Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guest Post by: Josh Hanagarne "World's Strongest Librarian"

Stress Is A Teacher. The Student Is In Charge

I have seen myself react to stress in two ways:

1. Say “Well, life is stressful” and just let it be
2. Create a solution and move on…until the next stressful situation shows up

The problem with number one is that if you accept stress as the cost of living, you’ll never be able to release the pressure valve. You’ll quit fighting for calm and peace of mind.

One small stress leads to another. As minor agitations go untreated, the cumulative fatigue and frustration build and lead to…who knows what?

A Few Hard Fast Rules

I avoid speaking in absolutes whenever possible, but there are a couple of things that I believe with 100% certainty.

• If you go through life expecting to be lied to, you will attract liars
• If you expect to be stressed out, you will attract more stress
• If you are in a situation you can’t control, you have to introduce something that you can control

The best way I know to introduce control into my life is to create something. Not something good, necessarily. Just something.

Art As Therapy

I always feel clumsy when I discuss art. I’m much better at knowing why I hate something than why I like it. The tools just aren’t in my critical toolbox because I haven’t spent any time cultivating them.

But I know this: creating anything is a response to a lack of something. Any work of art was a way to release something in the brain of the artist—call it stress, if you like.

Agitation, angst, need, want, torment…anything we create is a temporary relief. Whether it’s “good” or “quality” or “total crap” is less important than the fact that it feels good to make things.

When I write an article, I usually write an article that I would like to read. I’ve heard painters say something similar. “The painting I wanted to see and study didn’t exist yet, so I painted it.”

Some people say they dance or sing or write or sculpt because they must.

This notion gets romanticized as “The Tortured Artist.” I don’t necessarily buy that. People don’t die of not dancing or writing or sculpting.

However, I know that when I write, I have less stress. When I have less stress, I am happier.

And I am happier because for the time being, I have taken steps to fill the holes in myself that cause anxiety.

A Better Way

While I believe that occasional stress is a given, there is a better way than just giving in. Each specific stress can be eliminated by creating an antidote.

Then you can move on to the next difficult, exasperating trial.

The key to genuine peace of mind is experiencing exactly as much stress and pain as you have to…but no more. Not a drop.

The tragedy is not that life can be difficult, but that we make it more difficult than it needs to be.

Now go make something. Do it for you.

Josh Hanagarne
Get Stronger, Get Smarter, Live Better…Every Day

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog with advice about coping with Tourette’s Syndrome, book recommendations, kettlebells buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates and Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter to stay in touch.

Click on the link at the beginning of this blog post to read Josh's latest blogpost.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stepping up My Game

Before My Time 30x30 mixed media and collage on canvas
I like to do things in my own time frame. Instead of re-evaluating on January 1 like everyone else. I pick a random time now. I'm doing some serious goal setting and planning now, probably because the economy seems to be trying to get back on track and art is once again starting to sell. (It was a long, DRY, summer!) It's rekindled my confidence and made me get excited again. Even, with the lack of sales, I have kept myself on pace with the art making and have built up a decent inventory. But lately I've come to realize, I need to start thinking once again about the business side of things. And while my art making is for me, it also plays a part in getting my kids through college, and paying for the extras - like travel and fun. One day (hopefully sooner rather than later) I can have the art making be my only job....while still keeping the joy in it. So - I'm working in my journal again. I'm making out wish lists - goal lists - the big plan list - the time line list - etc. I'm going to focus a little harder on my blogging and networking. I'm going to get back on track and find some new representation. I'm going to get off my butt and work it just a little harder. After all: In order to live your dreams - you have to wake them up!!!