Less is Sometimes More, and More is sometimes Letting Go

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“Blending In” 11 x 14 acrylic in barn wood frame (see how the feathers replicate the petals?)

I’ve always been a recluse. Even when forced into the outside world by opportunity and obligation, I always returned quickly to the comforts and safety of home.

Of course, in order to write and paint adequate space and uninterrupted quiet are required, and that’s not always easy to find.  Most of us deal with what we have, whether it’s a house full of kids, a noisy or talkative husband, or the constant ringing of the telephone. Today, robocalls burst our imaginative bubbles with irritating pauses, eager politicians, scammers or thick-headed salesmen.

First Daffodil

“First Daffodil” acrylic on canvas

There’s never going to be a perfect time or place. Deal with it! You either ignore the phone, unplug it, insist on solitude, at least some of the time, and get off your rear end and create that novel or masterpiece.

I’ve spent my whole life catering to other people’s needs; and yet I still feel selfish, even now, when I do the things I love or want to do. I shame myself into believing:

  • I’m too old
  • It’s a waste of time
  • I’m not Van Gogh or Renoir
  • I should be cleaning my house
  • I should cook more often
  • Why can’t I be like “other women?”
  • Why do I always have to create something?
  • I’m getting a hump from sitting at my computer
  • My fingers are starting to cramp
  • I can barely hold a paint brush
  • By the time I finish my chores, I’m too tired to create

And on and on we go, making excuses, putting ourselves down, and blaming others for not being able to fulfill our own needs. Whine, whine, and whine! We all do it. Every day!

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on canvas

Recently I heard a T.V. commentator repeat what Dr. Phil had once said: “Why do you always settle for less?”

Indeed! Why do you think you’re not worth success? Why do you either marry or choose friends who are ill suited for you and who don’t live up to your expectations? Some may even go so far as to say: “friends who are beneath you, at least in compatibility.”

Don’t get me wrong, all people are of value, at least in God’s eyes. But that doesn’t mean you have to date them or marry them. How many times in the past have you “settled for less” when you could have had more?

Prisons and mental institutions are filled with people who have low self-esteems. Sad people who believe that this is all they deserve. And, of course, that’s all that they get.

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“Beach Buddies” acrylic on canvas

Perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The adage: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that can be asked over and over again. As long as we have breath to ask the question, we should keep adjusting our goals and our dreams for as long as we live.

Too often we end up focusing on the end of our life and see time running out. Wake up, my friend! “Life is eternal.” You do not close your eyes in death and “go out” like a burnt out flame. You do not cease to exist. Once you realize this, the possibilities are endless.

The essence of what you are is inside of you. Everything you need to live fully and richly resides within your mind and heart. Your job is to find it and hold onto it with every fiber of your being. You are magnificent. Once you discover your divine potential nothing can stop you!

Learn to Recognize an Opportunity Before it Gets Away

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“Serena Shines” Pastel drawing on Bristol 11×14, matted and ready for framing.

How do you handle opportunity?  Are you afraid of the challenge? Do you drag your feet and dither around until you eventually get rejected by default?

You say you want to be successful, but sometimes your actions prove otherwise. Do you believe in your ability to follow through and complete a project or job? Sometimes when a break presents itself, you may have an anxiety attack wondering whether you’ll be able to fulfill the expectations of others.

Every prospect, every chance must be faced with confidence and pride. You are trained, educated and skilled. Don’t go limp when someone makes you an offer and hands you the prize or at least a bridge to the next great thing. Take it! You have to act like a pro in order to become one. You must believe in yourself before anyone else will.

“The Cook” acrylic on canvas 11×14

I gained my experience through volunteer work. It gave me a chance to go public long before I felt ready. I could gauge the viewer’s interest and the audience’s reaction. I wrote scripts for youth events and churches, painted scenery for plays and pageants, and even wrote a script for one that was presented for more than three years in the community all for free.

My first real art show took place many years after my initial education. My life had taken several twists and turns, and I’d had to give up my dreams in order to obtain health benefits for my family. You probably know what it’s like. We’ve all been there at some time or another.

I set up my display at a popular shopping mall early in the morning. I had no more than finished, when two women came out of nowhere to make an offer on one of my Norwegian scenes. Neither of them spoke English, but I surmised that they wanted to make a purchase, but had no cash. Off they went to get some, or so I deduced.

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“Vikeholmen Lighthouse” Skudeneshavn, Norway, 16×20 acrylic on canvas.

I wasn’t sure what just happened, so I kept the painting on display. It seemed like almost an hour had passed before they finally returned. They looked disappointed that I hadn’t saved the painting for them or tucked it away. They paid in cash and then took the canvas. I never understood a word they said.

Looking back, I’ve often wondered if they were angels sent to save me from myself. Their presence has lived on in my memory, and given me confidence whenever I get wobbly knees or a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

We are on this earth to thrive, to have joy, and to make others happy in the process. When we do our part, God does his. Our job is to follow through and take advantage of the stepping stones that are given to us. We may never reach the heights we longed for, but at least we know we tried. Our best may never be good enough, but it’s all we have to give.

Gratitude is our way of giving back and paves the way for future opportunities and blessings. An old saying goes “Don’t look a Gift Horse in the mouth.” Better yet, when you receive an unexpected gift show appreciation. Sadly, many people chalk it up to good luck, happenstance or fate, and they miss the miraculous unfolding of a greater plan of which they are a part.

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“Skudeneshavn, Norway, Harbor” oil on canvas SOLD, but prints are available.

Here are some “Rules for Recognition”:  An opportunity . . .

  1. Gives you a chance to show what you can do.
  2. Enhances your credibility.
  3. Helps you gain experience and adds “credits” to your CVA.
  4. Provides a legitimate reference for your work.
  5. May lead to other networking opportunities.
  6. Develops poise, control and self-awareness.
  7. Helps secure your trajectory to success.
  8. Enables you to establish your reputation as an artist.

Next time “opportunity comes knocking,” don’t just open the door. Receive the gift with open arms and embrace the moment!