Continuing in a new series of free webinars, I’m excited to announce “Composition Workflow: From…
I’ve been writing a subscriber-only newsletter for over ten years now, and it has evolved substantially over that period of time as subscribers grew from just a few hundred to now being over ten thousand.
My focus for the newsletter has also evolved from simply a way to promote my work and share events. I decided I wanted it to be more than that, much more. I wanted to share worthwhile resources that I thought would be helpful to readers that I had also found worthwhile. I wanted it to be inspiring as well, because I work better when I’m inspired.
I’m not a journalist or marketer, I’m an artist. By artist I mean I strive to live each day of my life focused on creating things, whether that’s ideas, words, images, paintings, great relationships, positivity in others, etc. That’s not a goal or destination, that’s a lifestyle driven by daily habits and rituals. And so I don’t share anything that hasn’t already been useful to me and others.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant
I’m starting a new series for the Creative Path newsletter in 2020 where I share some of things I’ve enjoyed—similar to my “Five Things” blog posts, but more in depth. I’m sharing the first of these here on the blog, but the subsequent ones will be in the newsletter only.
If you’re not not a subscriber, considering subscribing. You can unsubscribe at any time, and there are other benefits you’ll receive as a subscriber, including early access to new workshops and online courses, answers to your questions, promotions, and more creative resources. Thanks to all the current subscribers for your support – I am very grateful.
What I’m Reading
- Book: Indistractable by Nir Eyal – A great book that will help you eliminate distractions and gain better control of your time and attention.
- Book: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine – I’m re-reading this for the 2nd time, but a great book on stoic philosophy and how effective it can be in bringing equanimity to your daily life – especially useful for artists.
- Blogpost: The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius by Paul Graham – Another great essay by Paul on what genius really is. It’s an opinion piece of course, but much to learn and apply.
What I’m Using
- BaronFig Confidant Notebook – While I love digital tools, I’ve learned to rely on a physical notebook to keep track of ideas, thoughts, notes, tasks, and anything else that really matters. The extra effort required to write things down physically has been shown to change the way it’s remembered in the brain. Any notebook works of course, but Baron Fig makes notebooks with great textured paper that I enjoy writing on every day.
- Waking Up App – Meditation is a crucial part if my morning routine, and this app is the best I’ve found for both practicing and learning about the important benefits of mindful thinking.
- Lightroom mobile – I use this app more and more on my iPhone to capture images in RAW format which then get immediately synced to my iPad or laptop for editing and sharing.
What I’m Listening To
- Music: Erik Wollo — I love atmospheric sonic landscapes for meditation, focusing, editing images in Lightroom, and anything else where I need to concentrate.
- Music: Ottmar Liebert – Great acoustic guitarist from Sante Fe that is known for his Spanish-influenced, easy listening instrumental music that is described as “Nouveau Flamenco.”
- Podcast: The Drive – Peter Attia, MD hosts this podcast that goes deep on many medical topics, but the main focus is on longevity and nutrition for men and women. Highly recommended.
- Podcast: The Candid Frame – One of the very few photography podcasts I listen to that focuses on interviewing photographers about the creative side of their work. I was honored to be a guest years ago.
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Robert, my mother was a translator at the United Nations and often told me that the five languages she spoke allowed her to describe the world with much more nuance than a single language could. Although I only speak one language, her words led me to search for words in other languages that expand my ability to express important things like beauty, family, and relationships.
Over the past month, I encountered two words that I wanted to share with you: “aware” and “hózh’q.” I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve already encountered these words, but here are some definitions in case you haven’t.
Aware (pronounced ah-WAH-ray) is a Japanese word that means “feelings engendered by ephemeral beauty”—such as the ephemeral and fragile beauty of a cherry blossom as it floats to the ground. In his book “They have a word for it” (1988. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.; Los Angeles, California), Howard Rheingold wrote:
“Whenever somebody sighs because a rainstorm has washed all the petals from a tree, or when the beautiful flower arrangement begins to shed, or whenever something that is beautiful because of its fragility is destroyed by the inevitable passage of time, such is the time to meditate on aware. For this word refers not to the external world, but to the human quality of recognizing and feeling these ephemeral, aesthetic aspects of the world.”
Hózh’q (pronounced HOE-shk or HOH-shk) is a Navajo word that has no counterpart in English. Some of guides and interpreters I’ve spoken to when I’ve traveled through the Navajo Nation said hózh’q expresses the beauty of life, as we see and create it; it expresses order, happiness, health, and well-being as well as balance and harmony. They said it is not only a way of looking at life, but a way to live.
Howard Rheingold’s book also includes this word. Quoting a book written by Gary Witherspoon, he explains its meaning as follows:
“In the Navajo world, where mind and matter, thought and expression are inseparably connected, the aesthetic experience—the creation of beauty—is simultaneously intellectual, emotional, moral, aesthetic, and biological. Navajo life and culture are based on a unity of experience, and the goal of Navajo life—the creation, maintenance, and restoration of hózh’q—expresses that unity of experience. Hózh’q expresses the intellectual concept of order, the emotional state of happiness, the moral notion of good, the biological condition of health and well-being, and the aesthetic dimensions of balance, harmony, and beauty.”
These words remind me of how you describe art, beauty, photography in your blog posts. They help me see the natural world differently. I hope you find them helpful.
Thanks for sharing my friend – eloquent, insightful, and meaningful. I have no conscious intention of expressing things this way, it “just happens” based on how I feel and what I think is important to express. But knowing that others appreciate this makes it that much more meaningful to me precisely because it’s helpful to others.
Thank you for letting me know – extremely helpful – and I’ll try to make these words part of my internal vocabulary. Be well!
Thanks for the book recommendations. In mid December I ordered and received the first two books listed in this blog, In-distractable by Nir Eyal and A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine . I recently found them both useful during a personal crisis. Anyone who is concerned about their own use of electronic devices and connectivity to internet or how to deal with trying times related to the information infrastructure of this age would do well to give each of these books a look.
Great to hear the books were helpful Dan!