A Life Well Lived brings Joy to Others

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Jo Ann Albright, A dear friend and fellow artist passed away last weekend (back row, stage left). She originated our Art Group, Gateway Artists; and encouraged and inspired us in many many ways. She will be missed.

Jo Ann will be remembered for her “big sky” watercolor paintings inspired by her home in Iowa. Her tropical paintings were created at her second home in Florida. Jo Ann was also a member of the Fort Myer’s Beach Art Association and many others during her lifetime as a Snow Bird in the Fort Myers area.

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Life not only goes by quickly, but it’s filled with unexpected sometimes life-threatening occurrences. We are usually unaware of the undercurrents that swirl beneath the surface. Nothing can be taken for granted, not good health, a secure job, or unexpected consequences that come as a result of the many choices we make each day.

Clearly, as the poets have said for centuries: “Life is fleeting;” and from our human perspective random.  That life could be part of a divine plan rather than simply happenstance is denied by many.

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My friend, Jo Ann, had no fear of death. She had an aneurism in an artery that she knew could give out at anytime. She walked by faith and enjoyed the goodness that life offered her. She knew that her life upon the earth was just a matter of time. She lived as though she had all the time in the world.

As someone once said, we all have our death date stamped on our heel the moment we’re born. Life is only temporary, but some people act as if it weren’t. In fact, they abuse their bodies with poor nutrition, junk food, drugs, narcotics, and risky behavior which only hastens their death.

Here and now is a sparkling opportunity not only to thrive, but to enjoy your life. I’m not talking about self-gratification and pleasure. I’m talking about making the most of your time here upon the earth by using your talents and gifts to enrich the world, and by reaching out to help others not to destroy or impede their personal journey.

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We should provide stepping stones not stumbling stones to those around us. Our gifts and talents should be a light to guide other’s way. Unfortunately, our world seems to be succumbing to hatred and selfishness. Would that we could all be light and peace in this dark world as Jo Ann was. Rest in peace dear friend.

What Drives you to Distraction?

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How could you not look at this adorable face!

How could you not look at this adorable face!

Some things grab your attention more than others. The point at which you lose yourself may be different from mine. What slows you down and causes you to linger may depend on your ability or inability to focus on the task at hand. Whatever it is that beguiles you, deadlines are forgotten and appointments fade into obscurity. Once your thought process is disrupted, you’re hooked. You become like a cobra entranced by the magic flute swaying before your eyes.

This morning, my husband and I were shopping in “Fresh Market.” Similar to “Whole Foods,” Fresh Market is intoxicating; the brands and packaging alone could amuse me for hours. The sights and smells get my digestive juices flowing. The color of freshness awakens my taste buds. You simply cannot leave this store empty-handed.

My husband was content with a bottle of sparkling cider and some blueberries. I roamed the store hungering to buy. I could entertain myself for hours here savoring the samples, the freebies, and admiring the steaks and seafood I can’t afford. I vowed to come back alone so I could do just that!

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on 16×20 canvas

My husband is a purposeful shopper. He doesn’t care to browse and admire. He knows what he wants and he goes in for the kill every time. We were in and out of there in 15 minutes leaving me feeling deflated and unfulfilled. Food is an all-consuming diversion, especially if you’re hungry.

You already know what a time sucker technology can be. Hours are consumed responding to comments and photos on Facebook, Pinterest, Trumblr and Instagram. As soon as you’ve mastered one program, there’s another one out there that promises even bigger results in accumulating friends and fans.

Many of these sites snag you in and then begin charging for their services. You play awhile. You stay awhile. And then they chew you up and spit you out!

My nephew, Kirk's family.

My nephew, Kirk’s, family.

Your friends and family can be a distraction unless they know the ground rules. Keep certain hours for yourself. No texting. No emails or phone calls. Nothing except what leads you to your desired goals. Reward your family and friends with shared time in the off hours. Respect their requests as well. Use their strength and yours to stay on target.

Television with its encroaching advertisements and enticing lead-ins pounces on your attention span like a rat catcher. You settle back for only a second, but once your rear-end sinks into that soft sofa you’re doomed. It’s obviously much more fun to watch a movie than buckle down to write or paint on an unresolved canvas.

Needy pets can spin circles at your feet and remind you of your neglect. By the time you play fetch or walk around the block, you’ve lost the thrust of your passion. Anything that weakens your drive paralyzes your mind. Writer’s and Painter’s block are real. They happen when you allow distractions to take over most of your day.

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“Bella Belissimo” 16×20 acrylic on canvas SOLD (prints available)

Demanding spouses can break your focus in one fell swoop!  Their interruptions and need for companionship can throw cold water on a hot idea. Wherever you are, and however you live, staying focused is a constant battle. You can either give in and lose your momentum, or you can set the ground rules and abide by them so others will take you seriously.