Today is Inspire Your Heart with Art day. It happens every year on January 31st. It has become my new favorite HOLIDAY.
Take a moment today and feel some art. What kind of emotions does it evoke? Art surrounds us even when we do not realize it. It is the music we listen to, the packaging on the products we buy, the painting hanging in the museum, the car driving too slow in front of you, the book or the article you just read, the icicle hanging from the gutter. Today is the day to examine that artwork and think about what it makes you feel.
I’m one of those people who sings to the songs in my car while driving down the road. You may even spot me doing some crazy arm gestures while dancing in the driver’s seat. No worries, I am not having a seizure, I am just feeling the music. I find it relaxing and liberating. It is my time to be “ME.” Too often the stress of everyday life can make me feel like a macrame owl, a little bit wise but entirely made up of knots, and art helps untie those knots. Today on your way home crank up the music and dance. Instead of yelling at the guy in front of you going too slow, look at his car and the design of it. Those brake lights may actually impress you with the engineering of them. For dinner tonight, play with your food, you might create a forest out of that broccoli.
Art is made to inspire and make you feel. It can transport you to other worlds and take you back in time with memories and the playfulness of childhood. It can help you understand other cultures and see other perspectives on life. Art can transform people, places, and things.
Today is Inspire Your Heart With ART Day, it could transform you.
For the past several days I have tried to write a blog post, but as soon as I wrote something I would quickly cut it because it may have offended someone. Who it would offend, I don’t know, but it really didn’t matter. Offensiveness seems to be the new normal and I do not want to be “normal.”
I live in a small town just outside of Cape Girardeau, MO. Today the town is being visited by the 45th President, Donald J. Trump, Sean Hannity, and Cape Girardeau’s home boy Rush Limbaugh. There is an electricity in the air as a storm is brewing in the West, (seriously, the weatherman is calling for tornadoes this evening) the tension mounts on my social media pages, and I sit here wondering, whatever happened to civility? I scroll through my Facebook feed and see one accusatory comment after another. It does not matter which side a person is on, the accusations are coming from the Red and the Blue. How can we merge the two and make a lovely, vibrant purple?
When did this become an Us vs. Them country? To borrow from one of the greatest authors of all time, Harper Lee, “I think that there is just one kind of folks. Folks.” Scout Finch had a good role model in Atticus Finch and I think we could all use a reminder of Atticus’ advice today, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” People develop their beliefs based on their life experiences, not another persons background. We can learn from other people’s experiences, but it is one’s own life that develops their beliefs and foundations.
The one thing I have learned during this tumultuous time is, you are not going to change anything by being accusatory and mean to people who think differently. It only makes the divide deeper and wider. Saying that all Republicans/Conservatives are deplorable or all Democrats/Liberals are the Devil’s spawn is not going to heal this divide. It only causes more discord. If you must believe in an Us vs. Them scenario then think of it this way; the more divisiveness and discord ther is, the more ground “THEY” gain. Don’t ask me who “They” are, because I do not know. That one I will leave to the conspiracy theorist to decide. As for me today…. I’m going to go pass out daisies and breath mints, because if a person is going to yell at me, then they better have fresh breath while they are doing it.
“Each person does see the world in a different way. There is not a single, unifying, objective truth. We’re all limited by our perspective.” ~ Siri Hustvedt
The last few years has had me examining the question, “What is true?” That question has taken over my life in the last month. Not just in the political atmosphere, but in business and personal as well. When long held beliefs turn out to be false there is a foundational shift that occurs. An earthquake of the conscience that makes one re-examine everything that they have been taught. What we perceive as truth is based on what we have been taught to believe. Our perception of the world is based on our life experiences, what we consume in media, and who we socialize with. Each one of these will bend the truth to fit into what we perceive to be accurate, if it does not fit in to our preconceived notions, then it is often ruled to be false.
I am not a degreed scholar, and I do not sit around and drink coffee with philosophical individuals (although that would be nice). I am an artist who examines everything from different perspectives. I have learned to examine things and life from all angles, because I will always notice something that I did not see before. Recently I discovered that my perception had been a bit skewed by folks who I believe meant well, but ultimately caused a tilt shift in my view.
Let me explain.
When photographing architecture with a wide angle lens a distortion will appear in the photo. Straight lines will look curved and there may even be some vignetting at the corners due to light bending on the lens. With an adjustment in Photoshop or Lightroom this can be corrected, or a person can invest in a tilt shift lens that adjusts enough to obtain the correct perspective when the image is captured. Much like the distortion that happens from a camera lens, what one learns from another person has been distorted by their preconceived notions. On closer examination and independent research I discovered that a serious correction was needed in what I thought was the truth. I had to look at things from all angles. Some may call this overthinking, but I prefer to call it getting the right perspective.
In this crazy, mixed up world we live in where we are told that everything is FAKE news and that, “The truth is not the truth,” it is becoming more and more difficult to correct the distortion.
I am often accused of being too sweet, too pleasant, too accommodating, too quiet, and too nice. That last one, too nice, that’s the twisted knife. It appears that in today’s world in order for a woman to achieve success the label “Too Nice” is the hemlock in her cup of caffeine each morning. Do you have to go for the jugular in order to succeed in life? Being nice and accommodating is how I was raised.
Oxford dictionary defines accommodating as: fitting in with one’s wishes or demands in a helpful way.
The question then becomes, is being accommodating a good thing? Who is it benefiting? I watched my grandmother spend all day cooking a meal and then serve it at the table for the family. She never sat down with the family, she just hovered over the shoulder or sat in the kitchen waiting to serve in case anyone needed anything. I did not think much about this growing up possibly because I watched my mother do it. My mother would sit at the table with us, but she was always ready to get up to retrieve something. My mother tried to teach me to do this and some of it took and some of it didn’t.
What I learned was to be accommodating and to put others needs before mine. This accommodation can be beneficial, but it can be even more detrimental to my own personal well-being. I no longer look at it as being accommodating or nice and sweet. It’s enabling. I am an enabler. By bending to others wishes or demands I am enabling them to continue controlling MY life and MY wishes. That control is a powerful thing and breaking free from it is extremely difficult, but in order to achieve success in my life, I have to be in control of it. Do I have to go for the jugular? I don’t think so, because ultimately it is my own neck that I am sticking out and I am kind of attached to it.
It has not been easy taking control of my life and telling people “No. I’m not doing that anymore.” They are stunned and even a little angry but they will get over it. I only have one shot at this life and it’s time to make it my own.