The power to choose how you feel is up to you; it’s not in the control of others. It’s taken me a long time to realize this. Over the ten years since I started my art business, I have dedicated myself to practicing a positive mindset and building better habits, one day at a time. Just the other day, during a Zoom coaching session with my membership group, we spent the time discussing positive mindset shifts. I firmly believe that these shifts are integral to the success of my business.
I want to share a simple yet effective Mindset Reset trick I needed the other day while on my much-anticipated Artist Date* in the Bonny Doon Reserve lupine fields.
Whenever a situation doesn't go as planned and frustration, anger, or annoyance starts to creep in, I now rely on this exercise, which works most of the time! Try this next time something is not going the way you had planned.
[You can insert annoying situation here] - I pause, take a series of deep breaths, and engage in introspection. I choose a contrast and then reframe the situation in a positive light. Sometimes this even means stepping away, and I find I do this mostly at home with the boys or Mark – I mean, who else didn’t lock themselves in the bathroom and sing songs loudly while your kids were having a tantrum?
I try to find humor at the moment or empathize with the other person involved. I remind myself that this is my special time – my Artist Date in the lupine fields, and I refuse to let anger get the best of me. Instead, I make a conscious effort to ensure it will be an incredible time.
Here’s the story! The previous week, I visited Bonny Doon with my friend, Melissa, to explore the magical lupine fields at the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve. The lupines had exploded with the combination of wildfires in 2020 and all the rain this past year. Not only was this place incredibly peaceful, but there was purple and light green everywhere we looked. I felt like I was a kid in a candy shop, and all I wanted to do was paint it.
I knew I couldn’t stop and create art right then as we only had a short time to explore, but I vowed in my mind to come back the following week on an Artist Date* and capture the beauty of these stunning lupine fields. I chose the following Thursday as it was the only day on my 7-day iPhone calendar with the sunshine icon!
I worked hard all week to clear my schedule for Thursday afternoon. I hopped in the car and drove 45 minutes to this serene, peaceful spot with my sketchbooks, watercolors, traveling stool, water, hat, snacks, blanket, sunscreen, and you-name-it.
As I parked, I noticed an elderly gentleman waiting patiently on the bench in the shade. No one else was around, and only a couple of parked cars. I waved hello and walked about 10 minutes toward the lupine fields when I saw an older woman in a hat, coat, dress, sneakers, and a walking stick coming my way. When she spotted me, she quickly turned around and raced towards the fields.
I was reaching my spot to paint (the one I had in my mind the week before), and I noticed she had taken off the jacket and hat, and then with her phone in hand, she approached me and eagerly requested that I take her picture in the lupines. Though her English was limited, I understood what she wanted and, of course, said no problem.
She shared a series of already-taken photographs of her in the lupine fields, wanting more of the same. I said these were beautiful, and who took them, and she said it was her husband, but he's a jerk, didn’t know what he was doing, and that she was really mad at him! Oh boy. Not sure I could do any better.
I took photos of her while she posed in various positions, and as I was snapping away, the husband came up behind me (the elderly gentleman waiting by the car). Then they erupted into a heated argument in a language I did not understand - they were loud and mad.
While the shouting match was going on, I arranged the painting supplies, got myself situated on my little stool, and in my mind, all I could think about was, “Please, please, please, please go away so I can have the special afternoon that I have wanted all week and deserve."
They moved only about five feet away, and I watched the woman put all her belongings down while they continued their verbal battle. There was no one else in the Reserve, just us. This is similar to when everyone goes to the beach and plops down about 20 ft from the entrance, spreading their blankets and coolers practically on top of each other.
And this is also the turning point (back to the Mindset Reset trick!)
I could choose to really be annoyed and say, “Can you please move, or can you go somewhere else and argue” or something like that. Or I could pout and frown and give them the stink eye.
But instead, I chose just to start painting and ignore what was happening the best I could.
The arguing subsided, and they started to walk about 20 more feet. The wife hopped back into the lupine field, where her husband took photos for about 30 more minutes. There were moments of peace, and there were moments of arguing, but it was primarily quiet while this was happening, and I started to paint what was in front of me.
I needed to shift my thoughts in my head. Ok, so it’s not 100% peaceful, but they are quieter now and mostly out of my way. I thought, what a funny couple this must be. How many photos does her husband have to take? I wonder what the heck they are saying! Comical little thoughts pushed away any frustration with the expectation of my perfect day.
Then I had this idea. I will ask them to take a photo of me out here painting these lupines so that I can use it for marketing images for retreats, social media, classes, etc. (the business brain never seems to take any breaks!)
As they started to walk back toward me, I asked them, and they were tickled pink. They were so excited that they argued over who should take the photo! They decided the husband would do it, and the wife art directed. I kid you not. They took over 20 photos, all angles, telling me to look up, turn to the side, paint, and smile. All of it. And then this sweet, funny wife wanted to be in the photos too.
It was a great exchange. They were lovely, I was happy, and they couldn’t stop grinning.
Here's my new friend, and then the difference in one week of bloom color.
After they left, I continued to work on my painting for the next hour in complete silence.
Just listening. So many faint sounds from the rustling noises in the fields. Birdsong. Distant car driving on the dirt road. And before my eyes, hundreds of lupine flowers swayed in the wind.
A Perfect Artist Date. I couldn’t have planned it better in my mind.
Here's my super short and sweet video:
Feeling better and lighter is always a better energy to be in than feeling mad.
Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom, and if you did and you have a good Mindset Reset trick, I’d love to hear yours!
*Artist Date - by Julia Cameron from the Artist Way book. "The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore
something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly
“artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the
imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the
play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well
of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask
yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it."