Growing Into Positivity

If you’ve been “on the path” since, say the ’70s, doing affirmations, self-help courses, visioning or positive thinking your way out of all negative situations life has to offer, and being the first of your friends to buy the latest “New Age” bestseller, I ask, “So, how’s that been going for you?”

I say this as your fellow traveler on the path. However, although I’m not a full-blown “positive thinker,” I haven’t given up on getting what I want, having my dreams manifest into total riches, self-fulfillment, and a better world for my grandchildren.

I have done some deep thinking about positive thinking. Over time, I’ve concluded that I’ve been on the wrong track by trying to brim over with positivity, passion, and optimism, ignoring my personality since birth as a non-enthusiast. Let me be concrete. When friends ask sympathetically, Well, what are you excited about, where’s your passion, I freeze.

I mean, the things that excite me don’t normally bring about self-actualization or an inflated bank account. I’m excited about brewing a perfect cup of tea, but don’t have the business chops to start a chain of tea salons or brews to rival Starbuck’s. I’m passionate about pine-scented, clean floors, but don’t see myself mopping my way to stardom.

I have nothing against excessively positive people. In fact, my husband is one. What I’ve come to realize is that there are people who will do what they love and succeed at it and there are people who will grow to love or at least tolerate what they do. And if I do a few things every day that I love (drink tea, read magazines), that passion can be transferred to more onerous tasks, whittling away at my sense of drudgery or doomsday pessimism. It’s why in answer to the question “why bother?” I bother.

Try it for yourself. Surround your pessimism with your passion. It’s a piece of cake! And a second helping won’t kill you.

Happy May 2015!

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In Loving Memory

Have you ever written your own obituary?  Before I respond to the WordPress prompt to write one, I pose an exercise for you: Think about this as your last day on earth. What would you do? How would you be with yourself and your loved ones? Would this be the best or worst day of your life? I’ve thought about this often, especially after hearing of sudden or shocking deaths, including suicides. I’d like my obituary to contain irony, black humor, and some wisdom I was never able to fully impart. A good obituary should be unpredictable and surprising, too. Here goes:

Here lies Sheila (Kaufman) Lewis, whose life was a work of art and transformation. While family traditions and roots were sacred to her, she could not abide -isms or dogma in her teaching and creative work. (With apologies to the living) Sheila wished she had started and finished things better, published and travelled more, been more attentive to finances, friends, husband, sons, and grandson, and learned to drive. But she was proud to have figured out how not to worry so much. She knew that the worst that could happen, probably already had.





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Busted, Procrastination!

Last night in sub zero weather, I hobbled with fractured foot and the help of a friend to teach my monthly “Job/Life Transition with Joy and Purpose” class. We always discuss what’s been going on for folks, and one honest soul admitted that he didn’t do last month’s assignment (pasting cut out pictures onto a vision board) because he always procrastinates. “I had all the parts, all I had to do was tape.” So many of us are like that, we do 90% of the work, then quit or stop. Somehow we tricked him into doing the deed then and there in class in about five minutes. The ‘stuck’ that accompanies procrastination and our stories around this friendly foe, when unravelled, loosen us from judgment and further procrastination. Here are a few of the revelations we discussed that may help you bust your procrastinatory ways:
1. Don’t judge it, you may be procrastinating for good reason and getting lots of other stuff done while waiting it out.
2. Contemplate what’s scary about finishing the object of your procrastination, as in fear of success or failure, letting go of an enjoyable process, or expected criticism. Recognize that fear as ego-based and let it lie (it does lie, anyway). Don’t try to quell, ignore, or understand it. Just move forward. How do you do that??
3. Baby steps, big steps, any steps at all. Open a new file, make that call, write a poem. Distract yourself away from the Big Procrastination. Come back in a while. Catch yourself from awfulizing, general comments like “I always procrastinate.”
4. In summary, beat procrastination at its own game without judgment, enjoyably, one step at a time and without falling asleep. Procrastination hates an alert mind.

Share your latest procrastination with us, how you beat it, or not. We’ll help you.
Because after all, we’ve all been there.

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How Dev Petty Found a Story with Legs…Frog Legs! (plus a giveaway!)


Dev Petty’s musings on picture book writing and turning a so so idea into a lively book with conflict, plot, and all that good stuff, is seriously, helpfully funny and useful. For grown up writing too! Thanks, Dev. Sheila (still thin on pic book writing ideas)

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

devPetty1by Dev Petty

I wrote a whole post for this very blog some time ago about NOT writing and just thinking. I wrote about getting to the heart of your story idea in your head before you ever write a word. I believe in that process…big time. But it’s not how I wrote I DON’T WANT TO BE A FROG. That’s a different story. That’s the story of how a sort of basic story idea turned into one with legs…frog legs! In fact, it was the writing of FROG that taught me to slow down and think, to find the story thread before I started writing.


I knew I wanted to write a story all in dialogue. I wanted it to be funny. And I wanted it to be about a frog. I like frogs, it was that simple. Not much to go on, eh? Believe me, my first efforts…

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The naked guys and Soho bricks capture the Serenity of Symmetry for our over-stimulated ocular senses. Thanks, Margarita, for this week’s challenge photo post!

Originally posted on Serenity in the City:


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Study 37: Art Resolutions-Scenes from the Studio


as seen here, you can create art in a short, concentrative time; feel good about old stuff. Sheila

Originally posted on Travels of Bogie:

Art Resolutions is a self-imposed initiative to create an art study every day for a year. Welcome to Study 37.

Another 2″ of snow added to Sunday’s 6 have tucked Mt. Muchmore in a forelorn detachment from the world. Morning adds to the potion. The plows have not been through in a while and, in the last half hour, only one car has ventured through the steep road below. This morning has all the hallmarks of a school snow day but none of the merits. I will telework if the roads are too hazardous, and so, I had my 5:45-6:30 intermission from real life to meditate and create.

I thought of my beautiful Japanese chocolate pot bought with my college boyfriend long ago at a lawn auction when deals could still be had. The pot is filled with lacquered chopsticks –another remnant from times gone by. Crowded in among coffee mugs…

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Make Art out of Tchotchkes

If you’ve been hearing about de-cluttering, you will see it is linked to the winding down world of acquiring material stuff; since goods are cheaper, rich people don’t need to own a lot, that’s for the (poor) masses. Minimalism (see NY Times, Feb. 17, 2015 back page editorial by Pamela Druckerman) is the new feng-shui of home design. Space is the thing to show off.

For once, I’m ahead of the design curve. I’ve been de-cluttering for years now. Don’t count all the unread books still on my shelves, they are part of an overall design (in my head). This summer’s paint job for the first time in umpteen years threw my apartment de-cluttering act into high gear.

Well, it started before that when my mom moved in 2012 after my dad’s death from her  spacious Long Island home to a crisp, new apartment in a senior living community. Luckily, four adult children and their families were able to divide, toss, or re-assign all that she couldn’t take with her. This is how I came to inherit a large number of tchotchkes. No one else wanted them.

A ‘tchotchke’ is an item of dubious purpose and some artistic but mostly sentimental value. My dad, an artist himself, had coffee maker tchotchkes, miniature wooden furniture and other objects (possibly to use in still life painting) tchotchkes, tiny amber glass bottle tchotchkes, and the usual repurposed gift and indescribable tchotchkes.

I didn’t want to clutter up my freshly painted shelves and sills with my dad’s tchotchkes when I had enough of my own. So I created little diorama-ish tableaux–a green vase, a quartz crystal, Dad’s medieval candle stick holder that never held a lit candle, stuff like that. Art work was hung by color or theme above the tchotchke assemblages. Old crafts handbooks might refer to these as “home arts” pieces. I prefer “found art collage.”

So if you want to start de-cluttering, make it fun. Turn it into a creative art project. But be mindful that emptied spaces do not necessarily bring emptied minds. That requires some effort, intention, or meditation, the subject of other posts. In the meantime, start with one small step, one tchotchke at a time. What can you toss or assemble today?

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