"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Friday, January 23, 2015

New Year, New Ideas, and a Few True Confessions

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I used to, with every good intention of keeping them, but that never happened. Then I'd feel guilty because I failed to keep my resolution. It was not a win-win situation, so I quit doing it.

For the last few years I have tried to concentrate on new ways to think about things, or ways to improve my life. Mostly that has been to simplify. Getting rid of things I don't use that have been sitting around the house, closet, or garage for years collecting dust.  That has been a very satisfying endeavor, and I have given away lots of things to people who were thrilled to get them. Last week I donated a large bag of mixed beads to a non-profit organization for kids projects. Tomorrow I am delivering a small drafting table (I have two others) to a young girl who is a great budding artist. She will get a lot of use out of that table, which has been sitting in a storage unit for six years.

Another thing that I am going to work hard on, and this is a tough one for me, is to be more a person who sees the glass half full, rather than half empty. I admit, I am a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, and tend not to trust people. I suspect this might be part and parcel with my introvert personality.

One of the big things for me to overcome, both in life and in art, is to stop worrying about what other people think, and to stop comparing my work/life with theirs. To be inspired is one thing, and that is great, but to be envious, especially if that person is successful and/or popular, is a hard thing to avoid. The risk is that I might try to make my artwork or beading projects look more like theirs, even if their style is not mine. The reasoning behind that being, "Well, maybe if my work is more like theirs, I will be more popular." When I find myself thinking like that, I have to back up, slap my forehead, and tell myself to "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

Most of my adult life I was given to believe that unless you could make money at your artwork, you weren't an artist, you were just dorking around with a fun hobby.  My first husband was really great at making me feel like the artwork I needed to do to feel human and get me through some tough times, wasn't worth much because it wasn't "a job" that created income. Fortunately, my second husband of 25 years is just the opposite, which is a relief. But there is always that niggle that if I can't make the artwork/jewelry pay for itself it means that what I am doing isn't worthy, because no one else wants it. This is the wrong attitude to take, and very self-defeating.

Lately I have been reading more and more about what is called "Guerilla Artwork." Small pieces of artwork or inspirational sayings left in public places for people to find, like a gift from the universe— no strings attached, not a stealth advertisement, not self-promotion. Its only purpose is to make someones day a little brighter. Art just for art's sake. Art for the simple joy it will give to a total stranger. I love the idea and want to play. This simple act dispels for me the idea that in order for artwork to be valid, it must make money. And no, I am not badmouthing artists who make money. I admire them. I have made a bit of money myself. But for me, this idea of a gift of art for whomever finds it, just appeals. The world can be a depressing place. Wouldn't it be great of someone was having a totally crap day and found my gift and it made them smile?

To that end, I have started sending out my small contributions to this fun way to spread a little joy. Over the years, I have found dozens of bookmarks left in books I have checked out from the library. I decided that putting small bookmarks that I have made in the books before returning them would be a easy way to start. On the back of each bookmark, I am writing a note that says, "This is for you to keep, or to leave in the book for the next person to enjoy." I also thought that a pair of simple earrings, taped to an index card and left, say in a ladies restroom, would be another fun way to play. On the card it would say something like, "This is a gift to you from the Universe. Hope it brings a smile."

So, no New Year's resolutions, no promises to myself that I know I won't keep. Just a desire to keep working on simplifying my life, play more with my art/jewelry/beading, and at the same time send some small bits of artwork out into the world. Ideas I think I can stick with and enjoy, totally guilt free.