Category Archives: Passion

Freedom of Speech

Palette with speech balloonsWith all the buzz lately about freedom of speech it has inspired me to tackle this complicated subject. It’s very dear to me, mostly because I am not just a writer, I am an artist. I am also an art historian.

Artists and their cousins, writers, create from within their cultures, their backgrounds and circumstances. Their expression comes, necessarily, from what they live, what they think and what they feel. They are the barometer of a society’s health. Artists are frequently free thinkers, rebels even. It takes a lot of courage to take what you feel and put it in the public eye. It takes a lot of self-honesty to get those feelings out on canvas, paper, sculpture in a way that works… an artist must always be aware of self-censorship, because that stifles creativity. Being self-aware also makes one more sensitive to the environment one lives in… is it any mystery that artists are usually the first ones to see and express that which is anathema to them?

Art is often understood as a comment upon, or a reflection upon our society. As observers, artists are capable of showing us a mirror of our own actions, beliefs, or political systems. Directly engaged with aesthetics, they are also capable of influencing the way we see our surroundings, or challenging the beliefs of their predecessors. link

Paris, 26 September 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).

Censorship is the first weapon of tyrants. It is the first weapon of the fearful and close-minded, and the control freaks. Art can convey uncomfortable truths, unspoken truths. It’s not always the intention of an artist to bring to the forefront of society those things that need addressing, but sometimes that’s exactly what the intention is. My inner conviction is that this is a necessary role in our society. Awareness is a process that doesn’t just happen individually, but collectively as well. We need each other, and we need each others talents whether that is; fixing a dishwasher, repairing a road, handling finances, raising children or expressing beauty, truth, conflict and ugliness through art. We need each other, as a social species, as human beings… and the gifts we bring should never be stifled, outlawed or censored. We are all diminished when we allow this to happen.

I am not normally a rude person, nor do I try to offend others intentionally, but sometimes to truly be authentic – to speak my truth or paint my truth, rudeness or offence happens. I can’t do anything about how another takes my work, and I can’t censor myself to try to please everyone, or I might as well just stop speaking, writing and painting altogether.

I am all for personal kindness, understanding and tolerance, but never at the expense of truth, or freedom of expression.

What do you think?



Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Fear, History, Passion, Responsibility



Personal Agendas

It’s important to stay positive. I think that is one of the key ingredients to creating a great life. It is also important to stay true to yourself and be clear about your inner motivations and intentions.

Agenda’s are those underlying concepts and desires that structure how we operate in the world. They are our special interests – those things we feel passionate about and want to promote. They are the things that are at the bottom of our personal goals.

Most of us who are dedicated to personal growth have some sense of our place in the world, of being part of a community, whether that is global, our countries, our towns, our neighborhood or even our own small circle. We are part of a system, many systems in fact, and although we are ultimately only responsible for ourselves it would be foolish not to see that we have an impact and that we influence our communities too.

Whether we do this positively, or negatively depends on our ability to be clear about our own personal agendas. Agendas are born, nurtured and sustained by our beliefs about our world and our place in it. Agendas are directly related to our self-esteem and what we want to accomplish.

We all have agendas.

Agendas can be positive, negative… and in rare cases, neutral. Agendas can come from ambitions, and from a sense of service and connection. Agendas can help us focus on our direction and stay on track with our values. Agendas from a place of love and service influence others in positive ways, especially if we are flexible and willing to adjust our agendas to work with others.

Agendas can also come from ego. When they come from ego it’s directly related to fear… usually a fear of losing something, whether that is fear of losing what you need to survive, losing love, losing status, or losing control of something. Agendas from fear are filled with deception, manipulation and only serve the self. These kind of agendas don’t consider the impact they have on others and can bulldoze others in their need to dominate.

Personal development, at its core, is about awareness. It’s about aligning with our highest selves. It’s about assessing who we are and then discarding what we don’t like and acquiring or uncovering what we do like. Our intentions and our passions are the road markers on this path. With awareness our world gets larger and we can see a little further than before. We can see that we affect the people around us, we affect our communities and the world too.

Do we want this impact to be positive, or negative?

Being clear about what motivates us is the key to this process. Knowing what our agendas are makes it possible for us to consciously develop them so that they serve us, and others in positive ways. It prevents us from acting from a position of fear. Being honest about our own personal agendas is the way to bring them in conscious awareness and ensure they align with our values and ethics.

Personal agendas are a fact of life. Like any of our personality traits—quick to anger/slow to start, need to lead/prefer to follow—they have both positive and negative qualities. The key is to acknowledge them openly and work with them. Only then can we move in a shared direction, applying our ideas and passions for the greater good of all.

Everyone has an agenda. Are you aware of yours?


Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Fear, Goals, Passion, Personal Growth


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10 Tips for a Great Life

Most of us go through life on a sort of autopilot. Our habits and lifestyle roll along without much conscious thought. We do our daily things without examining them, we interact with others without stopping to ask ourselves; what does this mean? or why is this happening? why do I do this and why do I do this in the way I do? Or why did they really say or do that? We don’t stop to assess whether our actions and choices and the interactions we have serve our goals and dreams. We muddle along in bit of a fog. Begin to really pay attention to the moment, the thoughts, the habits, the interactions you have. You will be amazed at what you find out.

We all have assumptions about life that we have collected over the years. These form the template for our behavior and choices, even if we rarely think about them. These assumptions form our beliefs about ourselves and about the world in general. Sometimes these assumptions are not entirely true and they can get in the way of our success. Examine your assumptions and beliefs. What might have been true for you at twenty frequently isn’t when you are thirty-five. Question your assumptions regularly. Keep what’s working for you and change what doesn’t.

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.
~ Alan Alda

A great life is one that expands and grows, it never stagnates. Learning new things, trying new ways of doing things, opening your mind to unfamiliar concepts, visiting new places, listening to music you normally wouldn’t choose, and meeting new people are some ways to stretch the limits of who you are. Stretching yourself opens the door to fresh opportunities. Choose one new thing to try on a regular basis and soon you will see you are more than you ever suspected.

There’s a lot out there about the power of visualization. I find some of it kind of trite and simplistic, but there is a lot power in visualization. It’s like throwing a ball. You don’t concentrate on the ball in your hand; you envision it hitting the target. You look to where it is going, not where it is at. It’s the same with visualization. SEE where it is you want to be. Make it as real in your mind as if it was already around you. Use vision boards, or journaling, whatever works for you. Your subconscious is literal and will react as if your vision is the reality, working with your goals instead of against them. You still have to do the work but it will be much, much easier.

 “You must see your goals clearly and specifically before you can set out for them. Hold them in your mind until they become second nature.”
– Les Brown

There is something in us that believes that grown-ups don’t make mistakes. It’s bullshit. The most successful people will tell you that they make mistakes all the time, probably more than most, because they try more things. It’s how we learn. You will screw up. You will learn from it. It’s normal. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, be afraid of not making any because that means you aren’t learning anything.

Ah… the buts, the what if’s, the if only’s. Here’s how to banish these nasty little gremlins. They look bigger than they really are – they are only your fears, the illusion that you can’t do something that probably comes from your assumptions (which you need to examine and adjust regularly). Don’t let the gremlins talk you out of your dreams. They are only signposts that point out your challenges, and that’s all they are. They need to be ignored while you dream and set goals. Set them aside for that time. When you begin to plan, then and only then should you let them speak, and then only to find creative solutions to the obstacles they represent.

In my post, The Secret of Inspiration, I talked about how to immerse yourself in those things that inspire. Your passions need to be fed to become the fuel for your great life. Don’t put them on a shelf hoping one day that they will still be there when everything is ‘perfect’, because that day will never come. Take them down and put them in front of you. Surround yourself with anything related that encourages and nurtures them. Write about your passion, journal, talk to your friends about them, read about them, go to workshops, practice your passion daily in any little way you can. Do whatever it takes to make your passion central to your life.

There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.
~ Anthony Robbins

So many of us look outside of ourselves for encouragement, and it feels wonderful when others believe in us. Positive feedback is a great thing, but we can’t depend on it. There will be days when we don’t get that from others, for whatever reason. You need to be your own best friend and when I say that I mean it literally. Treat yourself like you would your very best friend. Ask yourself how you would respond to your best friend in whatever situation you are in, and then treat yourself accordingly. Don’t beat yourself up, cheer yourself on! Give yourself the support and encouragement you would gladly give to your loved ones. Pat yourself on the back when you do anything that takes you one step closer to your goals. Be compassionate with yourself.

I heard once that the way to measure what is really important to someone is to see what he or she spends their time and money on, not what they talk about. Your dreams and goals need time and space to grow in. You can’t expect success to happen in a 30 minutes slot on a Sunday evening after the kids go to bed. It won’t happen. Sometimes that means something else has to go to make room for your dreams. Make a choice about what really matters to you, then give it the time it deserves.

“The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: I did not have time.“ 
~ Franklin Field

This is my favorite because I believe a great life is a joyful one. Yes, sometimes achieving our goals takes hard work but hard work doesn’t have to be dull, or dreary or painful. Your passion, your goals should be something that you want to do, something you would do even if you didn’t need the money. Living a passionate life is more like play than work, and play is the way to creativity, and creativity is where solutions come from. So have fun with what you do, and how you live. Be silly, be absurd, dance around the house, and make a game of things when you come up against something that seems daunting. Use crayons, if that’s what it takes.

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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Goals, Passion, Success


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