Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Procrastination

Now this is an interesting mindfulness practice following last week’s practice about being on time. Perhaps one is related to the other in some way?

This week’s mindfulness practice asks us to become aware of procrastination.

Procrastination is putting off something that needs to be done. With this practice we are asked to look at procrastination in two ways: the method we use to delay doing something and what we do about it. Other aspects to consider are what leads us to procrastinate and the strategies we use to modify or overcome the procrastination.

Sometimes we procrastinate because our inner critic appears just as we attempt to complete an activity. That negative voice speaks up, criticizes us, and we put off the activity.

Sometimes we make up excuses, such as telling ourselves if X or Y wasn’t getting in the way, we’d have time to do the particular activity. Yet if we look at how we are using our time, we’d be surprised (or not) that we’re really wasting time.

Sometimes we procrastinate by spending time gathering materials for a project or waiting for the “perfect” moment to begin.

Do you see yourself in any of these examples?

For myself, I sometimes procrastinate out of fear. Fear of taking that first step. Fear of failing. Sometimes I procrastinate because the task at hand is something I really don’t want to do. In my head it feels easier to put it off. Unfortunately, it sits on my to-do list for several days taunting me until I deal with it.

What is the antidote to our procrastination? Simply doing it. That is, taking responsibility for the task and getting it done. Put it at the top of the to-do list and deal with it first thing in the morning.

As with many of the topics of past mindfulness practices and those things we avoid, procrastination causes us to suffer. Think about how you feel when you put off a task for days at a time. The dread you may feel about doing a task only gets worse the longer you put it off.

This week, become aware of the tasks you put off. Become aware of what causes you to procrastinate. Then consider how you can break that cycle.

Reflection: Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. -Napoleon Hill


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A Year of Mindfulness: Be On Time

Good Monday dear readers. Here in the states we are preparing for the Thanksgiving Holiday this week. A time for gathering with family or friends, giving thanks for all that is abundant in our lives, sharing good food, and enjoying some football games.

It is rather ironic that this week’s mindfulness practice focuses on time-being on time. Thanksgiving Day can be a day of rushing around, driving to our destinations and scarfing down too much food. Heck, just the run up to the big feast day can be fraught with anxiety as we gather ingredients for recipes, wine or beer for the celebration, and coordinating all the activities.

But what if we practiced being on time this week? What if we were mindful of not only our time but others time as well?

Here are some things to consider with this practice:

  • What does “being on time” mean to you?
  • What arises in your mind when you are late?
  • What arises in your mind when other people are late?

We all know people who are always on time for events or arrive before an event starts. And we all know people who are “perpetually late” for everything. Some people prefer being on time and grow irritated with those who arrive late. Some people arrive late because they don’t like to wait for an event to begin or they feel awkward if they are the first person to arrive for a meeting or party.

Though this week’s practice relates to time, it is also about mind-states and habitual patterns. What Dr. Bays’ refers to as the “constructed self.” If we think highly of ourselves, we may begin to think that our time is worth more than other people’s time. So we’re the last to arrive because “we have so many important things to do” and don’t want to waste our time sitting around and chatting.

Or maybe we’re terribly shy. We arrive late so we don’t have to look people in the eye, find a place to sit, and initiate conversation.

And then there is the favorite response “there is never enough time” or “I need more time.” Well, how much time would be enough? How much time would be too much?

When it comes to time, we divide our life into chunks-chunks called time. Time of the future, time of the past.

What about-you know what I’m going to say-the present moment?

When we are not thinking and are simply aware, the present moment is all that there is. Time becomes irrelevant. When we live in more awareness than in thinking, time seems to adjust so that there is exactly enough time for each thing to be accomplished.

This week, practice being on time. Practice being in the present moment-for the present moment is all that there is.

Reflection: In the present moment, there is always plenty of time. -Unknown

And, of course-I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. -The White Rabbit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Signs of Aging

Okay, so I’m here I am feeling a bit old just thinking about writing this week’s mindfulness post. Achy hands, achy back. Is that a new gray hair on my head?

I’ve read through this chapter in Dr. Bays’ book a couple of times. Once again it seems to dovetail with last week’s practice on appreciation. While we complain about how old we feel or look, we must also appreciate how we feel or look right now. For being mindful about the signs of aging teaches us about impermanence. So we need to appreciate how our bodies are holding up in this moment because in a week, a month, or a year, something will change.

It is curious how we marvel at the life process, the aging process of a plant. Think about how exciting it is to plant seeds in the garden. To witness the tender shoots as they push through the dirt, burst forth in the sun, and blossom into flowers or fruit or vegetables.

Then, in the fall, we handily pull out the old, dead growth, thank the plant for what it gave us, and put the garden to bed for the winter.

We accept that life cycle.

But when it comes to our own aging process, egads, don’t go there. We miss our days of youth; the smooth skin, the full head of hair, the limbs that moved freely without creaking. And then we get all bummed out. We bring about our own suffering.

This week, consider how you’ve aged. Recall that wrinkles were once considered signs of wisdom, that gray hair was a sign of distinction. Consider how your life is reflected in your aging. The good times and not so good. Appreciate all your body has given you and what it still has left to share.

This week, be mindful of the signs of aging.

Reflection: Resting in this moment, we have no age. -Unknown


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A Year of Mindfulness-Appreciation

Namaste dear mindfulness readers…and all readers, of course.

Last week we started again with our mindfulness practice. We restarted with listening-listening like a sponge. That is, being completely present for the person speaking. Leaving distraction behind-not reading email while someone talked, not texting, not watching TV, and most challenging, not letting our mind wander while someone talked to us.

How did you do with this practice?

I think this is a very important practice and a very challenging one. We have become so used to doing more than one thing at a time that it is very difficult to set all things aside except for one task-to listen completely.

This Week’s Practice: Appreciation

This week’s practice is another favorite. This week we are asked to stop what we are doing during the day and take time to appreciate one thing in that moment. It could be something about yourself, another person, the environment, etc. The task is to consciously identify something, anything, that we appreciate in that moment.

This exercise is different from writing affirmations and reciting them. Affirmations are a good start to creating a more positive outlook. But, personally, I still find them to be a bit, um, unbelievable. They can feel “hokey” to me. And believe me, I’ve been working with affirmations for several years. I “get” what they’re supposed to do. I’m just not sure how much I believe in what I write as an affirmation.

With appreciation, or gratitude, if you prefer, you are investigating. We stop for a few moments and have to look, listen, and feel. What is cause for appreciation in this moment. (As I sit here, I’m really appreciating my repaired laptop that is now working much better than it did a few days ago.)

It is easy to appreciate positive experiences, such as having food in our belly. But what about when someone we dislike or are jealous of is given something that we want for ourselves, such as an award or public acclaim? Can we feel joy in their joy? This is not so easy. I personally continue to work hard on appreciating another person’s success or recognition.

This week, stop what you are doing for a few minutes and take time to appreciate. Take time to be grateful for one thing during that moment.

Reflection: We have no right to ask when a sorrow comes, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every joy that comes our way. -Unknown

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. -Fredrick Keonig


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New Art Friday: Birds of a Feather

A quick check-in this Friday with a few more new Ornimals.

Some of my favorites ornies to make, and also some of the most popular, are birds. Living in a house that is surrounded by woods, I have lots of inspiration right outside by window. We have cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and goldfinches, juncos, and titmouse. We occasionally see grosbeak, towhees, orioles, and cedar waxwing.

And then there are the big birds-sharp shined hawks, red-tail hawks, owls, and vultures and the occasional heron.

Last year, my bird Ornimals featured just the head of the bird. This year I’ve expanded my sculpting so the bird Ornimal has a body and feet. Some come with additional embellishments like hats and ear muffs.

Cardinal Before (2011 version)

Cardinal Ornimal 2011

Cardinal 2012

Cardinal Ornimal 2012
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Chickadee Before (2011 version)

Chickadee 2011

Chickadee with Earmuffs
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Baby Chick

Over the summer, I ordered 2″ glass balls. Another slight error on my part-ordering the wrong size ornament because I still couldn’t find the ones that matched the ornaments I used in 2011. These glass balls sat in the box they were delivered in for a few months.

Then I found inspiration in a few pictures on a great blog, My Modern Met. The post included pictures of baby chicks. They were the perfect size critters for sculpting on these smaller bases.

Baby Chick Ornimal
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

What do you think?

Do you prefer the “full bodied” birds or the “head-only” birds?

Ch-ch-changes

As much as I enjoy sculpting the Ornimals, I find myself yearning to return to some art that I dabbled in last year: encaustics and my polymer focal disks. I took some time in October to dig out the disks I made and laid them out on a work table. It was fun to shuffle them around, lay them out in various patterns, and think about how to assemble them into wall hangings.

Focal Disks

I pulled out several books on encaustic and watched part of a DVD on the medium. Sometimes we all need to take a break from the art we currently make and rejuvenate with a different medium. I hope to work a bit more with the disks and encaustic after I finish my last holiday show in December. Who knows, maybe I’ll combine animal sculpture, encaustic, and wall hangings.

Focal Disk on encaustic paint background

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend.

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