Processing Thoughts

Doing Into Habit

In an interview with The Creative Independent, writer Helen Phillips talks about her process and thoughts towards creation. What resonated with me was the following quote:

“… and the same thing with the circumstances of my life — they are a constraint. The circumstances of everyone’s life are a constraint. How much time you have, how much money you have, how much energy you have. And you have to work with that. The fact that you have constraints doesn’t mean you can’t be a writer, or that you aren’t a writer.

For me, the above thought still makes sense if I were to swap out writer for artist. I’ve been thinking a lot about constraints — physical constrains, time constraints; life in general. If there was x then I would be able to do y, but that is placing importance on a future event or situation that might not occur. The way she talks about the creative process is very much about fulfilling a need, a creative want, right now. What is it that we can do right now to be the artist/writer/creative we want to be?

Phillips continues to share how she brings her creative needs into the everyday in a very realistic outlook:

Setting a goal that’s realistic. If that is 15 minutes a day, that’s fine. When my daughter was a month old, I didn’t write for the first month of her life. But, when she was a month old, I needed it again, so I did 15 minutes a day. That was realistic for that time… So, making goals that fit your life at that moment, and then keeping them sacred. Make it as small as it needs to be. Make it one sentence a day. Because then, I feel like if you’re working on your creative path a little bit each day, you never feel like a phony with it.

Even if it’s not going well, you’re still doing it. Even if you have a bad writing day, it doesn’t matter, because you’ll be writing again tomorrow. Whereas, if you’re only writing once a week, or once a month, if you have a bad writing day, then you hold that badness with you until the next time you write. So, holding the badness for 24 hours, versus seven days, or 30 days, is better.

… consistency is really helpful.

And at this point in my life, and it took years to get to this point, the motivation piece of it has been replaced by habit. So, at first you have to be super motivated, but if it becomes a habit, it’s like brushing your teeth. Do you have to get really motivated to brush your teeth? Not really. You just do it, because you’ve been doing it for a long time.

Making something into a habit takes a long time, but once it is part of a daily rhythm it begins to take root and shape.

Much to think about.

Art As Therapy

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Rainbow Hall at the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, filled with murals by the art collective MU.Marc Cramer (Image via Fortune Magazine)

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Rainbow Hall at the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, filled with murals by the art collective MU.Marc Cramer (Image via Fortune Magazine)

Reading an article on Fortune Magazine this morning entitled Doctors Can Now Give Out Prescriptions for a Visit to the Museum by Katie Sehl struck a deep chord within. Since the separation of mind, body spirit, in order to compartmentalize, analyze and further understand, as a human species, we have forgotten bringing the pieces back together. But, recently, more and more, people are beginning to understand that we are a whole body, interconnected being, not just the parts that make up a whole.

We have been conditioned to think we are separate and therefore, need to be all, do all, exist independently, but in fact, what makes the world ebb and flow is the unity of each individual. Reading this article, it reminded me, through the workings of the body, that each of us has a role, a life purpose, and just like with the body, each meaningful and irreplaceable. The mind, the heart, the kidney; the spirit, the psyche, emotions, thoughts, feelings all are a part of what makes us, us.

Art being prescribed as medicine for healing makes sense. It may not be describable in words or expressed through thoughts, but one cannot deny how it makes us feel or even more, affects the very cells that make up our bodies. Colors are vibrations as are our thoughts, words, actions. Each one non-exclusive of the other.

We may feel powerless if we compare ourselves to all that is happening around us, but together, it becomes a movement, a momentous shift towards unity.

Journal Notes

ENTRY: June 4, 2019, Tuesday

Notes from today’s reading: Spiritual Growth, Being Your Higher Self by Sanaya Roman

LIFE PURPOSE = Process of evolving yourself
LIFE’S WORK = Service you came to offer humanity

Life Purpose + Life Work = intertwined
-> As you serve others, you will naturally evolve yourself
-> As you evolve and radiate more light, you automatically serve others


Life work will take on various forms at various times. May change month to month or year to year, so keep in touch with your purpose and vision as it expands and grows.

Figure out life’s work through examining:

  • Skills you love to use

  • Things you love to do

  • Areas which you are naturally drawn

Whatever you love to do will also serve others in some way, for it is the nature of the Universe that when you use your highest skills you automatically contribute to others.

THOUGHT: Whatever one decides to do is always enough as long as it aligns with your true being.

Envy And The Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media

Envy Plucking The Wings Of Fame — François Guillaume Menageot

Envy Plucking The Wings Of Fame — François Guillaume Menageot

In Japanese tradition, the morning of New Year’s Day = “Hatsumōde”, the first (hatsu) shrine visit (mode) to pray for good luck for the new year. My parents, who are both buddhist, have had this tradition of going to their church on January 1st every year and so, like clockwork, I feel the need to go each year, when possible, on January 1st.

During the last few weeks of December leading up to January 1st, I was starting to feel a strong pull towards change, like a cocooned butterfly, readying to spread its wings, or more so, a caterpillar attempting to transform. The desire to create art that connects more strongly, more genuinely, more directly, with others, continues to deepen. I love abstract art, but was starting to feel like something was missing, lost in translation between the strokes and process. So, I started to dig. The more I searched, the more vast and larger the hole became, and felt myself squirming with discomfort.

Did I want to go in a new direction? What is it that I’m trying to do, trying to say? Or, do I just stick to what I’ve been doing?

After the morning prayer service and sermon, I went downstairs to greet others who were there for Hatsumōde. Most of the conversations consisted of Happy New Year! and How are things going?, but one lady, who I’ve known for as long as I can remember, caught me off guard:

“How is your art practice going?”

The automatic button inside me was just about to reply with a “Good!” when I caught myself and remembered a promise I had made for this coming year: To be more honest, more sincere, and voice my thoughts as clearly as possible.

So, I took a breath, and as vulnerable and naked as I felt inside, said:

“Actually, I’m squirming.” (In Japanese, the word is もがく, mōgaku, which translates to struggling, but this translation feels a bit negative as my experience of being in this space was/is not negative. More explorative, with a mix of unease.)

She looked shocked and said:

“Satsuki! I’m surprised to hear so. You always look so peaceful and sure of yourself. I thought you had it all figured out!”

She’s not the first person who has said this to me, but not sure why. Perhaps it may be because when I am on a path which I believe in 100%, my focus becomes razor sharp, accompanied by a flow, and together could come off on the outside as confidence? If it is, then, I can attest — this is most definitely not always the case or the norm.

When I told her my true situation, without any sugarcoating, there was a sense of relief. Even though a part of me wished I could run off into the hills and never look back, I knew it was the right decision to share my honest feelings. Of course, though, there is a time and place for everything, including putting ourselves in vulnerable situations.

Reading a letter written by LEAH today about envy, there was much that connected with what had been going on internally. One of the thoughts mentioned was this idea of envy being created because of our heightened awareness with the lives of others. Some may say envy fuels them to fight harder, but personally, it’s an energy killer. As Leah says, it’s exhausting. Something about constantly feeling “less than” is taxing, not only on our psyche, but also on our physical wellbeing as well.

Although I don’t watch too much tv, I am very much engaged in social media and during this time of mōgaku, I found myself going head on with the feeling of envy — others who seemed to have figured it all out. It’s not jealousy, or anger. Maybe closer to the feeling of longing, with a few drops of why not me too? FOMO? I’m not sure, but I think you get the picture.

And I began to wonder if social media really is good for us or deteriorating our overall sense of happiness. I found myself teeter-tottering between the good and the bad, still sensing the positive outweighing the negative. Or, “bad” in my own terms as nothing is really “bad” by nature, only based upon our own definitions. Leah continues to talk about how although there are many articles written about how social media is a curation of one’s so-called perfect life or gives an illusion of desire for the unattainable, and that we may know intellectually not to let such things affect us, in reality, it does. The mind and heart are not always in sync and many times, it takes the heart a heck of a longer time to catch up to what my mind is deeming as the right direction to go.

Whatever the case may be, the only answer I’ve come up with so far is to keep sailing towards the direction of one’s inner North Star. If we were to block out all external input and tune into our souls, most of the time the answer is right there waiting for us, like a loving, patient friend. We may not know all the answers, but we do know what feels right and what feels forced. And what aligns may not be what others would understand or agree with, but if the other option is to live life like a zombie, waiting for the next thing to come in front of us, devouring it only for survival and nothing more, are we truly, living?

Envy and the discussion of social media on our psyche will most likely continue as long as we are humans since both play into: insecurity, fear, worry, acceptance, and more.

As for myself, I am like a dog on a hunt, looking for clues that will lead me towards my next step and don’t have all the answers yet, but what I do know is, the more I am honest with myself — the air feels clearer, the heart feels lighter, and the spirit feels freer.