Vanity Fails

shame and imperfectionMy art show opened last week. A friend pulled me aside and in a hushed, shamed tone rasped, “Did you mean to have that drip there?” Well, yeah. I’m an artist, I’m not blind. What’s the problem with a little drip?

VANITY FAILS

It’s not just with art…it’s with everything. I howled with laughter as a Facebook friend asked if anyone had ever had an eyelash curler chop lashes off. Well, yeah. I was 17 and there were no artificial lash replacements. I survived teenage boys inquiring, “What happened to your lashes?” for WEEKS!  It built character! 

My friend’s eyelash incident kicked off the conversation. The curling irons that burn off chunks of hair, the appliances that burn us, scar us…emotionally and physically. Continue reading “Vanity Fails”

Hearing Voices

I think of myself as fearless.

But. I’m. Not.

Fearless Idiosyncratic fashionistas About 8 years ago I publically declared my intention to become a crazy old lady in my later years. That statement liberated me. It made it possible to be creatively fearless and do stuff that would make the faint of heart run and hide. I put my art into the public eye with reckless abandon. I wrote my thoughts and confessed feelings that I shouldn’t publically admit (still doing it…you can’t stop me…yes, you could…please be gentle…don’t hurt me). I felt free to live with verve. I would be like the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas (more here).

When we don’t care about what other people think of us; when we do not beat ourselves with the social climber’s measuring stick; when we simply do our best and our heart knows it is good enough (for now)…that’s when the magic happens (click to Tweet)That’s the place where we give ourselves permission to flourish. It’s the fertile learning ground, the joyful happy place, the vast creative field where innovation and daring meet. We are authentic, courageous and fearless when we live and work from there, like children. Deep down, I know it is my obligation to protect this place in myself.

Lots of times fear creeps in.  It does so like the fog …on little cat feet. Thank you, Carl Sandburg. We don’t hear it coming. We raise our heads and there it is – BAM! IN YOUR FACE!

Yesterday, I spent some of the afternoon sketching and painting. Drawing is somewhat new for me, so I’ve chronicled my journey Fearful voicefrom the start and am pleased with my progress. I cavalierly posted a picture of a botanical on Facebook. A friend replied, “Love it! You are getting so good.” Promptly I removed it. I knew the rocks weren’t right. Shame. Shit. Shame. Nothing had changed but the voice in my head. The seeping self-judgement…thief of joy. 

I’ll bet you do it, too. Sometimes? You do, right?

For a lot of artists their work springs from joyful self-expression. For a lot of people their best comes when they embrace whatever work they do with joyful abandon. THIS IS WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO. It feels good.

Then…here comes the voice; the fear of judgment. Worse yet, we turn our judgment to others and compare ourselves to their goodness or a golden standard. Suddenly, mine is not good enough. I am not good enough. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your dreams – you fill in the blank:

  • My art is not good enough
  • I’m not a good enough parent
  • I am not smart enough
  • I’m not a good employee
  • I’m not pretty/handsome enough
  • My voice is not good enough
  • I’m not a good daughter/son
  • My house is not good enough
  • My writing is not good enough (then why are you still reading?)
  • My clothes are not good enough

I’ll spare you the pain, because the list goes on and on. Know what? Sure, you could be doing better. That’s why it’s called a journey. There is always room to improve – that’s the BEAUTY of it! (click to Tweet)

It’s the voice that must be controlled. Silenced. Replaced with the cheerleading voice.  Some  coaches call the negative voice the Gremlin, and everyone has one.  Shame researcher, Brene Brown talks about it, researches it extensively. She says only sociopaths don’t feel shame. Whewwww! I dodged that bullet!

So in the spirit of being a crazy old lady, because I know better, because I choose courage, because I made a commitment to work from a place of joy and abandon, I am sharing. This is why I do what I do.

From shameful voice to fearless
Shameful Botanical Print

 “I will not let the voice of fear rob me of my best life” (click to Tweet). 

What about you? You make a choice to listen to a voice. Do you choose the fearful one, or the champion?  What is the price?  This blog is a safe place, a tribe, where you can share. I find most people are supportive and wonderful. Those who aren’t have their own work to do. Do not go down without a fight…be brave…be happy.

I have no doubt, you are good enough,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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Butt in Saddle, Peace in Heart

Motivational quotes…pretty pictures…we love them, don’t we? Sometimes they go deep, layers and layers deep. This Hafiz quote struck me with its depth and profundity. AND, it’s National Poetry Month, so why not celebrate one of the World’s most beloved and widely read poets? Hafiz, or Hafez, was a 14th century Persian poet who has influenced the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, Goethe, me and maybe you.

Hafiz

Consider the words you speak. I’m often surprised and enamored with my own wit. Sometimes, snarky, stabbing remarks about observations are just too good to keep to myself. (Click to Tweet) But, even if I don’t say them, I may think them. What does that get me?

I noticed McDonald’s new McWrap. Well, now that was too good to keep to myself. McWrap? You want me to eat a McWrap? You must be kidding me. Say it aloud marketing people! What were they thinking? I am self-entertained…but my tirade leads to thinking of other’s perceived stupidity…to the nutritional value of fast food…to the allure and marketing intended to seduce all Americans (and beyond our borders) to violate their bodies to fill them with chemicals and engineered “food stuff”…to our healthcare system and the big pharmaceutical companies…STOP!!! Truly, friends…you can tell me if I’m the only one on earth who thinks this way.

 But there’s more…

My dear Hafiz, it’s more than the words we speak. It’s the thoughts we THINK! To disarm them, to tame them, requires a spiritual practice of looking at the appreciative side, being anchored in gratitude, embracing forgiveness and acceptance. Let me tell you…

it.can.be.difficult.

654px-Sacred_lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera

As Ghandi said:

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words.
 
Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions.
 
Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits.    
         
 Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values.
 
Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”
 
 

We create our reality and impact our very happiness through the perception that begins with our thoughts. Are my witticisms worth it? (For YOU, dear reader friends…irrevocably yes!) For my peace of mind, my thoughts really ought to be corralled.

What are you doing? What words are in your house? Time for Spring Cleaning? Time to re-evaluate? I invite you to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Thank you for making us think, Hafiz…even if your quote did end in a preposition. STOP!!!

If our thoughts create your destiny it may be time to tame that pony and ride off into the sunset!

May your butt stay firmly in the saddle!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Getting the Dog Finger Again!

 

Some of you have traveled the journey of “My Dog’s Life” and shed some tears reading my last blog post about my terrier Mystic 77who, at the time, was dying. You’ll recall my acceptance of a failed relationship and witnessing me swimming in a pool of guilt and angst. Like most things in life, that has changed.

Now, really, I don’t mean to jerk your emotional chain, but here it comes. Right around Easter she rose from the dead. Yep. She spent 3 days in what appeared to be the active state of dying. Family members and friends paraded through the house, wiped their eyes and paid their last respects. She was canonized. Mr. Wonderful (my incredible husband) struggled. Should he help her along in the process? “Do you need to just move on, girl?” Should we call Dr. Stamm?

I. Was. Switzerland.

Then…on Good Friday….one week ago…she rose from the dead and resumed her life.

I don’t get it. She got up, walked around, ate like a champ and basically said, “It’s on! I ain’t done, Jack.”  

What ensued was a test of my spiritual fortitude. Mr. Wonderful talked incessantly of her resurrection, the miracle, what the cause may have been and what the bright and shiny future held. He got her special food  (which drove the other two dogs crazy). He fawned over her, planned a spa day at the groomer and practically offered to get her a new car. Almost every conversation contained “dog topic.” I made an oath to myself not to feel even one pang of disappointment. And I didn’t (applause please).

I struggled with the state of my soul. I had been absolved of my sins during the “death.” I asked for forgiveness, made amends. Now, the chance to live peacefully together once again poked it head around the corner as if to say, “Hey, want to try again?” I was livin’ life on the edge. How long can a human being sustain pure thoughts, bury animosity and grind out a state of harmony? (Click to Tweet)

Sure, it took a few days for her to get back into fighting form. This morning, Mr. Wonderful claimed he got the “dog finger.“

You want a piece of me?
You want a piece of me?

That’s right, the willful disobedience is, once again, alive and well. She did the samba on the carpet with her dirty little fur body. I even got a report when I was away on business, there was a scrimmage with her sister in the kitchen. Switzerland.

Her behaviour has not changed. All the things she did that drove me crazy – she’s doing them again. My behaviour has changed. Aha! So THIS IS THE LESSON! My lesson. This is another chance of redemption. I can get it right. There is no end in sight, only the practice. (Click to tweet)  My practice.

It’s how life IS. I guess the point of the lesson is you don’t know when it will conclude. When it does, if you’ve learned it properly, it won’t matter how long it took. Be Switzerland.

(I invite you to start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below)

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

My Dog’s Life

If you’re a regular reader, you know – nothing really surprises me. I’m very open and confessional. And here, you can be, too. What I like most about life is the imperfections in mankind…and that includes me. Enjoy my confessional…I find it liberating. When you do it, I find it endearing.

 

Nutshell my lifeI’ve always felt things deeply. To cope, I’ve devised a mechanism of sometimes simply observing the feeling, rather than reacting to it. This goes not only for the bad stuff, but also for the good. I’m really enjoying life this way, observing others and blessing them on their journeys. It’s a good thing I’ve figured this out, otherwise I’d be more a more cracked nut than I already am. So here is my story about something I KNEW would be a  cosmic 2×4 and how I came to build with it, rather than let it be used as a weapon against me. (Click to Tweet)

In our family we have 3 dogs. One of my main challenges, a pinnacle point of my internal contention, is one of our dogs. Our family has a terrier who’ll be14 years old next month. I’ll be upfront and admit she has not been my favourite dog. In fact, I don’t even really like her. I feel I’ve been tolerating her the whole time. She tends toward willful disobedience, isn’t particularly bright and she gets quite dirty of her own choosing – like rubbing along the fence outside after a bath. For someone like me, a former obedience trainer with deep relationships with my dogs, she is “a different breed.”

In our family we’ve always brought our dogs into the fold. They are part of our tribe and they receive proper respect, thoughtful feeding, are expected to have good dog-manners and we love them unconditionally. Well…except for this one – except for this one with me, to be more precise.

Mystic 4The main issue in this canine relationship is not with the canine at all. It’s all me….I know that. I feel bad about myself because of how I feel about the dog. I should be the bigger person, after all. But ,in my humanity, I’ve been waiting for the dog to “go.” Yep, I said it out loud. Dog, if you go, I’ll feel better about myself, because I won’t be struggling with negative juju involving YOU! It’s your fault anyway. NOW, before I start getting raving reply posts, let me say, I know this is wrong. The intellectual and spiritual part of me knows I’ll be dragging this distain like toilet paper on my shoe into the afterlife. Hey, I get this. But I’ve spent years trying to reconcile it, and can’t. I can’t come to terms because as soon as I let go and accept her, she goes off and does something so canine imbecile that I’m right back to square one. LOSE, LOSE!

She’s been getting frail. She’s slower. She doesn’t eat well. I’ve sworn not to spruce up the house until she’s gone. She rubs against the furniture and leaves whatever was on the fence on the sofa, after all. She has recently had “accidents.” I would be silly to invest in new furnishings…I’d be guarding them…like she guards her food she has no intention of finishing.

Mystic 5So, you get the picture. It’s a bad roommate with a 14-year lease. (click to Tweet)  Well…it could be longer…but after yesterday, I don’t think so.

Yesterday morning she wouldn’t get out of bed. She would barely hold her head up. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, just winding down. Kind of like when my grandmother passed. Truly, the sadness and guilt flooded over me like a tsunami. I went to yoga and afterward spoke with the woman who owns the retreat center. They’ve lost 2 dogs in a short time. The dogs went naturally, in the grass, under the trees.

I came home and spoke with the dog. I asked forgiveness for my inability to move into a meaningful relationship. I. Did. Not. Know. How. I am a flawed human and I’ve missed the lesson entirely. I played gentle music in the house for her and watched her breathe. I stroked her. I cried. I ached. I gave her a little Reiki. I prayed for her peace and comfort. Her last visitors paraded through the house, to pay their respects.

It was so heart wrenching that when I could cry no more tears, I carried her on her bed to the beautiful, warm, light outside. It’s spring. The birds are chirping and the sun is warm. It was what I would want (I think, but not yet, please). When we got outside she got up! She ambled around slowly. She drank some water and ate deli turkey from Whole Foods – no nitrites, you know, because nitrites aren’t good for you. She enjoyed the rest of the day, receiving additional visits, cuddles and sweet murmurs from admirers.

As I write this she is resting peacefully in the other room. Gently finding her way through it all…as I am finding mine. Mystic 7Perhaps, I can’t find that deep connection I have with my other hounds, but by God, I can support her through a sacred  death. I can reach for the lesson, though it may slip through my fingers. I can be open to the outcomes, though they may not be the ones I expect. I can lean into the discomfort of these feelings and just BE with them. I can ask for forgiveness. I can share my story, because sometimes, when the light is shed on shame, it retreats into the shadows and leaves us with some acceptance and peace. (click to Tweet)

 

“You may think you need to find an answer in order to have peace of mind. But if you choose peace of mind now, you will have an answer. On a path of growth, we don’t get rid of chaos. We learn how to dance in the uncertainty, breathe through fire, and discover strengths we never knew we had.”
                                                                                                                                                                     Tama J. Kieves

Special thanks to Tama Kieves who is the author of This Time I Dance, Creating the Work You Love and Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work. You can find her at www.tamakieves.com 

Deep Peace,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter