They’re here! Yes, I’ve actually been handing them out.
Do I feel a little dorky? You betcha.
But I’m doing it anyway.
Own it, baby!
They’re here! Yes, I’ve actually been handing them out.
Do I feel a little dorky? You betcha.
But I’m doing it anyway.
Own it, baby!
In which the author rambles on about creativity and the pursuit of excellence, and ultimately ends with a non sequitur about canine games.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a creative skill. (Not a big surprise to you, no doubt, gentle imaginary reader, given the title of this blog.)
I’ve been a dancer, an artist, a singer, a writer, you name it. Every Bliss I’ve followed I’ve endeavored to achieve mastery at (with varying degrees of success), but sometime within the past five years or so I discovered something important: it isn’t the mastery of a skill that makes me happy; it’s the pursuit of mastery.
This little discovery has actually been life-changing.
At age 16 I discovered dance (Bliss #1, though at the time I wasn’t aware there would be more than one.) I fell madly, passionately in love with it, and within a few months I was in dance classes three to six hours a day, every day.
I was a woman on a mission: to become a Professional Dancer. And not just that, but to become the best damned dancer I could be.
This part was especially important, and I spent a great deal of time and energy:
A) lamenting that I wasn’t a better dancer than I was, and
B) wishing, desperately, to be really, really good.
Since I was a beginner at an age when many Professional Dancers were already embarking on their professional careers, I felt over the hill at 16, hopelessly behind the curve. Being a beginner was merely a painful stage that I had to endure on my way to becoming really, really good.
Allowing myself to try something that I didn’t already do well – to be awkward and bad at it en route to getting good – was hard!
As fate would have it, I was sidelined by an injury before I ever got to prove myself or fulfill my “potential,” and I spent several years in a state of semi- to downright-miserable depression. Eventually, though, I got on with my life, graduated from college, got a masters degree en route to a PhD (thinking I wanted to become an academic), realized (thankfully) that the ivory tower wasn’t for me, and at age 28 I picked up a calligraphy pen and discovered Bliss #2.
Once again, it seemed terribly important that I become really, really good at this new thing, preferably as quickly as possible.
And once again, I spent a lot of time and energy at A and B above (substituting calligrapher for dancer, of course).
Once again I was a beginner, which I still viewed as a painful but necessary state to escape from as quickly as possible.
About ten years later I discovered another Bliss, and found myself as a beginner yet again, this time with a microphone in a class on jazz vocal technique.
I was terrified, and yes, I wanted to be really, really good, preferably as quickly as possible, but there was a distinct difference this time around. By this time in my life and self-development, I was actually okay with being a beginner, okay with where I was.
Sure, I still wanted to be over there, and my goal was to get there, but I was also able to enjoy being right here, right now. I noticed I did not waste (much) energy on A and B, but instead was actually able to enjoy being a beginner and allow myself to fully experience the process of growing into my art.
What was the difference?
For one thing, at age 38 I’d already established a solid identity for myself as an Artist. I’d achieved some things, and felt secure in who I was. My ego wasn’t dependent on other people thinking I was really, really good at this one thing, because I already knew I was okay at other things in my life.
This was really important.
But equally important was the discovery that mastery of the skill is not what creates happiness for me.
Mastery is great – the more mastery you achieve, the more freedom and fun you can have doing the thing, and this is good. But happiness, for me, is in the journey, not the destination.
So, it turns out, the Pursuit of Mastery is part and parcel with the Pursuit of Happiness.
And here’s another thing: ever since I made the commitment to put creating the life I really, really want at the center of my world, I’ve been creating every day, and I’ve been a helluva lot happier.
In a certain sense, in the very process of striving to create the life I really, really want, I’m actually already living the life I really, really want. (Though still without the financial security part, unfortunately; I haven’t yet manifested great gobs of cash from my daily bursts of creative activity. Patience… patience…)
The Pursuit of Happiness, it turns out, is actually what makes me happy.
I guess this shouldn’t be so surprising. After all, the thrill is in the chase, right? If you throw a ball for a dog, doesn’t she just usually bring it right back for another throw?
It seems my life is simply one big game of fetch. Which, if you think about it, is kind of a cool metaphor.
It sure makes my over-complicated existence seem a helluva lot less serious, and a helluva lot more fun.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Today I made what feels like a pivotal decision. I’ve been “identity crisis girl” for way too long, and I think I’ve finally found the solution. For years I’ve been tip-toeing my way around it, but in one fell swoop I’ve finally consolidated all of my identities into one: Renaissance Woman.
This may not sound like such a big deal to you, gentle imaginary reader, since I already describe myself as such pretty much everywhere you look all over this blog (as well as on my other blogs, KetubahDiva and The Dating Queen), but since the change is internal, it’s actually quite huge.
And here’s the thing: I’m now claiming it (“Renaissance Woman”) as my official job title.
That’s right, with business cards and all. In fact, it was the business card idea that make me bust through a block and finally, once and for all, just CLAIM that identity! Woot!
Several weeks ago, while at the theater with my then-bf/now-ex-bf, I was on the fringe of a conversation that he was having with a stranger he’d chatted up in the lobby during intermission. When said stranger asked him what kind of work he did, he replied “I’m a writer,” pulled out his card, and elaborated on the writing niche he occupied.
Then the stranger turned to me.
Ack! What to say?! I’d only a week or so before officially launched my own writing business, so I was trying on that identity and also wanting to network as a writer, so I said, “I’m actually a writer too. I help businesses communicate more effectively with their marketing materials: brochures, newsletters, ads, case studies, press releases, websites, etc.”
But then, not wanting to miss an opportunity to network around my other offerings, I handed him my “Artist” card, and explained that I also make fine art documents and stationery for weddings and other lifecycle events…
And then (oh, stop me) I pulled out one of my CD samplers, and told him that, btw, I’m also a jazz singer and songwriter…
Oh, the pain.
When we got back to our seats, the then-bf/now-ex-bf expressed what can only be called disgust with my over-enthusiastic card-handing-out. A stranger in the lobby of a theater you hand THREE BUSINESS CARDS for god’s sake? Gauche, indeed. Have some restraint, girl!
I was horribly humiliated. He was right, of course, that handing a stranger a passel of business cards upon first meeting is just … not cool. Yuck.
But what is someone like me supposed to do? Just giving someone one card – say, my writer card – leaves a huge chunk of what I do and who I am out of the equation. Of course, if you work at ABC Accounting Firm and you hand someone your card, you don’t expect that they will think all you do with your time is accounting. Quite the contrary; they will assume you make your income from accounting, and probably have some kind of life and identity outside of being an accountant (or whatever job title you hold at ABC).
What gets a little tricky is when your job and your identity are so closely merged. And when you have multiple businesses, each of which is merged with said identity to one degree or another (even if some of them make more income than others).
It’s an interesting situation in which to find oneself.
And today, I have stumbled upon a solution that will finally allow me to hand out one business card, while proudly maintaining my right to own each of my multiple identities, because they are now all wrapped up in one: “Renaissance Woman.”
That’s what my new business card says, with various subtitles and their associated URLs on the back. No more will I have to say “I’m a writer, and artist, and singer/songwriter,” or “I’m an artist.. and musician.. and I write, too..” or any other variation thereof.
I am, from this point forward, hereby claiming my new job title as Renaissance Woman.
Man, it feels good!
Okay, it’s late, I really need to get some rest (one of my commitments to myself), but I am so jazzed that someone posted a comment on one of my posts that I had to express my excitement!
My ex-bf used to say “Always interpret omens favorably” (probably still does, though I wouldn’t actually know about that.) I don’t know if those were his words, or if he borrowed them from someone else, but I have taken them to heart. And I’m taking the fact that someone posted a comment here, the day after I started the dang thing, as a favorable omen!
In my experience, whenever my life is in Flow, when I’m on the Right Path, the Universe has a way of letting me know. When I started making art, within a span of a few months I had THREE articles published about me and my art in local newspapers. That’s what I’m talking about.
This is the Universe’s way of saying, “Yeah, honey, FINALLY you’re doing what we’ve been trying to get you to do for years (you dang fool)! Keep going!”
Meanwhile, my ex-ex-bf (you know, the one before the most recent ex), whom I adore, just sent me an email praising my “brilliance” (his word) for my other blog, The Dating Queen (which may or may not be of interest to you, dear imaginary reader, but in case you’re curious, it’s aimed at savvy single women, and is subtitled “find yourself while looking for love,” and in fact, the theme is really pretty much the same as this blog when you come right down to it, but since I may not feel compelled to write forever about dating I figured it made sense to also create a blog about something I know I’ll feel compelled to write about forever, and which also doesn’t have an imaginary audience that’s limited to single women – capice?)
I realize from your perspective I may be grasping at straws, but I am choosing to interpret all omens/signs/messages favorably, no matter how small, thank you very much!
And today I did a lot of Bliss-following! I wrote a lot, I painted and made major headway on several new pieces for my new Zazzle shop, and oh, btw, did I mention I created a new Zazzle shop? It doesn’t look the way I want it to yet, but it’s got stuff on it, and I’ve actually sold something already!
And that is for sure another message from the Universe.
So tonight I feel like I’m on the path of following my evolving Blisses, or at least some of them anyway. (Music and dance are getting short shrift these days, though I did play guitar for a few minutes this morning – musn’t forget about that!) And I also treated myself to a fun social outing (or inning? is it still an outing if you actually go to someone else’s house?), because the semi-private calligraphy class that I’ve been teaching got rescheduled (one student’s sick, another has a deadline) so my evening was free, and rather than work all night – my typical M.O., being, as you’ve most likely already gathered, gentle imaginary reader, a rather driven sort – I decided to get out and be with people. Because being with people that I enjoy is one of the things that makes me happy, and my commitment to myself is to create the life I really, really want, which includes all the things that make me happy, not just the creating part. Capice?
So all in all it’s been a great day.
One of my tools to keep me on the right track is to sign up – and read – any and all newsletters that will inspire and energize me. Of these, one of my biggest inspirations is Chris Guillebeau, the creator of The Art of Nonconformity.
In today’s AONC newsletter Chris posted a poem by the amazing Mary Oliver, whose work has always moved and inspired me.
What perfect, serendipitous timing!
Oliver expresses exactly what I’m feeling right now. I’m reposting it here in the hopes that it may inspire you, my imaginary audience.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world, determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Today marks the start of a commitment to myself to really GO AFTER the life I want.
Compared to Cubicle Nation, I’m already doing that, making my living from my own art & design business, working at home, setting my own hours. But the truth is I’ve been dissatisfied for a long time. Years even.
I figured out how to create a viable business from my art, and I did it. I’m no mogul – business and finance are foreign languages to me – but I built something from nothing, I make a living from my art, and I’m proud as hell of it.
For the past couple of years, however, I’ve been beating my head against a wall trying to build this business. “The Economy” hit me hard, and I took on the challenge of learning to beat it right back, with limited success. And all along a tiny voice was asking if I was climbing the right ladder (to use a Stephen Covey metaphor).
If I got to the top of the ladder, was that where I really, truly wanted to be?
I did my best to ignore the voice. FOLLOW THE MONEY, I thought! I’ve got something built already, I’ve got to GROW IT and MAKE IT BETTER.
But the truth is, I don’t want to scale my business. It’s great, I love it, I’m proud of it, but I got into it because I like making things, and I spend most of my time processing orders and most definitely not making things.
A succession of recent life crises made me face facts and really ask myself, “What do you want? What will make you happy?”
I’m a basically happy, cheerful person, but if I’m honest, the job that I have – running the business that I’ve created – is not what I’d be doing if I won the lottery. (Which, since I never buy a ticket, I have only a slightly lower chance of ever doing than those who actually play.)
When I got into this business I would have paid money to do what I did. But now? Not so much.
So what do I want to do? What do I want to be when I grow up?
I want to create. On my terms. What I want to make, not what a client wants me to make.
Wow. What a concept.
Until a few weeks ago, this seemed like a crazy, impossible notion. Only the very lucky few ever get to do this, right? And who am I to reach for the stars like that?
But then someone (thank you, narcissistic, integrity-challenged ex-boyfriend) forwarded a link to an amazing site called The Art of Nonconformity, and I was presented with a model of living that ROCKED MY WORLD. Chris Guillebeau is doing it, and thanks to the internet, a whole bunch of other people are doing it.
In other words, it’s possible, therefore I’m going to give it my damned best effort to do it myself.
Reminds me of when I was 19, and three of my friends had auditioned for, and gotten into the dance division at the Juilliard School in NYC, the creme de la creme of dance conservatories. I’d only been dancing a few years myself, but I was passionate about it, I was good at it, and when my dance teacher gave me a stern talking to and told me I should be going to Juilliard as well, I had to make a decision.
I remember thinking I could go back to UC Berkeley, live my safe little life, dance in the UCB dance company, and never reach for the stars. Or I could take a chance.
I remember thinking “I don’t want to turn 40 and wonder ‘what if?'”
The year at Juilliard turned out to be one of the hardest, most awful years of my life, but you know what? I’m hella glad I did it! And when I turned 40 I had no regrets, no thoughts of “I coulda been a contenda.”
I reached for the stars. I followed my Bliss. It didn’t turn out anything like I thought it would, but that’s okay. In fact I actually think it turned out better, injury and lost dance career and all. Life is like that.
So here I am now, post-40, wondering how I’m going to feel at 60. I owe it to my future self to reach for the stars NOW, even if I fail trying.
To that end, I’ve made the following commitment to myself:
I also commit:
So that’s my commitment. It’s scary to put it out there in public (even though nobody actually knows about this blog, so it’s not really public), but I’m doing it in the hopes that it will help me stick with this commitment. I want to live the richest, fullest life I’m capable of living, and just trudging the same old path is not the way to get me there.
The first step is to listen to my dreams. The next step is to actually follow them, which takes work, but what are my other options? I’d rather work hard at creating the evolving life I really want than work hard at climbing a ladder I’m not interested in reaching the top of. So there.
Today, I’m proud to say, I kept my commitment. Not only have I been writing regularly, but I put aside all the external demands on my time to MAKE ART today. Soon to be for sale as products in my Zazzle shop, here’s what I made:
She’s #2 in a series I started a couple of weeks ago that I’m having so much fun with! I’m fired up, I’m creating, and that makes me happy! (It also makes me insomniac, which is not so good, but unfortunately that seems to come with the territory sometimes…)
I’ve got several more in the works. Watch for them in the coming weeks!
Will you join me on the journey, my imaginary audience? I like to think that my brave attempt at really living a creative life will inspire you to do it as well. I’d be happiest if what I do creates net gain for others.
But regardless, I’m doing this for me. My rambly, online journal, helping me to process, hopefully helping to keep me on track.
Wish me luck.
PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
Welcome to Rainmaker. This is a sample post to get you started on your journey. Don’t forget that your headline is the most important aspect of writing a great post, and getting readers to read your opening paragraph. The first four to six sentences of your post are critical, because if you don’t hook your audience, they will get bored and click away. What is the benefit you will provide readers that you promised in the title? Be sure to describe the signs of the problem you will offer a solution to toward the end of your post.
Here you can begin to describe the underlying causes of the problem you have the solutions to, using persuasive arguments and great storytelling, and readers will have no choice but to read more.
Bullet points are helpful to keep your copy reader-friendly, and a proven standard for making a solid argument:
When you provide real solutions and insights for your prospects and customers, you build trust and authority that will allow you to deepen the conversation further with an opt-in or call-to-action. Sign up here! This is where a compelling call to action makes it clear to your readers what they need to do next to implement your solution. Good luck!