My Next Thing

It's official! My new website is up and running! That means you won't find me here anymore, but the good news is that I have sooooo much more for you there! The new site is called Hello Heart Journal and while the names are similar, there are a couple of big differences between this blog and my new website. First, Hello Heart Journal is no longer so much about my creative journey.

As I said when I announced the launch:

"Hello HeArt Journal is a collection of resources—a website for art journalers—not a blog and not all about me."

And  while the new website can't help but share all things mixed media—because art journals naturally lead to a multitude of mixed media projects—Hello HeArt Journal is singularly about the practice of art journaling.

The reason for this focus is simple. In my own arting journey (much of which documented on this blog), I have come to understand that an art journal is the foundation for a rich and meaningful creative life.

We are all creative beings, we humans, and we have all kinds of creative work we do in the world. But no matter what that creative work, the practice of art journaling opens us up to our creative selves.

We come to our art journals day after day, week after week, year after year. We play, experiment, express, learn new techniques and find new ways to use new tools. But in the middle of all that, something magical happens.

"Oh," you say. "It's you. Hello Heart..."

In addition to tons of tips, ideas and tutorials, we talk about that over there.

Goodbye Hello Heart.com—but Hello Heart Journal!

I'll meet you there.

2015: My creative plans

I tell you, it's like I've been sitting in that big chair at the Opthomologist's office, chin in that metal frame, for a really long time.  Years now. You know that machine they use to find the right lens to correct your eyesight? It's been like that. Forehead pressed against the cold steel, I've been peering and peering into that lighted interior chamber—trying to see clearly. Click, click.

"This?"

Click.

"or That?"

Click.

"A?"

Click.

"Or B?"

Click.

And suddenly, I don't know, the right lens fell into place.

I know what I want.

As opposed to what I thought I should want...or what others might want me to want...or more likely, what I thought others might want me to want...

Oh my gosh, I know I sound like a mad person. But no. What I want is very simple. Three things, actually:

First, I want a consistent, daily creative art journal practice.

A place where I can experiment, play, build skills, but most importantly meet myself. Like on a yoga mat.

Breathe. Check in. How are you? How's the universe? What should we create today?

Second, I want to gain mastery and build skills.

I want to make things and I want to get better at it so that I can actually create what I conceive.

You know the Ira Glass video, right?  It's true. We aren't that good when we start doing creative work. (I do appreciate having good taste, though!) But the important point is this:

"It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions."

I want to get there someday.

Third, I want to create with more people.

There's something magic that happens when people gather to share, teach and learn. I want more of that in my creative life.

I've been told that when you know what you want...when you know...and then when you do it...take that big leap and actually do the thing  you want?

The net appears.

And that's what seems to have happened.

I crossed virtual paths with a couple of arting people further along the path than me (how do I love the internet? Let me count the ways...) Specifically, Julie Balzer and Karen Grunberg—awesome arting women out there whose blogs I've followed for years.

I know Julie's work, but I finally got around to taking her online class, 30 Days in your Art Journal—which is sooooo from her past, but sooooo finally clarified for me the process of making art journaling a daily practice. And Karen has been launching super ambitious projects for herself for years—I'm continuously amazed at all that she can accomplish—but suddenly, and maybe because she finally seems to have discovered some balance herself, I could see my way to balancing my own projects, too.

And of course, learning has a way of happening when you're ready to learn something. It's magical that way.

So in any event, finally, clarity and focus have clicked into place before my eyes. The work of my creative life—at least for 2015—is clear

Work in my Art Journal every day.  If only for a super brief 5 minutes, or if I have time,  30 minutes or more, but I'm meeting myself there daily.  It takes several days to complete one spread, and then after each one I want to spend time reflecting on how it came together and what I learned. And of course I'll post pictures.

Learn and grow my arting skills.  For 2015, I've set out two projects for myself that will be sure to teach me new skills and develop as an artist.

  1. I will work on a mastery series each month. I'll choose a topic or a skill and play with completing as many pieces as possible until month's end. Notice I'm not committing to creating daily pieces—but wouldn't that be nice? Maybe not practical, though, so I'll be creating as many as possible each month and sharing each series at the end of each month, which will of course include my reflections on what I learned.The monthly series in January is Lettering.
  2. I will create a 3X3 fiber arts collage study each week—52 in all—because I love the possibilities of fiber (and combining it with other media) and I want to explore this medium that calls to me from my childhood. How cool will it be to have 52 little studies by years' end? I'll of course share these fiber collage studies here, too.

Finally, take arting classes, both online an in person—and hopefully grow what has begun with our first local arting circle, too. Classes and groups both feed my need for community and help me develop skills. These are both critical elements of my creative life! I'll be sharing these experiences, for sure.

Whew! It feels so good to have a clear and specific plan. What's really great is that these are in no way new year's resolutions. I don't do resolutions. No. This is me.

Fully, completely, wholey (moley) In.

My Creative Life.

My Creative Life—not blog

2015

This is the year I throw open the doors of my life and step out into the wild of my own creative self.

A little dramatic?

Well...maybe. But that's how it feels at the beginning of such a thing. And if I'm going to step out, I'm going to step all the way out.

I know I've been absent here—again. I'm afraid my heart went into a a little blog hibernation these past few months. I think it was the notice I put up: Hey, I'm going to revamp this little blog and bring "you"—oh, you vast number of potential readers who don't actually exist—all that I think you want.

I think I terrified myself. ;-)

The psychology behind it all will only fascinate my naval gazing self—so I'll spare you. But bottom line,  I set out to repeat the same mistake I've made many times before (ah, those patterns). By announcing that I would create an arting blog to help other arting people, I was setting out to create something (a blog) I wasn't actually that keen to create...for a purpose I couldn't quite get behind.

Took me a while to figure that out...but I guess wisdom comes with age...

I was in fact replacing what I actually wanted with what I thought I should want.

What???!!! Why?

Of course:

Because building a blog for the purpose of helping others was far more acceptable than simply doing what I love (arting) for myself. (Gasp! How selfish!!)

So anyway. Self-aware or not at that  point, I still did what I felt like doing anyway. I ran away.

(From the blog—not from my home, thank goodness, because we all know the whole place would come crumbling down without me!)

I just stopped blogging (again) and I quietly did what I wanted--but secretly. Shhh. So no one would know just how selfish I really am.

I worked in my art journal. I peered under the lid of the fiber arts world—thank you Pinterest—and fell madly in love with creating my own fiber collages. You'll find  some things I created lately in my new art journal and mixed media galleries.

Next post, I'll talk about the mad shifts I've made these last few months and about the super exciting arting plans I have for myself this year.

But you need to know now, because I need to be honest. One of the biggest shifts concerns my blog, Hello Heart.

And let's see, I need to be brief...but you need a little back story too:

I started blogging five years ago.  My first post explained where I was heading at that point (in and out of doors, it seems, even then!) Basically, at that point I was ending a chapter in my life. With my business partner, I had closed a yoga studio turned clothing consignment store (don't ask), stepped down from leading a local education foundation that I and several key people spent nearly eight years creating, and prepared to move my family to a location in the Bay Area that better suited our family. It was a big transition time, and of course, I was trying to figure out what to do next.

And you know, it was 2010. Along with millions of others (actually late to the scene), I discovered blogs.  And I fell madly in love with the blogging world. I couldn't believe the amazing writers and entrepreneurs out there (could any of us?) Soon, I was subscribed to 75, 100 blogs...and I decided I wanted to be a blogger, too.

Just like I thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur and a fiction writer and a teacher at different points in my life, because I basically LOVE engaging my creativity and making things (and helping people). And learning (and what a learning project Wordpress has been!)

There are so many ways to translate the messages we get from our hearts...so easy to get the wrong message...

It took me five years, but I finally figured out that I could not, should not and did not want to show up consistently to my blog.  Because that's the first rule of building readership, right? Blog consistently and often.

The truth is, I could never get that excited about being someone who publishes content to develop a readership. I'm not a blogger publisher. I've spent exactly 0 hours building a readership.

Instead, all that time I wasn't blogging, I was doing what I really wanted to do (there we go—those patterns again!) I had discovered art journaling and all the possibility of creating in different art mediums—and that's mostly what I did instead of blogging.

I'm happiest when I'm making things.

And so here at Hello Heart, instead of blogging to publish (for others, as a publication), I'll be blogging to simply record, document and  and reflect on my making journey...when I can, when I want, how I want.

Because—truth—Hello Heart is my online journal. Nothing else. I'm sharing what I learn along the way of my creative journey because I've always done my best thinking in writing.

And who knows? Maybe others out there can benefit from what I learn.

I know I've benefited immensely from people sharing and I'd be happy to return the favor.

 

 

A studio of her own

I think back to years of rooms filled with roommates, then spouse, and then children…sharing dining room tables with sewing projects, reading and writing on couches, working in rooms strewn with plastic toys.  Those years were good years, filled with people I loved and still love.

roomfilledwithkids
roomfilledwithkids

But I never had an art studio.  A place to create.

 I like to say there wasn’t a room to spare. But the truth is, there wasn’t focus to spare. Or, truer: I didn’t spare the focus.

I simply squeezed art supplies into cubbies and cupboards and we worked on art projects at the kitchen table.  I wrote on my computer at my desk (in the bedroom or family room, depending on the house, near the kids). I collected all kinds of media for some reason I couldn’t ever figure out (I have buckets filled with clippings and pictures, fabric and miscellaneous things) And I remember so many home projects – curtains, valances, recovered furniture, wallpaper and painted walls - that took place, well, somewhere in the home.

Art studios are for artists who paint or make things. I certainly didn’t make art. Or so I guess I thought — though I don’t recall thinking much about it. There was just this low grade yearn…this funny daydream to have a studio one day.

Anyway, having moved recently, I finally get a space that may become an art studio! Maybe. Right now, it’s a folding table, a few plastic bins and some corkboards.

emptystudio
emptystudio

Which is fitting, I think.  My life is a whole bunch of blank surfaces right now.

1blankcorkboard
1blankcorkboard

New(old) house. New community. New Blog. New journey.

blankstudio
blankstudio

No. Not new journey – old journey, just a new leg of a journey that feels more on course.

 ♦♦♦

What about you? Do you have an art studio? Do you think you deserve an art studio?  I know I didn't. (Feel free to share in the comments below! I’d love to know what others have done with space – or lack of space – to make things, or to not make things.)

In the meantime, tomorrow I’ll post an interview with myself about my new studio (Hey, this is my blog. Why not?)

Striking Out on My Own

 

I closed the door to the shop for the last time. Done. Business: over. Partnership: free. Dream: dead.

Yet instead of regret I felt satisfaction. Owning a small yoga studio turned consignment retail business was one great learning experience. What I learned about launching and running a business and about my own skills (and weaknesses)? Worth it all.

Best lesson: Hitching on to someone else’s dream just doesn’t work. You gotta travel on your own.

If you're at a similar stage in your life, you can probably relate. Especially if you're also a Gen Joneser like me. I'm coming of age! I'm energetic, enthusiastic--and empowered. A generation or two ago, middle aged was old. I remember my grandmother when I was a young child: Grey hair and jiggly arms. She must have been in her forties. She actually lived to be 92 but she spent forty years before she died being old!

Not us. We cover the grey and cover up, work out and move out into the world. I think Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures has it right. It used to be life expectancy (at least in America) was 70. Now, on average, we're closing in on 100 year life spans!

We spent our first age growing experience and wisdom (growing ourselves and our children) and now we are entering a second age of productivity and creativity. Barring illness (and even then), this second age presents unlimited opportunities in a changing world.

So this is the truth about where I'm going - and maybe you're going there too. I closed the last door knowing I'd move on, but this time I don't think it will be to the "next" thing, as in one more in a long series of things. I think it will be The Thing.

Some people know from the start what they will do with their lives. Their brains must come with a a Kodak-like snapshot embedded in the right cortex of their brains: Doctor. Carpenter. Scientist. Teacher. Politician. Engineer. Designer. I am not one of those people.

Instead of a Kodak moment, I got a damn door lodged somewhere between my brain and my heart. One that I kept opening--and closing (see above). I step out a bit, but always come back. No. Not there. Not going there after all.

My generation has held an average of 11 jobs over their lifetimes so far, so I know I'm not alone.

People who know me know I’ve been looking for more than self-fulfilling work. I've been looking for that thing - that place, that opportunity to do what I'm supposed to do, to change the world for the better in some way.

It’s been kind of like a door to and from a cosmic roulette table swirling brightly colored careers and jobs and projects. I'd close the door and start blowing on the dice as the wheel of time and circumstance spun. It would stop. I'd get out to explore and each time it was a whole new world.

I've worked for large bureaucratic organizations and small autocratic businesses. I've worked for causes. I've worked for myself. I've managed projects, I've taught students, I've raised funds, I've raised (three great) kids.

Door opened, door closed, wheel spun. Again and again. I wrote stuff and edited stuff, organized and planned, designed and executed. I read a lot and dreamed a whole lot more. Back and forth through the door as I offered this skill and that to his problem or hers. Because that's what I did, searching for that thing I was supposed to do:

Oh, I'll help them because I'm good at ____ (fill in the blank with a subset of my skills) and they need my help.

But this is my point. Not the next but The Thing I need to do - finally - is all about helping people because I am wired to help people. But this time, I'm going to choose what--and how. So bring it on. Next!