The Art of Life

I’m on vacation (in Seattle) and I’m not getting much writing done.

Every time I plan a family vacation, I tell myself I’ll get a lot of writing done. My husband will be around, I think, to entertain our son so I picture myself sitting in a café writing while they are off doing something totally fun together.

And I plan to write every evening: My son goes to bed early and we’re all in a hotel room together so I imagine myself writing into the night by the light of my computer screen.

But the reality is we’re up before dawn every morning (due to the alarm clock that is my son, who has never met a morning he didn’t like) and we’re busy all day and by the time my son is asleep I’m very nearly ready to go to sleep, too.

Plus we are visiting family and I don’t want to miss out on this precious time with loved ones we don’t often see.

It all adds up to a lot less writing than I ever imagined.

My expectations were totally unrealistic. I can see that now, halfway through the week. My first priority here in Seattle is not to write—it’s to drink great coffee! Just kidding, although the coffee here really is amazing. (Seattle’s Best Coffee is my favorite so far.) No, my first priority is to spend time with my family.

When I visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. I saw the work of someone whose life is primarily about his art: Dale Chihuly. I am inspired by his art, his words, and his life.

Dale Chihuly has spent his life (so far) creating art, mostly in glass, and teaching his art and his techniques to others. Here’s what he had to say about the art of blowing glass:

The technology really hasn’t changed. We use the same tools today they used 2,000 years ago. The difference is that when I started, everyone wanted to control the blowing process. I just went with it. The natural elements of fire, movement, gravity and centrifugal force were always there, and are always with us. The difference was that I worked in this abstract way and could let the forces of nature have a bigger role in the ultimate shape.”

–Dale Chihuly

I love how he talks about the way he allowed the glass to flow. It sounds so natural, so organic.

When I think about my life as my art, I realize I’m letting my life flow in a natural way. I used to try to control the process of living, every little thing, but now I practice control by controlling my mind and reminding myself that I am the only one I can control. The result is more joy, more peace, and (at least most of the time) more writing.

I’m living my life, a life that includes writing, and letting it flow. It’s much more organic than it used to be when I tried to muscle everything into it’s proper place.

When my expectations don’t match my reality, I adjust my expectations. I don’t beat myself up, or try to cram everything in to the point of exhaustion, but I also don’t avoid writing because “I don’t have enough time.”

And now I have the image of Dale Chihuly in my mind, reminding me with his gorgeous glass art how beautiful life can be when we go with the flow.

Is your writing part of the flow of your life?

News from Diane MacKinnon: I‘ve planned a writing retreat for the fall. It’s a one-day event, September 20, and I’m so excited about it! If you are local, I hope you’ll join me. You can find out more about my one day writing retreat by clicking here.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, circle practitioner, mother, stepmother, and family physician. I’m so grateful for  the long summer days to enjoy with my family and friends, including my books and my journal.

32 thoughts on “The Art of Life

  1. Yes, very much. When I started from India for a 3 month stay in Europe, I had an idea of catching up on my writing backlog. But real life has its own attractions which take precedence. So, the process of writing has taken a back seat and I am not complaining.

    • Hi ashokbhatia,
      I’m so glad you can see that writing has taken a back seat in your life recently–and that’s a good thing! I think ahead to when my son is older and busier and I know I’ll have plenty of time to write then. That gives me a peaceful feeling, because I’m so focused on spending time with him now that my writing is definitely not as big a priority as it used to be.

      Thanks for posting and happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  2. Loved this post! I just went on vacation with my family and had a similar experience. I thought being at the beach would bring out my creativity and it did, but it also brought out the kid in me, who wanted to spend time with her kids in the water and on the beach. Years ago, I would have beaten myself up for not getting any writing done. I love the idea of going with the flow, fighting it never works anyway. It’s almost like the notion of accepting reality and working with it instead of against it! We need to do this in all areas of life.

    • Hi thewritertracy,
      Thanks for your comments! Yeah, I didn’t get much done on my trip to Seattle, but I actually wrote three blog posts on the airplane on the way home! So I think I jump-started my creativity, I just had to wait until I had an opportunity to let it out!

      When I accept the reality of the situation, I can write as soon as I have an opportunity, rather than being bummed out about how much I didn’t get done (and continuing to get nothing done!)

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  3. I am so jealous of you right now. I learned about Dale C when I first started college in 2004 and I loved learning about him. I know the museum was awesome to go to. As a writer, I am not on vacation and still find myself struggling a lot to write. Too many things on my mind. But, writing is a great way to get things off of your mind. I am doing NanoWriMo for this month so I have been writing everyday, even if it’s 400 words. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay and get some good writing in!

    • Hi A Writer With Something To Say,
      The museum was amazing! It really was as amazing as I thought it would be. I find I struggle the most with writing when I’m home with laundry to do and cooking to think about and do. I either drop my son off at school and go straight to a cafe (or even just sit in my car) or I’ll go back home but I won’t leave the kitchen table until I’ve met my goal for the day. I also try to reward myself when I do meet my goals–usually with something small, like going for a run, or making a good cup of coffee.

      I think NaNo is another great way to get more words on the page. I love the excitement and the accountability of NaNoWriMo. Best of luck with that!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  4. I know what you mean. Now that summer break is on and my daughter is at home I’ve reverted to my grad school self, finding it difficult to get any work done. And I think all creative people go through the same thing, guilt over not being creative every minute of every day (I would have said waking hours, but sometimes I dream about my writing). Most days I’m able to console myself with all the other (noncreative) things I do and hope it feed my ideas and desire to write. On other days I try and force the issue and my writing ends up sounding forced. I like the idea of letting it flow, but when too many of those days pile up I still feel the guilt. Maybe that’s just part of the writer’s process.

    • Yeah, the guilt is the worse part but I’ve found that taking notes help. I carry a notebook around so even if I don’t really do anything creative in a day I can jot down my thoughts, an image or an idea and develop them when I have more time and feel more inspired.

      • Hi triciatallen,
        I agree, having a place to keep notes is key. I just jot them down in my phone, which is not ideal, but at least I’ve captured them in the moment and I can go back to them when I get a chance.

        Thanks for commenting!

        Warmly,
        Diane

  5. Thanks for sharing Diane. I’m learning more each day how to make writing a part of the flow of life. Recently I decided to revisit a manuscript I’m been too intimidated to work on… I’m just writing for a short time each day to learn more about the character’s voice. Though nothing magically has happened yet I feel content knowing I’m at least working consistently towards my goals. I’m participating in an online poetry course this summer as well and that gives me the drive to look for inspiration in even the most mundane aspects of each day.

    Thanks for sharing your thought on Dale Chihuly. Wow, didn’t know people could create such stunning art with glass.

    • Hi triciatallen,
      Thank YOU for sharing! I think writing a small amount each day will get you a lot further than writing in big blocks. When I remember this, I get much more done! And yes, I so enjoyed seeing the work of Dale Chihuly. I’d seen one of his installations when I visited one of the hotels on the strip in Las Vegas (I can’t remember which one in this moment.) It was spectacular and I was so excited when I realized I could see a lot more of his work, all in one place, when I visited Seattle.

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hey again, triciatallen,
      NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. There’s a website (www.nanowrimo.org) that you can check out. People sign up and basically commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It starts on November 1st and it ends on November 30th and the way you win is by writing 50,000 words. Everyone who meets their writing goal wins. It’s fun to focus on writing for a whole month and to have a community who is doing the same thing with you!

      Check it out! I’ve done it a few times and when I was first starting to write again I found it very helpful. It helped me just start getting words on the page, rather than spending hours trying to find the right words.

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi Jarm Del Boccio,
      Thanks so much! Seattle was great! And, as I mentioned above, my creativity was recharged by being away from my normal life.

      Thanks for your good wishes!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  6. Yes! Such a beautiful post. Life is so much about releasing (or at least adjusting) our expectations. Plus, filling up your inspiration cup is just as important as writing, yes?

    • Hi Sara,
      I agree with you–filling ourselves up allows us to overflow onto others and into our writing!

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  7. I write on
    Wordpress but writing is so much a part of my life. I have about two journals, a planner and I write daily doings, to do list etc. I couldn’t have order in my life if I didn’t.
    Maybe I should write more as an expression on WordPress and get out another side of me.

    • Hi shalilah2002,
      However and whatever you write is great–we are all so different. It sounds like what you are doing with regard to your writing is working for you!

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  8. Oh how I want you to write but, as a devoted Seattleite, I want you to enjoy our beautiful city. Chihuly gardens are breathtaking. I’m a big fan of write about what is inspiring you at the moment. Good luck!

    • Hi goddestale,
      I’m so lucky I have family in the Seattle area now, so I know I’ll be back! I had such a wonderful visit–and I’d love to wander through the Chihuly gardens again–without a four-year-old who wasn’t quite as enthralled as I was.

      I agree, writing about whatever’s in my thoughts in the moment is the way to go! (At least for me!)

      Warmly,
      Diane

  9. I’ve been to several Dael Chihuly exhibits but never to the Chihuly Gardens. I’ll have to add that to my Bucket List. He is a great artist. I’m glad he’s getting recognition while he’s alive.
    Writing can push and pull me from day to day. I love doing it but sometimes feel torn between living life in the qorld or staying in and writing. I’ve purchased a laptop so I could do both. But, outside distractions of the beauty of nature gets in the way. Balance – it escapes me. Enjoy your vacation ….

    • Hi Inside the Mind of Isadora,
      The balance eludes me, but I do realize that my son and my family are my highest priority right now and that helps me get my perspective back when I start to think, “I’m not getting any writing done.” Because as soon as I realize the reason I’m not writing is because I spent that time with my son, then I’m good. Because that’s what I want to do with my time right now. Or when I spend all day with my parents–that’s my choice and that’s what I want to do with my time. One day, when my parents don’t need me and my son is busy with his friends, I’ll have lots more time to write. In the meantime, I try to get some writing done in the in-between times. 🙂

      Thanks for your good wishes.

      Warmly,
      Diane

      • I must say I totally agree with you. Children and parents will soon be gone due to time moving on. It’s best to take advantage of them while they are in your life now. We forget that nothing is forever.
        Namaste
        Isadora 😀

  10. Your piece contains great wisdom which I think all of us can learn from. I am trying to learn. The terrible urge to always “Make the best use” of time can come to dominate you and make you insensitive to the glories you see all around you if you’re patient. Thanks for your writing.

    • Hi davidjrogersftw,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. I agree, I’m definitely trying not to be “insensitive to the glories” I see around me, and still get some words on the page most days.

      You are very welcome. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  11. Diane,
    Enjoyed your posting, especially ” It’s much more organic than it used to be when I tried to muscle everything into it’s proper place.” As a dementia patient that doesn’t work too well!! (big smile) blog at truthfulkindness.com

    • Hi truthfulkindness,
      Thanks so much for your comments. And yes, I’ve “muscled” a lot of things into place in my day. I’m not satisfied with doing things that way any more. I can only imagine, as a dementia patient, that you’ve had to figure out a lot of different ways of doing things more organically.

      I’ll check out your blog!

      Warmly,
      Diane

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