Month: November 2015

THANKFUL

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Oh! Christmas Tree???

No writer is going to pass up a prime opportunity to list the things they are thankful for and neither will I. Tomorrow much of the world will take part in the internal reflection of being grateful. Have an attitude of gratitude is a great way to live, but is it always possible?

I don’t know, probably not. If we consider all the surrounding situations in the world it’s easy, at least for me, to feel moments of despair or confusion about inequality, unfairness, inhumane treatment of others, and literal evil. Put on that happy face Baby and s-m-i-l-e!

What if I don’t want to fake a smile? I’m usually a positive encourager who most people see as upbeat, but in reality, in the quiet alone moments I feel the negative pull. I MUST find redemption, purpose, and even humor in situations in order to combat the force pulling like gravity against me. Maybe that is the very purpose for which we express thankfulness; to push us to a higher level of perspective that tweaks the view to where we can’t help but feel better about the negatives. Don’t know, but it’s food for thought.

So, I’m “feeling” that melancholy whisper in my psyche and I’ll drown it with my written voice by sharing a short list of gratitude to squash that old man who wants me to succumb to tears, depression or sadness. Here goes…

I’m thankful for…..

  • My godly, artist mother who taught me to see the world through creative eyes. She encouraged every one of my artistic endeavors whether it was baking a cake, writing an angst-filled poem, playing the piano, acting in a school play, or painting a picture. She was goofy, funny, gifted and talented. She loved God, Jesus, my daddy, my brother and me.
  • My dad, a rock-steady predictable man who never missed work or church. I loved watching from the hall door as he danced with Mom in the living room. He never once complained when dying with lung cancer. He had integrity and a dry wit.

Okay….I need to stop right here and say, hold your horses, Claudia. You’re going to end up in tears missing those who’ve passed on. That sort of defeats the purpose of this blog. Let me start over…

I’m thankful for…

  • that weird 4 foot tall Christmas tree I created in the gallery that I spent a total of $5 on. It is a Styrofoam cone-shaped topiary ($2 at a yard sale) that I wrapped in a $3 pair of lime green sheer curtains with zig-zag patterns of sequins all over. I bought them at a thrift store. They make me smile.
  • my BOSE Bluetooth speaker that make 2500 square feet sound like a concert hall when paired with Pandora. Ah, the good life.
  • my lime green (I love that color) retro coffee table that is a gathering place for artists, musicians, and friends around a coffee pot. It sits in the back of the gallery awaiting the next visitor that comes just to talk.
  • that I’m surrounded by art that even though I could never afford it all I get to enjoy it for a period until it finds a new home.
  • having a day off tomorrow to enjoy some couch time
  • the sounds of life along the street as we approach the Wonderland of Lights festival and the official turning on of the lights coming in about an hour. Maybe some guests will come spend money!
  • that half a piece of buttermilk pie that I didn’t finish because who needs the extra calories? Besides….there will be more tomorrow.
  • the internet that keeps me connected to total strangers who might care about another stranger (me) for the 5 minutes used to read this blog. Hello out there….HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

And, I guess that’s enough for now. Of course, there’s so much more, but they’re treasures in my heart. I’m not wealthy, but I’m richer than most of the people in this world. Blessed beyond what I deserve, happy in the moment, and ready to continue traveling along the surprising journey God has planned for me, I’ll return to the gallery in a couple of days prepared to face a throng of art lovers chomping at the bit to buy unique and creative finds to fill their empty spaces regardless of the price. Okay….I can dream, can’t I? So I have said it….so let it be done.

Thank you for listening to my ravings. I’m feeling much better now.

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MAGIC WORDS

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Every child (I hope) has been taught the “magic words” that will cause most adults to give their attention. Please and thank you come to mind first, then excuse me, I’m sorry, yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, and no ma’am. Manners are oil on the rusty hinges of society and separate those who were “raised in a barn” from the rest. Of course, I realize this is a Western culture thing and may not be consistent in other cultures, but for the most part I think we can agree that being polite is quite nice.

Recently I learned something new, to me at least. I follow a blog written by Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. His idea has rocked my world and in an extraordinary way. As the sole person completing sales and receiving payment I’ve been on top of my game thanking customers and of course, I’m just approaching the borderline of gushing due to the fact that I AM appreciative, grateful, thankful and relieved on a myriad of levels. I’ll admit it. I am thinking to myself, “Yippee! There’s the electric bill. Woo hoo! That just paid next month’s rent” and so on. No, I don’t tell the client that info, but it does occur to me mid-transaction. Well, after reading Jason’s article “Don’t Overdo the Gratitude When You Make an Art Sale” I had an epiphany. Certainly manners are in order, but what he suggests is taking the focus off yourself and making it about the customer by saying “Congratulations”. It turns everything around instantly, much in the same way those magic words please and thank you do when used appropriately.

So, I tried it. “Congratulations on your selection. It will be a great addition to your collection.” “Congratulations on your choice. It makes a lovely gift.” Regardless of the reason they bought the art, I am now congratulating them and the reactions truly are magic. Their face lights up, they seem satisfied and justified. It’s amazing and it makes ME feel better giving them something back after they just gave me a sale. It’s just mind boggling to me that such a simple turn around can bring the experience to a whole new level.

Is it REALLY magic? Probably not, but it does cause me to pause and ponder human nature and our need for affirmation. Basic human instincts are fraught with doubt and second-guessing, but when someone says, “Hey, you did good there Friend,” then something beautiful happens inside. I still throw in the occasional thanks, but I’d much rather congratulate them on being a smart collector, wise investor, and generous patron of the arts. That way….we’re all winners.

To read Jason Horejs’ article follow this link.

http://reddotblog.com/dont-overdo-the-gratitude-when-you-make-an-art-sale-xanadu-gallerys-art-marketing-minute

 

BUCKET LISTS

Well, that’s morbid!

This week I was visiting with an artist friend who is facing some pretty major surgery in a few days. We talked about the fact that some of the medical issues have lingered for years and that at one point they had decided to make sure they accomplished a series of goals before age 40. Well, when they reached that age and were still alive, they realized that they’d survived and had done all those list items. Now, facing a new medical challenge, they were prepared to make a whole new list. They’d made it longer than predicted so now, let’s up the ante and keep on keepin’ on. Hearing that a garden was planted made me choke up, knowing the reality was that it would possibly bloom without them. Wow, what a thought. But in my mind I thought, what a positive attitude. Regardless, there was the hope for tomorrow. And yet….they had made certain that the gallery had all their paperwork in order just in case someone besides them had to come collect the work. Reality and hope mixed together.

My list of life accomplishments included many more than two things. I’ve reached multiple goals in life, but the two more recent goals are (1) go to Tuscany, Italy and (2) open an art gallery. Well, resources are limited, so I’ve joked that since I’ve pretty much sunk the majority of my funds into opening the gallery, if I decide in the future I can’t swing the gallery I could actually scratch two things off at once because I’ll be too broke to go to Italy. I try to pour some humor into the reality, but in truth, it’s true.

Hope for the future is a good way to live. We don’t have guarantees about anything. While writing this I’m aware of the terrorist acts in Paris. A few hours ago I was oblivious to it. Life is fragile and in the blink of an eye, it’s gone. And yet, I daily awaken with hope. We cannot live without hope. It’s the life blood of our continuing existence. Without hope we wither, fade and die. Sure, art galleries are closing daily. Not mine….well, I’ve only been open two months. However, I just have a feeling that there are purposes afoot that have nothing to do with me. As I write there is a small community theatre doing a performance in my back room. Later there will be holiday shoppers dreaming of the perfect gift for a loved one. Another time a group of young college men will use the back room for a place to mentor lower classmen. Workshops, demonstrations and classes are being scheduled for the lean months (Jan-Feb). The world needs art in life, on walls, in bedrooms, in dens, in offices; a place to rest the eyes and mind away from the ugliness, stress, and anxieties dumped on us without permission.

When life overwhelms me I do exactly that, I rest my eyes upon the moon painted by Dennis O’Bryant that I “knew” was mine the first time I saw it. Una Luna is displayed in my den where I spend countless hours. Then, in my bedroom I have a beautiful rainy day watercolor by Joe Mraz that is moody and gray. I love to feel myself present there, in the scene. Above my bed are two women, one reclining and one sitting in a park, painted by Scott Imhof. It makes me restful, feel at peace. There are so many more, I couldn’t name them all. Their purpose is to heal, to distract, to fill us with wonder and joy. It works for me better than any drug.

Look to the future without worrying about what might be. It is important to face the reality looming ahead, but do it with grace and purpose like my artist friend is doing. Begin by doing something that will outlast you….maybe a painting, a garden, a story, a piece of pottery, a little place of heaven here on earth that should you leave it, we’ll all know you were here.

PROCRASTINATION~It’s a Really Big Word

When I was in the fourth grade I learned the daunting word ‘procrastination’ because my mother was frustrated with how I put off doing my chores. Every Saturday morning my brother and I were greeted with a list of child-sized jobs to accomplish to earn our allowance. The pay off was a whopping 25 cents for years and then I negotiated up to $1 due to cost of living and all. During that time though I had the tendency to be distracted by any and every other thing to do other than chores. Hence…a new vocabulary word. Procrastination.

You’ve heard of attention deficit disorder? ADD? Well, I have ADOS…attention deficit oh, shiny. Tasks looming ahead of me are easily put off when something “shinier” comes along; things like phone calls, straightening the gallery, checking email, Facebooking, staring into space, creating a new playlist, writing blogs….oops, did I just say that? Yes, I have a particular task to get done right this minute and here I sit waxing eloquent about postponing the inevitable job. That has to be the ultimate foot-dragging excuse…I’m writing about it.

Retail involves a LOT of work, especially when you are the sole employee. I think if I were honest I might have fired me by now. Yes, I work hard, but sometimes I goof off, too. I’m sorry, did you think I was just a wonder workhorse? That’s what I thought you thought. I go in spurts, up and down ladders until I’m exhausted, editing photos for hours, perusing artists, galleries, and information online, sweeping, dusting and more. I won’t tell you what I postpone but trust me, there are some important things I hate doing and will clean the toilet to keep from doing that one thing. Crazy, eh?

Maturity involves buckling up and doing the undesirable things. I’m 63 and still working on it. When I arrive at that grown up destination I’ll schedule a celebration event. That’s one of the “shiny” things I love doing, so it would be a great distraction. One thing in life I hope I always have is a teachable spirit, a willingness to recognize my fatal flaws (note flaws is plural), and be ready to work on that while adjusting along the path. The gallery was my big idea so the “boss” doesn’t want to hear my whining.

Just do it, Claudia.

I BLINKED & A WEEK PASSED

So I blinked and remembered….I HAVE A BLOG TO WRITE! Nothing for a solid week….how did that happen?

Busy-ness. I’m an early awakener, but a lie-in-bed for another hour person. What could I possibly do during that time? Well here’s what. Turn on the tv, check my phone, Words with Friends, Facebook, listen to the news, text a morning message to my best friend and if she responds I’ll call her and we talk half an hour (on a short day). Then repeat the other stuff. BAM! One hour gone. But that’s not the busy part.

Shower, dress, make breakfast for two, leave for work, make several errand stops, then land at the gallery.

At the gallery I turn on a bunch of lamps and sweep out front, check email, clean a minute and then here come the artists. They are dropping off, picking up work, or generally just stopping in to say hi and visit. Throughout the day they and other friends drift in and out to shoot the breeze, a little gossip and/or counseling. That amounts to a listening ear and a lot of free advice. Don’t know why they want to talk with me, just know it happens. Next thing you know….it’s mid afternoon and the time’s gotten away from me and like now, it’s 6:45 and I’m still at work. The gallery is closed and quiet, but NOW I can get stuff done. It’s just awful……or is it?

No, it isn’t awful. It is WONDERFUL! I love my friends and acquaintances. They bring drama, laughter, and interest to each day. Time never drags. It is full, savory and sweet! Consider the alternative….no friends. That’s not living….that is a fate worse than death.

I look around and say goodnight to the “people” here late with me. Carol’s woman in waiting, Becky’s bright flower, Lynn’s pleasure pixies, Christine’s stags, Stacy’s prophet, Dennis’ fortune teller, Jenny’s double-vision faces and more. They speak silently to me and say, “We’ll be here in the morning with stories to tell from the night in the gallery, her walls holding artist secrets and tales of anxious thoughts.” I am secretly reluctant to leave for I feel at home amongst them. They know me and I know them. We are friends and though they are created to be shared with the world, I will miss them when they are sold and depart. We had “our time”, but someday….we will part. But for now…..

Adieu