Tag Archives: Arts

The Most Important Question Of Your Life

Such  a great find that I had to share. The form it came in had his name link incorrect, so now you can check out his site. Props, Mark. Props.



 by: Mark Manson, on

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.

There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”

Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.

Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.

I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.

The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.

Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.

But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.

I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.

People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”

This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend


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What Do I Do With What I have?


My mom used to make us kids homemade clay. It was salt dough clay. As a little kid, I would be thrilled to open the twist tie on the little sandwich bag of homemade clay, plopping it out onto the kitchen table and immediately squooshing it into my fingers. It could be red, or yellow, or just plain ‘ol dough-colored, depending on my mother’s ambition that day, and I had no wondering about how she made it. It just showed up sometimes on cold winter days to keep us occupied, and I thought she was magic because 1. SHE COULD JUST….. MAKE!… A TOY HAPPEN, POOF!! and 2. It was ACTUALLY EDIBLE. A FER REALSIES EDIBLE TOY!!!

Cheerios necklaces would have to bump up their game to compete.

OF COURSE, the first time she told us about the clay being edible we were skeptical. But that didn’t stop us from biting into a chunk of it as soon as her back was turned. She knew we would. She counted on us testing it. She told us casually that this was clay that we could even eat, IF WE CHOSE TO. (She said this last bit in a softer, quicker, glossed-over tone that I recognized later as the tone used at the end of a used car commercial.) We ignored the ominous and mysterious tone of those words as she walked away from us and over to the counter.

polaroid cameraShe turned back around with a Polaroid camera just in time to catch our puckered up faces. Which is exactly what I did when I put the foul stuff in my mouth. She pushed the button of the clunky camera just as I took a big bite of the clay and the picture shows a little kid in pig tails making a startling discovery in her mouth. That kid’s nose was wrinkled up, one eye squished shut, and her tongue shoved out of her mouth in an attempt to expel the mushy mess.  It tasted bland and salty and boring. I felt totally ripped off. I assumed that magic would have been better tasting.

I guess Cheerios wasn’t out of a job just yet.

Taste aside, I used the clay and just knew it was there FOR ME. I owned it as soon as it plopped onto the table. It was my blob to use as I saw fit. Sure I would look around, eventually, to see what the other kids had created with their mass, but mostly I was into my own experience and that was enough for me. That clay was the tool I used for my own imagination, and there was no right or wrong way to mold it.

clay snakesIt wasn’t until I got older that I would start to compare my creations with the other blobs around the school tables. I mean, I noticed the clay snakes, and the more advanced snakes that got wound into clay snake-bowls, and, of course, the flat circles with fist prints all over the surface when snake bowls were as far as we could go, creatively. I could admire them a bit. But it wasn’t until elementary school that I would compare my snakes and bowls to the sculptures of elephants and human faces that Jay, the kid on the wobbly stool, would make.

What the?

clay elephant I remember coming to his end of the table and just staring at the miniature elephant and thinking, “Um… Nobody told me THAT was an option or possibility with THIS clay…” It had never occurred for me to use the stuff for anything other than playtime nonsense. Or as a test for my mouth. This dude had taken a toy and transformed it into something that mattered. Something better than what it started out to be.

That was when my mom’s salt dough stopped being a toy, and started becoming a challenge.

My clay bowls stopped being tubes of rolled up clay all wound around on itself, and started emerging with a flattened circle molded up and around just so and… and… that was as far as it went. The sad little bowl would crack on the side as it fell back into a circle, and I would look left and right to see if anyone noticed my failure. They didn’t. They were too busy craning their necks as Jay would create pictures on paper as well. This kid was a genius, clearly.

And then it was time to go out for recess. That trumped all.

Jay had his life, and I had mine. We would pass each other in the halls, or at recess, or in classes, but we simply didn’t have theTrumpet same strengths and talents. Art was merely something I took in school as a class. For him, it became a way of life. I chose the trumpet, instead. That was my dad’s influence as he shared that he had been in a band, once, and, in my imagination, he had traveled the world, practically, so it was my duty and joy to pass on his legacy. Making dad proud got me through some harsh practices and criticism from my band teacher as I started working on my craft. Music became my passion, and between the trumpet, the baritone, and the piano, it still permeates my life today.

So what does that have to do with my mom’s clay?

It’s all about the opportunity. And the work. That lump of salt dough, primitive and simple, opened up a doorway of possibilities. It showed me a way to put my imagination to work, and then see the results in real time. It let me see that, no matter how far down the road I chose to go with my talent and dedication in salt dough sculpture, it was doable to make one thing transform into another, better, thing. That a-ha moment transferred over to baking/cooking (not well, but still). And writing. And tennis. And turning kids, a husband, and a house into a home.

girl-playing-pianoIt transformed my teen years. I was melodramatic, idealistic, and a bit hormone-ee. I would get mad at my siblings a lot. And my mom, for being so mean. She wouldn’t be JUST my friend. She wouldn’t support me in running away to live in a tree-house with my friend. She wouldn’t change with the times. How DARE she be a mom first, not letting me get away with compromising the great for the now! Harrumph!

Middle kid syndrome, and all that.

I would pound out my frustrations on the piano. (Also mom’s fault for giving me the freedom and lessons to play around on those keys whenever I wanted, no matter how loud and repetitive I got.) I would pound and play, and at some point, I reasoned that if Beethoven’s ideas could be turned into song, then nothing was stopping me from using my own imagination to turn teenage angst and passion into writing music that other people could admire. So I started risking. It turned into a joyful outlet. (Also, being over-dramatic helped. Um…helps.)

Now I’m not a world-renowned… anything…, but that’s my choice, as I see it. A chunk of natural ability and affinity obviously helps, in Beethoven’s and Jay’s cases. But the hard work and determination…well…that’s up to them. And to me. I have no idea how far down the road my imagination will take me in different areas, but I’ll never know until I take that possibility of talent out of the plastic baggie. Maybe take that first bite of saltiness and roll it around in my mouth to decide if it is worth working with. Anything is possible, right?

dough-snake Just ask the salt-dough snake.

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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Life


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And how I felt was… Dirty.


Comedy Club (Russia)I went to a comedy club. I went there instead of going to a cooking club for church. I thought, “Hey, this will be a blast!”, and plus it was with some friends that, although they are of a different lifestyle than my church friends, are dear to me and very fun.

At the end of the night, I felt

Banana split

Banana split (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


How odd. It’s just fun, right? Except for one thing. I don’t drink or smoke.  I am not really raunchy, and I believe in God. Kind of vanilla in the great banana split of life, right? .

As the comedy started, and the room started filling up with booze and smoke, I felt ok. “I am open-minded, and I love my friends. It will be fine.” And then the comedy started. As comedians came on, it seemed they attacked anyone that was vanilla. Anyone that doesn’t drink, smoke, have sex with anyone and everyone, and especially anyone that believes in God, was attacked. Not just made fun of. Singled out and attacked.

That was still ok. It was part of comedy. Making fun of things that they don’t believe in. I can understand it. I don’t have the same views, but I understand it.

What did happen as the night wore on, though, was this energy in the room shifted. As the room became filled with manic laughter and guffaws and catcalls and swearing and smoke, the energy turned… dirty. I felt dirty. I didn’t belong there.

I found it odd that I could feel so out-of-place. Not because I ended up being the designated driver only because I made them give up the keys (They had no problem drinking while they were plowed!). Not because I don’t like to have fun. I do.  I enjoy new things and am open-minded to do anything once. But I just realized that this doesn’t work in my life. I wanted it to be ok, and it wasn’t.  And that ticked me off.

I am a big fan of enjoying everyone. I feel it is not about what you look like outside, or habits that you do. It is about who you are inside, and respect and love and kindness is everywhere.  So why was I so uncomfortable?

This didn’t go with my view at all, until I realized it wasn’t about the people at all. It was about me. Me choosing to create my space is not bad. Nor is it small-minded. It is simply a choice. And I shouldn’t be ashamed of that at all. People decorate their homes, their bedrooms, their beds, and their bodies however they want. I just realized I didn’t want my space to look like this. No biggie.

So now I am on a journey to find what my space looks and feels like.  I have a feeling it will look more like cooking club, and warmth, and clean air. I am a big fan of clean air. And clean language. I am working on that myself. I guess I need to clean myself up if I want my space to be clean as well.

Oh, and I find things funny. Funny things can include what I’m about as well, without making fun of them.  Good news.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in gratitude, humor, Life, love, passion, Peace


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Where The Hell Did I Put My Passion?

I have been in a Grey Spot in life lately. No ups, but no downs. And you know what?  That has been kind of crappy. I am used to battling ups that are too up, and downs that are too down. It’s what I’ve been used to, so life would revolve around that.  and everyone has ups and downs.  So I was busy doing life in what I thought everyone’s norm was. On my up days, I would write, and exercise, and eat what I wanted, and feel fantastic about myself. I could do no wrong! I was lucky and fortunate and amazing. Granted, I would not think of any consequences, either, and there were ALWAYS consequences. Now on my downs, it was a complete opposite. all in my head, i could do nothing right. I was too big, too short, too….everything. And yet, not enough. So I wanted to get off that roller coaster. And I have, for the most part.  It is better.

Except for The Grey-ness.

I miss the ups. Terribly.  The Amazing-ness. That was… Amazing. It is what made writing easy for me. And I miss the easy part of writing. Right now I am writing because I told myself to write just 15 minutes a day. And even this part is hard.  All of a sudden nothing I am writing about is important enough to put down.  But, I’m writing about it anyway. So I hate the grey of the in between ups and downs. Even though it is a safe zone. PSHAW. A safe zone. For others, as well as myself.  It makes me angry every time I think about it!  I don’t want to be out of control, at all, but I MISS MY PASSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  my caring deeply for things. I just don’t have it like I used to, and yet I hear that I’m doing great. from a therapist. from a doctor, from my husband.  And they also say they don’t want me to feel grey. but here I am. grey and safe. and passionless.  HELP! how the hell do I find my passion without going over the line?

Is there a way to stay away from the extremes and find my passion, or is it something I just have to sacrifice to be acceptable to live with. If it was just me, I would almost want to go back to the way I was, but I have to think about my family and my friends, and what they have to put up with for me to live like that. They had to deal with the consequences. Not worth it.

What’s not worth it to me is being just meh.  I am mostly ok. really.  I am not out of control. And that has its own satisfaction.  I really only notice that I am passionless when I go to write. I think of opening the computer and, “Meh. What do I have to say that is important enough to write about? Will I care about it? Will others?”  That’s what I say.  And then I distract myself with other things. I am pretty sad about this. And I have been pretty stuck in this space.

As I write, I find the stirrings of …. something …. again. 🙂

Well, I guess that now I will write anyway. Not for anyone else, but for me. And maybe that is the start of finding my passion again. Maybe I get to build a passion. That may bring me peace in this area. Who knows?  I guess I will, here in a bit.


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What’s Up With Finding One’s Purpose, Anyway?

Trumpet Solo



I just knew, at the age of 9, that I would be a Trumpet Player. The best in the entire town. At 10, that turned into the rush of knowing I  would be the best trumpet player on the planet. At 12, I knew my purpose was song writing. 5 months later, I just had to become the most passionate baritone horn-ist in all of Small-Town, USA. At 15, my purpose turned back to songwriting, but this time from the seat of the piano. I was a girl with purpose.

My trumpet days are behind me, for the most part, left at my high school graduation. That baritone horn keeps it company.  I do have horns next to the piano in my home, but they have a bit of dust on them, and that’s okay.


I’m 38 now, and today I had no purpose. In fact, I felt a bit disconsolate about it. Especially because I have been asked in the last week, “Oh, and what are you up to NOWADAYS? What do you DO?”




an colourful image than a 617.LT Side-by-Side ...

I am a mom of 5, and run a home 24 hours a day. My kitchen is a revolving island of comfort and conversation, messiness and mopping up. I have kids in High school and Elementary, and 1 that is a welder, and out of school completely, on his way to his own life. I cheer my husband when he has a bad day, and I balance the budget. I make all the appointments and phone calls, take those that need to, to appointments and back again, and sooth them into going there in the first place.  I take and pick up kids from school and work, I take them to get clothes and shoes, and I listen to hubby relay his day, every day.


I have spent time in the work-field, but am currently raising a family full-time. And I couldn’t answer the question of “What Do I Do?” definitively.  I felt keenly empty.  Why was that?


Well, I would say it is because I lost my purpose.   I forgot that it takes passion to make one count to oneself.



It doesn’t matter what we are doing currently in life, as long as we do it with purpose.  I was not doing anything with purpose today. And that stank.  I did look at Facebook about 270 times today.  I did play online scrabble on my phone.  I did wait for someone to call and need me (which didn’t happen), and I did go to the gym only to do such a bland routine that I watched the seconds on the machines go by, one at a time.  I did forget to love being me.


How silly, to forget to love ones self.  How silly, to need to be needed to the exclusion of finding the adventure in the day.




It is 9:06 PM, and I just got out of my hot tub, watered the flowers on my patio, and schlumped onto my bed.  However, I did these last 3 things with purpose, and they felt great. Tomorrow, no matter what, I will use purpose in whatever I do. It will push back the whiny, needy, insignificant feelings that eat at our lives when we cannot always tell people in one sentence what we do with ourselves, “Nowadays”. And my purpose, whether I pick up my trumpet, or pick up my kids, will be what defines me. Not the physical action itself.



Rose Sanderson Women's suffragists demonstrate...


I think that trumpet is going to win out, tomorrow, though.  And I’ll play it loudly, and with passion. The neighbors can ask themselves what THEY are doing with themselves, lately, that they are listening to a 38-year-old woman try to play “Blue Bells Of Scotland” well.  And doing a fair job of it.  I don’t mind in the least.



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New Mexico Desert

New Mexico Desert (Photo credit: Denise ~*~)

There is a cathedral in the ground!

I was the last one to know that there was a cathedral in a hole in the ground! New Mexico, you have a treasure!


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