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The Seemingly Impossible

Today’s quote is:

It always seems impossible until it’s done.  - Nelson Mandela

When I saw this quote today, I laughed out loud. Yesterday, I had one of these at work. I had a situation that seemed impossible. It was driving me mad and I couldn’t figure out how it was ever going to be solved.

When I am in situations like this, I don’t handle it well. In fact, it drives me so mad that I become the worst version of myself. I stop thinking logically and operate in mostly the fight or flight mode. I panic and freak out. And, like most people when they are panicked and not thinking clearly, I do unwise things.

I flail and get others involved. Which makes things even worse.

And then when it’s all over and the prefrontal cortex starts kicking in again, I feel the strong wash of shame.

Which is the worst.

So I thought a lot about this quote today. About how I can remember that it always feels impossible until that one magical moment when it’s fixed. It seems impossible until it isn’t and it’s like a switch. There isn’t much in between impossibility and possibility. It’s not always gradual (though sometimes it is) but most of the time, it feels impossible until one day, one moment you look at it and you see it is indeed possible. And then it gets done. Not a lot in between.

So the question is how will i remember that it will get done. That it will become possible. That it will seem deeply impossible till that one moment. And that I need to have faith. Faith that it will indeed get done.

That’s the hard part for me. To have faith. To stop the panic and let my thinking kick in so it can remind me to have faith. So maybe I should make a bigger version of this sign and put it up on my desk so I can remember.

Remember This – Week 16

The second assignment for week three of The Walk was about creating art piece around the treasures we want to collect on our walk.

I wanted to do something simpler this week. I knew my treasures were my four core desires: grace, whole, engaged, and serene and then I added healthy, self-compassion, and peace to that list.

I made a tree and decided to hang some “heart” fruits off of it. To symbolize the fruits I want to collect for my heart.

I didn’t work too long on this. Just wanted it to be simple.

another closeup.

And here are the two pages for week three next to each other.

Another reminder to keep my core desires in my heart and in my path. They are what I want to remember. They are what I want to hold. They are the treasures I seek.

Remember This is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

Walls we Build

today’s quote is:

You are confined only by the walls you built yourself.

I read this quote a while ago and had made an art journal page on it, too.

I was thinking about it again last night when I was trying to pick a quote today. I thought of all the ways i get in my own way. All the ways I create limits for myself. Hurdles I have to jump through, blocks on what I can and cannot do.

I have so many ideas.

So many ways I get in my own way.

I know that we all do this in different ways but I think, like most things, the first step to knocking those walls down is awareness.

Seeing it.

And then Saying it out loud.

Owning it.

I build walls around what i am capable of and what’s possible for me. I feel strong urges to do things (or to stop doing things) and then I talk myself out of each of them. I have a sense of the “responsible path” and I pretty much try to follow it to a T. I create a lot of stories around what responsible means and what it doesn’t mean. In those moments when I look around and I see only walls, I need to remember that they are created by me. They are in my mind, my story, but rarely are they in the real world.

And just like I get to put them up, I also get to take them down.

Listen with Intent – Week 16

For this week, I picked something a bit tougher for me. I know laugh sounds easy but it doesn’t come as easily to me. I even wear a bracelet everyday that says “laugh” on it so I can remember to be lighter and more joyful and laugh more. It’s not that I don’t laugh a lot, it’s that I tend to choose the darker, the more somber. But this week I want to laugh more. I want to listen to the laughter of my kids which is always healing for my soul. Laughter of my friends and loved ones and even the laughter of strangers. There’s nothing as wonderful as hearing people genuinely laugh, is there?

The lettering I used here comes from Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy.

The image here is three little cakepops of clowns.

Listen with Intent is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

Weekly Diary – April 20 2014

Here are some photos from this week:

We took the boys to Cal Day at the University of California, Berkeley.

we spent most of the day touring the physics exhibits.

since those are david’s favorite

and the little boy was accommodating.

we watched an hour-long physics lecture that was awesome.

i snapped some photos.

and asked jake to snap some too.

getting in the photo per my promise.

the next day, the boys spent some time playing with chalk

nathaniel made some sheep and david wrote formulas.

then he had an idea.

to make footprints along the sidewalk

nathaniel made some too and they made the footprints meet with a heart and a rainbow.

they asked me to take a photo and i obliged gratefully

love these boys.

then it was family photo time.

nathaniel doesn’t like to join in if what we love is not his idea.

and tickle time!

still my favorite.

and here we go. so grateful for my life. i hope your week was lovely, too.

Weekly Diary is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

Learning with David - Week 8

This class is by and it’s a math class called Introductory Algebra Review.

Learning with David is a project for 2014 that I am doing with my 9-year-old son. You can read more about it here.

Today I Know – Week 15

This week’s inspiration comes from this pin. I have no idea why I thought I could tackle this amazing piece of art.

I drew this page and then colored it using Montana paint markers. For the first time, I didn’t draw with pencils first, I just drew right with the marker and hoped for the best. I then added a bit more layers with watercolor pencils. For the background, I originally did purple and hated it so very much that I decided to gesso and paint over it. I don’t like how matte the paint is but i still like it better than the purple.

prompt says: today i know that i am not willing to give up

I wrote about working at home and about taking time to myself.

Today I Know is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

Stitching Circles - Week 15

This week’s stitching also comes from urban threads. I couldn’t get a good photo of this no matter how hard I tried. I used satin stitch and back stitch on this one. The little word is eternal. I loved the woodgrain on this one.

Stitching Circles is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

Regenerating Creativity

Today’s quote is:

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. -Maya Angelou

I have found this to be very true for me and it’s the exact reason I do these month-long exercises. I find that the practice of creating art every single day only fuels more creativity more. It gives me more ideas. It stretches me more.

So if you’re from the camp of “what if i run out” I highly urge you to use up all you have. Sit and do art. Again and again. Don’t hesitate, don’t postpone, don’t be afraid.

You will get more.

So much more.

So, sit and create.

ps: alas i don’t like the spacing and lettering on this one. but i keep trying. that’s the goal after all.

A Book a Week – The Orphan Master’s Son

I was recommended The Orphan Master’s Son almost two years ago.

But I never read it until now.

It was finally over book club that I decided to buckle down and take this long, long novel on.

And long, it is. It’s also hard to read. It’s harrowing and painful and has really really difficult to get through.

I am glad I did it but I will admit that I could have easily done without it.

Read this one at your own risk.

Savor Project – 2014 – Spread Twelve

This week’s all about the second skiing in Tahoe. I scanned our badges again. And I also added some photos of Nathaniel writing.

I also scanned their progress reports from the ski school again and made a spread with them.

so grateful.

Savor Project is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

The Price

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.  -Thoreau

How true eh?

Yet another one that’s been on my mind a lot lately. What am I willing to exchange my life for?

To me, this shows up significantly in two different ways. One is how much of my soul (my core beliefs, desires, identity) am I exchanging for it? Is this going against some deep sense of self I have and what will be the cost to giving that up? Am I willing to pay that price? Is this worth more to me than what I am giving up?

Some of these questions are subtle and hard to answer.

But they are important, too.

This is one of the reasons, many years ago, I walked away from my Wall Street job. I wanted to make sure that if I was working 100 hours a week, it was for a cause I really believed in. That wasn’t the case with the job I had then. I felt like I couldn’t look my future kids in the eye and tell them I had to work when I was doing that kind of work. I respect other people’s choices, but it wasn’t a right fit for me. (I left that job to do Teach For America, I felt that, there, I was serving a much more needed and important role. That didn’t pan out for other reasons but I still don’t regret my choice at all. I still believe there’s a cost to doing something that’s really not aligned with who you are and what matters to you.)

The second way this quote speaks to me is more easy to visualize and define: The time you spend on doing activity X is time taken away from being able to do Y. It’s always like that. More than money, time is the one resource that runs out no matter what. We all get the same amount of it each day and none of us gets to save any of the minutes up. So we get it, and we use it. One way or another.

I feel like a lot of my choices would be better served if I kept asking myself, what am i exchanging for this? For this hour of TV I watch, for the trip I am taking, for learning lettering, for listening to a book. Even for the activities I like doing, they still mean that I can’t do something else. My self-induced todo list can sometimes get in the way, too. And it’s important to always ask what I am exchanging.

We often think about “what am I getting?” but not as often about “What am I giving up?”

In coaching, one of the exercises I do with my clients is “what are you saying no to?” So when you say Yes to watching TV, what are you saying No to? (like getting more sleep, reading a book, talking with hubby, etc.) When we’re clearer about what we’re exchanging, we can make better informed choices.