Thursday, July 28, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 28: Family

What are our family dynamics? Who have we taken into our families?

There’s the family that we’re born with, and then there’s the family that you choose. Family is important to us social creatures. Sometimes we are very close to our families, and other times we just don’t get along with them. Sometimes we don’t even know our biological families if we were adopted. But families come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations, and we can call anyone family who is there for us. We don’t have to be related by blood to be family. Love, respect, and connection are all that’s needed.

Take time today to reflect on your family. You may want to look at your parents, your siblings, your spouse, or your children. You may want look at other relatives, or you might want to look at the family of friends that you have around you. 

We’re getting close to the end, so keep those posts coming. It’s great to see what others are doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 27: Pain

What causes us pain in our lives? How do we deal with it?

Pain is a part of life. It’s not a pleasant part of it, but it is part of life none the less. Pain can come at us from a variety of sources. Our own bodies can cause us physical pain when we are injured or sick, and we might have to deal with the pain with medicine or first aid. We can be in emotional pain as well, perhaps the loss of someone close or perhaps we didn’t get something we wanted dearly. This kind of pain can be a bit harder to deal with. There’s no prescription for heartache or disappointment. But we experience pain consistently in our lives - sometimes minor and sometimes major. How we deal with it is what’s important.

Spend some time today exploring the idea of pain. Perhaps focus on some physical issue that you're dealing with, or perhaps focus on something that has been irritating you - something that has been a “pain in your side”. Take a closer look at something more personal or emotional, or respond to the idea of pain in very general ways. Just allow the idea to spark your creating.

Remember that if you're posting online or on social media, use those hashtags. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Goings On!

I was just looking over the calendar and finished updating our Events page with some things that are coming up over the next nine months, and I can’t believe that we’re almost into August already. Where has the summer gone? Art Unraveled is next week! How did it get here so quickly? If you haven’t registered yet, online registration closes tomorrow. After that you’ll have to register on site. We still have plenty of room in our workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and we’d love to have you.

Beyond Art Unraveled, the Fall is definitely shaping up with lots going on. But since I am no longer gainfully employed as a public school art teacher, a busy schedule is definitely a good thing. Dave and I will be traveling to Florida and Colorado for their state’s Art Education Conferences. We’ll be giving a keynote speech as well as one or two workshops at each conference. If you’re an art teacher in either state, come out and see us in the fall. We’re looking forward to connecting to all the art educators.

In a departure from our normal thing, I’ll be presenting at a veterinarian conference in October. I’ll be presenting about using the visual journal as a tool for coping with a beloved pet’s illness or passing. I’m looking forward to taking the visual journal to a different audience. My wife, who is a licensed veterinarian technician, says she can’t wait to take a workshop with me. It’s nice that our worlds can come together.

Dave and I will be heading back to Portland, OR for Art and Soul in Spring 2017. We’ll be teaching three workshops at this annual retreat. It’s never too early to plan a trip to Portland, and registration is open. I’m hoping to set up more workshops for the Fall and Spring at other venues both near and far, and I’ll keep things updated.

Besides all of the workshops, I have other things going on, and I’m busy working on things and figuring out the details.

First, I want to get an online shop going. I’ve dabbled in selling things through the JFJ website on and off over the years, and right now there are some resources available along with one online workshop. But I want to get a dedicated shop up and running by mid August, and I’ll have artwork for sale along with some downloadable resources. The plan is to sell paintings, drawings, and sculptures including my monsters along with a few downloadables.

Second, I want to get some more online workshops going. I had really hoped to have several up and running right now, but it wasn’t possible with teaching full time. So look for a couple to launch between now and the end of the year.

Third, I have a big project in mind that I’m giving myself until the Spring to bring about. David and I have talked about trying to get another book published, and we’ve submitted a few ideas, but nothing has taken off. So, I want to self publish something and make it available for download - another reason I need an online shop. Look for something more formal in a couple of months after I hammer out some logistics.

There’s a lot cooking in the JFJ kitchen, and I’m excited to be teaching workshops and working on lots of other projects. Stay tuned for updates! In the mean time, check out our Events page for an update of all the workshops, and check out the JFJ website for details about our currently available resources and online workshop.

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 26: Compassion

How do we generate compassion for others? Are there times when others have shown us compassion?

Compassion is not about feeling sorry for someone else. It’s about having empathy for another and being able to place ourselves in their shoes. Compassion is not about doing something because it’s a nice or kind thing to do. It’s about doing something because it’s the human thing to do. Reaching out a helping hand when someone needs it, is recognition that everyone, ourselves included, needs a little help and a little understanding sometimes. It’s about recognizing that we are all connected.

Examine the role that compassion has in your life. Think about ways that you have shown compassion, or think about ways other people have shown you compassion.

If you're posting online or on social media, use those hashtags so that others can see what you're doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Monday, July 25, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 25: Power

Who has the power in your life? In what ways does power affect you?

Life can be a power struggle at times, and it seems that there are times in our lives when others hold power over us - our boss, our teachers, our parents. We can feel powerless or at least, not completely in control. Other times, we have full power over ourselves and our decisions, and we feel in total control. It is easy to fluctuate between feeling powerless to feeling powerful. 

Take time today to reflect on the idea of power and how it affects your life. You may want to explore specific and personal stories of power, or you may want to explore the subject in more general terms. Respond in any way you want.

Remember those hashtags if you’re sharing online. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Sunday, July 24, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 24: Conflict

What causes some of our daily conflicts? How do we deal with conflicts when they arise in our lives?

Conflict can seem inevitable when two or more people are near each other. We might not like how loud someone is being. We may not like how they act or dress or talk. We might not like their political or religious views. We might just be irritating each other. Conflict can happen with total strangers at a store or on a social media site, and conflict can happen with the ones we love in our own homes. Conflicts can even be much larger than two people, and can involve whole families, groups, or nations. We may even feel conflicted ourselves.

Art is a great way to explore these conflicts, so use your art to look at the notion of conflict today. You may want to examine some personal or political conflicts, or you may want to react to the general idea of conflict.

Keep those social media posts coming. It’s always great to see what others are doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Saturday, July 23, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 23: Humor

What do we find to be humorous? What makes us laugh, giggle, and chuckle.

Laughter is the best medicine, and finding humor in life is essential for keep ourselves balanced. Sometimes, it’s just a snicker at something on the tv or radio, and sometimes, it’s a big belly laugh at something our friend did or said. What moves us to laughter? Why do we find it so funny? Not everyone has the same sense of humor. Some people find humor in the dark and grisly, and others find humor in the whimsical and silly. What is your style of humor?

Spend some time today thinking about the things that make you laugh, giggle, and chuckle. Create a visual joke or pun, or just explore the notion of humor in any manner you wish.

Don’t forget those hashtags if you're posting online or on social media! #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Friday, July 22, 2016

Goodbye, Aloysius

Our hearts have been very heavy the past few days. We had to say goodbye to sweet kitty boy Aloysius. He was only fourteen years old, but he had been losing weight for quite sometime. The frustrating thing was we could never figure out what was wrong. All the tests came back relatively normal. We tried many different things to get him to eat and put on weight, but he took a turn for the worse this week.

Aloysius was one of our first fosters from the Loudoun County Animal Shelter along with his two brothers. Since they were the first, my wife gave them names that began with A, B, and C. I don't remember what they were, and I quickly made the suggestion of ostentatious names just to be silly. We began calling them Aloysius, Bartholomew, and Cromwell. Of course, Aloysius stuck.

Being an orange tabby, Aloysius was full of personality, and we quickly fell in love. We decided to adopt him at my suggestion, and his brothers went back to the shelter to find their forever homes. A couple of my favorite memories from his mischievous kitten years were eating pumpkin innards while carving jack-o-lanterns (above) and the way he sat in my hand because he was an itty bitty kitty (below).

Aloysius would come to have many nicknames. Squishy was probably the one we used the most because he was just a squishy kitty. You could pick him up, hold him, and snuggle him, and he just seemed to squish this way and that. But we often called him Squishy-wishy-roo-roo, Wish, Squsih, or Roo. He never lost his orange tabby personality, and he was a bit of a stinker up until the end. If you don't know what I mean by orange tabby personality, then you probably never lived with one. I highly recommend having one in your life.

We always had other cats in the house, but Squishy always hung out with the dogs. I swear he thought he was a dog, and he would snuggle a lot with our dog Poi (above) and play with our big shepherd-chow mix Percy.

In the end, our good friend Krisi Erwin of Wholistic Paws helped Squishy to the Rainbow Bridge. He was a special little cat, and we miss him terribly. The house feels so much emptier without him.

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 22: Secrets

What are some of our biggest secrets? How do we feel when others keep secrets from us?

We all have our secrets. There are probably a few things that we have never told anyone, even those closest to us. Maybe they're little white lies that we tell our children or perhaps they are dark family tales that we keep hidden in the past. We keep secrets for many reasons - from throwing a surprise party to protecting ourselves. Often we hold onto secrets afraid of the ramifications if they were ever known. We cling to them and keep them hidden afraid that we will end up alone. But if we can never share those secrets, aren’t we alone anyway?

Examine some of your secrets today. You don’t have to blurt out your darkest, innermost secrets to the world, but you might want to see if there is anything that you want to expose to the light of day. You might want to explore the silly, little secrets that you keep from your children, spouse, or friends. Or you may just want to visit the topic in a general way.

It’s been great seeing what others are doing, so keep posting those hashtags. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16

Thursday, July 21, 2016

JFJ Big Idea Challenge - Day 21: Loss

What are some of our greatest losses? How do we deal with losing something that we care about?

Loss is part of the game of being human. We lose things all the time - our favorite pen, our glasses, our left sock. We sometimes lose ourselves or lose someone we care about. Loss can be a minor irritant or a major upheaval in our lives. How do we deal with all of it? We can feel pain, anger, resentment, and sadness especially when it’s the loss of someone or something dear. We grieve, we cry. But eventually the sting of the loss subsides. We may never get over a major loss, but time eases the pain as we remember the good times.

Explore the idea of loss today. Examine a personal loss, or think about the idea in general terms. Think about little losses along with those big losses. Respond in anyway that seems appropriate.

If you're posting online or on social media, use those hashtags so that others can see what you're doing. #jfjbigideas or #jfj16