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My Dad once said, “Don’t take no for an answer.” My Mom was equally bold in her advice. It was good.
When I decided to audition for “Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique”, one of my French teachers rolled her eyes, and exclaimed (en Francais) that she knew French people who had tried to get in and didn’t make it. Certainly an “anglophone” had NO chance. I decided to not go near her during my preparation time, avoiding her black cloud energy. It was tough enough without her input!
So… you can imagine the delight I had when I announced to her that this “anglophone” had made it through two auditions and 2 days of observation, and was accepted. She was as they say in Quebec “bouche bée”… mouth agape!
The following post by Geoff Talbot reminds us of famous people and their (wrong) naysayers. A reminder to take opinions with a grain of salt.
Do you have a similar situation to share?
…Famous Wrong Predictions…
In the world of art & entrepreneurship be encouraged… when it comes to innovation no one really knows anything…
“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” Opponents to Edwin L Drakes plan to drill for oil in 1849.
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles in 1962.
Read the rest at Seven Sentences by Geoff Talbot…
I come from an artistic family. I grew up surrounded by pottery and paintings by my father, and fibre artistic works (weaving, knitting, needlework, quilting & more) by my mother. They were always making things. Our cupboards were filled with pottery. Our floors covered with woven and hooked rugs. I wore handmade sweaters, hats, and scarves, and funky leg warmers (still have them).
Eventually we moved from Banff to Prince Edward Island where my family purchased land, built a house, and made our own shop, which resulted in me learning the world of sales early in life.
I also puttered, dabbled in my parent’s art. I would draw, make pinch pots, slab boxes, pendants, and I would help put on Mom’s warps and sand the bottoms of Dad’s pottery so it was smooth to touch. I tried knitting, but was abysmal. When it came to craft fair time, I would help load & unload the van, and watch my mother skillfully display their work. These observations served me well later in years!
My Dad taught as well. When he taught his drawing and painting classes I would sometimes sit in and partake. I would overhear some of his instruction and try to apply it. I liked it. I would get frustrated, but mostly I liked it. But I preferred drawing so I would do that more frequently by myself.
But… it’s funny.
My parents were always the artists in my mind. I wasn’t an artist. I didn’t feel I could own that title. They were very good at what they did, and I admired their singled passions.
Finally, years later, I thought I had discovered a similar passion in acting. And, yes… it most certainly is a passion but I still felt I also wanted something where I didn’t need an audience or a team. Writing, yes… a definite possibility, as I used to love doing that when I was a kid, too… And, when I show up to my blog, I am happy.
You know what?
Just last week, I dove back into the world of paint, encouraged by my painter friend, Melanie Kobayashi, and experienced a ripple of surprising excitement. Mel guided me into her studio, offered me paints, a massive piece of heavy paper, and ordered me to “load up your brush and don’t be scared!” I did what I was told, and soon was having a cathartic dance with the paint and canvas.
My inner critic showed up several times just to keep me humble and sweating. “Anyone can do that” “You’re cheating” “That’s doesn’t take talent” “Who do you think you are painting?” “Wow.. bad taste in colour”…I chased away it away many times.
I replaced my inner expulsions to “I’m just having fun”…. And some obscene chasing off remarks, similar to “buzz off”.
I succeeded in keeping going, and not succumbing to a perfectionist attitude. It was hard work in some ways, and on the other side it was deeply satisfying. And, because of the size of the work… oh, boy.. did my thighs ache the following days. But in the best way possible!
Would you like to see it? I hesitated to post my first attempt, my first abstract purge, but, what the heck!
It’s a wild one… I decided to call it “Mel Made Me Do It”….
Funny how one seemingly unrelated creative activity can open the doors to others. Some old plans for something have re-emerged since painting but… that’s for another time.
Where do you allow yourself to play, create, and open the channels?
It’s 2010 and somehow January slipped by in a speed, and in a series of events that left me a negligent blogger. I feel like I’ve left a love one unattended for just way too long.
So.. it’s February 1st and I’m not waiting any longer for the right moment, the inspiration, and the long comfortable stretches of time that will, of course, make me write a brilliant blog post. Ha! What am I thinking???
According to so many, I just need to show up, and take action.
This is me taking action.
In the “theme” of just doing it, I’d like to share another book with you called “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Inner Battles” by Steven Pressfield. In his book, Pressfield discusses all the ways we resist practicing our art, and what to do about it. I squirmed as I recognized myself in many of the varieties of resistance (from procrastination to fantasies to assorted vices to plain old fear).
If you’re unsure of your styles of resistance, this book will define them for you, and give you the kick in the pants we all need from time to time.
“The War of Art” is an easy read in one way, and also very challenging as it pushes you up against a mirror. Time for another re-read for me!
What are some of the ways you dare to admit that you cleverly deviate from producing your art or following your calling?
I’m glad I’ve broken the spell of not showing up here, and I boldly wish you all a Happy, Healthy, and Creative 2010, even though it is already February 1st!
It’s now December 2010 and I am resurrecting a post I did last year regarding some scarves and the PEI Humane Society. A couple new photos and an ongoing plan in time for this seasonal gift giving month! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and all the best…
This post may seem a bit off topic with my usual posts, but not really. It’s still all about creativity and thinking outside the box.
My mother, Joan Kempton-Jeeves, is a Fibre Artist, originally from England, and has worked cleverly and artistically in weaving, wool dying, hooking, quilting, crocheting, and knitting for many years. Her work is unconventional as she enjoys “painting with her wool”. I own many beautiful sweaters, and scarves (I’m wearing one as I write), and living in Vancouver where it’s warmer than the rest of Canada I don’t always have the chance to sport my wearable art. So when the temperature dips to a wool wearing one, I’m content!
In the past couple of years my mother has been knitting steadily with the caveat that she is “cleaning up” her wool, and producing a series of beautiful scarves. Her collection has grown steadily and makes for an impressive group.
My mother is also an animal lover, especially cats, and my family has had a few dear feline friends, all of who are now gone, and one token German Shepherd, who is also hanging out with the cats in animal heaven.
So…where are we going, you may ask?
Well…sometimes my Mom likes to make donations to her local humane society, and visit the animals once in awhile, and she had a fabulous idea.
Remember those scarves I was mentioning? Well, my Mom would like to donate her scarves indirectly to the Prince Edward Island Humane Society (Canada). Indirectly means that she will give a scarf to anyone who donates at least 25.00 to the Society. These donations will go under the “Joan Kempton Scarf Fund”.
That’s a pretty good deal! And, I thought it was such a good idea that I said I would help, hence, this blog post. By writing about this and encouraging those who would like to give a great present of a well-needed donation AND receive a beautiful hand knit scarf. It’s a win-win-win situation for all.
What do you think?
If you are interested:
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we’ll work out the best way to accept your donation and for you to receive your scarf, and receipt.
If you have any questions about this unique fundraiser, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to respond or help out, and choose a scarf!
(p.s. shipping charges are extra… but, we’ll chat)
“A man came to the Village Headman and pleaded for help. ‘I can’t stand it any longer. My life is sheer hell. There’s me, my wife, my children, and my in-laws all living together in a single room. We’re arguing, and complaining, and constantly at each other’s throats. It’s destroying us all.’
‘I can help if you promise to do as I say,’ said the Headman.
‘Anything. Whatever you say, I’ll do it. It can’t be worse than what I’m living with now.’
‘Very good. What livestock do you have?’
‘Two goats, a pig, a donkey, five chickens, and a turkey.’
‘Bring them all into your single room and come back to see me in a week.’
What could the man do? He had promised to do as the Headman asked. He came back a week later in a terrible state. ‘The stink! The mess! The noise. I’d be better off dead. It’s like living in a mad-house.’
‘Good!’ said the Headman. ‘Go home and throw out all the animals. Then come see me tomorrow.’
The next day the man returned with a wide smile on his face and his eyes sparkling with happiness. ‘Thank you. Thank you. It’s paradise. So clean, so quiet, and so much space to live life for me and my loved ones.’”
Boy do I relate to this story!! Yesterday, I told my partner that we needed to get some animals (small apartment!).
This is one of many stories in the book, by Nick Owen, titled “The Salmon of Knowledge” Stories for Work, Life, the Dark Shadow, and Oneself. Each tale compiled into this rich, thought-provoking read falls under a specific theme, and contains a moral. Introducing the themed chapters are personal anecdotes from the author, and suggestions of what each story might enlighten.
I was fortunate to meet Nick Owen at the Applied Improvisation Network Conference in Portland, Oregon, in November, where he delivered a compelling keynote speech on Leadership, and touching the heart. Lucky me got to have a brief chat with him the evening prior, and I knew we would be in for a treat. When I asked Nick Owen about his books and he strongly suggested “The Salmon of Knowledge” for me.
Thank you Nick!
If you are on a personal journey of discovery, of life paths, of “just what are we doing here”, of learning to let go, honesty, clearing, acceptance, presence, of illusion, of creativity, of self, this book is perfect. I certainly feel that way as I observe and participate in life’s challenges. Somehow, reading a story, a metaphor that applies to situations in my life helps me to adjust my perspective in a positive way. Or, it just helps me to see that there is another perspective!
Story telling is our most effective way of sharing our experiences. I hope you get a chance to have the thoughtful pleasure I am still having as I read, and re-read this unique collection.
Remember those forts you use to build, as kids, in your living rooms, or bedrooms, or outside, using chairs, blankets, and anything that could help to create a cool cave? Worlds far from the one we were in were concocted with no agenda.
Just recently, I relived a similar experience.
After a short personal conversation with Craig, he invited me to place myself under the grand piano where he would improvise for approximately 40 minutes.
Immediately I was reminded of those childhood living room forts and feeling extra safe and snug. Under the piano, regally awaiting, were shiny gold cushions matching the interior of the piano, a soft bedding of puffy brass blankets and a red velvet one to pull over you for more cozy warmth.
As I tentatively crawled under, I wondered what the protocol really was when you curl up under someone’s piano. I felt awkward but rapidly enjoyed the mysteriously secure feeling.
I closed my eyes and heard the first note, strong but not too loud, and felt the vibration. My body liked the sensation. For the first few minutes, I felt my brain drifting to the banalities of life chores but thankfully the chords would draw me back to the present.
As I permitted myself to relax, my creative juices started to flow.
The sounds transformed as Craig improvised with an awareness of my energy under his piano, producing a symphony of soft notes, thunderous notes, quiet thoughtful notes, sounds of hope, sounds of sadness and melancholy, and soothing sounds.
Images of my past and present life appeared and disappeared.
Befitting, I thought, another childhood memory rose up with Craig’s final notes. I was reminded of me dancing with abandon at age 5 or 6 in the living room of a family friend. Our friend would put all kinds of exotic music on his record player and I would sneak into the living room, my theatre, and dance while the adults visited in the kitchen.
After the session, Craig and I, in my blissfully dopey state, discussed our individual journeys. We acknowledged a musical sadness that had emerged, but also agreed that it was beautiful and not to be ignored. In a society that constantly promotes being positive we tend to hide the sombre side that also has a place in our lives. After all, isn’t good theatre made from comedy and tragedy? The lighter notes that occurred as well balanced the experience nicely.
And, I felt inspired to write!
Under The Piano, to me, is another tool to tap into our creativity and I look forward to experiencing it again. Anything that slows us adults down long enough to open up our “kid” in us, and our imagination, is magnificent.
Thank you Craig! Craig Addy’s In Tune
What a week last week was…
Death was roaming around making it’s presence more evident as it cast itself on people the masses knew. It slammed itself onto the innocent who were standing up to injustice. And it also roamed less publicly into some of my friends’ worlds.
How are you affected by these final interventions? How does it affect all of us as a whole? Are you thinking more about your own mortality?
And, what does that do?
Does it make you feel freer, more able to create and focus, or does it put you into the “deer in headlight” mode and you wonder what to do? Or, do you move into denial after the first shock?
As death creeps closer in, I find myself re-evaluating my own priorities, and examining time. How do I spend it? How do I waste it? With whom do I spend it? If I really knew the exact date of my eminent death, my “dead line”, would I do things a little differently?
In this way, I view “death” as a healthy kick in the pants.
This is not an uncommon discussion and I realize I’m being redundant, however, we humans seem to need constant reminding. We’re a bit stubborn that way.
Two years ago, I watched my close friend die and heard her last breath. A week prior when she was still lucid, she pulled me close and said, “Trilby, I feel like I still haven’t blossomed.”
She was fifty.
Her echoing words continue to propel me toward my desired work.
I listened to a CBC radio interview, last week, with a woman who had been diagnosed with an incurable disease over a year ago, and given 6 to 12 months to live. Her voice expressed, “I’m much freer now, and I know exactly where I want to spend my time.”
She wanted to spend it in her garden close to the earth where she knew she was going.
Fearless was the word she repeated about her current self. “I seemed to live in fear before, and now, nothing can scare me.”
Asked about how it felt to be dying, she answered that she was too busy living to be preoccupied with it. Interesting that she has surpassed the doctors’ predictions already.
Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Seize the moment. I ask myself, honestly, is my energy going where I want it to?
We’ve seen the question many times before, but I’m going to ask it again. What would you be doing if you knew you were going to die in one year?
This article is not meant to be a morbid one.
For myself, I find a liberating sensation flow through me when I think about being more deliberate with time, and priorities. Nothing like a deathly reminder to get me shifting closer to the creative projects I desire to perform.
Just what am I waiting for? How about you?
No waiting here…
I am excited because I was recommended a new book that I want to share with all who are creative, innovative, and imaginative.
The book is called “A Whole New Mind” ..Why Right-Brainers will rule the future.. by Daniel H. Pink. (I was thrilled to find the author on twitter – @danielpink- and equally thrilled when he responded to my tweet!)
I’m almost finished reading his book, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!
As I read “A Whole New Mind” I’m finding myself nodding my head, smiling, and feeling a warm sensation of worldly belonging, and a deep understanding. I enjoy this new feeling of significance.
As a creative type, a theatre performer, a sometimes writer, a sometimes poet, a dabbler in painting, an emotional being (maybe a little more than some), a teacher, a director and someone who was told I was overly sensitive and easily amused (I just have a great sense of humour), and I am finding solace in this book. I feel I am finally being accepted, and even revered for my skills, and talents as a right brained person.
Daniel H. Pink is speaking my language. And, I think he is bang on with his theories. He puts it in a way that I haven’t quite before read. Maybe I’m being naive, but if I am, so be it. Me voila! (Daniel H. Pink parle le francais aussi!)
This book is giving me hope for my future and also a confirmation of my thus far journey. It helps to make sense of my creativity, and my desire to move it into the left brained world. I’m strangely drawn to explore that world, and open it up to a richer state. Does that sound over zealous? But, I do.
Shouldn’t we all be allowed to play? In play we discover what computers can’t. Computers are taking a lot of our left brained work away so what is left? What is left is space for our right brains to kick in and get to work in a much more inspired way.
I won’t go on.
Daniel H. Pink’s book will describe this hopeful movement to you. I think all governments, and schools should read his book. Maybe, then, they will realize that cutting the arts is like cutting off part of one’s brain. Our people don’t deserve that.
Thank you to Simon Howse who we met on a plane to Singapore almost a year ago and who, just last week, recommended this book to me.
Every once in awhile I need a good reminder of the creative person I am, and the encouragement to just show up and do “it” without overly judging myself.
Some days are extra challenging.
My father, who’s a painter, and I were talking yesterday about waiting to be in “the mood” to create, whether it be a painting, a piece of writing, or a play rehearsal. My Dad referred to some advice by a fellow painter about how we need to just go into action, and not wait for an inspirational mood. If we were to always wait for that slippery moment, we might never create at the rate we deeply desire. Simply, our actions can get the muse moving.
Again, I’m not expounding anything new. Again, it’s just me speaking to myself, and hopefully giving a nudge to both you & me.
The following letter is one I have hanging in my bathroom. I admit that I need constant reminding, and would like to honour my blog with Martha Graham’s words.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all Time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine: how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open … no artist is pleased…there is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
(a sampling of my Dad’s, Barry Jeeves, watercolour paintings)