Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Rain Won't Stop

© Robin Edmundson, 'The Rain Won't Stop', watercolor, 10 x 14 inches. 

This is a for-fun piece I did recently after days and days of rain.  The rivulets in the fields were a lovely contrast to the misty sky and trees.   The cows stayed on higher ground and the creeks filled up with muddy water.    Very Indiana.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Overcoming 'I Can't'

Maple flowers, just before the leaves come on.

I've been a teacher for my entire adult life. Much of that has been in places where I'm teaching skills, and those skills aren't easy.  Most people are willing to practice and learn until they can do what it is I'm teaching. Others get stuck in 'I can't'.  What I've noticed over the years is that usually 'I can't' means something else entirely. 

Here are the top three things people really mean when they say 'I can't'. 

1.  'I don't know how' - The problem with saying 'I can't' is that it offers no solution to overcoming the problem.  On the other hand, saying, 'I don't know how [yet],' presents a solution:  Learn how.   Once you have that as a goal, then you are open to finding the right teacher, book, experience, etc. that will help you learn how. 

2.  'It's harder than I expected.' - I often hear this when people are excited to start something new, then they realize that they aren't good at it right away and that mastery is going to take sustained practice and work. That's not very much fun.  However, if you can say, 'It's harder than I expected,' instead of 'I can't', then you have given yourself permission to change your expectations of the process and let yourself off the hook for not being perfect at something right away. 

3. 'I don't want to' - By far, this is the most common thing that people mean when they say 'I can't'.  'I can't' means you don't have the power or ability to do something and it's not your fault. On the other hand, saying, 'I don't want to,' means you accept full responsibility and for whatever reason, you choose not to do the thing.  The problem is that we don't want to disappoint people [I don't want to come to your event'], we don't want to appear less than skilled or perfect [I don't want to make the effort'], we don't like change [I don't want to upset the status quo'], etc.   It's much more polite and far easier to say 'I can't' and blame the universe which cruelly left us without the power or ability to do this thing than it is to say, 'Hey, I weighed my options and this one didn't make the cut.  I don't want to. So sorry,' which may be true, but isn't always socially acceptable.

The next time you hear yourself or someone say, 'I can't', stop for a minute and try to figure out what is really meant.   See if a shift in mindset would help loosen some resistance and move you to a place of 'I can', or a place of more fully accepting what you do and don't want to do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thompson Barn

© Robin Edmundson, 'Thompson's Barn', watercolor, 18 x 24 inches

This piece was a commission for a lovely family who lives out near us.   They raise guineas and it was super fun to go hang out and take pictures of the place.  I love the squeaky hinge sounds the birds make.   

The barn has all the character you'd expect from anything that has had a long life of service.  Multiple layers of color, 4 additions, an inspiring collection of materials.   I'm always happy to honor the life of one of these old beauties.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Overcoming Obstacles

This photo is of early slippery elm seeds. It's another sign that spring is on its way, taking her own sweet time.  Often things happen in their own sweet time and in their own sweet way and we perceive those delays as obstacles.  We wonder if the fact that things aren't going easily is a sign from the universe.  But what does that sign mean?

Maybe it means, 'Be patient.'   Or, 'Try another tack.'  Or, 'This isn't right for you.  Let it go'.   Maybe it doesn't mean anything except they've closed a lane ahead and traffic is slow, 'It's not about you.'

At any rate, obstacles happen all the time.  When I hit an obstacle to my plans, I use this mantra. 

Stay Calm.  Stay Positive.  Think Creatively.

Staying calm allows me to see past the immediate frustration and get a look at the bigger picture, which often isn't about me.  Staying positive helps me not feed ugly drama and keeps me in a place where I'm most likely to notice new strategies and opportunities.  Thinking creatively helps me remember to look for new ways of doing things, new perspectives, new input. 

I cannot tell you the number of 'impossible' situations we've been able to solve or work around by using these ideas.  And in case you're wondering, it took a long time and a lot of practice for me to remember to use this strategy first instead of falling into frustration, rage and despair.   I wish I could tell you some inspirational story about how I made this switch, but the truth is I learned it as a homeschooling parent of a dyslexic.   So many things that had worked with my older daughter just didn't work with my younger.   I didn't want my youngest to associate frustration, rage and despair with her situation, so I came up with the new mantra, wrote it down and whenever we hit a roadblock, I repeated it.  Over and over, until I believed it.  And miracles happened, again and again.  And then it was easy for me to hold onto those ideas and repeat them for her as we got to the really hard stuff in high school and college.   I'm telling you, this stuff really works.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Linton Barn

© Robin Edmundson, 'Linton Barn', watercolor, 18 x 24 inches.

We came upon this barn while we were out birding near Goose Pond, south of Linton.  I was inspired by the many contrasts: 

  • angles & curves
  • light & dark
  • blue & gold
  • lines & space

I decided to emphasize those contrasts, so I did a couple of drafts to test out colors and composition and got some great feedback from my critique group.   [I can't tell you how important it is to get feedback on your work!]   Then I dove in.  I'm especially happy with all of the textures.    I'll be submitting this one to this year's Hoosier Salon.  Fingers crossed it will be selected for the show.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Your Comfort Zone is Stretchy

I love this season of growth and rebirth!   I swear you can hear the woods taking in deep breaths of spring air and the trees and creeks are dancing. 

This is exactly the season to try something new you've been thinking about doing but have been nervous to try. 

It's easy to get stalled.  We say, 'Oh, it's so far outside my comfort zone!' and even if we work up the courage to step outside that zone, then we often have a little buzz in the back of our minds telling us to hurry up and get back to safety. 

But what if our comfort zones were stretchy?  What if you never have to leave your comfort zone but just need to stretch it a bit to do that new thing. 

Think about that new thing for a minute.   Now imagine your comfort zone expanding to encompass you doing that.  Is it less scary? 

If you remember that stretching trick, you'll never have to go outside your comfort zone again. What things on your list would you be quicker to do if they were to stay inside your comfort zone?

I'd like to invite you to join our Best Self facebook group where we can talk freely about becoming our best selves - and all the messy work that that entails.  In addition, I have another group, The Well Balanced Artist, for creatives of all kinds and in all stages of their creative lives, who are trying to balance their art, business and personal lives.   

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Laws of Attraction & Harvest

Very simply, the Law of Attraction is this:

 You attract the things you focus on.

Life is a mixed bag, no getting around it.  There's a lot of awful stuff...but there's also a lot of unbelievably wonderful stuff.  We get to decide what to focus on.  If we focus on the crap, then that's what we are more likely to find more of, simply because that's what we're tuned in to.  

There's nothing woo-woo about this.  It's not magic.  If you want more of something in your life, you need to tune in to what you want.  Keep your eyes open for it or go looking for it.  

Want more good experiences?   Focus on the good you see.   Want more great friends?  Focus on the great people you know.   Want more miracles?   Focus on the miraculous.  

For the Law of Attraction to work, you don't have to actually do anything other than change what you pay attention to. 

A related idea is the Law of the Harvest:

You reap what you sow.

If the Law of Attraction is what you pay attention to, then the Law of the Harvest is how you act.  If you are focused on briars, you won't see the violets. Further, you can't expect violets to grow if you're actively planting briars.  

If you want to see real change in your life, you have to honestly examine your thinking and your actions and then make changes. You can't go around spreading negativity and then expect happy to pop up. Instead you need to start being hopeful and spreading that hope.  You can't gossip about your acquaintances and expect people to trust you and to have a supportive tribe.  Instead, you need to be complimentary and supportive when talking to and about others.  You can't focus on all the negativity in the world and expect to feel happy.  Instead you need to seek out and tell inspiring, loving and laughable stories.

It's not easy to always do these things, but we're not after perfection; we're after improvement.  

Every positive change, even the smallest one, will contribute to a better outcome for you.   Patient persistence will result in astounding long term gains.  

I really want to know how you're doing:   How have you seen these laws work in your life? 

I'd like to invite you to join our Best Self facebook group where we can talk freely about becoming our best selves - and all the messy work that entails. 
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