Living an artistic life

DesignALifeYouLove

I was chatting with my friend the other day about how much I dislike laundry. I actually have that conversation frequently. It’s one of my least favorite activities…right up there along any other cleaning-related  ideas. I’m not a fan of it so I rarely carve out space to do it and then it ends up just on my dresser and not in my dresser. At any rate, I had found myself in that situation of having laundry all around my room and just being frustrated. Obviously this is a perpetual problem and is something I’ve been aware of since…probably since I’ve been doing my own laundry. LOL, come on, don’t judge, I can’t be the only one out there that dislikes cleaning that much. So, I’m talking to her about it (amongst conversations of biocentrism and chakra energy) and she says to me, you just got to say fuck it and do it. Stop thinking about it and just do it. My response was something like, I’m not a Nike commercial, there are other things I’d much rather be doing. And she said, I know, trust me, I know. But I also know, and tell myself, that it’s helping my future self to do it now.

And it kind of blew my mind. Yep, just do it. Just get it over with so you don’t have to worry about it in the future. Such an easy solution. And I realized I was giving something so small and inconsequential too much power. So, I left work, went home and I wish I could say I just did it…just got the cleaning over with and the laundry over with, but I totally didn’t. I sat down on my couch and picked up the book on Dharma Art I was reading. And I shit you not, one of the first things I read was about how Dharma Art isn’t just about making masterpieces of art, it’s hardly about that at all actually. It’s about making your life your art, living artistically and coming from a beautiful and clear space so that everything you do is art, the way you put down your coffee mug, the way you do your laundry, the way you…<<<WTF? Really? The way I do my laundry?

If you want to become an artist and you want to have the best of everything, you can’t just have it. You have to start by paying attention to reality. You need to learn to eat properly, to cook properly, to clean your house or your room, to work with your clothes. You need to work with your basic reality. Then you go beyond that, and you begin to have something much more substantial. And beyond that, you actually begin to produce a master artistic world altogether. – Chogyam Trungpa

 

So I sat there. And sat there. And then a voice in my head said fuck it, and I just got up and put my laundry away. Hardly took anytime and I felt so much better afterward. But it’s not just about doing it. I mean, it can be, but then that feeling of resentment and irritation is allowed to exist and fester. That was the motivational point for me that night for sure, just fucking do it already. But I want to transform that into something beautiful. Not necessarily visually, but so it feels beautiful. And again, not just the action of doing it, but in how I feel while doing it. So while I was putting my laundry away, I tried to view it as an art project. How would I shift my perspective, how shall I smile with grace…can I turn it into something beautiful. I’m not sure I actually succeeded, but I did my best to not have a mantra of, I hate laundry, I hate cleaning, and more of a my environment is important to me and I want to nurture my environment. I want to nurture my environment as much as I want to nurture my soul, my friends, my family, my beloved. And that helped me make it in art. (As a side note, it was also interesting that I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water and upon realizing my dishwasher was clean, just quickly put the dishes away. Smile on my face, body swaying to the beat of the music…a byproduct of approaching my room as a work of art. Hopefully that’s a sign that as you bring that perspective into one activity, it will slowly expand to more and more activities.)

And how often is much of our life that way? There are certain things we do that we do beautifully, artistically. And there are the other things we do that are  handled with much less grace and too much aggression (in Dharma Art, anything done with aggression is not art. Aggression is seen as a bit of the anti-art element). I brought this concept into my yoga class and it’s so easy so see the energy shift from poses we love to poses we don’t so much enjoy. The muscles in our face clench, our shoulders rise, the aggression is obvious. Just as it’s obviously serene when we dance and flow through postures we love and that feel juicy. Living artistically, approaching everything, even the most mundane of things, like laundry, is a challenge. It takes a developed discipline. It’s a challenge to come from a space of calm clarity, non-judgement and just being purely observational. I think this is especially a challenge when having unpleasant conversations with people who tend to anger quick and their words quickly become mean and harmful. In those situations staying calm isn’t always enough and I haven’t figured out how to dharmically approach those situations. But I hope to…to be able to gracefully converse, even about difficult stuff, to come from a place of satya (truth) and ahimsa (nonviolence). Dharma art is awareness, of self, of the world, of all of the gorgeous phenomena happening in our little nook of the universe.

“Awareness practice is not just sitting meditation or meditation-in-action alone. it is a unique training practice in hose to behave as an inspired human being. That is what is meant by being an artist.” -Chogyam Trungpa

So take a moment to consider yourself as an artist. I am a believer that we are co-creators of our lives. I usually think in terms of law of attraction, what you put out you get back, and all of those ideas. I truly believe that you can manifest your intentions if coming from the right space. Dharma Art encourages us to go next level and to not just be a co-creator, but BE a work of art. Live as if you are a work of art. It’s not just about putting out the outlines of life into the ether, but also about adding the color to every detail of life. I tend toward visual art, but even consider your life as a symphony, the way the notes flow and merge and caress the ears, touching your heart, making you weep tears of joy and beauty. Or a succulent meal you are cooking that makes your mouth water, your stomach growl…Find something you naturally do and love and is your art, and then approach everything, your whole life, in the same manner.

Let go of aggression, of judgement, of self-hate…You are the artist and the work of art. Your life is art. Live life artistically.

 

 

Free of limitations

IMG_5519

I’m free of other people’s limitations. I am me. My limitations mine. But I no longer hold the weight and burden of another’s limits.

I am choosing me. Choosing my life. Choosing my decisions and what’s healthy for me. I am meeting my soul and discovering her. Finally.

This IS your life. It already started

20130918-135335.jpg

“This is your life. It already started.”

These words brushed across my ear as I was stretching my body into a forward fold.

I had just spent the last couple of hours painting. I was trying to stand and paint. I sit all day so I try to paint standing now. Counterbalance my day with my night.

I was changing my painting a bit, getting freer with it. I started this painting a while ago and I reached a point and simply stopped. It’s a habit I have. To start something, reach a point, stop, and walk away from it. I sometimes think I have a fear of completion. But I’ve been working on that idea. Finishing things. Do you have that problem? I love to start things, it’s all exciting and fresh and new and then I become critical and stop. I’ve really been trying to not do that with art.Not being afraid of what the outcome will be but simply trying it. What’s the worst that could happen? I’m releasing the fear…fear of, well, probably tons of shit. But it’s better to just try it and actually do the art, than have a ton of blank or canvases half-finished sitting around me. If I am going to buy the canvases, I need to fucking paint on them.

20130918-135248.jpg

I’ve been working on discovering a safe place to paint from. I have so many critics in my head that I have had to learn to shut them up so I can just get shit done. I’ve started to do that with meditation on the breath. And more than that, awareness of the breath and meditation on my art. I am aware of my breath, that I am breathing, where I am sending that breath (when I paint it’s usually to my hand to help me make smoother strokes). It’s been creating more of a tranquil space. My mind kind of leaves for a while…takes a break from the day life, and I just flow. I just create. I just, paint. Most of the time it’s not any good, lol. But I’m less scared about that and more excited about the release I am experience and about the space I can visit for a while to relax.

So I was in this space when I had taken a moment to consider my painting. The voices suddenly decided to make an appearance again. “Name it Creative Energy” came into my mind. I looked at the painting, heard the name and liked it…saw how I could grow it and how that idea gave my painting life. Gave it a direction. Before I had just been painting, but now…now I knew where I had been painting from and what I was painting. I became excited about visualizing what that name meant and what I wanted to do with the painting now. “Make that area pulse more, add life here, why is this so dull, make it stand out…”And the voices started to grow, I was losing my breath. I was leaving the meditation state.

20130918-135319.jpg
I looked at my bookshelf, picked up a book, and opened up a page. I have no idea why. I haven’t looked at this book in ten years, but I opened it and read:

“Listening carefully to the tone, where or how does it move and in which direction? When you discover the answer, the tone itself will reveal many directions. do not try to control it yourself!” – Miyajima Sensei

20130918-135350.jpg

I instantly focused on my breath, quieted my mind, went back to my easel and began painting again. I trusted in my connection to the universe and didn’t try to control my brush. I had been given a name for the painting, and I breathed that into my body and embraced that concept, and I breathed it out through my brush onto the canvas.

I continued painting for a while and came to a natural stopping point. And it was here that I was in that forward fold. I was doing some gentle yoga moves to release my muscles and my body. I was slowly releasing the intensity of painting and equally as slowly was allowing the mind back in.

And I started thinking…I wonder if people will like this new direction…I wonder what everyone is doing…I wonder if I have a text message…I wonder if so-and-so is angry at me because I needed to stay home and do art…I wonder if it’s stupid that I chose to stay home and do art instead of going out…I should have just gone out…I’m not going to have any friends…well, I do have so-and-so and so-and-so…I’m not completely alone…but I won’t have those friends…they should be okay I’m in this space…You can imagine this went on for a few more thoughts and it ultimately it ended with an, “as soon as I’m…” statement. I have this vision of who I should be and what my life should look like. And most of my thoughts end there. I think it’s one reason I don’t finish paintings…I have an idea of something, but I’m scared it won’t turn out. And so my thoughts turned to, As soon as I’m…

A new voice piqued in and shrugged, and said, “This IS your life. It already started. Don’t miss out on what’s happening now for what you are hoping for in the future. The future will come regardless, enjoy now so you can enjoy the future. Live now.”

I’m making the choices and the decisions right now that are not only making me happy, feeling healthy and right, but are also growing me for the future I think the universe has planned. But to get there, I have to live now.

This IS your life. It already started. Don’t miss out on today waiting for tomorrow.

20130918-135335.jpg

Lines of focus

I forget the breath, and start to analyze

Breath in. Breath out. I’m watching the breath, being the breath, embracing the breath.

Breath leads my focus. It’s where the meditation begins. Going deeper into the breath narrows my focus. Distractions drop away as I consider the breath, the aspects and what it is saying. I look at my canvas, I pick up the brush – all with the rise and fall of my breath. The lines begin.
Line leading line following line.

lines
Line after line line

 

I deepen the gaze, narrow my focus. I unfurl my brow and breathe in the lines. I lengthen my breaths, matching exhale to inhale. It invigorates. I think to myself, “I think I am actually present right now. How awesome. I should tell —- . I wonder how I did it.” I glance at the lines, they have taken on an interesting flow as I lost my breath and entered into my mind. I had started analyzing. I brought myself back to my breath. I sat in stillness. Reconnecting to the breath, allowing energy to flow through me. I stopped analyzing the lines and just became the lines. The lines were expressing what I needed to express, what I needed to channel. I don’t need to analyze it yet, right now I just need to do it, to breath it, to create that focus. The lines, my focus, the union of body and breath. I took a breath and picked up my paintbrush.

 

I forget the breath, and start to analyze
I forget the breath, and start to analyze

 

I became entranced with the movement of the lines, the quality of the lines, how the brush was setting paint down and how if I adjusted my hands mid-flow it altered the line. What it looked like was unimportant, the breath and energy I was channeling was creating a focus I need. The chatter in my head is overwhelming, frustrating, distracting and inhibiting. The focus that connecting my breath to painting lines is a relief. It focuses my mind so I can find a bit of peace and quiet. The to do lists on 20 different projects drip away, the awkward conversation I had that afternoon and analyzing people’s reactions seemed ridiculous to waste my time on. What my schedule looked like seemed manageable and I started to trust in myself and in the universe. People may actually like me…and quieting my mind and using the breath and my art to release some ideas and thoughts no longer serving me. My breath drank in creative energy as the line danced upon the canvas. And my breath distinguished the destructive energy I was holding on to.

Lines of focus
Lines of focus

I hung the painting back on the wall and just kind of stared at it. My mind still quieted from the artistic mediation I just experienced for two hours (time flew). I just looked at it for a while and then cocked a hip and leaned to the left. In doing so I realized the interplay between the lights and the darks. The lines all depend on how you look at them from a specific angle. Which is exactly what my thoughts try to do…consider all of the perspectives. Glancing at it now, it pulses with energy…seems like all of the thoughts I usually kept in my head were expressed in the lines instead. I channeled them onto the canvas so my mind could quiet and enter a focused, artistic meditation. For those two hours my mind took a breather and my destructive energy was creatively channeled from my chest, down my arm, into my fingers and along the lines of my brush and into the focused lines on the canvas.

 

Depends on how you look at it
Depends on how you look at it

 

And then I went out to my balcony to enjoy the fresh air and to release and restore in my hammock.

 

My soul is a bit crazy

Feeling a bit crazy

It’s amazing all the shit that can happen. And it’s so fucking stupid that here I am again…still with an aching heart and a confused soul. It all really does happen all at once and in a mean fury. Or maybe I just refused to recognize the warning signs so the universe needed to slap me in the face. And the punchline is that I just need to focus on myself.

It’s so interesting how you can be living life thinking that you are supporting yourself and living for yourself and then to all of a sudden realize you have no idea who you are or what you need and that you’ve just been barely surviving and not actually nurturing your soul. I’ve been doing and accomplishing so much over the years. I have been forging an amazing life and feel pretty damn successful for my age in a variety of areas. And don’t get me wrong, I feel great about it and know that they are all steps to living the life I dream of. My life is still all about art, yoga and music. But despite the fact that those are really the only three things in my life (outside of friends and family) I am stressed the fuck out, sleeping all the time, not working out and eating like shit.

It’s like a whirlwind has picked me up and is swinging me around and around and around and I have no idea how to find a dristi, a focal point, and yet I keep going. And it’s sad, I’m not too sure when this whirlwind came. I’m not sure how long I’ve been picked up into it. I realize that I could easily say it was a few months ago, back in September, when I had car problems, I was the sole designer for my job, all of my freelance clients needed something, blah blah blah. I think it’s been longer than a few months.  I think I haven’t been cultivating a calming energy…probably since I graduated college. Damn. Seven fucking years.

Feeling a bit crazy
Feeling a bit crazy

 

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done a lot in those seven years and it has been amazing. I was focused on building the life I wanted and of which I dreamed (yes, I just redid that sentence so I didn’t end on a preposition.) But now it may be time to cultivate a space for myself so I have time to fucking enjoy what I’ve been building. I am tired. I need to now slow down and enjoy it all. That’s not at all to say I’m going to stop progressing, but I think for a moment, I can slow down and just spend time loving…loving myself, loving my art, loving my family and friends, loving my job, loving my cats, fuck, just loving life. I can take a moment to rest and relax. Maybe read a few of the hundreds of books I own (I literally have purchased probably 25-50 new books and have had the time to read not even one of them.)

I do work a lot. And that’s good and fine. But I need to find the time to curl up on the floor in my 10lb blanket (Love love love and love to my Mom for making it!! Here’s the concept behind it.), cuddling with my cats, enjoying their company. Or even getting back to my personal art and enjoying what I with that. I probably could be an amazing artist. Some of my recent work is pretty damn good. I surprised myself anyway…and I do want to play the violin…just for myself. I basically love to express myself and I have given myself little time to explore my self-expression. And that is central to my life.

I have a pretty awesome life. I’ve been moving so fast I didn’t even realize it. I mean, I “knew” it but now it’s time I fucking slow down, rest up and enjoy it!

 

A reflection of the heart

She's on the verge of letting go...

The heart. It is not to be taken lightly. It is a motivator, an inventor, an artist, a lover. It’s said that people can discern your state of being by the energy pouring forth from your heart. The quality of the energy is essential. It’s difficult to add a happy veneer to such energy when you are heartbroken. It’s difficult to tame the enthusiasm when you are happy. The heart opens up to the vast, infinite possibilities of the universe. The expanse that we wake up to every day, and influences the decisions we make. My heart aches. I feel the heaviness, the constriction, the knowledge of what has been lost and never will be again.

My heart cries the tears feeding into the River Styx.

I bend, I bow, I love, I hurt. Always I hurt. The sadness begins with the first alarm, permeates by day, marinates by night and infiltrates my dreams. It fuels my subconscious, I never want to think. Trying to wrap my head around my heart is futile, is disturbing, is depressing. Situations change, people change, this I know. My heart still beats to the melody of what was. For how do we let go, of the impressions that we’ve made, the pain that we’ve caused, the anger that we feel? Fuck me, the stupidity, the tears and all of the drunken rages. Those spirits give life to the damaged soul.

The heart is a special part of me. It is not a plaything, or a toy…but I gave it away to a boy.

The energy from my heart is stained with desolation. Residue of pain. Vital energy gone, taken, and given to another, a shadow of me.

The energy of the heart is essential. It is the story of your being, writing the current page of your life. It is a guide, a friend, an enemy. It is the novel you read each day, the lens through which you see. The heart supports you, beats for you, is your lifeline, and yet can betray you. The heart can be your link to the world, the space from which you connect. It is your personal Grimmoire, the spell and curse you cast.

The heart is tremendous. It can weigh you down or lift you up. It can grace your lips with a smile or your cheek with tears. It creates and destroys, is precious and mundane. It is the place of emotions, the place of blood. Both pulsate life.

I gave part of my heart away. And he still has it. Toys with it. A friend with benefits nothing more. To be used and played with. Acknowledged when it suits the lover, discarded when there’s another.

The heart can infuriate, the heart can soothe. The red cadence consumes.

Woman in red painting by MSaxxy

The answer to everything seems to be: Meditation

meditationArea

 

Maybe it’s because I do yoga and that tends to influence the randomness I read on the internet, but most articles I read seem to suggest that meditation is the key. Everywhere I look there is new evidence on meditation and how wonderful it is.

For example, this article on Mind Body Green shows pictures of some people’s transformation at a month-long meditation retreat. And Tiny Buddha has an article dispelling meditation myths and telling everyone why they should start today.

 

To be that girl, I’ve been trying to meditate for a long time now. And let me tell you, it is freakin’ difficult. The actual meditating part isn’t so hard. I love just sitting down on my soft meditation pillow, putting on my over-sized headphones (yes, I normally listen to music), and settling in. I can normally get into those Delta waves pretty quickly and I am zoned in. Although I do appreciate the help of my Om Harmonics download. But once I’m there, I’m pretty good. Mind you, I think 15 minutes of meditation is awesome, it’s not like I’m sitting there for hours.

However, finding my way to my meditation cushion is a challenge. I only try for 15 minutes and yet I still haven’t been able to find a consistent time that works (my schedule is pretty inconsistent). I should probably just start out slowly and meditate one day a week or something, until I can work it in as a habit. And I really really want to. All of the articles describing the benefits of meditating scream out to me to sit my ass down and meditate. It would be so beneficial in every area of my life. It’s amazing that it is so beneficial and should be essential to my lifestyle, and I yet in my social media, technology-tapped world, I feel like it is a luxury.

 

It’s amazing that I can know how beneficial meditating is and yet can’t seem to find the time to sit my ass down to do it.

 

How do you find the time? What tips do you have that have helped you make meditating a habit? Or are you in the same Paripurna Navasana asana I’m in and haven’t been able to cultivate the meditation habit?

Photography Prints

Sometimes I forget

Sometimes I forget.

To listen. To actually shut my mouth and quiet my thoughts and listen. My shallow desire to connect, to share, to be seen as someone who knows has left me as someone waiting to speak.

It has left me inauthentic.

Sometimes I forget, that it’s not about me. That though I am the center of my world, that so is everyone else.

I forget that we are all connected. That we share in the universal energy.

Sometimes I forget.
To appreciate the silence.

 

Snow Fun in May

Something I find interesting about my job, and really any job in marketing or where you have to plan far ahead, is that I am designing for events in December. It’s May and I’m sitting behind my desk trying to brand Snow Fun Blood Drives. What’s ironic is that the weather has been moody each time I’ve worked on this project. The weather wants to be sympathetic.

20120511-113643.jpg

20120511-113711.jpg

20120511-113756.jpg

20120511-113825.jpg

20120511-113847.jpg

20120511-113913.jpg

These are the options I am sending to the client. A decent variety. This client is particularly difficult and I am providing so many options to hopefully satiate their need for ownership. Which they should feel. It makes sense. So hopefully they are satisfied with at least one of these options.

It’s interesting that this morning I deleted Option 4 and then decided to throw it back in just because. And every person on my team really like it. Made it to the final round. Interesting how that works. I may have just deleted it because it was the first one I designed. Who knows. I actually presented 17 options to my team and they narrowed them down to 6. Kind of sucked that my art director thought I grabbed images from the Internet to make up the last two options. She suggested I illustrate them all, which is what I did. I put a lot of time into drawing those images, scanning them, and then penning them in Illustrator. They are all original vectors. Can’t always satisfy everyone though. She only slightly contributes to my misanthropy.

At any rate, I’m super glad to have had so much time to work on this, and even though I just planted my garden I think head Snow Fun graphics turned out pretty damn good. I’m excited to hear what the clients think! Wish me luck!

A reflection on usable art

I posted previously on usable art. That my man and I were trying to turn out personal art into usable, everyday items. I may still be our number one customer, mainly because it takes time to get products published let alone marketing them. It’s all a process, but we are taking the first step and that’s still exciting. And I have to say, I love being surrounded by our wonderful art.

20120509-120655.jpg

My wall calendar. A brilliant splash of color on my otherwise dull grey cubicle wall.

20120509-120810.jpg

My coffee/tea mug keeping me awake.

20120509-120900.jpg

A print reminding me that there is life outside this cubey.

20120509-121008.jpg

And my water bottle keeping me hydrated.

Such amazing art on things I use everyday. It really is genius and I hope more people will support these products. Support local artists, and the amazing talent that exists in side.

Please check out our Minaxus site. We aren’t nearly done uploading products. But hopefully you’ll see something you like. And if you let us know, we can change the colors or whatever you need to be happy.