my blinding epiphany…again

and the waves roll on - gwyn michael

Less is more. –unknown

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. -Confucius

Life is complex, not complicated. –Patti Digh

Simplify, declutter, BREATHE.

I know these things, but it seems I forget again and again, and learn again and again. I have been making my life, and even more so my work, far more complicated than need be.

I wrote last week about information overload, and that is only part of it. Too much information, too much stuff, too many channels, kinds of cereal, and cat food…too much. So why am I trying to complicate the one area of my life that is easy and fills me up, my art? I told myself art was not good enough on its own. I need to help people, save the planet, save the animals, put an end to war! No wonder I can’t make any progress rebuilding my website. I have made the act of doing what I love be some monumental chore where I can’t possibly succeed.

I have lied to myself and that saves no one.

My down time at the beach woke me up along with a few simple messages. The first day at the beach I announced, “Well, it’s just like I remember it,” and my cousin replied, “Yes the waves roll in and then they roll out.” In and out again and again, like breathing. No wonder we find it so soothing and life affirming. The act of creating, like the flow of the ocean, is easy and life affirming and that is enough if I allow it to be.

This does not mean that my environmental concerns and tree planting goals are not good and valid, but they should not complicate what I already have to offer. I was telling myself that entrepreneurs are about helping people and service. What if my art is just that?  Art whether made by humans or nature has the ability to delight and inspire.

Message two:

hello crab -gwyn michael

Yesterday, before leaving for home, we took a walk to the end of the island, past the wildlife preserve where it is quiet and not crowded with people. It is a great place to gather shells, watch the water, and just be. Always in treasure gathering mode, I scoured the beach for something special. I spotted this pretty opalescent shell and scooped it up only to find this little guy had already claimed it. What a delightful surprise! The waves roll in, the waves roll out, but not everything is as it seems. My new friend reminded me that while there is much to be concerned with in this world there is also so much to take joy in.

Do what you love, the rest will follow

Old news, right? Maybe so, but I seem to be brilliant at forgetting what I believe. I spent the first day of our vacation complaining to my cousin Patti how hard it is not to know what my purpose is. How I am struggling to find a way to make my work more meaningful and make a difference in the world. I talked about garbage patches in the ocean, and the evils of factory farming, and how I have to do something about it!!!

Two days later Patti said she’d been thinking about my dilemma and stated the above. “I believe this,” she told me, and I remembered I believe this, too. While we walked on the beach and discovered the crab, I remembered that what I love more than anything is going exploring with my camera and finding the images I work with. Surely I’ll remember this time.

That’s it this week, short and simple but I do have a question:

Do you complicate your life or work in ways that trip you up, and if so how do you check yourself?

16 thoughts on “my blinding epiphany…again

  1. I can absolutely tell when I’m overthinking/overcomplicating my work & business when I find that the passion and excitement has evaporated from it. When that happens, I back track to the beginning and what it was that originally got me excited.
    Often I find I’ve gotten off track when I try to be or do something I THINK I should do, rather than what I KNOW in my heart is actually right for me.

  2. Thank you. And the answer is yes. Somehow I believe that if something is not HARD than it is not good, or worthy, or somehow I am not being productive if I am not struggling. This deep rooted belief, which I am currently trying to explore in order to understand, has me running around like a crazy woman on a treadmill unable to push the OFF button.

    Today, to straighten myself out, I have turned the phone in my studio down to silent, made sure to take a lunch break and actually eat a meal, and re-evaluated the question: why it is that I think only hard things are good?! Why can’t making a living off of my art be easy, lucrative, and fun? It is. I mean, it can be. I’ve seen that and tasted it. Your post (as it often is) was lovely & divine timing for me. Thanks for sharing your struggles, thoughts, and processes with the rest of us.

  3. I know I’ve made a mountain out of my own expectations of myself when I feel resistant to even start the idea, creation that excited me to begin with…there is a hesitation and I find more things to distract me. I love this post. I feel the same way about my work…shouldn’t I be doing it all for somebody else to benefit…to better this planet, this world. I think that my lifestyle already does that….so why not just let me creative expression be that…an extension of myself which is what this planet wants me to be anyway!!!

  4. THANK YOU! I am SO glad that I am not the only one who gets into the mindset that ones are has to “mean something” more than what it is and has to have some other purpose than just being the beautiful creation that it is!!! Thank you for posting this and sharing your thoughts/feelings.

    I become absolutely inert when I start thinking that what I make are just “bags” that don’t “mean” anything, don’t have a “purpose” and therefore are not really “worth it” that I need to be making something that is blessed by the gods and saves the world, lifts women worldwide out of poverty and provides equal education for the masses…

    And when I get overwhelmed with that thinking, I go downstairs and spend THE REST OF THE AFTERNOON playing video games so I can stop thinking about how my creativity is continually missing the mark.

    WHEW! Are you tired from just reading all that? Me too and I live it! :-)

    So to get myself straight, I am slowly changing myself talk to one of…

    “you have been given creativity that no one else has in the way that you have it, you have an awesome aesthetic that is unparalleled and is uniquely you. This is a joy and a blessing and does not need to be more than that. From your creativity will spring the money to live, give and expand in business and in life. Revel 100% in what this is, deeply and with joy.”

    ahhh…I feel so much better afterwards and full of love and appreciation for my gift.

  5. Gwyn, thanks for this sharing your struggle with this perennially bedeviling question. I have no answer, other than to share my own response to myself, which is not much different from yours.

    I’m trying to stop asking the question. Not an easy thing for me to do. Yet what I noticed is that every time I asked it, it made me feel as if something was wrong with me, as if everybody else has figured it out but me. I have friends who are amazingly focused; I on the other hand, as I like to say, am attracted to bright, shiny objects. I have many interests, and find myself going in so many directions.

    Perhaps, I’ve started to think, I should simply be grateful for my unending curiosity, and see the variety of my interests as a gift. Even as I write this, of course, there’s that little voice in my head saying “sure, honey, you’re just trying to rationalize away your lack of discipline.” It’s hard to tell that voice to take a hike, but increasingly, I’m learning to do just that.

  6. So … I asked for the ocean to come to me today … and it did thru your work; both thru the picture and the words, “The waves roll in and then they roll out.” In and out again and again, like breathing. No wonder we find it so soothing and life affirming. The act of creating, like the flow of the ocean, is easy and life affirming and that is enough if I allow it to be.”

    This week my focus is to find play and adventure while unplugging a bit from my technological world ~ this is my way of un-complicating a week that is cluttered full!

    Thanx for sharing the ocean with me! :)

  7. Girl, I don’t have to keep it in check because I surround myself with gems like you. You just did it for me. I read your piece, filled my lungs with air, and breathed a thank you. Because you deserve it.

  8. I think I complicate my life by trying to do too many things at once, and trying to learn too many things at once. Then comes the dreaded overwhelm. I also have the feeling that I have to attach my art to some purpose or cause. Then it becomes complicated because there are so many causes. Who should I help? What can I do?

    I guess we have to take time out daily to remember why we create art in the first place.

    Lovely post Gwyn. I hope you remember it in a month from now 😉 I’ll try my best to.

  9. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each of these comments. When I wrote this I was truly writing from the heart and I was unsure about posting it. To know that I am not alone and maybe even am helping is what this is all about!


  10. “I have made the act of doing what I love be some monumental chore where I can’t possibly succeed.”

    That’s exactly what I do. It’s a goofy thing to to, but I can make anything more difficult than it need be.

    To check myself, I’ve learned to ask myself: “what is the simplest thing that I can do about whatever I need to do?” Slowing down to answer that question has helped me keep things in perspective– and to keep moving forward– instead of being overwhelmed and defeated. Most of the time.

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