The Dance of Awareness

October 4th, 2010

Awareness in life is not hoping you learn to dance — it is recognizing that you already are dancing. Life is the dancer, you are the dance.

2004:

It is true that being aware of how things happen makes one’s words more potent and one’s behavior more effective. But even without the light of consciousness, people grow and improve. Being unconscious is not a crime; it is merely a lack of a very helpful ability.

Knowing how things work gives the leader more real power and ability than all the degrees or titles the world can offer. That is why people in every era and in every culture have honored those who know how things happen.”Tao of Leadership

When I first started blogging about the Tao back in 2004, I was at the beginning of developing my full sense of awareness. But of course developing awareness isn’t something you can ever really finish; it is always a continuing process. Some moments allow us to be more present and aware than others, some people in our lives allow us to be more present with them than do others. This summer I had the amazing experience of being with a friend where we were both totally and completely aware with each other over several days, and it was a life changing experience for both of us.

I can still find it difficult to be around those who lack awareness, as I said when I posted this in 2004. I am pretty forgiving most of the time, though, and see it as a way to practice loving kindness towards those who are less aware. I often take the bodhisatva path of trying to wake others up, and walk with them for a while, but I usually revert to Tao eventually and am content to simply walk my own path.

2005:

Too many people seem to walk through their lives in a daze, not aware of what is going on around them at all, lost in their concerns over what has happened or will happen. We all need to be awake and aware to the possibilities of the Now –- and the consequences to the future of lacking that awareness.

I blogged a great deal about Tao in 2005, including most of Deng Ming Dao’s wonderful 365 Tao, which I sometimes give to friends who are in conflict. I have a good friend who is reading this right now, and I think it is beginning to help her. I credit this book with helping me the most with my own personal inner changes. If you want to see my real changes, it is in the contrast between the posts from that book and the political articles I was posting. In that year, I felt all the anger I had felt over our country’s situation shift into taking action to do something to change things. I worked a lot on political issues, but lost the anger I had felt and let it shift into movement. I began to understand that Tao is not only about acceptance of what is, but using the power of Tao to help create new or different situations. We are not helpless victims, we are the creators of our own world.

2006:

A person with true self-acceptance is “a person with full awareness of self in body, mind and spirit. This person’s center of consciousness (Hsing – “Heart Flower”) is in full bloom, ready to receive power from above, openly relating to and being reflected by others.”

It may seem clever to know and accept others
Yet accepting oneself is the way to Wisdom.
It may feel powerful to overcome others
Yet disciplining oneself is true Strength.
It may be noble to honor others
Yet respecting oneself is deep self-esteem.

Tao Mentoring

It has taken me a long time to fully learn to accept myself as I am. And it is a process I’ve repeated many times over. Each time I come to believe I finally accept myself, I find something I still want to improve. Meeting this balance between accepting myself as I am and knowing that I have even more room to grow is always interesting. It means not being complacent with where I am at, but always knowing there is more to know, more to see and feel and do, and that is ok.

But I think the key is really respect. Self-respect is not simply about accepting who you are right at this moment, but also respecting yourself enough to continually challenge yourself. Not allowing yourself to become complacent, thinking you are already the best you can be, but knowing there is more you can do and always being ready to learn and grow and change, truly opening yourself to the possibilities of life that are all around you.

This was one of my favorite posts, and one I return to often. I truly believe the key to being able to help others lies in acceptance of ourselves. In 2006, I developed the ability to really create change through simply being myself. I also blogged a lot about art journaling, and using art as a means to learn about yourself and perhaps visually see the inner processes that are usually hidden within us. It was a very helpful time for me, opening me up to new experiences and ideas and a great community of art bloggers.

2007:

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips we lay on ourselves never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of the eye from being fully awake.” — Pema Chodron, Start From Where You Are

In 2007, I blogged about yoga, including Rolf Gates’ wonderful “Meditations from the Mat”, and Buddhism, including much of the wonderful Pema Chodron . I spent a lot of time exploring different paths, but still found Tao to be the one that I kept returning to (well, return is the way of the Tao…) I did a lot of traveling and exploring, worked a great deal on politics, and really felt that our political community was moving towards creating change.

2009:

How much of the day are you aware -– just basically aware of what life is presenting -– rather than being lost in waking sleep, in being identified with whatever you’re doing, almost as if you didn’t exist?

To what extent do you blindly drift from one form of comfort to another, from one daydream or fantasy to another, from one secure place to another, in order to avoid the anxious quiver of discomfort or insecurity? How much of your energy is used to fortify a particular self-image, or to simply please others in order to gain approval, instead of devoting your energy to living a genuine life?” — At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Chaos Ezra Bayda

Oh soul,
you worry too much.

You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.”

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

For me, spiritual growth has come in strange ways and from strange places, and I think that is how authentic spiritual growth progresses, from within, as we turn through the limits of our own being and try to become more. We find ourselves turning again and again within the limited space of ourselves, and finally realize that there is an enormous amount of space outside of ourselves. We then create mobius strips and Klein bottles, trying to bring this outside space within ourselves, an impossible task at first. We see the beautiful poetry of Rumi as he struggles with spirituality, the magnificent stories and tales of mythology, religion, and literature, all trying to move in these same paths.

And then one day, a small hummingbird sits in front of your nose, flapping its wings, and looks at you curiously, or you gaze into a flower and finally really see it, or someone says something that catches your ear and your mind at just the right moment, or a quiet meditation brings you to the place within yourself that just knows, simply knows, and you smile. You get it. You get that Mona Lisa smile on your face and just — become yourself.

And it happens over and over. We find ourselves, we lose ourselves, we find ourselves again, at another place on the spiral. The helixes divide, and come back together. And life goes on.

2009 for me was about realizing “there is nothing to achieve” — we are already within ourselves everything we want to be or could hope to be. Everything else is just ego. It’s the point where I really became comfortable in my own skin, even as I watch that skin age.

And then — my wonderful friend came along and exploded my world again with this question:

“How open to change are you?”

My boat strikes something deep.
At first, sounds of silence, waves.
Nothing has happened;
Or perhaps everything has happened
And I am sitting in my new life.
-– Rumi

2010:

Dogen reminds us that to raise the mind of compassionate awakening is none other than the whole of daily activity with no concern for one’s self, no thought of outcome, no sense of self-gratification. It means that whatever is, is the best that there is at this moment. Just this, wholly this, only this.

Engaging in the Way, in the life of continuous practice, means that we are constantly awakening with each new moment. Awakening is not a single event in time. Rather it is a continuous event through time. Basho wrote: Let me be called a traveler. He did not mention any destination. Just a traveler.”
- Joan Halifax via Whiskey River

“Being present in the motion, moment after moment, provides that secret chamber of awareness and gives the writer the chance to notice what is passing by before it is gone.” — Richard R. Powell, Wabi Sabi for Writers

So you may have noticed a lack of posting here lately. Well, much of my work has moved elsewhere on the Internet — into Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr — but much of me is now just off living my life, living in awareness, being where I am and with who I am with and doing whatever I am doing, but always Being. I made a vision board a year or so ago with the words “Go. Do. Be” on it, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I keep growing, moving, changing, becoming, being. Others may notice, or not, it doesn’t matter. I may change the world, or those around me, or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters, for all of us, is Awareness and Being.

That’s all there is, really. The rest is ego. Life dances. You are the dance, not the dancer.

Digging Deep: Creativity

February 8th, 2010

A lot of us still think that in order to be creative we need to pen a great piece of fiction, compose a symphony, build a skyscraper or design magical gardens. This isn’t true. Creativity is not restricted to being specifically creative in terms of one area of expertise or talent. The ultimate goal is not to be more creative, but to learn how to live creatively. Simply put, it is much less about what you do with your life; rather, it is how you go about doing it.

Living creatively means approaching each moment as a new opportunity. It’s about exploring, trusting your instincts, and owning and expressing your unique style. It means being true to your needs, experimenting, taking risks, staying flexible, and not always having to rush to conclusion. A person living creatively is always pushing towards new growth, as the psychologist Rollo May says, not without fear, but in spite of it.

via Digging Deep: Creativity.

What our ash tree is becoming…..

February 2nd, 2010

It was a pleasure to meet you Saturday.
I have been working on the first ash bowl. It’s a natural edge.
The wood is still wet. It will be a few days until I can get a finish on it.
When I do it would be a pleasure to give one like this to you.
The wood on this piece should warp as it cures giving it character.

Allan Schiro
San Diego Wood Turner

Conduit

December 9th, 2009


Wassily Kandinsky. The Blue Mountain


Marietta Ganapin. Untitled (Blue Mountain by Vasily Kandinsky), 2004 Paper collage

Both yoga and art aim at the same thing, that is, to re-establish our personal connection with the world around us according to our own inner creativity. To render body and mind a conduit through which the creative energy can flow freely, unimpeded by outer restrictions, in the trust that this energy, being a part of the universal energy, is ultimately pure and joyful. — Dona Halleman

This is the work of sauca, “to render body and mind a conduit through which the creative energy can flow freely”. It is a noble endeavor. The asanas do much of the work for us.They cleanse the organs, the central nervous system, and the mind, while strengthening the muscular-skeletal system. Much can be accomplished through the asanas, but not all. For each of us, sauca is a journey of discovery. What works for you? Dairy, no dairy; meat, no meat; lots of sunshine, very little sun; lots of stimulation, or quiet solitude; long ambles, or power walks. We each find our own way to health and balance. Once again, we are on the path that leads to truth, and the means for determining the truth is our own individual experience. What practices render you a conduit through which the creative energy can flow freely? — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat.

Marietta Ganapin is an avid museum and gallery visitor, and her relationship to specific works of art is highly personal and reverential. Her creative method is an expression of her spiritual connection to artwork that she loves. After having viewed the work of art–whether a painting, a sculpture, or decorative object–many times, she then gathers scores or even hundreds of gift-shop postcards or museum brochures which reproduce it. Using a hand-held hole punch and scissors, Ganapin creates a palette of color, pattern and form by repeatedly cutting specific areas of the reproduced image. These hole punches and cut-outs are then used as the building blocks of her designs. With great care and attention to detail, the artist transforms these elements into intricately detailed mandalas. At first, the viewer is dazzled by the obsessive and precise execution in these colorful and beautiful works. Slowly, recognizable details from the source material reveal themselves: a shank of hair in Roy Lichtenstein’s Stepping Out reads as a yellow arabesque in the concentric composition; the eyes and lips of a statuette of the Egyptian god Amun become a ring of dimensional, abstracted forms within the inner rings of the mandala structure. Yet the resultant artworks transcend mere appropriation. Ganapin’s labor-intensive execution and reverence toward her subject parallels the devotional activity of a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As Ganapin has noted, “A symbol of healing, wholeness, totality and spirituality, the mandala inspires contemplation and meditation. For me, what more fitting framework than that of the mandala in reinterpreting other works of art.”

Artifacts

November 4th, 2009

“Naked I came into the world, but brush strokes cover me, language raises me, music rhythms me. Art is my rod and staff, my resting place and shield, and not mine only, for art leaves nobody out. Even those from whom art has been stolen away by tyranny, by poverty, begin to make it again. If the arts did not exist, at every moment, someone would begin to create them, in song, out of dust and mud, and although the artifacts might be destroyed, the energy that creates them is not destroyed.”
- Jeanette Winterson

via Whiskey River

“Artifacts are the physical manifestation of dreams, ideas, and great deeds … some point to successes, some point to great mistakes.” — Bruce Wells

“Perhaps we will learn how small differences in the code of life enabled us — but not chimpanzees — to cook soufflés, create symphonies, translate our own voyages into maps, build ever more complicated artifacts, and write plays that reflect the social intricacies of our lives,” — Marc Hauser

“The muddy waters roiled by Katrina have no doubt flooded some legendary musical locales and wiped out irreplaceable artifacts of New Orleans music. Among the hardest hit areas were the poverty-stricken African-American neighborhoods, where the New Orleans musical traditions are all but woven into the tattered but colorful fabric of everyday life. But the music of Crescent City as well as the people who create it — and the spirit, soul, originality, independence and distinctive locality of that art and the musicians who create it — cannot be washed away, no matter what the category hurricane or depth of flood. It’s going to take some time, but it will come back … We’ve got to put it back because it’s so involved with the local economy and the United States.” — Art Neville

I think for most of us our art is stolen away by what we perceive as our lack of time, the importance of our daily lives or the habits of our routines. Our culture doesn’t place a high priority on making time for art. And yet, many of us persist, with a bit of music, a snatch of song, even just a thought of what we might paint or draw or photograph if we got a moment. Taking the time to create those artifacts in the real world might be beyond us, but perhaps we can start to sneak it back in again, a tiny bit at a time. I love that our new gadgets and phones and toys are beginning to contain cameras, so we can record those fleeting moments that grab our attention. Perhaps next will be those ultra portable touch pads to sketch on, or ways to record our songs on the fly, or create spontaneous poetry slams as we perform and record our poetry wherever we like. Will our culture begin to value more creative work from all of us, let us weave it into the fabric of our daily lives, or just keep honoring the few who can successfully make art their lives’ work?

BibliOdyssey: Handshakes in Thought

October 20th, 2009

Great piece on Van Gogh’s letters at BiblioOdyssey — and more at linesandcolors

“The feeling for and love of nature always strike a chord sooner or later with people who take an interest in art. The duty of the painter is to study nature in depth and to use all his intelligence, to put his feelings into his work so that it becomes comprehensible to others.

But working with an eye to saleability isn’t exactly the right way in my view, but rather is cheating art lovers. The true artists didn’t do that; the sympathy they received sooner or later came because of their sincerity. I know no more than that, and don’t believe I need to know any more.”
{Vincent Van Gogh b. 1853 d. 29 July 1890}

“And we sometimes lack the desire to throw ourselves head first into art again and to build ourselves up for that. We know we’re cab-horses and that it’ll be the same cab we’re going to be harnessed to again. And so we don’t feel like doing it and we’d prefer to live in a meadow with a sun, a river, the company of other horses who are also free, and the act of generation. And perhaps in the final account your heart condition comes partly from there; it wouldn’t greatly surprise me. We no longer rebel against things, we’re not resigned either — we’re ill and it’s not going to get any better — and we can’t do anything specific about it. I don’t know who called this condition being struck by death and immortality.

The cab we drag along must be of use to people we don’t know. But you see, if we believe in the new art, in the artists of the future, our presentiment doesn’t deceive us. When good père Corot said a few days before he died: ‘last night I saw in my dreams landscapes with entirely pink skies’, well, didn’t they come, those pink skies, and yellow and green into the bargain, in Impressionist landscapes? All this is to say there are things one senses in the future and that really come about.”

BibliOdyssey: Handshakes in Thought.

What is art journaling?

September 20th, 2009

As good a definition as any….

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

via Carl Jung and the Holy Grail of the Unconscious – NYTimes.com.

Giverny

July 13th, 2009

giverny

Sorry, haven’t been posting Paris pics for a while….

It’s easy to see why Monet loved Giverny so much — it is beautiful. Crowded and full of not so wonderful English tourists, but beautiful. More Giverny pictures are here.

Musee Rodin

June 11th, 2009

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In some ways the Musee Rodin was my favorite — the former Hotel Biron where Rodin actually worked, the beautiful gardens full of Rodin’s sculptures, watching people interact with the sculptures — it was all beautiful and fascinating. There’s also an excellent little garden cafe here which was very pleasant. It’s very fortunate that Rodin’s plan to save this place as a museum for his work succeeded — I think he would have been pleased at the result, watching people interact with his sculptures in such a great setting.

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The gardens are really stunning, and very enjoyable to wander through and visit with the sculptures.

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Even the Gates of Hell become beautiful in the right setting…

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More Musee Rodin photos here.

Musee d’Orsay

June 10th, 2009

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Not only is the Musee d’Orsay full of wonderful art, it is wonderful art itself. The building is absolutely gorgeous.

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Something here seems to inspire the visitors to become art themselves. This girl was posed just like the statue, but I missed the shot that her friend was taking and caught her as she was getting back up. I love how the boy in the background is posed, too. The sculptures here are all so elegant, and I loved watching the crowd interact with them.

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It’s difficult to not feel beautiful when surrounded by so much beauty, though.

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Especially when so many of the lovely ladies are curvy like me!

Lots more Musee d’Orsay photos here. And here.

Out of Town Again

June 5th, 2009

Off to a friend’s son’s wedding this weekend — back Monday…

Coming up next when we get back  — the gorgeous Musee d’Orsay! Chock full of lovely ladies built like me…

lovelylady

I like art where the women aren’t stick insects!

Ladies who Louvre

June 4th, 2009

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Well, obviously the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory are the most famous ladies of the Musee de Louvre.  They weren’t the ones I enjoyed the most, though. The Mona Lisa is very difficult to even get close to, with the crowds, and poor Winged Victory stands in the hall with people rushing by her everywhere. Poor Venus is damaged, of course, as is the Winged Victory, and that limits their enjoyment a bit for me. I cringe at the very thought of anyone damaging such magnificence, or letting it deteriotate due to age and neglect. It makes me sad, even understanding how ancient they are.

The ladies I enjoyed much more were those of the gardens, the lesser known works, and the gorgeous, stunning nude sculptures that are just about everywhere. This one had so much power and energy, I just had to copy her pose.

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Grace, elegance and beauty, and with dogs, too!  The hound under her leg on the back was a nice touch.

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The ladies who were painting, copying the masterpieces of the Louvre, were intriguing, too.

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The Louvre is an exhausting place to visit — we were glad to go on a day when it was open late into the evening, and took a break mid-day to stroll the jardin de Tuileries and get sorbet:

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visit the Musee de l’Orangerie, and wander some nearby streets looking at the haute couture shops, visiting Pierre Hermes and Michel Cluizel and just enjoying the beautiful day. Even so, we were quite worn out trying to take in as much as we could.

Many more Louvre and Musee de l’Orangerie photos are here.

Oh, and the Paris Museum Pass is the way to go here — skip all the lines for tickets and walk right in. With the two-day pass we skipped the lines the next day at the Musee d’Orsay and Musee Rodin too!

Just another gorgeous day in Paris

May 24th, 2009

Visited the Center Georges Pompidou Modern Art Musee and the Musee Picasso today — not many pics to add to the gallery since they weren’t allowed in these two museums. Then wandered around the Marais for a while, sat in a cafe and watched the world go by. Quite fun, but we’re exhausted, hot and tired from walking in the muggy weather. So off to get some rest and probably have a nice easy shopping day tomorrow.

Vision

April 21st, 2009

Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.
A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.

– Tao Te Ching, 64

To me, the true visionaries are not visionary because they see something that doesn’t exist, but because they see something that does exist and what could be made from it, even if at first it is only a small fragment of an idea. Perhaps that’s just the engineering point of view, but I think a lot of people get stuck because they can’t grasp that we have to go from where we are.

A lot of times when I am feeling stuck, I have to step back and realize how much of what I’ve wanted in my life I have already accomplished, and that it is simply now my ideas of what I can do have become larger, or perhaps taken a different focus. And yes, there are lots of days I wish I could go back and be younger or do something differently, but it is the choices I’ve made that brought me here. It may not be what I originally envisioned, it may not yet be what I envision for the future, but it is an accomplishment of many visions over the years. Some days my life seems to fall apart into bits and pieces, and I just have to work on that one small thing. When I was very very depressed, a day’s accomplishment might just be to get a shower and take care of myself, but I had to feel that it was enough, then. Now, I want to accomplish larger things, but they are all still in fragments in my head.

What I will make from here on I don’t yet know. I can envision many possibilities, but which ones will play out I can’t say. I keep thinking that I have time now, I have money, I should be accomplishing more than I am. But then again, I have learned how to simply be, and that is something I could not have accomplished in the past. Perhaps now I have the resources to learn to go and do in ways that are more appropriate to my being.

“They consider me to have sharp and penetrating vision because I see them through the mesh of a sieve.”
– Kahlil Gibran

“In the night we stumble over things and become acutely conscious of their separateness, but the day reveals the unity which embraces them. ” — Rabindranath Tagore

“Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.”
– Kahlil Gibran

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”
– Cecil Beaton

“The ultimate function of prophecy is not to tell the future, but to make it. Your successful past will block your visions of the future.” — Joel Barker

“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.”
— Bruce Barton

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” — Oscar Wilde

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” — Henri Matisse

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
— Camille Pissarro

“A narrow vision is divisive, a broad vision expansive. But a divine vision is all-inclusive.”
— H. H. Swami Tejomayananda

“The books first turn up as fragmentary pictures in my head, usually, disconnected scenes that I then have to explain to myself, and eventually the reader. They don’t turn up all at once, of course, or my head would explode… If I knew how the books were going to end before embarking on them, there would be little reason to write them, after all. Dag says it best, in Passage: “The most important thing about quests, he decided, was not in finding what you went looking for, but in finding what you never could have imagined before you ventured forth.”” — Lois McMaster Bujold

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Handing out the glue

April 14th, 2009

teapot
No birds in it this year. I accidently broke our nice blue teapot, so i made it into a birdhouse.– dcollie42

“It is very important to know how to unleash people’s inborn creativity. My concept is that anybody has creative ability, but very few people know how to use it.” — Akio Morita

“A young person with the right talents needs to have infinite desire and never give up. I apply a simple test with young students: smash a teapot into pieces and then hand out the glue. Those who rebuild the teapot won’t make it, those who create phantasy animals and spaceships will. ” — Hartmut Esslinger (founder of frog design)

“Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. ” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.” — Erich Fromm

“Creating one thing at a certain point in the river feeds those who come to the river, feeds creatures far downstream, yet others in the deep. Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
– William Pollard

“One has reached the ultimate levels of creativity when one has mastered a skill so thoroughly that it can be forgotten. Look at heaven and earth. Do they think about creating the weather, the seasons, and the cycles of growing? They only go on revolving according to their nature, and the rest is generated without any thought or work on their part. This is truly effortless action and is considered the highest skill that a follower of Tao can attain.” — Deng Ming Dao

“The recognition and understanding of the need was the primary condition of the creative act. When people feel they had to express themselves for originality for its own sake, that tends not to be creativity. Only when you get into the problem and the problem becomes clear, can creativity take over.”
– Charles Eames

“Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” — John Updike

“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” — Matt Groening

“Most of what you will create is for your enrichment or is a stepping stone to other better, more insightful work. Maybe once or twice in a lifetime you will be recognized with the kudos of the public, so in the meantime, create for yourself.” –Don Hahn

“But, if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.” — Carl Gustav Jung

Most of my broken pots end up in the garden helping to mulch the plants. I keep wanting to do some mosaics, but never get to doing any. There’s a woman at the craft market who makes beautiful mosaic tables and things, really inspirational pieces.

I suppose I’ve actually been the most creative at putting the broken bits of myself back together again. It’s been years since then, and somehow I’m never depressed anymore, rarely down. It seems sometimes when you build something new from the broken pieces, it can become even stronger and more whole than before. Strange, but true. Sometimes all you need is some glue…

Avoiding Perfectionism

March 26th, 2009

I’ve struggled a lot with perfectionism in all kinds of things, even became an engineer and programmer in part because it was a place where my perfectionism actually paid off for me. But what I’ve learned in doing software and business process work is your process is never going to be perfect, so the way to get better is to do more of whatever it is that is working for you, and less of the things that don’t work for you and your business. It applies also to art and to all kinds of things you may do in your life.

Letting go of the need to be perfect, letting yourself make mistakes and giving yourself the space to make them, is what lets you develop and grow in your ability to do more and more. Roz’s points here aren’t just on journaling, but also on a creative approach to living your life in ways that encourage your creativity and abilities.

Via “Roz Wound Up”:

Here’s one way people get caught. They confuse art journals or art books or artists books with visual journals. An art journal over time, because of the word “art” in the naming, tends to take on a certain importance and preciousness. The maker begins to see it as art and as art the book has to be important, special…and all the related baggage those thoughts lead to.

The urge, need, and desire for profundity creeps in—only now it’s a need applied to technique. “If only I could sketch like [fill in the name of the artist whose work you admire],” “If only I had control of [fill in the medium you wish you had better skills with],” “If only I could [draw, understand color theory, grasp notan, etc.].”

If your skills are highly developed and you have a style or approach and each page you produce is a stunning work of art don’t change a thing. You’re producing and it’s working for you. Great. We all know artists like that.

For me, those books aren’t working journals in the way I need my journal to function. I don’t want the same things. If I want to do a finished piece I’ll do it outside my journal. Then it’s much easier for me to display it, reproduce it for print, etc.

I need to experiment in my journal, constantly, all the time. It’s the experimentation that moves me forward. It is this need to experiment that has moved me forward my whole journaling life, which started when I was a child.

The risk taking involved in this approach is play for me. And the results don’t matter because I’m the audience and what matters is the process, not the finished product. The process is happening now; I’m learning from the process and it’s all good, even if the pages aren’t “perfect.”

…You are starting where you are, right now. That’s a wonderful gift. It’s a gift you get to open everyday, each time you open your journal, and you begin that conversation between yourself and the page.

Each time you hold that conversation the dialog deepens, the vocabulary expands, the felicity increases, the dance becomes more effortless. Everything else falls away. That’s the perfection.

Reading in San Francisco

March 24th, 2009

“The great thing about collecting words is they’re free; you can borrow them, trade them in, or toss them out. Words are lightweight, unbreakable, portable, and they’re everywhere.”

Poemcrazy, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated, inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be. Nobody talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora. ~Ketzel Levine

Off to the SF MOMA! I can see it from my hotel window right now. I also overlook the Yerba Buena Gardens, which are gorgeous. Pics later, maybe (forgot to bring the computer cable, duh.) Also very tired from shopping yesterday, and hardly bought a thing. But had a good time, anyway. I did get a cute litte tiny Japanese-made notebook with a neko (cat) on it, which will be handy for collecting words. Here’s my poem from yesterday afternoon while sitting at the Samovar Tea Lounge drinking Schizandra Berry Herbal Infusion Tea and eating cracked wheat rooibos shortbread, a lavender butter cookie, and an oat crumble
mini-cake:

Samovar Tea Lounge
In Yerba Buena Gardens
Berry Tea and Cookies!

If my work were in a gallery…

March 16th, 2009

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Museumr lets you put your work on display in the gallery of your choice. Fun toy!

This piece actually looks better than this now — this was an early photo of it. But, you get the idea. It actually is a really big piece, too — the figures are full-size bodyprints I did at a bodywriting class. But not this large!

Via Making a Mark.

Connecting

March 14th, 2009

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Palmer Hayden, Jeunesse


Gifted at both oils and watercolors, Palmer Hayden became a well-known Harlem artist and folklorist. Most of his early paintings were landscapes. In 1926, the Harmon Foundation awarded first prize to a Maine seascape of Hayden’s creation.

With the backing of wealthy art patron, Hayden moved to Paris in 1927 and studied there for the next five years. It was a richly productive period for the painter, as evidenced by the stack of sketchbooks he brought home in 1932 that vividly capture Parisian society. Hayden went to work that year for the U.S. Treasury Art Project and the Depression-era government-funded Works Progress Administration (WPA). His work began to concern itself with scenes of daily life in Harlem.

From this:

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2003

The main thing that seems so different going through this battle with depression is I am so lonely. I haven’t ever really been bothered by loneliness that much in my life – I always sort of liked being alone. But now I want people around to be with and talk to and there is so seldom anyone available – it is very difficult. And I find the internet, which used to be a link to the world for me, is really not a replacement – I physically want people with me. I go out to various places just to be around people but the interaction and connection with others is really not the same. Strangely, sometimes even when I am with people I feel rather disconnected, because they cannot really feel the things I feel and the deep need I have for them. It is all so hard…

To this:

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I feel much better now, knowing our nation is on the right track again, moving away from the mistakes of the last eight years. My main feeling today is relief, mixed with a lot of pride and an underlying happiness. I didn’t go to any of the big screenings of the inauguration, didn’t do anything special, just sat on my couch and watched, but I feel a part of it all anyway. We are all a part of it now, and that is a very good feeling, to know that what each of us does matters. We are all called to responsibility by our new president, to a new era of being accountable for our actions.

After eight years of “it’s not my fault, bail me out for my mistakes”, that’s a nice feeling.

How much my own journey the last few years reflects our national journey, from all of us feeling disconnected and alone, each fighting our own individual battles in a feeling of “you’re on your own” to finding ways to connect with each other, communicate with each other, and achieve larger goals through this medium of exchange we call the Internet. Whether we blog at large community blogs or in our own small spaces, whether we connect with thousands and have a national audience or just connect with friends and family on facebook, we are all finding a place here to express ourselves and find others who share our values and ideals. And we’ve come together in ways we never might have expected. I certainly didn’t see myself in those dark days of depression coming into a politically active community of people who have grown to be good friends and who have achieved so much together. My personal and political journey as an individual reflects a larger national journey that we all have walked or are now learning to walk, as even the most selfish among us start to be called to a new age of accountability and responsibility for others. It is in helping to create new possibilities for others that we are often able to connect with ourselves and find our own way again.

I hope our feelings of community and learning to share this space in our world can lead us all to value our own communities and spaces, help us connect with the places we live in and build them into larger wholes, too. And I hope, perhaps just as the WPA created a place for so many artists to be able to express themselves, we can find room in our public works for art again, and help another generation of talent come to express themselves artistically, too.

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Tasty Painting — Margaret Morrison

March 8th, 2009

chocolates

Look yummy, don’t they?

They’re painted… more about Margaret Morrison here at lines and colors.