The other morning I walked into the kitchen and found my wife, Terri, with her head half-way in the oven. She was in there a good five minutes before she came out.
She looked at me and smiled. “The hair dryer broke.”
Well, after 27 years of marriage, cupid’s arrow still shoots straight into my heart. Who needs Victoria’s Secret when your wife is roasting inside the oven?
It was more than a solution to a problem, it was the ultimate creative act. One woman’s declaration that no matter what she faces, she’ll always find a way.
I put on the oven mittens and threw my arms around her. “What would I do without you?” I asked.
“Probably starve,” she replied, as she flipped her head over and put herself back into the oven.
It’s true. I would starve.
It’s also true that I don’t know what I’d do without her. She is the heart and soul of our family, the glue that holds us together.
I won’t tell you her whole story, except to say that she’s a wife, mother, and teacher, who doesn’t care much for mimes, clowns, or animals dressed up in costumes. She also has this “savant” like gift to remember useless information. Put her on your Trivial Pursuit team and you won’t regret it.
Look deeper and you’ll see a hard-working, down-to-earth, straight-shooter, who tells you exactly how she feels. Go even deeper and you’ll find one of the kindest, most compassionate, funny, and wisest souls you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet.
I’m biased, but it’s true.
Of course, if you really want to know who she is, it’s the “head-in-the-oven” story that best describes her. I’m putting it on her headstone. It symbolizes her greatest quality, which is this: my wife is an artist. A full-fledged working artist.
I know this is ironic considering the fact that she will happily tell you that she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body.
Like so many other people in this world, she doesn’t understand that creativity is not about whether you can dance, sculpt, draw or play a musical instrument.
Art is about how you approach life.
And the longer we perpetuate the myth that art is only for the select few, the longer we deny ourselves from living a creative life, which is our inherited birthright.
It’s time to become the creative artists we were meant to become.
And while we could do this with paintbrush or pen, pirouette or guitar, it’s much more rewarding to do it with our lives.
Life is the greatest canvas we have. It’s where the real artists create.
Rooms 253-260: Become A Picasso With Your Life
Our room begins with a simple affirmation: stand up and declare yourself an artist.
Easy enough, right?
And, yes, we’re all artists. Every single one of us. Even you guys who won’t draw outside the lines. You’re artists as well.
You don’t need permission to be an artist. Or make money at it. Or even have talent. You just need to make something. Balloon animals. Cannolis. Poems for your kids. Music in the shower.
Art doesn’t only belong to museums and concert halls. It belongs to anyone who chooses to express his or her inspired self. And, again, there’s no more powerful place to start than with our own lives.
In fact, the best art always comes from the way we choose to live.
It comes from the way we stitch together meaning where none existed, how we create joy where there was none. It comes from our eye for beauty. Our ability to spread love. Offer compassion. Discover truth.
It comes from our own unique flair for life.
From the moment we get up in the morning, until we go to bed at night, we’re creating art. All day long.
It’s happening with every choice we make, in every seemingly insignificant moment of our lives.
We’re making it on the freeway and in the office, on elevators, at the market, the kitchen, the boardroom and the soccer field. It’s happening while we’re getting dressed, greeting co-workers, and putting our kids to sleep.
And in those small moments is where my wife truly shines as an artist, elevating the ordinary day into something worth framing and putting up on the wall.
It is hard to say exactly how she does it, so I’ll just leave it at this. When you’ve been around Terri long enough, you can’t help but feel as if there’s not a moment in her day that isn’t important, that doesn’t have intention behind it, as well as purpose and love.
All of her day matters. Even the tiniest details. And as any artist will tell you, art is in the details.
Like most people, Terri’s a busy woman and her life isn’t easy. She juggles work, house, finances, broken water heaters, dead squirrels, hectic schedules, two kids and a high maintenance husband who can’t hear that well, let alone walk a straight line.
If there’s anybody who deserves to be on a beach in the Bahamas, it’s Terri. Of course, she’d also like the sliding door on her mini-van to work, or a roof that doesn’t leak water into our toaster, but that’s a job for another husband in another life.
Bottom line, there are a lot of things that would make her life easier. However, none of these things are required for her to have a good life.
She knows what all artists know, that art isn’t about creating the perfect life, but how we respond to the life we have. It’s about how we bring meaning, optimism and hope to our own small world.
It’s funny, but I have spent most of my life as a working creative, and yet Terri’s the one who’s been living the true artist’s life. She has turned 53 years into a walking expression of who she is and what she believes.
Hopefully a tiny fraction of that has rubbed off on me.
Our goal for this week is extremely simple. It’s to recognize that there’s not a moment in our day that can’t be turned into art, as our own personal expression of what we believe.
Put lots of color into your life. Find ways to do things with flair. Cultivate your own style. Seek depth. Nuance. Character. Different points of view. Add humor. Spread joy. Reach out. Connect. Touch. Inspire. And, above all, know that with every choice you make, you are creating art.
This is the week to stand up and claim your creative self.
This is the week to become both the artist and the artwork.
And as you do, remember that the same genius that flowed through Shakespeare and Leonardo da Vinci is now flowing through you. But instead of Hamlet or the Mona Lisa, you are giving the world your own masterpiece.
It’s called your life.
And that’s about as beautiful a piece of art as you’ll ever find.
This summer I’ll be launching my new website. It’ll be called Everest Without The Mountain: Happiness, Health and the Art of Reinventing the Second Half of Life. If you want to be notified when it launches, sign up here. Also, check out my new company, Sherpa 9 Media.
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