Watch what you say……to yourself!!

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Doodling at Caribou, Lake Geneva, WI

The Huffington Post claims that we have anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day.  Years back, this number was about 20,000 thoughts per day.  Either way, that’s a lot of thoughts!  Most thoughts come in the form of questions,

~“How do I feel about that?”

~“Why doesn’t anyone pick up after themselves?”

~“Do I look fat?”

~“Did anyone just notice that I did that?”

Most of these thoughts can fall just below the radar of noticing them;  a mind chatter, or as some lovingly refer to it as the “committee in my head”.

After the birth of my 4th child, I had postpartum depression that went on and on for years.  Medications took the edge off at times, yet I constantly felt that pervasive “LOW” feeling, all of the time.  I decided to take a closer look at my thought life and just observed what I was saying to myself.

Well….. they weren’t pretty.  It was a constant stream of critique, discontent, tiredness, irritation, coupled with low self worth.  Where did that free spirited, positive thinking, independent high school girl go?  Who knows.

What I do know is I was hypnotizing myself with my mind chatter.  I decided it was time to take better control of my thinking, as best as I could.  I began to implant new thoughts ~Gratitude, Peace, Love.  I decided if my mind was chattering with negativity, I would make it chatter with positivity.  It was an action I could take to steer my thoughts back on the road, instead of going on pointless detours, bringing me further away from fulfillment as a person.  It wasn’t easy, it was work, uphill, against the wind, in the rain work.  Yet it worked.

Today, I watch what I hypnotize myself with.  If I’m driving, and I don’t remember going from Point A to Point B, because I’m lost in my thoughts.  I’m hypnotizedIf it is with feelings of gratitude, joy, peace and love, well that’s lovely.  Yet, I’ve found more often, that I need to work at cultivating those feelings by action.  Most of my automatic thoughts don’t serve me well.  Positive feelings don’t come as easily as judgement, irritation, overwhelm, strife & ____________(you name it!).

Today, take notice of what you are hypnotizing yourself with.  If it serves you, great!  If it’s a disservice to yourself, as a person and the world in general, you can choose to weed that thought by planting a better one instead.

Make it a GREAT day!!!!

A Grateful Heart, Makes Great Art.

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Old Lady Mildred’s 30×40″ acrylic Gratitude is painted on underneath

I really believe in the power of thought and the words we use in our everyday lives.  How many times have we gotten out of someones way, because you thought perhaps, this is someone I would rather avoid, for whatever reason?  If I walk around all grumpy and discontented, well, people get it, and generally will head in the opposite direction and avoid eye contact.

Personally, I have struggled with many demons in my lifetime.  I have abused myself with overeating, over drinking, indulged myself with self-pity, discontentment. etc… At times, I thought “What’s it all worth?”  Being on this planet for roughly 50 years has schooled me in many ways, pain being the biggest teacher.   A tool learned that helped me immeasurably is to be grateful, even when the evidence seems contrary.

Years ago, I started writing down all that I am grateful for every morning.  Through the day, I continue the practice.  When feeling discontented about something, I think of what I’m grateful for.  In all of my paintings, I write a word on the canvas before I begin painting over it, oftentimes “Gratitude” has been the word I chose.  What mood I bring to my paintings I feel impacts the art, so my goal is to bring joy and gratitude into my art.  The practice of gratitude truly transformed my life, I became much happier, and more importantly, I don’t take so many things for granted.  They are all gifts!

If your interested in starting your own gratitude process, I will lay out a few suggestions.

  • Get a Notebook, or Sketchbook
  • When you wake up in the A.M., start listing what your are grateful for, write it, doodle it…
  • When feeling harassed, switch your thinking instead to something you could be grateful for.

Good luck!

Vintage Truck as a Flower Pot?

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Harm checking out a 37 Chevy truck

My husband Harm and I went out to dinner for his birthday one year.  We drove right by this old ’37 Chevy truck, and I pleaded to go back and take pictures. I love old trucks!  I love their lines, I love their look, I love especially when they are full of rust.  She was for sale, and we weren’t in the market for buying a truck, yet something spoke to me about her, so I said  “We should buy her and make her a beautiful flower pot in front of the house.”  My husband gave me a funny look, after all, this was his birthday, and I don’t think a huge flower pot was on the list.  He loves me though, and he knows how passionate I am about old rusty trucks, so he said, “Call them up and find out how much”.

The owner of the truck was super gracious to work with my impulsiveness.  He even wanted to show me some of his other cherished old things he had.  Collectors LOVE to show you their hard earned collections.  Turns out he was a drag racer, and had a full set up shop inside his old unassuming barn, with old gas pumps, and various car items,  he was quite a character. He sold us the truck that night, which I enduringly named “Betsey Brown Clementine”.  He said he pulled her out of a field, yet didn’t have room for her.

Betsey in the Snow 48″x60″ acrylic ptg

Betsey the flower pot in our front yard

So on the night of my husbands birthday, he bought me one of the most cherished trucks I have ever owned.   I put a positive word on all of my canvasses before I do the actual painting and the word I painted as an underpainting in Betsey in the Snow is the word “JOY”, because I pull in and out of my driveway everyday and “Betsey” brings me great joy to see her.

http://www.lynngarwood.com

Life Can Be Sobering!!

Before the year 2006, I would attempt a painting or a sketch here and there.  My schedule was jam-packed already with raising four young children and trying to keep up with my demanding sign business.  My evening ritual after getting everybody else situated was to drink wine to unwind from my day.  I would pour a glass & occasionally sit down at my easel and make a painting attempt.  I remember feeling frustrated at times, the creative process for me can be filled with angst, doubt and struggle.  My wine, I thought, would dull those feelings and help me loosen up.  It did, to the point of just giving up with whatever endeavor I was trying to accomplish.  I created very little in those years, aside from working for other people making signs.

Everything changed in 2006 when I decided to give up my wine drinking for good.  I was waking up in the a.m. too many times feelings awful from a hangover.  It was not easy in the beginning to do this & I had no patience to try creating anything at this time.  However, as time went on, it became easier to stay sober and my creative juices began to flow back in abundance.  I began painting at night when the kids went to bed and was pleasantly surprised by a few things.  One, was that it wasn’t as filled with tension and angst that it had been in the past.  Second, I was painting really well.  My details became more clear, my colors became more vibrant, the execution process went amazingly well.

I didn’t realize at the time, yet alcohol was actually stunting my growth as an artist, and more importantly as a person.  Being sober has allowed me to deal with life so much better and paint in a capacity I didn’t have the patience for while drinking my wine.

Lainie & Old Bike, acrylic 30×40 2009

If you’re questioning alcohol’s place in your life, I seriously prompt you to take a closer look, there is a reason your questioning it to begin with.  There are many support groups these days to help you accomplish living a clean, sober, healthy life.  I’m grateful for the help I received from like-minded people in those early years and continue too to this day.  Now I am able to pass on the help to people who are trying to get alcohol out of their life, by sharing with them my story and expressing my gratitude for living a clean sober life.