To Everything There Is A Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.                          - Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Most people of a certain middle-ish age are familiar with the song Turn, Turn, Turn (The Byrds, 1965) and how, taken from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, it contrasts various aspects of life. In a nutshell, the chorus lyrics go something like this : a time to be born/die, to plant/reap, to kill/heal, to laugh/weep, to build up/break down, etc.

As winter turns into spring here in the Midwest USA, my attention turns from redesigning websites to writing a book. And just like that, my Turn Turn Turn earworm - you know, when a song keeps playing over and over in your head - manifests itself.

How timely, how relevant to entrepreneurship and owning a small business, because as I look back over the last few years - as artist, writer, and owner of Abundance Art LLC - I see seasons, all the seasons.

The Spring of ideas, a new website to be designed and created, paintings to be painted, mandalas to be drawn, photographs to be organized. The sighting of success shoots popping up in the form of a first exhibit and sales.

The Summer of watering and watching the website grow with the opening of an online store, of joining an artist's cooperative gallery, hanging my visual art. And waiting, watching for signs of growth. The Summer of drought and worry when sales dry up and aspirations fade.

The Autumn of discouragement and letting go, understanding that somehow rejection is really just redirection. Being willing to receive feedback, and make changes accordingly. Redesigning the design.

The Winter of darkness, loss of hope when, in spite of all the work of the preceding months and years, the bank account remains barren. Trusting that, invisible underground, life grows. Listening in the wintry silence for the wisdom within, and saying hello to truth. Redesigning the redesign in a way that FITS.  Under the snow, something is being made whole.

And here we are, surrounded by signs of Spring again: bright yellow daffodils and forsythia, trees budding pink and white against the blue sky.

The seasons are always overlapping in this entrepreneurial world. My book's framework, outline, introduction, and first two chapters written, I learn that it's not the right book.  Devastated, I lay low, the smallest effort seemingly monumental.

And outside it is snowing. Winter isn't done with me yet!

Slowing down, allowing the snow covered daffodils to rest under their burden, I too rest, allowing something new to form in the place vacated by my book's first works.

Spring is just around the corner here in the Midwest USA.

And it's ALREADY here inside me in an abundance of thoughts and possibilities about my new ideal reader, marketing and publication strategies. For I am now blending the bits I like best -  painting fine art, selling beautiful photographic prints, and helping others - into a book that tells the story of how creativity saved my life. And growing a variety of income streams around that.

I am right where I'm meant to be.

And, I'm looking forward to Summer. And Autumn. And Winter. And life.

Are you?

You can find my original paintings and prints (paintings and photographs), mandala exhibit "go slow: woman on a journey" as well as artisanal notecards for sale at Abundance Art.

You can find my stunning collection of Russian Chandelier photographic metal prints for sale at ShopAbstractPhotography.

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Keeping the U and I in Communication

What is your preferred method of communication these days? With family and friends? At work?

Chances are that you use at least several of the more than sixty social media apps available in 2017, in addition to your phone and email accounts. 

Based on an informal survey consisting of my friends and family, text messaging reigns as king of them all. The others? Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand… er… in this case, sixty plus words.

I actually started to make a list, easily naming fifteen social media apps off the top of my head, eight of which I regularly use. Then I decided I’d rather use this space to get out of our heads and into our hearts and souls and spirits for a bit.

Because communication, so much more than social media, involves not just tapping away mindlessly on a keypad. Obviously, it uses our brains. Also, our hearts. Souls. Spirits.

And our hearts souls spirits are so much more mysterious even than our brains, which are exponentially mystifying, surprising scientists and researchers more and more each year with capabilities, including the power to grow and reconnect and heal at levels never thought possible before.

Let’s focus for a bit on the authentic communication which occurs between two souls inhabiting human bodies that contain brains and hearts, aka people. ;)

In my work as an artist, I feature an offering called “Something For Your Soul” - a custom commissioned fine art painting, co-created by me with the client. The process includes questionnaires and conversations that foster open communication between the two of us and allow me to “feel” what they want to feel when the finished painting is on their wall. This sacred connection makes it possible for me to manifest a piece that reflects their highest awareness, bringing a daily reminder into their space of their deepest truest self. And, because of our in-depth verbal communication and connection, a part of me, my soul, resides in each painting, reminding my clients that we are all connected. Then, when others see the painting, something typically speaks to them, and the connections expand.

I don’t think there’s an app out there that can replicate THAT kind of communication.

When communicating with family, friends and colleagues, I like to say I live on the Honest Planet, because, well, I do. Through words, facial expressions, body language and actions (all forms of communication), what you see is what you get. And for the most part when it comes from me, it’s offered with love and compassion. And boundaries. Love, compassion and healthy boundaries which I’ve learned through periods of immense personal growth.

It turns out we’re all not the same. We don’t all think alike. Regardless of age, we perceive the world through the eyes of our own experience. And given that no two people have the exact same experiences, the communication between us all can get jumbled up and misunderstood. Tempers can flare. Or not. Feelings can be pushed down/ignored. Or not.

Except when you live on the Honest Planet. Which is where you speak with sincerity and listen with love and compassion. Where clear communication is practiced and modeled for others, raising the bar of awareness and integrity. Raising the quality of connection between people.

There is a wonderful book called The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson PhD, which describes the development of the brain from infancy through high school graduation. Offering case studies along with the science behind them, Daniel and Tina teach about the development of upper and lower parts and left and right sides of the brain. And how that affects a child’s ability to process and respond at different ages and in various situations. This book is so cool it includes a quick reference guide to hang on the fridge, and a summary of various types of brain integration, when and how those manifest, and how to respond.

Another equally helpful book is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber Elaine Mazlish. Like The Whole-Brain Child, this book includes “How Not To” and “How To” cartoons to illustrate an assortment of encounters between parent and child. In these cases, the amateurish drawings make the learning a bit more fun.

Let me tell you, these books are not just for parents. They are for children of all ages, because the more we can learn how to effectively flex our communication as needed, the more successful our communication will be. You may be talking to an adult who is stuck developmentally in adolescence, and this book gives you the tools and flexibility to manage that.

I confess, the Honest Planet doesn’t really exist. I got the idea from an old Saturday Night Live skit.

But I like it. You and I can really communicate here.

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There's a Whole Lot of New in this New Year

New Year's greetings and blessings all around!

What's new in your world in 2017?  At home? At work?  With children? With pets? 

According to my informal survey of one (me), a slight shifting occurs, along with a new sense of possibility.

And lots of change.

Starting with my website redesign:

  • Home - streamlined, including links to ShopAbstractPhotography and Etsy store
  • Blog page - easier navigation through current and past posts.
  • Shop - simpler display and clearer path to originals for sale vs print collections. Plus, by the end of the month, I'll be offering two different collections of fine art notecards, suitable for framing.

Did someone say GIVE AWAY?

Yes.

Twice.

Times twelve.

Each month, I'm giving away something from Abundance Art and ShopAbstractPhotography.

Starting with two drawings on Friday, January 27th, which gives you lots of time to join each list and share with family and friends. Feel the love, spread the love. 


 Abundance Art:

Imagine yourself lying on a beach in Costa Rica. No, I'm not giving away a free trip. Sorry. However, imagine having your own museum quality print of Costa Rica Beach... a $70 value - free! And you have plenty of time to join and spread the word.

 

 


Shop Abstract Photography

Now imagine yourself walking through the great hallways of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia. Look up. Gorgeous chandelier! Who would like to have a special limited edition of this stunning metal print - normally selling for $297 - for free in your home? Join and spread the word, and it might just be you.


There's one more way for you to win. For every person you refer to either subscriber list, you receive a $5 voucher towards a purchase from AbundanceArt.com. The way this works is that you contact me via the website with the names of the new subscribers and the list they joined. I confirm, and I send you the voucher code(s).

Sweet.

Don't you just love free stuff?

Here's to 2017 and abundant new possibilities!

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Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go

Just as it takes a village to raise a child (and in my family, a village to help my 90 year old still relatively independent father), so too it takes a village to run a business. I am the owner of Abundance Art, and I do not have any employees. I do however have an amazing village. From my business development consultant to my life coach, graphic designer, marketing agent, accounting peeps, attorney, non paid helper bees and connected family and friends, that's still only part of it.

I am blessed with participation in a Holistic Mastermind group for female entrepreneurs, facilitated by Monique Alvarez of Monique Alvarez Enterprises during weekly online conference calls. In addition to those invaluable folks mentioned above, my co-sojourners in entrepreneurial adventures round out my tribe, my team. Monique teaches, pushes, guides, admonishes, comforts, pushes, pushes, pushes us to grow. Outside the box. Outside our comfort zones. She grooms us to be leaders, changers. And since I believe that what I do can change the world, I'm in for the ride.

Sometimes I'm so pumped I feel like I can do anything and everything. Other times I just want to curl up in a ball in my bed. Like today. Even as I took notes regarding the upcoming week's assignment/steps to increase my business' online/social media presence (I thought I had that covered!), here's what showed up on the screen in front of me:

  • This feels overwhelming to me!!! Hello, overwhelm. Let's go slow with this. Baby steps.

  • Feels like too much. Can I get "comfortable" with being uncomfortable? People will either love me or leave me. Vulnerable!

Then Monique said something. She reminded us that it is safe to change, it's safe to lose old friends and connections as we grow, and it's safe to be open to making new ones. It's part of the natural order to achieve the extraordinary. And I would say that my intention of nourishing the world with what nourishes me is an extraordinary vision and mission indeed.

This of course doesn't mean saying goodbye to everybody I know and love. It means letting go of those who choose to unfriend or stop following me on social media because I post so much. Spoiler alert - I'm going to start posting MORE (yikes!). In today's social media mania world, it turns out that it takes up to seven times and six different social media places for people to "see" the message. No wonder I feel overwhelmed - the world's gone crazy! Seriously, I think it's wonky that this is the way it is. And yet… it is what it is.

Thankfully, I'm established on Instagram, which is said to be the best place to be for the time being. One account for my business in general - Abundance Art, and one just for Maitri, my all white quirky deaf cat who is writing her memweowr (really!). You can also learn more about her here on the website. I would LOVE for you to follow each Instagram account and share with friends. But I digress... or do I?

Anyway, the focus of today's meeting was to learn more about how to leverage Instagram and how best to use hashtags and networking to grow a following to 10k. Plus how to increase visibility in Facebook for networking purposes. Oh, the whole idea of course is to generate income from the business. Like. Now. And this just hit me like a ton of bricks because I've taken the recommended steps and have the social media accounts and post regularly and offer online store promotions especially for joining my mailing list. I love the international connections and dialogue all four of the Instagram and Facebook accounts generate. And it will feel REALLY amazing when people make purchases and money flows in and I earn a very good living. In the meantime, I learn, I strategize, I implement. With help and support. I am here to learn, I am here to teach. I am here to receive, I am here to give. I keep working at this truth because I believe passionately that the world is hungry for what I have to give. Another truth is that today I just feel really discouraged.

Monique ended the virtual meeting with the encouraging words "Let's have a blow out week!" and everyone waved and said goodbye. As soon as I clicked "Leave Meeting" I started crying. I actually cried out loud "I don't want to have a blow out week!" I put down my laptop and cried and cried and cried. Then I sat quietly for a while, with that hicuppy half cry in my throat. I looked outside. I sat.

After a while, I found myself picking up my laptop. I messaged Monique with my overwhelmedness as well as my determination, and started on my assignment. Just a few small tasks today. Baby steps are very therapeutic. Then just let it go for now…  which reminded me of a song I wrote years ago when I felt completely overwhelmed and out of control on a huge computer software conversion project I was leading.

Out of all that came the desire to write this blog. And share the lyrics to Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go, sung to the tune of Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. So here goes...

Oh the project plan is frightful and the deadlines are not delightful.

I've lost all control…

Let it go, let it go, let it go!

 

It doesn't show signs of stopping; my arteries will start popping.

But before they blow…

Let it go, let it go, let it go!

 

When we finally do convert, I will see that I am still alive.

Though I may be a little bit burnt, I certainly will survive.

 

Sooo, let's get back to work now, won't be a grumpy jerk now.

I'll go with the flow…

And let it go, let it go, let it go!

I'm letting it go for now, for today. I'm going to do something really nourishing for my soul, haven't decided what yet. Oh, and by the way, Monique messaged me back as I was typing this blog. She wrote "You are a champion and a leader and a beacon of light" with a double heart emoji.

Thank you Monique. I needed that. :)

What a great tribe. 

 

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Yet Another Visit to the ED AKA Life for Me Right Now

Spoiler alert: this blog contains a bit of swearing. I was so frustrated I wanted to title it "f***ing healthcare regulations regarding controlled substances."

I changed my mind after I calmed down. 

OK. What you need to know to start is that, at least in the state of Kansas USA, a narcotics prescription cannot be phoned, faxed, or otherwise transmitted electronically from doctor to pharmacy. It has to be generated on paper, hand delivered to the patient who in turn hand delivers it to the pharmacy.  All that clinical informatics technology meant to make patient care easier and safer sits unused on its server.

That said, here's my story as it unfolded back in early summer 2015:

On late Friday, I realize too late that I do not have enough Percocet (for my ongoing moderately severe abdominal/pelvic pain) to see me through the weekend and most of Monday, which is how long it will take to get a new hand written prescription.

I remember a similar situation after my gallbladder surgery in January and being told by my surgeons's office assistant that I should go to urgent care. So I decide to do that in the morning.

Next day, while I wait at urgent care, a man collapses in the parking lot, requiring CPR and paramedics and full resuscitation efforts, then he's off to the hospital in an ambulance. I share my observations about that in I Choose Life. I Choose Love.

Back in the waiting room after the drama, I certainly don't begrudge the delay. I understand - that's life. At least for me… I'm worried about that poor guy making it.

So patiently I wait, and finally my name is called and the nurse explains to me that the urgent care doctor does not prescribe narcotics. Well shit. What a waste of time, and I was really meant to be painting right now. Then again, perhaps I was meant to be right where I was when I was. 

I start crying as I walk to my car, realizing that between my pain and disappointment and the intensity of what just happened, I need some time to process. So I sit in my car and cry for a while, shake a bit, and I feel better.

I call my doctor's answering service, requesting the on-call physician to contact me, which he does pretty quickly. However because of the regulations requiring a paper prescription, he cannot help me. He tells me if I had come to the doctors office that morning they could have helped me. Well shit, I didn't realize they had Saturday morning clinic, and I drove right past it on my way to urgent care where I waited for two hours when I could have just walked in to my own doctor's office and be home painting by now. Live and learn. Sigh.

So what are my options I ask. He says you can try urgent care. Laugh out loud. Ironically. He says you can call your G.I. specialist, maybe they can help you. I tell him they do not prescribe pain medications, they leave that to primary care.

He says my only other option is to go to the emergency room. Well shit. Just yesterday I was hoping I might get through May without having to go to there. 

First things first. I go to Steak and Shake and comfort myself with a chocolate shake. My frustration is softening and maybe all things are as they should be and it will all work out ok.

And it does. From the ED I receive immediate pain relief along with a prescription for enough Percocet until my GYN surgeon appointment a few days later.

At said appointment, the surgeon and I agree that a hysterectomy is a reasonable plan, especially given all that I've been through in the preceding months and all that has been ruled out through extensive testing. Because the procedure will be done using the laparoscopic robotic approach, and because that particular OR is in high demand, my surgery won't be till June 18th. In the meantime, I have weekly appointments for pain monitoring, during which he gives me that little piece of paper (aka prescription) that allows the pharmacist to give me just enough Percocet to see me through till next week's appointment.

LOL - No I am not a drug seeking junky, though I am reminded of pregnant women nearing term who have weekly appointments. Certainly I'm giving birth to something through all this…

By now, I'm in the final days of preparing for my first painting exhibit. One morning I awaken with a painful mass on the left side of my neck. Rather than spending a few precious hours with last minute painting, I am at the doctor's office, and then the hospital for urgent outpatient CT scan. Clearly I am not meant to paint those 3x3s and 5x5s and 5x7s. At least not yet.

The next day, as pain and nausea meds - and antibiotics for a parotid gland infection - contrive to make me loopy as can be, I am whisked off to an urgent ENT referral by my friend Jeanette who has come to town to help me with the exhibit. The ENT tells us that in his thirty years of practice, he has never seen anything like my CT results: a multitude of small tracts of air dispersed throughout the gland. It would seem that, at least right now, I am an airhead. Never been called that before. The antibiotics ought to do the trick. Whew.

The following morning I awaken to a rainy thunderstormy day - aaahhhh…. my very VERY favorite weather, and my soul is delighted. A chorus pops into my mind to the tune of "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'", and I greet Jeanette singing:

My parotid gland has an infection,

And my nausea seems here to stay.

The pain in my pelvis just keeps getting worse,

But outside it's a stormy kind of day…

 

Oh what a beautiful morning,

Oh what a beautiful day,

I've got a wonderful feeling

Everything's going my way.*

 

She knows me well enough to know I'm not insane. God bless Jeanette :)

The exhibit is a hit and I spend the next week in bed, recovering and resting up for my surgery adventure just around the corner. My neck mass resolves and all is right enough in my world.

That's my life right now. So…how do I wrap this up? By noticing what I am loving as I type (and noticing that I can't figure out how to make the font size of the following bullet list the same as the rest of this blog, and that's ok):

  • I love that I'm able to acknowledge my frustrations and not be bound by them.

  • I love my family and friends and colleagues and how they are showing up for me.

  • I love my three cats and how they each have their own personalities, and how they make me laugh each and every day. Oh, and how they show their affection and, yes, love.

  • I love the gift of creativity, the abundance of ideas for growing my business, and the means to move them forward.

  • I love that I can go slow, set my own pace.

  • I love that I can work in bed, that I can be good to my body as it sorts through this immense journey of release and healing.

  • I love that I'm able to see my current dis-ease with compassion and curiosity, trusting that somehow it too has its place.

  • I love that I have access to whatever health care I need.

  • I love that my all my needs and desires are met and exceeded.

  • I love that I look forward to my future, that I am curious and excited to see what unfolds.

 

All things are as they should be.

Namaste,

Annette

 

*Adapted from "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'"

Music by Richard Rodgers, lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II

Copyright © 1943 by Williamson Musi

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