With just a few weeks left in 2021, my mind goes to reflection and exploration. The launch of my book pushed me to explore who I am, who I want to be, and how I want to spend my days. Maybe something in your life is challenging you in the same way. As a writer, it is easy to get in a rut. But this idea of getting stuck happens in everyday life as well; stuck in a 9-5 job that might not be your passion or bound by routines that seem to leave no time for the ideas that ping pong in your head. We put up imaginary blocks that we sometimes call limitations and prevent us from walking the walk of our dreams.
I spent the last month on break from my writing and illustrating classes to explore new places in my life. Some might call this a waste of time, but I consider exploration a worthwhile pursuit:
TAKE A CLASS
After thirty years of teaching, I have now become a perpetual student. I can't seem to get enough classes, the latest in abstract art. The thing I love about abstract art is that it looks like child’s play but, in reality, is incredibly challenging. And this is good for my brain. While it seems like random strokes and splatters and puddles of paint, the techniques involve composition, attention to color, marking, intention, and a lot of exploration! Here are a few examples of work I did in the classes. I share them not because they are anything to brag about but because they help document the moments I took to delve into new skills, new interests, and new thoughts. The first class I took was by Laura Horn, who has a very clean, refined, and more of a controlled technique. The second class was by Tracy Verdugo, who has a wilder, more uninhibited approach to teaching abstract art. I enjoyed them both. It was a nice shift to put my intention on a new blank page. There are other classes I'd love to take. Biomimicry intrigues me and is on my bucket list.
EXAMINE UP CLOSE
Sometimes, I need a change of scenery, a break from the walls of my office/studio. When traveling is not an option, I like to break out my iPhone macro lens. When I get that itch to leave my work behind or clear my mind, the backyard offers a whole new world, a closer look, an examination of the bits of nature that I normally miss. Here's what's going on in my backyard.
Asking new questions to family members can open up a whole new can of beans! For years, it was very well known that my mother had a deep aversion to beans. Cooking can be a challenge in a home where many of us do not eat meat. So, recently I asked my mom, why? She seemed to be OK with miso, which comes from soybeans, but she won't eat the beans from the pod. She seems OK with the bean paste in daifuku mochi but shivers at the mere mention of any other bean-related dish.
"Mochitsuki : a japanese tradition" by Frédéric Poirot is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
EXPLORE YOUR CITY
Like most people, I often feel that I need to travel to explore new places, and I did have the pleasure of visiting Kauai recently, but here in Los Angeles, there are so many places I have never been. As businesses reopen from the pandemic, I find myself craving the experience of new worlds, even having become such a homebody. One place I recently visited was the LA Printers Museum and fair. I surrounded myself with letterpress and printing machines for a couple of hours and even discovered a vendor, Hiromi Paper, with the most beautiful handmade papers from Japan. This business is on my list for another exploration day.
USE NEW MATERIALS
Whatever your profession, sometimes a change in materials inspires new energy. If you usually use a pen, use a pencil. Do you color with a crayon, use a marker. Do you draw in ink, use paint. If you typically write on a computer, try paper, fabric, sidewalks, or sand!
The blank page can be scary. Try stringing words together that don't usually go together. Take two random words from the dictionary and put them together.
Start with words already on a page. Create blackout poetry. This is really fun and sort of works the puzzle part of my mind. This guy, Austin Kleon, wrote a whole book on the concept. Here are a couple of mine.
SAVE OLD ART AND OLD BOOKS
Go thrifting for deals or a blast from the past. Ancient things hold vibrations. It makes me sad to see old paintings in thrift stores. When I find old books or art, I imagine who created them, who held them, who read them, and why they were important to them. Here is a piece of wood art I found some time ago, and old building plans for a passenger station in Missouri. So random!
BREAK THINGS APART AND PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER
Radios, toys, appliances. I feel that if something isn't working and I'm going to throw it away anyway, I might as well take it apart, study it, and put it back together. I'm currently doing this with a story as well!
READ SOMETHING NEW
Expand knowledge. Currently, I'm loving The New York Times - Science.
ASK YOURSELF IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
What is one thing that you can change today to steer yourself toward your goals? Start with one thing, something small. No need to completely turn your life upside down. What is the one thing you can give up to make room for where you want? Consider that option, and happy exploring! It's a jungle out there!
Path To Publication