact that the doctor is and will be a doctor. So, let's push this a little further - I am an artist and will always be working on my technique, trying new ones, pushing my limits, trying new mediums. The search for knowledge isn't an indicator that I am any less of an artist, it's an admission that I realize that in this moment, I still have a lot to learn and will always be in the process of learning.

Give this a little thought. Believe in yourself. Think about what it is that you want to change in your life and facilitate that change. I believe you can do it, but more importantly, do you believe you can?

These past few days I've been painting with a vengence. I'm tackling the canvases that have been giving me problems and starting to work on other pieces. I've been reading about colour theory, techniques and practising drawing images that appeal to me. I'm working on my fears and acquiring knowledge. I'd say it's been a positive week!

I've previously put up pictures of "Millenium" and "Losing My Religion" for you to see. I'm not finished with these pieces, but it's getting so close that I can feel how good it's going to be to hang these up on the wall and can say that I'm done. "Millenium" has a companion canvas at long last. "The 80's" shows images of that decade that stand out for me and for the couple who will have the two canvases. Images that define the two decades, both of which were important to each of us for various reasons.

The third canvas, " Losing My Religion" is becoming more and more significant to me with each brush stroke.  This piece has me thinking, questioning old beliefs, wondering about what I had been taught as a student attending parochial school during my formative years.  For so long, I had just accepted what I had been taught about religion, never stopping to ask myself if I had any doubts, fears or questions.  You didn't question your faith, you accepted what you were taught in religious studies and could repeat back like little parrots what the teacher had put forth in that lesson.  To question any of the concepts would have meant instant damnation or at very least a call from the school to your parents.  Yes, I was a good little soldier and memorized my cathechism lessons with due diligence.  It's only now, as I paint out the story, that I start to question openly what I had so obediently believed.  Maybe this piece came to my mind as a painting that needed to be put to canvas because it's only now that I feel confident enough to actively question whether I truly believe or if there are some parts of the whole belief system that I need to rethink, digest or reject.  These are my thoughts as I paint, they may upset you or cause you to question your own set of beliefs.  That's a good thing.  To close off a subject and never discuss it whether or not we all agree on a point of view would be closing doors of communication.  Look at the painting and talk about it with your friends or even better, leave me a comment.  Tell me what it is you like or don't like about the painting and why.  How does this painting make you feel?  Do you have a sense of unease as if fire and brimstone will come down on all of us or do you feel a sense of relief that someone else has questions about all this religious knowledge that we openly accepted and never dared to question?  Let me know and I'll post all the comments and respond to what you have to say.  I'm not saying I'm right, I'm saying I have some doubts and still need to decide.  If and when the verdict comes in I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, I hope last week was one in which you found some peace of mind artistically.  Hopefully, you thought about what you might like to try whether it's painting, writing a blog (yes, that's an art!), embroidery or reading a book on an art form that you've always wanted to try.  Here's hoping that whatever you choose brings you the same internal comfort that I feel when I'm painting.

Have a great week and don't forget about our tiara challenge!  I'm hoping to see some real divas and knights in action.  Don't forget to come back to this blog once you've posted your avatar on Twitter and let me know your username, i.e. @rutheemac, so that I can keep an updated list of who we should all be looking for when we log into Twitter.  I'd love to hear your comments about how you came to decorate your tiara the way you did.  You can post your avatar pic with you wearing your tiara, your pet wearing your tiara or whatever catches your fancy.  Be original and have some fun!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac


Burn said...

@burntheartist So many provocative questions and topics in one post. Positive thinking over all I think is the only thing that's kept me sane. I'm overly ruled by logic and at times it's a very positive tool to stay focused and see the good in things. Other times it makes the cruelty and injustice in the world a blaring red beacon that's hard to ignore. Still it's important to pick up those cracked eggs and let the compost turn the mess into nutrients for my garden.
I really liked hearing about your thoughts on your own paintings. When you give choose to say the works are finished I'll feel more inclined to give my thoughts on the matter. Just a personal flaw of mine I suppose. It's kind of like when I watch a good boxing match or a strong performance in a play; I can't really do anything more than spectate.
Thank you for the lovely thoughts, have a great weekend.

Rutheemac said...

Thank you for your well thought out and articulated thoughts. I agree that you need to see the end product before you can give a comment on the artistry or topic matter. It all depends on how well those aspects are handled on the canvas. I like it that you are willing to give positivity a try even though it is difficult at the best of times. I so agree and I fight to remain positive many times. Those are the times when I doubt myself, my core beliefs, and what the heck I'm doing. I think we all share those thoughts, but as long as we don't get fixated in that rut, move on to look for more positive ways after determining what it is that bothers us, then we're moving in the right direction. I'll definitely let you know when the canvases are complete and look forward to your comments again at that time. Thank you for taking the time to not only read the post, but to digest it and come back with feedback that helps me on my journey.

golivas said...

Great post! I think I need to read that book! I recently read "The Artist's Way" and I didn't think it made much of an impact, but according to all my artist friends they notice a huge difference. I understand exactly what you mean when you say "painting with a vengeance", I have been doing the same thing! I do need to figure out how to take the next step with the rest of my life (my paying day job), so "Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting" may help. Thanks!

Rutheemac said...

Hi Golivas! Working out a balance between your work life and your artistic life is a challenge at the best of times, but it can be done. Look for pockets of time that maybe aren't being put to the best use. I found my time to be when I was watching television mindlessly and not even enjoying what I was viewing. That gave me a couple of hours each evening. Surfing on the computer,trolling though endless articles thinking that you are researching for your next painting is another way we delude ourselves that we're really doing something when we actually are not, that is if we really want to admit it. Give yourself a week or so and make note of where the pockets of time exist and if you really want to work on art, you'll make the time. Don't give up the paying job until you see that you can make a living on your art endeavours. You need money to buy supplies, you need to pay rent or mortgage fees, etc. You still need to live, so accept that you may need to work at the day job and then squeeze in the time for what your heart really wants. Live in the moment, deal with today, decide what it is that you don't like about your life and work on correcting it. You are still an artist even if you are a lawyer, accountant, chef or administrative assistant. Being one does not mean the other is not a valid work that you are doing. I read The Artist's Way at a time when things were really going badly in my life and I found the journalling to be helpful in terms of helping me define what I wanted and definitely what I didn't want. It also gave me a safe place to vent without fear of reprecussions. Just make sure to keep the journals hidden away and have a plan in place for a trusted friend to dispose of them for you if necessary. Truthfully, I found "Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting" to be more helpful for me. You would have to read it to see if it has the same benefits for you and your circumstances. I'd love to hear your feelings on the book and if you thought it was a good read. Anyone with a comment on the book, good or bad, please fill in a comment form and let us all know how you feel about the book. Thank you again for writing in and I'd really like it if you signed up to be a follower of this blog.

ShardArtist said...

A lot of wisdom here Ruth. Thank you for sharing it. Courage can be a bloody elusive state of mind. Clearly doubt is so much easier. Congratulations on your leap in the right direction.

I'm enjoying "Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting", btw. Thanks to both you and Mary-Jo.

Yesterday in honor of the great man's birthday, I found myself reading some of Picasso's quotes. I think this one applies.

"He[sic] can who thinks he can, and he can't who thinks he can't. This is an inexorable, indisputable law." Pablo Picasso

I also found this one:

"Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time." Pablo Picasso

Time to get off my butt...

Thank you again for giving us so much to think about.

Btw, - feelings elicited by your paintings?...that seems to be one joyful little fire. :)

Rutheemac said...

Thank you for your comments Cate! I like the quote from Picasso about those who believe they can do something are able to do it. It's like the little train who could. I'm at the point where I'm saying I know I can do this and I will. Happy to hear that you like the book! It really does change the way you think. And as for that fire, I was singing Don McLean's American Pie as I was painting it. Guess that kind of came out in the colours of the flames. Maybe, that happy little fire is there to represent warmth, comfort, & peace in the afterlife. I'd like to think so.