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In our busy lives, it is easy to overlook those who are our constant companions. We see them day in and day out as fixtures in our everyday lives. When their relative health and vitality are maintained, they are often relegated to comfortable background noise in favor of more pressing or more interesting matters.

Weeks and months and years may go by like this, hardly noticing–really noticing–that they’re there, faithfully pining away for our meager scraps of attention. It is only at a time of crisis; a health scare, or inconvenient behavior that their presence comes fully into focus. And when they pass away, we are often left bewildered, asking: “Where did the time go?”

More positively, the quality time we invest in our companionship with others blesses us in ways of magical moments and memories. To establish a true, meaningful connection with another being is one of life’s great rewards. It may not be possible to devote as much time to them as we would like. Perhaps instead of striving for “more time” with our loved ones, we should appreciate when we become “lost in the moment” with them. Those moments where we lose track of time, all sense of self, and we are simply connected.

Our companions will not always be constantly with us. Eventually, they will pass on and we will be left with only memories. What matters is the meaning we give those moments of connection. And who can really calculate the value they add to our lives, especially when we leave our hearts open to receiving what they offer us?

No matter where we are or what our life situation is, we can experience magic moments. It’s not about having wealth or an abundance of time, but rather taking the opportunity to appreciate these moments as they present themselves. The real wealth is in the meaning we give these moments and their ability to inspire us.

I’ve always wanted to live in a place where I could step outside my door and walk along a country road and become lost in the pastoral landscape.

Flanked by corn fields, the dogs pull us faster down the road, noses carving the air as they follow invisible scent trails.

The crisp, pre-snow breeze carries the smells of wood smoke, rusty soil, and corn husks. A train wails somewhere in the distance. A farmhouse glows ochre from the setting sun.

Copses of trees stand as stark silhouettes against the darkening sky. They silently preside over the passing of another day. Is this day special for them too? Or is it inconsequential to these eldritch watchers of ten thousand sunsets?

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“I am as enthusiastic about others’ fulfillment as I am about my own. I avoid treating others’ successes as the cause of my lacks.” ~Stephen K. Hayes, How to Own the World

As today’s events have unfolded, I am reminded of the ugliness of humanity, from one citizen to the other. People are using the inauguration of our new President to jab hurtful things at each other. When Obama was that man, I admonished anyone who treated the sitting President as their own personal scourge. These people gave Obama power over them, if only in their tacit perception of him and the office he held, and he became the object of their scorn. “Why do you give him such power?” I would ask. “He is not in control of your life–you are.”

All the Obama doomsayers were proven wrong on Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2017. Whether you agreed with his policies or not, Obama didn’t turn out to be the gun confiscating, Muslim, Socialist Antichrist many were convinced he was. Not even close. But those who felt oppressed by Obama are expressing feelings of freedom they haven’t felt in eight long years. This belies a certain breed of insecurity on the part of these “oppressed” individuals.

It is easy to blame one man, or woman, or political party, or institution for our lacks in this world. It is more difficult to soberly embrace responsibility for one’s choices and actions. For that is where the true power lies; in our ability to choose, to take action, and to give context to moments.

Leaders will come and go. Institutions will rise and fall. Trends will be popular, then fade. What remains throughout all of this is you. You, as an individual have freedom of choice to believe what you want, to empower yourself to make decisions, which will impact the world you inhabit.

The question that remains is: What kind of person will you choose to be?

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“I believe in myself. I am confident. I can accomplish my goals.” ~Stephen K. Hayes, How to Own the World

To be at the start of something can be intimidating or discouraging. Whether it’s a creative project, fitness goal, or other life goal, the mere scope of the work that lies ahead can be enough to mentally derail me before the journey has begun. As I approach new goals, ranging from lofty and epic creative projects, to the more routine and prosaic daily life-oriented tasks, the basis for accomplishment is the same: Believing in myself and having the confidence to carry out these objectives. Everything stems from this beginning:

  • I must believe in my capabilities towards achieving more.
  • I must believe in my capacity for learning new and useful skills.
  • I must believe in my tenacity to fight against the pull of petty distractions, or self-imposed limitations, that would divert me from the path.
  • I must believe in my ability to see the broader perspective and course-correct when needed.
  • I must believe in my resilience to try again if I fail.

Belief in myself must be reinforced with real action. When I set a goal for myself, no matter how big or small, I am essentially making a pact with myself. If I can’t even follow through with the agreements I’ve made with myself, how can I trust myself or expect others to trust me? Confidence is built and maintained by keeping those agreements. Confidence is also strengthened through the act of accomplishment, to know the success from setting and reaching goals.

What happens if and when I get derailed? Go back to the basics. Return to the starting point of believing in myself, that I can accomplish what I set my mind and actions to. Work on keeping the personal agreements I have made with myself. Keep tasks and goals manageable, so that I may better succeed. Following through on smaller tasks leads to the confidence of taking on bigger challenges, which steadily builds the momentum needed to accomplish even greater things.

There are times when the road ahead  seems long, difficult, and unsure. Do I walk along the tried-and-true tested path others have worn, or do I carve my own path one step at a time? No matter which road I take, the journey belongs to me. And with the journey comes the choice to step out and venture down the road that will lead to a more meaningful life. The beginning point starts with making the choice to step out, setting my sights on the horizon of unseen future goals.

CH

 

 

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“I believe in my teachers. I show respect for all who help me progress.” ~Stephen K. Hayes, How to Own the World

It is easy, sometimes, to forget the long and treacherous road that brought me to this point in time. The older I get, the more “successful” I become, the more I seem to credit my own merits and a faulty sense of self-satisfaction when I look back at the processes that brought me here. But it is a narrow-minded recollection. Too much self and too little credit is given to the relationships, environments, and mercies that have helped shape me over the years.

When I truly open my heart to a broader vision of the past, I realize I could only exist in this manner through:

  • The careful guidance of those willing and able to nurture my development.
  • Trial and error of making mistakes or accomplishments and learning from them.
  • Those who have presented themselves as rivals or challengers along my path.
  • Those whom I have wronged who have extended grace and compassion towards me.
  • Extending knowledge by teaching others.

All of these things are teachers in some form. Beyond a formal education, teachers will present themselves throughout life, sometimes unexpectedly. Every moment is an opportunity for learning. It is when I think I know it all, or feel I’ve excelled enough, or have forgotten where I’ve come from that I risk missing out on a more meaningful life.

Life has plenty to teach me. When the teacher presents itself, I will be open to seek the opportunity to learn. This is how I will honor those who have helped me progress.

CH

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The opening pages of my journal begin with a precarious premise: madness. The mind is a largely unexplored landscape. Dark recesses hold many disturbing thoughts, which inevitably point to a type of dissonance. This can be explained as two competing voices fighting for dominance. Ultimately, which one will win?

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The Vesica Piscis depicts the joining or perhaps collision of two worlds. Similarly, hemispheres of the brain are joined in strange and mysterious ways.

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These brief glimpses into the mind are but the opening salvos of a deeper look at identity, personal madness, and family violence. Where the path goes from there…time will tell…

Five years ago, I embarked on an intriguing journey to create a journal. This would not be a place to keep mere words on a screen reflecting my thoughts and feelings, but a real, tangible, and in the modern patois, analogue, book of deeply personal writings. Most importantly, this would be a journal worthy of me.
I had taken a leather-bound blank journal someone had gifted me and begun work on this massive project. I cut and pasted in various bits of mementos, past journal entries, art, new writings and other ephemera. The deeper I delved into my journal, it seemed a greater story was emerging, a transcendental work that was at once bringing my past, present, and future together in some mysterious and amazing ways.
Through the years (and moving several times), I put the project on hold, always assuming that it would draw me back towards it like some sort of carpet-bagging comet heading towards the sun. The journal however, stayed neatly stored in my other art supply boxes and didn’t see the light of day since those early, intensive days in 2010.
I really had no idea back then that there was something called an art journal, a hybridization of classical art techniques, scrapbooking, journaling, and to some degree, paper engineering.
I learned of tried-and-true techniques others had pioneered with their journals, essentially turning them into magnificent works of art.
When I brought out my journal recently, I saw it with new eyes and once again understood its potential for becoming something far greater than a journal.
So I decided to rebuild it from scratch (even though I was 50 pages into the old one), employing some of these newly discovered techniques and experimenting with a few of my own. Here I will share some of my experiences of making my new journal. I will share the process, share my feelings about the experience, and of course, share some of the pages.
Instead of the book as a whole being one massive work of art, each page will be as well. Check back for updates to see the evolution of this truly unique vision in the works!