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The Art of … mistakes.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. Gandhi

If you have never made a mistake, then my friend, this blog entry is not for you. For the rest of us I invite you to see your mistakes in a different way.

My children were quite addicted to PBS television in the mornings when they were young. One of our favorite shows (as it taught them something and also had adult jokes) was Magic School Bus. I loved Miss Frizzle! She was intelligent, snarky and confident. It was a beautiful thing!

Miss Frizzle was full of energy and wisdom, however my favorite quote from her was, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

It seems Miss Frizzle could have very well been sending that message not just to the under ten crowd, but to each of us. Maybe it’s time to see mistakes a little differently.

I will confess to you that I never ever wanted to make ANY mistakes. (who does?) I thought it diminished me, I felt like it made me less intelligent, less honorable, and well, go ahead and choose a few more negative opinions to go along with that. I put a great deal of pressure on myself to be perfect. (like that worked!)

The only thing I accomplished was refusing to learn from the mistakes I made because I wouldn’t take ownership of them. Guess what happens? You get to make them again! Again and again until you learn from them. ugh!

Probably one of the most profound things I have discovered is when I refuse to make mistakes, when I walk so carefully that I try not to stray off the pristine path and get messy, I do not fully live. Life is messy, very messy sometimes- mistakes are all part of that. when I keep myself insulated from getting messy, I also prevent opportunity.

One of the things I love about digital photography is that there are endless opportunities to get that perfect shot. If the photo is horrible, I delete it, yet I am able to take literally thousands of shots in order to get “the one”. There is no guilt involved, no stress. I simply hit DELETE on my photo “mistakes”. Why on earth can’t we approach life that way?

Here are a few thoughts-

First- let go of the guilt.
Guilt is preventing you from really living. What does it serve any way? Why do we attach guilt with everything as humans. I am in NO way telling you not to be responsible for your actions, only to see your mistake for what it is, not pile on a bunch of negativity with a side of suffering. Remember a sense of humor doesn’t hurt, approach life openly and understand that this is a journey not a single performance.

Secondly- GET MESSY-
Go ahead- I dare you- live 110%. Get messy, try new things, do not let previous mistakes prevent you from discovering new life. Mistakes = opportunity! Should I never take another photograph because I took quite a few bad ones? HECK NO! That should make me want to take even more photographs… in search for “the one”! So, do it, get excited, try new things, experience more not less.

Third- don’t give up.
Obviously, I am not going to wake up tomorrow and decide I should apply for a job at Kodak as an engineer. I am proud to say that I am very happy having an artist brain and skill set. I am not going to “change colors” and instantly have a completely different skill set. Thinking that is possible would pretty much just set me up for failure. However, I do know the talents I am blessed with. That said- I confess to you now that I have made countless mistakes as an artist. I have explored a myriad of ways to be successful with my art. By that admission, I am certain you have figured out that MANY mistakes have been made in the process.

Today, I come to you feeling successful in my mistakes. Create Art 4 Good is the marriage of those mistakes and a collection of who I am. I am thrilled to be on this part of the journey. If the mistakes of the past brought me here then I am successful! I truly believe in this project like none other I have ever ventured in. Determination to find “the right place” for me, brought me here.

Don’t give up!

Mistakes are an opportunity. If you allow yourself to see them in this way, they will become seeds of growth instead of pangs of shame. The art of the mistake includes attitude, ambition and action….

It’s a new day- I invite you to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!
In peace
Susan

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The Art of … simplicity

Living, truly living, in my opinion is an art form. This blog will share not only the progress of “Create Art 4 Good”, but also will share what I have learned thus far in these fifty years. Thanks for listening-

On Simplicity

sim·plic·i·ty

  1. the state, quality, or an instance of being simple.
  2. freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts: an organism of great simplicity.

We are born with nothing and in the end; we die with nothing. It seems however, that “between the dash” we spend our lives accumulating “stuff” – things that we think we need but really don’t: things, hobbies, collections and just general stuff. George Carlin quips that a home isn’t really a haven but a place to hold all of our “stuff”. His skit is funny, but he makes a valid point.

Look around you, right at this moment – how many of the objects you see, do you really NEED? I am betting if you are honest with yourself, very few. Yet we are consumed with getting something better, faster, flashier, prettier. Then we bring it home and we have to take care of it, charge it, dust it, clean it, and move it so it looks better or has a space more deserving. We are drowning in our “stuff”. Before you think I have perfected this art… I will confess openly, I have not. For me this is a journey. It is an exciting journey, but still, something I am working on. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed. The feeling of success is what I wish to share with you.

Gandhi was one of the most amazing humans to grace this earth. He walked the earth with very little in his possession. He didn’t believe that “stuff” was important. What he did believe in was simply people, peace, and hope. These are things we cannot possess, which is clearly the point. This man did not die with millions of dollars in his bank account, but clearly he made a mark that changed the world.

Simplicity is defined as Freedom. Freedom? Really? How is that?

Let me share with you my experience. This year, I turned 50. I have gathered fifty years of “stuff” – sentimental, and otherwise. I have the newspaper clipping from when I was born, I have a ceramic fish I made and gave to my parents when I was in second grade, I have countless pieces of art I have created, both finished and unfinished, I have a vase from my grandmother’s funeral, I have notes, and cards from those that sent me love the old fashioned way. I have… well, let’s be honest- much too much. As I age, it seems quite clear to me that it is time to let go of much of this. I live in a modest home, and frankly there isn’t enough room to hang on to every piece of sentimental or otherwise possessions. In reality I have discovered it really isn’t the stuff I treasure but more often the connection to how I gained it, or who it came from. Perhaps it was something from my husband’s grandmother, or my mother – both of whom were important and precious to me. For a while I needed to touch something they have touched. It helped me as I mourned the loss of them; it touched me because I could feel their presence in a physical way. I needed that. It’s not that I miss them any less, but I don’t believe it is possible to capture their essence in the items they may have given me, in the things I associate with them Certainly what keeps them closest is when I speak of them through stories and memories, or touch my heart where I know they will live on for always.

This summer has been about working through some of the process of letting go-Emotionally, spiritually and physically. My goal is to create a more harmonious environment in which to live, and create. My hope is by letting go of “things” that really don’t matter, to simplify, I will be free, life will be easier, and I won’t have to dust nearly as much! I have to say; in what I have eliminated already has been a tremendous gift to me. Also, I was able to help others by donating goods to those more in need than I. I am certainly not suggesting that we purge everything we own; however, perhaps it would be more an honor to those who have loved me and whom I love and treasure to live in a more authentic way – freedom in and of itself is a treasure. It is a treasure that we tend to squander.

I know that I will never be Gandhi. I believe he had three possessions – his glasses, a pen and his sandals. As amazing as that sounds, I know that I could never simplify to that extent. However, that level of simplification did seem to give him a great amount of freedom, no moving truck required. Today I challenge you – as I step up to this challenge as well – to simplify, to be free. Cleanse the negativity in your life, the clutter. Purge what keeps you from living unencumbered.

I wish you simplicity.

In peace-
Susan

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This is the day….

canoe next to dock

So- to be honest I feel like I have been preparing for this day for the entirety of my fifty years. I have been struggling with an actual “launch” date for some time now, however, it always seemed that I should attend to another detail, or wait for the perfect time. Imagine my surprise today when something in me decided that this was the day. I didn’t do anything special, but the time has come. Dreams come true. Today is proof… I invite you to join me in this journey

It will be simple at first, blooming in the most beautiful way…

Create Art 4 Good- is formed from a culmination of experience as an artist, advocate of the arts, sponsor of those in need along with a concentrated effort to give back to my community.

As a child my parents set a fine example of what it meant to put others first. Our home was an open door. We would often we have people who I didn’t know over for dinner, to stay with us temporarily or perhaps we would deliver food, clothing or some other form of support to them. This became a way of life. Even when financially things were the tightest in my family my parents always tithed at least 10% of their income to give to Charity. This is a foundation for how I view my opportunity to give back to others, to “Pay it forward”.

As a lifelong artist I have had the opportunity to sell my work to others. There is enormous power and gratification in having the opportunity to share your art, your passions with others. I have been blessed with the opportunity to manage a teaching art gallery. I have taught art in schools, as well as galleries working with artists from 2 to 86. The motivation to continue these efforts, to promote art, artists is strong. I believe that art as essential to live as food and water.

Marrying these two aspects of my life fulfills many dreams for me. I am highly motivated to serve others in whatever opportunity may come my way, and I am happiest serving others in the world of art, creating it and supporting the work of others.

In the beginning, I want to share with you gifts I have discovered along the way in this blog. It seems in my efforts for simplification, I have gained so much. I will continue this blog while I move on to the next part of my journey. I hope that you will participate. I pray for your grace as I move through each step of my business plan. ( for those of you who know me, I know you are shocked that there is an actual business plan! ) I am excited about the future, I am excited to use the gifts I have been given, and I am honored to serve in this most wonderful way!

I invite you- to “Pay it forward” in your own way, to simplify- to truly taste all that is offered in this world. Together, we will make a difference.

In peace –
Susan Carmen-Duffy