As an artist, I work from home, in my studio, on my laptop, at the easel, and sitting on the couch sketching. We have a YouTube channel, Patreon account and other social media where we connect with many people online, but few “real-life” interactions.
Luckily, Klee and I share an art career and get to spend that time together in the studio, but sometimes we can spend over a week inside. There are times when talking with the cashier at the grocery store is the social highlight of our day.
In a world where so much happens online, we have to be careful to not neglect the importance of real face-to-face connection.
I find that sometimes things can feel a little disconnected when you don’t venture out much. Listen, I love our studio time, and I totally thrive as a hermit… but sometimes it can go too far.
If you’re going through a tough time, you might feel especially inclined to isolate yourself, but it’s only going to make things worse. I find that even when I don’t want to be around people, it’s important to surround yourself with people you love, and people who inspire you.
So next time you are feeling a bit down, or you are stuck in your head, go outside. Interact with humans, have fun, and live an adventure with people who inspire you.
Then, once you get your fill, go back to your creative hermit hole inspired to create your next masterpiece.
Recently Klee and I went up north to go see my daughter’s lead performance in her last High school play. It was an amazing trip, watching her on stage was a highlight of the year. I don’t think I can describe in words how proud I am. I’m also happy that Klee and I had the opportunity to talk in the car for 28 hours of driving.
I’ll be honest, before we left I was a little stressed about time and finances. This year has been a bit slow starting for us, and although I know things always look up, I was in the thick of it while paying and planning for the trip.
I also knew that the long drive would be a great opportunity to talk things out and figure out what was going on in my head. I’m usually very optimistic and tend to feel empowered in most situations, but somehow I had lost my grasp and was venturing into a dark place. This drive would be a great way to dig deep.
One of the things that struck me while investigating my head was that I was distracted. My mind would wander into worst case scenarios and I would miss the experience I was in. I noticed that Klee had to repeat herself at times because I just wasn’t there. What was interesting about this, was that life was happening, and I was missing it.
I thought about all those little moments that we fail to notice, and how freeing it is to appreciate those little moments.
And yet most of the time we fail to
notice them. We don’t recognize them properly, forget them, or simply
take them for granted.
Once I realized this, I made a mental list of reasons why gratitude for the little things in life is important.
Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures, sustains, and brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. By appreciating life, you won’t stop bad stuff from happening, but you’ll learn how to stop emphasizing the meaning of bad events in your life.
Once you take a moment to appreciate an
act of kindness coming from someone you love or a person you don’t
even know, you’ll become more aware of your belonging to a community
of people who care about each other. Reciprocating these actions only
helps to strengthen these social bonds.
Resilient people build their strengths on positive emotions. These emotions simply help them to cope with difficult situations.
When you’re in the middle of a life event, it’s important that you savor it as much as you can. Choose to be present in the now. When you’re living with more awareness, you notice everything – the little pieces of everyday beauty.
I think we tend to get caught up in the drama of our minds and forget that life is beautiful, precious, and short. So stop and appreciate all of it.
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.
Hi guys, here is a short story I wrote a while back, I wanted to share this with you. It seems a little dark in the beginning, but I promise the ending is pretty bright.
The Man And His Shadow
One day, a man was walking down the street on his way to work. His thoughts were on his life as he looked into his passing image in the store windows.
“What has happened to you, you look horrible.” He thought as he turned away from his reflection.
His stomach rumbled a bit in passing the faint smell of delicious coffee and pastries emanating from the small café on the corner.
“If only you had woken up earlier, maybe you would have time to eat, not that it matters, you don’t have a dime to your name. You’re such a loser, you know that?”
The man’s expression soured and his shoulders slumped a bit. He made his way to the bus stop and stood next to a group of people, none looked up from what they were doing.
“You don’t even exist, you could die tomorrow and no one would notice. You are worthless.”
He looked out at the passing cars as people made their way to work. Some were talking on their cell phones, others seemed barely awake, and some were applying make up.
Just then, a man in a beautiful expensive car drove up. He had a smile on his face and exuded a confident warmth.
“Look at that, if you actually had done something right in your life, maybe you would drive your own car instead of taking the bus with all the other losers.”
The man looked up briefly at the crowd and then back at the crack in the cement by his feet. The bus arrived and he fumbled with his change, and felt slightly embarrassed that he had taken as long as he did.
“You do this every morning, you make yourself look like an ass everywhere you go. You are such an idiot.”
Not looking at people, he made his way to the handrail and stood there quietly as the bus took off. A beautiful woman stood at the other end of a group of commuters. The man always looked forward to seeing her, but had never had the nerve to talk to her.
“Are you kidding me, what the hell do you have to offer her? She would laugh in your face, or vomit. If you talk to her you’re just going to make yourself look stupid again.”
He looked away disappointed, and wondered if he would ever meet someone. He glanced at his reflection on the bus windows and noticed something on his shoulder.
When he looked down at his shoulder, there was nothing there. Looking back at his reflection, he could distinctly make out a form of a small person sitting on his slumped shoulders. It bent down and whispered in his ear.
“Not only are you an idiot and a loser but now you’re going crazy too. You should just end your meaningless life now and put everyone who knows you out of their misery.”
He blinked his eyes and the image was gone.
Maybe it was just the fact that he was hungry, he couldn’t afford to start going crazy now on top of everything else that sucked in his life.
After getting off the bus, he watched the beautiful woman walking away, a dream that would never come true. Suddenly, a cab honked it’s horn, startling the man.
“Watch where you’re going you idiot!” Screamed the cab driver.
The man jumped out of the street and looked around, embarrassed.
“Even the cab drivers know you’re an idiot. You might as well walk around with a sign that says “I’m an idiot”.
The rest of the day pretty much went the same for him. He avoided talking to people, and just kind of kept to himself. The conversations he had were either about work or mindless small talk.
That night as he was getting ready for bed, he looked into the mirror and saw the shadowy form sitting on his shoulder again.
Frightened, he looked away. After a few seconds, he felt himself compelled to look again, and the shadow was still there.
“Who are you?” The man asked.
“I am you. A form of you anyway.” The shadow said.
“What does that mean? Why are you here? Am I going insane?” The man questioned.
“It means” The shadow shrugged “that I am the voice that tells you what you think you should hear. I am you, telling you what you can’t do, in order to keep you safely where you are most comfortable.”
“I have been conditioned by you all your life.” The shadow continued “You have told me what to think, what to say, and how to remind you.”
“My whole life?” The man asked.
“Yeah, but our relationship was much different when we were young. I was much brighter then. Our world was one of wonder, exploration, and imagination. We played for hours and loved openly. There was nothing we couldn’t do, and we did everything our hearts desired.”
“What happened?” The man asked.
“We were introduced to fear, limitations, intimidation, by words or actions. You started to tell me to remind you of these things so you wouldn’t get yourself into trouble. All of these fears and limitations were based on other people’s opinions. We believed them as our own because they would keep us safe.
After a while we were just not good enough. We believed we had to be something other than we are in order to be worthy, worth it, or good enough. We consoled ourselves by saying nobody was perfect, but everyone else seemed so much more perfect than we could ever be. So a shadow filled my light, and I became darker. It became my job to remind you of your imperfection.”
“Why does it have to be this way?” The man asked.
“It doesn’t. I am tired of telling you horrible things based in lies. The truth is, you are perfect, you are the most perfect and beautiful version of you that exists in this universe. You are a unique gift to the world.”
The man looked deep in the mirror, and tears swelled in his eyes. He saw that the shadow was actually him. The shadow was the smoke that had prevented the light from shining within him.
The shadow was a lie that hid the truth from him. In that moment he caught a glimpse of his perfection. He realized that almost everything he believed to be true about himself was a lie he believed. The light shone within him, the light that was always so familiar.
He made a choice at that moment based on what he wanted out of life. A choice based on fearlessness and limitless potential. He made a choice, looked at the person in the mirror and said…
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.