Written by a 90 year old. I love this! Take a look
Hey, anybody out there who can relate to this? Anyone who can’t? I salute you!
I’ll make this quick – today, I planned for a totally productive night of getting shit done. I was gonna review my budget, research some investments, blog a little bit, and organize my articles. Yeah, I can tell that you’re totally jealous of my ridiculously awesome life of sex, drugs and alcohol.
But it all started going downhill from work – First, I was given a big task to do in the morning. Instead of focusing on that, I spent my day answering emails, attending discussions, customizing templates, and intermittently going back to that task. And then my colleagues mucked around at the snack corner so of course I had to join them for that. And so I had to work late, and I decided to reward myself with a Swensen’s dinner (come here you, chicken baked rice and US fries and dips, you!), and then I decided…
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One of the keys to overcoming any bad habit is to have some understanding of why we do it in the first place. So why don’t we “just do it” a la a Nike commercial and put off some tasks for later? And I’m not just talking about doing the dishes. I’m talking about taking care of tasks that we enjoy as well – could be sewing or gardening or whatever.
For some it could be some underlying fear of failure or even, for some others – fear of success. Maybe we don’t think that we have the specific skill required or talent needed to complete the task and that we will face ridicule. Maybe we’re in conflict about the task at hand and aren’t even sure it’s something that we want to do. Maybe we’re overwhelmed by other demands in our lives and can’t give adequate attention to this newer demand. Maybe we don’t have a clear enough image of exactly what it is we want to accomplish. Maybe the task is boring compared to some other activity that could substitute. I’m far from qualified to give out any advice here but maybe there’s some food for thought in the above possibilities.
I considered these ideas and wrote the following Haiku:
Demands, wants, needs, musts
I want to……….I don’t want to
Relentless tick – tock
I decided that I would set specific goals for the art work that would accompany this haiku:
1. to complete the work in a set amount of time – time that I alternatively would have spent that evening playing a game online . I thought that it was not unreasonable to have the main designing and rough assembly done in 45 minutes. I would do the quilting and finishing the following day.
2. I have a plastic storage box full of previously fused cotton scraps – some of which are remnants from previous projects. My challenge was to use ONLY fabrics from that particular box. Believe me there were plenty to choose from.
The completed piece is approximately 12 inches by 12 inches.
It demonstrates how focus, definition and time limits overcame procrastination in one dedicated to that art.
I guess it’s traditional to contemplate the year just past as we look forward to the shiny ball falling in Times Square. Please indulge me for a couple of minutes as I do that and get a little personal.
Remember Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and how it started? …I will paraphrase…….it was the best of years, it was the worst of years……
This year, 2011, lots of things came to a head for me as unresolved matters from years past piled up to the point where they had to start tumbling down. And tumble they did – with a resounding crash that woke me out of the doldrums and shook off years of accumulated denial and avoidance. I had experienced numerous losses of loved ones including my entire birth family over the course of several years but had never allowed myself to fully grieve the way one needs to. Well, somehow, my guardian angel recognized this and kicked me in the butt as much as to say get on with it already.
And so I did. And here is where the Dickensian character of the year becomes apparent. While going through the delayed grieving process was indeed painful – all those stored up feelings were allowed to surface – the result was unexpected and welcome.
I feel like the ‘real’ me emerged – the genuine Guila – probably more accurate to say the ‘rest’ of who I am. I have always been someone who loves to be creative –to use my imagination and play with design, with color, with words, with ideas. But this time I allowed myself to just go with it and to see where it would take me without self censoring without self criticism. The discoveries that I made thrilled me no end – having an aptitude for art that goes beyond needle and thread is a new idea for me.
And that brings me to today and to anticipation of the year ahead. While 2011 was a year of discovery, I look forward to 2012 as a year to concentrate on learning, on practicing and refining these newly discovered skills. And to focus on developing my art related business at the same time. This isn’t Paris of the 19th century and I do not have a patron. So the business part is vital to allow me the ability to stay planted on the creative path and to put down roots there.
This is a very exciting journey. The support of my friends and readers and your encouragement is vital and I am so thankful for all of you. Please stick around for the ride! It’s going to be lots of fun.
My heartfelt wishes to all of you for a Happy and Healthy 2012. May all your dreams come true!
Three Quick Questions
Lesley Riley writes about Artist Success (and I think her thoughts here can apply to all of us) and presents her thoughts on the time honored ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. More about Lesley (one of my heroes) at the end of the article.
Life is one long continuum. We need markers in order to assess our progress. January 1st is one of those markers. I’m somewhat of a rebel. I don’t like to do what everyone else is doing. That means I don’t want to talk about new year’s resolutions, setting goals for 2012 or how to make this your best year yet. I have already received way too many emails along those lines. How about you? It did get me to wondering though, why there is so much focus on new starts and fresh beginnings at the beginning of a new year? January 1st is the universally agreed upon time, a convenient reminder for us to pause and assess. Rather than focus on new beginnings (which, let’s face it, are very hard and doomed to failure), let’s consider this a time for course correction. The first question you should be asking yourself right now is, “Am I headed in the right direction?” Whether you admit it or not, there is something you want to be doing with your life that you are not doing…yet. The dream may be so far off or seem so out of reach that you’ve been going about it in a roundabout way, if at all. Or, if you are at all like me, you have more than enough ideas to last 10 lifetimes and you just can’t figure out which one to take action on. You are creating a tight zigzag stitch of your life, back and forth, side to side, with very little forward movement.
The second question you need to ask is, “Which ideas, which dreams, hold the most meaning for me?” Pick three. And make one of them a stretch, something you consider to be out of reach. Be sure that the ones you choose make your heart go pitty-pat, either from excitement and desire or fear. Fear is a good thing. It’s a sign that you want something that scares you. If you are not thinking outside of your comfort zone, you are not living up to your potential.
Question #3 is, “Did I act on those dreams?” Did you take actions that would move you forward and closer to the realization of your ideas and dreams or did you zigzag through the year and divide your time among too many things? Chances are you did both. It’s exactly the steady course most of us take through life. And it’s exactly the reason why so many of us die with our dreams still inside.
To paraphrase Wayne Dyer:
…Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul. ..
It’s time for a course correction. January 1st is a few days away. You still have time to make a course correction in 2011. Rather than wait until that official, agreed upon day, do it now. Waiting like everyone else for January 1st is just another excuse. It’s procrastination. It’s telling yourself that a date is more important than your dream. Find out where and how have you veered off following your intuition, your passion – and decide what you can do right now, TODAY, to get back on track.
The hidden bonus is that you don’t start the new year off commiserating over all of the things that you want to change or start or commit to. You won’t focus on what’s missing in your life because you have already done something about it. You have a head start on everyone else! I know you will feel really good on January 1st because you took positive action now. Promise me you will continue to take action and make the necessary course corrections for the next 365 days.
Do that and I guarantee that 2012 will be your best year yet!
Happy New Year!
Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit ; http://www.ArtistSuccess.com.