Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness-A Media Fast

It seems hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the year. So far in our year of mindfulness we’ve practiced using our non-dominant hand, leaving no trace, eliminating filler words, appreciating our hands, and simply eating. We’ve paid true compliments, paid attention to our posture, expressed our gratitude, truly listened to sounds, paused before answering the phone, and practiced loving touch.

This past week we took the time to practice all forms of mindfulness while waiting; waiting in traffic, waiting in the check-out line, waiting at an appointment. How did you handle your time of waiting? We’re you able to feel yourself relax if you practiced deep breathing while waiting? Did you feel your frustration clear if you closed your eyes and meditated while waiting?

This Week’s Practice: Take a Media Fast

Practicing mindfulness while waiting seems to dovetail nicely with this week’s practice. This week we are asked to take a complete media fast. No email, no TV, no computer, no iPod; no newspapers, books, or magazines; no Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.

OMG!

Think you can do this? My first reaction was “Wait, I run a business. I’m the only one running my business. I can’t go cold turkey.” So I’ve decided a compromise may be in order. If you can’t take a complete media fast, can you eliminate one thing for the week? Or can you reduce the frequency of your media usage for the week?

The intent with this practice is to find alternatives to consuming media. Long before we had the internet and cable TV, most of our media exposure was limited to whatever happened in our immediate surroundings. Local news was truly local. Now that we can access all forms of media 24/7, the odds are pretty good that our anxiety has increased as we witness suffering that we are helpless to fix. That suffering sits heavy in our hearts and in our heads. We can easily suffer from “secondary victimization” where we are affected by trauma simply by hearing about it.

So this week, consider taking a media fast, eliminating some form of media, or reducing your frequency of exposure. Become mindful of what opens up or presents itself to you.

Reflection:
If we can decrease our intake of these toxic images, we can more easily establish a heart that is open and a mind that is serene and clear. This is the best foundation we can have if we want to move out into the world of woe and make a positive difference. -Jan Chozen Bays


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A Minor Disappearing Act

I am slowly returning to a relatively normal schedule now that I’ve finished the fall show season. All the preparations and other commitments that came along meant less time for blogging. I had to take a break from the computer; minimal blogging, staying off Twitter and other social networking for days at a time. You know what they say: “something has to give” and for me that meant the computer.

Thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes for my final holiday show, ArtSpace Maynard. It had been three years since I did this show. It was nice to re-connect with artists that I haven’t seen in a while and to meet new artists. Overall the show was fine. Ironically my overall sales were essentially unchanged from three years ago. I guess that means the show is consistent on some level.

Future Plans

Now I’m planning for 2010. Lindly Haunani’s Color Workshop inspired me to think about new color designs for my business card cases and perfume pens. Today I started working on a custom color palette using the color collage I created in the workshop.

Color Mixing With Primary Colors & Mud

My primary colors, seen at the bottom, are half zinc yellow & half cadmium yellow, cobalt blue, and 3/4 fuchsia & 1/4 cadmium red. I made mud from the primaries (top row, far left square) and then mixed 1/4 mud with each primary color, white, gold, black, pearl, translucent, ecru, silver, and copper. It was fun to see what new colors would be revealed.

I plan to explore a little more of the Dwellings themed work I started this spring. I have one form left from the original series that I never finished. I’d like to expand on this theme, perhaps creating up to 6 more pieces for a total of 10.

In preparation for my artist demo at the Tappan Z Gallery last month, I put together examples of foil and wire armatures. Using one of the demo pieces, I started a small sculpture that is telling me it would like to be considered for another series that focuses on healing. I’m not sure where this idea is going yet. I think the healing theme comes from one of the first pieces I made about 5 years ago for my brother-in-law.

Remember the Talking Stick art doll from a couple years ago? That is another theme I’d like to pursue further. And there are those lovely items I find at area consignment stores that I buy because they would make great art doll bodies. Maybe 2010 is the year for them to come to life.

Hesitancy

While I have all these ideas in my head and ideas written down on paper, now that show season has ended and I have no immediate deadlines, I find myself hesitating to take action. This is not something new. I’ve done this before. I get grand ideas and tell myself things I want to do….and then I don’t do them. And then I’ll find myself bogged down in some other commitment with some other deadline and I’ll whine to myself that I don’t have any time to do that other stuff. That stuff I really wanted to do.

Sound crazy?

I think this comes from a place of fear. Fear that my ideas won’t turn out the way I hope and I might give up and deem myself a failure. Fear that they will turn out the way I want and bring success. Fear of simply starting and being open to where the piece takes me.

I wrote a journal entry on this topic and essentially told fear to take a hike. I don’t want to find myself stuck in the same old habit. I know habits take a while to change. So I’m taking baby steps with this one, working on one small goal a day toward these larger ideas. (Mixing the colors mentioned above is one of those small steps.)

And given the time of year I also have to remind myself that it is okay to take a little break, move a little slower, and to release over-developed expectations.

It is a sign of growth that I finally realized why I find myself stuck in this situation at this time of year. I also learned that I work better when I have some structure and deadlines to meet. The tricky part is holding myself accountable to the structure and deadlines.


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20 Hour Challenge, Accomplishments & Goals

20 Hour Challenge

I gave another try at the 20 hour challenge this past week. For whatever reason I seem to be stuck at working 2-3 hours in the studio per day. Well, okay, I did find myself enjoying the Twitterverse a bit more than I probably should have. On Monday I lost an entire day because we spent it on a whale watch. I did take a small sketch book with me which yielded a few pencil sketches (emphasis on the sketchy, especially when you’re sitting on the top deck in the wind.) But as I look at my time tracking, I have to ask myself what else did I do during some of those days?

My total time in the studio and on business related tasks totalled 24 hours for the week and breaks down as follows:

Studio time: 8.25 hours

Business stuff: 15.75 hours

This past week the business and other stuff included drive time to deliver an exhibit entry piece and to deliver inventory. There was time for blogging, twittering, reading/meditating and reading my affirmations, emails, phone calls, coaching, confirming a wholesale order, photography, editing photographs, bookkeeping, catching up on past e-newsletters, and spending time on the internets.

Hmph! The whole email thing is tough. On one hand I’m getting better at skimming through the morning emails and not reading most of them, only those I deem important at that time. Actually, I’ve gone so far this week as to shut my email program each night so I don’t see any little mail icons first thing when I wake up my computer. You know, better to remove the temptation.

As I write this I wonder if I subscribe to too many newsletters (4-5 that I really like to read and schedule into my to do list each week.) I also get a daily OM horoscope, a daily OM inspirational reading, Marianne Williamson’s Miracle Thought (audio recording), TUT: A Thought From the Universe, and an EnneaThought of the Day (based on my Enneagram number.) I will think about releasing some of these items.

But what about the internet and social networking. Always a tough one to deal with. I’ve tried the timer approach (set for 15 minutes per session), the “minimize the screen approach” (make it smaller so as not to distract me), and even made a sign that is taped to my monitor which reads “The computer is closed” (which is currently flipped over facing the back of my monitor. Useful huh?)

In reality, it all comes down to motivation, determination and discipline. Some days those skills come more easily than on other days. All I can say is I’ll just keep working on them. I mean, if I were perfect I wouldn’t have anything else left to work on, right?

This week I worked on sculpting cat heads; a tougher task than I imagined, even with two live models who will impetuously walk off the job in the middle of a session until they’ve received compensation. Here is a shot of the four heads. My first attempt looked more like a demented rabbit (which I’m sure will turn into a rather crazy art doll) but I was feeling more comfortable with the outcome by the time I got to #4.

CatHeadSculpts

I also prepped some magazine pages with matte medium with the intent of making my own custom paper for collage or ACEO backgrounds. I am following Liz Berg’s instructions in the March/April 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors for this activity.

Finally, I bought a new book: Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist by Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching. The book focuses on “strategies to harness the power of  Chi and cultivate the inner artist” through exercises in Chi awareness, art, journaling, and guided imagery.  I love the idea of using movement to stimulate creativity. I’ll let you know what happens as a result.

June/July Accomplishments

Normally, my June accomplishments would’ve been posted in early July but since I was out of the country…so here are my accomplishments for both months.

June

•    Successfully completed Eric Maisel’s Creativity Coaching Training (16 weeks)
•    Restarted Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Life Mastery class
•    Reviewing and reading aloud daily affirmations 2x/day
•    Delivered art donations to the Arts Alliance
•    Provided an artist demonstration at Five Crows Hand Crafts & Gifts
•    Watched Wayne Dyer’s PBS special “Excuses Begone”
•    Received unexpected income
•    Created content for & sent June e-newsletter to MA customers
•    Attended coaching call with Christine Kane
•    Watched “Music Instinct: Science & Song” on PBS
•    Completed and sent exhibit pieces for the ArtHouse Gallery Canvas Project

July

•    Traveled to Southern France for art workshop with Dayle Doroshow
•    Attended one stage of the Tour de France
•    Visited Durfort, Revel, Soreze, Albi, Foix, and Toulouse, France
•    Took a silk painting class
•    Attended coaching call with Christine Kane
•    Visited the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice Exhibit
•    Attended coaching call with Quinn McDonald
•    Attended Tower of Power concert
•    Attended Uplevel Your Business Teleseminar call with Christine Kane
•    Completed exhibit piece for Peabody Historical Society
•    Enjoyed Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince movie in IMAX
•    Scheduled annual physical
•    Started 30-day exercise challenge

August Goals

Here are some of my goals for August (I did not write or post any goals for July as being in France was my biggest goal.)

  • Update my artist page on the Paradise City Arts Festival website
  • Update my personal websites
  • Create content for and deliver my August e-newsletter
  • Update my customer snail mail list
  • Add new pictures to my Flickr account
  • Clean up my blog: remove old or broken links, update bookshelf images, and general rearrangement
  • Update my LinkedIn page
  • Continue studio cleaning/clearing and house cleaning/clearing


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Twitter-bug

I’m not sure what motivated me to do it but I joined Twitter this weekend. Well, part of the motivation was to challenge myself to write short posts. Twitter limits you to 140 characters per post; that includes punctuation and spaces.

I’ve also been reading about using Twitter to promote your business, your web site, or your blog. All of which seem like good ideas. I’m still learning about this aspect of Twitter and will see what transpires.

The other idea behind using social networking sites is that you never know where you might connect with a potential customer or collector. Or someone might come across your Tweet or post and it could turn into a lead for a story for a magazine or newspaper article.

The reality is our life is extremely connected with technology. We must pick and choose the formats we wish to use and, hopefully, use them wisely. And when you run your own business, you have to consider both traditional and non-traditional venues for marketing and making connections.

Do you Twitter? If so, you’ll find me here on Twitter.