Saturday, January 20, 2018

Age is Nothing but a Number

In the United States, we yearn and celebrate youth.  Every turn we take, we hear: fresh faces, fresh ideas, young minds, new perspectives, to describe what we need for our collective consciousness to move forward, and now we hear this ring true in our politics, this need to elect younger candidates to force out the old and tired voices.  It even rings more true in the tech industries, with the new fan-dangle apps and wireless everything, coding for kids.

Of course when I was younger, I was the least phased about what this all meant because I stood at the threshold of many possibilities.  It's true that older generations give way to the next generation, but what's even true is that age does not matter in creativity.  

Look at Dr. John Goodenough, who at 94 has a patent pending for a new kind of battery that will change the way we live.  94!  He was featured in the New York Times article by Pagan Kennedy who wrote, "A study of Nobel physics laureates found that, since the 1980s, they have made their discoveries, on average, at age 50. The study also found that the peak of creativity for Nobel winners is getting higher every year."

Sure, you say, but that's in physics, and that's out of your league or not your thang.  If you find yourself at the precipice of middle age or well into your retirement, fret not.  You only have to look for the people who are just starting or who are still doing it better in their mature age, such as the case of Carmen Herrara, a Cuban born, minimalist artist, who didn't get discovered until she was 89!  

I read an article about her in The Gaurdian by Hermione Hoby, and one of Carmen Herrara's quote really, really inspired me: "You don't decide to be an artist, art gets inside of you. Before you know it you're painting, before you know it you're an artist. You're so surprised. It's like falling in love."  Which kind of goes in the line of what I had written in a prior blog post of mine where one of the artist resolution is proclaiming it and living it

You will find that I like recommending articles and books that go with the topic at hand.  It's because I find that learning and growing intellectually in our creativity is what connects us as artists and thinkers.  No matter what your age, sky's the limit whether it is writing that novel, travel, be a beekeeper, or become an amazing mosaic artist.  Discard those biases and break those barriers.  It is your one life, enjoy it, and continue sharing your talent with the world!

Here are some books for this week's reading:

"In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who've found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon's signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity."

An Artist of the Floating World "From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day 
In the face of the misery in his homeland, the artist Masuji Ono was unwilling to devote his art solely to the celebration of physical beauty. Instead, he put his work in the service of the imperialist movement that led Japan into World War II. "

"Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man follows the journey that Eugene Pota undertakes as he sifts through the detritus of his life in an effort to settle on a subject for his final work. He talks to everyone, including his wife, his old lovers, and his editor. While everyone has ideas, no one offers any real answers. Written with sections that alternate between Pota's real-life efforts to settle on what novel to write and his many and various false starts writing that novel, Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man is a rare and enthralling look into the artist's search for creativity."

Monday, January 8, 2018

5 Reasons to Start & Keep a Journal

Throughout my lifetime I have started many, many journals that are still scattered throughout my house.  From time-to-time I take a deep breath and delve into the blast from the past, which is usually a brave endeavor, to say the least.  Why? Because I have mainly started journals to document most difficult times of my life.  One, for example, is my divorce chronicles from 20 plus years ago.  When I revisit it, I reopen the wounds slightly but not entirely because I come away with it with a sense of accomplishment that I have indeed survived that ordeal.  I look back and think about all the injustices and also the regrets.  

Some of you may have approached journaling as a place to dump all the horrors, and to be honest, I do have some more light-hearted ones with some very, very awful poems that have evolved into more palatable ones...but most of my journals were experimental, raw, often incoherent, which stored my anxieties and obsessions.

Journaling, however, doesn't have to go that route.  It can be used for true empowerment, a place to go back and review and repeat your mantras, a place to fuel creativity.  I will start journaling with this new approach, so here are 5 ways to think about journaling that can help you start your self-discovery:

StockSnap - pixabay

1) Stay "Woke" Now

In other words, evoke mindfulness.  What does that mean?  That means stay in the present -- be grateful in the here and now...the beauty in peeling a pear, for example, listening to classical music while painting.  Practicing this diffuses past hurts. Mindfulness actively engages your thoughts and past anxieties loses its teeth and is less likely to keep you stuck in the past.  

2) Bridging Empathy

Empathy for those who have done me wrong is something I did not believe in because as far as I saw it, they had no empathy for doing what they did to me. I can now have empathy for their transgressions and understand why they may have done what they have done because of their own shortcomings.  With that said, managing your emotions is a sign of high emotional intelligence. Anger is natural and transferring anger to page or on canvas can be an outlet, but there must be a resolve to heal in the end. Search in your journaling for this deeper connection.  

3)  Between Hand and Brain

It's often said that there is a strong connection between retaining memory and handwriting.  If anything, recording a memory memorializes the moment but it also strengthens cognitive recall and mental acuity. Artists usually have their drawing journal for their studies to build on techniques, improve scale and experiment with perspectives.

4)  Goal Setting

Reading my past journals where I dreamed of finishing my classes and obtaining my MFA in Creative Writing, I whirl with glee every time because I am proud that I have accomplished my goal.  Goal setting can be small to large, so have a place where you can record them, and whirl with glee when you have also achieved them, too!

5) Self-Discipline

If you can maintain your journal and write regularly, you will strengthen self-discipline because in a nutshell, discipline begets discipline. Experiment and see the other areas that might come into focus where you can approach and compartmentalize with more ease after sharpening your self-discipline practices. 

Here are some books that can help you set up/start journaling and then create your own!

"Start Where You Are is an interactive journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, mindfulness, and self-motivation. It helps readers navigate the confusion and chaos of daily life with a simple reminder: that by taking the time to know ourselves and what those dreams are, we can appreciate the world around us and achieve our dreams."

"AMAZON #1 BESTSELLER! This is a Writing Journal. It is perfect for writing poetry, notes, lists, or ideas for your next book. Every page is the same as it is a JOURNAL--for you to fill in the pages. Each lined page has the same inspirational message across the top to remind you to BELIEVE. "

"This gorgeous undated journal of weekly lists will help nurture self-expression and self-development. Each seasonal section includes list prompts, with plenty of space to write your own lists, and challenges to help you take action and make your dreams a reality. With perfectly timed prompts that meet you where you are throughout the different seasons, this journal will open up new avenues of self-knowledge and help you celebrate, enjoy, and take ownership of your life, as each week of the year becomes more thoughtful and vibrant."

"Science has proven that optimism is actually good for your heart, and this amusing writer's journal affirms the notion that it's also good for your brain. With playful prompts and witty quotations, Knock Knock's It's Gonna Be Okay is smart yet comforting—like a pair of horn-rimmed rose-colored glasses."

"Overall Length: 8 Inch, Width: 6 inch, Depth: 1.5 inches

Pages: Aprox. 280 pages counting both sides of Tree Free Handmade paper
Cover: Genuine Crazy Horse Leather. Distressed with more use.
Binding: Copic bound with same leather cord and leather strap closure
Design: Asymmetric front flap. Create your own pattern with Crazy Horse leather feature."

"Now more compact and featuring spiral binding to make for easier use, these Morning Pages invite you to do three pages daily of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness, which provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize, and synchronize the day at hand. This daily writing, coupled with the twelve-week program outlined in The Artist's Way, will help you discover and recover your personal creativity, artistic confidence, and productivity."