Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More pansies, and life changing books

 Pansies' party
Watercolour and marker on 
Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

There has to be some reason for my prolonged ill health.
I don't hold with the philosophy that everything happens for
a reason.  (So many senseless things happen, and have been
happening lately -- out of chaos, not reason.) But I do
believe in extracting the positive out of most situations
I find myself in. A challenge sometimes -- like now.
Perhaps the upbeat answer may be that reading is setting
me on the path to new ideas, ways of living, and learning.

One of my students gave me the book The Five Love
Languages by Gary Chapman a couple of months ago.
She said it would change my life, and it has been a radical
read. I consider myself lucky to have a happy marriage for
the most part -- but you may be surprised to learn that
a book that teaches you how to be more loving, has
made my marriage happier.

The message I found most profound in the book is that
our sole purpose for being alive is to love.  It's not that
 I haven't thought loving was important.  But thinking
about love as the main purpose for being alive can change
 your focus in a heartbeat.  Chapman has a system for
 analyzing what matters to you to make you feel loved.  If
your partner can respond to that, and for example speak to
you in an affirming way, you will feel more loved, and...
happier.  I was ready to scoff at the whole concept of
dividing love into five languages, until I started reading.

Now I am a convert and want to know more.
Today I am reading The Happiness Project.  My sister-in-law
gave me the book last summer, and I put it away dismissing it,
thinking it would be 'light.'  But it is anything but.  (In fact several
non-fiction books I've read this winter were recommended
by my sister-in-law, Lina, who I adore.)  Back to the book --
the writer, Gretchen Rubin is a wonderful researcher, and
there are fascinating cross references and bits of
information all through the book.  I've taught people
how to improve their happiness, and done
a lot of reading on the topic, and I am learning so much.

One of the ideas in it that I like so far is the idea of "extreme
niceness."  I think that this is probably a habit we all
encourage through the blog.  With fellow artists there
is a tacit understanding that this work we do is isolating,
brave, demanding, difficult, and also the best thing in
the world to be doing.  We are extremely nice to one
another.  I cannot tell you how much I love that enough.
I do love that.  It has changed the business of making art
for me forever.

So there's a snapshot of what I've read lately.  The
pansies are from the same pot our friend John gave us.
Apparently the name pansy comes from the French
penser (to ponder), which means it's not surprising we
become thoughtful looking at them. Their beauty was
in sweet contrast to the horrific news I was hearing on
the radio.  And I say good for the pansies.  They say
spring, life, health and the good earth carrying on despite
the madness of a few.  They say this is where it is at.
Look at me. So I did.

Have a looking-at-the-spring-flowers day.


Mary Lou van Schaik said...

Wonderful post Barbara, full of your thoughtfulness, honesty and inspiration. I love the bit about pansies's name deriving from penser... combined with loving 'looking', it does open the door to happiness in the moment. I will definitely seek out those books! I too have been laid low by flu and had to cancel everything this past week. But I've gained precious non-doing space and time. And.. may we both recover the spring in our steps with added appreciation for the low times. Love -- Mary Lou

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Mary Lou,

Thank you so much Mary Lou. I'm so sorry you're sick. It is no fun whatsoever. The non-doing space and time is super for awhile, but my whole being is really ready to think of an idea, and be vibrantly well enough to follow through. Lots of recommendations from friends online about what to do. Enjoy the slow time, and get well.



Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!