Friday, March 11, 2011

clarity ... maybe ... (and a Shiny New Project!)

My inspiration yesterday: Sometimes it takes getting lost to discover there is a more scenic route I'd rather be traveling.

Anyone reading this blog probably already knows that the mind of a creative being is often as chaotic as their workspace. Strike that. More chaotic.

So I have this reoccurring dream in which I am supposed to be leaving for a trip but I cannot pack my suitcase. I am stuffing things into it, trying to jam it shut and either it won't close, or it repeatedly pops open as I travel to the airport and I am scrambling to grab things and get them back inside.

My mind has felt that way for the past couple of weeks. Coming up with my Garden Plan has really helped me to tame the wild monkeys inside my head. I realized that I have been rushing headlong into my life without pausing to take stock, re-evaluate and ... that dreaded word ... plan things out. I did that last year and now I am remembering all the amazing things that manifested as a result of my setting up some goals and systems to keep me accountable and checking back in.

But it is like writing an outline for a paper. How many of us did not want to believe our teachers when they stressed the importance of first outlining - mapping out our ideas - before writing? I know I resisted until I actually tried it (or my version of it - colored index cards I could shuffle and re-arrange and doodle on) and wow! It really works! Totally takes the stress out of things ... all my ideas are there and I just need to build the paper!

Mind blowing stuff when I was an academic.

both sides are collaged and the whole will be taped together to make a folding booklet; i still have to sketch out the actual garden beds

Now I am appreciating the wisdom of taking time out to organize, arrange and pack my mind for easier access. In addition to my garden plan (which is more like a brochure ... when completed it will be an accordion-like folding guide) I am making a strategic plan box (cut down and decorated cereal box). It still needs a snappy title. I discovered this great guide by Lisa Sonora Beam and am following her ideas. I've created cardboard dividers for each of my categories: creativity, relationships, courage (putting myself out there; my spin on business), abundance (in a narrow sense, finances; but also about giving and receiving), home, health/self care, and spirituality. On each divider I've glued a card for journaling.
Lisa has a list of insightful prompts such as What does it mean for me (in the coming year)? and What would achievement of this goal look like? On the back of the divider card is an envelope for additional writing, letters, lists, images, etc.

The whole process began with me writing out my answers to these questions Lisa poses:

What do I want/hope to achieve in the coming year? What do I value most? What do I want to be different one year from now?

Thinking about these questions, I was inspired by the writing of Chris Guillebeau who was recently on the Right-Brainers in Business summit. If you want to shake things up not just a bit, but a lot, then read his Brief Guide to World Domination. Two things jumped out at me after listening to Chris talk and then reading his work. The first is his decision to live a remarkable life.

Got that? Remarkable. It is a choice we can make. It is a variation on what Connie shared in Deep which is by embracing myself, honoring my individuality, painting as me and not thinking about being anything other than who I am in that moment, I can choose extraordinary over mediocre.

The other statement of Chris's that brought my monkey mind to a stop is this: You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

I'm grabbing a cup of tea while you ponder all that.

Ready? Okay, going on ... Chris poses what he rightly calls The Two Most Important Questions in the Universe:

What do you really want to get out of life? What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Another variation - another mind stopper if you will - Is this the life I want for myself? (from a fantastic podcast by Marisa Haedike.)

It may be a cop out, but part of my answer to question number one is: I want to be living a remarkable life. I want to be passionately engaged with my life and my world; I want to create a space of love and beauty for my family and friends. I want to choose extraordinary in every action and know I was awake and alive for it all.

In the coming year, I want to Shine - my voice, my presence, my confidence, my gifts, and my commitment to my practice and my path. I want empower others through my work or by teaching or by my example to seek their own light; to experience and realize their own innate creative, extraordinary, remarkable selves. I want to empower others to know there is always a choice ... the choice of love and joy. What I have to offer is my enthusiasm and my passion.

A little over 18 years ago, I broke my neck. The gift of that accident was the awareness that I no longer wanted to be passive about my life. I wanted to be actively engaged in living it and not, as Mary Oliver writes "end up simply having visited this world." (from When Death Comes - it is required reading for any Joy Warrior.) As I see it, choosing to live a remarkable life isn't so much about what I do, as it is about attitude with which I make those choices and how I choose to engage with them.

Phew! Still with me? This momma of a brain suitcase is mighty full! But all the questions, the journal prompts, the vision boards, mind maps and mind dumps have helped me to clarify things immensely. Or maybe it is hawk's medicine - to fly high and see the landscape, the details, from a broader perspective. I still have a lot more to think about but the structure is now in place.

In the midst of all this collaging madness, I hit upon a project in alignment with my goals: 49 paintings before I turn 49. (Inspired somewhat by 1008 Painting Project by Lisa Sonora Beam.) Small scale pieces, 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 inches on gessoed postcards, the theme I want to explore is my guardians, guides and helpers in my life. Since I have 33 weeks to complete the project, I decided to begin this undertaking honoring the Hindu deity, Ganesha, who is the remover of obstacles, the one who teaches us to dance lightly around the heaviness of the world and who bestows blessings of physical and mental powers, peace and prosperity, upon all who honor him.

At the beginning of any new undertaking, Ganesha is called upon to guarantee success. I will probably journal on the back of each painting, but I am still working out the details for myself. I think I am calling it 49 before 49.

I think I have vacuum packed my brain for the day. I am so appreciative of this space, the feedback, the comments and the support I receive on a daily basis. Perhaps you are shaking your head at my madness, or perhaps you are realizing as a fellow Joy Warrior, life is too short and too precious to not choose remarkable as the measure for your actions. "The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese ..." what is your response going to be?

My inspiration for today: being me is a full time job. Love the work, could use more pay.


  1. through the fog of my cold... i took this away for the evening (i'll be back later this weekend to absorb more):

    "being me is a full time job. Love the work, could use more pay."

    THAT, is perfection in a sentence.
    Love it Lis!

  2. Love, love, love your painting of Ganesha! I've been fixated on him (?) lately. What a great project to embark on! Love it!

  3. *sigh*

    my head is spinning...i have to go away and ruminate on this....but what you're doing with the cards and the mind-mapping...EGADS!

    i am That Person who rebelled against plot outlines {i know, you're flabbergasted to hear this!) and yet, when mutinously compelled to make them, became a convert.

    i see that i've got some work to do...


    ps. AWESOMENESS abounds, btw...LOVE Ganesha!!!

  4. Whew! You are a cauldron of ideas, dreams, and plans. As I've said before, I am in awe of your energy. I really like the two most important questions -- puts everything in perspective. Go forward, Joy Warrior!

  5. I LOVE the way you opened up here and poured out the contents of your head...the churning of your ideas, thoughts, feelings sends my mind reeling...I feel myself grow from the questions you ask and the vulnerability of your Joy Warrior heart and soul. You have left me with much to ponder but one this is clear - right now, I'm embracing my life. Yet, another gift from you my Joy Warrior Goddess...I love your project - Ganesha is inspiration as are you and you have made me want to grab hold of my dreams today - grab hold tightly and dive into them. You make me believe that I will grow my wings as I begin....your joy is so big it makes my fears feel small YAY!

  6. Wow! Lisa, you are on fire:) Love it all! And that Ganesha painting - swoon!

  7. Beautiful post!!!! I love your quote from the "Joy Warrior" required reading poem :) I remembered a play recently from high school that I was drawn to read again called Our Town. Did you read it? I am re-reading it just so I can read the third act again, the part where Emily dies and gets to go back to re-live her 12th birthday. I think it is perfect joy warrior reading material, too, and here is one of my favorite quotes from that book:

    "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?"

    Here's to realizing as much as we can while we are here, and in doing so, leading remarkable lives :)


  8. thank you for asking the important questions over and over. i need those reminders, to stop and really think about my intentions. good luck with the 49. sounds like a wonderful goal and even better process.