We long to belong.
Being validated by and belonging to a human group has been recognized as an essential need in all human beings.
We crave appreciation. Acceptance and valuation in the eyes of others.
It is a very deep need. Fulfillment of which is a vital factor for harmonious development.
Because of this crucial importance, we are also scared of rejection, and disapproval.
The pain of being blamed, judged, disavowed, is too much to bear and we don’t want to risk it though we are always quick to criticize ourselves harshly. As a result, the closer we are to someone, the higher the stakes, and the bigger the temptation to hide and fake.
But humans are emotional beings and emotions are best lived when we can share them…
So here we are, wanting to get close, but closeness is risky business. Unsettling. Dangerous.
We might lose credentials in someone’s eyes, just by daring being who we are.
Since day one, as babes, we try to please, and we try to be safe: we catch every nuance of voice, every look, every contact is an indicator. We did good or not, we are approved of or not, we will be safe… or not.
And day after day we start learning to lie, to hide, to wear masks, to please and fit in and to be acceptable for those around us, to whom we own safety and survival.
This is a strong survival tool, deeply rooted instinct, that keeps on going far into adulthood.
As a matter of fact, in the dark ages being ostracized meant death; out of the tribe chances of survival were very slim. Hence being kept inside the group was vital. Literally so.
If you don’t see me you can’t hurt me.
In today’s culture, and for most people, it is still more important to maintain appearances than to dare being fully oneself in the open.
Not that we have monstrous flaws.
No. We hide what could make us vulnerable.
Not wearing a mask, not pretending, is taking the risk to expose our soft underbelly, to be easy to hurt.
To keep appearances might be a good protection mechanism but it has a major caveat : what I feel the need to hide is always related to what makes me truly happy, what animates me, what fuels my bliss.
Inside my safe shell, I end up smothering my true self, stifling what ever passionate elan that could give me away.
Wanting to be safe makes me repress my unique aliveness and refrain from beaming my inner light into the world.
Safe but unfulfilled
When we avoid being vulnerable, particularly with people who dearly matter to us, we hinder true connection.
If I dare not being seen (as the only me there is and will always be), how could I be recognized and appreciated by my soul mate for instance? Or my soul tribe.
If I spend my time toning down and dwarfing the specifics that come with being me, I take the wind out of my own sails. One can’t fly one’s true colors while camouflaging in prudent beige.
The bottom line is that if I want to experience the whole gamut of human connection, of love, of intimacy, of friendship, of parenting or any other deep relation, I have to quiet the old lizard brain and take the reins with the most evolved part of me, the growing edge of myself, always curious, always discovering, always eager for beingness…
If I want to live fully and be fulfilled I have to take a leap of faith, drop pretenses and make room for authenticity.
Be visible. Seeable. Vulnerable.
Then and only then, can I thrive and share, pulling all the stops, fearlessly splashing in joyful puddles of unseen depth, and meet you there, to play and explore and exist, as we were born to do.
Scary? You bet!
But NOT doing this means a life of half lived relationships, half success, and often lukewarm happiness or worse, emotional unrest.
Half way or full out ?
I believe that Life is prodigious, miraculous, unfathomable and exquisite if we let it have its way we us.
Being scared every now and then is natural and part of the game, but to honor this life of ours, to get all the juice out of it before we check out of this bodily experience, we need to give ourselves permission to be who we are both in all our un-replicable individuality, and our universal humanness.
We need to marvel at our odds and be awed by every breath.
We need to cherish every quirk, every weakness and every strength that is part of our unique DNA and embrace who we came to be.
By doing this we reclaim enormous amounts of energy we used to waste on smoke screens and persona and we become able to offer the same openness to everyone around us and not feel threatened by differences. We let go of an exhausting need for control.
Best of all, we can lean in what made us feel vulnerable, and be loved and appreciated for it!
Because that exact thing that we don’t want to show, share or reveal, is usually directly linked to our ability to thrive.
To your brave unique self.
There is tremendous power in taking entire responsibility for our lives and the results we get.
Unfortunately, when we grew up believing that Lady Luck is calling the shots and that Life is something happening randomly to us, the concept of complete responsibility can ruffle our feathers a bit.
Some people occasionally get angry and react quite negatively to the concept.
If one’s mind set is of being a victim and trying to cope all the time, being unaware of one’s tight interaction with what we call reality, one can go straight into an aggravating feeling of guilt.
This feeling of guilt triggers deep sadness or anger, while the notion of empowerment, utterly foreign in that context, gets entirely overlooked.
Self-mastery is all about taking responsibility, being in charge of one’s emotions, beliefs and motivations, and taking actions accordingly to one’s purpose, knowing that we are not separated from the universe around us.
It can be greatly disturbing, indeed, for someone who spent most of their life solidly convinced that reality is an outside continuum, a momentous chain of events colliding randomly and affecting us independently of anything we can think, feel or do.
Many authors in the 1900s, long before the current scientific observations of quantum physics, or epigenetics (our emotions influence/activate our genes), described the ability to influence our life’s circumstances with our thoughts and feelings.
If we accept the possibility that our average emotional state (our energetic signature) generates a certain quality of vibration, and if we add to that our freedom of choice to make decisions and take action every day in a myriad of ways, we come to terms with being powerfully responsible for the way our life unfolds.
It doesn’t mean that we will not confronted to hardship, or extreme situations, because after all we are not alone here and everything is connected, but it means that we can learn and navigate Life’s currents deliberately rather than drift aimlessly.
It means that we can always look for what serves our growth, and others’ in everything.
It means we don’t live in randomness, but in a very intelligent and organized universe to which we are connected vibrationally.
Now, the more we get comfortable with this, the more we practice handling our thoughts and actions in harmony with our most important purposes, the more we become skilled and intuitively guided.
We can actually develop our power and become masters of our destiny.
Having an extraordinary life will require extraordinary thinking and focused actions.
One will have to keep in mind one’s purpose, for all decisions one takes… Everything is generating results, including not taking a decision or not taking action!
There is no guilt at all in this because most of us have been raised in a society that ignored completely these concepts and because we always did the best we could, exactly where we were in our evolution.
The time spent not knowing is behind us. There is no use to regret anything.
There is however, the open door of choice now, inviting us to take the wheel and stir our life in the direction of our deepest desire.
Responsible we can accept and enjoy to be, and coming to this realization, we can start to design our inner landscape and our next step to take…
To your power!
There is a lot of preconceived notions about artists; a major one is: Artists are not business people.
Most of the time with the exception of a few, artists are not interested in the business part of their craft and that is widely and deeply supported by the popular notion above.
Self verifying concept… We tend to stick to who we think we are.
Meanwhile, every artist pursuing a passion and practicing their skills wishes to be able to do their art without having to worry about bills to pay and retirement plans… ( one doesn’t want to retire from one’s true love in the first place anyway).
I saw it again and again: talk about projected sales, overhead costs, profit margin and other specifics of earning money with most artists and their eyes glaze over; worn out platitudes are uttered such as ” I am not a business person”, “I don’t do Art for money and I don’t want to spoil it”, “I don’t like selling”, “it’s too hard”, “I don’t have a mind for numbers”… etc… etc… (I should know, because I deluded myself with this kind of flapdoodle for many years).
The truth is, every artist I met, who was not highly successful, had a DESIRE to earn a good living with their art.
They dreamed of it. They wished it could be done. They told me: “You are so lucky to have your own gallery!”.
Yes I am, indeed. I am lucky to have been inspired enough to decide one day to create what I dreamed about.
I am lucky the right place showed up after I tried about 5 or 6 other ones in one year.
I am lucky key people believed in my potential when I signed my lease.
But most of all I am lucky because I usually refuse to believe and live by the limiting rules of common thinking.
Because you see, selling your art when you are a productive artist is where the rubber meets the road.
Selling is the second leg you stand on. The first being of course, the particular skills and talents that you keep honing.
There is a mind blowing absurdity in neglecting to integrate business knowledge as a key of being a full blown artist!
Let me break the news to you:
~chances to be “discovered” out of the blue are very thin, even if you are very good at what you do.
~getting into one or several galleries AND generate enough revenue to live comfortably means you’d have to slave away, in most cases.
~if you don’t really learn the mechanics of business, you are going to struggle to grow. I know I did.
~when you don’t want to sell, you either deprive the world of your work or you limit the amount of work you can do (worrying about bills or keeping a 9-5 day job WILL limit you).
~an artist who does art on the side is a hobbyist.
~being financially rewarded won’t kill your creativity, at the contrary, it will free you. (Do you think O’Keeffe, Dali, Michelangelo, or Adams were less creative because they sold?)
~what you should know and don’t know is what limits you.
The bohemian label tagged upon artistry is a huge curse in itself.
There is NO advantage at struggling. There is NO glory at verifying the “starving artist” myth.
And there is definitely NO antagonism between being a fully passionate artist AND a successful entrepreneur.
Actually it is where the biggest successes are made, at the cross between unlimited artistic exploration and self-worthy claim of one’s retribution for a work well done.
I went into Art by choice, by love, by desire. I knew I was “an Artist” when I was but just a kid.
And guess what? I did not give much thought about learning business guide lines… for many years.
I was still thinking along the line of “being” an artist versus delivering art to the world in a sustainable way.
Being an Artist is a cool concept about oneself. It is self centered.
Making Art and making it available to the world, were it belongs, is a profession, it is outbound. And it is a business.
If you know in your heart that Art is what you do best and want to do most, stop using excuses to stay stuck.
Unless you are already well off and on your way to stardom or comfortably earning enough for a good life, give yourself the gift of hard cold truth and make a decision.
Truth: you need to learn things you don’t know to succeed.
Decision: find what you need to know and start LEARNING, then APPLY it.
I am once again at this point myself: what I learned so far brought me were I am today and I wish to grow further, to give myself the comfort of a more reliable income, of more freedom to go and travel the world, to create more, to help others more, to innovate more and take more risks in what I do.
So I am on a mission, again. I am taking stock of what I don’t know, so I can focus and learn it.
To go further.
Would I prefer to be sponsored, gifted, protected, pampered, and do only Art? Sure!
When it comes my way, I’ll be grateful and accept all the support I get.
Meanwhile, if I pull up my sleeves, start learning verified rules and implementing my new knowledge, I’ll get new results in as short a time as it will take me to graduate to my new level of self.
That’s the thing: at any level I find myself to be stuck is where I stopped growing.
It doesn’t matter what is the specific bit involved.
If I want to grow as an artist, I have to become a more evolved, more skillful, more efficient version of me.
I just need to keep on growing up.
The first step is knowing what I don’t know and go learn it; the good news is: you can do that too.
To your own growth!
Crisis is a mistaken gift
When crisis enters our life we tend to cringe and fight and resist rather than understand what it really means and how we will benefit from it.
It is human nature to be afraid of anything that upsets our current equilibrium, and when crisis knocks at our door we are most likely disturbed and distressed by it.
Our brain is a very thrifty apparatus that hates spending energy when it could spare it and any neuronal alteration costs us more energy than keeping old pathways going. So we tend to cling to what has worked so far, what is routine, what is automatic and well known. That is our default setting: we conserve.
When we are challenged by a crisis, we do not see it as beneficial at first!
We shrink in fear, we get anxious, we get angry, we enter the blame game, refusal, denial, thus creating all kinds of aggravation and additional pain and chaos.
We cling to what was and shrink from the discomfort of what is currently happening.
We think crisis is bad. We think there is failure.
That is unfortunate because crisis is just a strong signal to upgrade.
You see, when a crisis occurs, there is no blame to cast, nobody to condemn, no guilt to feel, no wrongness at all.
Crisis simply tells us that the previously working system DOES NOT WORK any more.
It lets us know that we are ready for the next level.
We have outgrown ourselves.
Any crisis, what so ever, is only the signal that a system is outdated.
If you think about your computer you will accept this statement very easily.
The beautiful truth is that it applies to all systems and any crisis!
At a personal level, local level, national, societal, cultural, worldwide, any crisis is the signal that a new system, a new equilibrium, a new paradigm has to be created.
And that is ALL we need to focus on.
Instead of feeling victimized we can opt for innovation.
By doing so, we lower our discomfort and avoid most of the suffering, despair, regret, judgement, etc… that come with resistance and blame.
Of course this is not common thinking and it may feel counter intuitive.
Let’s take a daring step here and consider for a moment that most circumstances are neutral, and that only our attitude toward them makes them calamities or blessings.
Truth is we always have a choice: to resist or to embrace, and that is what creates either pain or ease.
Life is never still and change is rarely linear, hence crisis regularly shows up, as a natural phenomenon inherent to Evolution.
A perfect example that we can all relate to, is how teenagers live in an on-going state of crisis which really makes sense if we realize they are adapting to a new reality, new modalities, new parameters, at a very rapid pace.
They are upgrading to adulthood.
Now take a classic marital crisis… So much pain and drama can be avoided if we accept the simple fact that what ever system had been installed and lived by up to now, is just not adequate any more!
That it is only a case of evolution.
No need for blame. No need for judgement. No need for guilt.
The old set up is obsolete and not serving us well any more: crisis occurs, we need to simply accept it and create a new one, whatever it is.
The size, location, apparent causes or time frame of any crisis is irrelevant.
When we have a health crisis, otherwise called disease, we are facing the need to change our ways, be more body aware, restore better health.
When crisis emerges in a societal organization, we should not waste any energy in trying to patch it up but instead recognize the call to answer a new need.
Similarly, a world wide crisis such as man made ecological disaster, famine or human exodus, reveals the need for radical upgrade of human behavior at a planet level.
By accepting that crisis reveals unavoidable need for growth we can skip getting stuck.
At this point, I’m sure you start to feel a little better about any crisis you may be going through right now, as an individual or as part of a whole massive number of people.
Despite your natural dislike of crisis, you certainly can see its useful nature and shift your mindset about it. If you do, and do it consistently, you will discover that your life becomes infinitely easier and fulfilled through your ability to move toward change willingly, open to the next step, eager for improvement and expecting betterment and growth…
Shifting from crisis to curiosity is invaluable wisdom.
If there is no blame, only genuine interest, we can move forward optimally for ourselves and all others involved and we can INITIATE growth immediately.
When we pull up our sleeves, put on our explorer cap and step bravely into the flow of ever moving forward evolution, we discover that it is easier than we thought to quiet down our innate fear of change.
We reconnect with the joyous curiosity we lived by as a constantly growing child, when exploration was at the core of every day, when new things were exciting and our willingness to experience Life was insatiable.
There is only a small gap from trepidation to excitement and we can bridge that gap with faith.
Faith in our ability to grow, faith in the infinite renewing power of Life itself, faith in the ever present gift of positiveness and most of all, faith in the absolute perfection of this wondrous universe we are part of.
Relax, breathe, be open, be confident.
A few hundreds years ago, we thought the Earth was flat and the sun orbiting around it…
Seems we upgraded to a new paradigm.
It never stops.
To your own upgrade dear one…
The only way to get somewhere is to move toward it.
This is not an earth shattering statement is it?
But then, if we don’t apply its simple truth, we stay stuck.
Tomorrow will be at best like today. And then again. And again.
Our goal will be like a speck on the horizon, not getting any closer.
In fact, when we don’t evolve, we shrink, we stiffen, we calcify into the past version of us…
We make assumptions based on fear, like…
Life is unsure, unsafe and uncertain.
Or so it may seem, from a still standpoint, when we try to stand by and judge, when we assess and ponder and fret. When we doubt and argue with Life itself.
But then, if we take a deep big breath and jump in, try it on, take chances, get wet… and become a willing part of it all, embracing what is, loving the ride, everything good to learn, everyone a teacher, every roadblock a stepping stone… we emerge on the other side!
Down the rabbit hole… Through the veil… Magic.
In the open, the vastness, the limitless, the wonder, the becoming of every day’s adventure…
There is no reality but the one we invoke, the way we perceive, the name we give to what is.
But you tell me: “There IS a reality! Gosh! Look at the world! It’s pure madness out there, besides, we don’t get any younger, illness is everywhere and I have so many bills to pay…”
Can we for a minute let go of what we believe about Life?
Can we let go of the fear we cling on with both hands and grab a juicy slice of “Yesness”?
Can we for a split second jump out of our habitual way to look at everything and imagine…? IMAGINE that it is ALL a gift !
Every day, every event, every challenge, every breath… a present to unwrap, to receive, to cherish… because it is raw material, opportunities, yet unnamed, yet uncharted, yet un-llived.
Life is motion.
Live is anything we make of it.
Life is now.
Step one: Breathe like if your life depended on it.
Step two : Receive everything as diamond in the rough.
Step three: Smile for no reason.
Step four: Move your body… feel it. You are alive. There is a reason to smile!
Step five: Do what you love for the bliss of it.
Step six: Repeat.
You are now unstoppable.
(Bonus: when we shift our perception, our goal moves toward us…)
You are a whole and perfect soul, never forget it.
Years ago, I used to feel slightly irked when people told me what a “gift” I had.
When told about my gift it felt like thousands of hours of work, spent honing my skills, were being dismissed, replaced in people’s mind by a magic and effortless delivery of which I was the lucky beneficiary.
But I got used to the comment and did not mind it any more after a while.
I was not aware yet of the true nature of the Gift I was being given…
Awareness comes in layers for me, uncovering evidence slowly, gradually, like zooming back with sharper focus and taking more and more in, getting to understand a wider and more intricate web of connections between all the parts of my life and seeing the perfection of it all. Every insight a Aha moment… Maybe you can relate to that?
It all started by watching. I have always been a watcher.
As a sick child, home bound, I observed everything acutely and loved spending time at my neighbor’s house, cuddling with his mutt and watching him paint colorful canvasses. I drew with pencils and loved it. I guess I got the bug right there and then… who knows?
Fast forward many years, numerous exhibitions later and a bold move to the US.
I painted a full lot, following my inclination without other intention than giving it my best and as I got to witness people’s reactions to my work, I heard their great sighs of appreciation, read their body language, and realized the stress relieving, uplifting qualities of my paintings. They affected people’s mood in a positive way!
From then on, I chose to use my skills to infuse each piece with the most positive charge I can fathom.
In 2008, as I dealt with a serious health issue in alternative ways, I could see how much being “squeaky clean” intensified my work’s qualities. As much as my life fed my work, my work came to shape my life; it became clear that to be able to create meditative, relaxing, healing paintings, I was best to keep my mind and my body as vibrant and clean as I could… that was a gift in itself.
I became very selective in everything I let in: organic food, no alcohol, no drugs, no TV… my vibratory state of being is my compass in all things.
It is all at once a demanding and liberating way to live, and a few years brought more growth in me than the many ones before.
Today it dawned on me that, while I painted with the desire to bring relief and bliss to the world, my work has been pivotal in cultivating my own inner peace, my own deep seated joy, my own well being. I was being given a portal, a two-way energetic channel.
Today I can feel connected to the rest of the universe in a very essential way, I can keep my balance and my willingness to go for integration rather than separation, I feel at peace in the midst of troublesome social antagonisms, I live every day with joy bubbling up at the beauty of all of Life and I realize that yes: I indeed have a Gift.
It is not in the execution of each painting: that’s expertise; no, the Gift is in the way I am graced with what I intend, coming back manifold, keeping me in a powerful stream of ecstatic beingness.
Because of my it I live an extraordinary life, at more levels than I can tell, so now, if someone says: “You have such a gift!” I just smile and agree.
When we let ourselves follow the conventional trend and believe we are randomly subjected to outer circumstances, we tend to focus on, talk about and live from these circumstances.
We have a story to tell and it is usually a story where events are out of our reach for the most part and where we feel dis-empowered, subject to either good or bad luck, where all we can do is to enjoy, endure, cope or revolt.
In the story Life is happening to us.
We all have a story to tell.
That story is the narrative we make from the perspective we choose (or were trained) to have.
If we look at a group of people having a communal experience (in times of disasters or extraordinary events) we can observe a vast disparity of reactions, and ways to deal with circumstances that come directly from the diversity of perspectives and stories each person holds true.
We can say that we live by the story we tell ourselves.
More often than not, we also share that story and reinforce its power, its “realness” by using it over and over to explain why we are where we are in our life at any given moment.
Further more, generally speaking, most conversations are mostly about what we do not enjoy. What ails us. What is of concern.
Most of the stories we tell express our causes for discontent.
The story is our “because”.
I did not do what I loved because…
I lost my temper because…
I am unhappy because…
Unfortunately every time we do that we set ourselves up for more of what we are talking about.
We keep ourselves in the vibration of what HAS happened and lay the blueprint for the same.
We live our life turned TOWARD THE PAST, instead of leaning toward what we want, what we enjoy, what we aspire to, what we want ahead…
The focus point is not where it should be for our benefit.
The story we live by is stronger than our desires.
It is stronger than our confidence.
Stronger than our self-love.
And as it unfolds, the past we talk about becomes the mold for our future.
From a metaphysical stand point, the key understanding is this: what we keep on talking about believing that we only narrate what’s past, is actually the first degree of existence of what will be coming…
In a nut shell when we tell our story we shape our future.
If we let go of that model for a moment and adventurously wander into the infinite possibilities of quantum living, we get back behind our wheel and harness the power of choice and deliberate living.
The choice to tell a new story is self-mastery at work. We can choose at any time any day, to not talk about the frustrations of our past (by the way, 10 minutes ago IS the past) and start talking (and thinking) about what we enjoy presently, what is source of pleasure, what is dear to our heart, and what we foresee that would be an upgrade or a source of good.
We can actually focus on what we want to get done, when and how, on what we can see that would work, what we can feel is profitable, what we are ready to stretch for, what we love and what makes us feel wonderful.
It is indeed a choice.
We are so trained to think otherwise that we tend to cling to our old behaviors and old stories even when we are aware of this fact.
On and on, the stories go.
Who was the bad guy, why we were the victims and why we need a hero… The model is always the same, with so many variations in details…
Freedom is truly at arm reach…
Just a thought away.
Just a story away.
Let’s talk about what we want to see.
Let’s think about what we love.
Let’s focus on HEALTH and healthy behaviors, instead of fighting disease.
Let’s talk about love instead of dislikes.
Let’s invent solutions instead of broadcasting problems.
Let’s smile at the idea that we are the co-creators and powerful engineers of our future, by the way we feel in our present.
Let’s feel like a million bucks NOW, and see what unfolds.
To your co-creation!
The end of 2016 for all people living by this calendar, represents the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one.
Of course Life keeps on doing what Life does… regardless of calendars.
But symbolic markers are good opportunities to take stock, to reflect and to ponder.
Who have we been and how did we live this life of ours throughout this cycle… what felt significant and what felt great.
What pushed our buttons and what we let go of…
As we do our reviewing, we tend to classify events and moments as good or bad, as successes or failures, as threats or victories… and we lose sight of what essentially has been ours each day: 24 hours of wondrous Life.
Taken for granted.
Crammed full with mundane obligations, dulled with habits or spoiled with fears and moods.
I choose to receive each of these days of my life as a gift.
And sometimes, you know, I am not thrilled about the packaging.
Sometimes circumstances rock my world. Sometimes I am tempted to be critical of what I receive.
Sometimes I don’t see the gift, really.
But I keep reminding myself: this is my gift from Life.
And as I do, I feel my heart swell with unmitigated grateful receiving.
Everything that has shaped my life so far, everything that I sometimes regretted, blamed, feared, or raged about… it brought me to being alive today, right here, right now.
What keeps the galaxies turning and makes each snow flake unique is also keeping my heart beating and my hair growing and my neurons firing… I am part of the cosmos. Life is breathing me.
What I don’t fully understand or appreciate is still part of my curriculum and as such, part of my becoming, part of my experience as pure consciousness embodied in a human form.
And as such, it is a true privilege.
When I choose consciously to receive everything in my life as the sacred gift that it is, I am given new doors, new opportunities, new understandings and new experiences, and I become greater in the process.
As I become greater and feel grateful for all of it, Life responds with yet more greatness.
Really all it takes is to stop fighting, stop trying to out-think what makes planets, butterflies and stem cells and makes them so well… and surrender in wonder, awe and reverence to it.
All it takes is to look at the gift and be grateful, and look for clues, look for ease, listen to the soft whisper of grace, of soul driven desire to silence the loud voices of doubt, worry and insecurity.
This day is a gift.
This year was a gift.
The year to come, the breath to come are a gift.
When we live our life every day from desire, from wonderment, from willingness to flow with it, miracles do happen, all the time.
One day we’ll leave this state of being humanly embodied and discover what’s next, but as long as my blood circulates in my veins, as long as my breath comes in and out, as long as I am given to be here, I want to be so grateful for and so trustful in the Life force in me that I don’t get in its way.
I know by past experiences that when I am in that state of being, in that flow of thinking, in that way of feeling, Life gives me exactly what I need and more.
Take a moment dear ones, let go of the pesky random thoughts of criticism, fear and regret… 2016 has been a fabulous gift and so will be 2017, if we let it.
Blessings and light.
Commissioned trompe l’oeil on a client’s entry floor
What to do if you are an artist or a free-lance professional in any case, and a potential client comes to you asking for an odd job? Something related to what you do generally, but not quite in your usual range,
not in your comfort zone ?
I had this happen about a year ago when a very nice couple came by my Blissful Gallery and asked me if I would consider painting a spread of life size leaves… on their entry floor…!?
I had some stenciled Gingko leaves on the floor in the back room at the gallery, so I could see what prompted the question, but as I asked what the lady had in mind, and it appeared that she wanted something a lot more realistic and elaborate.
What to do? Of course this was a far cry from my easel work. Further more, it was going to require another kind of medium (acrylics) and another set up, another technique… in short, was I wanting to take up the task?
I first visited their home and looked at the floor I would be working on.
I thought that it could be very charming, and I liked the idea, so I said “Yes” and gave them an estimate of my time and price… which they accepted readily. We fixed a date and I showed up on a beautiful sunny morning in October , with all my brushes, paints, cut up pics of real size leaves
and basically a ton of stuff to work with… water jar, paints, palette, rags, brushes, varnish…
I had spent time at home printing photos of oak leaves, maple leaves, in various colors and sizes and cut them up to use them as a mock up with my client. We spent some time together, spreading the paper leaves on the beautiful wood floor right in the entryway and moved them around until they were “just so”.
Then I went to work. Outlining the shapes, preparing each surface, mixing colors…
Preparing and shaping…
I worked all day.
It was looking fantastic when I left at the end of the day… but I was far from finished.
That’s where the rubber hit the road: estimating an odd job in time and cost is not that easy, nor often accurate.
I had planned to get done in one day what actually took me TWO entire days of non-stop work…!
The result was indeed worth every minute:
My clients were so happy with the result, as it went beyond their expectations, they readily revised our initial agreement and agreed to pay for what I should have quoted the work in the first place.
As embarrassing as it was for me to have been so far off in my estimate, they were there the whole time and could see the work progress, so they were very understanding.
Still, there was something to take home with me: when writing an estimate for an odd commissioned work, it is better to OVER estimate it, and let your clients know that since it is after all, an odd job, you might be off mark somewhat.
Then if it goes faster than you expected, you can always surprise them with a lower cost at the end.
That would be better than being far underestimating…
In any case, should we accept odd jobs, taking us out of our comfort zone and having us stretch our techniques, explore new elements?
Definitely yes, with three added conditions:
1/ the job is clearly defined: the client knows what they want and communicate with clarity
2/ the work is exciting, interesting, or fun and it feels good to go for it;
3/ there is a primary sense of trust, of confidence and respect, right off, with the client.
Will I take more odd commissioned work? Of course. Because it is really good to stretch out of one’s comfort zone.
Will I refuse some? Yes. Because some requests are just too vague, or too far fetched, or boring…
Basically the deal breaker or maker is a gut feeling, which is for me the most important part of ANY job.
I love what I do…
It has been said that peace of mind is to be sought more than gold itself for it is an unsurpassable riches.
But being deliberately serene, consistently, in the face of most circumstances, is not part of our culture.
In fact, it is considered normal to react and to be very affected by circumstances, on a regular basis. It is accepted that we may stay stuck in a rut if the event was “bad” enough.
It is “human” after all.
And one doesn’t want to become detached and cold now, does one?
Here I’ll ask : when did indulging in overwhelm ever help us?
Most accidents, suicides, crimes and outrageous behaviors are committed in a state of overwhelm. Loosing one’s control, getting upset, reacting, being depressed, loosing hope… all these mental states and their accompanying physical feelings are usually making things worse at all levels for us and others.
In fact, the more we let our emotions run amok, the more powerless we feel, the narrower becomes our vision and the worse results we get, which feeds the aggravating loop of coping and surviving instead of living from a creative standpoint.
It has been studied that fear and worry, anger, resentment, shame, all negative emotions, when indulged regularly for an extended amount of time, have a noxious effect on our very cells and turn on genes that ultimately bring on disease. They also create a chemical dependence in the body for more of the same! As a result, toxic thoughts become chronic, felt as “natural”, part of one’s comfort zone.
Then what can we do to break the loop…?
I dare say: we need to practice inner peace and make it a priority.
Equanimity and peace of mind can be developed exactly like any other skill, by repetition.
It requires awareness and willingness to be at the helm of our mind. It takes will and desire. It takes doggedness and persistence.
We step in our power when we practice serenity and train ourselves to respond, instead of reacting.
When I know what I feel and how I want to feel, I can redirect my thoughts, help my body handle what emotional upheaval is going on, and choose to stay poised in a very lucid manner.
From a physiological standpoint, peace of mind translates in an organized and harmonious brain activity which optimizes all our vital functions and a greater state of consciousness.
Peace of mind is healing, at a personal and at a global level.
Keeping a flow of positive, serene, optimistic thoughts and a joyful curious attitude, is a powerful support for health and a source of more positive experiences in the outer world.
It opens doors, brings unexpected solutions and new insights, it defuses resistance and reconnects us to the source of Life itself.
Above all, it really gives us access to profound happiness.
The kind of bliss that comes from within… and brings new outer circumstances accordingly.
How can we practice inner peace ?
From my personal experience it takes a sequence of steps that goes more or less like this:
1/ an ardent desire for a greater life in general, or a particular healing in one area
2/ the understanding that our emotional state and the thoughts behind it are pivotal for that healing
3/ commitment to do what it takes to harmonize our inner world and to focus on harmony itself
4/ taking time to sit or lay quietly in gratitude for all that is good, at least twice a day for several minutes, in meditation or in contemplation, usually at wake up and before sleep. Minding our Breath.
5/ growing awareness of what we feel and how we can always reach for highest ground throughout the day. EVERY day. (Using support as needed: mentor, books, audios, workshops, groups, yoga, etc…)
6/ celebrating small achievements and one’s life in general with unlimited appreciation
The wonderful part is what we become in the process and the realization of how the way we feel affects the world…
James Allen says it best:
“Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this: in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly on the helm of thought.”
May the season be propitious to your practice and to your fulfillment…
May you feel at peace.