Inktober #2

Here are my drawings from Inktober since last Thursday:

Prompt #4 was “spell.”

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While “spelling bee” came to mind, I didn’t go with it. I also didn’t want to do someone casting a spell. I’m am trying to “think beyond what I see.” Then I thought of the doorway in the Lord of the Rings movie.

Prompt # 5 was “chicken.”

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Again, I didn’t want to go for the ordinary. Hmmm, it was also the second time I’d been thinking about chicken. Remember, the first time was with the word “roasted.” Okay, I really like chicken in my Instant Pot. And now that I’m writing this sentence, that would have been really funny if I’d drawn my Instant Pot. (grin, and some maniacal laughter)

Instead, I let the chicken get some revenge on those Chick-Fil-A cows.

Prompt # 6 was “drooling.”

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Tough and thriving

Good news: I didn’t get sick. The OnGuard and Wellness Formula did the trick once again.

Knock on wood that it continues.

Yet, it was pointed out that I may have been what some may call “a little preachy” about my stance on health and wellness. What? No cigarettes? No alcohol? How can a person live?

My answer: how about a lot healthier!

Duh!

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Success

I have to admit that since my mother’s death last year, I’ve been asking myself if she was happy in her life. I know her goal was a to have a family and I know she loved being a mother, but did she find the fulfillment in it that she always thought she would?

It’s made me examine my own life a lot deeper. I don’t want my own children wondering the same thing about me.

Success is one of those slippery things to define. We all think success will make us happy. In truth, happiness makes us successful. Yes, it is the other way around. Try this: the next time someone praises you about your art, really think about your immediate actions. Do you discount what they have said? Do you feel successful, like you’ve accomplished something? How long does that feeling last? Chances are, when someone says your work is beautiful, you say, “Thank you,” and move on. It doesn’t really touch your heart. It doesn’t last long. Now, the next time you find yourself really happy, take a look back at all the things you’ve accomplished with your art. Doesn’t that make you feel awfully dang successful and proud of yourself? It’s easy to discount your feeling of success when someone else says it to you, but harder to discount it when you are already happy in your life.

So, yes, when I think back over my mother’s life, she was successful with her goal of having her family but I often wonder if it was a “be careful of what you wish for” time. I don’t know if she was every happy. I look back over pictures of her life and I see a beautiful woman smiling back. There is a whole other side that I never realized was there. I don’t even know if she realized how beautiful she was. I think if she had found herself beautiful, she would’ve been happier. But she could never allow herself to see it.

That goes back to what I was talking about earlier this week: choice.

We choose to be happy. We choose our emotions — we create them much like we create our art. Moment by moment. We could be angry at the person who cut us off in traffic, or we could be grateful they didn’t hit our car, or we could remember that they might just not have seen us or realized how close they were. Our brains are full of flotsam all the time and we can screw up on occasion by thinking about something else. Strangely enough, we chose to think about that flotsam rather than driving!

Don’t look for success. Find that which makes you happy and you’ll always be filled with abundance. Well, that and remembering to choose wisely for your happiness is a choice only you can make.

Do what you love: Part 3 – Products and niches

Raise your hand if you have too much stuff in your house. Did you raise yours? I raised mine. Twice!

Most of us in America are very fortunate souls, even if we don’t always feel like it. But do we ever care where these products that we buy come from? Rarely. Only if we later find out that it was, for example, made in China and contains lead paint.

Outsourcing is a hot buzzword. Every day I get an article from someone about how to outsource and why I should do it. Let me tell you, it’s a thought that scares me. But that’s just between you and me, okay?

Come closer and I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to be overheard.

First, we start by outsourcing products to be made by someone else. Then we start outsourcing services. Have you ever heard of a company outsourcing their tech support to another country? Have you ever called for help and gotten someone in India? Never happened, right? Unfortunately, these will never go away. As I stated in the first post, sometimes we need to let someone else handle things so we can invest in our own time. It’s not always bad, but consider this:

What happens to the people left behind after a company outsources it’s products and services? Those people no longer have jobs. If they don’t have a job, they don’t have the money to buy products and services. The people in the countries where the jobs have been outsourced to now have the money.

Do you see why this scares me?

Every time a company outsources because it’s cheaper, it hurts the economy. We’re digging our own hole and we haven’t stopped.

Too serious for you? Come jump down the rabbit hole further with me. I’m just getting warmed up.

I’m not the only one who’s seen this trend but their response scares me even more. The typical reply is that as a country America is moving away from being a product-making and service-providing economy. Those “left-brained” tasks can be done by other countries more cheaply. So we are becoming a “right-brained” society and it’s our job to find niche markets and ideas for others to make.

First, like people in other countries can’t have ideas? Please! Not to mention that ideas have no value until they can be realized. Aren’t you glad that some of your dreams are just dreams and didn’t become reality while you were having them?

Second, I don’t want my plumber coming over and only working on my kitchen sink because that’s his niche. Or an electrician that will only work on outlets that service lamps. Do you see what niches carried to the extreme become? That’s not to say that niches can’t be a good thing. Through Dan Miller, I’ve heard of a physical therapist who only works with people from the knee down. He provides necessary help to people.

Artists are people who also need to find a niche. Surprised to hear me say that?

It’s not that surprising I hope.

Artists are the gauge by which society is viewed and recorded. Would we have any idea what ancient Egyptian society was like if it were not for the artists of that time period?

Artists are the voice for what’s good and bad in our world. The May 2009 cover of Art in America had several little Oriental girls sleeping underneath a bright pink comforter. It’s a beautiful picture, until you see the automatic riffles on top of the comforter. This photograph isn’t something I want hanging in my living room, but it carried such a voice that I’ve been unable to forget about it. It’s a thought provoking piece that is meant to make the viewer stop and reassess.

Back in Part 1, I mentioned the guy changing my car battery. He provided me with a product (the battery) and a service (installing the battery). Art is like that too and artists need to realize this. Not only is the artwork a product, but we’re providing a service as well – whether it be shipping a piece and the time involved to make sure it gets to the destination safely, to taking abstract thoughts and putting them into our craft, to hanging our works for shows, right down to actually making it. 80% of the population wants to write a book. Those that do (which is a much smaller percentage) are providing a service to the reader. Without the written book, there would be no product.

Well that’s just labor, you might say.

A tax preparer delivers a tax return. Do you think they think of the work that goes into preparing the tax return as labor? No, they realize they are providing a service to their client. Labor is what you do when you work at something. Service is what you do when you put your knowledge and expertise into a product. Hopefully, you enjoy making that product, otherwise, why have you become good at something you don’t love?

An artist should start painting from the heart, whatever they desire to paint. A potter should start making whatever the clay wants to be. A writer should just write that first draft to get it out. But eventually, there comes a time when craft has to come in. The painter should gain more control over what’s being painted. A potter should be able to shape the clay at will. A writer has to learn to edit the words and make the story better. This is the knowledge and expertise.

Our economy won’t improve until we start realizing that products come with service as well and we need to pay for that sometimes build-in service. We can’t just be looking around for the cheapest price anymore. We have to see what others are putting in. Like the service I get from the office supply store I mentioned in the last post. If a store isn’t treating you as you’d like to be treated, why are you still shopping there? Yes, the store might be more expensive down the street, but if they are treating you better, isn’t that worth it? Why tolerate to save a couple bucks?

Would you want someone else buying another painting, or buying another vase, or buying another book not because they like the other product better but because it’s cheaper?!!! No, you wouldn’t.

Find the service in the product you provide and you’ll start seeing more of their worth.

Find people who love what they do to help you with things outside your knowledge base and you’ll help the world.

Find the value in the products and services you buy and you’ll open yourself up to the abundance of the universe.