Chicken Marsala Monday

juststart jpeg

High atop the list of obstacles we erect on our creative life path is this: I don’t know how…. As a coach, I heard it daily from clients. As a consultant, I heard it regularly from business leaders and educators (the pronoun changed: we don’t know how…) Artists regularly lock up in the face of a monstrous HOW?

When I was a young erector of massive obstacles in my path, Quinn would smile and say to me, “Nobody knows how. Just start.” I thought he was being flippant with encouragement but lived my way into recognizing that his advice was not only sound but it was sage.

Knowing how to do something is never a prerequisite for action. It is, however,  a really good excuse to prevent action.

Knowing how comes second. Always. It comes after the fact, after the experience of trying and adjusting and learning. It comes at the end of the day, looking back. That’s when “how” becomes visible. Today’s Chicken Nugget via the studio melange is timeless and simple advice. It would make Quinn smile: sometimes the best thing to do is start.

chicken just start mug


SOMETIMES THE BEST THING TO DO IS START merchandise

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chicken just start framed print

sometimes the best thing to do is start ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

Say More With Less

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

say more with less

One of my favorite humans is Master Jim Marsh. He told me a story of a dilemma. Something in his world was bugging him. He complained about it a lot. One day he realized that complaining was not helping. He said, “I decided I had 3 choices: to stop complaining, to move, or to do something about it.” He stopped complaining and began acting to change on what was bugging him. Sometimes talking about something makes us feel like we’re doing something. It’s a deflection. Actions, as we are told, speak louder than words. 

TO GET TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS, GO HERE.

Screen Shot Say More

Study Your Practice

During his recent visit, Skip wanted to see my latest paintings so we went down to the studio. He is a great studier of people and processes and while flipping through my work he asked if I’d ever taken process shots or filmed my process of painting. Occasionally I take photographs of a painting in process – not to record the stages of development but so I can see what’s there. I’ve learned that a photograph can sometimes help me see what I’ve grown blind to seeing. I agreed to take and share some process shots. Yesterday, I started a new piece and here is the day’s progress:

#1

#1

 

#2

#2

This is the next in my “Yoga series” of paintings. A “yoga” is a practice and I started this series because I was curious about my practices: I was meditating on this question:what is the difference between what I actually do and what I think I do? For most of us the gap is vast between those two points. This series is my ongoing meditation/inquiry into the gap.

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#3

A study of your practices will surprise you. What you do and think each day is a practice – it is your yoga; your actions and thoughts constitute the rituals of your life. So, for instance, when I was younger (lots younger) I believed my paintings were “not good enough.” Each day I’d approach the easel and practice “not good enough.” It’s amazing the transformation that becomes possible when you simply change your practice. Practice dropping the judge from your menu. Why not?

Last night I had a conversation with someone who asked, “Why don’t people care?” I suggested that people do care but you have to practice seeing it. It’s all around us if we refocus our eyes. And, in cultivating the practice of seeing the acts of kindness and caring, we become kind and caring (because that is the object of our focus).

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#4

My yoga series has brought me to this (so far): The world does not need changing; we need, as Doug used to say, to close the gap between what we think we do and what we actually practice doing.

Do.

from my children's book, Play 2 Play

from my children’s book, Play 2 Play

About the river, Jim said something like this: I had to stop complaining, leave town, or do something about it.

Jim chose to do something about it. He got busy. Now, he’s dedicating time each week to clean and care for a stretch of the river. He’s working to make people aware of the rich life that the river supports. He’s drawing the plant life. He’s made and delivers an incredible Powerpoint presentation.

Jim came to an awareness threshold: complaining is not doing – but unlike most people, he crossed the threshold and changed. The first necessity in any change process is to change yourself. Complaining is a first step but it is where most people stop. Complaining feels good because it provides the illusion of action. Complaining can become fuel if it is followed with a step toward action.

I’ve worked with scores of people who wanted to write books or paint paintings and most came to me with a complaint: lack of time, no quiet space, or some other circumstance that blocked their happiness. When we removed complaining as an option, they created time or quiet space. They wrote. They painted. It was not magic. It was practical. Complaining requires dedicated energy. It also takes time and more than a little thought-space. Painting, writing, or cleaning the river also requires dedicated energy. The question is about where the energy is dedicated.

Ultimately, as Jim described it, the move from complaining to doing changed how he was in the world. He changed so his world could change. He stepped from helpless witness to active participant.

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