Living the Dream (part 2)

This post is part 2 from last month’s “Wishful Thinking”.
If you’re new to The Fearless Painter you might want to check out last month’s post before reading…enjoy!

Dream big.  
Dreams form ideas.  
Write the ideas down.  
Turn it into a step-by-step plan.  
Do the steps.  

Simple huh?  Sure, it sounds good in a well-formatted blog post but putting this into action is another story altogether.  This is SIMPLE, but not necessarily EASY.

What will it take to make your dream a reality?

Another equally important question is what do we have to sacrifice to make our dreams a reality?  I consider this the tougher of the two questions because for the most part humans are creatures of habit.  Let’s begin this post with what what we can leave behind us in the dust.  I’ve mentioned roadblocks before in previous posts as well as in my lectures and workshops so let’s pinpoint a couple to start with…

What’s your roadblock?

“I DON’T HAVE THE TIME”  Okay, I get that we’re busy and we’ve got a life but this is about living the dream.  If we want to be doing something other than what we’re doing right now then we are going to have to get with the program and find the time, make the time, do whatever it takes to get us back on track.

“IT’S TOO HARD”  This is a “self-limiting” belief (thank you Caterina Rando for adding this into my vocabulary).  You’re right, change can be hard so let’s break it down:  What’s so hard about it?  Be specific.  Make a list of why it’s difficult.  When we are able to analyze the monster that we face it’s easier to formulate a plan to defeat it.

Identifying our roadblocks is the first step to overcoming them.  Do you know what your roadblock is?  

SACRIFICE

  • Spend X amount LESS HOURS on social media, watching tv, or inviting strange 3rd party Facebook friends to play Candy Big-Gulp-Farm-Colorful-Ball Crush.  If we can find the time to spend countless hours on end over-sharing talking cat videos and not enough time working towards our dream, then we’ve got our priorities mixed up.  Trust me, the time is out there.
  • RECOGNIZE WHAT’S HARD for you.  I’ll give you a hint.  If we keep making excuses about getting something done – that “something” is hard for us in some way or another.  If we believe in our excuses more than our dreams then we’ve got an issue.  Recognizing the anxiety surrounding what’s hard is a step towards mastering the difficulty.
  • Don’t R.S.V.P. to the PITY PARTY.  People who are not equally or more committed to our success than we are should not waste our valuable energy.  I don’t have time for Debbie Downers and neither should you.  You know who I’m talking about.  If certain broken-record conversations are a woe-is-me laundry list then we need to ask ourselves, “Is this person helping me reach my dreams or am I enabling them to live in their limitations?”  On the flip side:  If WE are the host of the pity party (and I’m sad to say that some might not know it) there seriously needs to be an attitude adjustment – and fast.

These are just a few examples of what we can leave in the dust behind our blazing trails.  Now let’s talk about some steps we can take to move forward!

DO

  • FIND A SYSTEM THAT WORKS.  We are all different and so one person’s ideal system might be a hot mess for another.  Let me share a simple way about how I keep myself organized to remind myself of what I aim for:

I am a visual person so I spent the time browsing around some notepads and found one that has a beautiful gold and turquoise cover with lovely-feeling paper.  If I am going to be handling this I want to enjoy how it looks and feels.  Why would I write my plan in a book that does not encourage me to pick it up?  I jot down ideas so I don’t forget them, usually leaving 1 page in between ideas.  This allows me to go back and fill in the blanks as my plan develops.  I keep it in the car most of the time because I do a ton of driving and I get a lot of ideas on the road.  I only use this notebook for art-business related ideas, plans, steps etc.  I do not use this for scratch paper.  I respect my notebook.

  • MAKE THE TIME.  Remember how I said the time is out there?  Find more time in the day to do your thing.  Two obvious options would be to either wake up earlier or go to bed later.  Which works better for you?  Can you do both?  I, weirdly enough, retire at an early hour.  Maybe its because my chickens like going to bed early and I like roosting with them, I don’t know… But I am a morning person.  I’ve been training myself to get up a little earlier each day.  So far I’ve got my alarm set to 5:30 because I know I’ll lay in bed for about 20 minutes before I actually roll out of bed.  I have friends that stay up painting  until all hours of the night, get loads of work done and then go to BED at 5:30 – we all have a schedule that jives.
  • Devote X amount of ACTION hours a week to research, improvement, whatever you need to do to proceed with your laid out steps in your plan.  Is there a lecture/class/seminar that can help answer some questions?  I’m going to nip the comment “I don’t know where to start” in the bud with a somewhat extreme example:

Let’s say I want to become the president of the United States.  That’s a pretty big dream in my opinion.  I mean, I don’t know the first thing about how to become president of the United States.  I Googled “How do I become president of the United States?” and I learned that I meet the constitution’s criteria!

I am:

  1. At least thirty-five years old.
  2. A resident of the United States for at least fourteen years.
  3. A natural-born citizen.

I’m sure that if I perused the other 473,000,000 other articles I could come up with a rudimentary plan of how to run for president.  Sweet!

Try this one on for size:  Want to go to the moon?  Type in “How do I fly to the moon?” and you’ll get some pretty comprehensive, albeit expensive ideas.

Now these are two pretty extreme examples but there is absolutely no difference between these dreams and making yours a reality.   You need a plan.

  • STAY MOTIVATED.  I have a dream studio and one way that keep the dream fresh is by posting on “My Dream Studio” Pinterest page.  This is one fun and simple way I keep my head in the game.  I’m a visual artist so it is important for me to see images of cool lighting ideas, rolling gallery walls, workbenches,  etc, so I can visualize them in my future space.  Another cool thing about my Pinterest page is that other people can be inspired to think about their dream studio!
  • TALK TO PEOPLE who know more about what you’re doing than you do.  This does not include know-it-alls or anyone who likes to throw in their two cents…  Who in your circle of friends is ON IT?  Who can you learn from?  Who can you reach out to?  If this list is pretty limited then check out your surrounding community.
  • SHARE YOUR DREAM.  This is huge.  When we put our intentions out there in the world we are manifesting a new energy, or creating a “buzz”.  I get it, sometimes we like to keep our dreams close to us so they don’t get stomped on or crushed by others who don’t believe in us.  Or we keep our dreams to ourselves because we don’t want to “jinx” them.  Maybe we want to share our dreams only when they become a reality.  Each of us will have our own personal story as to why we keep our dreams a secret.  When we speak our intentions in the face of possible doubt, suspicions, negativity or other fear-based commentary we put faith in our dreams and strength behind them.  I dare you to share your dream.

Dream big.  

Dreams form ideas.  Develop a plan and break it down into big steps, then smaller steps.  When we put intention, purpose and planning behind our dreams we are taking a huge step towards making them a reality.  But don’t stop there.  DO THE STEPS.  Without these actions we remain stagnant.  I’ve got a pretty big dream and every day I take a step towards it.  I am closer than I was a year ago, a month ago, or even yesterday.  Sometimes I feel like I might have faltered or back stepped, this happens every once in a while, but I am conscious that I am still facing forward and not losing sight of the destination in the distance.  Find joy in the journey.  Buy the notebook.  Pick up the pencil.  What’s the first step…?

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Wishful Thinking (part 1)

My dad kept asking me, “What’s your vision?”  I found that it was hard to articulate my answer in specifics.  I mean, I had an idea of what it looked like.  But that was it – an idea, a feeling, a daydream, or in other words “wishful thinking”.

Over the past few months he kept pushing me to write it down and articulate it.  I tried but it never turned out exactly how I wanted.  One day something clicked and the floodgates opened…

My California house has a bright red front door.  It is well-lit with beautiful natural light.  The house is clean because I have a weekly house cleaner.  The inside of the house is colorful with gorgeous southwest colors on the wall:  tandoori red, olive, lime, plum and mustard with splashes of turquoise everywhere.  The house is fresh and organized.  There are beautiful hardwood floors, with mediterranean mosaic and Mexican style tile work throughout.

There is a separate barn studio that has a private classroom and gallery showroom.  Again, the barn has perfect natural light with very large windows and skylights.  The office space is in the loft of the barn.  It is comfortable and extraordinarily organized.  This upstairs office space is minimal and streamlined for success.  I have a comfy love seat where a student or client can sit while me or my assistant can sign them up for classes, sell them art and ring up their credit card.

My website is cutting edge with current, amazingly breathtaking artworks.  It has a seamless online shopping cart where people can easily purchase art or register for workshops and SOMEONE ELSE MANAGES THE WHOLE THING FOR ME!

The studio/classroom space can accommodate 8 students.  The electricity never blows because the house and barn are on solar power.  By the way, we pay zero in electricity.  The studio/classroom is spacious and totally organized.  The electricity is professionally installed.  Extension cords come down from the ceiling, there is excellent cross air ventilation, the windows even have lovely shades to block the sun when it gets toasty in the summer.

Attached to the studio is an outdoor gathering area for taking breaks, dining and getting fresh air.  There are overhead pergola-style trellises that provide natural shade.  Students/clients can sit at a long reclaimed wood barn table to have their lunches.  It will be aromatically amazing outside because there will be all sorts of lovely flowers like honeysuckle, lemon verbena and jasmine.  The inside of the studio smells equally bee-autiful because of the beeswax.  When I, my students and my clients walk into my studio/classroom/gallery they feel at ease, at home, ready to create and ready to spend money.

I am an independently employed professional artist, visionary, teacher and inspiration.  I am independently wealthy I live with total financial freedom and serenity.

Everyday I work towards making my dream a reality and this blog post is another step closer.  I wanted to share my vision because when we write down our dreams and put them out into the world they go beyond “wishful thinking”.  By putting pen to paper we focus our energy and something special happens:  ever so slightly life begins to shift and our dream becomes intention.

So what happens?  I will cover some of the following steps in my next blog post “Living the Dream part 2” so stay tuned!   In the meantime I encourage you to write down your dream and at this point “wishful thinking” is ok – think big, reach for the moon, but more importantly: be specific, be articulate, and have clarity.

See you next time!

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The “Holy Grail”

I would like to think of myself bravely standing on top of a carved stone lion’s head.  The updraft emanating from below causes my hat to flutter.  I dust off my jacket and extend my leg into the air.  As I lean forward into the limitless abyss I think to myself, “There’s no turning back now…”

Well you know, not all of us have a cheat sheet with step-by-step instructions to the Holy Grail. Sean Connery is not bleeding to death back in the musty temple and you know what?  That leap is scary!  So I ask you, “What’s the dream? The pie in the sky?  The ultimate goal?”  I think the un-asked question that accompanies this is “What’s the hesitation?”  As an artist, you might be able to guess what my Holy Grail is.  Let me give you a snapshot of my leaf of faith…

I am a 34 year old artist.  I also work at an art store.  This year will be my 15 year anniversary.  I have also been professionally painting for a little over 10 years.  Do the math.  I know – I just know – that if I devoted 100% of my time to my craft I would be unstoppable.  Don’t get me wrong – working at the art store has been an amazing journey.  We’re a family at the store.  I’ve gained confidence and work experience.  Where else can I be surrounded by art supplies, work with my best friend, AND have health insurance?  I am also afforded time off to paint, show and teach.  Pretty cozy.

About a year ago I taught a watercolor workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society called “Kickstart Your Creativity”.  This workshop was incredibly introspective and I posed questions to the group to help them recognize and break through creative blocks.  One exercise was called “Dream Big”.  In one or two sentences they described their ideal artistic dream.  I wanted them to be very clear about their goal so I wrote my dream on the white board as an example.

“My dream is to create art full time and in doing so – support myself financially ABOVE AND BEYOND my means and with complete confidence.”

my dreamI gave them a whole evening to mull it over, word it just right, and share with the group the following morning.  This turned out to be one of the most difficult assignments.  Why?  Why is it so hard to simply define a dream? We put so much crap in front of our dreams that we forget why we, as individuals, were put on this planet.  We also become comfortable with where we are in life and the dream remains just that – a dream.  This discussion led into what I call “Comfort Zones”.  Comfort zones are what?  Comfortable!  Why on earth would you want to leave?  The tricky thing about comfort zones is they are also a safety blanket.  My biggest comfort zone?  Working at the art store.

So here I am, standing behind the registers, with an inspirational-sayings magnet rack across from me.  Most of the magnets are pretty sappy.  They would pair well with my “Hang in There” poster of a kitten hanging from a branch.  One magnet stares back at me: “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR”.  In all capital letters no less.  Yeah, yeah I know.  I get it.  JUST DO IT.  For Pete’s sake I taught a workshop on this!  I stare back at the magnet from behind the registers, silently judging myself.  Oh good, a customer!  I wave to the next person in line, “Hi, I can help you over here.”

I know why I am on planet Earth and what my purpose is.  I wholeheartedly believe in my creative abilities.  But do I?  I can’t help but think that the large percentage of my time in front of a register means that I am not in front of my easel.  I haven’t taken the leap yet.  I have not cannonballed off the lion’s head.  So what do I do?  I bought the magnet and now it’s on my fridge, silently reminding me that I can do it.  It’s a start, but before I take that “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR” attitude you might just see me leaning over the lion’s head and shouting into the abyss “Does the net have health insurance?!”

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