Guest Post, Chris Maday Schmidt: 10 Tips for Pursuing Your Passion Regret Free

Tips The other day I ran across a video posted on social media: A man wearing a backpack stood in the middle of a valley flanked by snow-capped mountains. Animated clips flashed on the screen, emphasizing his impassioned plea to live your dream—your purpose—now. He talked about how people on their death beds are less likely to regret the things they did in life as opposed to those they didn’t.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 22 or 92; it’s only too late when you entertain regrets of the ‘could’ve, would’ve, should’ve’ variety. Here are 10 tips to help you pursue your passion regret free:

  1. Start where you are. Every day is a new beginning—a clean slate to embrace in all its quirky imperfections. As the narrator of the video stated: “You cannot start over, but you can start now and make a brand new ending.”
  2. No right way. There is no magic formula for getting from point A to point B. Your mantra might be ‘trial and error’ or ‘go with the flow.’ Modify as needed.
  3. Quit comparing. Joseph Campbell writes: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” You’ve heard the saying: Life would be boring if everyone was the same. Now live like you believe it.
  4. Life doesn’t stop. Stuff happens. Appliances break down, illness and injuries occur and sometimes bad news arrives in threes. Do what needs to be done and then see #1.
  5. Change of scenery. At times it may be necessary to step out of your comfort zone in order to follow your dreams. This might include changing a routine or your surroundings. Be open to the possibilities.
  6. Have fun. Oscar Wilde writes: “Life is too short to be taken seriously.” Laughter provides a balm to the soul and lightens the load. Lift the corners of your lips often.
  7. Refuse to fear. Jack Canfield says: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” If fears are stories you tell yourself, then change your story.
  8. Remove distractions. Shut down when necessary; i.e., disengage from social media, email, etc. The world will not stop when you go off the grid to pursue your passion.
  9. Prioritize. Each day tackle the easiest, fastest tasks first. Then dive into your pursuit and camp out there as long as it takes. The piles of dirty laundry aren’t going anywhere.
  10. Delegate, ask for help. It’s okay to say ‘no,’ or to pass the buck, in order to create space to chase your passion, which is the one thing no one else can do for you.

The narrator in the video closes by illustrating how a plane is less safe when on the ground because it’s prone to rust and deterioration. When you don’t live your dream—your purpose—you clip your wings and ultimately remain grounded, much like that plane. Mired in regret. But when you put wings on your passion, you begin to take flight.

John Greenleaf Whittier states it best: “For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.”

What’s your advice to avoid the ‘could’ve, would’ve, should’ve’ mentality?

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Mesa Center for the Arts: Monica Martinez, Carolyn Lavender, and Mary Shindell

Then Entry to the exhibit Creature, Man, Nature

The entry to the exhibit “Creature, Man, Nature.”

On Friday April 5 Superstition Review editors met with s[r] contributors Monica Martinez, Carolyn Lavender, and Mary Shindell to discuss their collaborative exhibition at Mesa Center for the Arts. The exhibition, entitled “Creature, Man, Nature,” explores the formation of bodies—animal, human, and rock—and the voices inherent in each form. When I walked into the exhibition, I was immediately struck by the size of several of the pieces on display. As Carolyn later told me, there is a certain power that comes from artwork that is as big as or bigger than oneself. This was true of Monica’s work, specifically a pair of massive paintings of the male and female forms, hence the “Man” portion of the exhibition title. Monica explained how her intensive study of human anatomy allowed for highly accurate portrayals of bodily structures, as well as a literal frame through which she could explore male and female energies. She challenges the traditional patriarchal energy by including feminine qualities in her male figure (modeled by her husband).

Monica Aissa Martinez

Monica Aissa Martinez describes her work.

Monica’s pieces, “Body Male” and “Female Body,” draw in the viewer through the visceral anatomic imagery coupled with animal figures. In her painting of a female figure, she includes a snake, which instantly brings to mind ideas of the Christian creationist mythos wherein the snake functions as an antagonistic figure. However, the female faces the snake head-on as an equal, accepting of the snake as symbolic of knowledge, rebirth, and sexual passion. Conversely, the male figure is presented with a cat between his feet, modeled by Monica’s own pet. Her husband trained the cat to walk on a leash; due to this curious skill, the cat connected Monica’s family to the rest of her community, a traditionally feminine quality exhibited in conjunction with the male form. Directly beside Monica’s human subjects, Mary’s digital art piece, “There is a Mountain” is a room-wide print of her backyard view, fashioned on the program Illustrator. 26 layers allowed for the tiny details, such as sage bushes and cacti, to be created on a mountainside of elegant color and texture. Mary had had plenty of experience with her subject, having sketched and painted South Mountain multiple times prior to attempting a digital rendition. As she said, South Mountain dominates the landscape with its sprawling hills, and the size of the print, dominating an entire wall of the exhibition room, communicated the grand scale of the mountainside well.

Mary Shindell

Mary Shindell describes her work.

Mary explained to me the meticulous process of piecing together the different components of “There is a Mountain.” The minor details, like plant life, had to be modified outside of Illustrator in another program, such as Photoshop, so as not to overtax the main image file, and would then be incorporated back into Illustrator as a repeatable symbol. In order to create a soft, rolling effect for the mountain itself, Mary used the gradient feature, which she identified to be her favorite part of the process. As a whole, the intricate and time-consuming details paid off; viewers will be amazed to see the piece both at a distance and up close. The exhibition also benefited from Mary’s input for the lighting. Hanging light sculptures emulate the cacti in Mary’s backyard, functioning as relevant sculptures for the larger mountain view.

I addressed Carolyn’s art last, having finally made my way around the exhibition room. Carolyn’s work focused on the “Creature” aspect of the exhibition title, introducing a variety of animal figures on large panels as well as smaller paper sketches and paintings. She described her love of animals to me as that of childish fascination, a love fostered in her early years and carried firmly into adulthood. Her largest piece, “Preservation Woods,” features animals sketched and painted (acrylic) from photo and taxidermy models onto 10 foam-core panels. Carolyn explained to me how long the piece took to create, requiring 8-10 hours of tracing per panel.

Carolyn Lavendar

Carolyn Lavender describes her work.

With that in mind, the raw, openness of the piece, fully compiled, hardly transmits the idea of “incomplete” or “unfinished” but of intentional invitation, drawing viewers’ eyes from the broad white expanses of the bottom panels to the detailed shadows of each animal figure. While Carolyn told me that there are still bits that she would like to work on (as with any piece of art), she was pleased with the outcome of her efforts and considered “Preservation Woods” to have been a learning experience, having never worked on so large a scale before this exhibition.

Leaving the exhibition after interviewing these three artists, I felt encouraged to pursue art myself. Each artist approached her craft in a different fashion, and this collaboration no doubt impacted those approaches. I look forward to seeing the future works of Monica, Mary, and Carolyn, and I hope that the exhibition inspires others.

The Banner

Outside the Mesa Arts Center Museum.

The exhibition “Man, Creature, Nature” is on display at the Mesa Arts Center until April 28.

 

Guest Blog Post, Eileen Cunniffe: Van Morrison and Me

It’s been a while since I ran out and bought a CD on the day it was released. Not because I buy music online and download it onto something that plugs into my ears. I don’t. It’s just that I already have so many CDs that I’m pretty selective about acquiring new ones.

But I’ve been waiting for the new release from Van Morrison for a few months, ever since I heard its title—Born to Sing: No Plan B. Those words got into my head, and got me thinking about the confidence it would take to substitute “write” for “sing” and claim that as my mantra.

Writing always was my Plan A. Anything else I’ve ever done on the way to becoming a writer, I stumbled into more than sought out, thereby proving—if you follow my logic—that I never had a Plan B.

So here I sit, listening to the 10 songs on the new album (his 35th!) for the third time in as many days. “Born to Sing” isn’t even my favorite track. I mean it’s still Van Morrison warbling and doing that thing he does with his saxophone, making me sway and swoon over my keyboard. It’s that idea of “No Plan B” I’m stuck on. I can’t help wondering how long he’s felt that way—since before his first album? Or maybe after his 10th?

“No Plan B means this is not a rehearsal,” Van explains in the liner notes. “That’s the main thing—it’s not a hobby, it’s real, happening now in real time.”

By that definition, I am indeed working my Plan A—in the odd hours outside my day job in a nonprofit arts agency, the one that pays the bills. It’s a job I really like, mind you—in part because it brings me into contact with other people who have given themselves over entirely to their art-making. But I take paid vacations to go away and write. I write on weekends, I write in the evenings, I scribble notes to myself on the train, I squeeze in courses and workshops whenever I can.

I’ve never thought of writing as a hobby. It’s real, all right; it’s one of the real-est parts of me. So what if I was nearly 50 before Plan A kicked in and my writing life began in earnest? There’s no turning back now, I’m certain of that.

And yet, I have my doubts. Would I, if I could, give myself over entirely to my writing? “Passion’s everything/When you were born to sing,” sings Van. Does my passion for writing run that deep, spring from a “sense of absolute conviction” (again, the liner notes)? Or is it fueled by a sense of urgency because I have to fit in around the margins of my other life?

Of course, Van Morrison has been making music forever. He’s allowed to exude utter confidence, and he’s got the resumé to back up his claim that he never had (or needed) a Plan B. And clearly, he doesn’t have to worry about a day job.

Guest Post, Mary Sojourner: Review of The Third Law of Motion by Meg Files

Meg Files

The Third Law of Motion, by Meg Files, Anaphora Literary Press, 2011 (reviewed by Mary Sojourner)

Newton’s third law states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It is one thing to open a book and find yourself deep in a movie of the story; it is quite another to open a book and realize that you have become the character. Meg Files brings us into the mind, heart, body, longings and profound confusion of Dulcie White, a ’60s teenage girl too quickly becoming a woman.

You may have been Dulcie. I certainly was. She is a smart, curious, sensual young woman caught in a time when it was perilous to be both curious and sensual. She meets track star Lonnie Saxbe at a dancing class her friend has persuaded her to attend. The trajectory of their connection, or more accurately dis-connection, is predictable. Any woman who has gone into an abusive relationship or marriage knows the arc. Rather than describe Dulcie’s careening out of her own life, her own self, a discussion of Files’ craft in shaping Dulcie and Lonnie is more germane.

So often, the young are cursed by what they believe are their informed decisions. They are meteors propelled by desire and the longing to be desired. Files gives us in her perfect pitch renditions of conversations – both outer and inner – an exploration of the deep, intelligent and connected love between Dulcie and her college room-mate; and the hot and dissonant passion between Dulcie and Lonnie. By shifting point of view from Dulcie to Lonnie throughout the book, we are forced to know the young man’s inchoate violence and tangled driven mind.

Files brings us into intimate knowledge of two young people who most resemble the chaos of smoke. It is often easy for women to blame other women for entering and being unable to leave abusive relationships. Any of us who have found ourselves trapped in our own terror of being abandoned – “What if there is no other lover? What if I destroy my lover by leaving? I don’t want to grow old alone.” – whether we are gay or straight may know the sensation of being mired. We may know the equally energizing and terrifying rush of fresh air when we pull ourselves free. We may certainly know the descent that follows the liberation – and how old and new voices from our childhood and the society around us begin to natter in our minds, telling us to return to the mire.

To read The Third Law of Motion is to understand more than why a woman might find herself trapped by her past and present. As Dulcie and Lonnie tell their stories, the reader comes into contact with greater notions of cause and effect. We understand the degree that Second Wave Feminism – Files never preaches ideology – provides light for a dark and potentially deadly path. I imagine some of Files’ younger students reading the book and wondering why Dulcie didn’t go to a women’s shelter, to Planned Parenthood, to an empathetic woman OBGYN. Those of us who lived through the ’50s and ’60s can answer that question. There was nowhere to go. We were alone with what we believed were our choices. We didn’t yet know that there were few choices – and that all of them were part of the swamp that held us fast.

I found myself wanting The Third Law of Motion to be required reading in all academic women’s and gender programs. Meg Files has given the gift – subtle and sorrowful – of a woman’s truth.

marysojourner_2

– Mary Sojourner