Tag: focus

Gratitude

In “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge resolves, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Is it possible to do the same with Thanksgiving?

And what would the spirit of Thanksgiving look like❓

When I was younger, I remember saying a very LONG prayer to stall bedtime. It’s surprising how many things you can think of to be grateful for when you really try–even at age six.

I’m grateful for night lights. Without them the monsters would have eaten us all a long time ago.

Looking back, I find that I am grateful for the difficult times. The pain in my hands forced me to focus on what I really want to do. I chose art over things like piano or knitting. I found that sacrificing for something helped me value it more.

Negative events really stand out in memories. But I’m thankful for the positive times, too (of course). Trying to focus on and remember the positive relieves stress and gives a more balanced view of life.

Keeping a gratitude journal helps me recall those events and end the day on a happy note. 🙂

I’m grateful for those who read, comment on, or like my posts. Thank you so much! In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one.” ❤️

Finding Purpose

I was talking to some one this week who said that they have been trying to figure out their purpose in life.

I think that’s a fairly common concern.

As I get older, I’ve realized that doors of opportunity are closing, and there are things that are no longer possibilities.

Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, it’s more helpful to focus on what I CAN do.

How do I know what I can do? ? ? ? How will that help me know my purpose?

  • make a list of talents
  • ask trusted friends
  • ponder and pray and listen
  • do a collage while thinking through your questions
  • brainstorm

Even if I don’t know the end result, I can know the next step. I believe there is a plan for each person to follow.

Everyone has a purpose. Everyone is needed.

The Joy in Participation

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Art is different when you create it. You notice things, tiny details that you skip over as a member of the audience. I think this is true for all kinds of art.

Last weekend, I sang in a choir. We spent months practicing a dozen or so songs. Within a matter of hours, the performances ended, and we turned in our binders. In past years, I listened in the audience to this same choir perform. The experiences were very different.

Spending months with the songs, I learned the words. I learned the intricate harmonies and how they fit together. The songs stuck in my head between practices, and I hummed them as I washed the dishes. By the time we performed the songs, it almost seemed anticlimactic. I still hum the songs as I wash dishes. Though the performance is done, the music isn’t over.

As an audience member, I thought the music was lovely. Listening to it sparked so many ideas! I didn’t always understand the words, but that didn’t matter. Though I quickly forgot how the music sounded, I remembered how it made me feel and the impression of its loveliness. It was not the same lasting experience as singing in the choir.

When I copy an illustration I admire, I discover so many overlooked details, hidden faces and patterns and figures.

I find myself admiring an expression or the shape of a hand or a lovely combination of colors. “Oh, that’s how you do that,” I realize.

When I make just the right line here or match the right shade there, it feels like victory. You learn so much by doing. Copying art forces me to slow down and focus on details, one at a time.

I admire my favorite artists more after carefully trying to recreate their work.

This does not mean that I have to make a perfect copy or sing all the right notes to appreciate art. I make mistakes much more often than I like. I think the joy comes from putting in the effort and spending time seeing the intricacy revealed when you spend time in careful study.

A special joy comes when I create something of my own. Even if it turns out terrible, during the moments that I’m totally absorbed in writing or painting or singing, I feel outside of time. Completely focusing on how to make something work is a joy of its own.

Several of my illustrations. I love some of them and don’t love many of them. But they are mine.

It feels like the joy of solving a problem or putting together a puzzle. It’s that moment when you put another piece in, and it fits. There are many more pieces left to go, but in that moment when you realize that this one piece is in just the right place, there is that “aha!” of recognition. “Ah, I see. This is how it goes. I thought it did, and I was right! What is the next piece?”

I love to go to concerts. I love to look at artwork, even when I don’t have the slightest idea of where to begin to recreate it. I love feeling inspired. There is so much joy in finding loveliness in the world, and you can find it in so many places.

Yet there is a special joy found in participation. I think it enhances my appreciation of art when it’s my turn in the audience again, because I’ve learned to look and listen more closely. If I’m in the audience next year, I’ll probably enjoy the choir numbers much more than I did last year. But, after the hard work and practice I put in this year, I honestly hope that next year I’m in the choir.

Have you found joy in participating in art? What do you enjoy doing? Do you think it helps you better appreciate the work of other artists?

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