Monday, August 25, 2014

Ninety-nine through one hundred and one (out of thousand) ways to have a happy artist's life

"Be treasured" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
These three ways to have a happy life are borrowed from a Brain Pickings post which turned up on my FaceBook feed.  I'm pretty sure it was Gretchen Miller's instigation, lol.

So here we go, #99. This one is huge and it's from Dan Dennet (in discussing the secret of happiness).  It should really be #1.  “Find something more important than you... and dedicate your life to it.”  This will make you happy, for sure.  You will end up being more in the world and not stuck in your own head. 

#100 is "Do what you love" from Paul Graham’s 2006 article, How to Do What You LoveHe talks about getting stuck doing things you don't really love for the sake of “prestige”.  He says don’t worry about prestige, it's like a nasty magnet that keeps you attracted to it, and distracted from working on what brings you joy, on things you actually love.  Prestige is especially dangerous for ambitious people. He says if you want to make ambitious people waste their time, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. A hook baited with prestige is the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. If you want time to do what you really love and to be happy, it might be a good rule to avoid any prestigious task. 

And #101, "Find out what you really want" is from philosopher Alain de Botton.  It's related to #100.  We need to know what success really means to us.  Often our ideas about what it would mean to live a successful life are not our own ideas at all. We get these ideas from our peers, and of course from television, advertising, and marketing (which is probably where our peers get their ideas about living a successful life). These ideas of success define what we want and how we view ourselves. Alain argues that we should make sure that our ideas are our own.  Make sure we are the authors of our own ambitions. He says that it’s bad enough at the end of our journeys to realize we didn't get what we wanted, but it’s much worse to find out after spending our whole life on something we thought we wanted, that it isn’t, in fact, even remotely close to what we really wanted at all.

Do find out what you really want in life, what you love, and then do a lot of it!  At the end of the journey you will be satisfied, and pretty much all along the way as well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Morning Pages eCourse alert!

"Animate our dreams" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

The doors for the Morning Pages Daily Art Practice eCourse with an attached FaceBook Group classroom are almost ready for members.  (The FaceBook Group would be a place for community; for sharing images, ideas and questions but is totally optional.)

Over the past couple of years, I've been creating and posting morning pages every day on FaceBook.  Here's what I have learned so far.  If you practice something every day, you get better at it.   If you practice something which encourages thought and reflection every day, you become more thoughtful.  If you practice something which makes you happy every day, you get happier every day.

As a student, I used to wonder about why Edith Kramer, art therapy pioneer, told us to create art every day.  She also encouraged us to keep a journal for things we were learning, for the ideas and questions that come to us.  She suggested that these activities, if engaged in fully, would help us grow into our best selves, that we would be able to see our strengths and resilience unfold.  There are a lot of intrinsic rewards built into utilizing our inner strengths and nothing that promotes freedom, independence,  and a sense of self worth better than the realization that we have the power to create our own inner satisfaction and intrinsic rewards. Over this past two year Morning Pages exploration, I have to admit Edith Kramer had a point about all of this.

This eCourse will be about growing into our best selves, engaging in a daily art practice, the benefits and joys of such a practice, the challenges and even the specifics of collage work and some photoshop tutorials and guidance (because you have asked my how I do what I do, so why not share it).  In the past I have created eCourses with blogs, posting bi-weekly (sometimes more) and that the blog would remain up for a few months after I stop posting.  That makes it self paced and with a FaceBook group we can continue to play.  Hope that sounds of interest!

If so, just $15 will get you the course, the group, and a bonus eZine "Art Dreams (Lani's Morning Pages).
 If you just want the zine without the course, it's yours for $10. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The #98th way (out of thousand) to have a happy life; Listen to a mindfulness talk while making art! Yes indeed!

"Hear Love, Speak Love, See Inside Our Hearts" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
While working on my morning pages this morning, I was listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn in a discussion about happiness.  I learned (or re-learned) the following:
Jon Kabot Zinn - “Happiness is a skill.  …Happiness is not a single state… Your happiness may already be here, inside yourself…  those aspects that supply meaning, supply deep connections, supply just that sense of interconnectedness that truly lies at the bottom of well being and happiness.”

Doesn't that seem about right?  That the things that make us truly happy in a deep, contended way are the things that help us live a meaningful life, the things that help us create connections in our lives, and of course things in us that are touched when we sense the interconnectedness of all life?  And all of those mysterious things are within us, right?  Happiness is a skill and it is inside us.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The #97th way (out of thousand) to have a happy life; Learn from each other!

"Let everything teach and/or inspire" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
One of the ways we as humans have a happy life is by realizing we are connected or inter-dependent with our fellow humans and that we actually learn from, grow with, and inspire each other.  Today's happy realization and inspiration comes from Journey to Resilience, Gretchen Miller's thoughts about her annual staff retreat which explored self-care and resilience strategies designed for those who have had some exposure to trauma.  Thankfully, Gretchen has most generously shared what she learned with us.

Although the post is packed full of wonderful resilience and self-care goodies, one of the biggest "take-aways" for me was that in addition to the didactic teaching throughout the day, there was also  time set aside for mind/body & sensory based activities to support and explore self-care themes.  And of course we are starting to understand that we learn best (and perhaps we teach best) when we can address our whole selves, when we can speak about principles of neurodevelopment and neuroscience while actually utilizing what we are speaking about. 

The fun thing about being an artist/art therapist is we get to play with ideas through art making when ever we want.  We may actually learn better by interacting with ideas in this way.  So the above collage is my response to Gretchen's wonderful post.  You just never know what you are going to learn next!
Some excellent resource/links from Gretchen's post:

The University of North Carolina Charlotte website devoted to Post Traumatic Growth, which also has a page of downloadable articles!!!  (Hooray!)  

And these lovely Self Care Tips from Transforming Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Satisfaction – 12 Top Self Care Tips.

Thank you so much, Gretchen Miller!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The power of finding beauty and my new blogger app.

"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes ... life lovely." 
Quote by Loisa May Alcott,Collage by Lani,  & textures by FlyPaper.

Having fun with collage materials from Teesha Moore, Lynne Parrella, and the Artstronauts Club.  Tried to like my new blogger app, but find the computer so much easier.  Well, it may be good for when I'm on the road!

The Possibilities of Play

"To play made her feel wonderful about life itself" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
 (#96 out of thousand ways to have a happy life ) 

A Fred Rogers quote/meme popped up on my FaceBook feed the other day:
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood."
It made me wonder when play stops being the real work of humanity, if ever?  For me play is really the work of adulthood too. I certainly couldn't create or live without it.  In fact, philosopher and Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, Martha Nusbaum, lists play as one of our inalienable human capabilities and rights.  It is our Right to Play, to be able to laugh, play, and enjoy recreational activities.  It is my 96th way out of a thousand ways to have a happy life.

AND speaking of play, here's something I'm looking forward to that is going to encourage me to play just a little more.  My friend, playmate, and fellow 14 Secrets buddy, William Charlebois, has a class coming up, “Help Heal Your Heart With Dollar Store Art,” over on  He has a very reasonable early bird special price ($10) so check it out and try play as a way of creating more possibilities for yourself!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What do you do when the creative blahs set in?

"Change your glasses, have courage, and flourish now" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Over at 14 Secrets the question came up, "what do you do when you find yourself in a creative funk?" and there were so many fun answers I thought I'd put them down here.
What about permission slips or tickets for yourself??  Give yourself permission to do what you need to do.  Need an idea?  A while back we made a zine full of permissions and there are LOTS of VERY fun ideas.  You can find the zine here.  Just to give you a taste of the over 100 permissions:
Permission to Breathe Deeply
 Permission to Forgive 
Permission to Be Silly
 Permission to Love
 Permission to Create
 Permission to be Brave
 Permission to Sleep
 Permission to Take The Leap 
Permission to Make Mistakes 
Permission to Rest
 Permission to forget My Past 
Permission to Be In The Present

This little adventure in permissions started with Patricia Mosca's book, “Permission Slips... For Your Heart and Soul”.   It has 52 permission slips in full lovely color for every possible situation. (The book began when Patricia was in a transitional space, feeling stuck. A friend asked her what would help to move her forward and she realized permission would help her.  So she set about working on her permission slips, creating them as part of her daily journaling practice.)

Here are some more ideas for creative funk busting: 
Get into nature.
Paint with your feet...
Do anything that takes you out of the ordinary, even if it just means taking a new way to work.
Funk is just a way to tell you to see the fun in things ;) again, in order to do that, try looking at things differently with new eyes, maybe.  (Or new glasses, maybe?)
How about going to a movie--a really good comedy. Laughing is good for the soul and very uplifting. Shopping? Even the dollar store has some fun things that are inexpensive and interesting to look at.
You can always scribble on a large sheet of newsprint and color in an image that you find.
Look in the mirror and make funny faces...
Take a bubble bath with LOTS of bubbles.
Visit an exhibit at the museum that is motivating....a flower show in the area.....
Buy yourself some flowers and place them right where you can see them at home, or buy some plants, maybe pansies...they have lovely faces!
Listening to music that you really like to dance to may be just what you need....listen to the video on youtube: Happy by Pharrell Williams Play it over and over and sing along with it.
If I hear the HAPPY song I'm going to be silly. Works best when its in the low-energy hours of the faster than coffee too.
 Organizing my art area also helps... putting away some materials or shifting items about helps the mental clutter and soon enough I'm making a "to be used immediately" pile.
"Play that funky music, white girl. Play that funky music right!"
(#66-95 out of thousand ways to have a happy life ) 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Two links for the happy artist's life.

"Be the light" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
       “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” 
                                  -Albert Camus, The Stranger

This has definitely been THE longest winter of my life, and it's nice to know that through creative effort we may find an invincible summer within.  The first link is for Flypaper Textures where the latest blog post "Snow Trees" reminded me that we can do things when the world provides snow and winter.  Paul Grand suggested we take that last opportunity to grab some snow images and try the new Paper Painterly set!  Of course!  Thank you Paul!

Back yard snow fall in April, with textures by FlyPaper.

The second link is for the website 100 Happy Days, a deceptively simple idea, and web site.  Very much like Martin Silegman's challenge to find three good things every day, this one is even simpler.  Find one good thing every day and document it, one happy moment in your day for 100 days.  From their website:
People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:
 - Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
 - Be in a better mood every day;
 - Start receiving more compliments from other people;
 - Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
 - Become more optimistic;
 - Fall in love during the challenge.

Even when the challenge is over the collected 100 happy moments can always remind you about the beauty of your life.
Like so many folks, I know that Martin Silegman's challenge was very successful, so perhaps I might enjoy this one as well and heck, it's just one moment every day!

(#64-65 out of thousand ways to have a happy life )