I know what you’re thinking, but I can be quiet… kinda… sometimes.
To be fair to myself I’m not really talking about keeping your mouth shut, or not speaking your mind, I think you should always speak your mind.
I guess I’m talking about meditation. Yep, I said it, meditation… It’s cool. You can believe that from someone who still occasionally uses the word “cool” and thinks its… well… cool.
So, let’s get right into it. What are the benefits to an artist of quieting your mind for at least 5 minutes a day?
When you allow the myriad of thoughts and emotions to settle, you might just find that you open up the way for valuable creative insights and “a-ha!” moments. Especially when it comes to that project that keeps looking like a turd no matter what you do.
Staying focused on your work.
It’s incredibly difficult to sit down and complete any sort of creative project when your attention is constantly being pulled away by phone notifications, social media updates, and zombie attacks.
Perhaps the single most valuable use of meditation for the creative person is in warding off unwanted distractions. A number of studies have shown meditation to improve focus, attention, and self-control. Distractions keep us stuck on the shallow surface of the mind. If we want to come up with truly creative ideas, we must have the focus to “go deep.”
Overcome fear and self-criticism.
Fear is the most powerful creativity-killer there is. Meditation helps overcome fear of failure and harsh self-judgments. By turning down the volume on the voice of our inner critic, meditation helps us move into a place of pure self-expression and enjoyment.
You’re essentially training your thinking muscle. Most of us have thoughts come in and take control over how we feel, yet they’re our thoughts, we think them. Meditation helps you flex and work out a process of understanding that you don’t have to believe and feel every thought you have… you can observe it and pick and choose what to think about. You think your thoughts, your thoughts don’t think you.
Being present to what’s around you.
Great artists are great observers — of life, the human condition, nature, their environment, and social norms. Creating art requires being deeply attuned to life in the myriad of ways it presents itself.
Relaxed and at ease.
We’re more creative when we’re relaxed and at ease. It’s as simple as that. Meditation has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels, lessen feelings of anxiety and depression, and reduce negative self-talk while also boosting mood and overall well-being, thereby putting you in your most energized, creative mindset.
This time of year I always seem to find myself more contemplative than ever. It’s almost like I can’t help but evaluate my experiences of last year and come up with a fuzzy idea of a plan that is not really a plan for the new year.
I think everyone does this to one extent or another. I remember back in my less optimistic days, this time of year was only a reminder that time was running out. I would spend most of my time thinking about lost opportunities, and how terrible my year went. Yeah, I was not a ray of sunshine back then, and to be honest, my life was a reflection of my attitude.
Luckily for me, I stopped being a dumb-ass and started to appreciate this thing we call life.
My new year resolutions are not the typical “I want my butt to look better in jeans” type of resolutions (my butt looks great in jeans, btw), they have more to do with realizations I had throughout the year.
The one that is really on my mind is based on our recent trips and around 60 hours worth of conversations on said trips with Klee.
Appreciating every single individual moment that I spend being alive, and really taking advantage of the fact that I am breathing and able to make decisions that impact my life now. Essentially, not waiting around for things to happen, but just living now. Our experience last year was a solid realization that life is extremely short… So EVERY moment is precious.
Remembering that I am unique, but so is everyone else and there really isn’t such a thing as normal. Everyone is weird, but there are those who embrace it, and there are those who hide it. Embrace it always.
Well, that’s all I have so far, it’s still a work in progress and Klee and I will probably have some long conversations about feelings, goals, life, and other fun stuff. Have fun figuring out your awesome resolutions for 2019.
Oh yeah, play more guitar, write more blogs, film more videos, create more amazing art, and try to ween myself off of Snyder’s buffalo pretzel bits, those are on the list as well, so we’ll see how those go for 2019. Just kidding on the pretzel bits, I’m never gonna give those up.
As some of you know, the last few days Klee and I have been putting some mileage on our little yellow Jeep. We scheduled a trip up north to visit my youngest kids for a couple days and watch my daughter perform in her fall play.
I’ll be honest, the idea of scheduling any kind of trip during the holiday season is not something that is easy for me because of the potential loss of income for our business while traveling. Not to mention, there is technically no one there to run the business while we are on the road. Throw in the ever looming uncertainty of being career artists and you can imagine my struggle.
But, you know, I realized something… Life is happening right now. I’m not saying that my art career is not a part of my life, because it is, it’s a great part of my life… but it is not all there is to life. My life is a complex series of moments that involve all the different facets of the ever changing human that I am.
Don’t worry, I’m not quitting my art career, that would be ridiculous. I love creating art, it is definitely a large part of who I am. I’m not sure I would even know what to do if I wasn’t creating something.
What I am saying is, I think I have to put myself in check. So not much will change except the way I see things on the inside, so don’t freak out… I’m not going anywhere.
My trip was amazing, Klee and I froze our butts off in the wintry weather, we hung out with two little amazing humans, got to teach my daughter a little something about driving, and got to see an awesome performance by my superstar… Life is good.
There are so many things to be appreciated in life. So many little things that can leave such a beautiful impact. These little things in of themselves can seem unimportant when you are thinking about your career or making money, but it is those small moments that are so powerful.
A hot chocolate in a cute cafe, on the main street, in a small town, in the mountains, that is decorated for Christmas, with my son complaining, is a memory that I will always cherish.
I guess what I am saying, is to be aware that you are not turning something that you love into a serious thing that keeps you from experiencing the things that you want to experience in life. It’s easy to say “I don’t have the time or money to do that”, and honestly sometimes you don’t, but will it be something you’ll regret not doing?
I guess I’m thinking about this because we just got back and will be leaving again tonight and going down south to a funeral. Life and death, it’s the one thing we all share, we live and we die.
I hope I’m not getting you down, that’s not my intention. I just think it’s important to stop and think about these things every once in a while.
Because life is precious… and it’s happening right now… Enjoy it now, while you can… every beautiful moment.
This month is always fun for me, because it marks the anniversary of Klee and I taking a chance on the unknown. It will be about 9 years since we jumped into the Explorer and decided to go on an adventure to push our limits beyond what we had experienced.
I’ll never forget the day that Klee looked at me seriously (it was a very dramatic tele-novella look) and said “I’m going with you”. See, I had decided that I was going to travel around the country and experience a new perspective on life. Despite the fact that my family kept saying I would probably die from eating poison berries, my mind was set.
In fact, even finally meeting the love of my life and developing a beautiful new relationship wasn’t going to deter me from taking this journey.
I had spent my life the same way that many people do, being someone who I wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t really know who I was. I knew I liked certain things, didn’t like other things, got mad about things, and laughed at others… but I wasn’t sure if it was just who I thought I should be, or who I really was.
I had never really taken a look at myself from the outside, or challenged my own thoughts. I just reacted to situations and circumstances in life, but never really asked the question “Why am I reacting this way?”. I think I was under the impression that I didn’t have a choice, that I was “just that way”.
As a result, my life sucked, or at least that’s how I felt. I think back then I was so far down the rabbit hole that no matter what the circumstances of my life could have been, I would have made it suck in my head.
Then I hit rock bottom… and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
It was as if someone had reset the computer in my head, and for the first time in my life, I was questioning why I was settling for beliefs that worked against me, and actually caused me to hate myself.
Cut to 2 years of self examination and I was ready to challenge the world.
Yup, that’s who Klee decided to get in a car and travel around the country with. Some hairy bandanna wearing guy that freaked out her mother.
A guy that she would spend weeks in the middle of the everglades with.
A guy that she hiked shark valley with, even though we underestimated what 14 miles would take out of us.
A guy that she took turns with hugging a four and a half foot alligator named Leroy.
A guy she wrote music with and performed live while his knees gave out because he was so nervous.
A guy that she lived in Key West with for several months while they worked out some of their baggage.
A guy that she went kayaking with for their first time and got lost in the sun for six hours and still had a blast even though they were sunburned.
A guy that encouraged her to interview David Sheely who is the top investigator of the Florida Skunk Ape.
A guy she encouraged to show his art for the first time… and who is forever grateful.
A guy that loves her more and more every day and can’t possibly write down all the amazing things we have done so far.
I’m so happy she did.
So, here we are still on this adventure. We may not be driving around the country but we are most definitely staying true to who we are as best we can every day. What I didn’t know back then, when I planned this adventure was that I would be sharing it with Klee… And that I am ever changing, and so is she… So no matter what, every day is a new adventure.
As I approached the gallery I found myself wondering how in the world I was going to get the massive sculpture I constructed up the stairs. I had somehow managed to squeeze it into my car without damaging it, which I attributed to dumb luck.
Luck seemed to be on my side that morning, considering I had pulled into a parking spot right in front of the shiny and unending staircase into the gallery.
I’ve entered the juried art competitions at Artel Gallery a handful of times with varying results. I still remember the first piece I entered, which was rejected with no particular pomp and circumstance. It was laid off to the side with the other rejects waiting for me to glumly collect it, like picking up a child from detention.
That rejection had a devastating impact on my self esteem as an artist for some time. I had just started selling my art and gaining some traction with local collectors, and it caused me to feel like I wasn’t good enough to continue masquerading as an artist.
It wasn’t until several years later that I decided to enter another piece, which didn’t get rejected.
The marble steps to the gallery blazed white in the hot sun, daring me to make a move. I had managed to get the sculpture out of the car without damaging it, knocking myself in the head only once.
The only idea that my mind could seem to muster that morning was to pick up the sculpture and maneuver the stairs as quickly as possible. The sculpture isn’t necessarily heavy, it’s just awkward to carry around, because like most sculptures, I didn’t design it to be carried around.
I prepared myself at the bottom of the mountainous stairs, glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and steadied my breath. One false move and all the work and effort that went into my art would be laying in pieces on the forbidding marble steps.
After deciding to enter my art again, I got pieces into four separate shows, won best of show, and had a solo show in their alcove. I also got rejected two more times, but it didn’t have an impact on my self esteem as an artist. Some might attribute the lack of feeling dejected to the fact that I had a couple years as a career artist under my belt, but I know plenty of seasoned artists who have a difficult time with any rejection.
I don’t have difficulty with rejection because after two years of avoiding art competitions, I finally realized that you can’t win if you don’t enter; and your art is not being rejected, it simply didn’t match the taste of the juror. The thing is, that art competitions don’t matter, but if you want to win one, you are going to have to face rejection. In fact, if you want to do anything awesome or important with your art career, you are probably going to face a lot of rejection and criticism.
If you want to be safe from rejection, then don’t put yourself out there, don’t do anything different from the norm, don’t try to have a voice, and definitely don’t become an artist.
Simply because someone rejects your artwork (or whatever it may be) doesn’t mean that you are worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, and never will. A lot of people avoid thinking about being rejected or losing, but in my opinion it’s a good idea to think about that worst case scenario, and face the fear in your mind.
What if my piece gets rejected? How will I feel? What does it mean?
These could be hard questions, but until you ask yourself and question the validity of your answers, you are going to keep reacting in misery to rejection. The really cool thing about exploring these questions is that you don’t have to react at all, you can respond to the situation however you like.
My answers are less dramatic and devastating since I’ve had a chance to explore this topic and really decide how I want to respond to these questions and this particular type of rejection.
What if my piece gets rejected?
Then it get’s rejected. I pick it up, bring it home and probably sell it at some point in my lifetime. Who knows, it may win a prize at some other art competition… just didn’t suit the juror this time I guess.
How will I feel?
Fine, I have other more important things to focus on.
What does this mean?
Only what I think it means. If I think I’m a failure or a reject, that’s on me. This is an opportunity for me to show myself who I am, by the way I respond. I choose to respond by saying “Well, maybe next time… I got shit to do right now.”
I glanced around one more time, held my breath, and made a run for it. I verbally counted every step as I ascended the stairs with the agility of sloth in running shoes.
Out of breath and elated that I made it to the top, I stood there gleaming in victory. I then proceeded to scrape and bang my way awkwardly through the front door, hitting my head one more time for good measure. I placed the sculpture safely in the gallery lobby, signed it in, and breathed a sigh of relief.
By the way, it was number 13 in the roster… talk about dumb luck.
I had done it. I achieved something I thought was impossible to do on my own, willing to face humiliation and rejection for something I love and believe in… my art, my sense of fun, my freedom to be me.
Had I given up, after that first rejection it would have controlled me. I would have spent the rest of my life being afraid to face rejection, and I would have been filled with “what ifs”.
I don’t believe you actually fail, even if your art doesn’t get in. Even if you get rejected, or lose… I think you only fail if you give up… because that’s the one thing you have control over.
It’s sometimes easy to give up because things might seem hopeless or hard. I didn’t think I could possibly get the sculpture to the gallery on my own, but my belief in dumb luck took over, and I decided to try.
There was once a boy who wanted to be an artist. This boy spent all his time planning and thinking about a way to be able to accomplish this. He knew that everything needed to be perfect. He would need all the best equipment, all the best education, and most of all, enough pieces to justify showing and being taken seriously.
In case you are wondering, this boy was me, and that plan was crap.
I couldn’t ever seem to create enough work to justify showing my art. As far as getting the best, anytime I purchased some equipment, something better would come along that I now needed to get. Not to mention, I was stuck working the family business and didn’t have time for school… not that I could afford it.
So, I spent most of my life wishing and eventually giving up on an art career.
It was only a few years ago that I just jumped in and did it. I pretty much had nothing to get started, but I had enough.
I had a bit of crappy old paint, some poster board someone donated to me, and some old pieces of wood. Most of all, I had people around me that didn’t discourage me, well… mostly… kinda.
I realized I had it all wrong back in the day. It wasn’t about waiting until everything was perfect, because that is an unattainable goal. It was about getting started with what you had. I also learned that it’s OK to start small… as long as you start.
Listen, I feel like the worst thing we can do in life is regret not doing something. That means being willing to fall on your face, pick yourself up and keep trying, at least until you make it, or you just don’t care anymore.
It came down to one question:
Are you willing to fall on your face, look like an idiot and put yourself through hell to accomplish what you want? Sure.
…and, just keep moving, even if you fall down… just keep moving.
So, if you have something that you’ve been wanting to do, go ahead and start… start small, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture… just a bunch of micro gestures.
Those small steps add up over time, and take you further than waiting around for the perfect moment.
Besides, why not just do it? You don’t have to quit anything, you don’t have to leap over a tall building… just take a step.
This morning I woke up in a slight panic as I looked around my studio and realized that I may be in the path of a powerful hurricane. If Irma heads towards Pensacola, I could potentially lose everything I have worked so hard for.
Of course, this thought came to me in a half state of sleep, having come out of a weird nightmare. In this dream I was holding on to my art table as I floated in turbulent flood waters out to sea with an elf who had been hiding in my yard for decades.
The truth is, when I think about it, the only thing that makes me nervous, is the idea that my home and art studio will be damaged. The fact of the matter is that Klee and I will be long gone if the hurricane comes anywhere near us.
I can always rebuild. I started my art career from nothing, and if I had to, I can do it again.
Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.
For now, I stay hopeful. I send my prayers to Texas, and keep an eye on these new storms and prepare accordingly.
So, I have a confession… The last few days I have been in a confusing place when it comes to my own sense of happiness.
Honestly, it’s something that I think about a lot, and feel like I am constantly reevaluating where I’m at, and what I can do better to feel more fulfilled and whole.
This morning, I had somewhat of a revelation.
My mornings, for the most part can be pretty routine:
Drag myself out of bed.
Think about how I feel and determine what I can do to feel better.
Listen to an uplifting podcast or audio-book.
Drink coffee and read positive quotes.
Clear my mind for 5 or 10 minutes or meditate as you hipsters like to call it.
Think about the here and now, and what I’m grateful for.
Plan my day, look at my calendar.
Get a little workout in, I prefer to just go for walks, mostly I just lift heavy things.
Shower, and get started with what ever I’m doing at the moment.
That’s how an ideal start to my day would look. Lately, its been looking more like this:
Drag myself out of bed.
Think about how I feel and wonder why I feel that way… usually blaming someone or something.
Drink coffee and begrudgingly look at my calendar.
think about how I really should meditate or something.
Feel overwhelmed and like there’s not enough hours in the day.
Rush to get started, try to do everything… and I mean EVERYTHING.
So, needless to say that my days are a little less focused on well being, and more focused on the task at hand. Whether the task is in front of me or inside my head, makes no difference, it’s just all reactive.
I prefer to be in a powerful state of mind in order to create my art. The underlying message is meant to be one of self empowerment and happiness, and if I’m not feeling those things, the art is going to reflect that. So, although I have all these things to do, I do none of them, because I’m not willing to sacrifice my message for the sake of being productive… which can make me feel like a failure… it’s so stupid when you think about it.
Ok, back to my revelation.
So, this morning I was thinking about how I felt, and wondered why I felt that way… when it hit me like a ton of bricks… on the forehead… while falling off a mountain.
I wasn’t choosing my thoughts, I was reacting to my feelings right from the beginning. Instead of determining what I wanted to think about, I was evaluating myself emotionally without setting a solid set point for my day. which meant that my day could go either way.
Being deliberate about what you are going to think about is key. Choosing a subject that you want to think about and just thinking about that, and training your mind to focus on what you decide to focus on.
The subject should be empowering, make you feel alive, bold, bright, powerful, exciting. It can be a question that is framed in a way that causes the answer to be a positive one, such as “What are all the things that make me feel awesome today?”
So my days would start off like this:
Drag myself out of bed… Still working on this one.
Think about what I want to think about and determine the most powerful thought.
Listen to an uplifting podcast or audio-book, maybe about the same subject.
Drink coffee and read positive quotes.
Clear my mind for 5 or 10 minutes or meditate.
Think about the here and now, and what I’m grateful for.
Plan my day, look at my calendar.
Get a little workout in..
Shower, and get started with what ever I’m doing at the moment.
I’m not one for routines, but I am one for forming deliberate habits, so this should be fun. I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far, so great!
So, I’m sure you heard the phrase “Live with purpose.”
If you haven’t heard that phrase, then you probably live under a rock somewhere…
It’s one of those phrases that is so overused that I feel like it’s lost its power a little with most people. But I also think it could be a little confusing when you’re in a place where you are not really sure what your purpose is, or why a sense of purpose is so important. You know, because life could be confusing.
There’s a lot of information circulating around out there about what is good for you, bad for you, what this means, and what that means.
There you are at the grocery store deciding whether or not you are going to get the gluten free tortillas, or just get the cheaper ones that have gluten. You’re not really sure why this is a thing but you know everyone is advertising gluten free, so you assume gluten must be bad.
Everyone has their own opinion about it… My opinion? Slather it up with gluten, what ever it might be. I don’t know why.
That being said, I understand there are some people out there that have a genuine intolerance to gluten, but not as many people as have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon thanks to advertising and influence.
The same thing happens with the term “Live with purpose”
Depending on who you are listening to, it may have different meanings. Trying to apply all those different meanings to your own life is impossible.
Some people say, to base it on your beliefs and values.
I hate to break it to you, but beliefs and values change throughout your life. You may be holding on to a belief or value that isn’t really working, it might be a belief or value you picked up from a racist uncle or parent, that you’ve never questioned.
This makes things super confusing because most of us haven’t really thought to much about our own thoughts and whether or not we agree with them.
Other people say “Follow your passion and it will show you, your purpose”
That’s great, but again that whole thing is confusing too. What is my passion, and if I can’t figure out my passion, how am I supposed to figure out my purpose?
So, to make this whole thing a little less confusing for myself I’ve changed one of the words in the phrase “Live With Purpose.”
I changed it to live on purpose.
So what do I mean by that… How do you live on purpose?
So, picture this, the moment you wake up, you repeat the words… “Today, I’m living on purpose.”
That means I will stop, observe, and appreciate my world and the things that are in it. It means that I will change things about myself that I do not like, it means I’m going to be deliberate about how I spend my days and the things I think about. It also means that I will think about my thoughts and whether or not they are actually mine.
This isn’t a cake walk, trust me when I say it is quite easy to just go back to not questioning your own thoughts, and saying things like “Tony Danza’s face makes me so angry, I don’t know why, that’s just who I am!”
I’ve determined that I’m alive, and my purpose in life is to live my life as fully as I can. That means not buying into the excuses that make me feel angry or small.
Sure, it’ll take some work, and I may be doing it until the day I die, but I can’t picture a better way to live… Every day, every minute, every second… On purpose.
Some of you already know that I am a big supporter of overcoming fear. If you have been following my art for any amount of time you may have noticed a common theme of self empowerment and badassery.
A lot of people assume that I am fearless because of the topics I tackle and the things I push myself to do in life. The truth is, I’m kind of afraid of everything, and when I say everything, I mean… EVERYTHING.
I think fear is an ongoing thing, like layers in an onion, the more you uncover, the deeper the layers can go.
I don’t think there are people out there that are completely fearless. I think they just handle their fears differently than most of us are used to.
I’ve developed the mindset that I would be more afraid of sitting on my ass and not following my dreams, than letting day after day go by without me taking action and conquering the things I fear.
I have four things that I do when facing a fear:
1. Go to war
Your brain is going to give you a line up of worst case scenarios. Use it, act as if you are giving yourself the opportunity to trouble shoot and prepare yourself for the worst thing that can happen and plan accordingly.
2. Will I regret not doing this?
Simply ask yourself if you would regret not having at least tried.
3. Blow your own mind.
Ask yourself four questions that follow this pattern:
What would happen if I did this?
What wouldn’t happen if I did this?
What would happen if I didn’t do this?
What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do this?
It will blow your mind and breakdown any irrational logic you are using to stop yourself.
4. Stop thinking about it and just do it already.
Stop hesitating… plain and simple.
I go into more detail in this video and Klee tells a powerful story about her own experience with fear… it’s pretty awesome.
Let me know your thoughts on fear and how you overcome your own fears that may be keeping you from following your dreams.