Garden Party

“We’re all mad here.”
“But, I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
                                                             
                                                       ~Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
 

Mad, Fearless artArtists are an insecure bunch. Not all, but many seek constant reassurance and direction. Newer artists may do it incessantly. They’re liable to make a career out of “what do you think?” and lose the spirit that had them fearlessly making art in the first place.

Some time ago, I made a vow to liver fearlessly…Freudian typo.
This was not entirely possible without reconciling myself to a certain degree of madness. While the decision to live fearlessly included putting myself and my art “out there,” it did not preclude the insecurity that would accompany “spreading my wares” before the masses, showing artwork publically, and the challenges of defining and refining my artistic “voice.” I also didn’t count on the Ego voicing Her rather paranoid concerns. As the stakes got higher, Her inflated decibels were on a mission to drown out reason. My motto – Starve the Ego, feed the Muse. (click to Tweet) Continue reading “Garden Party”

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”

While I Was Busy Being Someone Else – Power of the Redux

(This share is over 3 1/2 years old and the 2nd post I ever wrote for  “The Art of The Well Lived Life.” It was, in essence, my coming out post. I had some startling realizations While I was Busy Being Someone Else. I still feel this post relevant and poignant. Hoping, on this day, you find yourself happy and celebrating who you really are. If you’re not, you can always use today to reclaim your life and live in accordance with your heart. Wishing you all the courage to joyfully celebrate YOU! ~m)

Strange thing happened the other day…

I was called to recount my past life in detail. My corporate life. When thisSomeone else happened, I began to behave like the person I was back then. I got edgy, sharply strategic, unsettled.

I am not a corporate type. It’s not that I’m not smart enough, aware enough, creative enough…I can do those things. It’s my soul. My soul does not agree with the treatment I witnessed as an internal corporate employee. I’m an artist at heart. A writer, a coach and communicator. I appreciate pure intention, honesty, flaws. The human aspect, with all its imperfections makes me joyful.

Do you remember who you really are? As a child you probably knew. Continue reading “While I Was Busy Being Someone Else – Power of the Redux”

Wanting What’s Best

The best thingJust because we want it, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for us.

You may want to read that again.

This point was driven home this week when I had a conversation with a friend. She was wondering how to deal with some “crazy spirited” extended family members. You know the old saying,”You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family?” Sorry, Mom, I don’t mean YOU! Anyhou, convinced large family gatherings would fill her heart, she was wrestling with the idea of her unwieldy and unreliable “attendees.”  She dreamt of a large family gathering and, of course, that was the family she had to work with. Just because we want it doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Imagine hosting a family gathering where you issued straight jackets like party favors at the door.

I remember when I worked in corporate. I’d apply for advancement positions. I did it because I wanted it…or sometimes, I just wanted to be the chosen one. Honestly. I just wanted to be selected…competitive much? All the demands that accompanied the position, well, those might not be for me, but I wanted to be the pick of the litter. This addictive desire got me into tight, unhappy spots on more than one occasion. My ego made my bed, then I had to be the one to lie in it! It’s taken some time, but I’m so over it.

What do you want? Is it your ego or inner-child doing the begging – or is it your heart’s desire? How would you know the difference? It’s worth taking some time to think about, me thinks. Sometimes, our best information comes in times of contemplative silence. (click to Tweet) Continue reading “Wanting What’s Best”

Weed Farmers

Insecurity and DoubtSome people are just weed farmers.

They plant seeds of doubt in the fertile manure of your brain, and then carelessly leave them to germinate and grow weeds in your happy little garden.

I don’t like that. I hope I don’t trip up and plant the occasional weed, because it’s noxious.

Sometimes the evil seeds they plant are composted…er…composed entirely from their own faulty thinking or assumptions. Sometimes, it’s a thorny opinion that cuts and stings. Some weed farmers do it on  PURPOSE. Yep, for some reason, they plant their dirty little seeds and even spritz a bit of water as they take leave. Continue reading “Weed Farmers”

Noticing the Difference

Finding possibilitiesIf there are keys for getting from where you are now, to where you want to be, one of them surely is ‘noticing the difference.’ (click to Tweet)

Noticing the difference is like peeling an onion. Differences, nuances of shades, exist on so many levels. Sometimes, for me, the awareness is fleeting. I get a glimpse of where I want to go and then it fades, that’s how I know I have so much more to learn. Other times, in areas where I have more experience, it’s clearly noticeable. Finally, when we’re accomplished at something, the difference shows up as a fact; the level of competence or mastery easily discerns the level of the novice. I’m not just talking about art. This “difference” also shows in how we behave in personal relationships, leadership situations, golf or any sport, even parenting. Not that parenting is a sport…though sometimes, I guess, it can actually feel that way. Continue reading “Noticing the Difference”

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”

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”

Cheap and Easy

I give it away. I’m more than cheap and easy…I’m free. Sorry, Mom, probably not what you wanted to hear.

Volunterring at Blue Line Arts
Tony Natsoulas and Wendy Nagle Installing an Exhibit – Photo by Lang Lew

I volunteer… a lot.

Wednesday I offered to help a friend install his first solo show. After arriving and finding there was considerable framing to do, I realized what I thought would be a 3-hour job was going to take all day. It was a 7-hour affair… and I was so grateful.

It might help if you had a little back-story. In the “olden days,” when I limped off the corporate battlefield several years ago, I realized I didn’t know the art industry as thoroughly as I’d hoped. Since I yearned for a well-rounded education, I volunteered – doing everything I could – so I could learn the business inside and out. Rather than enroll in more college courses, I’d earn this education with sweat, sore muscles and the uncertainty of new experiences. Continue reading “Cheap and Easy”

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”

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!

 

Lessons from a One-Year Old

GratitudeToday is the First Birthday of “The Art of a Well Lived Life.” Time for a party! Bring in the clowns, the ponies and let us consume copious amounts of CAKE (preferably chocolate)!

Setting out to simply share some thoughts and be a solid resource for creatives by using my corporate chops, a year ago I committed to writing a weekly blog and publishing it – every Friday – for at least 12 months. Family and friends supported me. They safeguarded my already ruddy reputation by making sure I didn’t breach the line…much. I only want to sprinkle mischief dust; I don’t intend be hurtful (click to Tweet). As I said in the beginning, one of the things I love most about people is, when we are being genuine, we have interesting wrinkles and shortcomings…it makes us human and I am thankful, because those imperfections add perfect colour to our world.

My readers have responded to the shares. I’ve discovered an enormous sense of community through “The Art of the Well Lived Life.” I’ve had an opportunity to share my knowledge, and in turn, you all shared your wisdom. I’m grateful for your shares, your feedback, your words.  People have gotten naked with me in conversations – bared their souls, their pain, their hopes…I am humbled. 

I work for free, but should really be paying you, dear readers. Here are a few of the priceless lessons I’ve learned while penning “The Art of The Well Lived Life” –

    • People are kind
    • After over a decade of business writing, the writer I was born as has rediscovered her voice
    • I’ve written over 52 stand alone posts – a cohesive, though short, body of work
    • I possess self-discipline – I don’t need a boss – I’m the boss of my own, bad self
    • Older people have incredible stories, philosophies and wisdom to share – they are reluctant to share them on a blog , but they rock it in private groups
    • Creatives need a community – while we may work alone well by nature, we get lonely from time to time
    • Showing my own scars and faults has hopefully given us all “permission”
    • Everyone is insecure from time to time and in their own way – if they aren’t they’re probably a psychopath
    • Even people who rail against structure want structure – let’s just dress it up in lace and call it something else
    • Spellcheck cannot be overrated – evher
    • People love to have fun. They like to laugh and poke, but they want respect and reassurance – so I give them permission to laugh at me
    • WordPress is relatively user friendly
    • Our souls were designed to express our essential selves. When the outlet is blocked we react with negative behaviours and behave poorly (click to Tweet this one)

This is a deeply emotional birthday for me, like the ones that end in a 0 or 5. I’m actually crying as I write this, it must be hormones or a lack of chocolate. It also may harken back to  this first post.  Above all, I am awash with gratitude that you keep reading, keep commenting, keep laughing and sharing your wisdom and questions.  Thank you, thank you, thank you….

Make a wish…

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!

 

An Appetite for Folklore

Oh, the battles we wage…inside.

I once saw a meme that read:

Wolf soulI’m not so sure I’d describe my soul as “difficult,” but I take conflicts that arise there seriously. I try to use all my coachy, self-help techniques to evolve into a “better person,” whatever that may mean.

There is a distinct possibility I’m using my soul as a canvas, splashing pretty colours, making mistakes and gessoing over them again. Just waiting, hoping a worthy masterpiece will emerge. (click to Tweet).

There’s a tale I occasionally share when I work with leadership groups. This week, I’ve told it twice to artists, so I maybe I need a broader audience. Here it goes…

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of people, even him.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is angry, envious, jealous, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, full of self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joyful, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, full of humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then he asked, “Grandfather which wolf wins?…”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

The one I feed.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own hungry wolves. The choice is mine which to feed. Sometimes, even knowing the consequences, I wander off the beaten path, into the thick of the woods and pitch a fine rib roast squarely in the slobbering jaws of the mean and evil wolf. Oh, how it feasts with delight! It becomes stronger, robust and is able to exert its power over the good wolf.

Sometimes I am a little wiser and remember to give the lion’s share to the good wolf. Things usually go well when I nurture the good wolf. He, in turn, protects me.

Consider yourself in the following circumstances. What is the outcome when the good wolf is in charge, verses the bad wolf? Their voices are quite different.

  • You are analyzing your work
  • You need encouragement to build a strong business
  • You seek courage to take risks
  • The outcome of a venture is unexpected
  • People you meet, perhaps difficult people, require your grace
  • You focus on gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given
  • You must patiently wait for an anticipated outcome
  • Others need the generosity of your time or resources

How do these situations vary given which wolf is being fed? How would the outcome be different if you fed only the good “wolf?” Could you even do that? It’s something to think about.

I, for one, am putting the ugly wolf on a diet. Lately, he’s a bit of a butterball (click to Tweet). If I do it right, maybe I can starve him, weaken him, cage him, enslave him…whoops, I think I went over the line. Well, awareness is the first step.

Feed your instincts!

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 more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow 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!

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.

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This Free Spirit

This free spirit sings aloud, filled with mirth.

 This free spirit sometimes partakes of dessert before dinner.

 This free spirit dances with dogs, many of them, all at once.

This free spirit feasts eyes upon bold and lively colour palettes.

 This free spirit sports costumes which please her…sometimes to the amusement of others.

 This free spirit speaks her truth, never trying to hurt, but to connect and understand.

 This free spirit takes chances, knowing this life is precious, to be celebrated and savored.

This free spirit feels deeply, loves fearlessly and is loyal to the end.

This free spirit can soar when the surroundings feel harmonious and beautiful.

This free spirit should not be crossed…no…you don’t want to do that.

 This free spirit feels your stories and is honored to hold your hand along the path.  

      This free spirit has been known to eat nothing but chocolate for an entire day (click to Tweet).Tweet:

 

This free spirit laughs at her own jokes and will laugh at yours…if they’re funny.

This free spirit wants to see everyone she meets stand in their own light, no matter their light, she appreciates the “illumination.”

 This free spirit loves animals and household furnishings and must confess…loves them equally.

This free spirit is curious and sees the wonder in all things.

This free spirit speaks her mind. Then sometimes has to apologize.

“This free spirit has given both permission and immortality to her inner child.” (click birdie to Tweet)

Tweet:

This free spirit cries at the sweetness of life and the imperfection of her own soul.

 

Set Yourself FREE! 

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives 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!