Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thought for The Day - 10,000 Hours

Filtered Divinity 2 - pastels

The idea of 10,000 hours working at a task, learning and honing skills and centering one's life around a certain area, is put forth in the book "Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell. I haven't read the book yet, but hearing the concept, and the examples given of those who achieved "success," I hung my head in disgust! Here I am, at age 50, starting to do work as an artist...the recognition I hope for, the sense of accomplishment can be another 50 years coming! I wanted to give myself an out, try to count the time in youth, teen years and college days, where I did the work, made the grade and found it hard to put down the pencil or brush. But no sooner did I try "add up" the hours, I counted myself out because too many times, I other things were considered more important; that's still the case. So what am I going to do? Maybe I could be an expert at something else; what about writing or counseling? I do a lot of both, so why not another profession?

My youngest son, is an avid gamer. Never mind that a child spending time playing games as many hours as they can, it is virtually impossible to keep him from playing. Again, to most adults, the idea of a child's brain turning to mush in front of a television is such a waste. I remember when he was four and we went to a neighbor's home for a gathering. The neighbor had a room where some boys had set up a game console and were playing a video game. My son walked in the room and the look in his eyes, you would think he had met his favorite cartoon character, up close and personal. I knew the look from my own time as a child, its that look when the "spark" is lit, when whatever in us is triggered and we find "that thing." It isn't seen in every person and many people spend their lives looking for it, but I knew that could be one of his areas of interests. I don't know what his future holds, how life will develop for him, but I know this: games are his thing and I'm certain he's put in his 10,000 and then some! He plots, schemes and moves hours in a day to get his time in, often to the detriment of every other outlet and connection. But then, consider successful athletes: expertise is achieved by making the given sport the focus of every waking moment.

For me, I'm not sure I will achieve 10,000 hours. The same sense of distraction that hindered my devotion as a child, carried over into adulthood. Issues like: what other things am I supposed to be doing, who needs my help, what chores, tasks and people are calling or could call on me? I love art, I love the gift of expression and I'm certain it is a gift of God, but 10,000 hours? How about 2000?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thought for The Day - What is It You're Trying to Say?

Add Caption (working title) 11 x 17 pastels

The language isn't unknown, neither are the words; it's our acceptance that requires an adjustment...

At the moment, I'm listening to a recording by John Coltrane from 1965: "Ascension (Edition I)." Recorded after "Love Supreme," some would call it an "epic fail," still others would call it the "primer for free jazz." Quite honestly, it is a recording, on many occasions I can barely stomach. Not that it isn't an excellent recording, but often my mind is in the "nomenclature" and "designation," framework. In other words, I need traditional structure to fence in my mind and prevent it from "going on an adventure."

In that respect, I am so much like those who look at my work and wonder "what is it you're trying to say?" Early on when I presented my visual work, one Facebook friend challenged me by asking for a name and further "what does it mean?" Now given her nature, a highly spiritual and grounded woman, she wasn't questioning my authenticity or casting doubts on the value of the work, what I quickly discovered is she was helping me understand what was being said. A lesson learned from that early process is the message is often so primal and so true, my "carnal mind" avoids its energy. Yesterday, my daughter said to me: "I'm not into abstract art;" little does she know, neither am I, but it is in me.

We prefer our message to be crystal clear, "tell me what I should get out of this." We are certain, in any given moment we possess the capacity to understand whatever it is being said to us. "How right you are my friend!" You can understand, you can comprehend, but more importantly, are you listening or are you trying to mold the message to fit your current thinking? All too often, the message is simple and profound, meaning its "application" could be spread and applied in multiple ways throughout our lives. In that moment, the minute your unconscious mind receives 'TRUTH,' comprehension begins. But it is the next moment, when "we consciously" choose to accept the message or reject it, that's the moment of decision. I'm sorry to say, so often we choose too quickly to ignore what is being said.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thought for The Day - Fall and River

Fall and River 12 x 18 pastels

Colors, dulling as the days shrink, the water still flows to the ocean...

It is all miraculous and yet so commonplace, we treat it as common. We have our moments, those isolated fragments of time when we put aside anxiety and see with the eyes of a child, sunlight twinkling through the mesh of leaves and tree limbs. We gaze, every now and then, at a night sky, where the moon shines its halogen glow, a few stars spot the indigo, drowned out by the glow of cities too afraid to sleep.

The river still flows...

There are parts of our life that won't stop 'cause I'm stressing! Farmers are out at 5:00 am, working their land, trying to get that paper, while someone's mom stands on a bus stop to get to that job, with a limited return. Her life is the neighborhood, this bus, her kids and the old storefront church where she's been on the nurse's board for 25 years. The river flows from one generation to another.

Leaves holding summer's warmth in it's fading colors...

The cool weather lasts longer than the dawn, insulating your thoughts, slowing down the pace of life way past getting to work or school. It's like someone stole heat and sunny days; we forget summer's warmth and try to get it in chicken noodle soup or a bowl of chili, the lure of bright colored Halloween personalities, before we settle at the table for Thanksgiving turkey. Passing from one mile marker to the next, brown and black hair replaced by silver, white and grey. A swagger becomes a slurred shuffle, limbs growing tired from carrying dreams that never seem to hatch. Life goes on, but it goes on without us...sometimes...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thought for The Day - Squeeze!

Elastic 18 x 24 pastels

A bible teacher years ago used the following analogy to describe a biblical truth. Using the requirement of fine flour to be used in sacrifice from Leviticus, he explained the following: "the process of crushing the wheat to produce flour used in sacrifice showed it's purity. The process of crushing removed impurities as the grinding and sifting separated the waste from the essential flour." He went on to say: "the fine flour is also a picture of Christ," who, when closely examined was found to be pure as well. He was beaten and tried and tempted and no sin was found in him." That example helped to shape my exploration of the person of Christ, and to examine my life as well.

We all endure hardships; difficulties are as much a part of life as sunny days. But it's what comes out of us that expresses who we are, what we're composed of. Sure, we are prone to say "ouch" and some "choice words," when we are squeezed, punched and nearly ground to nothing. But what comes afterwards also defines our character. After we have settled down, examined our reaction to the latest trial, do we continue to express pain and hurt? Or do we examine the deeper lesson buried beneath the difficulty?

For years, I really wanted to be an artist. But family, church commitments and other 'difficulties' blocked my view. All elements were necessary because truly the blocks and barriers were in my head, not in the face of family. Little by little, the difficulties actually brought out the artist in me. I knew the talent was there, but rather than use excuses and remain stuck, I used the hardships to 'squeeze' out of me what I wanted to become.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thought for The Day - The Day After

Filtered Divinity 12 x 18 pastels

Yes, I mean, the day after Christmas. Some people are strategically planning trips to the mall for returns and additional deals on more "stuff." We can collect some stuff can't we? I'm sitting in a hoarders nest myself...well maybe not that extreme, no molding, festering food crammed in between books or anything, but I could stand to toss and straighten.

What is our obsession with having a bunch of stuff? Mind you, I love a good book and love a variety of subjects. I love learning and researching and knowing and there's nothing like sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee and a good book in my lap. But really? stacks of books, many untouched in years; do I need all this stuff? Then we go to the other extreme: taking it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries. Hmmm...not sure that's the answer either. Stacks of papers, books, electronics that are outdated or don't work. Then we run out to "catch a deal." I'm not sure I need more clutter in my life.

I'm not going to the mall today; I should be going to the gym to remove a few calories, if not ounces from my waist, but then again, I might sit among my clutter and recall another festive holiday. Then maybe, I'll start tossing and straightening up. Yeah, right!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thought for The Day - The Joy of Christ

This season, Christians celebrate the "baby Jesus." Well babies don't remain that way for long! I remember, as a child, getting caught up in the excitement of this time of the year and as a child, I was caught up in the excitement of receiving toys as well the story of how Jesus appeared on the scene. Growing up in a traditional Baptist church, I heard the stories of God's promise of a savior and how he came to sacrifice his life. But it was as a young adult, that I fully learned that Jesus didn't just "happen."

You see, this plan is so huge, that our normal view of 'time' and 'timing' has to take a backseat. God's perspective about sending a savior was carefully planned and interwoven into the very fabric of man's freewill. Some like to think that God, as a sovereign being forces people do his will. No, He's so intelligent and insightful, he can allow you to be a free-thinking, active participant in his plan and yet carry out his plan with that free-will. His plan from the beginning was to allow us to exercise our free-will, even to our detriment, but to provide a bridge back to him. That bridge, that connection is Jesus. His life was lived to be not only an example, but to prove God's power over sin; He could not be a victim of it, as we are, but he could be among us, like us and yet without the errors of sin.

For the sake of children, the story of the "baby Jesus," one who is recognized as innocent and small and fragile, is a precious concept. But just as the baby grew, so must our understanding of the child who would one day receive the title of Christ, the promised messiah. He is more than savior, He is Lord, the anointed one, the King. And please believe, with all my writing, all the images rendered, he is interwoven into every word and every color. I am, because He IS.

A Blessed Christ-mass to you today!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Thought for The Day - It's Relative

Elastic 18 x 24 pastels

Prone to comparison, though, in thought, the image is larger than I can comprehend...

Similes and Metaphors...

I use them quite a bit; not in to the "exact measurement" process. It just feels like life is about a flow and moving among one another. We connect, disconnect for a time, and at times, not because something is wrong. Moving from "here" to "there." We are planets, coming in to one another's orbit for a time.

I try to put life in to a perspective I can hold to. But so very often, when the image is fixed, it changes. When I flip it and consider it as fluid motion, it gels, solidifies and everything becomes fixed and stagnant. So which is it? Fluid or Solid? How about both and far more?

It's relative to one's own movement or lack thereof. I heard an interesting fact yesterday: every seven years, our physiology goes through a complete change, but our mind 'can' stay the same. Interesting. That explains how some people get 'stuck' in old ways that are unproductive, or worse destructive. We can stay the same mentally and in many ways, we should remain true to our core being, but we are ever changing; our contacts, community, even family members are changing. Always in motion, always changing...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thought for The Day - Originality

Running the Sky 12 x 18 pastels

"Sometimes, you gotta get in the basket and see where the wind takes you!"

"C'mon, we're going for a ride!"

Early morning, sleep is barely out of my eyes and yet I am determined to allow whatever dreams and their cryptic, poignant messages, to carry me through the day. Each day I wake, each day is opportunity to be 'me.' Not a better me, though I strive for it, but 'me,' the guy who likes listening to music, loves the challenge of bending light into patterns on paper and drinks in the beauty of each day. I wake each day, suppressing the urge to crawl back in the bed, curled in a dreamland where whatever battle I'm about to face, is far away.

It's original, the mark I make, the blend of colors chosen, because the energy generated never stays the same. Some days I'm high in the sky, riding the waves of energy where my cousins and them can't touch. Not because I'm more, but because I'm free and I am me. The voice, the tone, the blend of words, all my own. And when I come down to earth, when I settle to the ground and my feet blend with earth, my roots run deep, sprouting in new places and new faces.

I wish you could see what I do when the colors flow. There is far more (quantity + quality) than I and you can ever fathom. But let's try to bring it up and out anyway!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thought for The Day - A Good Story

Sleeping Beauty 8 x 11 pencil

Shaken Up! 8 x 11 pencil

Everyone loves a good story; perhaps you love good poetry or great music or a great dance...we love the story, the human drama and seeing our lives reflected. It isn't a matter of vanity or pride, but the fact:
  1. We're not alone - others feel, think, act and say the same things. It gives validity to our struggle and desire for greater; better.
  2. Someone else feels our pain and hopes for the same thing.
 With visual art, the message isn't as clear, at least to those who always need their story or thoughts spelled out, but even a child can look at an image and see "something." I've read poetry where the "message" isn't immediately obvious; the words almost run together, but a story is being told. Currently, I'm listening to a song by Tony Remy & Bluey (the group, Incognito's leader), called "Between My Finger and My Thumb;" it is by far, one of my favorite songs of ALL TIME!!! Actually, the entire CD is one of my favorites, but for very personal reasons. I found it around the time when I begin painting and drawing again and the songs "speak to me," in the sense, it reminds me of my own creative flow. Songs that seem to come out of nowhere with so much depth and volume, you have to marvel at the power of God to use us fallible beings! It isn't power for the sake of manipulation or control; it's power to love, to heal, make whole and celebrate the gift of life.

But here's the thing, outside the room where I'm sitting, I can here my wife's feet on the wood floors. Outside the window, I hear the occasional car going by on the wet street and every sound tells a story! every sound, color, smell and sensation has a message for me and for you. Are you listening? Tune your "ears" to hear what is being said.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thought for The Day - God in Flesh

The Essence of Woman - 18x24 pastels
For those familiar with the tradition of Christmas and Christianity, the subject would seem to be the Person of Jesus. It seems immediately apparent that God, incarnate, when "God came near," Immanuel, "God with us," who "tabernacled" with man for approximately 33 years; that is the obvious subject. Not that you are wrong, but open your eyes, family and friends and see what he presented.

Each day, we have the opportunity to "interact," to connect with one another and no matter what you feel about you, your abilities or your fellow man, you do it - you connect. The bed you're lying in was not constructed by your hands and the sheets that covered you weren't woven by you. If you are able to read this, then someone poured plastic, melded small particles of metal to more plastic and silicone, and still others ensure electricity and network connections are available to connect us. Right now, someone is dreaming of another life, one that isn't limited by the demands of a boss; they feel the same way you do: trapped, disappointed and restricted. But like you, they are loved by another, by the person who walks by them, just as frustrated and dreading another days' work. Someone going to sit at a desk, or repair plumbing and electrical, just to make sure someone else can continue on with their life. And yet, the most delicate balance remains, unappreciated and forgotten: our network connection to one another.

We provide for one another; in America, we have what seems like an unlimited supply of resources to choose from. From basic necessities, i.e. food, clothing and shelter, to entertainment choices, there is not enough time in a day to make all the choices, never mind appreciate all the stuff. And again, we ignore that the guy driving in a car beside us, passing in the opposite direction has the same choices. Now stop for a second and consider: how did all this stuff become available? Where does all this stuff come from? From the same guy, regardless of his religious, cultural bias, his loves or hates, driving by you. And what are you providing? Your very existence is a blessing to the next man, woman or child. We are one another's endless supply of divine intervention, connected and bound to one another. For the most part, we are oblivious to the needs and wants of the person we live next to, but yet, love or hate them, we are connected.

God isn't off in a distant land, waiting for a time to return. He never left us and doesn't need to return to us. He left us in charge of one another's care and His plans never fail. Freewill, the ability to choose? Never took it from us and neither does his will supersede ours. No, it is interwoven into the very fabric of our existence; we are the very product of his imagination, of his desire. And while evil exists in the world, his love ALWAYS win!!! Now, what I've expressed may sound like the ramblings of a religious zealot; some will say Eddie is dipping into "new age" thinking. But search your scriptures and then search your heart. The truth lies there. Then look in the faces of those you love and those you hate; (we actually allow religious and political ideologies to drive an imaginary wedge between us, when we serve one another anyway! Silly rabbit!) there you will find God in flesh. Then look in the mirror: isn't that the same sense of the divine looking back at you?


Friday, December 20, 2013

Thought for The Day - Manipulating Fire

The Phoenix 18 x 24 pastels

I haven't rendered this one yet and if I draw the image, I'm not sure it would include hands juggling the fireballs. But here's the thought: this matter, this energy, this "stuff" I hold in my figurative hands, it's mine to control and utilize wisely. At times, I am overwhelmed at the responsibility as well as the sense of the energy going from one hand to the other. It is mine, it is in me; the only guidance given: "use it wisely." Okay now what?

I see the needs of many and without warning, connections are made. You enter the lives of people and find connections and bonds formed. They find solace in between my ears and a place to receive healing. I find a vital use of this energy and a way to make my life count for something while I'm here. The only sense of pride or ego, is feeling good that someone is warmed and loved. And yet, more lies just beyond my grasp; I extend my hand to absorb additional energy, wondering what do I do with this now? It is incorporated, sometimes, seeming like it's disconnected and not a good blend. But eventually, the new energy melds with the old and I'm holding and turning and juggling far more energy.

In my mind, I am still that small child who banged on the window, trying to prevent a guy from beating his girlfriend. My mom tells that story from time-to-time, how, as a 3 year old, I stood at the window as neighbors gathered in front of the house and some couple stood out front, the guy trying to beat his woman into submission. I'm sure I cried, not able to stop it; that's one of my fears, that I can't get to someone or can't help. But I have to try, I've got to. That is my life, my connection to this world. Save someone.

Save someone.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thought for The Day - W-O-R-K

The Beginning Of... 18 x 24 Pastels

Not your classic four letter word and I guess it goes to a fallen nature to think work is a necessary evil. It's a necessary benefit and blessing! But I'm not talking about the type of work where your hands, feet, mouth and mind move without regards to your soul. No, I'm referring to work that springs from caring and compassion. I've watched my wife for years, as she prepares lessons or as she does these days, reading material and researching strategies to guide children as they grow. I know artists, writers and health care professionals who aren't pretending they love what they're doing, they are living the life as if they were a child at play.

You know, even children work; when a child is having fun, usually they aren't doing it sitting still. They are active, their hands and feet and mind and body playing a game or pretending they are creating an imaginary world. Their mind and soul prepare them to live a life full of joy. But it's the adult world with a series of choices that bend them into bitter adults, dreading the majority of any given day. It's our droning on and on about "getting ready to face the real world" and "get a job that pays good money," as if that is all we live for.

Could we have a "do-over?" Could we erase the slate and try this again? I for one, would love to write about fantasies and stories with happy endings. I would rather spend my time coloring the world we live in and playing as if nothing mattered. But...

It's a matter of choice: curse or blessing. It's a matter of perspective.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thought for The Day - Growing Pains

"Now where is that coming from? What did I do yesterday that's got me hurting like this?" That's a thought I often have - like every day! When I wake, sitting at my desk at work or getting out of the chair, some ache or pain appears out of 'nowhere' interrupting my philosophical flow for a bit (smile). Most of the times, I recall a move or series of exercises I've performed that brought on the latest bout of sore muscles and as one "committed to the process," I think "I've got to do that again!"

I don't love pain, not a sadomasochist, but I love growing. As a child I wanted to be like my dad who was strong and had a great build. He got his through labor, demanding jobs and his determination to never say "die!" But my other inspirations were bodybuilders who had HUGE muscles!!! I wasn't as determined as I should have been and though I "dabbled" at exercise and weight training from my young adult years up until now, I could just as easily fall off the "treadmill" as it were. But a few years ago, I decided to take this seriously; not to prepare for a Mr. Olympia contest, but do my part to better my health. One of the side effects is I'm lifting much heavier and growing! A 50+ year old gaining muscle? Yes!

Never one to be a "one trick pony," mentally and spiritually I always strive to exercise and grow as well. I'm not going through the litany of disciplines and "roles" I've taken on in my life, but I will tell you this, I'm always learning, even when I'm not willing to (smile again!). Meaning, when "new concepts," or a different perspective is presented, though I may be reluctant to allow it in my head, I continue reading about it, checking sources and running it against my "accepted principles" to consider the larger picture. The world is a huge place and the universe, much more larger. But it is in us to grow, expand and encounter far more than we are accustomed to. Come on, flex your muscles! Grow!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thought for The Day - The Long Road

Out for a Drive 8 x 11 colored pencils

We travel over hills, through valleys and around the bend and the road continues to unfold...

Making plans, dreaming and creating "cautionary plans for the B" - you know what I'm talking about, when that well meaning individual(s) said you should ," consider a "fall back plan" just in case your dreams don't work out; silly rabbit! Plans fail, but dreams always come true and dreaming is what brave people do! The path before us calls us to wake from this "reality" at any given moment and rediscover a world free of pitfalls and potholes!

Wake up my friends! Perhaps it isn't the exercise of creativity as in writing or dancing or singing, but everyone has a dream and for the majority of us our dreams didn't didn't involve fulfilling another person's dreams "in lieu" of ours! Wake up to that place you abandoned so long ago. Perhaps it is EXACTLY what this world needs to become ideal for you and your grandchildren! Maybe the shape of it is altered for who you've become, but by all means, pull it out from under the bed, put it in practice.

This life is long and arduous, but perhaps it is that way because we are all too busy being adults and reasonable. Maybe it's time to make the path long and adventurous!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thought for The Day - Comfort

Study for Pre-Dawn Light 18 x 24 charcoals

Though I'm all but out the door to start the day, this is one of those days, based on the temperature outside, prediction of snow and the mountain of assigned tests to be executed, a great day to stay bundled up in a comforter, reading and listening to good music. I haven't had a day like that in years! But it feels like it would be ideal.

So I choose comfort in what lies ahead. I choose to enjoy this moment, first of all, music playing in the background, Sarah Vaughn singing "I'm Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life." I will take comfort that I really can lift more than I could when I was 20 and pump iron until sweat rolls! I will take comfort in the warmth of the CTA train as it makes it way into downtown Chicago. And I will take comfort that I have income and great people to work with.

Perspective; sometimes, often, I think of what I don't have and seek comfort there. But isn't wonderful to know that even as I sit, imagining a "better world," I do so while being fed, clothed, sheltered and eternally loved?

God's blessings on your day!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thought for The Day - Rise

Phoenix 18 x 24 pastels

Rise! 18 x 24 pastels

When the night passes, it is your time to shine...

It really has become a habit to wake before the sun rises. Even after long drives that stretch from one the beginning of one day and nearly into the next, I am compelled to rise before the sun. There is something about the solitude of that time of the morning, waking, writing, exercising, painting, drawing and allowing my mind to cross the expanse of light; my soul soars at the opportunity!

And as it is, some days are challenging! Often, the expectation that this 'just another day' full of challenges and setbacks makes me want to sleep just a little longer. But at this point, no matter how deep the sleep or intricate the dreams are (I love a good 'puzzle'), sleep falls away and I'm up, preparing to face another day.

This is a journey, a chasing of a life, of dreams to manifest and the revelation of soul. As the night passes, it is your time to rise!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thought for The Day - Keeping The Balls in The Air

Soul Dance 8 x 11 colored pencils

All too often, the "how" of our lives resembles a juggling act. Balls floating in front of us, seemingly floating in the air. And like a true circus act, at some point "someone" throws in another sphere, just to make things interesting. Now in a professionals' hands, those balls move at such a pace they seem like a ring, each ball's orbit flowing in step with the ball before and after it. But too often - perhaps speaking for myself - the juggling looks like an amateur, trying his hand at something he isn't accustomed to.

An act of keeping it all balanced and in the air; our thoughts our like that as well. That unseen world constantly in motion between our ears; concepts, plans, memories of failures and the never ending "x" factor keep us in orbit as well. And then there are the thoughts and ideas that seem to come out of left field: "so, what are you going do about daily care of your parents?" You weren't planning on doing anything and in truth, it seems your options are few on the surface, but that doesn't lessen the need for careful consideration. And so it goes, the wobbly, lopsided orbit grows larger.

Finally, there are the concepts you can't quite put a name or title to. Somehow, they are in the spin and orbit as well. And while in the course of the day, they aren't obviously troublesome, like the ball suddenly tossed into the orbit, your attention turns to it at some point and the continuous juggling act becomes ever more treacherous. It's all an act; keep that in mind.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thought for The Day - Relics

Hey Mama - 18 x 24 charcoal and pastels

Old Stuff. Stuff you thought you tightly bound and put away; every now and then it spring from the  back of your closet and finds its way into the light of a new day. Without warning, you are reminded of a past pleasure (That now feels "guilty" and gritty) an accomplishment or regret and your steps alter for a bit; you might right stumble over these visits.

And yet you right yourself; stand up straight and 'try' to continue on with your day-to-day tasks. But like a unraveled thread, your past reminds you there's more to your life than the polished image you now portray.

...I'll leave you two alone to get reacquainted.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thought for The Day - Sleep...

Sleeping beauty 8 x 11 pencils

Precious commodity, a necessity; often taken for granted...

This time to recharge and allow your creator to help your soul hear more accurately. Advice, instruction and feel love and solutions.

Don't take it for granted that it is a given; there are many who, for multiple reasons, sleep, continuous and restful, is far away.

If you can sleep, and allow your, mind, body and soul to prepare for better days.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thought for The Day - Useful Energy Tips

Open Portal 12 x 18 pastels

In a moment, in a flash opportunities, insight and dreams come and go. We are always on the verge of becoming as great as we believe we can and remaining where we are. Every decision, every thought is the seed of the mundane as well as becoming the solution to someone's problem. I've seen this dichotomy since childhood, how easy it is to get caught up in commonplace drama, especially the type where we waste emotional energy and never solve. And yet, we pine away for a world, a life that's peaceful and fruitful.

Why not expend more energy on dreaming and imagining the life you want for you and yours? Why not imagine people living together, harmonious and loving? Could it be possible? With the death of Nelson Mandela, many people will consider what we know about his life's struggles, fighting apartheid in South Africa, going to prison for it and eventually becoming that nation's president. But consider what made him rise to the level of notoriety: he had a dream, an idea, an "ideal." And I believe there are far more of us who want a world of peace and endless resources for all, than those who want everything for themselves. We may 'think' - i.e. remain fearful - that our resources our scarce and being squandered, but what we really hope is that we will learn to use our resources wisely. We also hope new solutions for old problems can be discovered and implemented. And yet...

...each morning, we wake, frustrated by the day's journey before our feet touch the floor. Reluctantly we rise, already pouring good mental and emotional energy out of our being, wasting it on things we will do and yet hate. Some would say "love what you're doing." That doesn't really work for me, so I'm suggesting this: do what must be done, give today's mundane and contemptible tasks the energy it needs and no more. But rather than concentrate on how much you despise your life, imagine it being better. You know "stacks of money" wont make life better for you; you know it and I know it. But the wise use of the energy we already have can brighten yours as well as the lives of everyone. Use the "money" between your ears wisely. Invest it in dreaming and creating a world where everyone is fed, clothed and healthy. Invest it in dreaming of a world of beauty and harmonious living.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thought for The Day - Blogging Colors

Calling 12 x 18 pastels

What goes out each day are words and images, sentences and colors; shapes and emotions hit the highway and travel from one end to another. I mingle my voice in the blend of voices writing, singing and teaching how to's from every corner where perception reaches.

In in love with colors, I love deep blues as well as night piercing pinks. I love words and expressions, simple and with layers of intent and purpose. These shapes on the page that we have come to call letters, form words, phrases and sentences and the world is full of them. Some would say too many, but the purpose of expression is to heal and build. We have not grown too large that we can't communicate without them, so I keep writing and reaching and applying spiritual bandages.

Years ago, as a young man, I asked God how my life could be of service to him. His simple reply: "accept my call." Words and images are my way of reaching a world and spreading the good news. Are you listening? Are you seeing?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thought for The Day - Naming

We use words, give names, designations and terms to describe and distinguish. We label, describe, use similes and metaphors and though language can be fluid, in our heads and our culture, choices are made to malign one another with words. Labels and names are attached and individuals and people are grouped together, categorized, their lives dismissed with one word or phrase.

And yet the power of words, names even can change the very fabric of the air. We can build and encourage with a single word or phrase, when our hearts desire to do so. This entry isn't about giving 'certain words' to do so; no, it's a reminder to do it with your intention. It's an opportunity to see that our heart's desire should always be to encourage, to love. Now mind you, I realize that love is not all rose petals and butterfly kisses. As a matter of fact, love can be so firm and seem hurtful when exercised as truth. But its intention is always to encourage and ultimately for us to grow.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thought for The Day - Across

A Seed 8 x 11 Pastel

Took a road trip this weekend, a six hour overnight stay to Missouri to see my son. Now growing up, this was the extent of my yearly vacation trips when my parents piled up the car, visiting relatives in Kansas City, MO. But as a father of my own children, we took trips to Virginia for four years, taking my daughter back and forth to school. I fell in love with the mountains and the elevations. The roads seemed smoother - they actually are - and with the grand view as the car climbed a hill or you reached the top and looked down over the valley: SPECTACULAR! But Illinois is relatively flat and depending on what's on your mind, your thoughts become flat and monotonous as well. Missouri can be a bit scenic with it's elevations but for the most part, it's flat as well. Boring, right?

Where I am in at the moment, the life of my family and factors beyond my ability to describe, the scenery seemed exhilarating! The road is very familiar, traveled since I could remember and I could probably do it with my eyes closed. But it wasn't nostalgia, recalling road trips counting horses seen along the way. And it wasn't counting the number of signs for Merramec Caverns, either. No, it was SEEING ACROSS...

The sky, spread from where I sat, behind, before and on every side.
The lives of families and individuals in homes on the road side, connected to families, farms and apartment buildings I would never see from the roadside.
Truckers on long and short hauls, earning a living and a hundred thousand decisions made every fraction of a second.
Retired couples driving down the road, a life full of children in their rearview, parents on the other side and relatives on their road ahead.
Restaurants and diners, workers cooking, cleaning and serving hundreds in their lifetime and never realizing who they are sharing love with a plate of eggs, bacon and pancakes.
Water, mixed with concrete mix, becoming solid, hard and supporting millions of tires and lives for countless years.
Moisture, frozen and appearing white and grey and black on the road and hillside...

Across sky, land and lives, a connection exists, so integrated and complex whether one person or molecule should 'disappear,' not one second or emotion is lost. Everything remains intact no matter how many of us come and go.

We never really leave 'this place;' we are intimately connected to one another, whether we live in love or hate. For there exists a bond to all that only appears when we decide to open our eyes.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thought for The Day - Fingerprints

I'm listening 24 x 36 Oil painting

The unique mark we leave everywhere, whether we want to or not. But isn't that every part of us? Every line and every word is an extension of our unique identity. We are composed of the same atoms, molecules and cellular combinations. We all have flesh, bones an organs and yet everyone of us is an amazing original. There may be Sarah Vaughn-esque performers or Elvis impersonators, but there will never be another Sarah Vaughn or Elvis Presley. But there will never be another you, or your brother or sister or parents as well!

I appreciate that we have built cities and technology that allow us to connect to one another. I'm glad standards for construction, medicine and even education were established and for the most part, it serves multiple societies well. But every person doesn't fit in the cookie-cutter molds we've created. I would dare say, more and more, people aren't fitting the mold and the shape is changing around us slowly but most assuredly. We are growing, friends and expanding and while we have this good foundation of structure, let's continue to build ourselves, our families and communities with caring and compassion. Explore your creativity and sense of innovation. Imagine a world where love and compassion rule, rather than "dog-eat-dog" as we have known it all of our lives. We've known that was not how life was meant to live, but we accepted it and somehow reveled in it. Before we destroy one another, let's find ways to connect and unify.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thought for The Day - A Thousand Points of View

The Phoenix 18 x 24 Pastels

Surrounded by cameras and flashing lights, you are seen through a thousand lenses...

An average day, nothing special; maybe you're at work, maybe a weekend with errands and a day filled with tasks that can't be completed on a week day. In a moment, for a few minutes, you find yourself in another space and time. Oh you aren't losing your mind, you're perfectly sane, but it was a moment of feeling out of body. "Whew, got to get more rest," you tell yourself and it's off to complete task number 3 out of 28. But still...

Sitting in traffic, rush hour, a sea of brake lights everywhere around you and as many thoughts and emotions in your head; suddenly, once again, it's as if someone pulled back the cover on your ordinary life, as if you were caught up to the third heaven and sat among the saints and angels. A brief moment, awareness shifts slightly and you 'see' 10,000 others in a circle, in one voice, like the sound of an ocean. You feel the sense of awe for One...and suddenly, all eyes and voices are on you...

End of the work day, can't wait to get the heck out of there! Standing at the elevator, caught between the events of the day and the evening yet to unfold, you are at the bottom of the valley...and the bottom drops out. Not sure if it's real or imagined, you look at the walls to make sure they aren't moving and you aren't falling through the floor. And it happens again and again and again...

There is more to you and I than meets the eye. We are not sum of what is perceived and our life is more than the routine.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thought for The Day - Of the Beholder

Of the Beholder 18 x 24 pastels

In the eyes of the beholder
There is beauty before them
But in the eyes of the beautiful
What is seen
Behind the eyes of true beauty
What thoughts go unseen
What mysteries and decisions
Are hidden behind those beautiful eyes

In the eyes of the beholder
Eyes, face, neck and body
Are wonderful to behold
But behind the eyes of the beauty
A world unknown
Though traces slip out
Made concrete
Yet the eyes
That mind
                     Are shrouded in the mystical

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thought for The Day - At a Distance watching Time Go By

Dancing Against the Rhythm 12 x 16 Pastels

Look up
The clock changes
9:50 becomes 9:51
as though it were a flit of an eyelash

Too many times I’ve been the observer
At a distance from it ALL
Wanting to be involved
But at a distance
Held away from the heat of it all

When I’m close
A part of me
Plays the spectator
Like the drama around me
Was acted in a theater in the round
Around me, happening
But me
Sitting in the audience
Safely away from the blood to be spilled

A smile, inappropriately appears on my face
I’m watching and involved
But that spectator reflex knows
It’s 53 minutes past the hour
And the plot resolution
Even with a twist
Is coming to an end.

At a distance watching time go by…

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thought for The Day - Here to There

Open Portal (working title) 12 x 18 pastels

On a journey... the road behind me is as visible as the road ahead...

Any given day, I am prone to love as well as hate my work. If I look at a piece in process or complete, there is a range of emotions and valuations made in a matter of minutes or hours. Please believe, there is no better place to be - for the moment - than my little studio and I love my early morning time in this space. But when I look at individual strokes or the piece entire, it's ugly and beauty are found between my ears.

Perhaps that is what we all feel about life in general; from one moment to the next, the path we've traveled and what lies ahead can be evaluated as a waste. I've read words from people we admire, celebrities who are thought-provoking and eloquent and in a moment of "truth," they admit they point out their flaws with disdain. I believe it is true: we are our worst critic! And rare it is we give ourselves a "pat on the back" having made it this far. Every now and then, we need to examine where we are at the moment and while it isn't where we want to be, we haven't done what we said we would and we've made MANY mistakes, Thank God for where we are!

A bit of neutral space for me is reflecting on this fact: I'm doing the work I've always wanted and for now, that is a beautiful revelation!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thought for The Day - Rain Dance

Defying the illusion...

Typical for me these last few years, I've been awake for several hours. Regardless of the season, I'm awake well before sunrise. Growing up, on occasion, I would wake to use the bathroom around 5:15 or thereabouts and find my father, either in the living room reading the bible or praying, or in the kitchen preparing to leave for work. I remember thinking what a terrible time to start the day! And every now and then, the idea that my day might come would get a frown and shaking of my head. Well here I am around the same age he would have been at the time. Rising early has become so commonplace, sleeping until 6:30 feels foreign.

I turned a few minutes ago to look at my latest work, "Open Portal" and a thought came to mind: "this might be a waste of time; you might want to settle into your Quality Assurance role until retirement." That familiar frown and shaking of the head occurred, except like a strategic warrior, I'm fighting reality. The sky says I will wake tomorrow, board a train headed to the Chicago Loop and I will sit at a desk. I will test software and find defects, discuss the work with coworkers, etc. But in my heart, those colors I see on the paper over my shoulder, they are reality.

Like a rain dance, it's not practical, but it is necessary. I am defying what is before me in hopes of recreating reality. You see, while the world seems to be composed of what we see, there is a world that exists behind the visible world. It is the world I bring to bear on paper and canvas. It is the world where life is vibrant and energetic; where possibilities are ENDLESS!!!