Sunday, January 31, 2010

Revealing resolutions [no. 1]

A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K
So, today is the last day of January in this New Year. The month of fresh exciting resolutions that seem to just dissolve into thin air? How are you doing with yours?

I had decided to do my resolutions a little differently this year. Over many years, observing what motivates the people I know, I have realized that what works for me, may not work for you. What works for you, may not work for me. For me what does not work for me is setting a goal and telling others about it. Trust me, I'm hard enough on myself. I don't need others hounding me. But that motivation works for some.

So rather than blurt out one resolution for January 1st — one that is supposed to last the whole year, but is lucky to survive one week — I've decided to break my resolutions down month by month. Revealing my resolution at the end of that month. Presumably, said resolution would have been accomplished.

As for January, I'm proud to announce my resolution was accomplished.

I completed, writing and illustrating, the prototype for a children's book for my niece's first birthday. It's called, "Spring Tickles" and I will be publishing it through blurb.com. It will be the first in a series of books I have in mind for her.

Okay, now... on to February.
©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Photo

A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K

Abbey of Sant'Antimo in Tuscany, Italy
Origins of this abbey date back to 352AD.
PHOTO ©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Monday, January 25, 2010

What makes us, 'us'?

B R E A D C R U M B S
Our things. A job. A title. Our body. Image. Our mind. Thoughts.

What do you think makes us, us?

Yes, we look a certain way. We have certain things. We think certain thoughts. But, do those form who we are? I'm in the midst of reading an insightful and thought-provoking book, and what I read this morning over coffee was a bit of a breadcrumb chapter:
Body vs. Mind. The Body will eat until it is satisfied. But the Mind makes us continue to eat. Our Body needs simple covering when it's too hot or too cold. But the Mind looks in the closet and declares, "I have nothing to wear." The Mind thinks it IS the Body, or the hand, or hair, or whatever. It thinks it's the physical 'thing.' But, then the Mind says, "Am I not the hand? If my hand is cut off... I am still me. So, then I am not the hand." When you take away 'things,' what is remaining is what you really are. It's when you shed the things you think make up your personal story, your identity, and what makes you feel safe, that you finally are able to understand what you really are. You are not just 'body' because you can function without your body. And not your 'beliefs' as those were passed on to you from family and society even before you were born.
Why 'breadcrumb'? I have my master file of my photography that I'd kept backed-up on an external HD. And being a photographer, I identify myself with those items. The photos. There's a comfort in knowing that I have those items. They showcase me as 'a photographer'. I'm also a packrat, so I keep everything. But those photos are part of 'me.' Or that's what it feels like.

They are currently missing.

Close to 4,000 photos dating back to 1995 are simply missing. France, holidays, my grandparents, random road trips, Sunrises, Inauguration, my niece's first days in this world last January.

A few weeks ago, I was transferring files onto a new drive. The old one went on the fritz, and suddenly these photos disappeared. Someone who handles these things, is currently looking into recovering these images for me. Should know something early this week. I'm teetering emotionally between anxious and denial.

But in reading this chapter this morning, I also realize that those photos are not me. Think of Haiti. Of New Orleans. These items are things. The do not constitute 'us.' Losing them does not change who we are, or endanger our lives. They are comfortable because they hold memories. They showcase our talents. But they are not us.

If they are recovered. I will be very, very happy. I will then immediately back up 'the back-up'. But if they are not recovered, I will still back up 'the back-up' from here forward. Perhaps cry for a few days and then move on with life. Either way, lesson learned.

When we get stripped of the things we think identify us, a funny thing happens, we realize we are still 'us.'
©2010 Wendy Hudgins
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Photo

A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K

Tulip market, Amsterdam
Plan A was to see the famed fields of tulips (my favorite flower) in person. But an early freeze meant the fields had to be cut earlier than usual. Okay. Plan B... I 'saw' them in a great market in downtown Amsterdam instead. Just because our first try at something doesn't go the way we want it to, doesn't mean we should sit around and mope. Get up. Dust yourself off, and make a new path.
©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Thursday, January 21, 2010

End = Beginning

A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K
Every new beginning
comes from some
other beginning's end.
- GREEN DAY
2010 Wendy Hudgins

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Obstacles and fresh starts

[ -O N E -Y E A R- A G O , - T H I S- W E E K -]
A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K

"What a day" | JANUARY 20, 2009

This country's mindset was quite a bit lighter last year.

And while most of us are smart enough, including the soon-to-be President last year, to know that change requires more than pixie dust, a pretty website, and a smile, this new President was about to inherit the biggest mess in my lifetime as the new President.

Nevermind the obstacle of first black president. It sure will be nice once we can get past calling out stuff like that. When it becomes a non-issue of the person being black, female, hispanic, youngest, oldest, asian, from this place, or that place, etc. If they can do the job... let 'em in!

But back to this mess our country is in...
And I should warn, I'm a little heated on this issue.
..

It makes me think of Tom and Jerry when Jerry trashes the house and Tom gets blamed for it. If McCain had been our president, we would likely still be in just as much of a mess. This inherited-mess is bigger than any one person or current President (McCain OR Obama) can fix quickly, because a lot of this 'mess' was a house-warming gift from the former administration. But, while the creators of the mess have disappeared from the public eye, it would unfairly be the person left standing in that White House (again, McCain OR Obama), who would inevitably catch the brunt and blame. Nice.

So is it too late? Can this be fixed? Can we be fixed? Yes.

Is Obama the Messiah? Is he perfect? Are all his ideas great? No way. If this 'national mess' that we seem to be in, is going to be around for a while, then instead of Dem's and Republicans bitching and moaning about how wrong everything is... what if we all just shut-up and got to work fixing it!

I love constructive criticism. It helps you grow. Become more effective. But whining? Or complaining with no solution? Or fanning the fires with empty, antagonizing, instigating words? Or having an already solidified, baseless, 'doomsday' mindset... is intolerable to me.

I'm tired of hearing the left complain about FOX. I'm tired of the right complaining about 'mainstream media.' If we could shut up and look at the obstacle in front of us as a chance to think, innovate, and come together and problem-solve. Then we could roll back the old, tired, polarizing ways of how we relate with eachother and actually get to work on a solution. A fresh start.

And this is not a black or white issue.

I'm not referring to race. This may be shocking to some Americans... THERE IS A MIDDLE GROUND. In my own family, I've heard the comment "well, that's your President." Really?? Must we even be this divisive in one household?????

Um, it IS actually possible... (again, potentially a shock to most my-way-or-the-highway-Americans) that the other person could be right. Or the other person could even help make your idea better. Compromise. Is. Okay. Is this really 'healthcare' or 'no healthcare'? LISTEN TO OURSELVES????!!!!! What happened to us?? This is embarrassing.

I work as a freelance Art Director and love what I do, I love my clients, and I love the challenge, but healthcare for independently employed folks is terrible.

So, no, I don't think Obama has all the right answers or that all of his decisions have been perfect. There have been missteps and missed opportunities. Massachusetts.

But if someone looked at your life, have you had all the right answers? Made all the right choices? Have all of your decisions been perfect? I'd venture to say your answer is 'no.'

Mine sure is. And that's okay.

Perfection is not the goal. We just need to keep eachother honest and accountable. I'm pleased with the election results in Massachusetts last night. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm pleased with the election results last night. Not because I agree with the outcome (vehemently do NOT) but because voters are speaking. And when a candidate sits on her butt and takes her support for granted. You cannot be surprised at the outcome. I was originally a Hillary supporter and she did the same thing.

As a freelance creative, I'm grateful for each and every job I work on and each client I connect with. Thanksgiving is a time that I take to show that. In these times (well, truly, at ANY time), NOTHING should be taken for granted!

From the election results, we are reminded of this. Speak up. Do the right thing. Don't wait. And remember that whoever speaks up (or votes) the most, wins. People are frustrated. I'M (clearly) FRUSTRATED.

So if you don't like what you're seeing... GET OUT THERE AND DO SOMETHING!

Sofa-bickering will help no one. And firing off ridiculous baseless comments with the sole intent of riling people up is such an energy suck. Not just politically-speaking. But Mr. Robertson's recent nonsensical bullshit about the earthquake being God's revenge on abortions. What's happening to our country? I think God's gonna have a word or two with him at the pearly gates on what a screwed-up PR person he is for Christianity. Don't even get me started on this one. But using a religious reference, it's like we're becoming the Babble at Babel. No one is listening to eachother. We are going to crumble down and self-destruct. If we keep this up.

Like the bumper stickers' forecast... united we stand, divided, we will fall.

My faith has sustained and inspired me through so much, and in the Christian faith, the belief is that we are all (Mr. Robertson) children of God. Martin Luther King Jr. preached tolerance, acceptance and equal rights. So sadly ironic that all this is coming to a head at this one-year anniversary. Again, I have to repost the words from another charged and chaotic situation... can't we all just get along?

So, if you expect perfection from others, how are you doing in your own life?

I'll close by saying that when we start something, try to do it well.

But if you fail, keep at it.

Obstacles are part of the game. Part of life. Like football playoffs, if you lose one, there's another game. If your critics hound you, go back to your initial inspiration, your initial game plan, Mr. Obama... and follow it. Listen to your heart, your constructive critics, to your faith. And dust off your feet, stand up, and go at it. Again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Whatever it takes. But don't give up and don't cave in.

It's getting closer to spring, a time for fresh starts. There will always be obstacles. But don't give up on your idea, your dream, your visions. Fight for them. Have a spine about them. Speak up for them. Defend them. Then imagine if you pursued them.
©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do unto others

[ -O N E -Y E A R- A G O , - T H I S- W E E K -]
A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K

"One more moment" | JANUARY 21, 2009

...in an amazing time of our country. Watched the National Prayer Service today. Wow. So many different religions, ages, races represented. Yet, the same message. Same hopes. Made me think of this painting from the most "American" of painters, Norman Rockwell.


©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Monday, January 18, 2010

Audacity and potential

[ -O N E -Y E A R- A G O , - T H I S- W E E K -]
T W E N T Y - S I X - L E T T E R S

"Then and now" | JANUARY 19, 2009

That was my blog post on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday last year. Do you recall what your mindset was last January? That lift of hope we felt? What a year.

But somewhere over the course of 365 days, it feels like an embarrassing division has permeated our country. This "United States" of America. What happened to the bumper stickers of 'united we stand divided we fall.' Or 'hope.' Can we really not work together? Compromise? Help eachother? Have we already thrown in the towel?

I don't think all is a lost cause. Then again, I am also an eternal optimist. I love these words from Thoreau, "we find only the world we look for." So then, can't we look for solutions. Look for the good and the potential in a situation. In eachother.

Over the next few days, I will be taking stock of that feeling, that lift, that audacity to hope that we all felt a year ago. I'm even going to tour the White House at the end of this month. And no matter how short-lived last year's 'hope' may seem to us now. We needed that moment so badly, so desperately as a nation. I'd like it back.

After last Tuesday's earthquake, rescuers came in from Iceland, China, Israel, Canada, Brazil and the U.S., and are currently helping in Haiti all working together. The audacity.

After the terrorists' ruthless destruction on our home turf just over eight years ago on 9/11 we were so gentle with eachother. The potential.

We have shown, full-on display, that we have the capacity to be kind. To help our neighbors. Quickly. Generously. Indiscriminately. And internationally. We have shown we have the capacity to make this world a little better. We can be kind in our words and our deeds.

So
if this potential is shown to be in all of us, I wonder, why then must we wait for such disaster to strike before showcasing our compassion?

Powerful words and powerful change do come out of, and arise from powerful tensions. I wish we could heed words that came from another charged and chaotic situation. Can't we all just get along?

For the first few days of this week, I'll be reposting the blogs from one year ago this week.

I am reposting these entries to not only honor and lift up a man seeking that same thing, unity, fairness, justice, kindness, Martin Luther King Jr. but also to be reminded of that historic moment, that feeling back in January 2009 as our country took a step forward. Our heads were held high, even if only for a short-lived moment. We needed that then. We need it even more now. I'm not aiming to push a political party on anyone. That's your choice to make. But I am pushing for us to work together. And I believe we can.

I continue to see the potential in the audacity of hope.
©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Don't think. Just paint.

T W E N T Y - S I X - L E T T E R S
Young Harris College. Tena Magher. Have no idea where she is now, but those words that she barked at us young southern college students in her painting class years ago, still stick with me. Vividly.

When you are not trying, magical things can happen.

Now, I don't mean don't try at all. But rather, don't try so hard that you squeeze out the potential for things to naturally unfold. For you to stumble upon something. Or even with my blogging, to allow a blog post just to bubble up and almost write itself.

Often in our lives, expectations, pressures (real or imagined), and anticipations, can impede this mysterious process. A New Year, for instance. No wonder resolutions are only kept for only a week or so. The pressures and expectations are of perfection. Or in art, there is an intimidating notion of confronting a 'blank canvas.' That somehow, what you paint should be done carefully, well, and in one shot. Pfhh! Who made up that rule? We try so hard, we wind up not doing anything. Or anything of interest. Or meaning.

Think of the difference between painting 1 painting in 30 hours, or 30 paintings in 1 hour. You will obviously still try. But in the second scenario, there's also the beautiful balance of not trying so hard.

Enter January 16th, 2009. Busboys and Poets.

One year ago today I went to grab a bite with an intriguing new friend of mine at this cool DC joint he introduced me to. We were caught up in the excitement surrounding the events of the inauguration of last January. He's a DC-area journalist and showed me his hologram-laden credentials and passes for the events. Cool! I was getting busy on my inauguration quilt. We were each doin' our thing. And very intrigued by eachother. Plus, he's hot.

I wouldn't realize till April that this was a date (I'm a little slow to pick up on things sometimes).

But that was good.

Because for four solid months, I was wysiwyg. Most people who know me, know there's little effort spent on pretense. I'm just me. I've also held a belief that while I was ready to share things in life with someone else, if there wasn't anyone, that would certainly not stop me from doing the things I love. Then, poof. Through a monthly coffee house meeting with our church, and later bumping into eachother and chatting it up on a chilly January day, it was an instant connection.

A month later, this night, at Busboys.

I later said to him that I've always felt like I was this funny, weird-shaped puzzle piece. It's like that child's toy where the circle goes in the circle. Square in square. And he and I just fit.

As a nod to this revelation of mine, one of the gifts I gave my niece for her first Christmas — was the very toy that taught me that lesson.

Don't conform to any other shape than what you are. When you are you, then if you connect with someone it's more authentic. We have to work at maintaining the magic of us. The sweet, weird, wonderful, unique things that make us, us. This in turn keeps the magic in life. And our connections more authentic.

Over the course of one year, now, he has inspired me, challenged me, encouraged me, made me laugh, sigh, float, and smile more often than I can remember. I told him that because of that feeling, I didn't care whether we dated one more day or until I'm 95. Who knows. I don't want a crystal ball, and I don't know what lies ahead. I just know that when you connect like this and someone shines this light of excitement into your life, you're just so damn happy to have it you feel overwhelmingly blessed and lucky. He's pretty amazing.

But at that time, that night one year ago, in a perfect little bistro in DC, with innocence and excitement, I was just being, myself. Not trying. No expectations, pressures, or anticipations, impeded on this mysterious process.

I was me. C'est tout.

The formula for the magic in life? Just try not to try so hard.
©2010 Wendy Hudgins

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Photo

A - C R E A T I V E - S P A R K

Venice, Italy

PHOTO ©2010 Wendy Hudgins

I believe

T W E N T Y - S I X - L E T T E R S
I believe our outlook on life
impacts the quality of our life.
—WENDY HUDGINS
©2010 Wendy Hudgins
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Trust. Be guided. Go live.

T W E N T Y - S I X - L E T T E R S
On the first Saturday of 2010, I commenced my annual 'Clean House,' Niecy Nash style. And while football games were sounding off in homes across this country, Style network was filling my home. And it was while going through my bookshelf in the living room, deciding what to keep, what should go, when I stumbled upon this leaf that I had pressed from back in the fall of 2008.

I had gone on a women's retreat through my church, to a beautiful area in northern Maryland. Autumn leaves. Blue skies. Mountains. A lake. And a perfect fall day. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 was the focus for this retreat. The woman heading up the retreat then asked us to spend 30 minutes in silence. We could stay in the cabin. Read. Write. Meditate. Or go outside, which is what I chose. For me... to be able to 'wander', in the woods and feel as safe as I did in this space was a very unique opportunity. So I walked out on my own for a bit, in silence, and came across a large flat rock at the top of this peak, shaded and tucked away under the beautiful autumn trees and overlooking a lake glimmering in the sunlight. I sat down, laid back, took a deep breath, and for the next 20 minutes or so, just laid there with my eyes closed. Soaking in this precious, quiet, still moment.

A funny thing happens when you are
really in the moment in life... later, as now, I can feel that moment, and smell that air, and hear those birds just as clearly as when I was there in person. When I sat up from that rest, I had wanted to capture my thoughts. While I had no paper, I'm rarely without my favorite pen (Pilot Precise extra fine, black), so I worked with what I had. Here's the [very] random thoughts that I captured that day:


[THE LEAF WRITINGS]
Yes, 'breadcrumbs.'
The trees do not question where they are going, or WHEN it will happen. They need only to grow and be nourished. When will the leaf fall, or change color? It's none of the tree's business. There's a bigger picture than just that tree.
[from the song] 'Are you who you want to be?'
Stop moving so fast. Be still. Stop taking photos. And see.
What we resist persists. Embrace it. Learn it. Try it. So you can move beyond it.
So, if what you've been doing isn't working, try the opposite — or at least something different.
Lord listen to your children praying. I'll fly away. Sunlight. Shade. Crickets. Leaves fall. Cool. Smell. Crisp. Breathe. Clementine. Continue to be still.
Thank you. Alert. Awake. Learn. Trust. Be guided. Go live.

I love writing down our own thoughts on life. Letting some time pass. Then going back to read our own words. Who knew what that next year, 2009, would hold for my life, but more specifically, for my heart. We can gain strength knowing later how things turned out. It's already been a stellar start to this New Year. Brilliant. And we're only on day three. Genius.

January's a good thing.

©2010 Wendy Hudgins
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