Three years ago on the beach in Honolulu, my husband and I promised each other that 2015 was our year to change our lives, a year to do something crazy, a year to invite adventure and play out a little dream just to see how it goes. We have been quietly setting up our lives to do it, saving money, making plans, discussing it and coming to an agreement.
It is 2015 and everything is moving in one direction. On August 21st, we are all hopping on a plane and moving to Costa Rica for a year or two or so. Just to see how it goes. Details have been firming up since our recognizance trip this April.
My life right now is balancing the commitments I have left here which include a couple of commissions and stocking inventory for a gift shop consignment deal, cleaning up, packing and purging the house, connecting at least one more time with special friends and neighbors and a lot of daydreaming about what life will be like in less than 6 weeks.
I have been painting but I have not been blogging about it. I'll get better, I promise. I will be painting in Costa Rica, no doubt about it.
You can follow this new adventure more closely at the blog dedicated to it here:
This post is a continuation from Part 1 posted last week. In order to be successful with Part 2, Part 1 is required reading. You can’t make magic by skipping steps. Come on, you know that. 😉
Step 3: Plan
Yes, I know, planning isn’t really the way it works in the movies or in fairytales. Unfortunately or fortunately, real magic does not require a magic wand, staff or mirror. And magic isn’t going to happen if you just wish for it or say some magic words. Sorry. Life would be easier wouldn’t it? But then, it wouldn’t be such an adventure either.
Like any good potion though, it does require ingredients, and planning is one of them. So we must add a Plan to our potion.
Remember, you are an apprentice. Like any good apprentice, you will have to work hard, study and learn in order to make this potion work. Think about Harry Potter, he had Hogwarts, a whole school and curriculum to study magic! Even Gandolf the Grey learned, toiled and practiced until he became the White Wizard. Don’t you want to be like him? I do.
If you want to practice magic, you must commit to being a student of magic. You must always plan.
It will help to think of your plan as a treasure map that will help you get from where you are now to your Idea.
You are building a map to attain your Idea. The more detailed this map, the better.
So lets do it.
1. Articulate Your Idea
In words, pictures, writing, song, you must spend time really understanding your Idea. You must know this Idea inside and out. You must create a vision of what the world would like if your idea came true. How would your life change? What will you have accomplished? How will the world be different? What artifacts will have been created as a result of this idea?
See yourself in the middle of your idea. What does it feel like? taste like? sound like? Put yourself there and then describe it, record it, perform it in whatever method works for you.
Be as specific as possible.” I kinda think it will look like this…”, “I’ll try…” or “I hope…” does not cut it! Use direct action words, start with ” I will…”
Paint exactly what your Idea looks so you know it when you get there without a doubt. This is your treasure, treat it like a treasure!
As you learn more about yourself and your Idea, you will come back to this vision, over and over again, adding facts, tweaking and rewriting. That is life. But the Idea is the same, do not waiver from the Idea. You must believe ( see step 1).
2. Create Goals
Goals are the key markers to getting to the treasure. Think about a treasure map. It will take 2-5 years to get to the treasure, but in three days you want to cross the river. Crossing the river is a goal. It is the smaller steps towards getting to your Idea, it marks progress and gives you a sense of accomplishment. It gives you hope. You will need hope.
Magic. Is. Hard.
The bigger your Idea, the more goals you will need. Why? Some goals will be easier to attain and some might come easier than you think. If you have the goal, you will know you made progress. It will give you hope and keep you motivated.
What can you achieve that will mark your path on your way to your Idea? Think about this, research this question, read some books and talk to people. They will have different ways of getting to your Idea and they will be helpful. As you think and research start brainstorming goals.
Write or draw each goal on a separate piece of paper.
When you create your goals make sure they have these components:
What will happen?
Keep creating goals. Brainstorm all the goals you can that will help you feel closer to your idea. Remember you are putting each goal on a separate piece of paper. This is important!
It’s a mess isn’t it? Maybe even overwhelming? Here is a sad truth; somethings must get worse before they get better. (Sorry…suck it up…and keep goal crafting.)
Once you have a good set of goals, let’s make it better. Detangle them. Make a map.
Which goal needs to happen before others? Which needs to happen first? Which ones last?
Lay each goal out from first to last. Some goals can run parallel to each other, overlap a little and some will happen at the same time. This is ok. This is great!
How Will You Know?
Now that you have a Map take a look at the first few goals and ask:
How will I know that I have accomplished this goal?
In other words, how will you measure this? If you don’t know, go back and rewrite your goal. You must have a way of measuring your goal. It is simple, if you don’t, you won’t know that you have achieved your goal.
Because seriously, how can you celebrate if you don’t know what you are actually achieving?
This is the fun part! What is the use of goal if you don’t have fun? You Must Have Fun! Fun is deadly serious necessary business.
Create a reward system for attaining a goal.
You want to make $1000 dollars in a month? When you do, have some chocolate, drink some wine, buy your favorite sweater in that catalogue, ring a bell, dance, do it all and just make sure you do something that makes you feel good.
When you achieve a goal, record it somewhere. Create a book of goals you have achieved, or put it in a fancy box, sing a song or paste it on a poster. Make it colorful. Make it real. Make it feel like your goal really did just happen!
You want to watch the pile of achieved goals accumulate.
This will make you powerful!
The more powerful you feel, the stronger your magic.
As much as ideas define you, goals define the attainment of your Idea. Without goals, a map, and a celebration, no magic.
Strategy is the how, what, where and who you need to make your goals happen.
Think of your treasure map. Are you going to go through the woods or over the mountains? Are you going on horseback? How will you get a horse? by boat? by caravan? running or walking? Will you do this alone? bring your family? what about friends? when will you do this?
Pick 1-3 Goals that you are comfortable starting now. These should be ones at the front of your map.
Ask of these goals:
As I stand right now, do I have what I need to achieve this goal?
Do you need additional
to attain that goal?
You may need to take classes, educate yourself, practice, research, read, meet people, talk to people, develop yourself or stop doing something that is killing your time. You may need people with those skills you don’t have and who want to help you.
If you need more of the above, make a goal to get it and add it to your map.
Refine your goals. Make sure you have everything you need to make them happen. Be honest with yourself.
Are you sure you have the right 1-3 goals to start with and everything you need to achieve them?
Let’s move on.
Think in NOTS.
Ask the following of your goal;
What can I possibly do to make sure this goal does NOT happen?
No, seriously. Try it out.
Here is an example:
Goal: Sell $1000 in paintings this month.
My list of NOTs:
Let no one know I sell paintings. Do not price my work. Do not reasonably price my work. Do not show people my paintings. Do not talk to people about my painting. Do not show any enthusiasm for my painting. Do not love my painting. Do not post my work online. Do not share it on facebook or other social media. Do not contact galleries about my work. Do not contact interior designers about my paintings. Do not ask people if they want to buy my painting or commission my work. Do not actively search for people who like and buy art. Do not seek out ways to provide alternative affordable options for buying my work.
Now try it. Go on, get it out of your system. Give me all the NOTS you can think of. Take your time. It kind of feels good to get negative…in a productive way.
Is it clear now?
The point is:
Plan to Give Your Goals Opportunities! Lots of Opportunities!
I must say it again. A goal will never be achieved unless you plan to give it opportunities.
After you have listed as many NOTs as possible, delete the NOTs and you have the beginnings of your tactics.
Now get specific.
Spell out the when,where and how for each tactic.
Your tactics need to be flexible, this is a strategy. Make sure you have more than one tactic for how to achieve a goal. Why? One tactic will be more successful than another and sometimes it will surprise you!
Here is an Example:
I’ll share my work every week day (when) online on Facebook (where) and twice a week on my blog (where and when) These posts will include a picture of my work, a description, price and a means to contact me (how).
I will contact via email or phone (where) one potential buyer once a week (when), introduce myself and my work and ask for a brief meeting or studio visit to discuss my painting (how).
I will hold an Open studio party at my studio (where) once a year when (March 28th to be exact!) and invite people to review my work, purchase prints, paintings, commissions and socialize.
Now, you have a lot of work to do, don’t you?
I’m tired too.
I’ll leave you to it. It takes time to articulate your Idea, create your goals and build your strategy. And like all the steps, they are dynamic and you will return and tweak them. Over and over again.
But the more time you spend thinking and working on your plan, the stronger your magic will become.
It may seem like we are close to done, but we are only half way there. There are 3 more steps and they are just as critical as the first 3.
The sum of two ones is not an even number, or numerical. When two ones meet, the universe unfolds, creating an infinity that burns. Its slow heat gently soothes and violently simmers all the knots and can’ts. A practical alchemy that un-peals once invisible layers. Water becomes fire, stone to steam, breath to lava. Leftover, is a newly-colored numberless world of hope, anticipation and possibility.
Watercolor 12″ x 16″
This painting was a commission and handed over to a happy client today. My client told me a love story, gave me a sense of preferences and then gave me creative freedom to interpret it.
The shape of change is indistinct.
A transformation that folds and blooms into itself infinitely.
An unpredictable death of echoing patterns and shapes.
An inevitable rebirth with deep set roots.
A foreshadow of time.
An idea emerges. Sometimes years go by, other times a moment to birth. The sweet anticipation, not knowing where it will lead but it will change something or everything. The exhilaration felt on a roller coaster, looking down at that first great descent. As this idea emerges, so does exhilaration. If we follow it we change our lives in millimeters or miles but choose to lead our lives.
When our bodies betray us what works suddenly fails. It leaves frightening, crippling, questions and an uncertain future. A hole in the heart chambers mixes oxygenated red cells and de-oxygenated blue cells and causes fainting, weakness and an erratic heart beat. The brush with the unknown couldn’t be unthinkable death?
And modern medicine is the answer. Heart surgery, an ablation procedure and a little synthetic fan-like device can re-gift a healthy life, strength, a rhythmic heart, a singing open spirit, laughter and revived perspective.
But more, a perceptive soul listens closely to a failing heart. It speaks and wisely leads the way to a renewed identity of meaning, humanity and faith.
Watercolor 16″ x 12″
This painting was custom work for Kristen Johnson who asked me to paint her heart. The 26 year old had two heart surgeries to fix the hole in her heart. After her first surgery at 22, she woke and knew that her future needed to be helping others with heart problems. As a result, she finished nursing school and is now a cardiac ICU nurse. This commission is one of the first gifts she has given herself with a “real paycheck” since becoming a nurse.
Creating this painting was a mutual gift. It was an honor and joy to celebrate Kristen’s story.
“I have to say -I got it home and read the thing (story card) and looked at the painting and cried a good little cry. It is perfect. You did an amazing job and I love it.” Kirsten Johnson.
Kristen sent me the following images to work from.
After reflection, I sent Kirsten a quick watercolor sketch of where I wanted to take the image.
Upon agreement, I began the painting process, updating her everyday with progress reports.
Until the final one emerged with a lovely glow than rightfully matches Kristen’s spirit.
Injury happens in many forms; of the heart, body or mind. It is rare that one injury doesn’t affect all three. In each case, a pattern emerges that changes our psychological, biological and perceptual landscape ushering in transformation, learning and new perspectives.
My disc herniated and impinged my nerve root. A small fissure that stole my ability to walk, gave me daily pain and new relationship with my husband and children. The once strong, both physically and mentally, was torn and weak. Tears. Despair. Fear. Pain. Retreat. I clung to painting, to ground me and reflect, to create artifacts of injury and healing and to learn and recreate.
What is left after injury?
There is gratitude. I am grateful to be pain-free, for progress, walking, my husband’s care, my daughters gymnastic meets and Pokemon with my son.
There is discovery and re-creation. I have grounded myself, created a new vision, a plan for healing and settled in a new identity.
There is hope. That I emerge stronger, wiser and gifted.
There is acceptance. The world that was is no longer, a new unknown one is beginning.
There is memory. The heart, body and mind will not forget.