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Appreciation is Contagious. Better Catch It. by Mary Jennings

Loving The Rain! I posted a status on my FB account this morning.  I had to.  I couldn’t help it.  I really wanted to share the amazing delight I was feeling at that very moment.  I just knew that others would enjoy what I was experiencing.  Finding the right words to express my moment were also part of the fun.

It got quite a few likes, but it also made me think about how fortunate I felt to be experiencing something so simple and so impossible for me to create by my own hand or skill.  I was wholly appreciative.  I have noticed some other grateful updates being posted by some of my other friends on some other social media sites.

A young photographer friend was prompting people to make sure to take time to stop and notice the beautiful sunrise and sunsets we are blessed with daily.  Such wise advice for such a young girl.  She might have been preaching to the choir, though.  I have seen an increase in stunning sky photos on FB and Instagram with people doing just that; looking up.  Vacation will have that effect on you.  I’ve enjoyed looking at and clicking like on every last post I’m fortunate enough to encounter.

Beauty Discovered

I also love that I have several artist friends who are able to see the beauty in some not so expectedly beautiful things and are generous enough to share their discoveries (and be thankful on top of that).  This was posted by a friend and former Moore College of Art classmate who made my day with her midnight snack.

So, all of this is to say, look up, stand still, soak in and share.  Appreciation is contagious; better catch it and share.  It might just also be the cure for all that ails.

Experiencing Observation: Gratitude by Mary Jennings

"Discovery"

36"x36" oil on canvas. SOLD I didn't doubt that I would make it to this sixth installment of my blog series on experiencing observation, but I didn't actually lightheartedly skip along the pathway either.  It can be told that I have loved writing about all the subtle differences in observation.  Who knew that looking around could be so distinctive depending on a certain mindset?  I'm not sure I even appreciated this until I began to write about it.

So far, I have covered getting caught, making memories, being restored, hunting, capturing and now I am going to write about experiencing observation through the lens of gratitude.  With a mindset of thankfulness, what you see is not simply what it is.  It becomes greater in its substance due to the context in which it is being viewed.

A sunset, with its color, movement and mood, has a pretty good jump-start in being receptive to gratitude filled observations.  Not everything has it this easy.  With some things like a pile of unfolded laundry, a flat tire, an icy walkway, or a bad hair day, it takes a little bit of work getting a fruitful observation experience with a mindset of gratitude.  And because of this struggle, it is so very rewarding when you do see what others may not see.  This is a highly creative experience.  This is the stuff great poetry is made of.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered."  I agree.  We are given so many wonderful "weeds" in life and we try to eliminate, hide and sometimes ignore them and their virtues.  In the spring of 2009, I did a video with a focus on inspiration and determination using the dandelion to support my message.  It is extremely consistent with the message I offer many times to this day.  It was nice to see I am staying on track to help inspire and encourage creativity.

httpv://youtu.be/u_cUu8YIZEw

Watch it and see how I demonstrate how rich our observations become with a heart of gratitude.  Gratitude is a great place to take NOTHING and turn it in to a treasure.

Turn that frown upside down.  Turn that trouble into triumph.  Celebrate your creativity by seeing things that are good, helpful and productive from what we would avoid finding any beauty in at all.  With a mindset of gratitude, experience observation where treasures can be found in trash.

Share any observations you have made in the comment section below.  We want to see what you see.

Experiencing Observation - Focus by Mary Jennings

In this fourth installation of posts on Experiencing Observation, I will cover the duty of seeking. This requires a high level of observational skills and a multi-sensory focus. It has many applications and can be a benefit to exercise, but if over used becomes a problem by causing unwanted mental fatigue otherwise known as “UGH!”

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!

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“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most” reads a plaque I was given when I was a busy Interior Designer with Martha Child Interiors early in my career. It was very appropriately given and gratefully received. This was my first job out of college and I worked extremely long hours and was always looking for fabric, furniture, lighting, finishes and yes, my lost mind. I experienced incredible focus while employed for this position. Part of my job was to head to the Design Center in Washington, D.C. to select the perfect fabrics for every piece of furniture, window treatment and pillow for the Sunrise Retirement Homes. I would comb through 3 floors of designer fabric showrooms and come home with several bags (4-6) full of fabric swatches. I was really good a zeroing in on the right color, texture and price for the potential destination of this fabric. It was wonderful and unbelievably exhausting. I was so thankful the Design Center had so much to choose from in every showroom I entered.

If you are woman who wears earrings, you have most likely experienced this kind of focused, dutiful, and quest filled observation. Finding the perfect pair in a pile of many can require extreme patients, if you don’t have these beauties all laid out and organized. As I get older, I am driven to spending less and less time in this journey. Organization and general simplification of appearance help. I won’t even go into the frenzied focus involved in finding a LOST item.

Just this morning, I created a perfectly funny joke, complete with set-up and punch. This is always a great thing for my role as a novice stand-up comedian. I was busy at the time and didn’t stop to write it down with the thought of getting back to it without any great effort after finishing my busy work. Within a short period of time, I was shocked to find the joke completely gone from my mind. I immediately began to dig in to all of my sensual memory to try to capture that joke again. I remember having the visualization of me sharing it with a delighted audience. It was so concrete and yet not. I am still mentally standing here with all my doors open, on full alert, waiting for that little treasure to blow on in. Otherwise, I might have to make a joke about the one that got away like the fisherman’s fictitious big fish.

I trust my skills for observation and will report in the comment section below if it manages to come to me. I’m working on it. Tell me if you have ever experienced this kind of observation.  I would love to hear your story. I hope you are benefiting from my efforts to encourage your experiences of observation.

 

Experiencing Observation: Restorative by Mary Jennings

Have you ever been in so much pain that you are looking for anything to relieve it?  I have.  I could be referring to physical pain and but there is also emotion pain.  I think there are more remedies for physical pain than there are for pain experienced by the heart and soul.  With physical pain you can pinpoint the cause a bit easier and treat it as recommended.  In this case, I am talking about more of an emotional ache.  I have had times when my heart hurt and I was broken down like a an abandoned ride on the side of the road.  This sounds like lyrics for a Country Music song performed on Dr. Phil. Oil on Canvas by Mary Jennings

I approach these times differently now with some experience under my belt.  There have been times when I have lifted myself up and taken myself OUT of my misery; OUT of my WOE by putting one foot in front of the other in search of relief.  I was overly humbled and looking for a glimpse of encouragement.  I think we tend to hang on to our woe sometimes until we are done with sitting in it.  It’s like poking a bruise to remember it hurts.   I think putting the mental hand out, making the physical steps to receive a new direction for our hearts and heads to go into through this use of observation.

None of this can happen at times like this without a look up, a hand out or a first step.  Take one and the others will follow.

Through this action, the pain turns to a celebration of gratitude.  None of this can happen at times like this without a look up, a hand out or a first step.  Take one and the others will follow.  Great creativity can be born from these low places, but it’s not where I  personally want to dwell.  At this point in my life, it’s nice to recognize these times and turn them around pretty quickly.

"Boasting Promise" Oil on Canvas by Mary Jennings

This is a time when you see the sky in a whole new way.  Images are etched in your mind.  The process of observing people, places and things is restorative.  It’s like that first drink of water after being thirsty for a long time.  You're amazed at how delicious it really is.  If you encounter a time like this, consider it an invitation to go see things.  Average sightings are glorious.  You will look at yourself (sitting in self-pity) in contrast with the tree that has barely one good limb and still manages to boast such promise with a brilliant display of buds on that branch, in the dead of a bitter cold winter.  You can do this.  You can.

I would love to know about any observations you may have made during a time like this.  Leave a comment below or email me to share.  mary@maryjenningsart.com

Experiencing Observation: Making Memories by Mary Jennings

My new trend in travel is to not bring anything home except a clear memory of my experience.  In that case, I better pay attention.

When packing for a holiday in an exciting destination, I briefly entertained the thought of leaving room in my suitcase to accommodate all the great purchases from my travels I will need to bring home.  Then I remember that I am on personal campaign not to bring another thing into my house.  Being a person who creates thing from things and nothing, I am on battle with clutter and stuff.  I don’t want to make my battle any harder than it already is by bringing anything else to manage.  So that leaves me with the question. How do I remember my travels.  What will I show people?

Cover of travel journal, sketchbook for Jennings trip to Europe 2012

I’ve come up with the perfect solution.  I am able to capture every minute with full color, sound and vivid memory by mentally taking in every detail I can about the whole experience through careful observation.  Talking, laughter, smells, stories, frustrations, images, history and bits and pieces that will fit into a small, almost pocket sized sketchbook is how I preserve the memory and experience of my travels.

I’m in the process of creating this now for a trip I enjoyed with my family this past Winter Break.  We went to Europe.  We visited Brussels, Belgium; London, England and Paris, France in a period from December 24, to December 30.  It was an extremely face paced trip and I am so glad I didn’t feel torn about spending my time in souvenir shops.  We all took tons of photos and thinks like tickets, labels and tags will become future art and will contribute to the finished book of observations from the entire travel experience.  It will reflect the voice and show the hand of the people who experienced it first hand.

I have done these types of sketchbooks before.  I have a video on youtube expressing how the book was created and the mindset behind it.  Since I am still in the process of creating my lovely travel journal sketchbook from Europe, I will share with you the Sketchbook Project 2012.  This documents the release of my childhood home and the transformational struggles that went with it.  At the time this blog was posted, this YouTube video has over a thousand views.

In closing, I would like to encourage the act of experiencing observation to collect information or data that will serve you in some capacity in the future.  It is certainly better than a shot glass with the British flag on it.  I’m just saying.  One (the shot glass) can be broken or lost and might be a headache (or the cause of one) to have around, the other (journal sketchbook) can be enjoyed and shared with a broad audience through generations and will inspire and encourage growth of the head and heart.

 

Note: This is part two of a six part series.  You can find part one of six here.