The Problem with Shoulding Yourself

should comparisonI’ve been shoulding on myself. It’s a nasty, stinky, embarrassing business. It took me well into adulthood to break this filthy habit, and I thought I was finished with the whole, ugly mess.

But, no.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” said Theodore Roosevelt. He was wise in so many ways. Life Hacker explores it further here.

My intellect is convinced comparison is the perfect way to verify my progress, validate my work and move forward. What kind of drooling, slack-jawed logic is that? (Click to Tweet)

For instance, if I were producing cutting edge work, creating never before seen,  mind-blowing and history-making art, who would validate that? My hubs would, for sure…but probably no one else. Being the weak-minded, approval seeking artist I am, I’d probably stop what I was doing, hang my head in shame, strike a match and burn the canvasses.

 NO!

I know better. Picasso painted shit sometimes. For me, it’s time to regroup, re-set the compass and follow one of my guiding principles… again…

Yeah, I do realize the irony here. Ahem…moving right along…

  • I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I should paint soley to please others.
  • I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I should paint solely to make money (though, I still welcome monetary appreciation).
  • I will not utter the word or entertain the thought I SHOULD be doing more, or differently, or like “X.” Art is an
    Comparison
    “New England Polaroid” Courtesy of Micah Crandall Bear

    expression of who we are. If you told me to write differently, I’d tell you to stick it right up your own “shoulder.” (um, that’s should-er…not shoulder. Everyone’s a critic).

The creative process is a freeing, often joyful, venting of the soul. How can creativity truly take flight when you’re desperately trying to follow rules set by society, groups and the muckity-mucks? They all have different opinions. The very nature of striving to please others completely interferes with the process.  When we compare ourselves to others, or even compare our previous work to our current work, it can cause issues. If worrying about the measurements doesn’t impact our work, it is apt to affect commitments we’ve made to ourselves. That being said, we do need to employ methods to move forward and grow. But, not at the expense of our art itself.

A friend, Micah Crandall-Bear, whose work I simply adore, recently posted this quote:

should comparison

 Thank you for sharing the quote, Micah. It gave me the permission I needed. Someday I should be lucky to paint

just. like. you.

Crud!  I guess everyone’s entitled to a slip now and then.

 Keep it Clean!

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Special thanks to Micah Crandall-Bear for his generosity and sharing an image of his incredible work and Andy Warhol’s quote. He can be found at www.micahcrandallbear.com 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

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Priming the Pump

Creative Inspiration PumpIt can take a while to prime the pump. Inspiration flows, but not as reliably as the city water district. We can’t count on it to make our artistic endeavors more palatable. Other times creativity flows as if a dam burst. We don’t have a big enough bucket to capture it all and some of its precious droplets sadly slip through our fingers. If we’re blessed, we find ourselves in a steady flow and creative inspiration trickles in like a pristine, mountain stream…and we drink, and we drink, and we drink. Drunk with creative inspiration. It’s a giddy condition and you never get hungover (click to Tweet).

I’ve advised plenty of coaching clients, “If you’re thirsty, don’t go to the empty well.” That’s a metaphor…but duh! We often seek answers in places we already know will offer no solution. Why do human beings do that? Stupidly hopeful or arrogantly believing  we can force others to change? It doesn’t work. If you’re thirsty, go to the water.

I just spent 3 days in drought-torn Northern California (really, that is not a metaphor) with 9 extraordinary people. Some were professional artists and some didn’t realize they are artists, but we all are, you know? They gathered from many corners to find themselves, prospect a bit of inspiration and learn how to take broken mosaic pieces and create a whole piece of beautiful inspiration. It was my “Making Magic in 2014 – Beginning Mosaic Workshop.” And as always, being the teacher, I learned so much.

Creative Inspiration
Mosaic Courtesy of
Gwen Day

The first day we primed the pump. We gave ourselves plenty of time and prompts to “think” about things. We thought about ourselves, our futures, messages, design, colour and space. We took full advantage of a “creative pause,” because those who believe they work best under pressure are…I believe…often crushed with pressure and, like a diamond, they have to be dug out before they can shine. 

By the middle of the second day, students were eyeballs deep into the creative process. The only doubts were about the technical aspects of their work. They were clear on the message that inspired them.

The question is this…

How do you handle inspiration? Do you honor the creative pause before you get started? Do you wait for the cosmic 2×4 to whack you upside the head? What happens when your once fertile, creative soil begins to fracture and desiccate? Do you stop, assume the fetal position and cry? Or, do you courageously push forward knowing eventually your thirst will be slaked? Do you get depressed and binge on Oreos, watching mindless television? Are you my beloved reader who hasn’t picked up the brush in 2 years? Afraid? Don’t flog yourself! You have the power to fix it!

If you find yourself in a creative drought, you might catch a couple rain showers here. If you’re drinking inspiration from a fire hose, get a journal and record your ideas and give thanks and praise for the abundance! Create a little space each day for your muse. Treat her kindly and she will reciprocate. (click to Tweet)

Feel free to share ways you pursue the hunt for creativity here, in the comments, you predator, you. Or, if you’re starving, ask for help. That’s what communities are for. May it rain on your plain regularly!

Stay Thirsty, My Friends! (but not too thirsty)

Coaching

 

 

 

Mosaic piece by Gwen Day – who fought through a migraine headache to complete it. Find her at  www.gwenday.ca

If you are an artist who would like to have your work featured on my blog, please send me a quality image with a note of your permission.  If it is selected for an appropriate topic, I’ll use your image and link it to the site of your choosing.

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their dreams by Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them improve productivity and cultivate productive behaviours.

  Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

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Old Friends

Last weekend my public studio space was open for our local city art event. Lots of interesting people pass through…all great admirers of art…or at least admirers of the cheese, crackers and, let’s face it, probably the wine.

Old Friends
Photo Courtesy of Dianne Poinski Photography

A quiet, young woman came through with her significant other. She silently viewed the studio. She saw a favourite poem I‘d posted on the wall and it sparked  a conversation about the art and the poem. “I’m a poet,” she proudly declared. “Would you like to hear one of my poems?”

Heck yeah! She proceeded to blow me away with a poem about “Blue.” Then, she recited another and had me fully enthralled, under her spell. Her countenance changed as she “took her stage” and recited words that flowed like honey. How un-mistakenly beautiful to, once again, be in the presence of words that touched the soul with their raw honesty and stunning imagery.

There are old friends we sometimes forget. Friends like snorkeling, or poetry, or watercoloured landscapes. Friends like riding a bike, or skateboarding, or writing a poem, or breathing life into a treasured family recipe. Things we’ve left behind, for no certain reason, we’ve just moved on to other interests.  Like most old friends, reuniting feels like you’ve never been apart.

Lately I’ve had a yearning to go out in the morning with my camera and take some nature shots. At this point, people who know me are likely to have me committed. I’m not a morning person. Sometimes you get up early for old friends (click to Tweet).

I remember writing poetry myself, years ago. I threw them away…never keeping them for later. Like my paintings, usually once it’s “out” I have no need or attachment for an ongoing relationship. My artworks – they’re all one just night stands (click to Tweet).

Where are your old friends? Who are they? Are they near? Do you hear them beckoning in that space between consciousness and dream time as you drift off to sleep? Maybe it’s time to consider a reunion.

Sweetest Dreams, 

Coaching

 
 
 

Photograph of Ice Skates – Courtesy of Dianne Poinsky Photography. Find her at www.diannepoinski.com

If you are an artist who would like to have your work featured on my blog, please send me a quality image with a note of your permission.  If it is selected for an appropriate topic, I’ll use your image and link it to the site of your choosing.

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their dreams by Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them improve productivity and cultivate productive behaviours.

  Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Don’t Push, Folks!

I don’t like pushy people.Pushy people

And, I don’t think it’s just me that feels that way.

Last week someone struck me as “pushy” and it set off a chain reaction. I’m not a spineless wimp…people who know me well will attest that I have a “mind of my own.” I’ve scrimmaged in the corporate shark tank, occasionally swimming away the spoils (click to Tweet). But, it is not in my nature to continually vie for my way. When I see other people doing it, I am often embarrassed for them. I certainly empathize with the poor soul who must “deal” with them. It’s just one reason I love my creative community. Many are deep thinking, deep feeling people. They tend to be self-aware and not pushy…not very often.

Last week I felt pushed. I was also in the mood to explore it a bit further, so I pitched a public question. “Complete the sentence – Pushy people are…..” It set off a firestorm.

  • Obnoxious
  • Drive me nuts
  • Need to be pulled
  • Cannot control their own lives
  • Make great shopping card retrievers
  • Are scared

Wait! Scared? That remark stoked my philosophical fire.

After a deep dive into the subject of strident “me-ism” I came to the following conclusion. This is my understanding of “pushy” – yours may vary:

“Pushy is, as pushy does.” Maybe it has more to do with the exchange of energy. For whatever reason (insecurity, fear) the pushy person has more energy around their action or response than the receiver. We then “perceive” this as pushy. If we don’t have enough energy to engage in the conversation, to respectfully discuss, to disarm, we then feel pushed. It’s all imagined. We are responsible to uphold our own boundaries. If I’m too tired or lazy (let’s face it, when the energy is low, that’s what it is) to engage in a conversation because it requires energy I’m unwilling to give, labeling them as “pushy” is a cop out. We can all be pushy if it’s important enough to us.

Some people have been rewarded for their nervy behaviour. Many might agree, this encourages them to push harder, push more often. As a coach, I’ve often observed clients overuse a strategy that has worked for them in the past. If it quits working, they may continue to employ it with an added, over-assertive push. Bad news.

Others have been shoved by the insistent pusher and swear off assertiveness. They recoil at the thought of being perceived as brash or  pushy and may not pursue their desires. They hold back, eventually loosing their courage. They lose their voice; grow resentful.

The perfect balance lies somewhere in between.

Aggressive pursuit is undoubtedly fueled by emotion, perceived value and is topic specific. Sometimes you need to push. Sometimes you need to give. Sometimes you simply need to understand (click to Tweet).

Difficult People - By Noel Sandino
Difficult People – By Noel Sandino

What about you?

Do you overuse, or underuse this behaviour? Are you getting everything you want while those around you are accommodating you? Are you finding people avoid you? Are you resentful of those who get what they want? Feel they’ll drain you dry? Have you lost your voice?

I think it’s worth at least a brief examination. Achieving your goals is important, but at the end of the day, our lives are built on a series of relationships (click to Tweet). A good balance of both is essential for the fulfillment and connectedness we all crave. And, when we see someone going off the rails, the best strategy may be to proceed without judgment, engage them in dialogue when our energy is high, and seek a mutually acceptable (or at least understood) answer.

Please, don’t push folks, there’s enough for everyone!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor
ones

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Get to Work!

productivity art distractionsStep Away from the Vacuum Cleaner!

Or the laundry, or the landscaping, or walking the dog, or fixing the light in the back yard or whatever.

Solo-preneurs and creatives have a lot of freedom with their schedules. Sometimes, customers, galleries, shows or collectors will demand deadlines with structure, but most of the time it’s a free floating extravaganza of unbridled days. That flexibility was part of what attracted us to the job in the first place. To tell the truth, a lot people are unable to deal with this type of freedom. Some of you get “distracted.” Here comes the tough talk, so put on your big girl panties, or big boy boxers (tighty-whiteys…I’ve got nothin’) and admit it…much of the time….

 The inmate is running the asylum.

I understand the Road to Hell was paved with good intentions, really, I do. There’s one concept that may help keep you from reaching that destination. There’s one factor we sometimes forget to take into account –

Life happens regardless of your calendar and intentions. (click to Tweet)

Homes and children continue to require maintenance. Those “emergencies” that rear their heads do not take your “schedule” into account. Those pressing items that need your attention, which are not your “work” are most often manufactured between your ears. Hear me – You hereby have PERMISSION TO DO YOUR WORK.

When I teach executives Time Management, I always emphasize scheduling only 60% of the day because STUFF happens. They schedule things they MUST do and magically, the rest of the calendar gets filled. These men and women have to get it done, because, unlike you, they have direct oversight and written objectives to meet. If they don’t take care of business, their bosses will force them to stare at a free floating extravaganza of unbridled days, and they can’t even paint!

Whoa, I digress.

So, here you are with empty hands. The time comes to show your stuff and you stand in front of the crowd with excuses, a sad, sad face and empty hands. Or, you’ve generously donated so much of your work time that your work has not reached the level you had hoped. It’s not the best you could have done. So sad.

Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear.”   ~ Julia Cameron

 Generally, two things will derail your good intentions for getting your work done. Fear and fear. (click to Tweet)

Either you’re afraid to do it and make excuses because you may fail. Or you’re afraid to say “no” to other people’s requests because you feel selfish and won’t guard your productivity time properly.

Productive artist
Robert Burridge in the Studio

When we begin to elevate our creative work and make it a priority, children survive, floors eventually get cleaned, underwear can be worn more than twice (I did NOT just say that), and life goes on without us hovering over it.

Your work is your passion, your dream. You are privileged to have this opportunity that so many others do not get, and you are obligated to honor it. I encourage you to say, “no” to things you don’t have to do in order to get done what you MUST. (click to Tweet).

So as we begin this year anew, take control of your life. Set your goals. Claim your time on the calendar. Develop the self control to say “no” and get the work done. Develop muscle where you are weak in your work. Seek teachers. Get support from other artists. Do not be complacent. No distractions. You get to work, so…

Get to Work!

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Special Thanks for Kate and Robert Burridge for permission to use the photo – isn’t he all cute and colourful? Super fun classes, too. Find him at www.robertburridge.com
Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor ones.

 Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Ready for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!