To contact Gika Rector, call 713.213.7643 or send e-mail.

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Practice Towards Mastery

I’ve been running a little experiment lately. After reading about mastery and taking a couple of drawing classes, I still don’t like the way I draw. Reading about mastery did nothing for my drawing, but it did encourage practicing. So, I’ve been practicing. Almost every morning, I start my day with a practice that Julia Cameron calls “morning pages”. Before you read or check your email or listen to the news, you sit down and write three pages. Three pages about whatever comes to mind, no matter how serious, silly, redundant or irrelevant. When I start my day with morning pages, somehow the day goes better.coffee

Several weeks ago I added a practice. At the end of the writing, I draw my coffee cup. It’s always there. It has a simple shape and so it shouldn’t be that difficult to draw. I usually spend only about 5 minutes on the drawing, because I’m not yet patient enough to take more time with it. I’ve learned enough to know that I have a lot to learn—and not just about drawing. But here’s the good news: this morning’s rendering looks a little better than yesterday’s. It’s not quite as lopsided as previous versions, and something about the handle is beginning to look more like a handle. …more

Seeking Clarity in the Tangled Threads

threads

This year hasn’t worked out the way I planned. My family lost two little lives before they even had a chance to truly begin. A business venture fizzled into frustration and disappointment. An intimate relationship broke into a distant friendship. A dear friend moved across the country—still a cherished friend, but distant geographically. An elder in our family moved geographically nearby, but dementia seems to widen the gap between us—or between us and who she used to be. …more

Never and Always

Smoky sunset

Never.
Ya never
hafta
shoulda
woulda
coulda
on yourself
or others.

Ever.

Always.
This is always true.

Except when it’s not.

Breathing Room

Breathing roomFinding yourself with no room to breathe? It’s especially challenging during this time of year, when we’re rushing around, fighting the traffic, ticking off our list of things to get—hurrying up so we can sit around the hearth, expressing our gratitude, with people we love, but don’t always enjoy.

Here are a couple of simple suggestions.

Breathe.

Take a moment to breathe. Sit or stand still. Exhale deeply. Exhale a little more. And a little more. Hold the breath out. Pause. Wait until it’s time to inhale. Let the air in and notice where the air goes. Pause. Repeat. And repeat again, as often as you like. …more

That Attention Thing

Guest
Blog Post
Campari poster, circa 1960

Attention changes the way we see the world around us.

A few weeks ago, an odd series of experiences reminded me of the power of attention to change the way we see the world around us.

I was meeting with a client to prepare materials for a special event—a vendor exposition. We were designing a poster to display the names of the vendors, and working from two different source lists, we discovered a discrepancy: a moving company called Max Movers was on one list but not the other. We placed the name on the poster, but asked the event coordinator to follow up about whether Max Movers belonged on the list.

Three days later, as I left another client’s office, I drove past a truck bearing the now-familiar Max Movers logo. I had no memory of ever seeing a Max Movers truck before in my life. I thought about this strange phenomenon, the by-product of focused attention. I suspected that I’d encountered their trucks dozens of times, but that I’d never seen one.

Over lunch that afternoon, I told my cousin about that experience and “the attention thing.” In the course of the same meal, we moved on to the topic of some projects that my company had worked on several years ago—programs for National American Miss pageants. The work was chaotic, disorganized, and difficult. With a bit of gallows humor, my staff referred to the summer of National American Miss programs as “our time in NAM.”

After lunch, my cousin and I went to an art museum. We’d only been wandering the galleries for a short while when we walked into a room where a huge canvas depicted two life-size people carrying a banner bearing the word NAM. My cousin pointed at the painting. “NAM! If we hadn’t talked about ‘NAM’ at lunch, I wouldn’t have even noticed this. It’s that attention thing again.”

The next day, my cousin and I stopped at a liquor store to pick up a few things for a party. I picked up a bottle of Campari, a bitter Italian apéritif. “I’ve always wanted to try this,” I said. “Have you ever had it?” She hadn’t. We bought the bottle.

On our way home, we stopped at an icehouse to meet some friends for drinks. After a while, my cousin paid a visit to the ladies’ room. When she came back, she had a grin on her face. I asked her what was funny.

She said, “There was a poster on the wall of the restroom…advertising Campari!”

That attention thing again.

Gika says: You get what you focus on. Ed’s guest post covers the idea nicely. The only thing I’d add is to notice what you notice. Where is your attention, and what is it getting you? What might happen if you shifted your focus?


Edward F. Gumnick is a writer, graphic design, and communications consultant based in Houston, Texas. You can find links to his work at EFGumnick.com.