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 -->

There is a Certain Calmness with Doing the Work

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I find it interesting that my job title is User Experience Strategist. At least that is what I do to earn a living. I consider my "career", or life's work, to be an Artist. In my “day job” I make websites more useful. I help clients complete their visions and goals and help their customers have an easier time navigating the websites. I find the title User Experience Strategist can also help in my desire to be a full time artist - my desire to live from my creative space. After all, we all want to be a participant in a web of our own User Experience.

Recently, I was inspired by a talk with Jared Leto at the New York Times as he spoke of his multi-faceted career (link below). He spoke of all of the different things he had his hands in, from running media companies, to creating, directing and producing videos/films, making art, acting, making music, and finally, touring with his band, 30 Seconds to Mars. The list seems to go on. He is a true renaissance man for sure. But more than that, and the most inspiring piece of the interview for me was his openness about his doubts. When he questioned himself – where he thought he was and where he wanted to be, if his audience would get his direction, his creations, etc., he said (paraphrasing here), that in his times of doubt he did what he knew he could do. He sat back down, amongst the crazy thinking, and created.

There is power in going back to your golden thread of what you are here to do.

For Leto, it is making music or art. It is the core of what brings his other enterprises to the surface. For me it is making art and all of the process, seeking and discovery that goes into it. It is just a part of who I am. I recently returned from a month long trip to California and I have a deep desire to return. I fell in love with Malibu. I live on the beach here in south Florida and it has been my teacher so it is no surprise that I was pulled into the ferocious beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Since I left my job almost two years ago to do my own thing and consult, I have reconnected with a personal freedom that has been a huge source of energy. That energy comes in waves of good and overwhelming doubt. So I sit and do the work. Sometimes it is this blog, sometimes it is fixing my website, but mostly it is my art. It centers me. Makes me find my still point. And it gives me a sense of forward momentum. When I think I don’t deserve Malibu, or success in my art or the other myriad thoughts of doubt and incompleteness, I sit and do the work. And sometimes that is enough.

I wanted to share these thoughts and his video as I am battling my desire to head to Malibu (living in the future) and learn what s/he has to teach me there and my need to be fully present. Each day brings a new layer of finding the dynamic between wanting to claw your way to “success” and living fully present in the now and being open to what is next – actively surrendering. Somewhere in between there is the calmness in doing the work.

One more thing to note about learning who I am. My friend says I should be more Sasha Fierce and I think I am more Lou Reed with a sprinkling of Ziggy Stardust. So maybe Sasha will show her way but I like the edge lyrics of Reed and the ironic flash of Ziggy. I am a Jersey girl, after all.

~b

Video of Jared Leto and Times Talk --> Click Here