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Make Magic Happen

I love these words from Lisa Congdon, they ring so true, and might inspire you as well.

“With effort, we can make magic happen. Contrary to what most people think, making magic requires discipline. You must exert effort to become a better artist, athlete, musician, writer, communicator, student, fill-in-the-blank. Some of the most incredible ideas never turned to magic because the person who had them never took action. But when you take action on your ideas and dreams, your efforts can lead to magic — stuff that transforms lives, disrupts the status quo, changes the conversation, shifts mind-sets, and offers comfort and connection to those who need it most. Don’t wait around. Make magic happen.”

Creative Wisdom: Big Magic

If you are called to creative work, this book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, may be the best you will ever read. I always reference this book since I initially read it in 2015; I sometimes just flip to a random page, which always provides sage and timely advice. Below are some of my favorite quotes to ponder.

“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates an uncertain outcome.”

“This, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

“When I refer to “creative living,” I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.”

“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction.”

“If you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.”

“You have treasures hidden within you — extraordinary treasures — and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”

“Most of all, be ready. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ask questions. Sniff around. Remain open. Trust in the miraculous truth that new and marvelous ideas are looking for human collaborators every single day. Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly passing through us, constantly trying to get our attention.”

“In the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.”

“So I don’t sit around waiting to write until my genius decides to pay me a visit. If anything, I have come to believe that my genius spends a lot of time waiting around for me — waiting to see if I’m truly serious about this line of work.”

“Often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgment, your crushing sense of self-protection).”

“You must be willing to take risks if you want to live a creative existence. But if you’re going to gamble, know that you are gambling. Never roll the dice without being aware that you are holding a pair of dice in your hands. And make certain that you can actually cover your bets (both emotionally and financially).”

“Of course it’s difficult to create things; if it wasn’t difficult, everyone would be doing it, and it wouldn’t be special or interesting.”

“I promised that I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it — meaning that I would always support us both, by any means necessary.”

“It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”

“Learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person.”

“Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process. The fun part (the part where it doesn’t feel like work at all) is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instances are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living.”

“People don’t do this kind of thing because they have all kinds of extra time and energy for it; they do this kind of thing because their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it.”

“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust — and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.”

“Perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified.”

“Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble.”

“Completion is a rather honorable achievement in its own right. What’s more, it’s a rare one. Because the truth of the matter is, most people don’t finish things! Look around you, the evidence is everywhere: People don’t finish. They begin ambitious projects with the best of intentions, but then they get stuck in a mire of insecurity and doubt and hairsplitting . . . and they stop.”

“The effort is worth it, because when at last you do connect, it is an otherworldly delight of the highest order. Because this is how it feels to lead the faithful creative life: You try and try and try, and nothing works. But you keep trying, and you keep seeking, and then sometimes, in the least expected place and time, it finally happens. You make the connection. Out of nowhere, it all comes together.”

“The final — and sometimes most difficult — act of creative trust is to put your work out there into the world once you have completed it.”

“Fierce trust asks you to stand strong within this truth: You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”

What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?

Dog-Friendly: Guides for Dog-Loving People

Four and Sons is thrilled to introduce Dog-Friendly, a collection of city guides for dog-loving people, created together with its long-time contributor, photographer Winnie Au, and fellow enthusiasts, indie publisher Hoxton Mini Press.

For over a year, Four and Sons has been quietly working on a collection of city guides for dog-loving people. This includes the best places to explore with our pups by our side—from sprawling parks and tucked-away art galleries to stylish hotel suites and canine-friendly cafés. The books will feature a mix of beautiful photography, insider intel, maps and illustrations. 

Four and Sons is currently raising funds to finance all original content, to launch the collection with London and New York, and to get tails wagging for more cities to come. You can learn more and support the project here.

We are Back and National Dog Day!

We are back and we all had a good time away together at the beach for our summer vacation! With being gone and a lot going on here, I am behind on my photo editing, but I will share some of our summer highlights and our vacation in photos, as soon as I get somewhat caught up. We no sooner got back from vacation, and Alex and I both got sick, which was no fun. Victory, of course, spent days in the bed with me, and it was so comforting! I love our fur girl so much. She goes everywhere with us and she is a constant source of happiness in all of our lives. Thus, I am a few days late celebrating National Dog Day, but Victory, as Alex always says, “is the best puppy, ever!” And, we could not agree more!

Here is a video of our girls at the beach!

Gone Fishing…

I hope that your summer is going well! We have been doing a lot of swimming; and Alex has been doing horse riding, which she loves. Victory just received a clean bill of health from our vet, thank goodness, per her annual exam! We have been hitting our very low-key summer checklist! And, how has this happened, already — Alex recently started to take Victory for potty, with supervision, of course! Alex is getting so independent these days, and I cannot believe she is three already! I feel like the days are going by way too quickly.

I am taking a break from the blog for a couple weeks to go on vacation; soak up our days together; rejuvenate; and to catch up on some photo editing, as it has been so busy lately, that it has fallen to the wayside. I want to thank you, as always, for being here. Whether you are a recent reader or have been following the blog for awhile, I am honored you take time to read the blog.  I am truly grateful. 

Meanwhile, if you are in a blog-reading mood, you are warmly invited to visit the archives — the links are shown below.

Dog Related posts

Dog Rescue posts

‘Dog-Centric’ Artists Interviews

For Artists posts

Photography posts

Personal posts

Victory Related posts

Alex Related posts

Happy Summer!

Self-Care That’s Free!

Happy almost weekend! I hope that your summer is going well! If you are in need of some self-care this weekend, the image below provides some fun ideas. My favorite, “petting a dog,” always does wonders for all of us, and Victory loves us to love on her, always!

The time is flying here. We recently had fun celebrating Alex’s birthday and spending time together; and my parents also came to visit, and it was nice to spend time with them! I soon hope to catch up on editing our family photos in my spare time, which is always so elusive. Happy Friday!

Image by Jessica Olien.

Making Your Child and Dog Feel Noticed and Loved

Toni Morrison’s words are so accurate that one sentence can bring you to your knees or set you free. Her words have really resonated with me.

Toni Morrison was on Oprah talking about her book, The Bluest Eye. Oprah said, “Toni says a beautiful thing about the messages that we get about who we are when a child first walks into a room,” and she asked her to talk about it.

Toni Morrison explained that it’s interesting to watch what happens when a child walks into a room. She asked, “Does your face light up?”

She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?”

Her advice was simple, but so powerful. She said:

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?” I think of this advice every day, and it has become a practice. I want to light up. And, I never would have thought about it had it not been for the wisdom of Toni Morrison. And, importantly, I also use this practice our older daughter, our fur girl, Victory, who is very keenly aware of non-verbal body language, and it works really well with her, too!

What about you? Have you ever thought about this? It’s one of those little things that feels really important and children and dogs really notice.

Loving: Summer 2021

Happy Summer! Below are a few things I have been loving this summer, thus far! And, we are so happy summer is here!

1. Good Inside Podcast — I really like Dr. Becky! She has a great podcast and blog filled with good and helpful information about raising kids today. Additionally, she has great information on Instagram, too!

2. Gravity Podcast — I also really enjoy this new podcast hosted by Lucy Kalanithi. It is a podcast about how we can look at hardship differently. (I also enjoyed previously reading the book, a memoir about living while dying by her deceased husband, Paul Kalanithi.)

3. The Mess You Leave Behind, Netflix — We really enjoyed watching this series, and it really leaves you guessing until the very end!

4. Crocs —  Alex and I got new Crocs this summer! They are really comfortable and easy to slip on when you are on the go; and they are great for the pool, too!

5. Superglow Glow Screen — I really like this facial sunscreen. It leaves your face with a dewey and glowy finish!

6. Better than Leftovers Dog Treats, Trader Joes  — Victory loves these treats! We have been trying to mix up her treats up this summer, for some variety! She truly loves these dog treats from Trader Joes!

You can view other things I love here!

Thoughts on Creativity

About a year ago, Ethan Hawke gave Ted Talk about creativity, and this part was particularly insightful…

Do you think human creativity matters? Well, hmm. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about poetry. Right? They have a life to live, and they’re not really that concerned with Allen Ginsberg’s poems or anybody’s poems, until their father dies, they go to a funeral, you lose a child, somebody breaks your heart, they don’t love you anymore, and all of a sudden, you’re desperate for making sense out of this life, and, ‘Has anybody ever felt this bad before? How did they come out of this cloud?’

Or the inverse — something great. You meet somebody and your heart explodes. You love them so much, you can’t even see straight. You know, you’re dizzy. ‘Did anybody feel like this before? What is happening to me?’ And that’s when art’s not a luxury, it’s actually sustenance. We need it.

You can take a listen here.

Speaking of poems, I love ‘Our Union’ by Hafiz, shown below.

Our union is like this: You feel cold, so I reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet.

A hunger comes into your body, so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.

You asked for a few words of comfort and guidance, and I quickly kneel by your side offering you a whole book as a gift.

You ache with loneliness one night so much you weep, and I say here is a rope, tie it around me, I will be your companion for life.

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

What is on your summer checklist? I work full time, but we love lazy summer weekends with nothing on the schedule except to go swimming and enjoying meals together. Here are 10 low-key things we are hoping to do this summer…

Swim. Enjoy the pool. Jump in the pool and don’t care about what you look like because no one else does. Go to the beach or lake and be the first one to jump in and make fun memories together.

Try a new-to-you ice cream flavor. We recently have discovered two new ice cream places near us, and we all love going for an ice cream run in the evenings and trying new flavors!

Do Fireworks. We all recently took a short trip to Pennsylvania to get some child-friendly fireworks for the Fourth of July! We even found a place that welcomed our little Victory, too! It should be a lot of fun!

Give your child disposable camera. I remember these from my childhood. What a fun way to introduce kids to photography; and it is magical to get the film developed together to see what your child created on their own!

Play games. We like to play goldfish and memory games together, along with hide and seek, which Alex loves!

One night, throw bedtime to the wolves and let your child stay up as late as he/she can. Since summer is officially here, we have been more relaxed with bedtime. The sun, after all, is out until nearly 9:00 p.m. here! Alex loves stretching out her bedtime routine. And, I love holding her and cuddling with her, as one day she will be too big to sit in my lap. Each night we look at her baby videos, as she is in love with looking at her younger self!

Read a great book. Time always feels so fleeting, but I am going to try to read an entire book this summer. I am sure most nights, I will fall asleep while reading.

Leave your phone at home. Sometimes it is really nice to leave you phone at home so you are not tempted to check email, etc., and you can therefore be really present with your people.

Make cookies. Alex loves to bake with Doug. They recently made strawberry crepes and chocolate chip waffles together for breakfast over Father’s Day weekend. We always love making these go-to cookies together!

Stay inside and do not feel bad about it. We have been trying to have more down time on the weekends so everyone gets a chance to really rest without rushing around to one place or another.