Friday, February 16, 2018

Changing my schedule, changing my conditioning

As I move towards working less (I work now about half-time), I've bumping up against some very old conditioning: do your homework before you play. This was a rule in my house growing up. We came home, got a snack, and settled in to our homework (and chores) and then if there was time left over, we could play or read or do whatever we liked. I was a kid who enjoyed learning and who enjoyed studying so this was not a hardship for me. And it served me well with my parents, with my teachers, with my professors in college. It also has served me well in my various careers and is undoubtedly a big part of the success I've had.

But now it's a habit that doesn't serve me so well. It shows up in the driving need to complete any and all paid work before I can paint. So I spend my mornings and early afternoons "in the office" and then have no creative energy left. In fact, my best studio time is early morning when I'm freshest. This is something I've been trying to change for years, and this is the year I intend to break that old conditioning and create a new conditioning that serves me better.

With the help of my great life coach, I'm starting a new schedule in which I have play time between 9 and 11:30 every weekday morning. I can do anything I want except paid work during that time. I'm excited about this possibility, of increasing my comfort with free time, and seeing what can arise in the studio.

What old conditioning are you considering letting go of?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Aligning my life further with spaciousness

In developing my spaciousness practice last year, I started with just putting some space between items in my day. When I came back from running errands, I'd take my time settling in to the next task on my list. When I finished a work project, I'd take a break instead of just moving on to the next. It took a while to really embrace this change as I am very efficient by nature, and I had to get over the idea that I was wasting time.

The next thing I tackled was saying yes to too many activities. I live alone and work at home and I'm reluctant to forego opportunities to connect with friends and acquaintances. A second complication is that my friends have very busy lives so we tend to make plans several weeks in advance, but that doesn't always mesh well with my freelance work, which comes in erratic batches. I can have a ton of work for 2-4 weeks and then nothing much for a month. So I needed to keep things looser, ask for flexibility, and not plan too much.

Now I'm looking for ways to expand the spaciousness. My challenges now are to lower my expectations of myself (I'm a productivity junkie) and get comfortable with free time. Those of you who are already comfortable with free time are probably laughing, but for me it's going to be a big shift. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What I'm asking myself these days

I've written before about Grid Diary, an app that encourages daily reflection. What's cool about it is the ability to change the questions and to easily share them by email. I've been sharing them for a couple of years with two good friends. It's lovely to have my day witnessed like that.

These are the questions I'm responding to every night now:

What gave me satisfaction?
What gave me peace?
What gave me pleasure?
What gave me joy?
What gave me connection?

These are the things that I want to focus on in my day so I watch for something to report.

What questions would you answer?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

First poem of the year

The first brave blossoms
have dabbed their pinkness
on the fingers of an old cherry
although January has just
reached the half-way mark
and the big-bodied plane trees
in the park
slumber on
last year's leaves
moldering beneath them
on their way back to Source

An ancient chinese hazel
is waking up too
tiny chartreuse fronds
uncurling along its arms

I walked up to the park
for the miles
and got a tiny taste
of spring
for my trouble.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Consider Creating for Happiness

In December I got an email from a fellow alumna of the art intensive course I took last year, Jan Allsopp, with an invitation to join her online program called Creating for Happiness, which is designed to encourage creating in small bits every day. When I took a look at her introductory materials, I could see how closely aligned her thoughts are with those I wrote in Sober Play: Using Creativity for a More Joyful Recovery. And since I can always use more encouragement to focus on my art, I signed up for her program.

Jan sends a brief encouraging email every day to help us stay on track and there's a Facebook page for the group where people post all manner of creative efforts, some simple, some extravagant, and we cheer each other along. You don't have to be any kind of artist to do this, just somebody who'd like to spend a little time each day creating something.

Jan's program is free and you can start anytime. You can take a look at

Monday, January 22, 2018

My January daily creative practice

This year one of my possibilities is to do a small creative something every day and to change that something every month. I had this idea before I joined the Creating for Happiness program and I've found it to be a great support.

My January something is a digital painting done with Art Set Pro, a $6.99 app for i Pad or iPhone. It's an art studio with no set up or clean up, and I am having so much fun with it.  My practice is to do a painting in 10 minutes or less before I go to bed. Sometimes I spend just 3-4 minutes but never more than 10. I'm not ony getting used to the app but some of the paintings are things I want to do in a larger format in the studio.

Here are some of my quick explorations:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Choosing not to stay informed

I stopped attending to the news (newspaper, TV) about 30 years ago. I found it too depressing. The only exception I made were a couple of very small town newspapers that reported local events and a lot of good stuff about the town's residents.

My parents watched the news every night; they felt it was really important to stay informed. And so I felt guilty for a while when I stopped knowing what was going on in the world. But now I don't.

I revisit my decision from time to time, but I've yet to change my mind. Here's why. First, a large percentage of the news is meant to frighten us into accepting the untrue and unacceptable and lettingcorporations make money on "fixing" the problem. There is little celebration of all the many beautiful, wonderful, kind, and generous things people do for each other, so we get a very skewed outlook.

Second, if something earth-shattering happens, someone will let me know. I don't need to worry about that.

Third, I don't have enough time left in my life to spend on lies, fabrications, manipulations, and demagogues. I don't want to focus my energy on bad behavior and greed and violence. I want to experience the best of others and to do that in person.

I don't feel I'm in denial about the malfaisance and idiocies of our culture and world; I just don't need to know a lot more about it than I already do. 

What is your relationship with the news?