“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to the other things. And the way to do that is to have a bigger yes burning inside.” ~Stephen Covey
There is a thing you’re supposed to do first. I can’t tell you what that is for you. But you know that you know, that right now in this season, there’s a thing that you’re supposed to put your hand to.
And sometimes, there’s a thing that you do instead.
Sometimes The Thing Instead doesn’t look ugly or wrong. When the thing you do instead is awesome, I call it a Noble Distraction. It’s something that no one will ever fault you for. Go ahead, volunteer with a humanitarian organization or mentor young ones. Keep a clean house and be an all around supportive human. Just be honest about the fact that you’re doing a second or even a third thing, first.
I’ve learned much in the last few years about my practice and my way of walking in the world. Opening the studio and putting energy into teaching has brought tremendous clarity to what goes first.
The new studio space is first and foremost my working studio, but I have a deep love of sharing the power of visual journals and intuitive painting. And I am passionate about gathering folks in circle around a table of beautiful food, so I’ll open the studio occasionally and share/teach. I love to do this, but sometimes I get a little carried away. I get so excited about handing others seeds and keys for their practice, that I put second things first.
I’ve discovered that teaching can easily become my Noble Distraction .
One year I even spent 9 months studying teaching. It was an all-in training and I will be forever grateful for the experience because it clarified a deep truth for me. If all I do is teach, I die a little inside. I dry up and lose my sense of self. I was made to make things. To move paint and tear paper and get behind a camera. To make images and marry them with words so that when they have offspring there is a glorious synergistic new thing. That’s the “bigger yes burning inside” of me.
And so I do it first. I put on the oxygen mask of writing, painting, shooting. I must tend to my own practice first or there can be no joyful offering. For me that means ‘first things first’ happen not only before the second things, but they happen literally first thing in the morning because morning is when I am at my best. My practice deserves my best. My morning pages are a combination of words and paint and they happen first.
In my world, right priorities make for joyful offerings and firm foundations. And most importantly paintings and writings filled with burning bigger yeses.
What is your First Thing First? I hope it’s at the top of the list, getting your best attention.
BE in your life,