Friday, August 28, 2009


“Keep it Simple Stupid” is one of the first things you learn about composition. It’s also good advice when it comes to living.

A few months ago I signed up for Alyson Stanfield’s Blog Triage class for artists. As part of the class, it was recommended that we sign up for Facebook and Twitter. One benefit to social media is just that – it’s social and artists tend to isolate. I have really enjoyed this aspect of these tools but I have noticed some of the pitfalls as well.

Besides taking up precious time, I have discovered that Facebook and Twitter also leave me feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. As I read daily posts, I am constantly amazed at how much people seem to get accomplished in one day – and they have time to write about it!

Not only are they celebrating career successes, but they have time to go hiking, work in their garden and actually cook a meal! I don’t think anybody is making this stuff up. I truly believe they are doing what they say they are doing, but I keep asking myself - do they sleep?

I may be a little jealous but I am also curious. Why can’t I get that much done? I am very organized and accomplish a lot during a day but it never seems to be enough. The important stuff – the big ideas and dreams I have, never seem to make it on to my to-do list.

Facebook isn’t really to blame for my tendency to slip into overwhelm. I do it to myself. Not only do I want to photograph flowers; I want to grow them too. I would love to have a weed free yard and freshly painted walls in my house. A perfect day would end with a healthy meal, cooked from scratch and a brisk walk as the sun sets. Guess what? That’s not going to happen.

When the feeling of overwhelm stays with me longer than is comfortable, I tend to reach for one of my “simple living” books. These books remind me to slow down and focus on what’s important. Besides my family and friends, photography is very high on my list of what I value. I cherish the time I get to work on my images and try to protect that time as much as possible. But like everyone knows, life happens and I accept this, but I also know I need to prioritize and let some of other stuff go. I want to concentrate on getting the big ideas and dreams out of my head and on to my to-do list. This won’t happen if I keep believing that I can have it all and do it all.

This is a subject that has been on my mind quite a bit, but something happened this morning that freaked me out a little, and definitely got my attention.

I put a load of towels in the washing machine and after awhile heard a clanking sound. Strange, but I didn’t think too much about it. Later, when I took the towels out of the dryer, something fell onto the floor. It was a stone that is part of a larger collection of rocks with words of inspiration on them that I keep in my office – far away from the bathroom where the towels came from. The rock that ended up on the floor said – Keep It Simple………………………………..

Guess the weeds will keep on growing, and someday the walls will get painted. Takeout food can be healthy – right? I don’t have time to cook. I have better things to do………….


  1. One of the advantages of being middle-aged is not wanting to work so hard and the wisdom in seeing it's not necessary to do so.
    I look back on the "things" I used to do in my thirties - staying up 'til 1 or 2 a.m. painting walls or canning green beans and still having to go off to work the next day.
    Do I feel good about all those accomplishments? No, I think what an idiot I was to work so hard...
    I keep trying to pare down my life - eliminating the garden as I just can't keep it up; re-arranging the household to make cleaning easier - so I can have more time in the studio.
    I think what I am saying is recognizing what is of importance to YOU & acting on it & I think I finally have....
    Go have a cup of tea with the neighbor. Take that quiet walk.

  2. Thanks Deborah!
    Having just turned 50, I see the wisdom in questioning why we do things and that is probably one of the reasons why I wrote this post!
    I really appreciate your comment!

  3. Dianne, I really heard what you were saying with this one. I feel that way, too. I work with a bunch of single women and they fit the profile you are talking about from Facebook and Twitter - they bake masterpieces for people's birthdays, they run marathons, they sew their own stylish clothes, they have massive vegetable gardens, they seem to make complex dinners every night, their homes are perfect, and they have very busy social lives. And yes, they make me feel inadequate. But I don't get a sense that they are passionate about any one thing. The women I know who are passionate about something spend most of their time focused on that thing and struggle to fit everything else in. Given a choice, I think I'd rather be passionate about something!

    One of the things I'm finding is that so often what I feel I need to do is more about what other people will think than if it is something I really want. My in-laws just came for a visit and I was in a flurry about the apartment being clean. How was I going to get it spotless on top of a full-time job, freelance design projects and my painting? I totally stressed out over it before their visit until I thought to myself "Which is more important to me; what my mother-in-law thinks of my housekeeping or being able to paint?" And so I only cleaned as much as absolutely necessary and enjoyed having time to paint. I mean, we should have no question in our minds when it comes to our dreams vs. what we "should" be doing. I love my garden and I'm not about to give it up because it gives me such joy, but it isn't going to be a perfect garden. The neighbors may roll their eyes at it and no Fine Gardening camera crew is going to come and take pictures, but that's okay, it is perfect for me.

    Amazing story about the rock!

  4. Great post to read Dianne - it does seem to be a bit of a theme at the moment and I have posted a couple of things that deal with stuff and decluttering rather than time to do it all - but K.I.S is very much on my mind during my move! Love the ROCK story!! K.I.S.

  5. Thank you for your comments!

    I do believe this is a universal theme, especially for creative types.

    Knowing what I am passionate for does make choosing what to focus on easier and I am grateful for that - I just have to remind myself from time to time.

    Moving is a great time to declutter and just keep things that you love!

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  6. A lovely post, thank you. Couldn't agree more.

  7. Hi, I'm in Alyson's current Blog Triage class and she referred us to your blog as an example of how good one could look. I came for the style but stayed for the substance! I enjoyed this post a lot, your thoughts and your writing ability. Love that rock messenger! Your blog basically is doing the same thing for me today. Thanks.

  8. Thank you so much Liz! Have fun in the Blog Triage class. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. Let me know when you are on Facebook!!

  9. Wow that is so cool. Thank-you so much for this post. As a single mother(33) starting over, I agree that things can seem very overwhelming for me. While I know that my family may have my best interest in mind they can create more stress than I choose to have in my life right now. For example, although my schedule is very busy, my family members complain that I am not doing "enough". I find that I have had to remove myself from their negative space . It is during these particular situations that I turn to my photography. Ironically I have mentioned the KISS concept regarding photography to my brother. I use to feel very intimidated after speaking to him and started over extending myself in learning the craft. I am learning to take my time enjoy what I am learning buy just focusing on the basics. I learned some cool techniques this week and have been playing around with these ideas in photos. This allows me to still enjoy my photography and raise my son which is so important to me, especially at his age of four years old. I know that I have a lot to learn but I will get there. I have spent years of my life not being myself. Now it is my time to just be me. It feels great. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. You are such a "blessing".

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