Wednesday, April 28, 2010

a day in the life of lola rain

Yesterday I got to thinking about the uniqueness of my days and how breathtaking it is to step back and observe the exquisite colors I paint my life with. I felt deeply blessed to be living with utter commitment to my true path, fueled by a profound sense of faith. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to live this way, to abandon the roles and rules society and those around you seemingly inflict upon you from birth, to leave behind a high paying job and total security, to silence out the naysayers who shout their doubts at you as you hurl past them on your unbeaten path. But, it is all worth it. I simply feel incredibly aware of the preciousness of life. Why would I live my life sitting on the sidelines, why would I not attempt to live the life of my dreams, why would I keep my gifts to myself instead of bestow them upon this beautiful world? What do I have to loose? The fact is I have nothing to loose, and everything to gain...and now I gain something I've always wanted every day.

As one of my favorite inspirational authors (Tama Kieves) says: "Never let the fear of others determine the path that you are meant to take. It is never too late to start dreaming about what you want to be when you grow up...Prudence and conservatism have not advanced our culture. It took the voices on the outskirts to make a noise that changed the world...So dare the ridicule of the narrow-minded and dim-sighted. Dare to still believe. Dare to feel. Dare to trust your guiding light. Dare to ignore gravity and take flight. Dare to be a hero. Dare to be a fool."

So, are you wondering what one of these days of glory looks like for a self-employed artist? I'll give you a glimpse. Here is a day living as a fool in love with life:

6:30 a.m. Rise and shine. I'm woken up by kisses all over my face from my fiance...just like every sweet morning of my life.

7:00 Eat homemade goji berry, flax & maca oatmeal with my love.

7:30 Drop my love off at work. We share a car to conserve resources and cut our impact on the environment in half. We also get an extra 1/2 hour together each day by sharing the commute.

8:00 Check emails. Convo a few fellow Etsy sellers thanking them for promoting my art the free advertising! Send off my rejection of the counter proposal I received for a possible photo project. Feel elated to be able to pick and choose my terms, hours and pay (and say no when they aren't met!).

8:30 Short morning yoga routine

9:00 Run 3 miles

10:30 Post a new blog

11:00 Hear from the yoga & wellness center that would like to meet with me. Rejoice at the possibility of working a few hours a week in the type of environment that would cause my heart and soul to expand in never ending waves of happiness, peace and inspiration....not to mention, give me a space to put my art up on public walls (for sale!).

11:30 Hear back from the PR rep whose offer I rejected earlier. He now wants to give me everything I asked for and a lot more! Giggle at the mention of being given 1-2 staff of my own for the day of the photo shoot. Feel victorious and proud of my business skills. Accept the offer.

12:00 Eat the homemade tofu spinach lasagna my amazing fiance baked for me.

12:30 Work on printing and pricing a 4 foot wide photograph I'm going to print on canvas to sell to an interested buyer. Email the buyer an update.

1:00 Add new pictures to my fan page. Check my website stats (yay Google Analytics!) for the past week and compare them with my promotional efforts to see what's working and what is not. Work on my Etsy shop. Research international shipping to add this service to my shop. Browse other shops to include in my next promotion. Read a few entries of my favorite small business and art blogs, and make comments to insert myself into the conversation and increase my internet presence. Work on new ideas for my own blogs. Make a list of current business to-do's.

3:30 Take a walk. Snap some pictures.

4:00 Afternoon yoga practice

5:00 Pick my sweetie up from work. Talk about our moments of triumph on the way home.

6:00 Cook dinner with my sweetie.

7:00 Check my emails, etsy and websites one final time. Edit some pictures. Get an email from a friend wanting me to photograph her family. Smile.

8:00 Take a bath. Veg with my honey until bedtime.

10:00 Zzzzzz

Monday, April 26, 2010

dirty feet, great day

Someone once told me that at the end of the day she'd ask her son how dirty his feet were. If he responded "really dirty!" she'd respond back "then you must have had a really great day!" This is a philosophy I immediately adopted.

Sometimes (or quite often, depending on who you are) it can do you a world of good to kick off your shoes and feel the squishy ground beneath you. Personally, when my bare feet slide across the grass I not only feel connected to the earth I love, but I am also washed over by a sense of liveliness, freedom and playfulness. It reminds me not to take life so seriously....and that's exactly the message I have to pass on today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

happy earth day!

In honor of Earth Day, I digress from my usual musings on life as an artist to talk about the earth. It's only natural that someone like myself, who spends so much of her time rapt in the glory of the world around her, also cares deeply about treading lightly and with appreciation on this planet I walk around. It's simply in my nature to constantly consider....well, nature. Growing up my mother was always finding a new use for every old or seemingly disposable item in our household, we grew our own produce and herbs, drew our own maple syrup from the trees in our backyard, shopped at our local food co-op, bought things second hand. This list goes on. I have to admit that as I reached my teenage years I found these practices annoying and would have quickly traded a small carbon footprint for something new, shiny and overly packaged.

But, as I made my way through my college years I found those little seeds planted in me during childhood begin to burst and grow. It started with organic food and beginning to embrace the hippie soul I had suppressed for most my life, which later led me to move to San Francisco, a place whose influence cannot be elaborated on in a short blog entry. I can say that living there certainly excelerated the eco-conscious, handmade-lovin', hippie-influenced life that I lead today. These qualities and ways of life only seem to intensify with every passing day, so much so lately that I can't stop talking about Thoreau with my fiance and dreaming of leaving the consumer rich city we currently live in to settle in our own version of Walden Pond (while still paying our taxes:). Of course, I envision our pond as more of a hippie commune or small country house surrounded by produce gardens and like-minded people.

The point is, I'm obsessed with finding new ways to simplify my life that are kinder to the earth (and to my body). When I pour over the standard "100 things you can do to be green" checklists many magazines publish around Earth Day every year, I am in awe of how much I already do. But, I sometimes slip back into an "easier" way of doing something (read: less eco friendly) and so I always strive to commit myself to additional earth friendly practices.

I've made it a tradition to choose a handful of new goals every Earth Day with the intention of making those things a part of my normal routine in the coming year. This year I've decided to start making all of my own cleaning products, including laundry detergent. I'm already using eco friendly versions of everything, but I'm I feel the desire to take it to the next level. I already have a few concoctions I've made myself over the years, but to take it to the next level I've spent the past few days pouring over recipes, and I honestly can't wait to make my first batch of laundry detergent.

So, in honor of Earth Day, I've chosen my top 5 favorite ways to be green. And they are:

* I can't say it enough...reusable bags, reusable bags, reusable bags. Store them in multiples places to lessen the chance that you'll forget to bring them into the store. Keep some by the front door, in the car, and in your work bag or purse. And use them everywhere, not just the grocery store (i.e. shopping at the mall, the drugstore)

* Find a new use for something old that you'd normally throw away. Check out some of my ideas pictured above: old jars can hold pens or just about anything (believe me I have them all over my house). Use them to organize items that don't have a home, fill them with your bulk food purchases or baking ingredients, use spice jars for smaller jobs (mine is holding my neti pot salts).

* Consider that everything that goes down your drain has an effect on the water system/environment, not to mention the effect it has on your body. Soaps, detergents, shampoo, toothpaste, and cleaning products all make their way into our water. There are plenty of natural alternatives on the market these days that smell delicious and work just as well. If you are feeling extra motivated, experiment with making your own products. I make a handful of bath and beauty products at home, and have begun making all my cleaning products. Look for recipes here: Earth Easy, Care 2 Make a Difference, or About My Planet.

* Really think about your paper goods consumption. Use microfiber clothes, dish rags and towels for the bulk of your cleaning chores and personal grooming. For the rest of your jobs, choose recycled paper products....even better choose unbleached recycled products. If every household in America replaced one roll of toilet paper with a recycled version, we could save 423, 900 trees (NRDC).

* Also consider your cotton products (cotton balls, cotton swabs, feminine products, sheets, etc). Cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world, accounting for 25% of all pesticide use (earth easy). This is terrible news for the environment, not to mention your body since these products are touching your skin every day.

And because it's difficult for me to stop the list at 5, a bonus tip: REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES. First of all, according to the Sierra Club 1.5 billion barrels of oil are used produce water bottles in America each year. And after we guzzle down these bottles of water, where do they go? I recently read about this man's trek through Nepal's Annapurna circuit and how he witnessed people just tossing their empty bottles on the ground. The piles were hundreds of thousands of bottles high because the Nepalis don't have a way to remove the trash. Gross.

I'll stop right there. Happy Earth Day! Hug a tree, kiss the ground and delight in what mother nature offers you each and every day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

om namah shivaya

For me, existing as a creative being is a high maintenance affair. Perhaps not in the typical sense as the "maintaining" of my creative power is playful, soothing and nourishing, but it does require a constant rotation of rituals and (spiritual) grooming. I don't believe it's uncommon for artists of any kind to find themselves blocked or uninspired at times, and this is where my self care regime comes in handy.

My strategies include activities that illicit a sense of connection to myself, to others and to the universe as a whole. It is in that connection and authentic being that I can access my power to create and my freedom of spirit. Sometimes this can be as simple as playing like a child....dancing around my living room until I'm sweaty and my hair is tangled, prancing around a muddy river with all my clothes on, or running down my street in the rain.

I need those moments of spontaneity to wriggle my creative juices loose and let the constricted existence society (and those around me, including myself) inflict on me on a daily basis. However, I also require a steady (ok, it's more chaotic than steady, I AM an artist after all) routine that I practice daily to remain in my sacred place. The list is long and ever-evolving, but some steadfast favorites include meditation, yoga, running, hot baths, walks in nature, and dancing.

Over recent years, yoga and meditation have proved most vital to my growth as an artist. And it's no coincidence that the mantra I've been using since I began meditating is "om namah shivaya." I happened upon this phrase before realizing what it meant, but the essence of it is at the core of all the self care rituals and creative nurturing I've described here. Literally it translates to "I bow to Shiva." Shiva is the supreme being, the consciousness that dwells in all. So what you are really saying is "I bow to the inner self/my true identity" while recognizing that this dwells in every being in existence. That sacred place is where my art originates from, my art is merely a channel between my true self and the world around me.

So...I dedicate every day to whatever it is I need to remain connected or bring myself back to my art, my passion, myself. And this is my life.


Monday, April 19, 2010

inspired by yoga

The more I dedicate myself to my yoga/meditation routine, the more inspiration and creative power I find surging throughout my being. This is incredibly important to my livelihood as an artist so it is no coincidence that I immersed myself in a yogic lifestyle years ago and have since found it increasingly sacred and necessary. On that note, I have featured some of my favorite yoga-inspired items from Etsy (above). Not a day goes by without me stumbling upon more amazing Esty shops filled with delightful handmade items.

To check out more of my favorites, visit my Etsy favorites.

And don't forget to stop by my Shop to peruse my photography collection.

Items Featured above:
Yoga Gift Set of All Natural Handmade Soaps by Sacred Suds
Om Namaste Necklace by The Zen Muse
Om Namah Shivaya VNeck Tee by Lovely Pieces
Yoga Mat Bag by Virtuo-Sew
Pure Beeswax BIG Buddha Head Candle by Peace Blossom Candles

Friday, April 16, 2010

the dance of branches

I used to find the bare trees of winter (and the beginning of spring) so visually bland. Perhaps that was a side effect of growing up in New England, where we often find ourselves begging mother nature to hurry us through the cold months and kindly bring us back to warm weather and green grass. But now as an adult, and after returning to the east coast from a 4 year stint in California, I am delighted by the constantly changing beauty of nature. I no longer attach feelings of gloom or feel a void when surrounded by barren trees. Instead, I see an intricate dance of branches twisting and turning against the sky. There is something so symbolic about the skeleton of these arboreous creatures, and I have been hypnotized by them all winter long.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

the business of art

I have been ravenous for information lately. And I have felt as if something greater than myself has been propelling me forward and in all the right directions while providing me with all the energy and passion I need to remain on my path. My life and the seemingly random events, interests and skills I've collected over the years suddenly make sense, and I can now connect them in a myriad of possible and newly obvious ways.

For so long I've felt like an eclectic mess of passions and skills that ultimately I was paralyzed by them all. I have felt restless and chaotic, changing jobs, states, and hobbies. But now I feel an internal peace and can finally hear the beat of the drum my soul has been pounding on...calling me home, calling me into my purpose(s).

One small example (because there are far too many to write about) of this sudden mental/spiritual connection is the realization that graduating from business school instead of art school is not something I should regret any further. I am suddenly grateful. It finally makes sense that I pushed myself to not only attend, but to excel in business school when I had always been an artist. Now here I am in the midst of establishing myself as a self-employed photographer, and drinking up every bit of information I can find concerning running a business (as an artist). Not only that, but my main focus (and secret passion lately) has been marketing my business.....once again bringing to my awareness the significance of a seemingly random decision: to choose marketing as a major in college.

The point is: life works out. That's a simplistic way to put it, but I believe it is that simple. It rarely feels like it and it's difficult to convince ourselves, let alone anyone else, that all the muck, all the chaos, all the beauty and all the qualities we possess that feel unrelated will someday reveal to us an extraordinary web of interconnectedness....our true purpose(s). But, I believe in all of us.

"I don't believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents."
~Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

always a ham

He couldn't bear to throw away his 3D glasses from the movie theater. Always thrifty....always a ham. That's the man I love. xo

Monday, April 5, 2010

spring has sprung

It's incredible to fall asleep one dark, frigid winter night unaware that when you open your eyes the next morning you will wake up to the tantalizing fragrance and joyous rebirth of spring. If you are a New Englander, your internal clock is set to understand this seemingly instantaneous shift; your layers of wool and thermal accouterments fall to the floor as you step out of hibernation and leap into sunlight and budding nature.

I feel somehow complete as I approach the one year anniversary of my move back home to Connecticut after living in San Francisco for 4 years. The coming of spring closes the circle of the past 4 seasons for me, a phenomenon I am deeply drawn to and inspired by. I have such immense appreciation for the rhythms of nature these days.

Enjoy the season!