Is it Possible to Change yourself into a Better Person?

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Growing up, I was always told “Imagine the person you want to be, and eventually you’ll become that person.” The know-it-all who said that was only partially right. They forgot to tell me about innate talents and gifts, or about the years of effort (and money) it takes to develop a skill. They also didn’t mention that the image I had for myself may not have been in my best interests.

Namesake

“Namesake” 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

When you’re young anything seems possible. You dream. You explore. You try on various personality types. Sometimes you allow your halo to slip thinking that character may not be so important after all. But experience and the things you were taught come bubbling to the surface, and you make adjustments.

Reality also plays a part. We may find that we don’t have the finances required to fulfill our aspirations. There may be other responsibilities that interfere with our best intentions. We may pursue one golden butterfly and discover a counterfeit; a false glimmer of hope that led to fool’s gold and broken promises.

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“Home at Last” 16 x 20 acrylic on panel 

 Your determination must fuel every thought and action. When you know what you want, a decision is made in your mind that ignites and propels you forward. At this point, nothing can stop you. If you let go of this momentum, you may never reach this level again. There is no turning back. It’s now or never.

Your Willingness to Ask for Help is Crucial. What if you feel yourself slipping back into old habits and comfortable ways? Don’t hesitate. Reach out for help.

We all need hand holding at times; a friend we can lean on, and someone we can trust. Your progress depends upon it. This may also be the time to reach out to your higher power. Others may give us that extra push that helps us break free. But God can give you the strength to continue.

Sometimes you have to adjust your vision. You must learn to be content with what you have. Better yet, turn your anxieties and frustrations into acceptance. What will you have gained? Peace of mind and the knowledge that you gave your internal struggle your all.

Gratitude for each moment of your life, the good and the bad, will help you weather adversity when it comes, and it will come again. None of us is exempt even you. Be grateful for the small steps and the large ones. As long as you’re making some progress, you haven’t given up.

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“With these Hands — Love” 24 x 18 Oil on canvas

Fact or Fiction — are most Historical Accounts True?

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"Americana" acrylic on canvas

“Americana” acrylic on canvas

I was sitting at my PC waiting for inspiration when my eyes caught sight of a binder on the lower shelf of our book case: “Covering America’s Past.” This brought a chuckle and I leaned down further in order to read the full title: “Discovering America’s Past.”

See what happens when you leave out only three letters. Do you wonder, as I do, how much of history is true. What has been altered, covered up or changed ever so slightly? It seems that each time a new party comes into power, the media and the administration tweak their achievements and failures here and there; and before you know it, major parts have been redacted or omitted.

Dating sites and Facebook accounts are replete with sins of omission. Calendar age may be lowered. Photos of the past are used instead of present ones. A bright and sunny profile as seen through rose-colored glasses replaces a more truthful record of past history. A fudge here, a twist there until the facts become fiction.

"Through her eyes" original drawing; live sitting

“Through her eyes” original drawing; live sitting

I had a dear aunt who simply could not tell the truth. She tried to outdo everyone. She wanted others to see her as she wanted to be seen, not as she really was. Everyone knew it and kindly listened to her stories, allowing her the satisfaction of completion. She was really a dear when it came to helping others and cheering them up. I suspect a low self-esteem kept her from being herself.

Love and tolerance sometimes demand that we accept people as they are. A positive attitude can change the way we see people and their human weaknesses. Unfortunately, we live in a society that not only expects perfection, but gloats over exposing human error.

My favorite saying has always been “There, but for the grace of God go I.” This simply implies that if I or anyone else had walked in the guilty person’s footsteps, we may have committed the same crime. In other words, we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness.

"Kindred Spirits II" acrylic on canvas

“Kindred Spirits II” acrylic on 30 x 24 canvas

The quote is attributed to John Bradford, but was also given credit to someone else even before his time. Winston Churchill repeated the phrase during his lifetime. Whoever said it first does not really matter since it is actually a paraphrase from Biblical scripture. The point is that we should be compassionate and empathetic with our fellow human beings and not so quick to condemn or criticize.

Of course, there are consequences for mistakes and sins. Some of them satisfied by a resolution of forgiveness, and others punishable by law. Thinking before you act and weighing the consequences can save you pain, anguish and punishment.

Find your Anchor, believe in yourself and Go!

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Do you long for a constant; something that stays the same and never falters or waivers? Forget about it. Unless you’re talking about God who is omnipotent and eternal, everything else in life is in a state of flux and is ever changing. Without an anchor for your soul, it is easy to flounder.

Other people or circumstances may sabotage your efforts, but most of the time; you are your own worst enemy. And it is fear that goads you. Where does this deep-seated fear come from? Look to your own insecurities. A low self-esteem diminishes trust in yourself and others. Feeling insecure increases your sense of aloneness.

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When you face your demons and doubts head on, that puts you back in the driver’s seat and in control of your present and your future. Live life on your terms not on someone else’s.

If the talents and skills of others intimidate you, compete with yourself instead. Do something better or differently than you did yesterday. Surpass yourself in stamina or creativity. Accomplish a difficult task at long last. Take a different course and see what happens. Surprise yourself in a good way. Stick to a plan and see it through. It’s not a race against the unknown it’s a race against you yourself. What others do doesn’t matter. Beating your own record, now that’s something to smile about.

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I speak from experience. I’ve taught myself many new and unusual skills. My goal has always been to see if I could. Was I capable of learning how to sew, to crochet, to knit, to quilt, to write, to paint, to get paid for what I do? Then I took it a step further. Was I able to interview people, research unknown places and topics and overcome my own fears and insecurity? The answer was yes!

I didn’t do it all at once. I battled one new skill at a time. I discovered what was, for me, lasting, and what was merely a whim. Once I mastered one craft or art, I moved onto the next. Each time I succeeded, I added another notch to my self-esteem belt. I did my homework. I was sometimes still working at my computer until two or three in the morning. I wasn’t competing with anyone else, only me.

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I put myself out there. I dared to think that if someone else could brave the turf, so to speak, why not me? I networked. I made connections. I found myself working as a consultant and being paid to write training and education materials. I used my imagination to craft children’s stories, articles, and educational film scripts. I ventured into illustration and never looked back.

As a commercial once quipped: “I’ve come a long way baby” from the shy backward girl of my youth. I did it by proving to myself first that I could. When rejection came (and still does), I keep on going. If I feel good about what I’ve done and what I’ve created, I figure someone else will, too.

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Some of the very things that were rejected by so-called experts have been the very projects that have sold and appealed to others. What that taught me is to trust my gut and “stick to my guns.” And I’m telling you now, if I can do it, you can, too.

Interludes of Happiness are the Underpinnings that Strengthen the Soul

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“Americana” acrylic on canvas

Just when you think your life is on an even keel, something or someone wipes the gloat off your face and you’re down. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s this: Change is inevitable. Unpredictability is the norm.

The in between times when love seems never ending, when peace pervades your universe and you think nothing can go wrong that’s just when it does. Those prime times are short and fleeting. They come and go like breathing in and out. They arrive just before or shortly after a crisis.

Make the most of these tender moments because they never last. They are what memories are made of when we have nothing else to live for. These heavenly highs help relationships weather the uneven tides of emotion and anger. They give life zest and nourish a heavy heart.

"Kindred Spirits" 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

“Kindred Spirits” 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

Think of these pleasant pauses, these cherished nanoseconds as seeds. They can’t be saved or stored except in memory; but they can reside within us and provide a web of interconnecting fiber that can give our life structure and continuity. These interludes of happiness “relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Like a flickering light in the gloom of darkness, these seeds of joy gives us hope, sustain us, and keep our feet planted on solid ground even when all of life is crumbling around us. This kind of strength is what makes heroes out of common men. When a tragedy happens, they respond. They just do it, never thinking about the risks to their own mind or body nor their inhibitions and weaknesses.

Human capacity is never fully tested on this earth. Knowing that somewhere within us is the action needed to meet our convictions is reassuring. Manufacturers and engineers know all about tensile strength when it comes to machinery and materials. Tensile strength is all about the ability to be stretched or pulled out of shape before breaking. Even though human beings are not machines, they are still resilient and capable of super human fetes when necessary.

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on canvas

These seeds of hope, faith, happiness and joy that grow to fruition within us make us stronger, more teachable, and more bendable. This ethereal structure helps us to endure sorrow, pain, anger, hatred, envy or the loss of a loved one, the failure of business or marriage. This foundation is what helps you get up when you fall, and why you take one step after another even though you don’t feel like walking or going anywhere.

Savor the good times. Remember them in the bad times. Make more of these moments every chance you get. This is the web or safety net that will give you courage when you need it the most and the resiliency to hold on a little longer when your heart is breaking.

Sea Swirls

“Sea Swirls” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

Change comes to all of us. Nothing stays the same. Ride the waves, my friend. Your life’s journey will sometimes lift you up and at other times slap you down in the grit of despair. Don’t give up in the heat of the moment. Coast and surf until you gain some traction. You will survive.

(This blog was delayed by the unforeseen, but it also gave me my subject matter.)