Friday, January 25, 2019

Simplifying with the 3-33 project

I often come back from my annual New Year's creative retreat and its simple living for a week with a strong desire to reduce my stuff and simplify my environment. So when my good friend Sage Cohen told me about the 3-33 project for clothes, I had to know more.

It's quite simple. The brain child of Courtenay Carver at Be More with Less, the 3-33 project asks us to select 33 items of clothing from our drawers and closets and box up ALL the rest for 3 months. This doesn't include underwear, sleep wear, socks or shoes, and workout clothes (I consider my painting clothes part of my workout clothes). Everything else, including coats and scarves, gets pared down. Note that you don't give your other clothes away; you put them away for three months.

It was much easier to do this than I imagined. I put everything on the bed and pulled out the things I'd been wearing the last few weeks: six tops and four pairs of pants. Then I picked out some other tops, a couple of dressy shirts, and a couple of lighter-weight things in case of warmer weather. I put in a pair of dress pants and a pair of capris. I folded up the rest into a large plastic tub and stuck it at the bottom of the studio closet. The coats were harder as I have quite a few and none of them are great. So I chose five and a sweater and put the rest in a second plastic tub and put it my basement storage unit.

All in all, I have my pants in one drawer of my dresser and 21 things in my closet, which is in itself a wealth to choose from. I know just what's there. I like them all. They hang neatly. I love this!

Friday, January 18, 2019

One thing that making art is teaching me

I made a wise decision about 20 years ago when I decided to pursue art-making as a hobby. I'm not someone who was a child prodigy artist, one of those kids who drew all the time. I liked making stuff as a kid but I couldn't draw realistically or fast, which I took to assume I had no talent. But I so love color that I gave a drawing class a try in 1997 and have been at it every since. It is one of the biggest pleasures in my life.

In addition, I'm finding that making art is teaching me (or reminding me ) about life. The past few days I've been reminded about the importance of being open to many possible outcomes of our efforts. We do the footwork, as we say in AA, and leave the results up to Spirit. This is so much more peaceful for me than trying to control the outcome.

When I'm painting, I may have something in mind when I start (a reference photo, an idea that's crossed my mind), but my work goes best when I release that after a few minutes and follow my intuition. Staying open to all the possible outcomes as I choose colors and brush strokes and shapes and light is thrilling. It doesn't always turn out as a favorite, but I learn something in the surprises and in the doing.

Turning this idea of being open to many outcomes for my day and my encounters and my experiences can't help but make my life richer.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Good advice from Saint Mary (Oliver)

Her instructions for life:

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

I love this.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Revisiting no and yes

One of the questions for contemplation in this course I'm taking on Jungian thought and vocation is this: Was the essential message about life a Yes or a No from our parents? Knowing that my father was a yes and my mother was a no explains a lot to me about me.

I've lived a life of big cautions and big enthusiasms, and it's interesting to consider this conflict I sometimes feel as both an ancestral blessing and a curse. Where I often find myself is wanting very much to embrace life as a yes and feeling held back by something deep and dark within me. This isn't one of those rational things where I can talk myself into or out of something. It's more of a leap of faith that I need.

So as my next birthday approaches and I realize how fast the last year went and how many years I've already had (and how few may be left), I know instinctively that it isn't good to be in No any longer. That Yes is the right answer. So part of my New Year's reflections will be on my Yeses for the coming year.

What will your Yeses be for 2019?