"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Time for Change

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
Where the heck the flowers is?

This ditty from my childhood, which somehow seems fitting on this first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere, might make you think I didn’t get much culture growing up, but you’d be wrong. When I was nine we went to see Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. I sobbed my way right through the tender love stories and across the street to a family restaurant where we ate fried chicken and biscuits before we drove home. I can still sing this song from the movie by heart:

When the sky is a bright canary yellow
I forget every cloud I’ve ever seen
So they call me a cock-eyed optimist
Immature and incurably green.

I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we’re done and we might as well be dead.
But I’m only a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my head.

I hear the human race is falling on its face
And hasn’t very far to go
But every whippoorwill is selling me a bill
And telling me it just ain’t so

I could say life is just a bowl of Jello
And appear more intelligent and smart
But I’m only a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my heart.

According to psychological research It takes ten weeks to forge a new habit. So forget New Year’s resolutions. Why not start something new today – on this, the Vernal Equinox? Let the optimist in you OUT and claim a little incurably green for yourself, while you’re looking for those flowers:

1. Guard your creative space. You can’t make if you don’t leave time for making. There will always be too much to do. Small blocks of time add up. If you can’t set aside big blocks of time, go for short but steady. People who can’t find time haven’t usually made any effort to make time.

2. Get over feeling sorry for yourself. Maybe it’s not enough studio time. It is what it is. Refer back to Item #1. Only you can take care of you.

3. Give something up. Honor yourself and care about making. This doesn’t have to be forever. Only long enough to see whether it works. Chances are very good that you won’t even miss whatever you gave up.

4. Rebuke the tyranny of unfinished projects. If it isn’t finished there is probably a reason why. Screw up your courage and get out all those UFOs. Sort rigorously into four piles –

1. I want to finish this and I am eager to get back to it.
Good. This is a great place to start working a little at a time until it’s done.
2. I want to finish this but I’m stuck.
Pin it up and think it over. No one can critique from the back of the closet or the bottom of a drawer. Give the piece a chance to speak to you.
3. I don’t care enough about this to invest more energy into it.
This is why they invented trade days at the guild, and also Goodwill.
4. I hate this and I hope I never see it again.
This is what scissors and matches are for. And also Goodwill.

5. Claim your right to be an artist. Resolve to answer the question “What do you do?” with the answer, “I am an artist.” when it comes up in the next ten weeks. Say it defiantly and with zeal.

6. Show a little respect for your Mother Earth. Are you recycling to the full extent of your abilities? Paper, plastic, cans and bottles? How dare you buy a crappy iron just because it’s cheap? How many crappy irons does one person have a right to toss into a landfill? Right now the human race IS falling on its face. So help out. Get right with the planet.

7. Quit kidding yourself. Get some perspective. Make a list of what you do during a week and arrange it in order of preference. If making is low on the list it must not matter that much to you. If it doesn’t matter that much, quit worrying about it and proceed with your life. There is enough bad work in the world already. Don’t feel an obligation to add to it. Feel free to attend to the activities that made the List’s top five.

8. Let yourself off the hook. If you love whatever you’re making, that’s fabulous. Drop judgments about whether it’s meaningful enough.

9. Look for meaning. On the other hand, eventually you might get to a place where you just aren’t getting that jazzed about making anymore. If that happens maybe it’s time to think about message, and how to get it into your life.

10. Clear out your creative space in real time. Stuff weighs down making. Yes, it IS possible you will need those bags of denim scraps as soon as you get rid of them. Once again, this is why they invented Goodwill. Get rid of one thing every day for ten weeks. This studio diet will result in a leaner, cleaner space and will return spaciousness to your thinking. Your creative self will thank you.


  1. I loved this. I am going to print it and put it on my inspirational wall.

  2. Woohoo Jane.If we can't talk in person at least I'll visit a bit through this inspiring blog. Thanks

  3. Your "10 steps" are so true and something so timely for me. I agree with Gerrie, I will print them out also.

  4. #10. hit me between the eyes. "Get rid of one thing every day for ten weeks." I'm gonna do it!

  5. This is just where I need to be. I loved your daily pictures and now you are inspiring me still further. I'll get my studio time organized yet.
    Thanks for being out there and for sharing yourself.
    Ricky in Winnipeg

  6. Yo Jane,
    No truer words have been said. This sure hits home with me, I too have printed your list and have to read it daily until it is ingrained!!!
    Thank you, Jane.......as usual, you are such a "giver".
    I need to link your list to my blog.
    Positive energy to you,

  7. Great post Jane, thanks for sharing it :)

  8. Ten weeks? I can do that! But in fact, I did make changes near the New Year. My big goal was more time on task and, you know what? It's working! I am delighted with all I can do! I recently discovered audio books--what a hoot they are! Sometimes I have to go back and listen again, in fact I'm going through a whole book again, it was so good and I missed bits here and there when I was sooo focused. So I encourage you all to really pick a goal you're in love with and do it--Nike got it right, you know, JUS DO IT!!!!

  9. I'm posting again. There is a little calendar sitting by my desk. I write on it, each day, what I'm throwing away for that particular day. It's working. After six days there is already more room in my studio and I'm not going to stop there; the house, the garage, the garden shed. I may not be able to stop after ten weeks. Whoo whoo!