Packing up

I'm packing up and leaving. I'm not moving, just going on an annual vacation to Parksville on Vancouver Island. We're going to be a little early to take in the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition, a world-class event held in August at Parksville beach. During August, there are lots of things going on like volleyball and croquet tournaments, fireworks, and a bike-a-thon. There's a water park, skate board park, tennis courts and lots of space to fly kites. The beach is usually crowded with families tanning and swimming. The tide goes far out and the water is warm and shallow. It's not Hawaii or Miami, but I look forward to returning every year.

We visit Coombs where there is a market with goats on the roof, Little Qualicum Falls, Cathedral Grove full of huge trees, Qualicum Beach, and Nanaimo to shop and look around. We enjoy walks through Rathtrevor Park and in Parksville. There are several antique shops and used bookstores in the area. Some of the resorts are expensive but because we aren't paying for airfare to get there, we sometimes splurge and try out new places.

The Tigh-Na-Mara Spa Seaside Resort, Madrona Beach Resort and Ocean Trails Resort are popular. For a smaller budget, the Paradise Sea Shell Motel or VIP Motel will do. The Sea Edge Motel is right on the beachfront. On the Old Island Hall Hotel site, there are condominiums for sale starting at $400,000 for one or two bedrooms. Some condos include two beds plus a den. Timeshare is also available in a number of new developments. With Parksville going upscale, the city hopes to improve tourism.

I plan on taking my camera to get some nice shots of the beach at various times of day. I use the photos to create paintings of driftwood and sunsets. Driftwood isn't new subject matter for artists, especially in the island community, but my style is very recognizable. Enjoy your week. I know I will.

Reflection on perfection

So as the weather changes, so do I. I had a rough week. I was tired, short-tempered and ready to pounce on my unsuspecting housemates. So I took a breather and tried hard to relax, which involving walking, talking, and sleeping. I watched some movies on our new plasma flat panel television and newscasts about the death of Michael Jackson. Some hail him as the greatest entertainer while others saw him as a tragic figure. In reflection, I can think of a few truisms. Fame can be fleeting and isn't always tangible.

Fame can do more harm than good to sensitive people. Life is short. You can't take it with you. Life isn't measured in dollars and cents. And death is inevitable. What is my legacy? What will people remember about me if at all? Will they remember my work history or university grades or will they remember my smile or laugh? I used to always look for the next accomplishment. Because I'd dream so big, I'd feel disappointment.

My life has improved a lot so I feel more content with who and where I am. I was feeling out of sorts but from someplace inside of me, I was inspired to paint. I looked at some photos I took last summer and decided to do another painting of driftwood. But it wasn't just another painting. It turned out to be one of my very best I think. Perhaps I'm entering a new creative phase of painting.

The other day, I had a conversation about perfectionism with two others. The consensus was that one can strive for perfection but perfection in humans doesn't exist. Making mistakes helps one to learn. If one never makes an error, would one ever learn? So out of mistakes and corrections, one learns resilience, knowledge, insight and compassion. No one is keeping tabs on Sandra's daily performance in her work and other activities. The only one keeping track is Sandra so perhaps it would be beneficial for her to not think so much about higher proficiency but have a more relaxed attitude and enjoy the time she has on this planet.

There are only a few deadlines or work schedule commitments that I have in a given month. I am fairly good at time management, however, when I have free time, it isn't really free because when I give myself a task I really work at it. Also I spend a lot of time mulling over things in my mind. So when I get busy, I get tired. It's easy to do the math, but maybe not so easy to say no and not take on more things. So for the rest of the day, I'm not going to launch into a new project. Instead I'm going to do as little as possible!

At the crossroads

In the past year, doors have opened for me. I am more productive and have more stamina. I have taken on new challenges including a new job, writing new material, becoming a columnist for Majestic, and more opportunities for public speaking. I look at my calendar and things have really picked up. I confess I spend more time than I should on Facebook and email. Sometimes a phone call or face-to-face contact is better.

I'm at the crossroads in a way. I have different directions in which to grow. One is more involvement within the mental health community. The other is my quest to become a successful artist or writer. Where do I go from here? To aid mental health consumers, families, students and staff can be rewarding. I provide insights, information, encouragement, support, and a sense of hope. Families that feel isolated and unable to help a mentally ill sibling or child need to have their concerns heard. Students in related disciplines benefit from hearing my experiences, both good and bad.

As an artist, I feel I have ability but maybe not the skills or motivation to market my work. I know people enjoy my paintings, but I don't sell enough work to make it a feasible career right now. Maybe in the future, as I mature, my painting will evolve into something more intellectual or complex with more subtle variation. Finally, writing is my main focus these days. After six years of practice, rejection letters, tough critiques, reviewing others' writing and meeting other writers online, I think I've gained more ability to discern between good and bad writing. It was suggested to me that I consider writing children's books, or graphic novels to combine my art and writing.

For me, creativity is cyclical. I work hard for weeks on end to write the best I can. Or I spend hours on a painting totally engrossed. I might stop for a breather, but I keep going until I'm done. No one cracks a whip and says that I have to finish a piece of work by a certain date. Rather I want to keep on it while it's still fresh in my mind. If you break the flow, sometimes you lose a thought or detail. Also I need to keep consistency so I hold the novel in my mind as a whole.

Which road do I take? Is it possible to move in three directions at once? The answer is yes. Time management is the key. I like to have flexibility and variation in my schedule. However, I need time to smell the roses too. I think the proof is in the pudding. My experience in the past is that my efforts have had good results. I didn't need to sacrifice one choice over another to be effective. In fact, the people I meet, my job and other activities enrich my worldview and contribute to my writing and art.

I encourage you to keep focused on your life goals and values. As Mr. Spock says, "live well and prosper."