Multitasking What We Believe

Despite all we’ve been taught about multitasking, it’s unrealistic to expect to do two different things, at the same time, equally well.

magenta zion woman dancer indian southwest art print steve Henderson

When we truly think differently, it comes out in how we dress, how we speak, how we act, how we dance. Magenta in Zion, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

It’s bad enough when we juggle texting one person while we’re listening to another: quite frankly, the listening part usually suffers.

But it’s worse when we try to live in accordance with one set of beliefs while incorporating another, totally opposite way of thinking. Like this:

“I am an independent, maverick sort of person,” we tell ourselves. “I do my own thing, my own way, and I don’t let anybody boss me around.”

While this is actually a good way to think, that we are encouraged to do so by advertisers, TV shows, movies, and politicos, should give us pause. The same corporations that flatter U.S. residents into thinking that we are highly individualistic — remnant of our bronco bustin’ frontier days — also teach and tell us what cool and successful look like: by how we dress, what we drive, who we listen to, whom we hate, whom we fear. (The message is slightly different, depending upon whether they’re catering to self-identifying conservatives, liberals, or libertarians — but the key thing is that we go along with what’s acceptable for our particular group.)

The artwork, Magenta in Zion, shows one lone, unique, singular, distinct individual. She is dancing, with measured concentration and grace, in a desert — far from the crowds, the noise, the phone, social media. She is dressed in bold, flowing colors, and she is not looking over her shoulder to see who is watching her, and wondering what they think.

Neither is she pushing her actions or beliefs upon another. Her concentration is upon the task at hand, and her focus is to do it well. She is not worried about looking cool, but rather, to being true to herself: aligning who she is and what she does with what she believes to be right, good, honest, meaningful, kind, and true.

That’s an individual.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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Storms of Life: We Survive Them

As long as we’re not out in the middle of it, and as long as it’s not too violent, there’s nothing like a good storm.

pacific storm ocean beach coast storm clouds steve henderson art painting

When we’ve got a good umbrella and are protected from the cold, a storm is a fascinating phenomenon. Pacific Clouds, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

Dramatic clouds drifting around the sun cast surreal light over a scene that, on a sunny day, looks completely different. And while sunny days are beautiful, cloudy ones are as well. Colors and shadows and light that we didn’t even know existed emerge, almost magically, when the clouds move in.

So it is with life, which has its sunny days and rainy ones, its calm intervals and stormy moments. Anyone who lives on the planet very long knows that we need both: sunny days are delightful, but 365 days of them, year after year after year, result in a desert.

When it comes to a storm, it’s no fun being in the middle of the tempest, drenched without an umbrella, shivering in the cold. It’s understandable that our major thought would be getting inside someplace where we can be warm and dry.

But not all storms are hurricanes. Some are like the image in Pacific Clouds — brooding and somber, wild and unpredictable. We’re not quite sure what’s going to happen — and we have very little power over a lot of what eventually does. What we do have power over is dressing warmly, finding shelter, trying to figure out what will happen next and changing our actions accordingly.

When we’re out in a storm we have to think deeply and well, be flexible, find creative solutions, be willing to move. If there are others with us, we work together, each contributing what we can, all the time that we protect those who are dependent upon our strength. A storm is no time or place to be selfish if all involved are to make it through.

But it takes a storm to see this.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

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Stop Attacking Yourself


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Special Event? Take Your Time Getting Ready

Everybody loves a special event — whether it’s going to a superb restaurant, shopping for the day with friends, picnicking in the park, spending a few days at the beach for vacation. It may be fancy, it may be simple, but what it is is different, which is why we call it special.

evening date celebration event anticipation steve henderson woman pink romantic art

The joy of any event is enhanced when we enjoy the preparation for it. The Evening Ahead, art print from Steve Henderson Collections

Whatever it is we’re doing, it’s a break from normal routine.

Now there’s nothing wrong with routine; after all we live on a planet with relatively predictable seasons that allow us to grow our food, reasonably secure that it won’t snow when it’s supposed to be warm, and that blossoms on fruit trees won’t appear in autumn, just before winter.

Routine is the opposite of chaos, and chaos is unsettling because we never know what’s going to hit us next, when, or how hard. (This sounds a bit like today’s political living situation on the planet. The regular, ordinary, normal people never know what their “leaders” will impose upon them next.)

But too much routine is not a good thing, because life starts to look boring. And this is where special events come in.

The artwork, The Evening Ahead, not only celebrates the special event but — very importantly — expresses enjoyment over the preparations for it. A young woman stands at the mirror dressing her hair. Her movements are slow, measured, relaxed, unlike the rush we consider normal when we’re getting ready for work.

Gentle thoughts of anticipation run through her mind. The flowers surrounding her add to the sense of peace, tranquility, and contentment because one of the major aspects of flowers — other than their beauty — is that they are never in a hurry. They take their time, and in that time, they develop into the fullness of blossom.

The next opportunity you find for a special event in your life — and remember, it doesn’t have to be “big,” just different — savor the preparations for it. The time you take to do so will add sweetness and depth to the memories.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Seeking the Simple Life

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Walk away from What Doesn’t Work

We’ve all been discouraged about a path we’re taking, when the various methods we use to reach our goals don’t seem to get anywhere. Upon expressing our frustration and dispiritedness, we’re sure to get someone well trained in American pop culture to respond:

“Power through it!”

“Don’t be a quitter!”

Cadence confident woman female walking coast beach pink dress steve henderson art print

Walk with confidence your own path and see where it takes you. Cadence, art print from Steve Henderson Collections —

“Keep at it — I read about someone who contacted 70 book publishers until the LAST ONE took her book — and now they’re making a movie about it!”

And of course, we’ve all heard — long before business seminar speakers and Influencers erupted like TV preachers — that Once You Start Reading a Book, You’ve Got to Finish It. (The main result of this maxim is that bad authors continue to sell drivel.)

There is much to be said for perseverance. Nothing worth achieving comes easily, especially in a corporate-business-controlled culture that sees ordinary people as nothing more than monetary units to purchase products.

But there’s also much to be said about individual human intelligence, and our ability — and freedom — to realistically look at a situation and determine if it isn’t worth dropping some ideas and developing new ones. Those new ideas, when we start trusting in our instincts, thoughts, and skills, may look very strange and unusual indeed, because they won’t be anything we’ve heard from a seminar speaker, Influencer, or preacher.

And because they don’t look like anything an Influencer insists we do, we doubt whether they’ll work or not because, after all, we just thought of them. And who are we?

Be Your Own Influencer

The artwork, Cadence, answers that question of who we are: we are intelligent, confident people who are walking the individual paths of our unique, precious lives. Where we go depends upon the paths we choose, the steps we take, the decisions we make.

So . . . since where we want to go is unique to who we are, so also is the means by which we get there. Try out new ideas. Give them time. Analyze how they’re doing. Finesse them.

And feel free to drop what doesn’t work and move on to something different.

Yes, it’s true: you can quit too soon. But it’s also true that the more time you spend doing something that just doesn’t work, the less time you have to find something that does.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Think Like a Child

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When You Live Smarter, Harder, Faster — You Don’t Live

Smarter, harder, faster.

It is the mantra of U.S. corporate culture, which calls itself as the American Way, whatever that is.

quiet contemplation woman country garden flowers steve henderson art print

The garden, unlike the office, encourages us to slow down, touch gently, think. Quiet Contemplation, art print from Steve Henderson Collections —

What it means is that we, the ordinary human beings who form the workforce that generates profits for the business world, never do enough, never complete it fast enough, never finish the list of things awaiting us each day.

Years ago, before computer technology sped the workday up to what we today consider normal, there were waiting periods, moments of silence, even rest, in the office. After all, if you had to wait a week for a letter to get to a client, you didn’t immediately have to respond to his email.

“Technology, because it eliminates waiting periods, means you get your work done faster — and will have increased free time!” was the message bandied about.

The reality looks more like this: “Technology, because it eliminates waiting periods, means you get your work done faster — so you can do more of it in the same time period!”

The artwork, Quiet Contemplation, represents a way of thinking totally opposite to our business-oriented, performance-driven, work-worshiping lifestyle. Strolling through a country garden, a young woman stops to look more closely at a flower. Almost without thinking, her hand reaches out — slowly, gently, quietly because flowers, much like people, do not take kindly to being grabbed, pushed, shoved, and roughly treated.

By acting smarter, working harder, moving faster she will make no difference in the speed with which the flower grows. The flower will grow as it grows — slowly — as it was designed to grow.

So it is with us, precious and creative human beings who were designed to be so much more than machines that breathe: our heart beats at a certain rate; our breath is measured and regular; our steps only move so fast.

Sometime, anytime, during this week, purposefully slow down and be aware of your movements. There will always be something to do, and, if we continue to allow business corporate thoughts to dictate our own, never enough time to do it in.

Take the time that you have, and live.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. Posts complementing this one are

Is It Too Noisy to Think?

End Your Day on a Good Note

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Is It Too Noisy to Think?

We live in a noisy world.

Some of the noise we can’t help, especially if we live in a city. There’s the bustle of traffic, a neighbor’s loud stereo, sirens. In the office, it may be a co-worker’s talking on their speaker phone, oblivious to the fact that we are all (unwillingly) listening in on their latest relationship problems. Even in the country we hear tractors, spray planes, farm machinery, lawn mowers.

peace wilderness mountain lake canoe quiet painting steve henderson wallowa

Peace, by Steve Henderson. Artwork on the wall gives our minds and eyes a place to rest, inviting us into its world of quiet. Peace, art print from Steve Henderson Collections

Other noise, however, we impose upon ourselves — like the TV droning in the background even though no one is watching, or the ear buds in our ears.

“But that’s music,” we say, wide eyed. Well, some of it is.

Whether the noise is “good” or “bad,” unwanted or self-imposed, the point is, is that it is not silence. In our noisy, active, busy, frenetic world, it’s easy to forget that silence is a necessary part to everyone’s day — because it is in silence that we are able to think, and think deeply.

And while we can and do experience too much noise, it’s difficult to make the argument that we have too much time to think.

In the artwork, Peace, a lone canoeist is in a very silent, very peaceful place, the only sound being the occasional chirp of a bird and the splash of oars upon the water. The lake is still; the mountains, majestic and imposing, are silent. In a place like this we can indeed think deeply, because there is nothing to distract our mind from its gentle stream of thoughts.

How often do we have time like this? While it may not be realistic for us to grab a canoe and head to a wilderness lake, there is always someplace where we can get away from the noise and activity, the bustle and hustle, the constant demands for our attention. (Many people swear by the bathroom, and its locked door.)

There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with taking time to be silent with our thoughts. After all, if we are not familiar with our own thoughts, how will we know when they are being imposed upon by the dictates of others?

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End Your Day on a Good Note

Too many people end their day in the same way they began it: rushed and hurried, anxious and worried.

Think about it: it’s a cultural norm to wake up to an alarm clock or some song on the phone.  And whether we roll out of bed, groaning, or sit bolt upright, heart racing, we too often start the work day in a totally unnatural way.

1940s woman work home nostalgia vintage quiet day ending

Ending the Day on a Good Note, art print by Steve Henderson available at Steve Henderson Collections

But . . . that’s our norm.

So it is with ending the day: we have been in a state of rush since untangling ourselves from the bed clothes, gulping down coffee, applying makeup in the car, and literally driving ourselves through the day. When we get home, there’s more to do, all the mistakes of the work day to review, tomorrow’s obligations to plan and worry about and add to our fretting.

And while this is our cultural norm, it doesn’t have to be our personal one.

The woman in the artwork, Ending the Day on a Good Note, has just come home from her day at work.  Her clothes place her sometime in the 1940s so her job, we imagine, has something to do with the War Effort.

And while movies make anything to do with the U.S. during World War II seem noble, it’s highly likely that her job was unsatisfactory, vaguely boring, and not something she would choose to do with the precious hours of her life.

What she does choose to do — once she is home and mistress of her own time — is to take things slowly, to relax, to listen to music that gives her pleasure, and to experience a sense of quiet, contentment, and satisfaction.

Oh, there are always more things to do, and like any resident of a highly corporate, business-driven society, she knows this. But wisely, she recognizes that life is not meant to be lived at high speed, in a constant state of anxiety and worry, a continuous drive to do more, work harder, be smarter.

Life, rather, is meant to be lived.

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The One Time It’s Good to Feel Small

Nobody likes feeling small — that feeling caused when one person lords him or herself over another.

Or — something good, ordinary people feel every day — that helpless feeling we get after reading the paper, scrolling through social media, or watching the “news” —

“The world is so big and unfriendly,” we think, “and I have no power to make any changes.

serenity grand canyon southwest arizona national park art steve henderson

Before such beauty and vastness, there is much to think about, much to ponder, much to be in awe over. Serenity, art print from Steve Henderson Collections.

“But there are so many people — too many people — who have power to make my life difficult, or frustrating, or unpleasant.”

(Actually, it’s not so much that there are a lot of people who possess this power, but those few who do, exert their power relentlessly. But even they would have less influence if good, ordinary people did not help them out by advancing their causes, supporting their corporations, buying their books, defending their names, and being their willing and subservient acolytes. If you’re going to follow anybody, make sure he or she is good, honest, trustworthy, compassionate, kind, and wise.)

But back to feeling small: there is a time when it is good to feel small, and this is shown in the artwork, Serenity.

A young woman sits before the vast and majestic Grand Canyon, a landscape so broad and big and mighty and truly incredible that only an arrogant, tiny-minded, shriveled-heart type of person does not feel its grandeur. In front of this vast space we not only feel physically small, but also quite vulnerable: few, actually zero, are the people who can fling themselves over the edge (without a paraplane) and fly.

We feel small, like children, and indeed children we are — children of the good, honest, trustworthy, compassionate, kind, and wise Creator who not only made this grand canyon, but the rest of the earth, and all of us as well. HE is big, and his power is held in good hands, hands that do not snatch and grab, grasp and push, slap and strike.

Before him we can safely be small and vulnerable, because he uses his power to protect and cherish us.

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God Wants Us to Be Children, Not Stuffy, Boring, Arrogant Grown-ups

Children are fascinating.

Oh, I know — kids are messy, noisy, disruptive. They break things, fall down and cry, tease one another, and chase any sensible cat or dog from the room simply by walking into it.

bold innocence child standing beach coast ocean dreaming trust

Children dream big, and because they also trust big, they expect a positive answer to what they’re asking. Bold Innocence, by Steve Henderson

But they are also awesome.

Children have not yet learned that most of the things they think about, dream of, long for, and believe to be true are impossible or unlikely.

They do not worry about whether they can justify those thoughts, hopes, dreams, or beliefs — they simply get up each day and race their way through it.

In my office at the gallery where I work, I have a coffee mug with the image of Bold Innocence (above) on it — I hold this out at various times through the day (if I tip the cup I’m usually pretty good about making sure it’s empty first) and look at the little girl standing at the beach.

And I think, “That’s me.

“I’m that little girl, standing at the edge of the ocean, imagining Japan, or China, or some part of Asia, clear at the end of it, and convinced that somehow, I can walk over those waves and get there.”

Like a child, I don’t have to justify how what I say or think will come true, but what I do want to do, try to do, am continuing to (re)learn how to do is to trust as I once did as a child.

Only now, instead of trusting the grown-ups in my life (because, somehow, I grew into one of those myself), I seek to trust God, my Father, and Christ, the first-born of a whole family of us, as the family members who look after me, care for me, teach me, protect me, and listen to me as I express to them my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and beliefs.

Like my good earthly parents, who never ever laughed at any of the things I shared with them in my childish innocence, our good Father and our kind Elder Brother listen, and love. They recognize the vulnerability and innocence of a child, and they protect that.

Christ repeatedly taught his disciples (which include us) to be as children, and He really didn’t say anything without a good reason. It’s worth spending time thinking about those words, watching the way children act and think and trust, and — in a flip flop of what we think of as normal — imitating them, instead of always the other way around.


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Think Like a Child

Do you remember how you used to think as a child?

Most of us don’t.

childhood effervescence country girl play pretend steve henderson art

Children are the best teachers to show adults how to live simply, with trust and humility. Effervescence, original oil painting and art print by Steve Henderson.

Inoculated by the education and entertainment industries, we learned — while still far too young – to prize being cool over being honest. More important than what we actually thought and hoped and dreamed for was to look and act like a pretend person from a TV show, or better yet, an outrageously rebel rock star (honestly, who WOULDN’T want to be a rock star, idolized and worshiped by a mob of screaming fans?). At school, we venerated some figure from history, transformed into a fabulous role model by those weekly, condescendingly inane take-home inserts.

But there was a time before we were misled, when we played outside in a world that we created ourselves, in our own precious heads, as opposed to the world created for us by movies and TV. These were days when we were like the little girl in the painting, Effervescence, marching through the meadow with the purpose of play. It was a joyous time, a simple time, a time in which it was good enough to be just ourselves — and indeed, it didn’t cross our minds that we should be anybody else.

Those days, however, don’t last long, because our society spends a lot of time and effort teaching children that indeed, they are not good enough: their clothes are all wrong, their family drives the wrong kind of car, they themselves are not attractive enough, they’re not smart enough, they’re just not . . . something enough. It’s not just the businesses trying to sell us solutions to our many shortcomings who push at us; if we stumble our way into a church looking for the God we long for — the one who treasures and loves us, wrong clothes and car in all, because He made us — we hear the same message: we’re not good enough; we think wrong, act wrong, do wrong, and the only hope for us is that we come back week after week to buy the next message from the pulpit.

So . . . let’s stop for a moment and try to remember the way we thought as a child. And if that’s too far back, too buried in detritus to be found, then let us learn from children who are children today. Watch a very young child play. Listen to the things they say. Get down on their level and try to see the world the way they do.

Children possess a wisdom that we adults have lost — but they’re very very willing to teach us. All we have to do is listen.

Posted in acceptance, children, Christian, Culture, Daily Life, Encouragement, Faith | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments