Where Do You Go To Get Out of a Creative Rut?

Spot Set
“Spot Set” by Allison Constantino   Allison-Constantino.pixels.com

When you’re stuck in a creative rut, where do you like to go? What floats your creative boat? Do you hang out at Starbucks? Do you go for a walk around the block? What about visiting the gym, or visiting a friend?

When I’m stuck in a creative rut, one of my favorite places to visit is an electronics surplus store! Yes, I know this is an unusual place for an artist to visit, but it works for me – every time!

Picture this! This hole-in-the-wall surplus store is tucked into a side street less than half-a-mile from the interstate. The only identifying feature of the store is an iconic red rocket mounted onto the side of the building facing the street.

What a red rocket has to do with surplus electronics, beats me! Anyway, they buy all these surplus electronics parts and “other” surplus items from a multitude of companies.

When I’m stuck in a creative rut I always enter the store with an air of anticipation as to what I might find, because I never know what I’m actually looking at!

Last week, in a creative “funk” because my disparate shapes and colors were’t “blending” the way I wanted them to blend, I went to “Skycraft” with an open mind, which is the only way you should visit!

One of the first things that jumped out at me, was this silver metal grid system laying on its side as I came in the front door. I looked at the grid and thought, “Wow! This would make the coolest table ever! I’d need to add a piece of glass on  top of the grid, but this is incredibly cool and industrial looking.” Upon further inspection, I realized I was looking at a grid system from an overhead lighting fixture! I’m not used to seeing the fixture torn apart sitting on the floor, so my brain identified it as the perfect table top – not the perfect light fixture!

This is what visiting an electronics surplus store does for my brain – it makes me see ordinary items in a completely new light!

I also found some pretty cool chrome “feet” for the shelving unit I’m putting together. As I’m looking at these “feet,” I can’t for the life of me think what the real purpose for these chrome items might be, but I know for a fact they will work for me!

That’s the completely amazing thing about this place! Since I don’t have any idea what I’m actually looking at, I can envision all kinds of uses! It really puts my grey cell to work! It’s a fun place that always challenges me and totally takes me out of my creative funk – every time!

When I got back to my painting and was able to look at it with “fresh eyes,” I made my blending transitions effortlessly!

So, the next time you’re stuck in a creative rut – think “surplus”!

Four Easy Steps to Bringing Positive Energy Into Your Living Space

As an artist, I always want the highest vibration surrounding me and my living space so I can create great masterpieces!
So, here are my “Four Easy Steps to Bringing Positive Energy Into Your Living Space”
Flow
“Flow” By Allison Constantino   Allison-Constantino.pixels.com
#1 First – De-clutter Your Space
Having clutter around you sucks the energy right out of you!
Take the time to get rid of any clutter or other “stuff” that you don’t need as soon as possible!
You will actually feel lighter once that “stuff” is gone! You want to see only the items in the room that make you feel great!
#2 Fill Your Space with Sound
Music has a way of transcending time and space. So, pick your favorite  play list and start listening! It immediately transforms the energy in your space.
#3 Fill Your Space with Aroma 
If you want to “clear” your space of any residual negative energy, burning sage is one way to “clarify” your space. Just light the sage, and walk around the room with the sage, clarifying the space, and getting rid of any negative energy.
If you’re not allergic to fragrances, try adding fragrance to your living space by using a diffuser and essential oils.
Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system, which is the part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell and long term memories.
Actually, the limbic system is heavily involved in forming memories! They can partially explain why familiar smells trigger memories or emotions.
Using a diffuser is a wonderful way to bring positive energy into your living space! Try these essential oils:
Lavender: for relaxation and stress relief
Peppermint: to boost energy and help with digestion
Sandalwood: calms nerves and helps with focus
Bergamot: reduces stress and helps improve skin conditions like exzema
Rose: improves mood and reduces anxiety
Chamomile: improves mood and relaxation
Jasmine: helps with depression and libido
Lemon: aids digestion, mood, headaches and more
#4 Color Your Space with Energy
We all know that black absorbs energy and white reflects energy, so
matching your energy level to your wall colors in your living space makes perfect sense!
Keeping your living space wall colors “light and airy” makes you feel light as a feather. Cool blues and greens make you feel like you’re outside in a garden!
Warm colors like yellow and red energize your room and make you feel vibrant and motivated!
So, choose the way you want to feel and paint away!
Combining all these elements together will make your personal living space a place you and others will want to spend more time enjoying!

Three Steps in Three Days to Greater Creativity

 

Thinking in Pictures 200 dpi 001
“Thinking in Pictures”  allison-constantino.pixels.com

If you’re stuck in a creative rut, here are three easy steps you can take for three days to greater creativity.

#1 Get a hobby or try something new – today!

If you’re wondering why you can’t come up with any great, new creative ideas, it might be that you’ve concentrated all your efforts in one place. Do you have some outside interest? Maybe you love golf, or being outside, of you’re a film buff or vinyl record collector – or maybe you’ve thought about doing something else, but never had the time! This is the time to look outside of what you’re currently doing to pursue what interests you! Your renewed creativity depends on this step!

The main reason you’re stuck is that you’ve narrowed down your focus/attention to just one thing, to the detriment of everything else! There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored and that’s exactly what you need to do right now, today!

So, choose something you want to do today and do it! It doesn’t matter what it is that you do, just do something – right now! As one of my favorite authors Napoleon Hill says, “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right!”

#2 Meditate

Yes, I know, this is overused, but research has cited lower stress levels to better mental acuity as direct benefits of meditation.

Meditation works because the process of quieting your conscious mind allows you to connect directly with your subconscious mind.

Your subconscious mind is always working in the background. It enables you to “have a feeling,” about something, when you know something, “isn’t quite right.” It’s the reason you “know” something is about to happen although you don’t know why you know!

Your subconscious mind is the combined knowledge of “everything” you know, although you don’t know you know it!

According to Deepak Chopra, the real purpose of meditation is “to answer, once and for all, the true nature of the mind. The pursuit of higher consciousness, the process of waking up, the journey to enlightenment – whatever term you use, meditation solves the problem of the divided mind opening the door to the whole mind.” He continues, “meditation puts you back in touch with reality,”

When you meditate, you’re in a relaxed state where every thought is recognized. As the “clutter” of your conscious mind subsides and your subconscious mind comes forward, amazing revelations emerge!

During meditation, patterns can emerge, visions can appear, problems can be solved. Sometimes, meditation is just meditation, a time to give your mind and body a wonderful respite! Sometimes revelations come later as if “out-of-the-blue!”

Meditation is easy and can be done anywhere, inside or outside! Just find a quiet place, get into a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You can quietly repeat a word to yourself like “om,” or “peace” or just focus on your breathing.

As your mind focuses on the words or on your breathing, thoughts will rapidly come into your mind. Thank your mind for these thoughts, release these thoughts and continue meditating.

Studies have shown, according to Medicinenet.com that “as few as ten minutes of meditation per day can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.”

Chopra describes the overall benefit of long term meditation as the eagerness to apply what one learns from meditation. “Once the spark is lit, the mind cannot wait to find out what reality is all about, because there is no difference between the true nature of the mind and the true nature of everything in existence.”

# 3 Get Outside

Yep. Get out of your chair and go outside. I’m just asking you to commit to about twenty minutes of being outside, so you can do it!

So, now that you’re outside, now what? Start looking around. If you start thinking about work, or whatever, reel your mind back to the present moment.

No matter what you’re thinking right now, stop thinking whatever you’re thinking and focus on what’s right in front of you! Focus on the here and now!

Just look around you and stay focused 100% in the present moment. Here’s what will happen! “I never knew there was a bridge right here and I go by here every day!”  “Look at that building! That is amazing architecture!”

“John!  I can’t believe it’s you! I was just talking about you to Joe the other day and here you are!” You and John agree to meet next week to continue your conversation about some exciting things he’s doing in his company in which he thinks you might be interested!

Doing these three steps for three days will re-direct your focus from being one-dimensional to being multi-dimensional! Suddenly, things start happening. You’ll get an idea seemingly “out-of-the-blue!” You’ll get a call from someone you were just thinking about! When synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences start to happen, you know you’re on the right path!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Mindfulness Equal Happiness?

 

Bell, Book & Candle 200 dpi 001So, with all the hype surrounding “mindfulness” is mindfulness the one thing that can bring you happiness?

What exactly is “mindfulness” anyway? The dictionary defines it as a  “mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Translated, that means being fully present in the moment. So, what’s the big deal about being 100% in the present moment?

Have you ever been excited about taking a vacation, or attending some special upcoming event? You can’t wait to leave! You dream of how much fun you’ll have when you get there and how many different things you’ll be doing! You can “see” yourself there – in detail!

So, the really good thing about your mind is that it actually can visualize every little detail so vividly that you can’t tell if you’ve actually dreamed it or actually experienced it!

Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real you knew it actually happened? Maybe you had an experience that you think happened, but as time passed you’re not really sure if it actually happened or you just remember it that way!

The interesting thing about all these experiences is the mind is basically capable of creating anything! Are you interested in creating an alternative environment? Your mind says, “I’ll get right on that for you!” and poof, you’ve got yourself an alien landscape!

Napoleon Hill, one of my favorite authors of all time states, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

So, as humans, we are 100% capable of creating whatever type of environment we choose and we can choose to live in that environment 100%!

So, I’m leaving the house in my car. It’s the weekend. I’m thinking about something else, and my mind is actually driving me to work even though I’m not actually going to work! My body is on auto-pilot, my mind is at my friend’s house! This is a great example of not being 100% in the moment! Oops! My mind took a short vacation and instead of my mind focusing 100% on the present moment driving the car to a friend’s house, I was driving myself to work!

This is a great example of what happens when my mind travels into the future or the past instead of staying focused in the present! What did I miss? Where was I supposed to turn? Where am I??

If you take this mini example and expand on the theme, you could actually live every moment somewhere else in your mind – in the past or the future – and still be physically here in the present. Many of us do exactly that! Some of us have had bad things happen so we live our entire lives living in the past looking through the rear-view mirror. Some of us see a better life in another place and time and live their entire lives looking forward.

So, if you concentrate on being present 100% in the moment what will that get you? How do you do it?

First off,  I think of my mind as a fishing rod. Yes, it is an unlikely image, but it works! My mind is constantly out there looking, collecting, assimilating images and ideas every moment.  It’s like I’ve cast out my reel and I’m reeling in “stuff” all day!

I think of one thing, then another, then another and on it goes! At some point in time I have to go “Whoa!” That’s enough and reel the line back in before it gets away from me – which it can get away from me fast – at warp speed – then I reel it back in!

If I can keep my mind focused on the here-and-now I can get the most done, because I can only do one thing at a time and the present moment is the only place I can take action! Yep! I can’t do anything in the past or the future. All my choices have to be made right now! There is 100% power in the present moment and that’s all I’ve got! The ability to make choices in the now!

Never thought about it that way? You should! It’s called the power of the present moment! The common denominator is – if you’re looking forward or backward – you’re missing out on whatever you’re supposed to be experiencing right now, here in the present moment.  It’s just like the quote says, “Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present!”

So, what about that happiness thing you talked about? If you understand and embrace the idea that right now is your most powerful moment, and you can take action in the present moment, you can make better choices and better choices equal a happier human! So, in my book, mindfulness, when you take action doing what you need to be doing in the present moment – equals happiness because you have the power to be happy in every moment! It’s 100% up to you what you choose – every moment – every day! The power of choice is 100% completely yours – right now – to have or be whatever you want.

So, if you’ve been thinking about doing something, put your mind to it, yes, right now in the present moment where you have the power! As Napoleon Hill states, “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right!”  Embrace the present and live mindfully 100% in the present moment. You’ll thank me later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try Traveling Solo! You’ll Thank Me Later!

I’m an artist, and one of my dreams was to go to Italy to paint.

I was hesitant to go alone, but one day I was reading one of my artist’s magazines, and found an ad in the back of the magazine about an “Artist Paint/Tour in Italy.”

The idea was to go to Italy and paint in Italy. Yep! I had to haul ALL my oil paints and supplies on the plane and travel from Florida to Italy!

The ad said that one day the group of artists would paint on site “en plein air,” and  the next day, the group would travel all around Tuscany. The home base would be Bagno Vignoni in Tuscany.

I decided right there and then, I was going! That was it! So, I contacted the “tour director,” and signed up!

I wanted to arrive early in Rome (the group of artists would leave from Rome for Bagno Vignoni) because I wanted to tour Rome first. So I gave myself three days.

As it turned out, when I arrived in Rome at the hotel, the concierge was able to connect me to a travel group that picked me up at my hotel every day. So, for three solid days, I went on tours of Rome – one tour in the morning – and one in the afternoon. I learned everything I could about Rome and experienced everything I could in three days of what Rome had to offer.

I made wonderful new friends on each one of the tours, and had a great time!

On the 4th day, the artist tour group picked me up at my  hotel in Rome and we all headed out to a 14th century hotel in Bagno Vignoni that used to be the Pope’s private retreat.

On the way out of Rome, headed for Bagno Vignoni in the van, I was able to tell my fellow artists all about the special places we passed by that I had just visited. I was the tour guide. No one could believe this was my first time visiting Rome and that I was traveling by myself!

I think I knew more about Rome than our own “tour director.” That being said, after numerous trips to Rome, he was more interested in interesting places to paint, rather than interesting historical monuments.

Bagno Vignoni was completely magical! It has natural hot springs, and the springs were right outside the hotel’s front door.

In the morning – as I stepped outside into the fall weather (it was October) the fog would hang over the pool of water in front of the hotel. It was completely surreal. Like being in an Italian painting!

Tuscany was completely enchanting! I met some life-long artist friends! I absolutely loved painting – and traveling – with this special group of artists. Artists are very unique as they bring to the table a different way of looking at things – the “artist’s eye,” so it was fun traveling with them!

We visited amazing cities in Tuscany,  including Pienza, San Gimignano, Siena, Florence, and painted amazing scenes. I’m so glad I decided to “go solo” on this journey, because the experience was one of my best travel experiences – ever – and the friends I made – were lasting to this day!

This is one of my paintings I painted from my Tuscany tour. This house was just down this hill from our hotel.

Tuscany 002

My suggestion? Follow your passion! Don’t be afraid to go to another country by yourself – even if you don’t speak the language or know anyone. Please make the call – reserve the room – follow your passion! You’ll thank me later!

Maybe “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” but It Can Buy Me Happiness, Right?

The Beatles figured out “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” but what about money buying me happiness?

I’m a film noir buff and two of my favorite stars, Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright, starred in two of my favorite movies, “Shadow of a Doubt, ” and “The Steel Trap.”

I love a great story with a great moral. The 1952 movie “The Steel Trap” has Cotton playing  a typical 9-5 executive, frustrated by his boring job and the everyday grind and his seemingly lack of the necessary funds he thinks he needs to be happy.

Cotton is an Assistant Bank Manager after starting out eleven years earlier as an Assistant Teller.  He has a wife, played by Teresa Wright and a daughter, both of whom he wishes he could provide for better financially.

He concocts this scheme to steal a million dollars from the bank where he works, because he knows all the ins-and-outs of the bank’s nuances, then plans to head to Brazil with his wife and the cash. He says, “I was shocked by the enormity of my thoughts!” “Slowly and insidiously an idea took shape in my mind.”

Why Brazil? Cotton discovered Brazil has no extradition agreement with the United States, so he thinks he and his family will be safe living in the lap of luxury in Brazil and even though he’s leaving the country with only his wife, he feels there will be no problem sending for his daughter later, who is staying with grandma.

So, Cotton steals the million dollars from the bank safe on Friday, staying a few minutes late after work, and throws it into a suitcase. He knows the robbery won’t be discovered until Monday morning when the safe is opened again and by then he and his wife will be in Brazil.

After he steals the money, Cotton has to break into the Brazilian Consulate to retrieve his and his wife’s passports after he missed getting to the Consulate before closing time. Passports in hand, he jumps into a taxi where his wife has been waiting for him so they can get to the airport in time to catch their flight to New Orleans, then on to another connecting flight to Brazil.

Cotton’s wife, Teresa Wright, has been told by Cotton that they’re leaving for a two-week bank business trip get-away to Rio de Janeiro where Cotton is in charge of an international construction deal for the bank.

Great plan! What could possibly go wrong, right?  Right before boarding his flight from New Orleans to Brazil, custom agents are tipped off that ” There is this guy with a suitcase that weighs 115 pounds and is acting very nervous,” so custom agents seize his suitcase thinking it’s drugs, open the suitcase and discover a million dollars in cash!

They detain Cotton and his wife from boarding their plane to Brazil, but Cotton convinces them the money is for the intended bank business deal in Brazil and he’s the one in charge. He has all the credentials personally and from the bank to prove he is who he says he is, so customs release them both, but they miss their flight to Brazil and are forced to spend a second night in New Orleans. Cotton “fesses up” to his wife that he actually stole the money from the bank, and instead of being overjoyed, she is horrified, leaves him and catches the next flight back home!

Now Cotton is left alone in New Orleans with a million dollar suitcase, but no wife! Cotton states, “I’m learning fast what it’s like to be alone.”

Unhappy with the way things turned out, he hops on the next flight back home arriving at the bank on Monday morning right after the bank opens with the million dollar suitcase in hand. He now has to put all the money back into the safe before the safe is opened.

He manages to put all the money back into the safe and get out of the safe minutes before it’s opened. Co-workers then see him looking as if he’s ready to pass out, worried about him and thinking he might be ill they send him home. He then retraces the same steps back home that he has for the last eleven years, this time saying to himself, “Never does the world look so good as it looks right now!”

I absolutely love a great story with a good take-away and this one is one of the very best, so I’ll leave you with this quote from an unknown source, “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have.”

Fortress Around Your Heart 001

 

 

 

 

 

Three Quick Ways to Get Rid of Negative Self-Talk Forever

Do you have a friend who is constantly berating him or herself? They don’t need any criticism from anyone else because they are their own worst enemy!

This person might even be you! If this is your friend or you, here are three quick ways to get rid of negative self-talk forever!

#1 Recognize a negative thought

I know this sounds easy, but when you’ve programmed yourself to accept these negative thoughts as “normal,” changing these “normal” thought patterns can be challenging!

This is how negative self-talk works. “I really want that new promotion, and I know I’m qualified for it, but I think someone else will actually end up getting it!”

Where did this thought originate? In your mind, do you really think someone else is more deserving of this promotion or is it that you’re really afraid to admit you want that position but because you’ve been passed over before the thought of “wanting” something and “not getting” it is just too painful! So, you just sabotage yourself in advance, so now there is no pain in losing something you never had in the first place!

I know this sounds perfectly logical, but this kind of negative self-talk will forever keep you (or your friend) from achieving anything in life!

So, the next time you have a negative thought, recognize it as a negative thought! “Oh, wow! Thinking I’m not worthy of receiving this promotion for whatever reason is a negative thought!”

In your mind’s eye, place a huge brown “X” over that negative thought, cancelling out that negative thought in the present moment.

#2 Immediately Replace that Negative Thought with a Positive Thought

Here’s where the work begins! You’ve cancelled out the negative thought, now replace it with a positive thought like, “You know, I’ve really worked hard to get this promotion, and I really have a good feeling about getting it!”

How do the statements, “I really have a good feeling about getting it,” verses “I think someone else will actually end up getting it,” feel to you?

Thoughts are things and every thought you have determines your destiny!

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right,” says Henry Ford! I think I’d listen to Henry!

Your success in not an accident. You build your life one thought at-a-time.

#3 Visualize Your Success in Detail! 

If you are able to visualize your success in great detail, your mind is so powerful that it will be unable to tell the difference between a visualization and reality!

Close your eyes. Right now. Visualize – in detail- something you want to happen in your life. You see yourself doing or being whatever it is you want. You see yourself happy, rewarded and fulfilled. Visualize where you are, what you’re wearing, who you’re with, what you’re saying and what your co-workers are saying to you. How do you feel inside? What do you look like on the outside? What are other people saying about you? How does that make you feel?

If you act as if that experience has already happened, now you know it can happen! You know first-hand how it feels because you’ve been there, in detail!

These detailed visualizations might take some self-discipline at first to make them seem real, but in no time, you’ll be visualizing greater things for yourself!

What you believe is what you’ll see and whatever it is you expect to get is what you’ll get!

So, why not expect and get the very best from yourself every day?The Blue Hour 200 dpi for Instagram 001