life pours through

life exists not outside our work
not on the outer periphery of our art
it flows through it
it seeps into every word we write
every photograph we take
life is art
no point trying to silence your life while you work

lately, my life has been loud,
rowdy, unpredictable.
even if I tried to create the safe space I wanted for my writing, life wouldn’t allow it
like a wild animal, life can’t be tamed.
it can’t be told to “stop-
wait until it’s convenient,
for accidents to happen,
for things to unravel,
for people to die.”
life has a life of its own
and so you’re going to have to stop trying to trample that out
and start running with it
start using its natural currents as energy
go with the flow in every which way it takes you

life isn’t going to give you the whole day
it may not even
give you a whole hour
it’s not going to give you the perfect conditions
the perfect inspiration or mood
or circumstances
but it may give you
just a little
tiny bit of space
here and there
and if you use it wisely
it may very well be


In like a lamb, out like a lion

If you start a project that you’re unsure about, keep it quiet until you’ve gone far enough along to decide whether it’s a project you want to pursue wholeheartedly​ or give up completely.

Quietly means not sharing your grand plans with others. It also means not getting yourself overly excited about it and quitting your day job until you are able to commit to the project entirely.

There are good scientific reasons for keeping your ideas quiet.
It makes it more likely you’ll achieve your goals.

It also helps you not look like you’re crazy.

Keeping a measured air of caution about projects until we are ready to commit to them makes sense because it gives us the time and perspective to cooly assess the merits of the project.

Once you have gone through due process, and you’ve fully committed yourself to it, you can then give yourself permission to discuss the project with anyone who can help. Any person you meet is a potential ally to your project.

The idea that began as a tiny whisper inside you may now be broadcast with confidence from your personal megaphone.

Your dissemination of the idea is then in direct proportion to its realization. You only talk about what is real.

This helps you appear to be a doer, not simply a dreamer to those around you. That will be an important distinction you’ll want to make in people’s minds, as later you rally them behind your master plan.

Quitting at Half-Time and the Erosion of Self-Esteem

I come up with lots of ideas and projects.
Sometimes my mind explodes with a grandiose idea that in the naked light of day just doesn’t stack up.
Or maybe I get into it, and realize:
Hey- this idea isn’t so great after all.
This isn’t my passion.
This doesn’t fit into my goals.
This is too crazy.
This isn’t that original.

The list goes on.
Some of the best advice I ever got was to immediately and whole-heartedly drop these half-hearted projects.
Let them go completely and never look back.

In the past, I often let them linger in my mind.
For years they would fester,
frustrating me and making me feel subconsciously bad about the important work I wasn’t doing.

The most important thing for me now early on is to log the idea and then quickly dismiss the ones I don’t plan to pursue entirely. This clears mental room for the projects I DO want to pursue. And I can chase those with reckless abandon.

Something I have noticed is,
the deeper you get into a half-hearted project,
the harder it is to extricate yourself from it.
Soon enough, there are expectations involved;
your own and possibly other collaborators you’ve brought along with you.
If you turn your back on the project mid-way, it’s not just yourself you’re letting down,
it’s those other people too.
That puts you in a difficult position:
you must either stick with the project you don’t love and waste your own time,
or give it up, knowing you have wasted others.

Giving up on projects halfway is a practice I don’t like to keep.
An unfinished project has a corrosive effect on one’s self-esteem.
It makes you feel like a failure.
It makes you question your own judgment.
Over time, you may even wonder whether you are capable of completing anything at all!

The more projects you walk away from mid-way,
the more it destroys your confidence.
Soon, others will lose confidence in you also.
They will see you trying things, and giving up all the time,
and they themselves will hesitate to follow your lead,
or get excited for you,
since it seems like a waste of time and energy for them to do so.

To avoid this effect, I recommend evaluating projects by the COMMIT OR QUIT method I have outlined in the previous post.

This often requires you wait til you have enough information about the project to make such an assessment.

Starting projects quietly seems like a good idea. More on this in the next post…

The Ghost of Unfinished Business

Lonely Ghost by Leah Johnston

Many legends exist where the undead come back to haunt the living because they’ve left behind some “unfinished business” from their life before.

The idea that we must “finish business” is obviously a pretty powerful force if we fear our mortal souls may not rest until we do it.

A desire so powerful should certainly be paid attention to before it’s too late.

Like a familiar song cut off in the middle, it is my belief that we secretly long for resolution in all aspects of our lives.

As far as I can tell, there are two possible conclusions to any project that bring about this feeling of resolution:
1) completing the task
2) quitting the task, fully and wholeheartedly

To do the first is the most rewarding.

But this isn’t always preferable, especially if the task turns out to be something not to be worth doing at all. Completing an unimportant task may feel satisfying, but ultimately it is a complete waste of time and energy.

In these cases, it is better to jump as quickly as possible to choice #2. (More on this in the next post). Once a task is identified to be unworthy, commit to quitting it, and don’t ever look back.

But before we consider these two outcomes, we should consider whether the entire project is worth starting at all. Quitting before we begin can save us a lot of grief in the long run.

For the worst thi​ng we can do, is start a task and then abandon it and avoid making a decision. Then, the project enters the realm of unfinished, which will haunt us incessantly, like a ghost.

The Limitless Spring

We are used to thinking in terms of finite resources
There’s only so much
food, water, plants, oil,
time, and energy to go around
Best we conserve it
before we run out.

But unlike most everything else
Our creativity is limitless
Go to the well
and your bucket will always come up full
(and if it isn’t, just wait a while,
til it rains, and it will be so)
in fact, I would argue
that the more we use our creativity
the more it yields
the more ideas we ask for
the more ideas come
the more we search our minds for creative solutions
the more we find them
In this sense, it is more like a limitless spring
always ready to burst forth with innovation
The only time
We can’t access its gifts
is when we stop up the source
when our own negative beliefs, demons, distractions
Clog up the opening and get in the way
To flow is only natural for the spring
and all we need to do receive it
Is simply get out of its way

Sacred Space

I’ve noticed a lot of people have sacred time slots carved into their every day lives.

For some, this comes in the form of prayer or meditation.

For others, it’s undisrupted time spent with spouses or children.

My grandmother and my father both had a similar sacred practice: in the early morning before anyone else had woken, they quietly arose and sat in their bathrobes for an hour or so, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper. When I would try to talk to either of them during this morning ritual, I would immediately get the sense that I was intruding on something very private. This was their sacred space, minus the religious part. But it was a spiritual practice just the same.

I’m not a spiritual person, nor a morning one, so I’ve noticed a lack of these quiet moments in my own life. During the course of the day, there is so little time to simply do what I want, without the disruption of people, text messages, phone calls, emails or errands. I am completely devoid of sacred time devoted wholly to introspection.

It’s something I’ve started consciously building into my days.

Introspection is so imperative to the artist, but sometimes so difficult to access because the world is designed to keep us constantly entertained and outwardly focused. Without creating these quiet corners for our minds, we risk never accessing our best ideas or deepest insights.

For the last week, I’ve been creating a sacred two hour period every night leading into bed time. I use this time to do meditative things, like write these blog posts, read my favorite book, reflect on my goals, and then slowly, get ready for bed.

I usually hate going to bed because I am a night owl, and the idea of slowing down long enough to sleep feels like an​ unwanted inconvenience. But for some reason, transforming this portion of my evening into a long luxurious process puts me just in the right mood to sleep when the time comes.

I’m currently loving these sacred corners of my day, so much so that I’m contemplating building them into my morning as well. I don’t know if these practices fall to pieces when one gets busy- but I’m hoping I can maintain them as the year ebbs on and my work picks up. Lord knows, we could all use more introspection in our lives. Myself more than anyone!

Action Before Belief

“Believe and you can achieve”
“Believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything!”

I think those are two sentiments that we should consider reversing:
“achieve and you can believe”

Belief in yourself is not essential.
It’s more important what you do
Consistently and repeatedly.
Your repeated actions create a momentum which will gradually build your confidence
After you’ve acted enough you will not feel defeated anymore. You will believe in yourself.

Confidence is a natural consequence of action. Even if we don’t fully “believe” in ourselves at the start of a task, we will certainly believe in ourselves once we have completed it. Our confidence grows in proportion to our accomplishments.

Few of us are gifted with the confidence of blind faith in ourselves
Sometimes there’s no way around the fact we need to see it to believe it.
Therefore, action may precede belief for most of us.
You may need to achieve before you fully believe in yourself.

If you want something, don’t wait for a surge of confidence to get you going. Simply start taking steps toward it. Do it repeatedly, every day, over the course of several months. Watch slowly as your life changes as a result. By the time you have accomplished your goal, you will no choice but to believe in yourself. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.