Monday, June 30, 2014

Thought for The Day - Aim High

Considering the many challenges we all face, there is no other focal point suitable for living! All too often, we make choices, accompanied by the phrase: "I just want _______!" It took years before I figured out no one "just wants." We all want far more than a little bit and "average" is never enough. But somewhere along the way, we set aside our dreams and hopes for a "piece of the pie." Depending on the level of difficulty and the expected hardship and return, we adjust our dreams based on "reality." Explain reality when it comes to most celebrities and athletes? Explain reality when you think about sitting in front of  'screen' or 'monitor,' powered by electricity, that practically places the world at your fingertips?

Life is full of disappointments. You will be let down along the way. But no matter how many times it knocks you down, the worst thing you could do is remain flat on your face or back! But the thing just as bad is getting up and settling for the crumbs and scraps the world offers. I may have shared this quote before but it is always worth sharing again:

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws will be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thought for The Day - It's Raining today, I thought of you...

Standing at the window, looking down on the street, people walking underneath umbrellas and cars easing down the street; I thought of you. I leaned against the window sill, coffee mug held at my chest, steam and aroma to rising to my nose and I wondered where you were. Knowing I had plenty of work to do and little time to do it, I shook off the effects of the rain and walked back to my desk and my chair. I sat my mug on the floor and turned my eyes back to the monitor. "Back to it," I said to the air. And yet a whiff of the coffee and something else, stirred my mind.

An hour later, typing away, pausing every now and then to stretch my hands, I turned around in my chair to stretch my arms. Just then, a bolt of lightning, crack of thunder and sudden rush of rain distracted me. In that minute, my mind filled with memories. So many rainstorms, so often having to pause in the rain and allow it to pour down on us. And I remembered the first time we met, when you stood under that awning, back against the wall, mesmerized by the rain coming down. You looked happy, but as if you were off in a far away land. Umbrella in hand I ran across the street to where you stood...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thought for The Day - Hobbies, Jobs, Careers and Calling

Something to do, places to be...

Most would agree, one doesn't expect to earn money from a hobby; its something done in spare time. A Saturday morning fishing trip is not the opportunity to earn money and watching model trains run across tracks isn't the means to pay the bills.

A job pays the bills! I remember my first pay check and the feelings I had before I got it! At 15, a summer job was an opportunity to earn a little change for my pocket and Burger King was hiring. I didn't know about Federal and state payroll deductions and FICA and Medicare wasn't a thought. So when the check was put in my hand and I tore open the envelope, I was very disappointed! Needless to say, I have learned over the years, that's how it is!

Career; I guess that would have been interesting if I had followed that path. As a kid, there were three possible directions I wanted to go: scientist, artist or business owner. I had a pastor who always talked about owning a neighborhood grocery store. The idea always gave me a sense of having your own and watching the morning rush hour as a kid, even then I wanted to have a bit more control over my morning.

As I reached the adult years, a career as an artist seemed to be my destiny. Except I wasn't winning awards or showing in galleries. Knowing what I do now, I should have taken that teaching assistant position one of my first college professors offered. The exposure to art professionals would have guided my path so much better! At least I would like to think so...

The overarching direction of one's life is determined by your "calling." For the religious types, the narrowly visioned types, "calling" is larger than a pastor or preacher. I know I thought that was the only meaning possible, especially since those seemed to be in my life. However, 22 years after "responding" to that prompting, I am no closer to understanding the purpose of my life. It's not to say I haven't enjoyed some of the twists and turns, the job, hobbies and opportunities to share the good news of the gospel. But it's been a long journey. And there are times I'm not sure I am on the right path...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Power of Thought

It is happening now; this very moment, even as you read this, multiple emotions, calculations, memories and plans are simultaneously running through your head. I've heard it said we use our brain - if at all - for little things, but my point would be: It's getting used. It is never idle.

The plans and intentions of our thoughts, of where we want to be - whether it is content with "now" or some other place - can determine your footsteps. But I think many would be surprised to trace their thoughts back to a feeling, an emotion or a dream. There are those lingering impressions that happened a while back that shape our present and future and help determine what makes us happy.

Where ever you are at the moment, what ever is going on in your life, it is not the end. Whether you are content or the opposite, consider what you want your life to be. It all begins with a thought, a notion and where goes is up to you.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thought for The Day - Decisions and Choices

You're doing it now; deciding, choosing. Small, nerve ending sparks firing through out your frontal lobe. When we think of making decisions, or having "choice" we imagine things like vacations or which bill to pay and which to hold off paying. But when you 'decide' to "chair dance" to a tune that comes to mind or playing in your speakers; when you choose which word to use in a conversation - especially when you're keenly aware that the conversation is potentially volatile - is a decision made in the moment. We think we can't operate in a continuous flow of thought, always 'considering' or "juggling multiple balls," but at least in my head, it seems a continuous flow.

Not every decision or choice is wise or informed. And even with the necessary information available, we often decide to do the opposite. Sometimes our decision is made from our "gut," a sense of knowing what is a right decision and one that doesn't follow "conventional wisdom."

Now, no overarching or specific instructions today. Just "the facts, ma'am." YOU decide...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thought for The Day - Time is Ticking

I know I can't be alone when I say this: I spend more time focused on "time" than it seems possible! I sit to write, my wrist watch sits in front of me to ensure I'm not "wasting time." As if that isn't enough, I find myself pressing the button on my phone to confirm the time. Or I'm checking the time on my computer for the time. I get to the gym and I'm mindful of the time; the time I get there determines how much I get done. And the time I leave, determines how quickly I get home and back out the door for the "9 - 5."

Up before dawn most mornings, trying to ensure "enough time" to get in personal time, I'm ever mindful that my time is limited.

And in the middle of it all, I wonder: "Will I ever have "time" to slow down? Will this pace and the constant checking of watches ever get to a point I can focus on the current activity without concern for the next?"

Time isn't the enemy; the enemy is my obsession with squeezing in a life full of tasks!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thought for The Day - I'm Not Ready

All my life, I've had aspirations to be different. I knew in high school I didn't want to spend my days in a factory, like my father and the idea of being at someone's office for 40+ hours a week seemed insane! And yet, in spite of my desires, I'm exactly where I don't want to be. I'm certain for many people working, where ever you work, the same holds true.

I signed up for an online business course a few weeks ago and though I looked forward to what I would learn, there was this sense that I wasn't ready. From nearly the first page of reading, I realized I was ill prepared for the class. Certainly, it's a good idea to "know what you don't know," but as an artist, looking to make this stuff work, I have a lot more to learn. Correction: I have a great deal to put into practice.

Quite honestly, I have a great deal to put into practice as a human being. I'm a nice guy, I listen well and think it's vitally important to practice my Christian values, but there's a great deal more to living the life I desire than I'm doing now. I'm not defeated though; sometimes it's best to admit to yourself where you are before you can move to where you want to be. I'm not sure "how long" I'll be in this place, but for the moment, I'm sitting here acknowledging my shortcomings and hoping for a "switch" to flip on and turn this life around.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thought for The Day - Channel

Or this vessel...

This vehicle...

This portal...

This life, these moments we have here on earth...We concern ourselves with wasted time, "missed opportunities" and using our time wisely. We should be concerned, but also mindful of our capability. Our abilities really are limitless! And when we consider that one way or another, we are completing the "mission" of our lives, it should take the pressure off, just a bit!

You know, there isn't a day goes by, I don't want to be in "the studio." And yet, I don't schedule the time, don't carve out an hour or so a day to devote to my love. I have questioned my devotion for many years and ridiculed myself enough to give "me" a nervous condition. But when I consider in between the heartaches, the moments of grief, I produce WONDERFUL work, it takes the pressure off.

I use this 'medium' to send a message to who ever will read and see it. Many days, I sit in front of the screen and it isn't a shortage of ideas and words that would prevent me. It is the glut of ideas and inspiration that floods the channel. The equivalent is as if you had a thousand channels on your cable or satellite television and all of it was forced through at one time.

I don't have a large audience, but for a few minutes a day, I have your attention...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thought for The Day - Awakening

It began quite a few years ago, probably earlier than I'm aware, but I will use this dream as a "mile-marker." I was 18 years old or so, attending school at Columbia College in Chicago. I had a writing class at the time and each week, we were to turn in a writing assignment. But also, we were expected to "tell a story" from the perspective of the world around us. It was a very rewarding class, where we were challenged to drop the precepts of "telling a story," using terms like "once upon a time," or "I see." In one of my stories, I recalled this dream.

In the dream, I am flying high! I'm up in the air, among the clouds, breathing "rare air" and reveling in my ability. But suddenly, I'm in my old neighborhood, on the west-side of Chicago. I find myself in the alley behind the apartment building owned by aunt and uncle, flying through the alley. My cousins, always playing softball in the alley, are there and when they see me, they take off after me, trying to catch me as I continue to fly, but getting lower and lower to the ground. As I fly the length of the long alley, I'm arching my back, trying to get back to the sky "where I belong." But my efforts are near wasted as I continue to get closer to the ground. At the garage where the owner sold "snow-cones," I wake.

That dream comes back to mind every now and then. I wonder about the connection of family versus my desire to reach higher. I know I've never been settled or okay with life as it is; I've always yearned for more. And it has always been clear that "value" and "wealth" aren't necessarily the same. While I've yearned for more, the value has always seemed more like a feeling than a dollar figure in the bank or a certain size home. Certainly, in my longings, I have wanted to be in a "certain place," or live a "rich life." And that has always felt like "more." But I can tell you, while I have achieved some things, each achievement eventually leads to the question: "what else?"

A quote from one of my favorite songs, "Open Mind" (Robert Glasper Experiment - Double Booked), sums it up: "Is it not possible for the dreamer to be awaken from what we call our normal life? Transcendent, as the dreamer wakes from his sleep."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thought for The Day - Themes and Patterns

All my life, I have been an observer of patterns. In every part of life, there are themes; ideas and overarching 'rules' that govern what happens around us.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thought for The Day - Sweet Dreams aren't made of this

The material of platinum, gold and silver, compact electronic devices, smart enough to tug our attention away from the eyes of a stranger and the clothes on a clearance rack...This isn't the stuff of dreams.

Chasing the latest eye-catching woman or being 'available' for that handsome, tall guy, isn't the same as "chasing your dreams."

Success isn't getting an 850 credit score from the three credit scoring companies.

Having fun doesn't have to cost your life.

Living life to the fullest doesn't require abandoning your desires...

All of these aren't the stuff needed to fulfill your heart's desire. They may come as a result of realizing who you are and the "core" reason you are on this earth. Then again, if you have found that center, when you have sacrificed approval of other consumer-goods hungry individuals to exercise your soul's expression...NOTHING. ELSE. MATTERS!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thought for The Day - Crossed Signals

In a heartbeat, your life can be derailed and the dreams you've nurtured, seem shattered. But little miracles happen everyday and a small shift may be all it takes to shift your life. In the final analysis, each day is an opportunity for success or failure.

Crossed signals occur when you try to determine your future based on current circumstances. The only thing that counts is the consistent pushing forward to the life you desire. Anything less, while normal, leaves you ever hungry for more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Good News/The Bad News

The good news is you're alive (you are, after all, reading this).

The bad news is you may not be using your time wisely. Sure there's "work," the 9-5, if that's what you do everyday. But I've known people who don't use their time wisely at work. Tasks and assignments aren't completed as needed and it's not until management threatens to dismiss you, that "time management" is a consideration.

The good news is you like/love to read (you're reading this).

The bad news is not everything you read is worth your time. Back to the time issue, again. I've heard this once and it was good enough to stick: "if you love reading, there's a strong possibility there's a story" in you. Now I know there are many novels, books of poetry and a couple self-help books in me! Today's thought isn't merely about you; it's me, performing a self-convicting disclosure!

The good news is you "have time..."

No bad news on this one; each day is what you make of it. While you may berate and criticized yourself - and possibly others - the time is yours to use effectively. I'm not talking about organizing your day down to the minute and in some cases, not every hour. But it is a matter of evaluating how your time is spent, in light of what your goals and your purpose. And after evaluating, performing the necessary steps until that demon is exorcised!

The good news is you have a reason to be alive; you have a purpose.

The bad news: you may not be using your time effectively in light of your purpose. I'm not sure if you've ever read this in my blog, but I "KNEW" (notice the caps?) I was supposed to be an artist. I questioned the preacher part, but did it (and still do) when the time was right. But I had high aspirations of touching hearts and mind with my work. My mom wanted me to be reasonable and have a plan B, just in case the art didn't work out. Enough doubt and concerned was raised that at 21, shortly after graduation with a degree in Fine Arts, I put my pens, pencils and brushes away. But thirty years later - yes that long - I'm back at it. I have to "unlearn" a great deal of self-doubt and force selfishness - guarding tmy time in the studio is an internal fight more than a fight with family and "commitments." But I'm determined to do so. As far as setting the world on fire, touching "hearts and minds?" Well, I will allow the "beholder" to decide if the message hidden in lines and colors, gets 'em to the core.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thought for The Day - My Space

Each morning, I retreat to this spot in my house. A small room, carved out of the now finished basement. Two of the four walls have the exposed (painted white) brick from the days when the basement was one long space. The floor is the typical concrete floor for a basement, with a couple layers of different colored paints, now scratched and 'artsy.' There is a section of the room where my old weight bench sits and a stack of weight plates is near it. And just as you enter the door, there is my art table, filled with supplies and not nearly enough space to draw. But it's my space.

My desk sits behind the door; a monstrosity for the size of the room. These days, it's filled with an old pc desktop I fire up for the occasional "work from home" days. And the desk is cluttered with papers and books that need to be filed and organized. I have a closet where I keep my gym clothes and reams of paper I bought years ago to use in my graphic art business. Old items are everywhere and there is hardly any room to do much but sit down. But it's my space.

Like my poem "A Blank Page," this place holds far more than meets the eye. The space isn't about the clutter or the disarray of a man trying to "find himself," it is the space where I can step on the other side of reality and pluck a dream or ideal to share. Colors, words, images and sounds can be found in my space. And at the right time, in the right place, my space will be your space.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thought for The Day - The Final Word

Depending on your temperament, you can be extremely conscious of criticism and judgement. I've known people who seem to do well in spite of their harsh critics. But in the final analysis, we all stand on our efforts and their is One who has the final say. Replaying in my head at the moment, the example of piano concerto, playing before a packed concert house. The individual plays with all their heart, each note sounding like perfection! And when he completes his performance, the audience comes to their feet clapping and cheering with all their heart! But there is one person sitting in the audience that the pianist bows and looks to for approval. And that mentor and teacher, that one person looks at him with a look...

On many days, I am my worse critic! From the work I didn't finish to the work that I didn't get to, I rarely give myself a break. I can hear my mother's voice or a sense of it, saying how lazy I am and how if I don't "get it together," I won't amount to much. On many days, that doesn't motivate or completely destroy me, but it leaves me somewhere in the middle! I work, giving it my best effort and in moment's notice, I am distracted, either by the needs of others or my own need to "take a breather." But rising this morning, the "critic" as active as usual, I realized sometimes, your best efforts don't yield the desired results. And you might go weeks, months, even years, on the idea that you "blew it." But a small gesture, an act of grace, reveals that "someone" is looking out for you, when you don't have the ability to do so for yourself.

...That look is a nod and a swelling of the chest in approval.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thought for The Day - Stranger in Familiar Land

In tan, cubicle land, pretty pictures mean nothing. Messages, when they are pointed to and explained, mean nothing. People might wonder as they walk by, but you can best believe they will walk on. The guy sitting across from you can't appreciate your work and as he wonders why his life seems meaningless. While you know why, you speak a different language and your kaleidoscope words and musical tone mean nothing to him. 

Like the earbuds in your ears, if heard by someone other than you, sounds like a tinny beat, your message isn't heard in this place; comprehension is for calculations, completing an 8 hour day and getting out of here for the weekend.

For me, though it is familiar territory, it is not 'home.' It isn't the place where I look forward to spending my days. I have moved from place to place in the last few years, not because I was looking for home, but perhaps to reinforce for my own sensibility, that this place is not home. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Another Thought - "Blocked"

Open Channel 24 x 36, Oils 

I'm Listening 24 x 36, Oils

You know you're "blocked" and what blocks you. You know you practically strengthen your barrier with thoughts and actions. You know life is a struggle because you choose to make it that way. You know instinctively, if you would grasp, hold on, give careful consideration to the desired life, the old, decayed and crumbling life would fall away.


Thought for The Day - Watch

There is what we observe and what we want to see. When you find yourself seeing and wishing it or 'they' would do something else, that's your judgement that things "should" be a certain way. But in truth, we are always seeing, always absorbing. We hear, feel, see and hear. And when necessary, we taste. Five Senses; five primary antennae and sources of information. But there is so much more going on!

Watch. Look. See. Observe. There is a world occurring in front of us and inside us. We are more than physical beings. Though our mind perceives input from the five senses, there is far more going on beyond the range of our senses...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thought for The Day - Connected

We go through life networking with people, socializing, worshipping together, but I'm sure not everyone "fits" in your life like a puzzle piece. Many people have friends they've known for years, but there are some aspects of their life that aren't shared with these friends. It isn't because they don't want to share it, it's just they haven't found a connection "open" to hearing this part of their life.

There are a few people I'm connected to. Actually a very small list of people. I have friends, acquaintances and of course family, but there are very few people who seem open to deep friendship. I share aspects of my identity, occasionally, but very rare. I will tell a friend or my wife about my hopes for the future or what I'm feeling, but it isn't the same. I've often said, I'm the listener; people come to me to be heard. The interesting thing is I think some people would consider us "perfect friends." But if they ever stopped to recall the things I've shared with them, they would find it hard to put their finger on only a few things.

Bonding, connecting, being "knit together" as it was said of David and Jonathan, is a relationship where not every fact is known, but it is a relationship where there is no fear of truth. Being connected to a person, conversations are "bi-directional," meaning both people have time to share thoughts and feelings. At least for my life, I find people are willing to pour out their soul, but rarely do the same people listen.

For me, it's a life-long concern and while I could allow disappointment to shut me down, for the time being, I continue to trudge along, ever hopeful for a person or people who understand the need for genuine connections.