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Zen, Disrupted Vol. 1 | Asperger's & Organizing Art Supplies

(Originally posted Jan. 11, 2021 to my Artful Buddhist blog on Substack)

What is this blog about? Instead of repeating what is in the “about” section, I’d rather jump right in. Otherwise, I’ll never make a decision. My mind thinks: Do I begin with a list topics? What’s the focus? How often will I post? At what time? How about a regular rotation of topics, say, something like “Art on Monday,” “Asperger’s on Wednesday,” and “Academic Friday”?

Are you bored yet? ‘Cause that is what I naturally do: think, rethink, question, question again, and then freeze. It’s not for lack of ideas; rather, it’s that I have too many. I need an editor.

· To prioritize my thoughts. · To organize my words. · To manage my art inventory. · To complete my website. · To help figure out how best to communicate with my email list. · To mentor my art aspirations. · To shape the “best” arc for my course designs.

And this is just a quick list of what’s currently on my mind. There’s much more to say about the main themes I’ve planned on discussing here: Asperger’s, Art, and Academia.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is helping address over-thinking. Upon learning about Asperger’s, so much suddenly made sense. It was a relief. But it’s also led to an emotional rollercoaster, which I will describe in another post.

When I showed my wife the first draft of the “About” section, she said, “Why not let me read your stuff before you post it? You sound too formal.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” she said, “who says, ‘More broadly, I will discuss the relationship between religion and spirituality’? Write it like you are talking to me. No one talks the way you are writing.”


Here’s another: I wrote that, “The saying ‘that’s so Zen’ will be thoroughly critiqued here, from the inside-out’?”

Her response: “Really? What does that even mean? Inside-out?”

“Well, inside-out means…” I started to explain, but that would have most likely included a review of the history of religious studies. LOL.

She said, again, “Just cut it.”

I did. Now, I have the beginnings of at least two more posts!

So, today, let’s talk about organizing art supplies. Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I started organizing art supplies. Yes, again. Organizing brings comfort, stability, and (sometimes) calm.

Of course, it sometimes feels like a constant struggle.

I had spent most of the day working toward getting my Spring course materials posted online, but there was too much “stuff” encroaching on my space – and by “stuff,” I mean art supplies spread across all available flat surfaces.

When I start a new project, I grab more and more stuff from my “art supply closet,” which leads to the “stuff” all over the office.

I soon felt overwhelmed trying to organize my supplies: too many choices, no clear direction, and a sense of frustration. I felt my shoulders tense, my jaw clench, as my mind raced through a litany of self-deprecating comments.

I only need a pen for my large ink drawings. I love the simplicity. The lack of clutter.

But I’ve been delving into mixed media (again), which means lot of pencils, pens, solid paint crayons, acrylic paint markers, and acrylic paint (in several consistencies). This gives me so many choices and decisions that it creates anxiety about where to start and how to start.

I live in a near-constant state of low-level anxiety. No, that’s not an official diagnosis, it’s just my own feelings. Art often helps, but that’s not why I do it.

I create art because I cannot not make art. (I will develop this thought in future posts.)

Creating art puts me into my “zone of genius,” to borrow the words of Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap. My zone of genius is the “place” where:

· I effortlessly create beautiful line drawings, one line at a time. · I can spend several hours working and feel like it was just a few minutes. · I work intensively, fully-focused, and yet feel like it is easy.

When I put pen to paper and pull a line 36” or more, I’m in that zone. This is not to say that I’m always in that zone when I create art. Not even close.

I intentionally push myself out of my comfort zone in order to improve as an artist. At least that’s what I’m doing now by working on mixed media pieces. Yesterday I put aside a painting that just isn’t working. I’ve tried. And tried. And tried some more.

I may not always find my “zone,” but I’m working on it.

I’m learning.

I’m adjusting and adapting.

I’m hopeful.

I’m focused on my talents, not my so-called deficiencies.

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