Sunday, January 08, 2012

Patience

I will be the first to admit that I do not have much patience. When I want something, I want it now – not two days from now, tomorrow or even an hour from now.

I rarely order anything online or through a catalog, because I do not like to wait three to five days for a delivery. Even if I could be convinced to pay the extra ten to fifteen dollar for express shipping, I cannot stand waiting one night for the package to be delivered.

Because of my desire for instant results, art would seem like one of the few avenues I should pursue. However, my desire to pursue various artistic endeavors taught me the beauty of patience.

Having always wanted to capture that perfect shot, I decided in 2008 to purchase a Canon Rebel XT. After plopping down a little of over $500, I took my new toy home, set it up and began snapping away. What I learned after viewing the results was that a $500 camera can produce the same results as a $100 camera.

In order to get that perfect shot I had to read the manual and take a class to understand the how the shutter speed works, what an aperture was and how they can work together to produce the desired results. I then had to spend months experimenting – spending hours taking hundreds of shots then reviewing them to see what worked and what didn’t work.

During my photo expeditions I learned the difference between taking a picture (snapping away at the subject) and making a picture (waiting until the conditions are just right). At times, that meant waiting until the subject was free of any obstacles (unwanted people, cars, etc.) or until the natural elements (the clouds, the sun, etc.) were positioned in just the right way.

The lessons I have learned while pursuing various artistic endeavors have spilled into my writing career. As I am one of the few people who are able to sit down and type out the great American novel in one draft, I have had to exercise the patience. Besides writing my novels, I have to take the time to attend workshops to enhance my skills, edit, take critiques then edit some more in order to produce a manuscript that would not only attract an agent and/or editor, but an audience, who will be willing to return to read my future works.

As you face a challenge (losing weight, learning a new skill, etc.) remember, nine times out of ten you will not see instant results. Take the time to celebrate the small achievements (the loss of one pound or the comprehension of a new idea) and remember that with patience, you can achieve whatever you set out to do.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

I'm Glad I Did...

"I wish I had..."


On more than one occasion I had heard my grandmother utter those four words followed by regrets of dreams that had been unfulfilled. At times I had tried to offer her encouragement, telling her that it was not too late, but lack of motivation and the slow progression of dementia prevented her from pursuing her dreams.


Eventually, the dementia had progressed to the point that she was no longer able to take care of herself and she was admitted into a nursing facility. At that point, I realized it was too late for her to follow her dreams, but, at the same time, I began thinking about the accomplishments in my life that had not been achieved.


Every year, I rang in the new year with a list of resolutions that I would end up breaking within a month. That was not to say that I would not accomplish anything during the year. Not content  with staying in one place, I always worked to advance myself -- get my degree, learn more about my industry, and strive to be more efficient at my job -- but as I did, I placed the minor goals on the back burner, saying that I'll have time to do them later.

Unfortunately, with the daily demands of life, later never came, and, as one year moved towards the next, I found dreams were being left unfulfilled. If I had any hope of moving past the "I wish I had..." I had to find the time, the means, and the courage to achieve my goals.

I have since identified my dreams, creating a list of goals that I review throughout the year as I work towards achieving them. Some of the goals have led to new ventures that I had never considered (i.e. while attending an open house to register for drawing classes, I discovered the art of stone carving). And, after a year and a half, I can not only draw a portrait that actually looks like a human being, but I have a sculpture that I carved from a slab of alabaster. With each task I accomplish, I enjoy the feeling of being able to say, "I'm glad I tried it."

As we enter a new year, I challenge everyone to identify something they've always wanted to do, even if it is something as simply as baking the perfect birthday cake or as complex as sky diving. Identify what prevents you from achieving your goal, what steps you need to accomplish your goal, then, finally, start working towards achieving that dream.