Learn to Recognize an Opportunity Before it Gets Away

Standard
serena-shines-carol-allen-anfinsen

“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.

vikeholmen-lighthouse-carol-allen-anfinsen

“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.

skudeneshavn-norway-carol-allen-anfinsen

“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!

What Drives you to Distraction?

Standard
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.

bella-bellissimo-carol-allen-anfinsen

“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.