Keeping my Cool

See this oil painting of a Puffin come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I felt a bit of panic, but I willed myself to keep my cool, as cool as this puffin. Today I was working on the new painting and at the end of the session I decided to compile the video footage I have thus far and I was horrified to see that an important chunk of the painting session was missing! It skipped from one part to another in a big jump. Oh no, no, no, no! It was an important part of what I hope will be a special painting.

But, no need to panic. Yes, it could have been a terrible incident that has happened to me in the past: I think I’ve hit the record button, but I’ve really hit the stop button from a session that was still running. Then, I paint while the camera is OFF, and then when I go to shut if off, my stomach sinks as I realize that it was never on! However, it was possible that the camera recorded the whole thing, but the clip was somehow missing from the video file. In which case, the footage was there. I just needed to find the clip. That could have happened easily.

And that’s what DID happen! Whew! I found the missing clip. All is well! Whatever your day was like today, I hope that you too were “puffin cool” even if there were some highly stressful moments. Most things are really not worth getting anxious over, especially if there’s a chance that it will all work out in the end.


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Friday & Update

Watch this oil painting of a puffin come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I last shared this puffin painting in a blog post called “Are you Worried?” Today, I’d like this funny little bird to wish you a happy Friday. I’m enjoying my evening and I hope you are too! A bit of an update: I am working on the longer project I mentioned earlier and the smell of heavy oil paint was getting to me, so it’s a good thing I’ve had a forced break this week due to weather. You might recall that I’ve said that artificial light is not as good as natural sunlight for seeing and filming my paintings. It’s been dreary and dark here in Georgia.

So, I’ve been working on Christmas sewing projects and other home related things. The art will be done in due time. In this way, I shall be like this puffin, a positive and quirky bird with many talents. He can swim, fly, and nest high on cliffs, but obviously he can do only one of those things at a time. He’s a social creature and above all, likes to be with his fellow birds. May we be like a puffin, embracing all of the amazing things we can do, but fine with not being able to do all things at all times, and enjoying the people we love to spend time with.

Are you worried?

Watch me paint this puffin in 2 minutes (time lapse)

We have many reasons to feel worried. We worry about our personal circumstances that few (or maybe only we) know about. Private fears keep us awake at night: fears about illness, tragedy, work, financial crisis, grief, and trouble concerning our families. We also worry about things that the world tells us to fear; things that may be real or built upon deception in whole or in part. These worries may never come true, but life has its share of heartache and hardship, so we can never be completely safe from the things we fear. 

In my video of the puffin, you may notice:

  • As I’m painting, you can see glimpses of other paintings in the background. You see not only this single painting session, where I’m sitting there in my comfy red work shirt painting at home, but the evidence of several others. This represents hours of my energy and focus directed toward creating art to share.
  • If you’ve made it to the end of the video, you saw the music credits. Can you picture someone recording that happy guitar music to share with others? That musician invested energy and focus into making music. It was probably after years of playing the guitar, perhaps a lifetime.
  • And… the puffin is investing time and energy into simply being a puffin.

When we invest our time and energy into CREATING, MAKING, and BEING, we occupy ourselves with the act of living. We have filled the spaces of our minds with positive thoughts, leaving little room left over for worry.

  • CREATE: We don’t have to create art to be creative. I feel the same peaceful awareness of the goodness of creativity when I garden. Planning and growing my garden creates a new living world that is a masterpiece. Creativity can be in the kitchen, the garage, or any other place. An “artist’s studio” is wherever we feel creative.
  • MAKE: I’m grateful when musicians offer their music. I have a tight budget as a one-person enterprise, yet I need quality talent for my art videos. My art is made better when music sets the mood for my videos. But we don’t have to make music to contribute our talents to this world. Not everyone was born to be a musician. We all have our own gifts and talents, even if it seems we don’t. Making the effort to make life better for others, especially our families who love us, is one of the greatest roles we can have. What we make of our lives matters. Each of us has an opportunity to make a difference.
  • BE: When we are busy creating something new or making a difference in the lives of others, we have little energy leftover for worry. But, the true state of peace is when we don’t need to busy ourselves with positive distractions to fill our spiritual spaces… when we are unworried while in a state of simply “being”.

When I was learning about puffins to create that painting, I discovered that the puffin is a social creature who seems to love hanging out with other puffins. Yet there were plenty of instances in which the puffin was fine to be alone while flying, swimming, or simply being. The body language of a puffin suggests a relaxed, content spirit. 

Do you think that the puffin is aware of what an inspiration he is to humanity? As he goes about his animal life, with his funny stature, color block body, and unusual lifestyle combination of flying and swimming, does he worry about anything? This interesting little bird was given a singular purpose to live the life of a puffin. He was given gifts and talents to make that life possible. He was blessed with the company of other puffins for the journey.

Is the puffin immortal? No. They live an average of twenty years. But during that time, they protect each other from predators by forming groups when they are feeding at sea. They are highly social animals and deeply loyal, as they mate for life. To protect themselves, puffins nest high on top of cliffs and burrow deep under the ground. Instinctively, they understand their vulnerability and they take measures to keep themselves safe. But do they “worry” as we humans do? Probably not. It doesn’t seem to be the case.

Puffins are mysterious. They spend a lot of time at sea, where it is difficult for researchers to study them. In a world where every living creature is spied upon, analyzed, and intimately known, the puffin has managed to keep part of its life relatively private. I’ve blogged about how important it is to be mysterious.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned activities like painting, playing music, gardening, cooking, socializing, swimming, and flying (unlike the puffin we obviously need planes, but we too can escape to far away places). Nowhere did I mention filling our time with a devotion to media, the Internet, or packaged passive “entertainment” scripted with an agenda to steer us toward a faux reality, and away from our natural intuitive lifestyle. When we reject that which is fake and choose those things that are real, we live an authentic life. It is easier for us to just “be”.

Our life expectancy is much higher than that of a puffin, yet we waste so much of it in worry. May we strive to invest our time and energy into making and creating until we evolve into “being”, at peace while standing still. Whenever you start to worry, think of my puffin painting. Be a puffin!

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