Do Nothing, It Can Mean Everything

I’m not the kind of girl who can sit around doing nothing all day. I know some people thrive on their downtime, and I vacationdon’t judge you for that, really I don’t. It’s just not me.  So, when my 8 day vacation drew near, I began to panic about how I’d  how I’d ratchet back and…well….do nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Intellectually, I knew it was time. I’ve been in high gear for several months. I planned and worked very hard to get “all caught up” for my do nothing phase. I still couldn’t justify it; not really, because I love what I do and it doesn’t “feel” like work. (Click to Tweet)

The thought of unplugging, unarting, “just being,” frankly, seemed a little scary and a lot  b-o-r-i-n-g. So, rather than just blow the idea off, I decided to do a little research, hoping to convince myself it was a good idea, after all, the tickets were already purchased.

I learned it’s sort of a “disease” in America, the way we fail to take time off to recharge. Some places even look down upon a break from work. I remember that from the corporate days. Once, in my previous life, my boss yelled across a parking lot, “This ain’t no country club, Andres!” as I snuck out from work an hour early. Read more about our psychologically disturbed nation here.

Then, I stumbled upon a found a slightly stale, but still relevant, blog from 2011 <snicker> that claims being in the moment is healthy for a brain and visiting unfamiliar places helps people gain perspective – whatever. You can read it here….if you’re so inclined.

Finally, I bumped into this little ditty from Scientific America – which seems like a pretty reputable media rag to me. This article supports meditation, nature walks and retreats as regular practices of exceptional athletes and ARTISTS! Yep, that kind of got my attention. You mean doing nothing can help me do something better? I should take note.

So, in my typical fashion I planned a meditative retreat. I planned to do a little sketching. I wrote part of a blog ahead of time, I played with the thought of unplugging form electronic devices for 8 – count ‘em – 8 days. Usually, I consider an art retreats or workshops a break, but this holiday promised to be different. This would be a real “disconnecting” from my normal routine and daily activities. This would give me a change to gain perspective, recharge my creative battery and reclaim my center.

Vacation with FriendsSooooo…..I went on vacation. I met fascinating people. I saw places I’d never been. I made new friends. I laughed, drank and ate too much. I walked, did a little yoga. I didn’t sketch, meditate or spend much time on social media. I enjoyed the richness of acceptance as a new group of fascinating and wonderful people welcomed us into the fold.  One of the most touching moments I experienced was being present for a memorial and scattering of ashes belonging to someone who had founded the group, but recently passed. The experience drove home the fact that 

This is a person I’ll never have the privilege to meet, and despite that fact I have learned from his generosity, spirit and the way he lived his life. The lessons were profound, really….and this experience came from a vacation.

The benefits of taking breaks from our work are enormous. Not only do we get an opportunity to unwind and recharge, but may gain so much more. Sometimes we get a deeper understanding of the things that matter most in life. Our work is important, but so are the connections we make to one another, the character we cultivate in our lifetimes and the perspective we have about others who share our world. These are the kinds of things always seem to come when we aren’t looking for them.

Do Nothing, It Can Mean Everything,

Coaching

 

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

                          Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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Spring Cleaning

Previously posted as “The Urge to Purge.”  This post has been modified a bit because you might need a reminder to clean up your stuff….especially if you just suffered through last year’s tax mess!

Clutter

You have it. That “stuff”  you leave in your wake, the constant reminder there is unfinished business, loose ends, a Cleaning Cluttermess, you’re not perfect.

Well, guess what? You’re not perfect. I like you that way. I like me that way, too. Our imperfection is proof of the human condition (click to Tweet).

That clutter, though…it blocks the creative spirit. It clogs the flow of new ideas, prosperity, harmony. Clutter sucks. It comes in various forms. There’s the physical clutter…on your desk, your dresser, the kitchen counter. It’s unsightly and makes you feel….ick. Too much makes it hard to breathe.

Clutter also comes in the emotional form. The figurative toilet paper you drag around on your shoe.(click to Tweet). It rears its head as worries you have about what you can’t control or an off-handed, insensitive comment someone made. Comparison to other people, their work, their accomplishments, their opportunities, their opinions, their stuff. Their CLUTTER! Clutter envy…gawd! 

Gutter clutter. That’s right! In. Your. Gut. From the movie popcorn, late night ice cream, stress cheeseburgers. You know you do it…occasionally. You clutter your God-given temple with junk…to make yourself feel better. To relieve the emotional clutter. And it stays. Fatty deposits on your thighs, hips, belly. You pollute your body the same way you do your office, your studio, your mind.

There are so many types of clutter. Concept clutter. Financial clutter (better known as debt). Obligatory clutter (say “no” much?). Clutter occurs when we fail to take care of OUR business as we should. We do not make it a priority to keep our lives, bodies, environment clean. Guilt is clutter…so, please, don’t feel guilty about this. You’ll just add to the clutter. And as cluttered as we are, we certainly don’t want to be, ahem, HORDERS!

The clutter is okay. We are human. We clutter, but we also organize. Ewwww, that’s a bad “O” word, isn’t it? But, for the pain organization causes, albeit temporarily, organizing also creates a freedom. A clarity. A knowing – especially a knowing of where we put stuff!

So, how to manage?

First, make sure you have the tools to do the job. It depends upon what you aim to declutter. You may need file folders. A therapist. A nutrionist. A coach (I am one). A personal trainer. A dumpster. So, decide what you’re cleaning up and get the right tools. Create a system. Identify a “Home” for your stuff, a home where you’ll be able to find it upon demand. Create a system you LIKE. This is important. If the system is too complex or laborious, you’ll avoid using it.  Got it? Good!!!

Clean clutterReady to get to work? If you’re a heavy clutterer, try one step at a time. It’s kind of like a 12-Step program for clutterers. If it’s easier for you, 15 minutes a day of decluttering. Start with the most obvious clutter. Seeing progress will be encouraging and you’ll gain momentum. If you’re bringing in reinforcements, like a professional organizer, a therapist, or a nutritionist, they can help you work this through.

If you’re the warrior type, you may choose to simply plow through the clutter. I tend to execute this way. Just take your medicine. It’s a bitter pill, but it CURES! I find plowing easiest because the process is fast. I don’t linger over each “object” and its fate because I build some momentum, which drives the process. Put on some rockin’ tunes, put your head down, GO!

If you’d like a specific model for executing each piece of clutter, please click here, and “Join the Tribe,” you may even want to “Like” the page while you’re there! You’ll get a lovely, simple document that helps you keep it simple – just for joining the “Tribe.” As you touch each piece of clutter, you’ll have an automatic, pre-ordained answer.

As a general rule, if you haven’t used something for over a year, it’s junk. UNLESS IT’S TAX RELATED. Keep business documents in a banker box…you know…just in case.  Label it with the year. Also, clutter that is not emotionally charged is easier to deal with. Address that stuff first. If you’re dealing with emotionally charged or “memory” clutter, the plow method works to build some rhythm. That way you won’t agonize over each object – at least not as much as you could.Organized 4 ever

Clean house! It feels good. It creates a path for new possibilities, mental clarity, abundance. It leaves you light and free. It creates a harmonious space for your to relax, enjoy life, employ audacious creativity.

Afterwards – Now, you have a system, please use it EVERYDAY to maintain your clutter free life. You may slip from time to time, and that’s okay. You’re human. But take care of your business – you deserve this! It’s spring…do your cleaning!

Keep it Tidy!

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

                          Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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Don’t Touch the Money!

 

Expectations

“Don’t touch the money!” There’s a saying I’ve heard from golfers, especially when things are looking particularly promising. “Don’t touch the money” is the warning.

I’m an artist and my husband is a golfer. There are many parallels between the two endeavors. Sometimes, at our dinner table, we banter about golf and art…truth. Consider this:

Technical Skill  –  Swing vs. Stroke

Innate Skill  –  Athleticism vs. Creativity

Mental Game –  Both require courage and a good dose of faith

Dry Spells –   I’m a spaz vs. I’m a spaz

The Journey – Both improve with practice and you can’t be further along than you are.

Happy Accidents  – Hole in one vs . Wow!!! How the Hell did I do that???

Anyhou, when playing an important golf match, it’s important not to get too sure of your skill. You think you may “win?” Don’t touch the money…don’t for one second assume you have it in the bag, because that is precisely when you pull your putt…or in the case of art…blow a large painting.

This week, I stepped back into painting joyful abstracts. I had a great thing going; you know how it is. You’re stroking the ball…er…brushstrokes are going down quite nicely.  A well-intentioned admirer steps into your studio and gazes at your piece in process. You are happily working away, your mind is free, you’re in the flow then, they utter the words of doom.

“I think that will be the best work you’ve done to date.”

Dammit! NO!!!  In my case, I didn’t actually touch the money,  but with encouraging words and undying support, my admirer opened the purse and jingled the gold – RIGHT IN MY FACE.

With that comment the stakes changed. My outlook changed. Mostly, my attitude changed.  I began to push my will all over that canvas (click to Tweet). In a moment, I was out the zone and standing staunchly in the “mine field of expectation.” BOOM! Every stroke. BAM! With each brush stroke I hammered home the possibilities of what could and clearly would not be. My painting was being dismembered focal point by focal point…stroke by stroke – HA! That was a golf pun!!!

“Golf and art are such delicate, mental endeavors that you cannot dare touch the money lest you end up a pauper.” (click to Tweet)

We may find ourselves in a deep pit, a fitful, homicidal, canvas burning rage (or is that just me?) – trying desperately to get back to where we were before; most often, to no avail.

When this happens my best advice it to stop. Our emotions show through clearly in our work. Trying too hard? Stop. Frustrated? Stop. I know it sounds cliché, but tomorrow is another day.

A set of freshly rested eyes can work wonders. A more relaxed attitude serves us well. In the scheme of things, it’s one painting, one round of golf. It doesn’t have to be our legacy. That will happen when we aren’t trying quite so hard. Because, whether you are aware of it or not, the way you live your life is creating your legacy. (click to Tweet that, too). Don’t touch the money and the riches will come in full.

You Are Already Wealthy, 

Coaching

 

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

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The Art of Acceptance

Acceptance“There’s a tightening that comes with the proficiency we achieve in whatever it is we do.” (click to Tweet)

We’re a lot like children, still…and I think it’s precious. Have you ever noticed how when you’re attracted to something new, if it’s something you adore, you attack it with zeal? There’s a pure joy in the simple act of “doing it.” It’s fresh and you’re simply in the moment, savoring your passion. Art is like that. So is golf or dance or writing. I’m sure you can fill in the blank regarding a passion you’ve had and you will see, in its infancy it’s free and fresh and fun.

Eventually, the vile voice of the critic creeps in the crack of the door, when you aren’t looking. Suddenly, like Adam and Eve, you realize you are naked and ashamed. You’ve eaten from the tree of knowledge. Now, you know, it isn’t good enough, you didn’t do it like last time and the bitter taste of expectation begins to taint your joyful journey.  Yep, you’ve lost your innocence. And. It. Happens.

When I taught adult learning theory to trainers, I used to teach the Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition. It looks like this:

Learning Self-Acceptance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there is a path, a process that only time and experience can account for. As we continue to be active in our passion, our perception of the value of our work changes. This is how it’s supposed to be. Though, I’ve noticed, with art, it can change my relationship to not only the work itself, but my daily working of it as well. The judgment gets in the way. The expectation raises the bar. The joy of it can be zapped if I don’t manage myself around the process.

That being said, it’s in direct opposition of the idea of art itself. Art is expressive, and fresh, compelling and different. Art provokes emotion and thought. Art tells stories. Sometimes, as novices, we strive to make art like everyone else, for approval, so we know we are “in the lines” but as artists, we’re supposed to create new lines, tell our own stories. It’s a paradox.

Perhaps we can leverage the Dreyfus model, not only to help us understand ourselves, but also teach, mentor and support others. When you shine a light on what’s coming, it’s not nearly so scary and it makes us feel warm and fuzzy to be validated. Remember the sisterhood of childbirth? The brotherhood of sportsmanship? This is precisely why community is so important for artists. 

I was reminded of this yesterday when I read this in “Art and Fear  – Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles and Ted Orland :

“On both intellectual and technical grounds it’s wise to remain on good terms with our artistic heritage, lest you devote several incarnations to re-inventing the wheel. But once having allowed for that, the far greater danger is not that the artist will fail to learn something from the past, but fail to teach anything new to the future.”

 So, dear souls, there you have it. Embrace the joy, feed your curious novice well as the proficient expert grows. Do the brave thing, not the safe thing. Just do art.

Be Brave, Be Naked,

Coaching

 

 
 
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. 
 
                          Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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