I was thinking about the concept of being awesome the other day and I looked it up. It’s embarrassing, because I use the word so much, but I realized I had my own definition in my brain goo for what awesome means. To me it means to be full of awe and inspire awe.
awe·some /ˈôsəm/ adjective extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear. “the awesome power of the atomic bomb” synonyms: breathtaking, amazing, stunning, astounding, astonishing, awe-inspiring, stupendous, staggering, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable; More INFORMAL extremely good; excellent. “the band is truly awesome!”
Yeah, it works just fine and that is awesome… see what I did there?
When I was a kid, I was very quiet with my nose in a sketchbook. In fact, I would say that I was invisible. A compliment (if you want to call it that) I heard as a kid all the time was “He’s so quiet, it was like he wasn’t here.”
I spent most of my life that way, always quiet, not making waves, keeping my opinion to myself, and hiding my real emotions. I can tell you from experience that living that way is unstable, because things get buried and man oh man, it can get ugly.
I won’t go into details and share my pity party with you about my life of silent desperation, but I will share something that inspired me to change. The following quote will let you in on a little secret about yourself. It will make you feel something, and in the investigation of that something , you’ll get an insight into what kind of person you are, and what kind of person you may want to be.
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn Rand
I’ll be honest, if you aren’t comfortable with this attitude, it’s going to be really hard to be awesome. Sorry. You can be good enough without being assertive, but to a large extent, being awesome requires that you initiate, take action, and chart your own course through the norms of mediocrity.
Ever felt that there must be more to life? Well, good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice.
As an artist, I have taken a notice of color and contrast in the world. There are times where a vivid sky or blade of grass will stop me in my tracks, I will take in the color combinations and imagine using them to translate into the emotion I’m feeling at that very moment.
I remember at a very difficult time in my life, where everything just seemed wrong and I found myself downward spiraling into despair, that hope came from a simple place. I was on my way to work, and I felt like breaking down. I pulled over and despite running late, decided to sit down at a park bench.
There I saw people walking their dogs, playing with kids, and relaxing. This was a stark contrast to my mood, and actually caused me to feel more bitter. Suddenly, a sad little weed caught my eye, it was the way the sun was casting a shadow that almost made it seem to glow. It was this ugly, little, insignificant weed, and it was glowing brighter and more vivid than anything else in that park. Suddenly, I couldn’t hold back the tears.
I sat there, me and my new glowing friend, for quite some time. I turned off my phone, and just sat there, and took everything in… This time, without judging what I was looking at through a filter of misery.
For the first time in probably my whole life, I just sat there and took everything in. I wasn’t thinking or worried about the future and I wasn’t dwelling in the past… I was just there, in that moment.
That moment changed me forever.
Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so we get more out of the day-to-day.
The other day I was thinking about working on a special piece. I started sketching it out and thinking about the meaning. Someone being pulled in so many different directions that he becomes a puppet to the world around him.
While talking to Klee about it, I broke down and my eyes started tearing up. The only reason I didn’t go into a full sob was the fact that I was so surprised at my emotions.
Listen, I am a grown ass man, and I’m not embarrassed to cry, or admit that I cry, but this actually caught me off guard.
It made me realize that something had felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but deep down I knew something was bothering me.
For the most part I’m a pretty happy guy, in fact our following online knows us for our upbeat perspectives on life and being artists full time.
Over the last few years I had developed a public image of a guy who’s genuine, creative, happy, upbeat, and loving life. But recently I had been a little stressed about some things… and I didn’t feel like myself. Worse, was the idea that I had never been that guy and that my entire life was a sham.
Luckily, Klee was there to talk sense into my confused brain unit. She told me that the only reputation I had to uphold was to be the real me. She said I have a really hard time being anything not real, so I have nothing to worry about.
I guess sometimes you may try to bury things inside, but they’ll always come up to the surface for you to look at and face head on. So next time you cry during a cheesy commercial, think about that.
I was allowing myself to feel like I was less than who I am, and that everyone was pulling me in different directions. I have done a lot of work on myself for over a decade, to make sure I am comfortable with who I am, and that’s who everyone sees.
Whether it’s in a YouTube video, a blog, a work of art, it will always be me… So, if anyone expects anything different, then they’ve never looked at any of my stuff before.
Moral of the story… Just be you, it’s way easier than not being you.
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the beginning of a new year, maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling under the weather the last couple weeks, or maybe it is because its been gloomy all day, but I’ve been thinking about happiness.
I figured that happiness is all about creativity. What I mean is you create your own happiness. You can’t really find it in your pocket or in the glove box. So, here are the Three things I came up with today that allow me to be happy. I figured I would share, and see if you can enjoy them as well.
Come up with your own definition of what it means to be happy. Make sure it is your definition. I like this one, I borrow it from time to time.
Happiness is being the creator of your experience, choosing to take pleasure in what you have, right now, regardless of the circumstances, while being the best you that you can be.
Whenever I’m in the moment, and I’m really present to what I’m feeling, seeing, hearing, or doing, I allow myself to experience a sense of euphoria. It isn’t often that in our fast paced society we are able to stop ourselves from thinking about the future, or dwelling over the past, so a nice dose of now is a refreshing change.
Don’t Become, Just Be.
If you’re constantly thinking into some future where you can be happy, you’ll be in the habit of trying to be happy. If you are trying to do happy, you aren’t doing it, you’re just trying. Instead, if you just become happy with your current situation, you can be happy any time and place.
When you’re working on being happy, you are the type of person that created the possibility that you are not currently happy.
And that’s it… I know that hardly covers what it takes to be happy, but it is definitely a start… Besides, I have art to create. 🙂
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.
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.
There was a quote that I ran across recently that got me thinking about my life and whether or not I fit into what people call the “Normal” category.
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need, to pay for the clothes, and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” –Ellen Goodman
One of my favorite artists Salvador Dali once noted “I am not strange – I am just not normal.” and boom! I was inspired to live my life like a deranged curly mustache man.
Normality is defined in the dictionary as: “the condition of being normal; the state of being usual, typical, or expected”… that sounds so freakin boring, it makes want to hurl a pig into the sky.
That being said, I spent a long time trying desperately to be normal. I even succeeded in being everything that you are supposed to be, and I lived a life very similar to what Ellen Goodman describes above.
But alas, that felt like someone was stepping on my throat while I slowly sunk into a vat of molasses.
Listen, I’m not against having a job, a house, or clothes, I don’t think those are the things that make you normal… They’re just things that you do and have.
But I do think that the way in which you interact with those things, and the way you live life is what makes you feel normal.
In my opinion, there is nothing usual, typical, or expected of you, other than the things you decided are true about your personality, or the type of person you are. We live in a society where we are surrounded by labels. People desperately looking for, tagging, and categorizing similarities within one another. It allows people to have a sense of understanding if they can fit you into a category.
Yesterday, a friend of mine made a statement saying that her friend and I had very similar taste in movies, because he likes super hero movies and supernatural.
I thought to myself, “I love all kinds of movies, not just super hero and supernatural movies, that’s a weird thing to say.”
Let’s get something straight, I love movies, I love the creative side of movies, screenwriting, story telling, acting, direction, location, cinematography, the whole nine yards. I’m the guy that watches the behind the scenes, and will watch the movie in it’s entirety with the director talking over all the scenes. I own books about the subject, that’s how much of a movie nerd I am.
At first, I was a little offended by this very simple comment, but it was based on an observation of what my friend has experienced about me. She’s experienced superhero movies and supernatural. She hasn’t experienced me, she doesn’t know who I was before I met her and the things that shape my thinking.
Honestly, she’s a sweetheart and didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just something she does every once in a while. Because really, who cares, it’s just movies.
The truth is that we can barely figure out who we are and what we like, let alone have someone else have you all figured out, and know what you truly like.
On a side note: I get to meet Klee every day and fall in love with her all over again, because deep down I know that she’s not the same person I met yesterday, and I get excited about meeting who she is today. No matter how similar she might be to yesterday, there is always something new.
The thing is that “Normal” is trying to have everything and everyone categorized in similar categories, and fitting into a category yourself.
But you can’t fit into a category, you are ever changing and evolving, you are becoming things, and letting go of things. You are not the same person you were last week, nor will you be the same person you are now in a year. We are constantly in flux.
In my opinion, normal, is not a natural state of being human. I refuse to be “normal” because it is torturous to me to deny my quirks and eccentricities to fit into a world that isn’t even sure what normal is anyway. I refuse to be labeled because as a human being I am too dynamic and ever changing.
Over the past few years, I have learned to be proud of who I am and to not let anyone – no matter who they are, try to manipulate, change, or label me, because I am not who “they think I should be” or “they think they have me pegged.” Yeah, life is too short to worry about all that jazz anyhow.
Go forth and be who you are – most of all revel in your uniqueness and be proud of your qualities that make you innately you.
Today, a good friend of mine, shared a blog post with me. I had to share the information with you because it is just that good. It came at a perfect time too.
Usually, this time of year, Klee and I are busy with commissions and orders for the holiday season. It can get a little crazy. We sometimes find ourselves spending full days in the studio, for weeks at a time, without venturing out into the world. Leaving the house only to buy groceries, like vampires leaving their den in search for food.
Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do, but just like anything, you need to remember to stop and smell the roses every once in a while, or you’ll find yourself caught up in deadlines and an overwhelming sense of duty to the next task. You find that there is more to life, when you are willing to look at the bigger picture.
Remembering how amazing it is that we are alive, at this very moment, on this planet, is necessary for quality of life. It only takes a few minutes a day, to remind yourself.
STOP, GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK UP
Look up to the sky or out to the horizon. Let your awareness expand to fill the vast distances that you see. Focus on the sounds, the feelings on your skin, the smells, the colors, and Breathe deep. Just do this for a few minutes, until you feel a physical change, then go back to what you were doing.
A smile, a happy song, laughter, a silly dance, these are just some of the things we can do to create a feel good moment. We can also become aware of more amazing moments around us that bring us joy, and milk them for as long as you can throughout the day.
STOP AND SMELL, INSPECT, AND STARE AT THE ROSES
Just pause for a moment and see if you can look at something deeply. Really give yourself time. See if you could make it a priority. Your mind might scream at you and tell you that you have better things to do… But you don’t. Take some time to just appreciate the world you live in, and experience it fully for a few minutes. This will get easier and easier, eventually your mind will just shut up and let you do your thing.
Bridgefest Rafi And Klee At Graffiti August 20, 2022 at 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
210 Seneca St, Oil City, PA 16301, USA
Come out and enjoy the two day event of Bridgefest in Oil City! Meet Rafi And Klee and a bunch of other amazing artists. Bridge Fest Weekend. Bridge Fest is Friday, August 19 (4-9 pm, Center Street Bridge, sponsored by the Oil City Main Street Program): live entertainment, DJ, food vendors; face painting & other…
HI! We're New Here! Exhibition End August 27, 2022 at 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
210 Seneca St, Oil City, PA 16301, USA
This is the final day of our exhibition! We will be hanging out talking about art, life, and anywhere else the conversations take us. We will also be doing some giveaways that day as a big thank you to everyone that came to our exhibition.
“THE ROGUE ARTIST’S GUIDE TO ROGUE MARKETING AND MONEY” BOOKS AVAILABLE NOW!