A lot can happen in 30 seconds. Here, through the magic of time lapse, this tree that I painted when we were living in a rural area of Ireland, gets some finishing details.
30 seconds can be the longest seconds of our lives when a baby is born with the cord wrapped around his neck and we’re waiting for him to breathe. That was how my son entered the world. Longest seconds of our lives. He was blue and lifeless. Then, he cried. Fear and impending grief turned to joy.
Life can change in an instant. 30 seconds is 30 instants. It’s a long time. So in that context, a full day is an eternity. Whenever I think I don’t have enough time, I try to remind myself of how time is our perception of it. When we are propelled by adrenaline, emotion, pressure, social energy, or other factors, suddenly we can pack a lot of activity into a short period of time. When we feel sluggish, discouraged, defeated, bored, or frustrated, we can drag our feet and make relatively simple chores seem like impossible burdens, missions we can’t possibly complete. We procrastinate and make excuses for why we can’t do what we really CAN.
I met all the taping goals today for the Easter show! Now I can turn my attention to the unexpected move we have to make in 2 months. It seems like an impossible task at the moment, but do I need a full minute? A lot can happen in just 30 seconds. In 30 seconds I can go from a resigned spirit to high energy. It’s really my choice. The pep talk I gave myself (and you) yesterday was similar to this one and it really helped! Some of you gave me great feedback and I was encouraged to stay the course (THANK YOU! <3 ). Now I can feel proud of what I accomplished today and I know that I can handle the challenges ahead.
Whatever you’re facing these days, I hope that my ongoing saga motivates you to join me in manifesting the outcome we want by powering through with full passion, energy, and hope. Obviously it will be difficult to maintain the full wattage of that power at all times, but if we think in terms of “30 seconds” we may be able to switch our mindset for just 30, and then 30 more… before we know it, the day is gone and we’ve done what we wanted to do!
You might remember when I shared this painting in a May blog post called “Are you Weary?“. It seems a lot of us are struggling with fatigue that happens when seasons change and when the wait for other types of change feels too long. Students get restless this time of year, counting down the days to the holiday break and end of term. World events may seem to drag on endlessly, with only Christmas as a hope and diversion. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t struggle with feeling weary of the work and sameness of our everyday routines, and the things we cannot change.
It helps when we commit to doing something new, and then follow through with doing that new thing. In fact, it can be so helpful, it can be addictive! Because, each new thing creates more energy, to inspire doing more new things. The list of things we’re going to learn, make, do, see, and share may grow longer and longer. I’m teaching myself how to sew, play instruments, and container garden. All of these things generate energy that is real, no screens! That alone generates more energy. Instead of focusing on things we cannot change, we are energized by the new things that change us.
When I invest my time into changing what I do and who I am, I’m more often the “good kind” of tired, rather than weary. My days are full of productive work and meaningful changes, such as growing my own food, making my own clothes, and playing music rather than just listening to music that others have made. Being active rather than passive naturally manifests more activity.
I don’t always manage this high level of engagement in a good life. I’m guilty of spending hours looking at a screen, worrying about things, and accomplishing very little. I also get buried under the mundane aspects of life that won’t be remembered a week from now, let alone a year, and have no chance of being meaningful to myself or to others. I can also invest too much of myself into my vocation or my household, ignoring all other parts of a healthy balanced life.
Sometimes we live what we intend to, other times we don’t. We aren’t meant to be slaves to a ridiculous perfectionist standard, mania, or obsession to do more, more, more. Sometimes we just don’t have it in us. But if we are feeling weary, perhaps we need to do MORE. Then, at the end of the day, we are too tired to be weary. We are tired enough to fall into a deep restful sleep. Good night, dear friends!
I’ll be working on new projects this week. These projects require that I be in high energy, full of light and positivity, and confident in what I’m sharing. This can be hard to live up to when I’m feeling worn, discouraged, demoralized, and doubtful about the future. Any vocation is harmed when we don’t put our full and best selves into it. Our energy goes beyond careers or projects and into our homes and relationships as well. A big part of our future success, fruitfulness, prosperity, and influence for inspiring others requires that we live a life of healthy balance.
A great deal of my painting schedule is the time that I spend when I’m not painting. My choices affect who I am, and if I can be the person I need to be to produce the kind of work that I’m meant to share. Or, if I’m so consumed with my small life that I can’t create beyond my own needs and inner circle. And sometimes that’s all that’s expected of us: there are times when we must prioritize ourselves and our families. No one has regrets about work on their death bed. It’s the people we love and the dreams we didn’t act on that really matter, those are the things we may regret.
We all have a role in the bigger picture beyond what we can see; and our personal dreams may be important to the age we’re living in. Work must be a vocation; everything should have meaning. I’ve worked many other types of jobs, and I felt the same about those jobs as I do about being an entrepreneur, even when I hated those jobs. It’s something my dad used to say: “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” He was pushing for integrity and excellence, but I’d like to think about this as something more. Whatever we’re given to do, if we don’t do it well, it is not worth doing at all, as it wastes our life’s energy and brings our spirits into a rut that can be hard to come out of.
Whether seemingly trivial projects or something more meaningful, everything we share becomes a part of something bigger. When we contribute goodwill, we add to the collective positive energy that helps humanity. When we fail to contribute, or when we contribute negative, fearful, and unemphatic work or actions, we hurt humanity. Our lives are bigger than ourselves; we must strengthen who we are so that we can fulfill the purpose for why we are here.
So, while it doesn’t seem related to my goals as an artist, when I spend time gardening and feeding the wild birds, I am putting work into my spiritual self, which is a big part of whether or not I succeed in my vocation. When in healthy balance and feeling strong, we can better handle the demands on our time, whether it is home related or work related- or handling unexpected crises events.
After a flurry of other things to focus on and manage, I’m ready to re-focus on the painting schedule. One of the paintings on the schedule is a long term project, the other is a short term one that I’ll likely share with you by the end of the week. These will put me two more oil paintings toward my lifetime goal of 1k finished paintings. I’m also working on the next show, the 2021 Holiday Show (another variety show featuring live oil painting, but also singing and dancing).
My goals are to be joyful, encouraging, and a reminder that you are loved, that you were born to love others, and that love is the greatest blessing we shall ever have. When we focus on the love from those we lost, from those we nurture, and from those who love us, we live in gratitude. No darkness can swallow this light. It is a gift that shines in the deepest pit. It is a light that pulls us through excruciating pain, intense anxiety, and the starkest of fear. It is my hope that my work inspires you.
Some of my work is casual, average, mediocre, or unfinished and rough. Some of it is just a frog or an odd composition for a project. But every now and then, I paint a masterpiece, as defined by the person who connects with it and feels understood. When my work becomes something bigger than myself, I have done what I’m meant to do. It is with this in mind that I paint the next project, and the next, knowing that not all of my art will hit the mark, but each painting is one painting toward the ones that do.