I think one of the most challenging aspects of aging is the growing awareness that our one last breath is drawing nearer with every breath we take. By perforce, that awareness embodies the realization that time is fleeting. It passes quickly – and there’s less time to do the things we want to accomplish, to achieve our dreams, to heal relationships, to change directions – to step joyfully into whatever we see before us.
That pressure of time passing can act as both a deterrent or motivator to making change happen in our lives.
Sometimes, we can fall into the habit of acting out on our belief there’s no point in doing anything. We don’t have enough time to make change happen and we’re too old anyway. Our acting out looks like inaction — but the act of thinking about doing nothing is action in and of itself.
When we choose to believe every breath matters and every breath is an opening into wonder and awe, the possibility of our taking active, committed and passionate steps towards whatever it is we want to achieve or do overrides time’s insistence we keep watch of each passing minute, without doing anything else.
I like to multi-task. Keeping watch of time motivates me to keep doing the things I want to do to add richness, variety, excitement, joy, mystery, wonder and awe into my life.
I’ve lived most of my life like that. Why change now?
There was a time when it was easy (read unconsciously acceptable) for me to believe others knew what was best for me.
I didn’t know my own heart.
With time, patience, deep, deep inner listening, I have come to recognize what my heart knows.
The challenge is always, will I listen? Will I heed its calling? Or, will I succumb to the pressures of the world ‘out there’ and listen to someone else’s heartbeat telling me how to dance?
The original quote for No. 70 in this #ShePersisted Series painting was,
They said, You need to back off and give us a break. We’re doing our best. She said, doing what you think is best for me breaks my heart. You need to back off so I can do what is best for me.
When I showed C.C. the original version his comment was, “Oh. That seems a little aggressive.”
“Which part?” I asked. “What they said or her response?”
“What she said,” he replied.
“Isn’t that interesting,” I replied. “She’s just repeating his words back yet you think her words are aggressive.”
C.C. is a wise man. When he recognizes I’m going in for ‘the kill’ he knows it’s time to hear me. Deeply. He smiled. Nodded his head and said, “Hmmm… Interesting observation.”
Fact is. I don’t believe C.C. would be alone in his observations. I think many of us might think what she said was aggressive without realizing our biases. Even when I first wrote the quote I felt a tingle of discomfort as my critter-mind whispered, “She’s coming on a bit strong Louise.”
And here’s the thing. The #ShePersisted Series isn’t about ‘hitting people over the head with a bludgeon of truth’. It’s about cracking open minds and hearts, even just a little bit, with the obvious clarity of #ShePersisted truths so that new ways, new norms can blossom.
Just because ‘a body of power’ has always dictated someone/some cultural group/some body of colour behave in a certain way, does not mean it’s right or that it works. And, just because a body of power declares they know best how to fix it doesn’t mean that’s what needs to happen.
A body of power only holds power because historically, they’ve claimed it, owned it, preached it, ruled over it.
Shifting that body of power, or expanding it to include everyone, as the case may be, isn’t an easy task. It’s hard to give up what you’ve always had.
But, to create real and lasting change, to accede self-efficacy to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised requires a realization that ‘we’ don’t know what is best for others. Only they know what is on their heart, what they need, what they can do to create better in their world. For change to happen, an existing body of power must let go of believing they know best and let those whose lives have been limited by the rules of prevailing bodies of power for generation after generation find their own paths.
Which brings me to why I change the original version of this painting.
Firstly, I was very unhappy with her face. Faces are hard to paint — for me. I originally created this painting on Friday. I let it sit all weekend until late yesterday when I finally decided I needed to go back in and ‘fix’ it.
In the fixing, I reflected back on C.C.’s comments and decided he had a point. Being aggressive isn’t my style, nor the purpose of the Series. Being assertive. Making my point without name calling or naming names is also part of my vision for the Series.
So… I reworked her face (I’m much happier now). And, I reworked the quote.
And that’s where you come in. I am torn between the two quotes. I’d love your help in figuring out which one works best — sometimes my heart needs a little help to find its right beat.
So… please. Give me your feedback. What do you think? Anyone who comments (either here or on the thread on Facebook) will have their name put in a draw for…The prize… an 11 x 14″ print of No. 11 of the Series OR– 2 cards from available cards on my Etsy Shop – DareBoldlyArt (Winner’s preference.)
The muse and I have been dancing in the field of possibility, creating more quotes and paintings for my #ShePersisted Series.
I love the dance. I love how the muse flows with such ease and grace, encouraging me to cast caution to the wind and let my whole body immerse itself in the songs of my heart. it is a dance of love and joy.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been focused on ‘getting things done’. In particular, the uploading of the last 20 paintings and quotes onto my website.
It didn’t leave much time for dancing (it was a big job!) but it did deliver a lot of satisfaction.
It also gave me the current final painting in the series, No. 69 –
They said, we've always done it this way. It works. She said, your way has never worked for me.
I say ‘current’ because the muse and I love to dance together, and she loves to whisper sweet somethings into my ears. Often, those sweet somethings are new quote ideas for the series.
As well, in looking through the entire body of work, I think I may go back and update some of the visuals. If, and the if is actually an ‘I do’, want to get the series out into the bigger world out there, I need to ensure that each painting reflects my work appropriately in both the message and the art.
And, some of the earlier paintings, especially as I was first stepping into this creative field, are done in a style different than the later works. It makes sense. Given that this series now spans four years, my voice and artistry have evolved as I’ve grown more confident and courageous in its expressions.
Which also makes sense. Do something often enough, with consistency and heart, and your talent/expertise/expression will expand.
It’s like any activity. Shooting hoops. Javelin throwing. Skiing. Writing. Singing.
Do it with consistency and heart, your expertise naturally grows as well as your heart’s capacity to breathe deeper and infuse your physical and emotional efforts with more grace, energy and love.
Ultimately, one of the most vital and exciting things creating the #ShePersisted Series has taught me is… it’s all about heart.
When we put ourselves ‘out there’, when we give our heartfelt and heartful attention to something, our heart grows in its delight of our efforts to dance with wild abandon in the field of our creative expression.
And here’s the thing about ‘heart’. When those who witness whatever it is you’re putting your heart into applaud, cheer you on, encourage you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of the dance living on and on and on. With every swoop of your body, wave of your paintbrush, throwing of a ball, swoosh down a mountainside, the encouragement of others helps to continuously draw you out of the fear ‘you can’t do it’ into that courageous space where you know deep within your heart, not doing it is the greatest risk of all.
It’s an eternal gift of reciprocity. Dive into what pleases your heart and fill your heart up with what brings you alive. In that space joy flows freely between the giver and the receiver.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
Which is at the core of my mantra today… Dive in. Fill up. Dive in. Fill up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I have been exceptionally blessed by the encouragement and support of everyone as this Series has evolved. Thank you. Your comments, high-fives, shares make a world of difference and keep my well of joy overflowing. I am grateful.
To take a look at the entire body of work of the #ShePersisted Series – click HERE.
It is early morning. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I are indulging in our first saunter of the day. Night has slipped into the envelope of eternity that waits at the edge of the far horizon. The sky is pale blue streaked with rose.
The Wolf Moon is high, still visible in night’s lingering caress.
As I walk and Beau sniffs, my mind drifts full of images and thoughts floating. They feel light and buoyant, like the chunks of ice that clog the slow-moving waters of the river below the bridge where I stand to gaze at the moon.
When I come home, I sit down at my computer to write and the words and images that lingered in my mind pour out.
Wolf moon dancing in day's light streaking naked across the sky
Darkness slips silently away, its caress as soft as a lover kissing her beloved adieu.
Love sighs a glorious prayer of gratitude as earth turns her cheek to welcome the sun's passionate kiss.
A dear friend asked me the other day how creativity seemingly just keeps flowing out of me.
I laughed and replied, “I have no idea…” And then after a moment’s reflection replied, “I just accept its presence. I listen to its flow. I don’t question it or criticize its outpourings. I allow them.”
Which is how yesterday’s #ShePersisted painting happened. By allowing it to appear.
I didn’t know what I was going to paint when I began to create a background in my art journal yesterday. I thought I might paint some botanicals and write about the longing for spring that seems to have arrived early in my heart this year. It’s only the end of January and I’m already dreaming of frost-free mornings and buds popping up under the warmth of the sun’s encouragement.
And that ain’t happenin’ yet!
I live at the edge of Rockies, in the land where the plains meet the undulating foothills. Where sky soars forever, and sometimes, so does winter.
We still have 3 months of indeterminate weather. Cold snaps. Polar Vortices. Arctic chills. They’re all in the wind. All a possibility between now and the May 24th weekend when ‘they’ say it’s safe to once again plant gardens.
Painting botanicals seemed like an antidote to the grey on brown world outside.
The muse has other ideas. My creative flow has its own rhythm.
When the inspiration for the #ShePersisted Series of quotes and images began, I thought it would last… just a little while. 1. 2. Maybe 3 paintings. 12 at the most.
Yesterday’s was No. 65. Somewhere between creating the background and writing out what was on my heart, letting myself fall into the flow of creativity rising up from deep within my belly.
No. 65 – #ShePersisted
They said, why must you keep fighting for more. This is all we can give you right now.
She said, I will never stop fighting for my rights until you stop holding onto the rights that are rightfully mind.
This morning, the quote for No. 66 appeared. I wasn’t expecting it or looking for it, but there it was, streaming out of the thoughts that appeared from the words I felt rising up while I stood on the bridge. I almost did a happy dance when the quote wrote itself out.
And…. here’s a ‘teaser’ – “They said, stop shining so bright. She said, I am made of stardust. I am Star Woman shining bright so you can see in the dark.“
I can already envision the imagery and energy of the piece. I feel the essence of the Star Woman shining.
And that’s the thing about the muse. When we listen, she flows freely. When we allow the force of her flow to draw us out of our comfort zones, we fall with abandon into the waters of creative expression flowing wild and free.
There is a difference between being told, “You can’t do that” and doing it because you want to prove the nay-sayer wrong, and being told, “You can’t do that” and doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
The difference is found in your motivation.
Doing it because you want to prove someone wrong often arrives with an attitude of rebellion and defiance. Rebellion and defiance can be great motivators, as long as they are not driven by the ego’s desire to ‘be right’ rather than ‘do right’.
Doing it because it’s the right thing to do, even when people tell you that you can’t, is grounded in the belief that listening to the fears and limiting beliefs that lay at the heart of other’s beliefs on what can or cannot be done to change the world will only create a world of inaction.
Listening to the things that call your heart alive and doing them because they’re the right thing to do, can transform the world into a better place for everyone. Because, at the cornerstone of doing the right thing is complete faith in the principles of integrity. Fairness for all. Dignity. Trust. Kindness and the transformative power of Love.
Of course, if you set your mind to do something, block out all the nay-sayers and put your head down and work hard, you will most likely do it.
But, if you do not ask yourself questions like ‘Why am I doing this?” or “What’s the cost of doing it ‘my way’?” you risk losing your integrity or causing harm to others and/or the planet because you’re ‘doing it’ is grounded in ego.
When you ask yourself the tough questions, like, “Am I doing this to prove other’s wrong or because I believe it’s the right thing to do?” you create space for integrity, fairness, dignity and kindness to grow.
And when you dig even deeper by asking yourself, “Do I believe it is the right thing to do with all my heart?” you create space for your heart’s awakening.
And when the heart awakens, doing the right thing becomes the thing you not only can do, it becomes the thing you must do.
We can all do the right things. For the sake of humanity and lall ife on this planet we call our home, we must. The world depends on us.
My mother often feared for my safety. Not because I was a thrill-seeker or purposefully did ‘dangerous’ things – though I did love to ski fast and swim deep and climb mountains and… okay, drive fast too — but to me, they never felt dangerous. Okay, well, maybe climbing mountains did while I was on the way up or down, but at the top? All danger vanished in the exhilaration of being atop a mountain seeing the beauty and wonder of the world spread out before me.
My mother wanted me to take the safe path. To keep to the well-known trails and to not deviate from what she knew would keep me out of what she perceived to be ‘harm’s way’.
I didn’t like her path. I wanted to create my own.
I’d love to say that I did it with grace and ease. But, the fact is, there were many, many bumps in the road. There were countless bruises and scrapes from falling down and knocking into things I didn’t see because I was walking around with my eyes closed. And, there were mistakes I made again and again because I kept thinking it was someone else’s fault, instead of seeing I was causing my fall because I kept thinking that if a road had a different name, it would be a different journey.
It took me a long time to realize that no matter what road I was on, the one person who was always there with me was me, myself and I. If I didn’t believe in myself, if I lacked confidence in my ability to choose the right path for me, or if I chose to turn a blind eye to the curves ahead or the potholes in my way, it didn’t matter if the road was well-travelled or well-lit. If my eyes were closed, or my heart shut down, or my senses turned off, I was bound to fall down.
Learning to believe in myself, to walk with my eyes and heart wide-open, has been a life-long journey. Learning to trust that I am my best friend and life coach and guide, still takes practice. Learning to listen to my heart, my gut, my intuition and all my senses, to ‘feel’ the world around me is part of learning to navigate this life in my own creative way.
November Woman is a reminder that no matter what path we’re on, if we’re on it because we think it’s easier to ‘just go with the flow’ of other’s choices and ideas, then we’re bound to feel the disappointments and ennui of not living our life to the fullest. She wants us to remember we are not born to live in the shadows of someone else’s light. We are born to shine. Bright. Fierce. Brilliant.
Life is not a guarantee of easy. It’s an invitation to explore paths unknown, to trust in ourselves and to walk with integrity, humility, kindness and Love as our guiding lights.
My mother always wanted to keep me safe.
For me, being safe isn’t about what path I’m on, it’s about trusting myself enough to light every path I’m on with the values she taught be. About the importance of kindness. The goodness of humanity. And above all, the power of Love to transform darkness and light.
Let us all carry belief in ourselves, belief in humanity and belief in the power of Love. Let us all light up the world with loving-kindness and the courage to be ourselves in a world that celebrates our differences and the many paths we take to create a better world for everyone.
The moon hangs high in the morning sky above the horizon bruised rose and violet by the sun’s awakening rays.
The air is crisp. The river runs past, its surface gunmetal grey tinted with the soft mauve reflection of the morning sky above. The trees sway in a gentle morning breeze as gracefully as Sufi turning round and round to the soft melodic chants of ancient verses wafting in the air around them.
And the earth keeps spinning.
And we keep breathing and taking, breathing and taking as if the largesse of Mother Earth will go one for eternity.
Go on and on and on.
Not if we keep treating Mother Earth’s gifts as ours to take and plunder and abuse.
We need Mother Earth to survive. She is not just our home. She is the home of every organism, every creature, every sentient and insentient being on this planet.
We must take care of her. We must act like guests on the planet. Not like we own her. Because we don’t. No one and no one thing owns Mother Earth. She is our host and hostess. She is our conduit around the sun every year. Our purveyor of all things wonderful and marvellous in our world.
We do not own Mother Earth.
Instead of taking whatever we want, whenever we want, lets sing a song of gratitude. Let’s give thanks for this wondrous planet that supports all of life without discrimination, without judgment.
Instead of abusing her, let’s change our ways and dig deep into our hearts to become the change we want to see in the world – Sustainability. Longevity. In all life. All things. All ways.
Our very breath depends upon it. And the lives of our grandchildren’s children depend on our changing our ways too.
Now. Forever. And Always.
I have a limited number of #ShePersisted 2021 Desk Calendars left in my Etsy Shop. To order yours, please click HERE, or message me if you have questions or prefer to send an etransfer. Free Shipping in Canada. Get it in time for Christmas!
When someone states the obvious, and it’s meant to deride or mock, one of the best responses is to acknowledge it’s true, and move on.
Taking umbrage is the pain of the insecure. It reveals discomfort with being who you are, fiercely, fearlessly, authentically.
As the saying goes, “If ya’ got it. Flaunt it!”
And the transformative power of attitude is not to be denied. There is no need to defend your true self or try to tone it down. Celebrate it. Dance with it. Let it show up bright and shiny in the world. Anyway, acting like you’ve just received a compliment when someone says something as ambiguous as the statement, “You’ve got attitude,” is a much better defence than getting all defensive.
Attitude, like weather, is always present. And while it might feel good to get angry at the wind or to tell the snow in July it’s out of season, the weather will always be what the weather is. Itself.
So too with attitude. It is not to be shirked, nor hidden, nor denied. Especially if its purpose is to propel you on your path to changing the world for the better.
Every morning ask yourself, “What attitude fits me best today?”
Warrioress. Priestess. Defender of the people. Peace-maker. Righteous goddess. Quiet acolyte. Gentle heart. Disciple of Truth. Fierce celebrant of life…
Wear that. Wear it with pride, purpose, passion. You won’t wear it out, though you might just wear out those who would bring you down, or want to spoil your day with unbidden comments designed to stop you in your tracks and keep you from doing whatever it takes to bring your best to the world today.
Because, seriously, the statement “You’ve got attitude,” contains a river of passive-aggressiveness meant to drown out your voice and keep you in your place (that place being where ‘they’ think you ought to be.)
Live your attitude. The world needs you, your voice and your attitude to rise above the fray so that together we can create a better world for everyone.
When the ship is going in the wrong direction, you can’t change course without making waves.
You gotta rock the boat to stay off the rocks. Especially if those rocks loom closer and closer.
Holding steady when you’re sailing towards the rocks is not a good plan. You gotta rock the boat to stay off the rocks. You gotta change course.
July Woman is a reminder making waves is not about ‘playing safe’. It’s about creating a safer course for all humanity to find calm waters and safe harbor in all kinds of weather.
She’s the Warrioresses cry to stand up, be heard and to let your courage draw you out of fear. Fear will only drown you in its insistence that rocking the boat will cause you to fall overboard. Courage gives you the confidence to know that falling overboard isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Drowning in apathy, ennui, despair and desperation is.
There was a time when the question, “Who do you think you are?” felt scary. Like I was somehow failing a life test that I didn’t even know I was taking. In those days, I felt I had to behave the way others expected if I was to be accepted into ‘the club’ of incomprehensible rules that were often unwritten but seemed to be somehow intuited by everyone else but me.
Life. Time. Falls. Summits. Fogs and frostbite. Found confidence. Lost fears. Attitude shifts. Perspective gained… Whatever the source, I have stepped out from the shadows of believing other people’s opinions of me matter most.
It was deadly. That worrying about what other people thought of what I was doing, the choices I made, the directions I took. It caused me pain. Confusion. Angst. Dissatisfaction. Uncertainty. Self-doubt.
Now I know the opinion that matters most to me is mine. Just as your opinion of yourself and what you’re doing matters most to you.
I’ve always kind of had a sense that this was important. But conditioning, environment, social constructs play a role in life.
For me, that role was to appear as a people pleaser on the outside all the while feeling defiant and angry on the inside.
Which left me constantly unsettled. And lying. To myself and to others.
A simple example… When asked, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” I’d often say, “I’m easy. I don’t care.”
I didn’t respond that way because I didn’t have a preference. It was because I was too afraid if I said what I preferred or wanted, I’d get shot down or someone would try to change my mind and the angst of what I perceived as displeasing someone by not changing my mind to suit theirs was debilitating.
The lie was in my silence and my non-committal attitude that constantly grated against my desire to be strong and truthful.
I can remember when my liberation from lies and acquiescence for the sake of ‘keeping the peace’ really took form.
It was in a therapy session in my early thirties. To illuminate just how debilitating and dishonest my need to please was, my therapist posed a hypothetical.
“It’s a hot summer’s day,” he said. “You want an ice cream. What flavor do you choose?”
I didn’t have to think about it long. “A lemon gelato.”
“I think you should get a chocolate one. It’s my favourite,” he responded.
“But, I really like lemon and it’s so refreshing.”
“Maybe. But chocolate is so yummy. Don’t tell me you don’t like chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate.”
I hesitated. I wasn’t all that fond of chocolate ice cream but it seemed easier to agree. “Sure I do.”
“Then why not have a chocolate one!”
I sighed. “But ice cream is so full of calories and gelato isn’t as bad.”
He laughed. “But it’s hot out and you deserve a treat, don’t you?”
And on and on it went. My justifying my choice. Him challenging me.
Finally, as I launched into another justification for my choice, he stopped me and said. “Do you see what’s going on here Louise?”
“I want lemon gelato and you think I should have a chocolate ice cream?”
“Bigger than that…”
I looked at him in confusion.
“Who cares what I want or think Louise? It’s your gelato. Your choice.”
And that’s when the truth hit me like a snowball getting the hell out of Dodge.
I spent a lot of time justifying my choices, my thoughts, my decisions, my ideas because I didn’t want people to think… well…. the truth is… I didn’t want people to know I had a mind of my own.
That would have been dangerous. With a mind of my own, I could become an outcast. An outlier. An unwanted.
I am forever grateful for that therapist and his love of chocolate ice cream.
Cultivating my courage to speak up, nurturing ‘the audacity’ to stand true to myself and letting go of worrying about other people’s opinions of me has been a life-long journey.
It gets easier with practice.
And always, the more practiced I become in standing in my truth and staying unattached to the outcome (including the opinion of others), the more I find myself growing wild and free.
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