Mind Your Manures

manure IMy mind is fertile. Even in childhood, I was the one with my head in the clouds, dreaming, scheming, generating ideas and questioning the world.

Fertile minds can work for us or against us. It depends upon the fertilizer, really (click to Tweet).

A mind full of dung generates steaming, fetid, heaping piles of shit. Yeah, I said that. Before I went on my summer vacation  I was composting media clips, political commentary, mind-spinning current events and fears of our collective future. That composting roiled itself into a seething, slow boiling sort of rage. I do not like the “good” being stolen from me by subversive sources. I especially detest the dismemberment of the truth; there IS good in the world. Nuff said.

I really can’t blame the putrid state of affairs on anyone other than Manure IImyself. It’s a lot like your diet. Consume a constant regimen of fast food and junk – you get fat. Make choices for a sedentary life-style – you get sick. Deny any spirituality in your life – you become hopeless. Stop working and spend every cent you’ve made – you become impoverished. Focus on the bad in the world – you get angry. Maybe because you know it’s not the truth. Maybe because you can’t do anything about it….

Wait….

But, you can! Continue reading “Mind Your Manures”

The Middle

(I’m on summer vacation! These posts are re-posts. I have discovered a need to re-fill my creative cup. Looking forward to bringing you new and improved posts in the fall. I hope you enjoy these selected writings! Search topics of interest on my site for more related articles.)

“Every giant redwood was once a seedling. They don’t get to skip that part.” –  Sue Fitzmaurice  (click to Tweet)

There’s a recurring theme lately. People are in transition. Life is full of cycles and we’re sometimes called upon to reinvent Life transitionourselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to growth, breathe life into our dreams, be a catalyst for positive change…but let’s face it….it’s more than terrifying to be a seedling.

You. Don’t. Get. To. Skip. That. Part.

Seedlings are itty bitty small in a big, big world. Seedlings get stepped on, drowned, and their tender little stems are pickings for things like…well…wild pigs. Seedlings are vulnerable. Not all seedlings make it but they try, because  the prospect of being a giant Sequoia is quite enticing. Sequoias are strong, long-lived and have a fabulous penthouse view.

I’ve had a fairly varied and interesting past. (Notice I did NOT say “colourful.”) Every decade has brought transitions – new places, new relationships and sometimes, new careers. Interestingly, what was learned from the old situations bolted onto the new transitions quite nicely, kind of like Legos. Just because we leave a job or relationship behind doesn’t mean the skills and knowledge we have aren’t transferrable – THEY ARE!

I will tell you a secret. Often, during transition, there is a long expanse of time that is the “uncomfortable middle.” (click to Tweet) It is not the creamy, fluffy, goodness. This is the place where you lack direction, uncertainty becomes a way of life, the answer or direction often does not reveal itself as quickly as our fast-food appetites would like. This is not a happy place, but a place of exploration, possibilities and change. It is an uncomfortable crevasse. It’s the very thing that can send you running and screaming back to the comfort…back to the known. To get past the middle you need a serious dose of courage. You have to trust the process, your God and your gut. Continue reading “The Middle”

It’s Going to Be a Great Day!

This is not the real delivery guy
(This is not the real delivery guy)

It’s going to be a great day.

That’s what it said on the top of the delivery sheet.

A handsome, young man who was expecting the worst…you could tell.

He told me he had to remind himself. His mantra was on the top of every work order for every day…because, “One bad customer can ruin your whole day.” He had 20 deliveries the day he saw me, and he was all business. From my corporate experience, I suspect he was on some kind of PIP – performance improvement plan. Maybe people had complained and he was REQUIRED to write it at the top of each work order. It’s an educated guess, informed by the fact he told me, “Honestly, I should’ve refused this delivery, so they could send a smaller truck,” as soon as he arrived.

Not a good way to win friends and influence people. Continue reading “It’s Going to Be a Great Day!”

Fair Weather Thinking – Part I

finding possibilities(Part 1 of a 3 part series  – “Fair Weather Thinking” is designed to help you identify more possibilities in your life by helping you clear the path of mental and physical debris that can cloud good decision-making. This series is presented in 3 distinct parts – Own Your Stuff, Set Clear Boundaries and Take Care of You.) 

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”         ~Thomas Merton

When the skies are clear and the weather is fair, it’s easier to see the stars. Stars are light infused inspirations – they remind me of possibilities.

Possibilities are the embers of hope – the kindling for the fires of our lives, that ignite potential and meaning (click to Tweet)  Continue reading “Fair Weather Thinking – Part I”

Travel Light

It’s 2015.

A brand new start.

How many times can we begin again? The possibilities seem endless. But, even with the permission to begin anew, some of us feel the anguish of past mistakes, regrets for what we may have (or may have not) done,  or are blistered with disappointment as we take stock of our lives.

I understand the need to reflect on our pasts. Reflection is okay, but I recently saw this:

Identity, new year, light
Image courtesy of www.mooreminutes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s sage advice. And, don’t go flogging yourself with the “social measuring stick” either. Your path is uniquely yours, holding the mystery and gifts that are close to your heart. Just because you may not know your purpose, or recognize your gifts, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. How will you find them when you’re carrying more bags than The Beverly Hillbillies?

Continue reading “Travel Light”

8 Operating Procedures for a Well-Lived Life

I’m  not an expert at accessing joy. I’ve tripped into the well-lived life, for sure. I remember a few stumbles I’ve taken Life Manualalong the way, that made the trip more joyful, more meaningful, more full…but I’m well aware I have a long way to go. Basically, I’m half-baked.

I awoke Thanksgiving morning with a realization in my heart.

Life is hard for some people.

It’s just difficult. I am grateful I’ve found my way through…and grateful for the hardships I’ve endured that lent some perspective and, basically, gave me operating instructions for how to do life differently.

Still, my heart is sad for those in a place where they have no, or little, access to light and joy. I know it’s a journey they must take for themselves and they have to find their own road map….but I wish I could help every single one of them. Continue reading “8 Operating Procedures for a Well-Lived Life”

Techno-coloured Funk

Technology challengedSome people respond to technology very well.

Some people stink at it.

I’m going to have a nice, brief, honest rant here…

Those of you who don’t use email, text or turn on your phones DRIVE ME NUTS! We have business to do here…

Don’t. Be. Difficult.

I realize being technolocially challenged can be a generational thing, but hey, my parents use bill pay. Thankfully, I’ve NEVER witnessed my mother whip out her “checkbook” at the end of the sale to slowly draft a “cheque,” only to have the clerk process and return it to her…perfect signature in place. Thank you Mom, for not embarrassing the family. Continue reading “Techno-coloured Funk”

A Gypsy Soul

Gypsy soul, travelI have a gypsy soul.

I want to live in Virginia…Charlottesville to be exact. It boasts historical, white-spired buildings, beauty abound and some nice culture.

I can also picture myself in Paris, sipping espresso at a café. I’d write in my journal and nosh on a croissant in the morning…take in a museum in the afternoon…paint until the sun rose. I’d have stimulating conversations with my circle of friends at the brasserie.

Perhaps Carmel by the Sea would be nice. It may be a little cool for my tastes, but the flowers stay fresh year round, there are plenty of specialty shops, boutiques, good art, divine food, and they do have a few sunny days. Hmmm…romance. Continue reading “A Gypsy Soul”

Lessons from the Classroom

Lessons come in all forms. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and occasional breaks, so we can recharge. I  believe we should pursue “continuing education” no matter what type of work we do. Here’s a repost from a time I spent at an art retreat – when I learned so much more than art. Since it’s “back to school” season, I figure this is worth a revisit. 

art retreatsLife can get going pretty fast. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, partake in the same old activities, see the same people each day and do the same old thing. Some people call it the “Grind.” Well, you may be stuck in the grind, or you may be enjoying the way things are…no matter, you could probably use a break.

Retreats are a nice way of taking a break. I recently took one and found it was not only good for my head, but my soul benefited as well. Here’s what I took away from a break in routine: Continue reading “Lessons from the Classroom”

12 Steps and a Trip

12 Step Computer AddictsPut me in a 12-Step program. I’ve been through one before, but that was eons ago.

12-Step programs offer fantastic structure with “rules for accountability and living.” Back in the day, it was clear whose shit was whose right from the start, and yes, ahem… I did make a small, negative contribution to the “problem.” In the walls of those meetings, I made friends who were seeking healthy boundaries and I learned to sniff out abusers, so I wouldn’t repeat my choices. I had a sponsor. I’m not sure if anyone would man-up and sponsor my recovery with my current problem.

I have a computer problem.

I need to take 12-steps back from my computer…way back.

It’s affecting the quality of my life and work.  The black tar social media is the worst.(click to party with me and Tweet this)  It’s become a nag, a constant, driving, whiny beast, tugging, clawing at the corner of my mind each time I try to focus on something truly productive. When I do break free, I feel elated and light spirited.  I’m mindfully engaged. I’m not sure what’s rewarding about lighting up the screen again, but I know from my previous training, there must be a payoff for the dysfunctional behaviour to continue. Seems I’m gettin’ my fix. Continue reading “12 Steps and a Trip”

Fair Weather Thinking – Part II

(This is the second of a 3 part series on “Fair Weather Thinking” that will be published in the month of July. “Fair Weather Thinking” is designed to help you identify possibilities in your life by helping you clear the path of mental and physical debris that can cloud good decision making. Think clearly, because your life is a result of the choices you make. You can also read Part I and Part III).

Fair weather affords us the ability to see clearly. We can see the distant horizon, as well as what’s directly in front of Think Clearlyus. In “Fair Weather Thinking – Part II”  we explore how keeping our “mental atmosphere” clear of “particulate” allows us to see more options and possibilities when making decisions. As a result of thoughtful choices, we find ourselves living more consciously constructed lives. (click to Tweet)  Continue reading “Fair Weather Thinking – Part II”

A Life Saver

Life-saving poem

 

There are a few things that pack a wallop in your life – like this poem by Mary Oliver. Whether you’re in a deep, dark place and need a winch to pull you out, or you’re “breathing just a little and calling it a life,” this poem calls us to be true to ourselves, claim our lives and live it in our own skins…in our own way. Continue reading “A Life Saver”

Just One Thing

Just One Thing.

That’s not “just one MORE thing.”  It’s just one thing. That’s all you have to do to kick off marketing your art.One more thing

Last week I taught a great group of artists a workshop called “Marketing and Self-Promotion for Artists.” I offer an art business workshop each month through a local art venue. However, there’s a problem with marketing. The problem is there are so many ways to market, so many tried and true ways, that, if you’re a beginner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Continue reading “Just One Thing”

Shifting Gears

Better LivingI’m changing gears this week. This post is not about art business, it’s more about “life business.”  It’s a glance in the rear view mirror where I see a road behind that’s strewn with worry and angst. I realize, like a finely woven tale, it evolves into a road of purpose, goodness and gratitude.

Yesterday was rife with challenges. It began with too much coffee, which was quickly followed by a “pirouette” that resulted in coldcocking myself in the face with the edge of the bathroom door – hard enough to leave a mark. Don’t ask…the toilet paper roll was too big and that’s all I’m sayin.’ If you ever ask my husband he will tell you, “She’s not clumsy, she incredibly athletic.”  That’s his gracious way of saying I haven’t yet broken a hip.

All amped up on the crack-Kona coffee, I stole away a few moments in the studio and quickly realized small motor skills are degraded by a good cup of joe. My car was in the shop, but I had my husband’s car, so I went to meet a friend. Surprisingly,  the key I was using worked in the ignition, but wouldn’t allow me to lock the vehicle. I ran some errands and left the car unlocked; interestingly, things went smoothly.

Mid-afternoon a nice man from the garage drove my freshly and partially repaired car to my house. He took me to his shop to finalize the repair paperwork. There was one more major repair to be made at the dealership. To my surprise, but not really, I couldn’t persuade my car out of the parking lot. It gasped, and lurched and died. Admitting defeat I summoned the tow truck, which hauled it to the dealership for its “final final.”

I was able to get home from the dealership because, in my past, I had the good sense to have children and marry a man who also had children. I’ll bet you’re surprised that my husband had children…sounds sort of painful…and I’m sure it had its moments. Anyhou, he raised a lovely daughter. She and her little yorkie fetched me up to take me home. After a brief visit, a Mexican payoff and a 10-dollar bill, she left. She took her yorkie with her, but in his customary regalia, Better Livinghe left behind little yorkie turds in my studio. Every. Time. He. Visits. Little shitter.

Because of these mis-adventures, I missed an annual charity event I’d been looking forward to attending. Sitting home hungry and tired, it dawned on me.

I have shifted gears.

Years ago I would have focused on each thing that “went wrong.” I would have dwelled on the string of imperfections that formed my day. I would’ve complained about the inconvenience, the heat, the loss.  While it sounds like I’m doing that now, that’s not the case.

I find myself grateful at the close of this day. Grateful for the good will of strangers. Grateful they cheerfully went out of their way for me. Grateful the dealership went beyond their call to see if the high dollar repair would be covered under warranty – and it was! There was value in the interesting chat with the driver from the first garage.  I’m touched by the tow-truck driver’s positive attitude and careful attention. I’m blessed by a daughter who is responsive and generous – and her little dog, too, for he is WAY too generous. I’m delighted friends at the charity event said they missed me. An additional wave of gratitude is for my husband’s car, which served me well, escaped a raping, and didn’t end up street-side on blocks, despite being unlocked. I’m even happy with the unseasonably warm weather. I’ve been deeply touched by the kindness of those who don’t know me, but were willing to give to me nonetheless. Mostly, I’m thankful for the personal growth; the ability to shift perspective without clawing my way through old habits to do so (click to Tweet that). It came naturally – today.

You hear people say things like, “You can’t change the world, but you can change your attitude about it.” “Look on the bright side.” “Happiness is a choice.” Blah, blah, blah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know these things. Sometimes, some people would like to haul off and slap these sunny-side crusaders – I’m not absolutely sure, but it’s an educated guess (click to Tweet). But, the day you have a potentially tough day, put your feet up and count your blessings, that’s the day you really know it. The day you don’t consciously reframe your life, but it instead falls into a frame of its own, and you’re happy with it, is when you know you’ve really shifted gears.

Just Cruise Along!

Signature

 

 

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, Coachmore 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!

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

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

20/20 is Hindsight

I remember, years ago, asking my mother the benefit of getting older. I was sure there must be a big payoff for Guide dog puprelinquishing one’s dewy youthfulness, a prize like a parade or Clearing House Sweepstakes. After all, the exchange for creaky knees and wrinkles does seem somewhat inequitable.

Nada.

That’s what she told me. I remember asking, “Isn’t there something? A richness that comes with aging?”  Her reply was a flat, brutal. “You just get older.”

I’ve thought about that conversation many, many times. I’ve also promised myself it wouldn’t be like that for me. Now, in Mom’s defense, perhaps she didn’t know what I was looking for, or maybe I caught her on a bad day. But, the fateful conversation stuck with me and I’ve spent my years determined to take the deep dive into any small grain of gain, any wisdom, any understanding, any peaceful, embryonic, Jacuzzi bath of reparation that might exist…ready to snatch it up in a second.

What you look for you usually find. Wouldn’t you agree? If you look for the bad in someone…you’ll see it. If you look for possibilities, they emerge. If you look for the happy, rewarding moments in life, they magically appear. I like to say,

“Stuff grows where intention flows.”  (click to Tweet)  I do believe it’s true.

So, as I careen into the “deep” years of my life, I do so with eyes wide open, darting, searching for the golden ring. I’m not all that creaky yet, but when the creaking comes,  I want to know what I traded up to.  So far, here’s what I’ve discovered:

That’s right. I can no longer read the print on the bottom of the lipstick tubes and shampoo bottles. Why do they even bother?  It’s my understanding that eventually lips and hair disappear anyway. Why do I have to wear magnifying glasses when I paint? I’ve been assured my eyes are fine…I’ve been adjusted to 20/20.

Yes, I’ve noticed lines forming on my skin. Things that hurt take longer to heal. I’ve noticed some changes “inside,” too.

For my age:

  • My heart is more steady.
  • My soul has learned to listen.
  • I am selectively inspired by those who have gone before me.
  • I don’t jump to conclusions, but have ratcheted it back to a modified “hop.”
  • I look for the “why” with people’s behaviour.
  • I am slower to condemn.
  • I mind my own business more.
  • I am more inclined to enjoy my own company.
  • I look deeper for the possibilities.
  • I enjoy “watching.”
  • I am more immersed in the practice of gratitude
  • My creativity has blossomed.
  • I seek to be of service.
  • I want to leave something behind rather than take more than I need.
  • I work to keep my soul “right.”

Like I said, as we age our eyesight fails, but our vision becomes more acute. That certainly is something to lean in to, something to, pardon the pun, look forward to. There is much terrain to be explored, through another set of eyes, through a more open heart, through a gentler character.

To be fully disclosing, and you know I am, I must set the record straight…I’m not all the way “there.” I still get irritated by some of the “going ons” in day to day living. I still find it easier to forgive character flaws than stupidity. Stupid should hurt. But, I am on the rails of my chosen track  and looking forward to the trip. I’m grateful for it. I’m learning to see differently. (click to Tweet).

What has time given to you? What have you gained as life moves along? Feel free to share here…we’re all friends.

 Choose to be farsighted,

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!