Tag Archives: meaning

What I love most about teaching

15 Sep

Tools of the TradeWhen my student is beyond excited. When they have that look in their eyes. When I know that something clicked, an alignment occurred with their soul. We are together for an instant in this blissed out moment that feels like the entire universe exhaled an immense and satisfied ‘YES!’

Last week, Jim asked if he could take his picture home to work on. He was so excited to show his parents his work in progress. He’s been in class close to 16 weeks, developing his style; drawing, painting, penciling what he loves- reptiles, lizards and snakes. He is a walking encyclopedia on everything reptile. He is also a connoisseur of morning glories. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Recently, he’s adopted a new tool- Derwent Inktense Ink pencils. He uses an easel, inventing his style of working as he goes- experimenting with different papers, pencils, techniques…and last Thursday- BOOM! Lightning struck and he was hooked. The muse had him by the tail and it was just the coolest thing to witness. He grew exponentially, expanded beyond his old story of his ability and I was able to see THAT MOMENT.

‘Oh wow’ he said to himself, looking at his picture, his hands full of pencils and paintbrushes, ‘I love this. I love this.’

When class was over, as he’s walking out the door, I saw that he also had the case of the studio’s Derwent pencils. Around $150 worth of these amazing things, cradled to his chest.

So I’m like, ‘Er…you’re taking the pencils too?’ A bit hesitant to let these things walk out the door.

His face was absolutely shining, as he said so seriously – “Yes! I promise I’ll be careful with them. I promise! Is it ok if I borrow them, since no one else is using them?’

In that moment, I could see the monetary value of those pencils was absolutely nothing compared to the value that they had to him, this gifted 13-year-old artist who had just discovered an entire world of wonder and awe in a case of pencils. We had discussed the price of him buying the exact set earlier in class that day, so he knew what he was asking.

‘Yes.’ I said.

He didn’t even say thank you or goodbye, (which he does every time, because he’s a polite and gracious kid) he instead just turned and floated toward his mom, clutching the pencils and his drawing.

Is that not connection we’re all longing for? A direct pipeline to joy? This is what is sustainable. Find the things that expand you, that inspire you to become more of who you are. It’s not about ‘Am I ‘good’ at this or any other external marker. It’s about what fulfills you. And that is always an inside job. How do you find a way to let the radiance out? What is it that tickles your fancy, that you do just for the sheer delight of exploration and creativity?

‘Oh wow’ (you overhear your soul say), ‘I love this. I love this.’

And honestly, it feels exactly like the entire universe is exhaling an immense and satisfied ‘YES!’ -through you.

How to change your experience

23 Aug

The Lotus and the FrogThe key is to anticipate, to be in a state of thanks, a state of being called grace. Expectant, fired up about what the day will bring. When you are being ‘excited expectancy’, you will attract experiences equal to the vibration of these tessellating, radiating thoughts. This is the way to do it. Choose your state of mind; change your experience.

The other way is to flat-line, to sit in the stagnant waters of same old same old, literally dying for something new, something real, some experience of being alive. Addicted to the habits of our daily life,  repeating the same choices, we insanely hope that something really BIG will grab us from the outside and make a difference. When it doesn’t, ever desperate, we grasp at things and experiences, aching for an encounter with something other than what we’ve become. We are bloated, fear-filled and sick, clinging to our sinking life raft of comfort and security.

Comfort and security when grasped from outside us do not predispose us to bliss. They are experiences already spent; last year’s harvest. They can’t feed us. They are attempts at control, ways of saying, ‘no, life must be like this’. You, the limitless, have limited the surge of life, closed off new possibilities, kept the magic at bay. Not understanding true power.

Close your eyes and feel the terror of losing control of who you think you are. With the delight of a child, spin round and round in circles until you collapse in ecstatic dizziness on the ground, letting the universe flow with you, swirling around you and in you. The center will hold. It is you. Home.

If you want to experience the extraordinary, then you must become open to the extraordinary. You must be present at the very edge of your awareness, willing to expand beyond all beliefs and welcome the unknown as a beautiful, mysterious lover who gathers you to her with wide arms full of comfort and receives your open breaking heart in exchange for the security of boundless joy.

Your willingness to walk in grace, to embrace the unknown, creates a space for life to surge into with all the beauty and exuberance of a newly formed universe. This is the power that longs to dance with you. The power of creation. Expression. What will you experience from a place of belonging, healing and potential? As always, the choice is yours.

David Bohm on art

14 Jan

The eternally amazing David Bohm

As a kid/young adult, one of my favorite radio programs was New Dimensions Radio – with Michael and Justine Toms. Michael interviewed physicist David Bohm and I feel the resonances of that talk rippling across the years of my life. The New Dimensions site is temporarily down today, but it’s well worth checking out their archives and interviews when they’re back up and running. I can’t think of many people in the 80’s and 90’s that Michael Toms didn’t interview. Fabulous resource about who and what influences our world.

David Bohm on the Word ‘Art’

” Considering the word art: The original meaning of this word is ‘to fit’. This meaning survives in articulate, article, artisan, artifact and so on. Of course, in modern times the word art has come to mean mainly ‘to fit, in an aesthetic and emotional sense’. However, the other words listed above show that art can also call attention to fitting in a functional sense.

The fact that we are hardly aware of the syllable art in words such as articulate or artifact is an indication of an implicit but very deeply penetrating fragmentation in our thought between the aesthetic, emotional aspects of life and its practical functioning aspects. This fragmentation tends to operate also in the meaning of the word beauty, which is ‘to fit in every sense’. Nevertheless, this word also tends mainly to emphasize aesthetic and emotional fitting.

It can be seen that, in a very profound sense, all these activities are concerned with fitting, i.e. with art. All that man does is a kind of art, and this implies skill in doing things, as well as perception of how things fit or do not fit. This is indeed self-evident for the visual or musical artist as well as for the artisan. It is true also for the scientist and the mathematician, but less evident.

It is clear, then, that reasoning is to be regarded as an art. And thus, in a deep sense, the artist, the scientist, and the mathematician, are concerned with art in its most general significance, that is, with fitting.” — David Bohm; The David Bohm Society

Bohm also saw artists as people who were fundamentally trying to change the meaning of life by challenging the conventions of the past. His fascination with linguistics led him to all sorts of crazy interesting speculations and perspectives. In his interview with Toms, he touched on the idea of beliefs.  He pointed out that our word ‘belief’ comes from the German  ‘Glauben‘: meaning “to hold dear, esteem, trust’. Our beliefs therefore, are quite literally, our beloveds and we have a hard time of it when they are challenged.

Artists, being primarily concerned with art; with the way things fit together, are prone to challenge our beliefs, our beloveds, continually. This is part of the blessing and curse of living the creative life. I am finding as I get older that more and more of my beliefs/beloveds do not fit. Emotionally, I have outgrown them, aesthetically they hang about me like a shroud and as for functionality – not so much.

For today, I am not going to try on a new set of beliefs for size – I am merely trying not to pick up all the out-dated wrappings that I cover myself in every day, without fail. It is uncomfortable- I feel myself grasping for the structure these beliefs provide, the known security I often hide behind – and yet, as an artist, constantly challenging myself to discover and incorporate the new- whether technique, concept or tool – I find this clinging conceptually odd.  Beliefs are good. But they are they beloveds? If I am an artist; concerned with how things fit, then I must be aware when things do not fit. Ah yes. The beliefs that no longer fit are not who-I-really-am anyway; they are artifacts; things of historical interest. Today I will leave them on the shelf in my imaginary room of curiosities…

Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality. ~David Bohm

…and I will change the meaning of my life; doing what the artist does best.

on meaning and meaningful

29 May

Creative ability is often confused with the creative process itself. Instead of focusing on what you want to create and its manifestation,  your energy is depleted with wondering if what you create will have any meaning. You get sidetracked into a need to make your work (therefore your life) meaningful. You are hesitant to create  because you begin to doubt your creativity.  This often results in a vicious cycle of  depression, anger and  frustration. The question is ‘What shall I create?’ not ‘Is what I create meaningful?’

The unconscious assumption is that ‘if what I create is meaningful, my life is meaningful.’ Conversely, ‘if what I create has no meaning, then I have no meaning.’ This assumption is especially hard on artists and creative types because so often they take meaning from their work, not from their ability to create their work.

Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, said that people often asked him what he felt was the meaning of life. He felt they had the question backwards. He felt the real question was ‘what meaning does life hold for you?’ What do you love? What makes you grin ear to ear? What means the world to you? What is precious? Where do you find your bliss?

You will find meaning in the same place that you find joy.  You create meaning in your life when you find yourself discovering joy. The things that light you up are the clues to where your meaning lies. When you know what brings you joy, you will know what your life means to you.

Somewhere around 1707, Antonio Stradivarius was making incredible stringed instruments in Cremona. He poured his heart and soul into making the best instruments in the world. People came from all over to hear the heavenly quality of the sound he produced. God decided one day to visit Stradivarius.

“Stradivarius my friend, indeed, you make the best violin on earth. The angels tell me every day how they too, would like to play a Stradivarius violin.”

“God,” said Stradivarius, “what a surprise to see you. Please, have a seat. I am not worthy of your attention. I use the humble talents you have given me to create great instruments. You know that I know that without You I am nothing.”

“Yes, this is true” said God, “without me you can do nothing. But without you, Stradivarius, the world would not have such wonderful violins!”

Stradivarius’ purpose was to express the God-force flowing through him. He found his meaning and greatest joy in creating incredible violins.

The life force will take a spin on your particular gifts, talents and pop out a combination that has never existed before. No one else can do it like you do. Your peculiar mix of talents and abilities combined with LIFE will allow a new note to be heard in the big song. And guess what? It’s up to you to decide how you want to play your tune.  You decide what’s meaningful for you. You decide how you are going to harmonize.

Where is your connection to meaning? In the direction of creativity, music, dance, raising your kids, writing novels, relationships, gardening, stamp collecting?  Even if you just accept the idea that you have the ability to create meaning for yourself, you begin a series of life-changing, life- enhancing realizations. You are always creating. Consciously choose whether the experiences you create are meaningful or not.

When you begin to focus on what is meaningful to you, you will become conscious of where you are placing your attention. Are you consciously thinking and doing those things that will bring meaning to your life? Or are you un-focused and at the whim of external events? Your thoughts, words and actions are creating the world around you. Is it meaningful?

As meaning starts inside you, it will expand to the walls of your own home, to your family and friends then outwards into your community. As your circle becomes wider, and includes others, synchronicity will become more apparent everywhere. People, events, and circumstances will begin to reveal your connection to and with everything. You will begin to see your role as co-creator in action. You will see your meaning as it is reflected back to by those people and things you influence. You will begin to define yourself from a deep place of joy. This is what is meant by ‘follow your bliss’. This is meaning from the inside-out, not from the outside-in.


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