A great WordPress.com site

Archive for February, 2013

It’s all about you – – – except when it’s about me and Monet

Had the best message on the weekend.  One of my readers http://21centurymom.wordpress.com/ asked why she was so in love with Monet.

I answered that it was because she had such great taste…then I got serious…sort of…and said “ it really doesn’t matter what I think, what matters is you. Ask yourself the question “Why do I love Monet?” “What’s he about – to me?” Sometimes the answer will pop into our head or heart right away, sometimes we have to sit with the question for a bit (even a day or two), but if we trust our own subconscious, the answer will come. I’m deeply grateful to the mentors in my life, but the best teacher is within.  Let me know how you do. I’ll ask the same question about Monet and see what my subconscious gives me. I have to be honest, I’m very curious how similar/different our answers will be”  It was all rather Jungian of me.

One of my favourite Monets

One of my favourite Monets

This one might be my favourite.

This one might be my favourite.


I went away for a bit and did just that – asked myself why I loved Monet so much.  I realized it was because (for me) he captures exuberant peace.  The colours and the movement of his painting is joyous and bright, but his paintings are deeply peaceful.  I suddenly realized how badly I needed more of this in my own life.  If you had asked me outright if I though exuberance and peace could co-exist, I would have suggested that they were opposites, Monet shows me that they’re not, and that they work beautifully together.  I need to find that combination in my life – I do peace and I do exuberance, I need to find my inner Monet and do them both at the same time.

21century Mom comes back after a short time and talks about how Monet beautifully captures a moment in time.  I would suggest that maybe her subconscious is letting her know that she should make an effort and capture more beautiful moments in time…I know I do.

That’s the great thing about art – it speaks to all of us differently – if it is well done and honest, it will touch us as we need it to – when we need it to.

Go have an art experience. I dare you.

Scarlett O’Hara & Mark Twain – Worry and Time Management.

I’m lazy and smart* the two together have made me an expert on time management – actually worked as a time management expert for a while.  This morning I saw the following picture/caption.

Quote from Dan Zadra - not sure where the art comes from, if you know, please let me know so I can credit it.

Quote from Dan Zadra – not sure where the art comes from, if you know, please let me know so I can credit it.

Made me think about something I wrote a while ago on the subject of worry and time management.

Scarlet O’Hara was one of the best time managers ever! When something was bothering her she was famous for saying “I’ll think about that tomorrow”.  She was also famous for saying “Fiddle Dee Dee”; I have no clue what that was about, but I’ll think about that tomorrow.

I wouldn’t suggest you emulate Scarlet on a lot of issues, she married her sister’s fiancée who she didn’t love, because he was rich and then supported him in his KKK activity (I think it was the same husband – she had four or five) – these are not admirable traits, but she knew how to get things done and not worrying was a BIG part of her system.

Worry takes up a HUGE amount of time and energy and gives us NOTHING in return.



I know, I know, it’s easier said than done, but try pulling a Scarlett and scheduling your worry.  It works, yank out your date book.  Tomorrow – or the next day – between 8:00 and 8:25 can be worry-fret-angst time, right now you’ve got more important things to do and so do I.

Adding in a Fiddle dee dee or two is up to you.  I bet you won’t even be able to remember what you were supposed to worry about by then.

A final word from a nicer person than Scarlet…

“I have spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened.”

Mark Twain

* It’s taken me years to be able to say “I’m smart” without shame.  While we’re letting go of worry, let’s all acknowledge our strengths without shame.

Adventures with The Goonies

Sooooooo if you’ve been paying attention, you know my theory:      
          The art we love is trying to teach us something.  
It’s been working for me, but I had a chance to test it a few days ago.
My cousin Bonnie is one of my favourite people in the world; she’s having a rough time.  Life is throwing her some nasty curve balls these days.
We talked for hours while our kids played wii in the basement.  We chatted a little about Animating Your Life and suddenly I thought I’d see if it would actually work for someone who wasn’t me.
The conversation went like this:
Me:   What’s your favourite movie?
Bonnie:  The Goonies.
          I haven’t see The Goonies yet.  
Me:  Tell me about The Goonies.
          She did – took about four minutes. 
Me:    Sooo, in a word or two, what’s it about?
Bonnie:   Adventure.
          She didn’t even hesitate.  
Me:   Do yah think maybe you love The Goonies because you need some adventure?
Her face lit up, she started to laugh and now she’s getting her kid’s passports – they’re going to Disney World.
A trip to Disney World isn’t going to fix her problems, but Bonnie’s been feeling trapped in the “good sensible” decisions she’s been making for years.  They’ve served her well, but as soon as she said “Adventure” we both knew she needed one.
I think The Goonies are leading her well…and Bonnie is now convinced I’m a smarty pants…I’ve always know she was a smarty pants.

You’ve Got it ALL!

WARNING!!! The following is a bit of an excuse killer – at least it has been for me – so if you’re deeply dependent on your excuses, you might want to give this one a pass.

On the weekend I was explaining how the color wheel worked to my ten year old…suddenly it hit me.  There are only three colors…REALLY ONLY THREE…put them together with light and dark and EVERYTHING we see: great art, beautiful vistas, the faces we love.  If we can see it, it’s made up of three colors mixed with light and dark.


Everything works like this.  All great writing comes from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation; every piece of music is made up of the same 12 notes.  The entire known universe (according to my Science Smarty Pants friend Bill) is made up of 18 particle-anitparticle pairings (6 kinds of quarks, 6 kinds of leptons, of which one is the electron, and 6 force carriers)*

One of the great excuses I’ve used for most of my life is that I don’t have enough ______________ I’m quite creative about filling in the blanks in ways that fully justify my excuses.  The reality is that all great art and the universe itself is made up of a very few things.  I need to stop making excuses, I have what I need to create what I want…so do you.

On another note, Bill was also one of my first great writing teachers.  He’s not a writer, but years ago I was complaining that I couldn’t write because of computer problems, he took out a pen and some paper and said “Shakespeare wrote with a quill – if you really want to write, then write.”

The truth is – we have everything we need to make the art or the lives we want.  Stop making excuses, stop seeing what you don’t have and take a tip from the universe…make your masterpiece with what you’ve got – You’ve got it all.

* I have to be honest, I have NO IDEA what he’s talking about, but I trust him – – – he’s a smarty pants.

Finding my Incredible’s Super Power

She’d completely messed up and it had almost killed her family.  I’m talking about Violet from The Incredibles.  Syndrome fires rockets at the plane they’re all in and Violet can’t get her strengths in line…she’s had years of ignoring them…and using them to hide.

The metaphors in this film are brilliant; Violet, doesn’t want to be seen and doesn’t want anyone to get close to her can literally go invisible and put an impenetrable force field around herself.  Dash might be the most hyperactive kid in animation history – and he can move at lightning speed, and as for Jack Jack, well babies can be anything, unlimited potential…and he does.  In both Violet and Dash’s case their superpowers are also their greatest liability, Violet hides from everyone and Dash is always in trouble. The thing that both holds them back, makes them special is ultimately is the very thing that makes them great, but only when they choose to use their gifts well.

We ALL have super power – an area of genius – something we do better than the people around us.  This doesn’t make us better than they are; it doesn’t make us superior; it makes us human.  When our strengths work together with the strengths of those around us we become truly superhuman – and super humans.

When Dash and Violet accept their own strengths and the strengths of each other, they form an unstoppable combination.  Seriously, just check out the hamster ball they create…it’s brilliant.

I have to admit I’ve spent a HUGE part of my life going between wishing I had the strengths of the people around me and being so full of my own magnificence that I can’t work with anyone else.  Both of these has held me back.  I have strengths, so do you.  Let’s see what we can accomplish when we acknowledge both ourselves and those around us…we can be unstoppable too.

For a bit more on The Incredibles check out my previous postThe Incredibles Incredible Romance (one of my most popular thanks to a link from  elflamingo2 on Reddit  )

Strong Weakness – Lessons from Mulan

Happy Anniversary – www.animatingyourlife.com started a month ago today.  When I started posting, I hoped to get a couple of hundred hits…this afternoon, I topped 1,000 views and am now at 1,043 with visits from 25 countries…I’m floored and overwhelmed.  Thanks for all the comments and views, I’ve been smiling all day, it’s nice to surpass a goal.

Soooo enough of that nonsense, what shall I post about today?  I was thinking about Mulan today, I love the scene where she needs to climb a huge pole with two large weights.  The pole would be difficult enough without the weights, with them, it seems impossible.  Then she gets creative – – – and uses the weights as the tool to climb.  The metaphor is pretty clear to me, but I love it anyway.  We’ve all got problems, everyone has something they’ve been criticized, knocked down or judged about.  Can we turn the problems into our solutions?  Can we find our strengths in our weaknesses?

Let me use an example that’s very close to home…ME!  Yes, I know, how totally full of myself, but I’m what I’ve got so I’m going to use it…him…me.  I was that kid who was always in trouble for talking in class.  Now I speak for a living…and LOVE it.  I’m interested in WAY too many things, I used to call this a lack of focus, now I call it eclectic and multi-faceted.  So far, my eclectic little blog seems to be gathering some steam.

A few weeks ago I asked a room full of animation students if they could relate to this – finding strengths in the areas where we used to be in trouble.  Almost every one of them had been in trouble, at least once, for drawing in class…now they were pursuing art full time.

Where are your strengths?  What’s the thing you’ve been called out on, gotten in trouble for?  Get creative, and be honest, hidden inside your “weakness” may be your great genius.

PS I’m up another 14 views to 1,057.  Thanks. . . I think I need to set higher goals.

PPS Special thanks to elflamingo2 on Redit – who posted a link and sent me a HUGE pile of new friends.

Outside the Lines with Michelangelo

Photo credit National Geographic, December 1989

Photo credit National Geographic, December 1989

Outside the lines detail

Outside the lines detail

I was 25 years old when I first saw God separating light from dark and seeming to change his mind.  I’ve remembered it clearly for over 20 years, OK 23 years – do the math if you want.

I’ve seen thousands of pictures, probably hundreds of thousands since then – this one sits in my sub-conscious and pops up every now and then.

A few years ago, I tracked down the picture and looked at it again.  I know why it stuck with me.  Taken during the restoration of the Sistine chapel, it shows Michelangelo living, and painting, in the moment.

Frescos are a pretty unique art form, they need to be painted into wet plaster – it’s why they can retain their color for so long, BUT they have to be painted quickly.  Once the plaster’s dry, it’s done…whether it’s done or not.  So – first you draw a full size cartoon* – just the outline and then transfer the outline into the wet plaster.  On this piece, Michelangelo pushed a pointed object (a stylus or the end of a paintbrush into the wet plaster, but here’s why I LOVE this picture.  He went outside the lines.  He was a consummate planner, drove people crazy with his insane attention to detail and his insistence on doing it all “right”.  I personally think he was a bit of a curmudgeon…but I haven’t actually met him, so I’m not judging.

He plans it all out meticulously, carefully transfers it into the plaster and then – in the moment of creation, he goes with his guts and changes the arm of God.  If you look carefully, you can see that the outline of God’s left arm is not where the etched outline is. I LOVE IT!

I know I have a tendency to over think things – for decades this picture sat in my brain telling me it was OK to go outside the lines.  Michelangelo didn’t outline God separating light from dark and then get up there and paint David and Goliath, the structure and form were the same and most of the fresco is exactly as he planed it, but he gave himself freedom to be in the moment and as a result, we have a great masterpiece.

The greatest work of art we will ever create – our consummate masterpiece – is our own lives; plan it all carefully, but in the moment of creation – when we go to actually live our lives…go outside the lines trust your guts, trust the moment – it’s where genius lies.  I wish I’d know this when I was 25 – but I’m working on it now.

*This was the first use of the word cartoon – the outlines for frescos – kind of nerdy cool don’t you think?

Tag Cloud