Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Welcome 2014

SunThruTreesI have been spending the past week reflecting on the past year, waiting for my word for the year to find me, and setting new intentions for 2014.

Below, I share with you two questions that were posed during my meditation today. They are good questions to consider as we begin again in 2014.

What was the most life giving for you in 2013? Where in your body do you feel these memories? As you recall these memories, remember them with gratitude.

What was the most life draining for you in 2013? Where in your body do you feel these memories? As you recall these memories, remember to forgive.

If you are so inclined, feel free to share your answers in the comments below.


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2012 Word of the Year: Reflect

In my last post, I wrote a review of my 2011 word of the year.  I had a hard time deciding on the “right” word in 2011. This time, my word for the year came to me before 2011 ended. I sat down for a little meditation and poof, there it was. I literally saw it written in front of me.

And that word is….

Reflect

Reflect? Huh? Could this really be the correct word? Where did that even come from?

When I finished meditating I had to look up the word reflect in the dictionary because the only definitions that came to mind were something shiny that reflects, like a mirror, or to look back (in reflection).

Reflect: (verb)- to throw or bend back (light, for example) from a surface. to form an image of (an object); mirror. to manifest as a result of one’s actions.

There it was, the third statement in the definition:

To manifest as a result of one’s actions.

Oh yes, this seemed like a very good word.  A verb. A doing word. Now I understood why this word came to me.

I immediately pulled out an index card, wrote the word reflect on one side and the definition on the other side of the index card and put the card on my desk where I’ll see it every day. I want to make sure I see the word all the time.

The more I think about this word, the more I realize that it serves as a reminder that I need to take action in order to get things done. Writing down goals is all fine and dandy, but if I don’t act on those goals by taking the small steps or big leaps, the only thing I’m going to manifest is good ideas with nothing to show for it.

It also reminds me to get clear about what I want to do. That part about “manifesting as a result of one’s actions” is a little intimidating. The flip side of that could be “be careful what you ask for.” However, this word may help me get over some of my fears in tackling new projects.

Manifesting Begins

Much like last year at this time, an action I took late in 2011 manifested itself this week. Last month I submitted some pictures of my art for possible inclusion in a newsletter. This week, I received word that my Fire Spirit Messenger was the featured artwork in Jennifer Hofman’s Inspired Home Office newsletter. (The newsletter is only available to subscribers. However Jen’s site & blog are great so give it a visit and maybe you’ll sign up for her newsletter too.)

Fire Spirit Messenger, Amy A. Crawley

What a great way to start off the New Year!

Moving Forward

This month I’m focusing on the business side of being an artist. I’m taking an online web design class, I need to order business cards, and I’m creating a video for marketing my Polymer Clay Bootcamp 1 Workshop. I also have some ideas bouncing around in my head for future artwork. It is also time to look at those goals I put together in the last quarter, reflect on where I’m going, and start taking action.

What word did you choose to guide you though the year?


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2011 Word of the Year Review: Thoughts on Being Big

Last year I chose the word “Big” to guide me through 2011. You can read how I chose that particular word here.

I had to re-read the post as a reminder of what lead me to choose the word. Ironically, I didn’t mention the one thing that I thought was the driving force behind this word choice. That would’ve been developing my business plan in 2010 and diving into teaching polymer clay mixed media workshops. I remember having grand thoughts of teaching several workshops in 2011.

The Year Begins

January 2011 was a BIG month in terms of events that marketed my art. I get where my head was at back then. I was also embarking on a new series of artwork that was manifested by my health issues. I did have BIG ideas.

So did Mother Nature. Winter in Massachusetts was BIG in 2011. So big that it took a toll on our roof which led to ice dams, leaking, and water damage. That meant moving in and out of my studio several times throughout the year because of damage and then repairs. These were BIG challenges I had not envisioned. I had to cancel my spring workshop given the state of the studio.

I progressed on my new series of artwork, Glimmer of Hope for a little while (here, here, and here.) Then I think I got too close to the work. Using a health issue to create art is nothing new. However, it can also bring up lots of dirt and emotions. The deeper I went, the less I wanted to see. So I stopped creating these sculptural pieces.

At the end of March I had surgery. Another BIG event that corrected the BIG problem. I left behind the sculptural pieces and started experimenting with encaustic medium and creating abstract pieces like this. Two BIG changes here for me to work with a new medium and play with shapes.

The next couple of months I flopped around. Not a lot of blogging. Still experimenting with art.

A Mid-Year Wake Up

With June fast approaching and a trip to La Cascade in France on the horizon, I decided, with some encouragement, to commit to a new series of artwork that would be inspired by our trip.

Before we even left the country I notified my customers and collectors of my plans to create this new series. I had no idea how many pieces would be made or what exactly the pieces would look like. I only knew I was going to make a new series using ATC encaustic boards as my substrate.

Now this was being BIG. When we returned I chose the date for my open studio where I would debut the new series. Then I worked backwards determining how many pieces I would make and how many pieces I could create per week, when I had to send out postcards and e-newsletters with updates on my progress. This was an entirely new experience for me.

On September 25, I debuted Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. The series had 15 pieces in it; 3 of which have since sold. You can see the entire series in this video on my YouTube Channel.

I finally felt like I was having the BIG year I originally envisioned.

More Big-ness

Coming off the success of the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I decided to return to sculpting and created my next series of artwork called Ornimals: Animal sculpted ornaments that capture the humor & joy of life expressed by our pets.

With this series I made an active decision to focus only on animals. This was a BIG challenge for me because my artwork has been a bit scattershot over the past couple of years. However the focus on one topic, animals, has paid off. The Ornimals made their debut at a holiday art/craft show in October. By the end of the holiday show season, I had sold 23 Ornimals.

When I decided to create the Ornimals, I also decided to donate a portion of my total sales to Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. At the end of December I made that donation in the amount of $65.00. It was a great feeling.

In writing these words, I see the year was, indeed, a BIG year on many fronts. Perhaps it wasn’t the BIG I intended, however, it still turned out fine. I survived challenges that were out of my control. And I survived the challenges that I gave myself. I’ve also realized that although I choose a word to guide me each year, I don’t always stop to think about the word throughout the year. After the way 2011 started, I’d pretty much given up on having a BIG year. What I didn’t really consider is that the intention of the word can change. So I didn’t have a trumpets blaring and confetti falling BIG kind of year. But I did have a glittery, hand clapping BIG kind of year.

And I’m fine with that.


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A Year of Mindfulness: Use Your Non-Dominant Hand

Around Christmas I started reading the book How to Train a Wild Elephant  by Jan Chozen Bays, M.D. This book had crossed my path a few times over the past few months, showing up in email newsletters and catalogs. When I saw it on the shelf at Willow Books, a locally-owned bookstore, I felt like the Universe was telling me to finally buy the book.

The premise of the book is to use mindfulness as a way to reduce stress, improve health, and improve quality of life. Jan Chozen Bays, a physician and Zen teacher, developed a series of practices to help us cultivate mindfulness in our daily lives. These simple practices, one for each week of the year, are presented in this book.

Chozen Bays defines mindfulness as deliberately paying FULL attention (my emphasis) to what is happening around you and within you-in your body, heart, and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment. She then explains the importance of mindfulness, the benefits of mindfulness and some misunderstandings about mindfulness.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

1. Mindfulness conserves energy by reminding us “not to fritter our mental energy away in trips to the past and future, but to keep returning to this very place, to rest in what is happening in this very time.”

2. Mindfulness trains and strengthens the mind because it helps us “become aware of the mind’s habitual and conditioned patterns of escape and allows us to try an alternative way of being in the world.”

3. Mindfulness is good for the environment. “Mindfulness involves resting our mind in a place where there is no anxiety, no fear….Relaxed, alert awareness is the antidote to anxiety and fear, both our own and others’. It is an ecologically beneficial way to live a human life; it changes the atmosphere for the better.”

4. Mindfulness creates intimacy because “mindfulness is a deceptively simple tool for helping us to be aware. We have to open our senses, becoming deliberately aware of what is going on both inside our body and heart/mind, and also outside in our environment.”

5. Mindfulness stops our struggling and conquers fear because it “helps us stay present with experiences that aren’t pleasant.”

6. Mindfulness supports our spiritual life. The tools of  mindfulness “are an invitation to bring attention to the many small activities of life.”

Week 1: Use Your Non-Dominant Hand

As I work through this book, I will share with you the mindfulness practice for each week on Mondays. Some may be easier than others. Some you may already practice. I invite you to try each practice or those that speak to you. Share your thoughts about the practice if you like.

To start us out, the first practice, as mentioned in the subject of this post, is to use your non-dominant hand each day for some ordinary task. Examples include: brushing your teeth, eating, or writing.

Reflection: To bring possibilities into your life, unfold beginner’s mind in all situations -Jan Chozen Bays


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Monday Reflection: Focus on the Best

Never mention the worst.
Drop it out of your consciousness.
This practice will bring all of your powers to focus on the attainment of the best.
It will bring the best to you.

-Norman Vincent Peale


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Quotable Monday

The Dyer Dozen for Intention
12 Ideas for Connecting to Intention
Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention

•    Want more for others than you want for yourself.  Whatever it is you perceive to be missing from your life, want more of it for others.
•    Think from the end.  See yourself in the situation you want to be in.
•    Be an appreciator in your life.  Look for that which is valuable.
•    Stay in rapport with source energy.  Be in a state of harmony with source energy.
•    Understand resistance.  Every thought that is not from source energy is resistance.
•    Contemplate yourself surrounded by the conditions that you want to produce.
•    Understand the art of allowing.  Understanding means taking the path of least resistance.
•    Practice radical humility.  You are a divine source.
•    Be in a constant state of gratitude.
•    Do not resolve a problem by condemning it.
•    Play the match game.  Always ask yourself “Am I matched up with the field of intention?”
•    Meditate.


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Resolutions, Goals and Intentions

Resolutions
I mentioned yesterday that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore.  It was like making a promise to myself that I couldn’t keep.  And when I didn’t keep it, I usually berated myself (“loser.”)  And what good does that do?

In Christine Kane’s post on making resolutions, she writes about a ritual she started a few years ago; choosing a word (or words) to guide her throughout the year.  By choosing a word to guide her throughout the year, Christine put herself right into the BE mode.  What a brilliant idea! Christine provides a list of words as possible choices.  I’ve narrowed down my words to Gratitude, Acceptance, and Clarity.  What I like about this approach is that you can use your word(s) to silence your inner critic and to guide you throughout the year when you hit those rough patches.

Do you have a word or words to guide you throughout this year?

Goals
While I don’t make resolutions, I do find goal setting throughout the year to be beneficial.  However, setting goals did not come easy for me.  I think it is partly due to the fact that I’ve always strolled along in life doing what was expected of me and not giving much thought to what I really wanted.  It is hard to sit down and really think about what you want for yourself without it feeling selfish.  This also ties in to my being a “giver” and less of a “receiver.”  I now realize that by setting goals for myself, I am giving to myself and receiving a personal blessing.

Does that sound strange?

Sometimes, setting goals is easy; it is like listing your favorite foods.  The first five or so flow from your pen and you think “piece of cake” and then you hit this wall and you really have to get quiet and think hard.  You might have to get up, walk away from the list, and come back at another time.  You might think you’re being silly.  I want to do what????

Those really big, outrageous goals are also known as Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG; Thanks to Alyson Stanfield for that term.)  Those are the goals where you reach for the stars and think of something you’d love to do (and which you may attain someday.)

My BHAG is to take voice lessons, or to at least learn to sing better.  I love to sing along with my favorite tunes.  My sister-in-law and her family are all talented singers and it is so inspiring.  I don’t plan to give a concert.  I would like to at least carry a better tune and feel confident with my voice.

Intentions
Along with setting goals, there is a lot of discussion about intent or setting an intention.  Andrea Hess recently discussed the idea of replacing goals with intentions on her blog.  I’m not sure I completely agree with this proposition though it is interesting.

I started to learn about intentions last year when reading the Law of Attraction.  (I’m having a fuzzy memory about being told to set an intent during catechism and religious studies classes.  I’m not remembering, however, any explanation for why we were to do this.)  Setting an intent can help you clarify what you want in your day and in your life.  It feels positive; something that you want, expect, and deserve.

It may be a matter of semantics, trying to distinguish between a goal and an intent.  Goals are much more structured to me with lots of little steps along the way.  Intentions are positive statements that feel good and impose less pressure than a goal.  Both require thought and quiet time to discover what you really want and need.