July 20, 2018

The Joy of Painting

Lately, I've been painting again. It feels like going back to childhood every time I return. I don't paint with an end in mind; I just play! It's so fun choosing my favorite colors, fun shapes and doodling patterns.

Seeing yourself as an artist is often a stumbling block to actually creating art ~ at least it was for me. As an young adult, I never imagined I could paint because couldn't see myself having any skill. You have to be able to draw realistically to be a painter, right? Wrong!

Scrolling the web one day, I happened upon a group of fabulous artists who encouraged me (via the internet) to embrace creativity and just go for it. For the past ten years I've listened to them and embraced the fun of painting without worrying about the title of artist. If life gets busy and I'm away for awhile, I'm always drawn back by the thought of color and swirling thick layers across a canvas.

One of the artists who inspired me is the free spirit, Flora Bowley. Her book Brave Intuitive Painting gives wings to my tentative attempts! Not only does she dispel what an artist looks like, but she addresses the thoughts we grab onto that keep us from exploring our creativity.

Maybe not everyone will want to attempt to paint, but reading Flora might convince you to try! We all have the ability within us, we may just need some gentle encouragement. Play and willingness are the only requirements.

In this book, Flora's lessons remind me of what it was like to paint as a child with finger-paints, stamps, dancing and scribbles. It's all about fun and letting your inner child explore! Flora makes painting easy and accessible. If you're worried about knowing how to start on an empty canvas, she's got loads of tips to get you started!

Check her out, I think you'll love her style!

July 19, 2018

The Plant Killer

I have never had luck growing plants of any kind. I rarely plant-sit for anyone for fear of killing their beloved babies.

I shy away from growing anything of my own because (in the words of Anne Lamott), "They'd end up looking like I'd watered them with Agent Orange...you'd see it clutching its little throat, staring at you with its little Keane eyes, gasping and accusing--and I mean, who needs it?"

So recently when I walked out my front door and noticed a bloom on a bush I'd hopelessly planted last year, a scream erupted from my lips.

What was this? How had this plant survived the extremely cold winter and the water-less summer days? I knew it wasn't me because my track record is dismal, and yet, here was proof that I could actually grow something!

A little purple flower hung waving in the breeze. I ran over to make sure it was real and discovered multiple buds clustered around it. MORE?! I was growing more than one? I could hardly contain my excitement and flung myself down, pulling out weeds around it, as if I knew how this was done.

I sat admiring it and feeling all philosophical.

Isn't that just like us? I thought, we bloom in the most unexpected conditions, with very little watering and next to no attention. Yet here we are.

One day a plant-killer, the next day a bloom.

July 18, 2018

The Summer of Pretty

I'm wearing dresses again.

I think I stopped wearing them when I became a mom because I was always messy or chaotically on the go. I didn't have anything to dress up for on a regular basis and even when I did, I substituted pants with ballet slippers.

I think it was also because I'd gained weight. It started with leftover baby weight from pregnancies and continued with late night "treats" after babies were in bed. Somewhere during the transformation of my body, I let go of dressing up and feeling fancy.

But lately I've been working on loving my body. I must be making some progress because I bought a dress. It flatters my shape and swings around my knees. I love it!

Then on vacation, when we were thrifting our way through Des Moines, Iowa, I found dress after dress in those tucked away aisles.

How was I finding so many things that fit me perfectly when I'd struggled for years to find anything?! Then it hit me, it wasn't the clothes that had changed.

And now I'm living the summer of pretty, with a closet full of dresses!

July 17, 2018

The Deadly Trap of Assumptions

We all make assumptions, it's human nature to connect things and want them to make sense. When something doesn't make sense, we put our own spin on it and solve the puzzle through assumptions.

But our version of things isn't always the truth. And leaning only on our assumptions can lead to the end of relationships, jobs, or dreams.

I've been in situations where I was sure I knew what someone was thinking or what was meant by something they said. So I walked away with hurt feelings or an injured ego only to find out days later that my assumptions had been completely wrong.

It's easy to assume, it's human even. But it can lead us down roads of loss that could be avoided by one thing. One simple action solves the problem of assumptions:

Learn to ASK.

Simply asking a question to clarify the other person's actions can clear up all assumptions and give the person a chance to explain. It gives us a moment to connect and listen. It helps raise empathy between us by hearing each other's perspective.

All this, with a tiny, significant ask.

July 16, 2018

How You're Hurting Your Feelings

I grew up thinking I had the power to hurt someone else's feelings and I carried that belief into adulthood. I have always been a person to tries desperately not to step on anyone's toes and sometimes that's worked and other times it (obviously) hasn't. I think this belief happens naturally when adults tell you to be careful not to hurt your friend's feelings or Grandma's feelings. Or to mind your manners when you meet someone so you don't hurt their feelings.

I've been listening to a podcast called: The Life Coach School Podcast. And one of the recent ones I heard (episode 37) really challenged this idea.

The host, Brooke Castillo, talked about our ownership of our feelings. That we create feelings with the thoughts we think. Now, my first reaction when she said this was defensive. How could we create all our feelings? People do things to hurt us all the time!

But then she went on to explain that we, sometime in our life and often in childhood, attach a belief to something that happens to us. Maybe it's that when someone's mad at me, I'm unlikable. Or if I speak up for myself, I get consequences. Whatever those beliefs are, we carry them into our lives and live as if they are truths when they might not be. But we shape our actions around them. So when some circumstance triggers our thought, we automatically have those same feelings.

One of mine is feeling stupid. I have an emotional reaction if I ever feel like I've messed up or said something wrong. It's because my subconscious mind believes a thought automatically and it causes a reaction. That thought is, I'm stupid, and then I feel embarrassment and shame. But the same situation may happen to someone else and they won't feel stupid because they don't have that thought attached to that action.

Castillo says that we must learn to recognize the emotion and back track to the thought. Then sit with the emotion, sort through where it came from and deal with it. Only then can we move forward and begin to change our thoughts. If we change our thoughts, then we'll change our feelings. She claims that all of us are responsible for our own feelings! We must learn to direct our feelings through our thoughts.

I find this a bit mind-blowing; it might take me a while to get my head around.