At a painting workshop years ago, I asked my mentor, "How do I know if my painting is finished?" He looked at the painting and said, "It's not finished." I looked at it and said out loud, "It is finished". He said, "It's not finished."
He walked away, and I sat for awhile staring at the painting.
A little later, he came back and said to me, while waving his hands around my painting, "You have to tie the elements together. How does one part connect with the other? Bring some of what is in the center to the periphery and vice versa."
At the time, I really had no idea what he was talking about, so I stared at the painting some more and said out loud again, so that he could hear, "It is finished." It's possible that he then rolled his eyes and walked away further.
In retrospect, I think I was resisting the act of bravery it would take to do the next thing that I wasn't sure how to do. How do I tie the elements together? How do I add more of what I can't see? It would be on blind faith that I moved forward, simply doing what I thought I should do next.
After awhile, I picked up my paint brush and started doing what he told me. It felt unnatural, and I thought I was ruining my painting, however I kept going. I painted a thread from the circle of the mandala out into the periphery.
My mentor saw what I was doing and was ecstatic. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" he said. "That is exactly right. You have to stop thinking, and just do the next thing." He said,"If you think about putting a yellow circle above a black rock just do it! Don't think about it...just do it!"
A few weeks ago I thought about this wisdom and how it applies to painting the picture of our lives. We can think so much about our ideas that we don't act -- afraid to ruin our half-done painting. Afraid we will mess up or that it won't work out.
When I decided to start living out this sage advice recently it really helped open up the flood gates of creativity. By acting on our wholesome and creative ideas, we become a vessel through which God pours out energy. The left brain is suspended, and the result is more complete. We tie the elements together without worrying about the outcome. We trust.
Of course, when I followed through with what he had instructed I could see that in fact, my painting had not been finished and now it was. He agreed.
Stop thinking, and just do the next creative thing that will benefit you and the world. Yes! Yes! Yes!
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(Written by Jane Hart, copyright 2016)
As we ring in the New Year it is fun to choose a word to live by for 2016! Your word of the year should be one that leads you to more of what you want to focus on and receive. Words that people have chosen in the past include today, here, tribe, explore, initiate, balance, strengthen and many others. Devotion was my word for 2015, and perhaps that is a word for a lifetime!
My word for 2016 is Generosity. I can feel the flow of this word in my life with what I freely give and freely receive! I entertained several words, however, this word seemed to capture it best for me...GENEROSITY!
Now, we want to hear what your word is! Please share with us and post it in the comments section of this blog below! Say a little something about your word if you would like.
Looking forward to a great year with all of you! Can't wait to hear your words!
With each new year I choose a word and several mottos to live by. As I start to contemplate 2016, a motto keeps emerging as important -- "Choose your focus".
With the media attention on so much that is not right, negative and downright bad, I thought I would help put some things in perspective through an unlikely story, which only if you are human will make you smile. Here is the story:
I was at a friend's house for a Christmas lunch and noticed a beautiful nativity on her bureau in the living room. I looked at its glory and splendor and the gold outline and asked my friend, "If I may, where did you get this?"
"Marcs," she said.
Now, for those of you who don't live in NE Ohio...Marcs is the equivalent of a deeply discounted grocery store that has an additional 10 or 20 aisles of random stuff that no one actually needs, but when you are there you believe you need all of it.
"Marcs?" I said.
"Yes." she confirmed.
With that, I left and headed straight to Marcs. When I arrived I went right to the random stuff aisles. I looked for the nativity set but it was nowhere to be found -- certainly snatched up by other lucky shoppers.
What I did see, however, was an aisle full of life-sized stuffed animals. Yes, I said it, life-sized stuff animals. As pictured above...
I looked at those animals and wanted every single one of them. Then, I thought, who would buy those? What's wrong with me?
I wanted to put them all around my living room but thought I might be viewed as the equivalent of "cat lady" or hoarder. I discounted my longings and left feeling remorse for not buying one or all of them.
A few days later, I spoke with a girlfriend, and she said, "Have you been to Marcs lately?" Since I never go to Marcs, I looked around to see if there were cameras. "Yes," I said. She asked, "Did you see those life-sized stuffed animals?" I smiled. "Yes, I did." She said, "Didn't you just want one?" I said, loudly "Yes!!!!!!!" Ahh, I was encouraged, I am not alone.
Now, you may not be fully grasping this story of hope yet, however, when I went back to Marcs a day later, every single one of those animals was gone.
The next week, randomly and synchronously, yet another friend said to me, "I was at a friend's house this week who had these life-sized stuffed animals, and I want one."
Dear ones....where is the Christmas story in all of this? Where is the encouragement? Here it is:
I love that I live in a world that values fun and whimsy and life-sized stuffed animals. I am thrilled that I live in a world that rushes out to buy other people presents and gift them with fun things. I live in a world where at the Cleveland Orchestra Holiday Concert this year, the adults were leaning forward as eagerly as the children to see Santa come down the aisle. I loved that moment when -- adults -- men and women stood up from their box, dress circle and balcony seats, straining to see Santa below. It makes me cry when I remember it right now.
You see the innocence of our inner child lives on in this world. It truly does.
It turns out, we still believe.
No, the Christmas miracle does not lie in a Marc's aisle but in a manger. Yet, there too, the message is in the glory, innocence and hope of the child.
Yup...one of my 2016 mottos will be "Choose your focus."
Cuz I see this awesome world full of the most creative and special souls, and you are most certainly among them. During this holiday season, may you shine your inner child, innocence, creativity, fun and whimsy everywhere you go. May your light shine more brightly than ever before. May we hold tenderly, the suffering in our lives and in others and offer our service and our heartfelt prayers. May you choose conversations and activities that focus on the beauty, the wonder, the good, and all that is right and Spirit-filled. May you still believe.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my friends...you are very dear to me.
Have something you want to say? We love to hear from yoU in the comments section.
(Written by Jane Hart, copyright 2015)
A few weeks ago I found myself swimming in chaos. The chaos was both internal and external. I would have absolute voices of clarity about my next move, idea, plan, itinerary, and then in an instant it would evade me. I would be filled with doubt about any of it -- skeptical, hesitant. I had certain plans for the week, and they all disintegrated in my hands. Things literally broke and fell apart, and drivers on the road were scary. The people upstairs continued the endless, noisy renovation of their condo. Chaos was everywhere.
I rode this roller coaster for awhile, and then I went to my favorite discount clothing store, which cures everything. While I was there, I picked up a hat. The tag said CHAOS...no joke.
Thankfully, at that moment I remembered a dream I had about 5 years ago. In the dream, before the things that I desired fell into place, there was chaos. In essence, I was directed in the dream that chaos would have to ensue before my dreams and desires were more specifically manifested. Then I forgot about the dream until a few days ago, when in the midst of absolute chaos...I remembered.
In fact, science suggests that chaos is necessary for order, and some even define chaos as 'pre-order'. Isn't that reassuring? Chaos and change must occur for new creation and new growth!
So what do we do when we find ourselves bouncing around in chaos, which inevitably leads us into unsettling emotions?
Julia Cameron, one of my favorite authors and mentors of all time, said: "Wherever you are is always the right place. There is never a need to fix anything, to hitch up the bootstraps of the soul and start at some higher place. Start right where you are."
Right. Just take the next step for that day. This day. This precious moment. There are moments that are perfect, flowing and then because of our controlling minds, we feel chaos and turbulence, which we think is leading to something bad. Things are turned upside down, and we can't quite follow the map of our life as everything around us changes. We must remember that chaos, in fact, just might be leading us to more order.
Are you experiencing chaos? Embrace it. Dance with it. Enjoy it. Say woohoo this is a ride ain't it? Bring it on. In fact, be sure to enjoy the chaos that is almost certain to ensue at some of your Thanksgiving gatherings this week!
Any thoughts about chaos and order? We would LOVE to hear from yoU in the comments section below.
(Written by Jane Hart, copyright 2015)
Love grows in the mud.
It doesn't strike like a lightening bolt, and it doesn't arrive quickly. Love gets stuck and frees itself again.
Love isn't static. It's more like an EKG if you are constant. Sometimes love is like the seismograph of our earthquaking existence.
Like the lotus flower, love roots down and stays anchored in the mire, and yet, it needs the sunlight on its face.
Love doesn't rush, and it isn't what you think much of the time. It's more difficult, more complex. It requires more endurance and patience than previously thought.
Thich Nhat Hanh, in his poem Please Call Me By My True Names, said: "Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion."
Maybe love is a little more like that.
I always thought I would come to a clearing in my life...a place where few difficult things would happen, and there would be space to just love and be loved. A place full of years where linear improvement occurred based on our efforts and truest desires.
Time has proven that life is always this and always that. It is always the roots in the mud and the sun shining on our faces. It is the serendipitous flow and the chaos. The clear and, then suddenly, murky water.
We are always living in the duality.
Sure of one thing, love needs to be a verb, an action, a decision, and loving words that don't deliver are empty.
It's good to think about what Love is.
This week, let's make love a verb. Among the many loving actions you already carry out each day, let's do one intentionally loving thing for someone. Take some time to think about exactly what you will do and how to make it special. Then really do it. Our love makes a difference.
Have something you want to say? We want to hear from yoU in the comment section below.
This blog post is lovingly dedicated to Gary Bish and Bunny -- two special beings who passed on this month. We send you light and love dear ones.
(Written by Jane Hart, copyright 2015)
I just finished watching The Way -- the 2010 movie about a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. Martin Sheen plays the father of a man who dies on the first day of his pilgrimage, and Sheen finishes the journey on his son's behalf. I spent most of my viewing time of this film wiping away the tears and blowing my nose. I also felt a great, deep well of joy -- small miracles occurred inside of me the whole time I was watching the film. It is a story about love and loss, joy and triumph, acceptance and forgiveness, perseverance and completion. I highly recommend it.
I got to thinking...
We may consider taking big trips somewhere to complete a pilgrimage of grand scale. A special journey that we write about and that interests others and draws attention. We may go to a foreign country and walk the Great Wall of China or to Baja, Mexico and stroll for miles on empty beaches. We might dive under the ocean in the West Indies and see things we couldn't have imagined. We may climb the Grand Tetons. Or we may drive through the Thousand Islands Region to find ourselves again.
But what if...
what if every day that we live...each day that we are alive...
is so sacred, so special, so important and is like a mini-pilgrimage that plays out every 24 hours.
What if when we wake up in the morning, instead of feeling perplexed, cynical, angry, or sad, we say:
"Today I will take this pilgrimage with God and with my friends and family. I will see where this day leads. I will laugh. I may cry. I may learn something about you that helps me understand. I will walk, I will trek, I will invite joy, I will receive the good that comes my way. I will practice patience during challenges. I will focus, I will rest. Yes, today I will take this pilgrimage with God and with my friends and family."
With this view, we take up our walking sticks each brand new day with a sort of renewed excitement about the journey! We start out, and we don't worry or fret. We smile, and we simply follow the path that is shown to us for this moment only. Nothing more.
Each day is one complete and unique pilgrimage. Each day is a gift. Where will your journey take you today? What will you see? Who will you greet and receive into your heart? Our lives, dear ones, are so very, very precious.
Have something you want to say in the comments section below? We want to hear from yoU!
In one of my most favorite books ever, The Desert Pilgrim, a woman, Mary Swander, who is also the author of the book, has an ongoing conversation with a priest about her need for healing.
A captivating part of the book occurs when Mary goes into the New Mexico desert to talk with the priest. Upon arrival, she hears a pack of chihuahua puppies who are closed up behind the doors of a shed. The puppies are barking and barking.
With the dogs barking in the background, the priest tells Mary to "let her puppies out". He says, "act now before your puppies are howling and crying to break free from the shed."
My interpretation of this part of the book is that part of our healing relates to unleashing our most authentic and expressive selves. We each carry so many soul ideas and longings for expression throughout our lives, however, we often keep our ideas locked up so tightly with the doors shut. This leaves us barking with frustration.
I was a product of my "former sponsors" (hahaha -- a term I love by Wayne Dyer) and for most of my life, I followed the things that I was taught or expected to do. Now, through communing with God and with others who have found their authentic path, I have learned that I can paint, sing, write, speak up, and dance. I've come a long way.
Yet as I write this, I am ever aware of how I often still hold back from my purest expression -- still locking the door on things I really want to say out loud, create in my work, or express in my art. There is that new Guadalupe painting I keep visualizing in my mind and want to manifest, but somehow I find a million other things to do instead.
Sometimes we have to go into the desert of our lives in order to find the well within our souls that says "yes" to all that we are and can be.
Have you let your puppies out? Are they howling to break free? Are you allowing the unleashing of your most authentic selves and truest God-given dreams? Open up the shed doors my friends, and let the puppies out!
Have something you want to say? We would love to hear from yoU in the comments section below!
(written by Jane Hart, copyright 2015)
Road trips are at once both personal and universal. Universal -- twizzlers, road atlas, rest stops, etc. Personal -- where you go, what you see, who you visit. Here are a few photos from my first road trip of the summer to Westport CT and NYC. Happy Summer!!!!
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