Doubt, Faith and Resolution

 

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

I am very interested in the idea of vocation. I think of vocation not as a job but more like a career. I have been a User Experience Strategist for over 16 years (in a simplification, I make websites more usable) and I am also an artist. No matter what I do for the online world of websites, navigation and usability efforts, I will always make art. The ultimate question is, "What are we meant to contribute to?". How do I align and organize my job and art output into my vocation? Is this possible or do I merge the two somehow? I am the only thing holding both concepts together, so is this even a valid question?

I am always searching and seeking for the optimal "Flow" as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about it in his work of creative psychology and research. When I am in the studio making art - whether it is a struggle to sit down to do the work or whether I jump out of bed anticipating a day of making something, I find myself in this flow and there becomes an ease in the work. I lose time and I am not 100% able to say I alone am doing the work. I find it to be a coming home of sorts. Over and over.

In the Bhagavad Gita, at the scene in the beginning of the Great War, Krishna tells Arjuna that "Doubt afflicts the person who lacks faith and can ultimately destroy him." I was struck the moment I read this. Even out of the context of this book (which I have not read, so my context has been outside of the book), I had a welling up of questions come to the forefront. What is faith? What is doubt? Is faith tied to religion while doubt is tied to skepticism? Or is faith an internal move to trust in one's instincts and doubt allows for reviewing of all outcomes and setting the path for getting things done? Can you strip the concept of religion away from faith so that it becomes an internal compass? Does it come down to a judgement of what is successful? I just launched a book last week, "Zen and the Art of the Sunrise" to a spectacular wall of silence. At the same time, I have been overwhelmed by the support of friends and of people I don't know that have faith in the book and have gone out of their way to share it and become a part of it. Now I have to look at what this book is for.

I have put the book "out there" and all of a sudden I am faced with the faith that it will do its part. That does not mean I am not utilizing social sites and pushing it and hoping for it to do well, but it also means that I have come face to face in the mirror with faith and surrender. Surrender is an active state of being, not of giving up. I have to have the knowledge that I was in the "flow" when I created it. I have to have "faith" that it will find the person that needs it the most and that all of this will happen outside of my knowledge. In other words, outside of my ego and my desire to be "seen". I have to understand that I need to surrender it to what is next and that may be nothing. But I did my part in its creation and so I am back to faith and doubt and the swirling of these two states in my head.

I have no answers and this week has been a roller coaster of emotions and questions. This coin of happy/sad has flipped back and forth for me. In the end though, I released this new piece of art into the world. I am proud of the book and I think it will make people feel a sense of hope and it supports the seeing of nature - and in these times that is a necessity.

My book on Amazon: "Zen and the Art of the Sunrise" -->

 

Some additional great reads to pursue:

Stephen Cope "The Great Work of Your Life" -->

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi "Flow" -->   and   "Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention" -->

Lewis Hyde "The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World" -->

 

A State of Flow: One of my pieces of art in progress:

 

 

Aligning Courage & Vision

 

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This is an update to an earlier post. I think I will always be refining and updating my words. 

The Proof is in, well, the Proof: Aligning Courage & Vision

My book, “Zen and the Art of the Sunrise”, just launched this past weekend and the journey has been a pretty humbling experience. When I got my first printed proof to review it was a huge moment of accomplishment. Now I have an ISBN number. Crazy, sexy ISBN (an ode to Kris Carr here).

I never meant to do a book. For three years I took a daily sunrise picture, found an inspirational quote or song lyric and posted it to friends and family on social media. Taking the photographs started as a place of wanting to share this amazing beauty of living on the ocean’s shoreline. The ocean is a calming source - until it isn't. I will take the storms too. I have been taught, moment-by-moment, about change and the immediate upheaval in the atmosphere and about the chance to live another day and be a better person (still working on many things like road rage and my need for sugar – it is all about baby steps).

Whatever our days hold, whether we are doing what we love, sitting in silence, going to a job we love or hate, a day full of errands or care-taking, I am learning that we need to find the soft spot that allows us to be fully present and in the moment. That sentiment can be a place of peace for us as it helps make our day brighter. The sunrise kicks that off for some people. The guys from the Minimalists say (paraphrasing here), "We all get the same 24 hours to create a masterpiece. Picasso, Michelangelo, all had the same 24 hours in a day." That blew my mind intellectually. The sunrises back that up visually and viscerally.

What could I do with my 24 hours? I started to make the book. I organized quotes, I searched for copyright laws, and I reviewed over 6800 photos looking for just the right ones. I had to figure out the publishing world and its options. The process made me look inside myself to determine my voice. My friend said that I needed to get my Sasha Fierce on but I think I am more of a female Lou Reed and Ziggy Stardust type. Her point was well taken though. I had to open up and be more. I had to be vulnerable and I could not shy away from what I wanted to say. It is okay to be messy and pretty all at once. The ocean has taught me a lot about that.

Someone once told me that if she was overwhelmed with cleaning the house, she chose a corner and then chose whether to go left or right. I have used that example many, many times in my life. Whether it is making myself sit down to do artwork, creating this book or designing websites, it is all about moving forward and finding that small place of “okay” and heading outwards from there.

In the end, through making this book, I have a huge sense of accomplishment. I started in a corner and I worked on it in bits and parts. As I send this book out into the world, I want to take a moment to sit quietly with it. It has been a source of love and honor to share the inspiration of these beautiful sunrises. What can we do in our next 24 hours?

~ beth ortman

Click here to buy the book on Amazon -->

The Proof is in, well, the Proof

 

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I created a book and I just got the physical proof to review and edit before I send it off into the world for its first days of school. This is a pretty amazing moment. From years of taking daily photographs at the start of the day and sharing them on various social channels to making a book it has been quite a journey. Being a few weeks away from launch I have this crazy calm and, more importantly, a sense of deep accomplishment.

I also have an ISBN number. Crazy, sexy ISBN. 

I never meant to do a book. The photographs of the daily sunrise came from a place of wanting to share this amazing beauty. I decided to live on the beach and take advantage of being in South Florida because the ocean is such a calming source. Until it isn't. I will take the storms too. I have been taught, moment by moment, about change. About flux - about the immediate upheaval in the atmosphere and about the chance to do another day and be a better person. It has made me a better person (most of the time - still dealing with traffic rage). 

The book came into focus because I wanted to share this daily inspiration to help people ease into a new day. The guys from the Minimalists say (paraphrasing here), "We all get the same 24 hours to create a masterpiece. Picasso, Michelangelo, all had the same 24 hours." That blew my mind intellectually. The sunrises back that up visually and viscerally.

Whatever our days hold, a job we love, or hate, or a day full of errands or care-taking, we need to find the soft spot that allows us to be fully present and in the moment. That sentiment can be a place of peace for us as it helps make our day brighter. The sunrise kicks that off for some people. What can we do to make the next 24 hours better? What compassion can we display for ourselves and for others? 

So I made the book. Organizing quotes, the search for copyright laws, gathering the 6800 plus photos to choose from, figuring out the self-publishing world, and the writing made itself into the book. Add to that the re-writing between the Florida and California coasts. Add some more re-writing along with a sense of doing something of service brought this book into being. Doing my day job and my artwork and working out the other things that life throws at you, I made the book happen. Someone once told me that if she was overwhelmed with cleaning the house, she chose a corner and then chose whether to go left or right. I have used that example many, many times in my life. Whether it was making myself sit down and do artwork, this book or work on redesigning a website it is all about just getting something moving forward. Finding that small place of “okay” and moving outwards from there.

At the end of the day I hope the message comes out clearly. It is not productive to just say, "Walk away from your job and do whatever makes you happy."  There is more and it comes from finding peace in your daily choices and becoming more caring and accepting of yourself. It is about being less judgmental. It comes down to being "okay" in the moment and not trying to compete with anyone. These things collectively bring about compassion. As I prepare to send this book out into the world, I want to take a moment to sit quietly with this accomplishment. It really has been a privilege to make this book and share these beautiful sunrises that nature gives us daily.    

What will you do in your next 24 hours? 

~ b 

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