Month: December 2017

The Tapestry of Life

The Tapestry of Life

Here we are at the cusp of another year ending and a new one beginning.  Even though it’s a day just like any other, there is something more poignant about observing the calendar change from one year to the next.

It’s a time when many begin to reflect on the previous year and try to summarize its overall theme. If only life could be like that – where we could take certain times and seasons and leave others behind. But our lives are cumulative where each experience, every emotion and every circumstance adds to our life and our character.  Sometimes life doesn’t always imbue a celebratory reaction from us, especially when we’ve suffered loss, setbacks, depression or other difficult circumstances.

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In a way, our lives are like tapestries where everything and everyone we experience are woven into the fabric and as time passes, the colors change and the work of art expands and begins to show the intricacies of God’s hand in our lives. People are woven in that continue in the tapestry for the whole of our lives. Others are woven in only for a few seasons, and then their thread ends. Sometimes when we go through the rough patches in life, we can’t see the whole picture, we don’t fully understand how it could be of any use to us at all to lose things, to hurt, or to experience difficulties.

And really, God has given us every means of getting through this life while keeping joy, peace and love close to us, surrounding us and keeping us through all the darker hours of our life. But I will be the first to admit, this is difficult in and of itself. I have at certain times in my life clung tightly to joy so as not to drown in sorrow; but alas, I drowned anyway.

But isn’t this life? Isn’t life a choice? If so, then we need to choose life. God never said we wouldn’t have to endure suffering; but he doesn’t at anytime say depression, darkness and fear are things we have to live with. No. That is the Good News of the word of God, that we do not have to fall prey to these things. We will have to work through them, but the promise is that love, joy and peace can be had throughout our suffering. The promise is that Jesus has made the way for each of us to commune with God having paid that price for us. And with God, all things are possible, this instills hope, which in turn increases joy. And suffering won’t last. To everything there is a season, as Solomon said, so just know that your season of happiness and peace and freedom are coming.

If it’s one thing that should be remembered, it is that we should never feel guilty about our emotions and how we work through them. It is never acceptable to hurt others because we cannot control our own emotions. But don’t feel guilty if you are in a place of mourning, or sadness or regrouping and getting your life back on track and it’s taking you longer than you thought. Your true friends will always be there to encourage and help.  (But if anyone is hurting you because of their inability to take responsibility for themselves and their own emotions, then think long and hard about why you are allowing this person to stay in your life.) Sometimes moving forward and making positive changes means walking away from someone who is hurtful to you.

Trials make us stronger. They dig into the deepest part of our soul and challenge us to rise up and overcome. Don’t get down on yourself if you are unable to rise immediately to the task. We have all fought many battles that have taken multiple attempts to first understand, then overcome.  Sometimes the hardest part is first realizing our situation and circumstance, then finding the courage to take action and do the right thing.

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Life is about people – but don’t forget you are a ‘people’ as well. Don’t forget to look after you. After all, if we don’t know how to love ourselves, how can we effectively love anyone else? If we don’t know how to overcome self-doubt, fear, loneliness, hardship and  suffering, how can we help others do the same?  These are the lessons, it seems, that are the most colorful in that tapestry of life we were talking about earlier. They are the hardest to work through and overcome but the pigments are the brightest and most elaborate because they are the fabric of our existence.

Let me say that once more: The harder lessons are the pigments that shine the brightest and are most elaborate because they are the fabric of our existence – because we have that choice remember? Choose life so that others can see what you’ve overcome and take courage to do the same in their own difficult circumstances.

These are the stories that resonate most with others, pulls them up out of the pits they’re stuck in, shines the light into the world’s darkness so that others can find their way out of a tough time. Don’t ever think that the hardships that befall you are for your demise.  No, instead they are for your victory that you might rejoice in God and others also may see you and gain triumph over their circumstances as well.

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Looking into 2018, let’s not make resolutions. Instead let’s make peace.  Peace with ourselves, with others and with life’s twists and turns. Let’s decide that no hardships or troubles are going to be the end of the story for us – but instead let’s trust that God will work those times into our tapestry of life so that they shine brightest that others may follow. We have a choice, as hard as it can be to rise up over difficult circumstances, we have a choice to be joyful or let it depress us. Let’s choose to be at peace with ourselves and others, forgiving and moving forward with love in our hearts.  Let’s forgive ourselves for not living up to our own standards or others, and let’s take courage to not live blindly and comfortably but instead to branch out into the unknown, fully trusting God has us in his very capable hands.

Let’s dare to be great.

Happy New Year to you all~

 

If you have questions or need direction on how to begin to make a change, don’t hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment or email me – you can also reach out on social media like Linked In

Love will get you to where you need to be~

How Finding a Niche Can Stifle Creative Expression

How Finding a Niche Can Stifle Creative Expression

Over a year ago, I painted my last painting. I was struggling with the ‘find your niche’ and ‘narrow your focus’ articles that were being written by various social gurus. And although it stands to reason that a focused approach to anything keeps one from wasting energy and time, some of us just have more creative outlets on tap. And if those outlets aren’t allowed their due expression, a deadly soup of ‘uninspired focus’ can be created instead.

I don’t like to focus – at least not for too long. I’ll focus just long enough to accomplish the task at hand and then I need freedom of thought and expression. Some artists are focused on photography and that’s all they do. By default, they have their niche. That is, unless they further focus and only do black and white prints, or only nature, or only animals… The question is; how far in do we zoom our creative lens?

My answer to the question is this: zoom in and focus your creative energy as much as you like, save the loss of inspiration and motivation. You see, I had to give up on cultivating that elusive niche for the sake of my own creativity. I love too many different aspects of expression in the art form. After a year of shutdown, I now paint, take photos and YouTube a more diverse variety of subject matter.

The photo above represents a moment expressed through black and white photography. It renders exactly what I want to capture. If I painted it, the desire would not be there and of course, the whole expression would be lost because painting affords a different feeling, different brush strokes, a different lens of delivery.

In the past, I would have brushed this photo to the side because, well, it didn’t fit into my focus of abstract horse paintings. Eventually, after about three years of trying to get myself together and be more ‘professional’ in my approach, I got burnt out and completely devoid of inspiration. The fun just wasn’t there because I disallowed myself the pleasure of expression through multiple lenses.

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Don’t make the same mistake. If you are struggling with the issue of finding a niche and losing your inspiration in the process, relax and open your lens up again. Play. Have fun. Express yourself in the way you’d like, even if it means bursting through that focused niche you’re trying to create. Don’t get burnt out and overwhelmed because as artists the idea of balancing creativity with marketing (and all that boring, technical stuff) can get too frustrating. Be free and go pickup a different lens of delivery for awhile. You’ll come back to your art with a renewed, refreshed inspiration.

Want to follow each other on this artistic journey? Connect with me on social media. I’ll be happy for the opportunity to connect back and learn from, and grow with our community.

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