Motivation


Happy Anniversary to my blog! You’re eight years old!

When I began blogging in 2009, I had just embarked on a new career path. “Life’s transitions and challenges allow opportunities for personal and professional development” (About page). “Throughout my transitions, I learn and grow. And my writing reflects my travel experiences…” (see my initial post) and I set out to record those travel experiences and transitions.

Over the past eight years, I transitioned several times, often travelling paths I didn’t expect. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” remains my theme poem; my path was the one less traveled by. In all cases, though, I grew from the experience. And I recorded my experiences and growth, either here, in off-line files, or in published articles. I continue to encourage, empower, and inspire others…and be inspired!

For the creative non-fiction I’ve recorded here, roads diverge again. Do I continue recording on the blog or elsewhere? I choose the more challenging road—that of Published Articles. Although that’s an often-traveled road, it’s a new/developing path for me. And I’m sure that path will make all the difference!

Parting Gift—Multi-Media Collage

My art mentor, Glenna Rosansky, decided it was time to create a collage. I usually create collages from cutout shapes, words, or stickers. That’s not what Glenna had in mind. To warm up, we looked at examples of painted string art, rice paper and torn paper collages. We talked about cool and warm colors.

As Glenna read from Nita Leland’s The New Creative Artist, I picked up a small wide brush and daintily dipped it into a small pool of yellow on my palette. “Creativity is a journey of self-discovery.” I added orange and more water to the yellow and painted broad strokes across the page. “What do I most love to do?” Do joyful activities! I chose bright, sunny, joyful colors.

“When the artist is alive in any person…he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature.” (Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.) I experimented with craft scissors and delicate paper doilies. The shiny gold crinkle paper added depth to the white doily. But where was the purple I usually use? I found some wooden popsicle sticks with abstract purple and blue shapes. I glued the sticks haphazardly to the paper. I pressed the plastic teeth of a comb on the thick green paint to create a windy movement.

I wanted to open the pipes to creativity and blessing, and clear the blockage. I leave you, my readers, with this gift. Continue to write–and paint–about transitions and challenges. It’s all good!

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

 

 

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Workshops, presentations, and networking filled my days at the STC Summit. I learned from the best in the field. During early morning breakfast gatherings, I met with colleagues. We used lunch time for SIG meetings or to take part in Speed Networking. In the ever-present Exhibition Hall, I learned about software applications and upcoming events. STC even filled our early evenings with business meetings and an award ceremony.

Constant activity and noise. Sometimes I felt saturated with information. I needed quiet. Where could I go to relax and think through the insightful material?

There was my hotel room. Somehow the room wasn’t conducive to letting my mind wander. That’s it! I wanted a venue where I could just be; simply let my mind wander through the recordings inside my head of the enlightening sessions I’d heard.

But where?

Late one afternoon, I headed down toward the National Harbor boardwalk. 20170508_172812-National HarborAlthough a river cruise sounded lovely, I knew there would be a band and more noise. That wouldn’t work.

As I got closer to the water’s edge, I spotted a small white wooden boat.

Water Taxi

“Where does the Water Taxi go?” I asked the cashier at the pay station.

“Alexandria, Virginia.”

“What’s there to do?”

“At this hour, mostly check out the eateries.”

Hmm…not what I had in mind…that would be more noise. “Could I just ride without getting off in Alexandria?”

“Of course! The Taxi’s leaving soon; wanna buy a ticket?”

I happily handed over my cash and boarded the Water Taxi.

The Water Taxi glided along the Potomac. We passed dark green forested areas and small white houses.

Greenery and White House

Closer to Alexandria, we viewed the urban center along the water’s edge. This SoCal Gal wasn’t dressed for Spring in DC, which was a lot colder than in LA! I chose the cushioned seat inside the heated cabin. I relaxed and watched the video about the city’s history and tourist attractions. Other than a few hushed conversations and the video, I had a quiet ride. The sunlight over the Potomac changed slowly to dull yellow and orange.

After we passed under the highway bridge, I spotted Old Town Alexandria.

20170508_183707-old town alexandria

The Water Taxi slowed as it neared the shore. I excitedly watched one of the crew jump onto the dock. From my camp experiences, I knew what was next: tying the boat to the piling. Once secure, the crew lowered the gangplank and some of the passengers disembarked.

I walked to the cabin door and checked the outside temperature before I left the warm cabin. Funny. We weren’t all that far from our point in the National Harbor yet the wind had subsided. Weather in Old Town Alexandria was warm with a light breeze. I strolled onto the deck to enjoy the fresh air and scenery: more greenery and wood-planked walkways lined the area. Behind the Water Taxi was a paddleboat, fresh out of a Mark Twain novel! From another side, I saw a floating wooden gazebo next to docked boats—perhaps a gathering place for the boat owners? 

Picturesque and peaceful.

I spent the return trip on a deck seat and enjoyed the scenery without a window barrier. The gentle gliding motion of the Water Taxi soothed me. The lapping sound of water against the boat reminded me of earlier times when I’d sailed or canoed. I smiled at the memories.

After I returned to the hotel, I realized I hadn’t thought about the workshop material. Yet I did notice less noise in my head. This Water Taxi ride readied me for another day of learning and hob-knobbing with my fellows!

 

The Back Story

In May 2017, I attended the STC Summit. I expected the keynote speaker to focus business relationships. Seth Mattison’s content surprised me. Yes, he covered business relationships. Yet I heard tips about personal relationships. Seth targeted the key to building relationships: Clear, honest communication. With a prerequisite: Activate a mindset, actually three mindsets.

Vintage Telephones

Vintage Telephone, Pixabay: Alles

The Mindsets

Be Intentional

  • I want this relationship.
  • I want to communicate clearly.
  • I want to support this person.

Be Interested

  • Ask open-ended questions so you can learn about the person.
    • Seth’s example: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
  • Listen to the answers.
  • Repeat ask/listen; dialog grows.

    Man Standing on Stones

    Pixabay: jingoba

Be Present

  • “Be where your feet are.” (Seth Mattison)
  • Get away from devices and other distractions.
  • Focus on this conversation.

How do we snap into these mindsets?

  • Deep breath in
  • Slowly exhale
  • Focus

Before each conversation, I try and ask myself:

  • How can I be intentional, show interest, and be present?
  • How can I help shine this person’s light?*

*“Everyone shines given the right lighting. You want to be the guide for the right lighting.” (Susan Cain, Quiet Revolution.)

Artist’s Date

For my recent artist’s date, I visited CAFAM (Craft and Folk Art Museum) in Los Angeles. Although the museum has been in my backyard, I’d never visited. I hadn’t looked for special exhibits. I expected to typical crafts—painting, needlepoint, hand-made wooden items—nothing remarkable. Yet I thought colorful crafts would inspire me. And if not inspired, at least the technological cobwebs would clear.

“There’s a special exhibit on the third floor,” Ruby told me when I checked in.

“What’s it about?”

“Books. It’s called ‘Chapters’—all about books, printing, and how artists have used books other than to read them! Check it out!”

Books as art?

I hadn’t thought of that concept before. I headed up to the third floor to start the adventure.

Wow! What creative ideas!

  • A multi-colored tunnel book
  • One artist had used surgical scalpels to transform an entire book into a paper cut
  • Newspapers used as the “canvas” for colorful prints
  • Books made out of cloth and other media

Pièce de Résistance

Or the piece that I couldn’t resist! I found three hands-on editing activities on the first floor!

  1. Altered Book: Tear a small piece from the book and save it. Previous patrons had made circular tears, ripped out corner pieces, and removed sections with jagged-edged tears. alter-the-book-instructions-cafam-022017altered-book-cafam-022017I tore a small corner.
  2. Book Board: Add a phrase; remove a phrase; use any color index card, or even draw a picture. Edit as you please! Freedom from style guides!book-board-instructions-cafam-022017 I inserted one of my favorite sayings on a bright pink card.book-board-cafam-022017
  3. Book to Edit: Cross out a word, phrase, a paragraph—whatever didn’t resonate with me. Whoa…no guidelines? W hat will the author think? Doesn’t matter—edit away! I felt uneasy at first. How could I edit someone’s work who hadn’t asked for my feedback? I read a few sentences on different pages. I settled on one long descriptive paragraph…and slashed away! Energizing!book-to-edit-instructions-cafam-022017 book-to-edit-cafam-022017

 

Editors, looking for a way to re-energize?

Writers, searching for inspiration? Check out @CraftAndFolk! (But soon–exhibit changes in May 2017.)

**

Photos (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2017

Painting Lesson #1

I wanted to paint without focusing on a specific subject or even color scheme. Glenna Rosansky thought I’d enjoy experimenting. First I learned leaf printing. I painted watercolor on the back of a leaf. Then pressed that side of the leaf on the cold press watercolor paper. I chose soft colors and contrasted with vibrant colors. To add some depth, I used an ink pen. I loved experimenting with the media, combining nature and man-made paint. I relaxed during the process, placing the leaves gently on the page. I enjoy looking at the colors, shapes, lines, and design.

 dec-2016-leaf-printing

Painting Lesson #2

In the following session, I learned two new techniques: Wet-on-wet and crinkled plastic wrap. For wet-on-wet, I sprayed water on the cold press paper and then dropped color on the water. Then waited and watched where the color went. I turned the page, and the water flowed down or sometimes to the side. The water didn’t always go in the direction I thought it would, or wanted it to.

Next I painted thick color on the paper. Of course I chose some of my favorite shades—purple, green, blue—and added some yellow for contrast. I crumpled a piece of plastic wrap and pressed the wrap on swabs of wet color. I discovered that I got different designs if I pressed with my fingers than when I pressed with my knuckles or side of my fist. And then I could use the remaining paint on the plastic wrap to print a light design on the paper. There’s not a right way or a wrong way; there’s not one way to do this technique.

jan-2017-wetonwet-plastic-wrap

What I Learned from Painting

My day sometimes turns out like my paintings. I have a schedule that I plan to follow. But something comes up that I don’t expect and I change direction. The day may not turn out like I expected, with all my action items checked off. Yet I can still look back and see that I was productive and the day was beautiful.

There’s not a right way or wrong way to create the action plan for the day. Try one process to create an action plan. Relax with the process. Be open to opportunities of learning new techniques.

How do you create your action plan or schedule? Share your process in the comments!

**

Paintings (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016, 2017

 

 

Sometimes I don’t know whether or not I can complete a project. At times, I doubt my ability to write a new article. There are times when the mountain of action items just appears plain overwhelming.

And I want to give up. Why even start?

I worked hard to hear my higher voice encourage me: “You CAN do it. Take one small action!”

As I’d start the action, the lower voices (Why are lower voices in the plural? There seem to be so many of them!) clamored for attention: “Oh really? What’s one small action going to do? Just give up! You know you won’t finish.”

Most times I’d plod methodically through the tasks. Eventually, I finish the project. Sometimes, I put the project on hold.

Recently I heard Eli’s* father describe his young son’s attitude. Eli battled cancer valiantly for four years. No matter how hard the treatments were, how he felt, how many times he had to stay in the hospital, Eli never gave up. He implored others to also never give up. When someone many times his age asked for advice, Eli told this to person to have a never-give-up attitude.

I now envision Eli with his bright smile telling me, “NEVER GIVE UP!”

**

*L’ilui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul of) Elimelech ben (son of) Menachem Mendel Malkiel Gradon.

Client work, personal writing, socializing, studying…lots to juggle. My schedule shows back-to-back appointments. Some reminders conflict with appointments. And some tasks don’t even make it to the calendar! Ooops, when can I do laundry?

Which action do I take first?

The true question: What are my priorities today?

I shut off the ringer and close down the email. Breathe. Calmly, I look at my action list and calendar.

  • Let’s get a bit more centered—perhaps some spiritual work. Priority 1.
  • A meeting with Client A that requires prep. How much prep? Determine that and since it’s a meeting, this activity becomes Priority 2.
  • Throw in some socializing or a fun activity. How long? I think I have an hour…at the end of the day. Although I’d like to assign the activity Priority 3, I really need to defer.

And so it goes. I look at the action items and due dates. Have I figured enough time for the activity? I weigh the pros and cons of taking action now or pushing it off. What are the consequences to me if I push off an action? Can I negotiate a due date—even with myself?

action-list

I still haven’t learned to juggle real balls in the air. I have learned to juggle proverbial balls and enjoy the process!

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