Friday, August 12, 2011

Slugs and Cheerleaders

One day my friend referred to someone as a slug.  Since we are both gardeners, I understood right away what she meant!  I had to ask her what she thought the similarities were.  To this she replied that a slug moves very slowly.  It eats whatever is in it's path, even and especially decaying things.  It is plump in the middle and rather slimy leaving a slimy trail behind it as it travels.  Basically it is a pest that makes a mess out of your nice carefully tended garden.  And finally as any good gardener knows, to bait a slug you set out a saucer of beer.  The slug is drawn to the beer, wades right in thus drowning itself!  Suicide by beer!  Now hold that thought.

I walk every day.  Almost every day I don't want to walk.  I get up and say to myself, "I don't think I'll walk today."  It's weird because I have to literally force myself to do one of the things that I enjoy so much and is so good for me both mentally and physically.  Some day's I sneak myself into it by just putting on my walking clothes when I get up.  That way, if I feel some energy I'm ready to go.  Most day's I'm ready after a cup of coffee jump starts me.  Some day's I just have to force myself by telling myself I'll just do a short walk today which always turns into the full course. 

Once I'm out there I always wonder what all that hesitation was all about.  I regularly get ideas for blogs and paintings or figure out a problem while my brain wanders and my feet plod on.  Every day I marvel at creation and the amazing natural world-never the same day twice!  My body loosens up and I feel the energy of the walk fill my body.  I just feel better all the way around.  And while I'm walking I'm so very grateful for that day and the ability to walk.

Back to the slug metaphor.  All of us have an inner slug.  I'm sure my inner slug is not about nurture, or I would have gotten rid of it long ago by the simple act of defying it every day.  Nor is it all about nature.  If that were the case I would have drowned in my beer years ago!   I keep repeating...balance!  We all have something we need to balance.

A lot of what I do as a teacher is encourage people not to quit!  I do that because I wish someone had done that for me when I was making my way in the art department.  Many of you have told me that my encouragement has meant a lot to you and that means a lot to me.  One student even called me a cheerleader!   Which is in a way, what I do for my students.

But in the end its all about putting one foot in front of the other isn't it?  It's hard to learn a new skill but there is a certain thrill at trying something new and then getting the hang of it.  The real test is whether you hang in there when it gets tough.  When you don't progress as you think you should.  When you didn't get out of a class what you wanted.  When the skill set seems to be more complicated than you bargained for and you cant paint (or cook, or write or sing or dance) the way you want.

When I haven't walked in a while I notice changes.  My energy level goes down yet I feel antsy.  I ache more and have less flexibility.  My mood is less optimistic.  In short, I feel "sluggish"!  In my last blog I talked about taking a break and the restlessness I feel when I've been away from creating too long.  I was getting that antsy feeling, but noticed I didn't really "feel" like going out to paint.  So just like with the walk, I gave myself a little push and viola!  Back in the saddle I went.  And I wondered what all the hesitation was about! 

Soon I will be starting classes again. I am eager to get back to what I love to do. I will see many familiar faces eager to get back to the routine and time carved out for their art. A class is a great way to make time for your art. It surrounds you with like minded people and hopefully helps you move forward with your skills. But what if you are not able to take a class for some reason?

In coming blogs I will be exploring how to stay in the game of art.  I'll give you some practical ways to help you make your creative endeavours more vital and less random.  I will be your cheerleader! 

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