Use What You Got & Make Something Amazing

pencil instagram (1)Inspiration is a funny thing.

It knows no boundaries.  No obstacles, hindrances, limitations or hurdles.

You can see the thing you want to create in your mind and now you are on fire to make it happen.

When this happens to me, some little demon parked on my shoulder starts snickering.

“You know you can’t do anything until you have the right equipment.  A new camera, some software, probably a new lightbox and oh, your drawing software is really lame.  Get the latest thing out there or you’re going to look like a total amateur.”

Slowly, I can feel my self confidence sink and my anxiety levels soar.  Instead of planting myself at my desk to work, I spend all my time angsting over my stuff.  I postpone actually creating something and end up surfing the Internet for tools and equipment that I need to have before I do anything.

Days will go by.  Packages will be delivered.  Manuals pile up on my desk for me to go through.  I spend hours trying to master my tools and inevitably tumble down the rabbit hole of endless applications and uses of these tools.  I become a master of doing really cool things that I might end up using in my project.

And speaking of my project, it has now become a little less clear.  I have to try and figure out how to use all my cool tools to create what I originally envisioned.

The Tyranny of Shiny Tools

This is a terrible dictatorship.

It happens when we let our self confidence in our creativity succumb to the shiny promise of tools.  People who sell these tools prey upon this.  They position themselves as purveyors of things that will help you create something but in actuality, they distract you from your goal by dazzling you with bells and whistles that really have less to do with what you want, and everything to do with what they want.

What You Really Need First

No matter what you dreaming of doing, there is only one thing you need in the beginning.

You need momentum.

Maybe you have trouble starting, maybe you have started but find it difficult to keep going.

Momentum is the great wave that will propel you through the good and the tough times.

If there was nothing around for miles except a stubby #2 Ticonderoga Dixon pencil and a legal pad, could you write your story?  Jack Kerouac did it.  And he was in a car.

If you were in that car and a melody popped into your head, do you think you could hum it into your phone?

If you stumbled across a bunch of wires, bits of wood and metal, could you put that all together into a sculpture?  Like Alexander Calder?

Just start with what you have.

Get what you need when the need presents itself.  You will be wiser and more knowing about the exact tool you want when you are actively making something.

Take back the power to create from the Merchants of Stuff.  People are moved by the creative spirit behind a work of art, not the medium.  Sometimes you get even more points for making something in spite of your limitations.

I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it. – John Lennon

I have a box in my room that I put things that I have accumulated over the years to help me write and illustrate my work.  If more than 6 months go by and I haven’t used something, it goes into another box that eventually gets donated to Materials for the Arts or a school art program.  My daily wrestle with that pesky little demon usually results in me defaulting to something I already have, usually old school and understandable.

And that works for me.  All I truly need is my self confidence.  And a pencil sharpener.

How To Speak With No Words

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The trick to making an impact is saying NO.

NO I will not use 10 words when 1 will do.

NO I will not use words when letters will do.

NO I will not use clauses, pauses, parentheses, or participles that dangle.

NO I will not be afraid of the gaping silence at the end of my short sentence.

NO I will not use big words that sound vague and condescending.

NO I only have space to focus on 1 thing at a time.

And so will you.

How Your Morning Can Make Your Entire Day

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Unless you are a diehard morning person, you and I probably share the same feeling about getting out of bed on cold winter mornings.

Who needs that?

If you live near the ocean, the winds don’t help.

I had a particularly challenging day ahead of me which made it even harder to feel good about unfurl myself from my blankets.

This is what I did to get myself out of my morning funk and into a day that I felt really good about:

  • I got out of my car and walked on the boardwalk into the dark sand.
  • I saw the moon fading and the sun rising in the same sky.
  • I took 20 big deep breaths with my eyes closed.
  • I told myself I have everything I need to make a great big dent in the universe today.

And do you know what?

As I drove away, I believed it.

Find your own inner sea shore and sink your toes in the sand.

I guarantee your next 24 hours will feel like a day at the beach.

Meditation for Tired People


OK, I confess.

Just because I wear yoga pants all the time doesn’t make me any more limber or enlightened than you.

Meditation is something I try to do as part of day because it does something for my state of well being.  It is one of those things you wonder why you don’t do more often.

Of course, you usually say that when you’re done doing it.

Not when you are about to do it and especially if you are too tired to get out of bed in the morning.

That is why I am such a big fan of beditation.  Meditation for tired people.

Don’t get me wrong. This is never going to take the place of true meditation.  Its only virtue is that it is a step in the right direction.

However, I believe the commitment to the process is the true journey whether you are a yogi or you simply wear yoga pants.

This is why I am not beating myself up over my meditation practice.

Which, in a nutshell is this:

Whatever I can do, I do.

Try it and see if you don’t feel just a little bit better about yourself.