Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bonus Artdog Quote: Stronger at the End

How did 2015 treat you? Was it a good year? A fantastic, amazing, awesome year? A bad year? The Year From Hell? Or maybe just "Meh"?

If you live long enough, you'll have some of all of the above. And no matter what kind of a year you've had this year, I hope you can agree with this thought:

Maybe you're not so sure about that, or perhaps you can accept it only by acknowledging the idea that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But consider this:

You're still here. You've survived. Perhaps you've even thrived, but in any case, you know more now than you did last year at this time. You have a few more tools in your workshop, a few more tricks up your sleeve.

If you're ending this year on a "down" note, I'm sorry--and believe me, I've had a stretch I look back upon now, and call "los Anos de los Muertos," the "Years of the Dead," when I lost my small business, then lost another career, and six of the dearest souls in my life departed this world, one right after another. Bad years SUCK. 

The fallow field is lying in wait, growing more fertile, even when it seems barren.

But even if your creative "field" is fallow and you're not sure you'll ever make any kind of art again, remember that there's a season for everything. Like a pruned-back plant, I came out of those "Years of the Dead" with renewed vigor. It took a while, but my creative life is more rich and exciting now than it ever has been in my life. It can be that way for you, too. 

So, on this New Year's Eve I hope you are well, happy, and prospering. But even if you're not, I pray that you are wiser. Stronger. Still standing. Learning, and growing.

Tonight we hit the RESET button. Best wishes for an awesome New Year!

IMAGES: Many thanks to QuotesGram, for the quotation graphic, and to Me Ra Koh The Photo Mom for the gorgeous photo of a fallow field, and also for a wonderful essay (same URL) on the value of rest for an artist.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bionic Sensory Enhancements

As we creep up on the turn of the year, I've been thinking about the future.

I remember the heyday of early-'80s Cyberpunk (I know, I just admitted I'm old), when science fiction writers explored ideas about the possibilities of linking humans and computers. 

Poking wires and jacks into the brain? Er, maybe not!

Back then, however, we weren't thinking about wireless connections--we assumed we'd have to "jack in" to a computer, and of course there was a lot of discussion about the impracticality of poking wires and jacks into the brain. Even the 1999 movie The Matrix assumed a hardwired connection.

These days, reality has outstripped our earlier "wildest imaginations." I recently found a roundup of current realities in bionic sensory inputs that I thought you might find interesting. Warning: it's from D News, which means there are a lot of ads at the end that I couldn't edit out.

But it also contains a lot of interesting information in the middle. Anyone who is interested in the future, whether science fictional or otherwise, probably will appreciate that part. 

In light of the title, I was disappointed that host Trace Dominguez didn't get more into future applications: an aromatherapy lapel pin was about the extent of that exploration, though he did say contemporary cochlear implants and a retinal prosthesis he profiled were in their early stages. In the YouTube show notes he cites his sources, which can be helpful if one is doing research.

But as someone who hopes to live a bit longer into a future that even a few years ago we couldn't predict, I'm fascinated with the things that keep popping up. I hope you are, too.

IMAGE and VIDEO: Many thanks to the blog Could this Happen? for the photo (also an interesting blog post), and to D News for this video.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Artdog Quote of the Week: The Gift of Gratitude

If you celebrate a tradition of Christmas, that holiday is most likely now in the rearview, unless your family has had to adjust it to accommodate an eccentric schedule. 

It's bare (or piled with opened gifts on display) under your tree, the carols are all sung, the egg nog mostly drunk, and the cookies are crumbling to dust. 

But have you given that one last gift?

Did you wear yourself out for the holidays? Did you shop for gifts in crowded places, and strain your imagination for just the right gift for each person? Even if you paced yourself wisely, it was a lot of effort, wasn't it? 

Wouldn't it be nice to know someone actually noticed? Or even better: appreciated all you've done?

That's how we all feel, really. It's nice to know someone noticed, and appreciated the work we did. So before you start wondering if anyone even noticed what YOU did, consider whether you've thanked anyone for what they did for you.

My amazing daughter Signy is the Queen of Thank-You Notes. That girl gets them sent almost before the gift is fully unwrapped. Not sure how she does it, but she's faithful in her task, and eloquent in her individualized expressions of thanks. I am not such a paragon, but I deeply admire what she does.

Even cold-hearted capitalism has noticed the power of a simple thank-you, in business settings. We need to hear it. The validation improves our health, our outlook, our relationships. So don't be shy! Thank someone who deserves it!

Oh, and by the way . . . THANK YOU for reading this!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Angie Rowe’s “Gratitude and Thankfulness” Pinterest board, for the quote image, and to the Overture Group for the image of someone writing "Thank you." Their blog post on crafting thank-you notes is also worth reading.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Artdog Image of Interest: Wolves Once

A lot of us are on vacation right now . . . some of us more permanently than others.

IMAGE: Many thanks to the HumorHub Subreddit.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Voice Actor Tribute: Christine Cavanaugh

Voices touch our lives in ways we may not even realize. For many of my friends, this is one of the voices of their childhood.
Gone a year. Still not forgotten.

IMAGE CREDIT: Many thanks to Sheila M. Gagne for this tribute collage. See more of her work on her Facebook Page. Thanks also to Ty's Shufflings, for alerting me to this material.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Artdog Quote of the Week: The Greatest Christmas Gift

Last Monday I shared a quote and talked about reaching out to others whom we may not appreciate. 

But for mortals such as us, time is a finite thing. With whom should we spend most of that finite resource? 

We probably all have heard the quote from Rabbi Kushner, "Nobody on their deathbed has ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'" 

How does that apply to your life? 

Ted Andressen had wise
words for a younger
colleague in a recent
episode of Nightwatch.
I recently saw a practical expression of this, on a reality TV show called Nightwatch (on A&E), in which an older Paramedic was talking with a younger one about balancing work and life. He'd been married for a long time, had a wife whom he still loved, and grown kids who respected him. 

The younger man had a new baby, and was working a lot of hours. As young fathers do, he probably was worried about money. But the wise older man told him to pay attention to the important things. 

That may not be you: no young baby, no wife or husband, no money issues. You may be in a different phase of life, and worried about different things. 

But are you telling your loved ones each day how much they mean to you? Are you taking time to focus and listen, not just talk about your own problems? Or worse, are you not talking at all?

Christmas (or any of the other holidays) can be hectic, and the time and money pressure can be fierce. But just as we are wise not to get too caught up in the trap of thinking that we can have a "perfect" Christmas if only we decorate, bake, send cards, etc., we also are wise to realize that a downsized Christmas gift list, if it allows us to be with our loved ones more, is the better choice. 

Christmas decorations and projects can be
fun--until they become just too much!
My sister Gigi and I once made an agreement that we would never let things become more important to us than people. And we are both happier for that decision.

May it be so for you, too. The blessings of Christmas or any holiday lie not in the piles of loot we might receive , but in the moments of true connection we can make. 

IMAGE: Many thanks to Short Stories LOVE for the quote image, to A&E's Nightwatch website for the photo of Ted Andressen, and the photo of "Rustic Christmas Decorations" from NewsCommonSense.