Life Lessons

My spirit needs art like my lungs need air

800px-Sagrada_Familia_nave_roof_detail

Sometimes you don’t realize your heart is aching. You don’t realize that it’s waiting, seeking, and hoping for some glimpse of the divine. Then you witness something as heartbreakingly beautiful as Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia.  Suddenly your heart is filled with hope and humility. Hope that perhaps if you just don’t give up, if you keep exploring the questions lining the inner walls of your gut, you’ll be able to explain who are. You feel the sting of humility from doubting the capabilities of the human spirit, for dismissing its quest for meaning as meaningless, and for ever succumbing to the ego’s nihilistic tendencies.

What is art and why do we need it? How do I—from another time, country, ethnicity, sex, race, class—feel the weight of Gaudi’s vision? For what reason should my eyes fill with tears and my stomach feel as if it has descended into my womb? ART is the reason.

For me art is the language, the vessel by which inner worlds communicate across time and culture. My spirit needs art like my lungs need air.

Standard
Kindness Chronicles

WATCH: This photographer will make your day

Lately I’ve tried to focus on being kinder and appreciating the limited moments I have on Earth.  Unfortunately, it’s shocking how easy it is to stumble into negative thinking. You have to be vigilant and seek out positive role models, people who aggressively appreciate life.  Meet Brian Nice, a photographer with enviable comedic timing who’s planning to travel across America to inspire survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury.

Garrison Art Center show 1 (Photograph by Brian Nice)

A recent photo from the Garrison Art Center show in August 2012.

“The project will include the production of a gallery exhibition of photographs, a full color coffee-table book, and a documentary film about the journey. Any profits from the project will be donated to an outstanding local facility called the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Cold Spring NY, which helps others affected by Traumatic Brain Injury.”

A brain disorder may have almost taken Brian’s life 4 years ago, but his spirit appears stronger than ever. If you want to feel inspired today and help survivors of traumatic brain injuries, then please support Brian’s project on Indiegogo.

“I love photography and I want to keep taking pictures. After my first brain bleed and surgery in September 2009, I could not imagine how I would be able to continue doing the art I loved, any physical activity, or even the basic task of living life. It seemed like all had been taken away from me and my goal was to simply survive…”

Garrison Art Center show 3 (Photograph by Brian Nice)

A recent photo from the Garrison Art Center show in August 2012.

“…A friend gave me a point and shoot camera and this was an uplifiting experience. My current work is very different, yet it helps me express and show how I see the world now. It allows me to continue my art and gives me a real sense of myself. I still connect to the world through a camera – I just have a different perspective. ” -Brian Nice

Standard
Life Lessons, Quotes

Friend-ship. A friend is someone who helps you on your journey.

"Seedy-self-portrait V3" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)

“Seedy-self-portrait V3” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)

Last night I remembered why it’s so vital to have supportive friends.  My friend Bob (name changed for privacy reasons) has a knack for helping me  pinpoint my irrational fears. Last night while we spoke on the phone, I told him that recently I created a project timeline for someone. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to think strategically about helping this person overcome her obstacles, yet I had such a difficult time doing that for myself. “Why?!” I shouted, “I mean I have project management experience for goodness sakes!

Chess Player Syndrome

Bob said that I suffered from “chess player syndrome.” FYI I’m not sure if this phrase exists outside of our conversation. “What’s chess player syndrome?” I asked. He explained that it’s when you’re able to look over a chess player’s shoulder and visualize the moves he needs to make to win the game; you can see things objectively. But when you’re playing the game, you become so mired in your anxiety that you’re unable to see the big picture. Boom! Diagnoses. Bob recommended that I create a similar timeline for myself.

"Seedy-self-portrait Vs" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013; Original photo by Boris Poletaev )

“Seedy-self-portrait Vs” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013; Original photo by Boris Poletaev)

Wearing a Coat of Fear

Bob then began questioning me about the specific thoughts that mired by objective lens. I explained it was the usual, a fear of failure. Then he asked me to visualize myself without this fear. I couldn’t.  So he said, “Imagine your fear is like a snug coat. You’re comforted feeling its texture press up against your skin. It’s so close to your body that it silences the sound of your heart beating and the murmuring in your guts. Now imagine yourself taking that coat off tomorrow. What would you do differently?” My stomach immediately knotted up. (In fact my stomach is knotting up right now while writing about this.) I knew he was right and the simplicity of it all made me sick.

Friend-Ship

As my conversation with Bob winded down, he suddenly had an epiphany,”I finally get it!”

“Get what?”

“Friend-ship. A friend is someone who helps you on your journey.”

Yes and I’m grateful for the company 🙂

Old Greenwich Beach (Arlene Ellis, 2013)

Old Greenwich Beach (Arlene Ellis, 2013)

Standard