Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Learn to Win





I am sure I am not alone in being caught up in the drama of the olympic games. Have been a runner and competed in many events, I feel I can almost be in he minds of those competing. Ok I started to late to be competing at the level of an olympian . I did though take part in many marathons. On the start line there were those other runners whom I had beaten in the last race, or they had just beaten me. They were there to be raced and to race again. Then of course there was the clock. Was I going to better the time I had last outing? Was I going to get a PB (personal best)? 

I have remained a very competitive person. Even at my age, before this operation that has meant I cannot run, if I saw a runner in front of me on my morning run, I still tried to catch up and maybe pass. Did not seem to matter that they were thirty years younger than me.  Maybe this is why I am suffering now?

I did though learn some lessons, that can be taken into other fields of life, even into art.

 1. Expect to win.
       Know in your heart that you are a winner.

  2. Let your expectations show.
       Express no doubts, let your competitors and your friends know  that you have none.

  3. Work, practice, work, and practice some more.
     At the top of his field, the athlete can still be seen training - even if he's just          won.

  4. Dress and act like a winner.
       This is a part of keeping yourself in a winning frame of mind.

  5. Have a sense of drama - don't create it but know it when you see  it.
       You don't have to seek out publicity, but know how to accept  and use it when it comes to you.

  6. Know that there is always room to grow.
       Being the best does not mean you can't be even better.

  7. Hang with the winners.
       They understand the pressures and situations in which you will  find yourself.

  8. Put yourself in situations where you are not known as a success.
       May be difficult, but this helps you to stay real.

  9. Value and protect your free time and do what you enjoy.
       The discipline of being a winner needs a safety valve from time  to time.

  10. Remember those who need help.
       Somewhere, someone helped you - be willing to give back.

May the Chi be with you and may you feel at the end of the day that you have given of your best and that it has been a good day.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Inner Wolves





When you are sitting about for the majority of the day. There is so much time to allow the inner wolves to take over and destroy your thinking. What do I mean by the inner wolves? Let me share with you a little story. 
An old Grandfather, whose grandson came to him with anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice, said, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way."

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eye and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather solemnly said, "The one I feed."
                    I do so like this story, I just hope I am feeding the correct wolf.
                 
                    Today I have posted my latest painting with a few changes I made yesterday.
                    The picture sadly might not show it to its full. The sails of the boat in the centre
                    has real gold leaf on it and in reality it catches the light and the eye.



Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Story




Can I begin by thanking those who have taken the time to read my blogs. 
It is always best to do what you know to be right, honest and true to what your head and heart tells you. This is true in all things, but possibly even more so in matters of the heart. Yes of course I am aware that today is Valentines Day, so of course I am going to be romantic. Love can overcome all things, but it cannot flourish in the midst of untruths. Let me explain with a story based on a true experience.


John stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way along platform 6 of Waverly Station.. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose.  
His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in the Carnagie Library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in a town further up the coast. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. 

The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. John requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like. 
When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at platform 6 Waverly Station Edinburgh. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.
I'll let John tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be, grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.  
"I'm Lieutenant John McEwan, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?"  

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. "Tell me whom you love," says the well known saying, "And I will tell you who you are."
         May your heart be touched with Love this day and may you share your love with those
         who touch your life this day.

         Todays artwork was my latest abstract commission. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Carrot, The Egg and the Coffee



I promise not to keep going on about recent hardships and adversity but I really do feel I need to share this thought today. Yesterday I managed to walk a number of steps without the use of my crutches. These steps were slow and not without pain, but the sense of achievement at the end was wonderful. Buoyed up by this I rested and later managed to climb the stairs and go to the toilet and back down without the crutches. Yes maybe I did do a bit too much but I wanted to try.

I saw my chair as the carrot urging me ever onward.  Then somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered something about a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean. So hear it is that story with a very meaningful message.
  
 A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
 
 Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
 
 In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

 Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see. "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

 Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

 The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"  Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water. Each reacted differently.

  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
 
 The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became
 hardened.
 
 The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
 
 "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
 
 Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
 
 Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial
 hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
 
 Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water,  the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it  releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things  are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

 When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
 
 May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

 The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. 
The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

The artwork used today is my most recent painting. Using a lot of texture. I like it because it reminds me of the runs I did daily and it is the first painting I have done for some time.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

He Only Had a Typewriter.


For the last few weeks or so I have been bemoaning the fact that I could not paint because of hospitalisation and then the pain of trying to stand or sit at my easel. Truth to be told I was suffering from a bit of the poor me's. How easy it is to feel sorry for oneself when things are not going your way. 

I have had to accept that I may not run again, and that has not been easy. If I can walk I should rejoice. I cannot move around as much as I want, but I will be able to do given time and healing.

So in the midst of all of this I read about this artist. Paul Smith.

He lived at Rose Haven Nursing Home ( Roseburg , OR ) for years. Paul Smith, the man with extraordinary talent was born on September 21, 1921, with severe cerebral palsy. Not only had Paul beaten the odds of a life with spastic cerebral palsy, a disability that impeded his speech and mobility but also taught himself to become a master artist as well as a terrific chess player even after being devoid of a formal education as a child.

"When typing, Paul used his left hand to steady his right one. Since he couldn't press two keys at the same time, he almost always locked the shift key down and made his pictures using the symbols at the top of the number keys. In other words, his pictures were based on these characters ..... @ # $ % ^ & * ( )_ . Across seven decades, Paul created hundreds of pictures. He often gave the originals away. Sometimes, but not always, he kept or received a copy for his own records. As his mastery of the typewriter grew, he developed techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his work resemble pencil or charcoal drawings." 

This great man passed away on June 25, 2009, but left behind a collection of his amazing artwork that will be an inspiration for many.



Now is that not something. An example to us all, and to me in particular. Stop complaining about how life is and make the very best of what we have.  How I would have loved to have known this man I am sure he would have been such an inspiration.

I have added no artwork of my own today I leave that to Paul.